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Aries - Double Reign CD (album) cover




Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.69 | 38 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Review Nº 263

Fabio Zuffanti began his musical career in 1994. Since then, he has been involved, as soloist or leader, of numerous groups and projects, such as, Finisterre, La Maschera Di Cera, Hostsonaten, The Shadow Of The Evening, Rohmer, la Zona, Aries, Quadraphonic, Rughe and many others. Over the years it has been measured with a multitude of genres that go from rock to folk, from pop to electronics, to psychedelic and much more. However, the genre for which Zuffanti is internationally more known is undoubtedly the progressive rock. Zuffanti is considered today as one of the most important representatives of the "new generation" of prog. He can be compared to other prog artists like Steven Wilson, Arjen Anthony Lucassen, Neal Morse, Roine Stolt, Clive Nolan and Mike Portnoy, which belong to that generation too.

The music of Zuffanti and of his solo projects is covered by a patina of songwriting and electronic and has sound references of some many bands and artists, such as, Robert Wyatt, Sigur Rós, Lucio Battisti, Franco Battiato, Thom Yorke and many others. Of fundamental importance for Zuffanti is the search for a certain atmosphere suspended between dream and reality that is influenced by other factors no less importants, than musical ones, like the snow, the asphalt, the rain, the mud, the closets, the leaves trampled, the stones, the weird tales and the earthquakes of the soul.

Aries is essentially a duo project by Fabio Zuffanti and Simona Angioloni. With Aries, the Italian workaholic of the modern age creates another facet of his art of playing. Together with the angelic operatic soprano voice of Simona, he offers an intimate, folk and symphonic music. It's elaborated in a musical frame that sets a sort compromise between the modern prog and melodic pop-rock. It's not the complexity, but the subtlety what Aries are more interested. Still, it has its moments of great intensity. They prefer to handle the momentum in a serene way, instead to be too dramatic.

Aries released two albums, their eponymous debut and "Double Reign". But, unlike their debut, "Double Reign" is a conceptual album. It's based on an Italian novel with the same name by Paola Capriolo, "Il Doppio Regno". The story is about a diary written by a woman who doesn't remember her name and has something of a hazy recollection of the events that led to this situation. She does remember that she was at a seaside resort towards the end of the season when she saw a tidal wave approaching the shore. She fled the town, up a hill, and came to a large, single storey building, a hotel. She finds it difficult to communicate, because of her stress and can't report the tidal wave. She is offered a room and lies down on the bed, not waking up till the next morning. Then she finds that she is the only guest at the hotel, which no one seems to know what happened in the town, there are no newspapers and none of the staff seems to know where the exit is. She stays there for like a long time, gradually losing her memory of her previous life and her sense of self. It's a disturbing story about identity and reality and who we are and how we can communicate.

"Aries" has a very dark atmosphere, is very melancholic, and yet, is very beautiful. Definitely, this is an album with a very ambient sound and with a very interesting mix of prog, pop, folk and Gothic, which can perfectly seen on the track "Alone". All these elements can be found on this album. The way that Fabio does it, make it beautiful to listen to. It's not too pop, too Gothic or too dark, especially due to the very beautiful voice of Simona. Permanent parts of this album are the string instruments, the violins, viola and cellos. They really add the real atmosphere the album needed. This is very beautiful with a real classic touch. The album is so beautiful that you need to see the textures and getting to the story, because all the songs, all the chapters, are build up inside the story, which is very interesting to see, really. The album has also many traces of classical influences. A good example of those classical influences and of the beauty of Simona's voice can be found on the track "The House Is Burning". Here we can have a good impression how beautiful this album is and what Aries is all about. I really like of this dark atmosphere all over the album. The keyboards are also very impressive. We can see heavy keyboards, in the same vein of Arjen of Ayreon, as happens on the track "Space".

Conclusion: If "Aries" is basically a smooth semi symphonic prog album, "Double Reign" is a more modern sounding album. If "Double Reign" has lost part of the potential originality, characterized by the angelical vocals, the dreamy keyboard lines and the sentimental guitar work, it keeps a balance between laid back, almost lounge atmospheric tunes and contemporary prog adventures with a strong melodic sense. The biggest weapon on the whole release is some beautiful string sections providing the classical depth. The music in general follows an ethereal mood with atmospheric soundscapes and few are the moments of a higher energy, which are only used a bit more to get a better result. It has great arrangement quality, melodiousness and the interplay between all musicians is nice. This is another excellent respectable album of the female fronted prog rock. It represents another proof of Zuffanti's deep stylistic diversity.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

VianaProghead | 4/5 |


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