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Moongarden - Songs From The Lighthouse CD (album) cover

SONGS FROM THE LIGHTHOUSE

Moongarden

 

Symphonic Prog

3.55 | 93 ratings

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tszirmay
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Moongarden has taken another step in a different direction again (but not a giant leap for mankind!), as no two consecutive albums resemble themselves, always veering off into newer or older musical territories. Some fans of course may be turned off by this constant evolution but I always believed that each album should be reviewed on its own merits and not in comparison with past benchmarks or even worse, based on what our expectations are of their music. Now how absurd is that? They are the artists, we like or we no like but "comparing" prog albums is not the appropriate method this reviewer likes to consider. "Round Midnight" was an extraordinarily original opus, fully of icy modern gloom wrapped in a depressive, message laden veneer that had enormous appeal. Then, perhaps the musicians got so despondent that some decided to jump ship outlandishly such as long time guitarist Davide Cremoni and drummer Massimilano Sorrentini , as well as latest vocalist Luca Palleschi. The new troops are Marco Tafelli on guitar, with a remarkable fluid sound, Simone Baldini Tosi on vocals who sang on the debut album and is neither better or worse than the previous mike humper and incredible new percussor Maurizio di Tollo whose pedigree includes gigs with La Maschera di Cera and Distillerie di Malto, all joining leader and keysman Cristiano Roversi and bassist Mirko Tagliasacchi. Upon closer scrutiny, this album certainly has many praiseworthy attributes, some great songs, out of this world playing and huge cascades of mellotron everywhere but also has some strange moments that just don't inspire genius, in my opinion. First the positives: hot epics like the first-rate 13 minute jewel "Solaris" serving up a simply earthshaking mood, full of intense atmospherics, much improved vocal work, quirky arrangements and finally, an extended guitar solo jam-packed with enough magic restraint and manic majesty that it would make Gilmour blush with envy. The medium sized pieces that are worth mentioning you ask? "It's You" hankers back to the prior album "Round Midnight" style, gloomily minimalistic and recurring piano and chiming bells swimming in deep melancholia, when out of the blue, an immense mellotron propelled crescendo turns this into a passion ride where Tosi bellows his heart out and Tafelli rips a brief guitar slash. "That Child" features the clearly identifiable (yet sadly and unjustly criticized) voice of The Tangent's Andy Tillison, in duet with Simone's, adorned by some elegant Roversi grand piano and some inspired ensemble work that veers midway into some furious explosive riffing, heavy bombast galore and mellotron blazing unafraid. "Flesh" is a brief piano etude that calms the mood, with some fabulous violin playing and nice background effects, introducing the other large 11 minute breathless adventure "Dreamlord", a gigantic bass fueled piece that deals with slumber subject matter and has some scintillating and soporific moods. There is some excellent playing all around, with particular mention to the nervy rhythm section that really keeps this flowing, the sinuous bass carving up the space while the drumming slyly hammers away, full of ingenuous tempo. A sonically voracious synthesizer and then an astute guitar solo that both shatter whatever defenses one has left. Perhaps even the crowning moment here. The instrumental "Sonya in Search of the Moon 5" is a showcase for some fabulous synthesizer work as well as another Tafelli guitar sortie. Very nice indeed. What about the afore mentioned weak tracks? Okay, I will oblige. The opener "My Darkside" is enjoyable even though I am not enthralled by the overwrought and raspy vocal delivery, some simplistic organ soloing doesn't help pushing this into the "wow" chamber. "Emotionaut" dives straight in recent Porcupine Tree territory but without the Wilson genius and rather pedantic vocals that verge on the painful. Not my glass of Chianti! "Southampton Railroad" has SKIP written all over it, totally removed from the previous material, sounding like some outtake from the sessions, simplistic and heavily accented vocals certainly helps little in trying to appreciate this track, the pissy percussive work only adds to the wimpiness. One word: Yuck! "The Lighthouse Song" falls back again into the overblown vocal raspy howling that irritates this reviewer to no end, ruining this song with too much fake bravado, not even salvaged by the rather expected sparkling guitar venture. 6 very good rotations and 4 completely off orbit. I understand my revered colleague finnforest being utterly disappointed, in view of his highest accolades for "Round Midnight". This version of Moongarden needs some new skilled astronaut on the microphone and stick to what they do best: stellar instrumental work. Where did I leave my darn lunar module? Oh there it is, out in space again. Really 3.5 but the good tracks are really good, so a very generous 4 Lunar buggies.
tszirmay | 4/5 |

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