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Malibran - The Wood Of Tales CD (album) cover




Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.62 | 64 ratings

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3 stars The Wood Of Tales, the 1990 debut by Italian band Malibran, is something of a rarity (at least in my RPI collection) insofar as it consists exclusively of English language vocals. I'm not particularly keen on this idea, preferring groups to sing in their native language. Some of Malibran's future releases would in fact feature both English and Italian vocals, which if anything is even more unsatisfactory in my opinion. The funny thing is that the sleeve notes are written entirely in Italian. Given that the vocals are in English it would have been nice to have at least some information on the band in that language, but what do I know? By all accounts Malibran were formed as a metal band in 1987 and I'd say there's still some evidence of that on this album. The band includes two guitarists and they tend to dominate on this album. Generally speaking Benny Torrisi's keyboards play only a supporting role, although Giancarlo Cutuli's flute is well to the fore on each track. If you like flute and double electric guitars, there's a fair chance you'll enjoy this.

The first two tracks are identical in length, with each clocking in at 8.39. I don't think there's any great significance in this fact; I just think it's a bit strange. The first song, Malibran, opens with caterwauling guitars over a piano and drums stomp. Stirring stuff indeed, although I'm not overly keen on the digital-sounding keyboards. The vocal part of the song is slow and subdued and provides an effective contrast to the introduction. These guys are clearly influenced by bands such as Jethro Tull and Camel, having at one time or another covered some of these artists' material. This may explain the prominence of the flute on their albums although here it reminds me of the man they call The Flute, Ray Thomas of The Moody Blues. Anyway, the extended flute solo reintroduces the opening theme, which in turn brings this first song to a close. It's a great start to the album and the next track is equally good. The title track begins with keys and Alessio Scaravalli's toms setting the scene. This is a slow-paced instrumental featuring flute once again, and some guitar that's vaguely reminiscent of BJH's John Lees. Midway through there's a change of rhythm with the guitars adopting a distinctly metal tone. The third track, Sarabanda, is a Baroque-styled instrumental piece featuring flute and classical guitar.

The singing on Pyramid's Street sounds a bit cheesy but it would be churlish of me to further criticise Giuseppe Scaravalli's English vocals. It's not really that big a deal; suffice to say his voice sounds so much better in Italian. There's some snake charmer flute on this song, and this Arabic influence plus the bolero rhythm make it sound more like Rock Andaluz than RPI. Some of the electric guitar even reminds me of Spanish band Mezquita. A guest musician plays the keyboard solo toward the end of this song, but I have no idea why. The final track proper, Prelude, features yet more flute; Giancarlo Cutuli owns this album! Lead guitarist Jerry Litrico gets in on the act here as well though, with a couple of blistering solos. There are three live bonus tracks on this Mellow re-release from 2002. I generally don't care for so-called bonus tracks, but that's an issue probably best reserved for the forums. The three tracks in this case are Song For Lisa, Mystery, and Trequanda. Trequanda is the most worthwhile addition to the album despite the drum solo, while Mystery features excellent guitar and saxophone solos. Song For Lisa I could do without although I could honestly do without any bonus tracks, especially live tracks added to a studio album.

Overall this is another fine RPI album, and while it's not one of the '70s classics it is nonetheless very much in that style. It's not my favourite Malibran album and I feel the English language vocals detract slightly from it, although for others those same vocals may actually be a positive. Flute fans in particular should check out this band.

seventhsojourn | 3/5 |


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