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La N.A.V.E. - Le Quattro Stagioni CD (album) cover

LE QUATTRO STAGIONI

La N.A.V.E.

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

2.97 | 9 ratings

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Finnforest
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Adventurous modern era RPI with 22 minute "epic"

I'd love to tell you a little bit about this band but in typical RPI fashion they made an album and fell off the planet, or entered the witness protection program. They began playing together in 1989 and released this lone work on Mellow in 2000. My guess is that they broke up after that. La N.A.V.E. (Nuovo Avanguardia Voci Etniche) delivers a concept album about the four seasons with one track to represent each. The music of the 90s in Italy could be good, but could just as often head into cheesy neo-prog territory with English vocals rather than authentic RPI, and in that sense the current period is much more fruitful. La NAVE didn't fall into that 90s trap and instead went for a combination of the vintage/modern RPI feeling with some avant-garde/psych influence, not all that far today's Altare Thotemico except not quite as good as Altare. They almost remind me of a modern day Alphataurus, although a mellower one and more for their spirit than actual sound. And while they mostly get the sound right there is an occasional step in the cheese-synth sound, though not enough to spoil anything.

The first piece based on Spring is a 22 minute epic and the obvious centerpiece of the album. Beginning in Djam Karet territory with spacy sounds and keys, two electric guitars slowly begin a series of interweaving notes. The Italian vocals begin and mood is very somber and barren. After 4 minutes the band comes alive with bubbly bass and drums and more uptempo pace. Vocalist and composer Sergio Muzi is also the band's guitarist and he can smoke. He has a crisp Fender sound and nicely alternates between solid lead work and background coloring. The meat of the song sees the synths turning to organ giving the piece a nice vintage feel. It gets heavier as the song progresses moving from theme to theme at a healthy gallop. Some alternative percussions are used as are brief rhythmic breath/chants for an exotic vibe. There is a sense of adventure and exploration to the piece as it tries some atypical soundscapes while never completely abandoning RPI basics. Suddenly as it enters the homestretch the band stops and we get a lovely, wistful piano twinkling to a sad vocal. Beautiful. The closing sees the piece build to a moderately dramatic end.

The shortest track Summer features up front synth backed with acoustic and bass, much more upbeat in mood. Autumn ups the rock quotient significantly with the guitar and synth really competing against the driving rhythm section. Winter is a two-part track, very unusual. The first half is buoyant melodic prog with wavey synth and acoustic guitar, while the second half gets really crazy with strange voices and crazy laughing over the musicians. The album ends with an alarm clock ringing. An interesting secret weapon they possess is the trombone of Enzo Muzi. He's a rather modest talent with it but uses it perfectly to add that wonderful "off balance" feel typical of the avant-garde finishings that many Italian bands enjoy.

La NAVE has delivered a beauty of an album with an honest to goodness 20-plus minute epic. But the shorter tracks are not quite of the same level, though Winter is reasonably solid. Summer and Autumn prevent me from getting to the 4 star level but I still can recommend this easily to folks who love the lesser know Italian rarities of the modern variety. Many of you will enjoy this heartily; certainly it is one of the quality Mellow titles of this era. Lyrics booklet in Italian only.

Finnforest | 3/5 |

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