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Le Orme - Felona E/And Sorona 2016 CD (album) cover

FELONA E/AND SORONA 2016

Le Orme

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

2.84 | 15 ratings

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Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
2 stars Reboots and remakes - let's face it, everyone loves them!! In the film world, nothing gets devoted fans excited and filled with hope like recreations of their favourite movies such as `Ghostbusters', `Robocop' and `Total Recall' being remade with (surely!) the purest of intentions, and no doubt beloved albums are exactly the same - the more the merrier, right?! OK, so snarky sarcasm aside, what we have here is a modern remake of one of THE most cherished, important Italian prog albums of all time, by a current version of the same band who recorded the defining original, just with some different musicians this time around, founding member and drummer Michi Dei Rossi the only original player in the group at this point.

The current trio that makes up Le Orme these days - the above mentioned Dei Rossi, bass player Fabio Trentini and keyboard player Michele Bon - carried the band forwards after founding member, bassist and singer Aldo Tagliapetra departed back in 2009 for a late run at a solo career. At the time, the band regrouped and recorded the grandly symphonic `La Via della Seta' in 2011 utilising the powerful voice of Metamorfosi singer Jimmy Spitaleri. A fine grower of an album it turned to be, beautifully lavish and pompous in that classic Italian prog style, however the group are now back to a trio here with Fabio handling the vocals this time around, and admittedly doing a reliable job of them.

With 2016 bringing the fiftieth (yes, really!) anniversary of the band, Le Orme could have simply played some commemorative concerts, released a new `best of' compilation, issued a string of reissues, or even better, planned ahead and worked on an all-new album of material to suggest the band was still vital and worthwhile in a modern Italian prog environment. Instead, they have bafflingly decided to commemorate the occasion by completely re-recording the landmark RPI release from 1973 `Felona e Sorona' (as well as including the English language version `Felona and Sorona'), and while the efforts of the players are still impressive as always, the project has ended up as a fairly redundant and unnecessary release.

Discussing each track of an absolutely definitive Italian prog work would be a waste of time here, not only because the album is overly familiar at this point if you're a fan of the original (and there's no shortage of reviews for that one everywhere), but the band more or less play the album in the exact same way, with only the most minute and superficial differences added in. For instance, you want that classic opener `Sospesi Nell'Incredibile' with a shorter intro but extended by a whole two minutes simply by an unaccompanied drum solo at the end - it's here. `Felona' kicks in a little more boisterous from the second verse onwards, and the closer `Ritorno al Nulla' is perhaps heavier and more frantic, but...that's about it. Michi's vocals work fine and there's still plenty of rambunctious fire in his drumming, and both Trentini and Bon deliver great playing, but they're all simply recreating exactly what has come before.

If `Felona e Sorona 2016' is simply meant as a loving `thank you' to fans for the support over the years, then this is a perfectly innocent recording that doesn't deserve much critical looking at (in which case, stop reading now, and this review will self-destruct in five seconds!). However, if the band remade this with the intention of giving it a vital freshening-up that stands on several original merits, to somehow hopefully make this the `new standard' version that should be considered the defining interpretation, then it's all very disappointing. Compared to something like Latte e Miele's 2014 remake of their `Passio Secundum Mattheum' with `The Complete Work' where the original was thoroughly reworked and stood strong as a powerful musical statements all its own, `Felona e Sorona 2016' sounds by-the-numbers, safe and somewhat lazy in comparison.

Back in 2013, modern Italian prog icon Fabio Zuffanti's La Maschera di Cera project released `Le Porte del Domani', a controversial `sequel' to the Seventies `Felona e Sorona' album that rather cheekily used the briefest of little themes and reprises from the classic Le Orme LP (plus similar artwork from the same artist!), but it stood proudly as a powerful standalone effort - actually one of the year's best. It's interesting that Zuffanti's sequel treated the original with honour and respect, and even better was an all-original continuation, because 2011's `La Via Della Seta' proved that Le Orme in a modern era still have plenty to offer with their own original material, so perhaps their efforts would have been better put towards making their own `official sequel' of all brand-new music?

By all means, Le Orme should celebrate their legacy by playing some live concerts performing complete albums, perhaps releasing some live DVD's or blurays of the events. But spending effort on a kind of pale imitation of something much better seems like squandered time, money and energy. Fans would love to hear all-new material from this line-up, especially if there's a chance it could turn out as well as `La Via Della Seta'.

`Felona e Sorona 2016' superficially sounds fine, and it's easy to enjoy on a surface level, but that could also simply be the comfort of already knowing what you're hearing. If you've never heard the original album, by all means give this a spin, but the only logical course of action after that is to immediately rush to the superb original and see what all the fuss is about (which then renders this new one obsolete in an instant). If this was a brand new album of fresh material recorded in the same manner, there would be plenty of reasons to praise the effort here, because all the musicians are in great form. Instead, despite curious little fleeting differences and additions that are momentarily surprising on only the first listen, as it stands `Felona e Sorona 2016' works as an interesting `different perspective' at best, and sadly that's all it will probably ever be.

Two stars.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 2/5 |

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