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Raven Sad - Layers of Stratosphere CD (album) cover

LAYERS OF STRATOSPHERE

Raven Sad

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.78 | 52 ratings

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tszirmay
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars While writing reviews can be such fun, the truth remains that it all had to start somewhere a.k.a. finding those little hidden treasures in the first place and having finnforest as your reconnaissance team is such an added plus. So reading reviews has been my main source of inspiration for future purchases, trying to establish the merits of some unheard creation and wondering if it fits into one's pleasure dome (to quote Frankie Goes to LA!). In particular, my lovely Italian friends are extremely adept at moistening my nodes, not just with their legendary RPI school of prog but equally in the psychedelic/space category where recent albums like Mappe Nootiche's Terra! and the legendary self-titled Sunscape have made me so very happy (to quote Blood, Sweat and Tears). So upon reading finnforest's and toroddflugelsteg's reviews, I felt emboldened to take the leap and hunt down this sucker all the way from Austria, of all places. .

The opening piece is a "Door Almost Closed" and through the crack, the light shines brightly, a glimmering slice of atmospheric music, deeply anchored in the prog/space genre with iridescent synths and luminous guitars vying for your attention. You almost have to don sunglasses and place them on your ears. Guitarist and main man Samuele Santanna (with 2 "n"s!) rules the space wave supremely, rifling off suave sparks from his fretboard and the modern beat shuffles things nicely forward. The bold bass lays down a solid groove and keeps things boiling hot. There is little doubt that Pink Floyd is a major influence, which is nothing revolutionary, having influenced thousands of bands world-wide. The line-up card only confirms their dedication to their influences.

The epic 16 minute + "Lies in the Sand" has the misfortune of supplying a drowsy and accented voice to the mix, a style I am personally not fond of, regardless how "natural" it may be perceived as. The breezy, piano-led air gives the track the illusion of being lightweight pop but by the fifth minute mark, the arrangement takes a more melodic direction, veering towards the deep psychedelic groove we all know and love, fueled by a long dreamy synthesizer coloring the skies, while Santanna blooms shiningly on lead guitar. The tune finishes off serenely with a delicate flutter of chagrined vocals and seductive choir.

"First Layer" is a stunning guitar flight that will astound fans of Gilmour, Latimer, Bastiaan Peeters (Odyssice) or Giancarlo Erra (NoSound), a breathtaking piece only slightly marred by some heavily accented English language poetry. Italian is such a gorgeous language, why sing in Saxon? Never could understand that!

"Mind Flies" relies on a classic synth melody line that would make Peter Bardens smile up there in heaven (RIP) and a gentle lilt over which Samuele carves a scintillating solo, full of blessed virtue and delicate desire, a series of notes immediately appealing but with that added Italian romantic flair. Fabrizio Trinci's pianos have a lot of say in the exaltation of the atmosphere.

"The Highest Cliff" possesses a less orchestrated feel, leaning heavily on those blurry, exhausted vocals described earlier, the accent heavy but charming. This popular facet of Raven Sad is not as interesting as their more symphonic side, a more powerful and talented singer would have made it so much more palatable. Oh well, Floyd was guilty of this too?. But the colossal solo saves it again, coming to the goose-bumped rescue.

"Second Layer" simply expands on the first successful exercise, reworking the original melody and taking it into a different realm, harsher, bluesier and certainly way more dramatic, with a severe dose of melancholia. This is such brilliant music, you can't imagine! Totally enthralling!

"Lullaby for A Son" comes close to an Italian version of a good Roger Waters's song, it veers very near stylistic infringement, but it's obvious this is a tribute to Santanna's influences and mentor. The fleeting synth is straight out of Wright's fluid airy catalogue but the classic sax solo a la Dick Parry is hard to not salivate to. When the 6 string monster kicks in, it's a gargantuan power loop that overcomes the last obstacles to enjoyment and overtakes the soul completely.

This is a stunner that has a few flaws but clearly anoints this unknown band to a clearly higher level and future efforts that will only confirm their talent.

4 Crow blues.

tszirmay | 4/5 |

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