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Il Fauno di Marmo / The Rebus - Canti, Racconti e Battaglie CD (album) cover

CANTI, RACCONTI E BATTAGLIE

Il Fauno di Marmo / The Rebus

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.98 | 7 ratings

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Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars Formed around the early 90's in Gorizia and moving through a succession of name and line-up changes, 2013 finally saw the newly christened Il Fauno di Marmo (The Marble Faun) release their `debut' album "Canti, Racconti e Battaglie" ("Songs, Stories and Battles"), and the band creates music that is as evocative and striking as their name. The group in their previous incarnations (as The Rebus, Mirror Train and Il Treno degli Specchi) have always delivered strong works, but this one sees them step up in a grand way, revealing a depth and maturity that they rarely hinted at before, and it makes for one of the most lavish and sophisticated recent Italian prog releases.

Lead track `Benvenuti Al Circo' is punchy and boisterous to begin and end, with Luca and Federica Sterle's male/female vocals interweaving with an operatic gothic flavour (perhaps even bringing a slight Zeuhl sound to my ears?). Violin, piano and soaring electric guitars run through nimble direction changes, while lovely floating Mellotron veils wisp around the listener in the emotional middle. The mood is instantly picked up for `Madre Natura', the first of a couple of tracks to carry over from the previous version of the band. With jazzy infectious piano and Luca's trilling flute, it's a joyous acoustic bopper that wouldn't have sounded out of place on the first Delirium album `Dolce Acqua'. `Hop Frog' dates back from an early 90's line-up of the band, appearing in reworked form here. Through it's 11 minutes, there's plenty of keyboard variety from Francesco Bonavita - thick Van der Graaf Generator-like dark organs, ghostly synths and rippling Hammond - Luca Carboni's marching drums, strolling bass, aggressive Biglietto per L'Inferno-type huffing flute, with plenty of quirky P.F.M-styled playful interludes around intricate Gentle Giant-type group vocal arrangements.

`Magic Kazoo' is a lighter playful psychedelic popper with spiky lead guitar from Valerio Colella and loopy synths. Upbeat instrumental `Nova Res' is full of Alberto Ballare's slapping bass, funky wah- wah guitar grinding and jazz-fusion fire, with plenty of rippling Santana-styled Hammond organ as well. The brisk flute brings a cheerful Canterbury Scene touch to the piece, as does the lifting orchestration. `Non Mollare Mari' is a punchy retro blast that recalls the first Rebus album with it's positivity and catchy melody. `La Battaglia di Kosovo Polje' is a flighty little folk rocker with frenetic flute and electric guitar dueling outbursts, `Un Villagio, Un'illusione' an atmospheric cover of the violin-fuelled track from the classic debut by Quella Vecchia Locanda (one of my personal favourite vintage RPI albums), thankfully it works fine due to a muscular lead vocal from Luca, although it sticks pretty close to the original. `Dorian Gray' (I was expecting another cover version, a track from the pre-Goblin `Cherry Five' band!), closes the album with a heavy mix of ghostly narration, snarling harder guitars, crooning vocals and a spiraling gothic tension.

I would advise the band to not bother with cover versions from this point on, as not only do fans of the originals not want to hear remakes of their beloved favourites, but over the course of the previous bands that became Il Fauno di Marmo, Luca and his musical partners have been creating perfectly strong music all their own. Best to let their own strong compositions get the focus instead of attention-getting covers.

Years of the band members honing their skills and perfecting their song-craft have paid off superbly, and this is rich, complex and grand Italian progressive rock. It truly feels like the band have been building up to this one, where all their potential throughout their previous incarnations has finally come together and delivered beautifully. It reveals a subtlety and an attention to detail that the previous versions of the group rarely hinted at, and it makes for one of the most lavish recent Italian prog releases. 2013 was a banner year for the RPI sound, and "Canti, Racconti e Battaglie" is another one of the best from that year.

Four and a half stars.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 4/5 |

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