Oldfield, Mike - Ommadawn - 7/10
Very relaxing, beautiful music. Could use some more punch, though.
Opus Avantra - Lord Cromwell Plays Suite for Seven Vices - 7/10
As Opus Avantra's first record, Introspezione, this album merges music from a lot of styles into something very unique. The first track, "Flowers On Pride", is excellent: It's driven forward by great piano playing and some nice drumming in 4/4, spiced with theatrical cries of "Pride is a fever", some Jethro Tull-ish flute, and a female choir that is thoroughly unsynchronised with the rest of the band. The result is perhaps something of a cross between Rick Wakeman's Six Wives... and the pomp of the British band Renaissance. The next track, "Avarice", is a cross between standard Beethoven-like piano playing and more dissonant, quirky, sinister "newer classical", still with the piano in the foreground. Luckily, the next track "Lust" is more romantic-sounding, with the choir and flute once again in the foreground, and some nice string instrument playing. Excellent once again, in my opinion. Then comes "My Vice", an all-out dissonant/strange piece with synths only. The next track "IRA" starts with some machine gun sounds, then moves into a strange, angular melody with some dissonant violin/violincello on top. The string instruments and a church organ then take over along with the vocals, doing some dissonant, in part repetitive "music" before some more theatrical reciting. Then the melody from the beginning of the track comes back. The "avant-garde" feel of the track lasts throughout, but never tips over the edge to the nonsensical - strangely enough, as the music here is very far out. Very interesting music in my opinion; beautiful in all its ugliness. Then comes the track "Gluttony", which could be something out of the part of King Crimson's music that's beautiful, relaxed and in minor key. Organ and electric guitar play the leading roles here. For some reason, the seventh track, "Envy", isn't listed on the cover, but (as you would now expect) it's another dissonant, angular piano track. It is followed by a prettier track which is mainly harmonious, but not without a little "strangeness" or dissonant tones mixed in. A good track which ends a great record. On my CD version is also an extra track, "Allemanda", lasting for three minutes. It would have fit better on their other record, Introspezione, as it has Donella Del Monaco on vocals the string quartet used as on that record. Again, harmony and strangeness hand in hand. Overall, this record is an excellent buy, at least if you're tired of all bands sounding the same, and looking for something out of the ordinary. The excellent harmonious parts might ease one's way into the less digestable, but rewarding, avant-garde parts. Recommended!
Orme, Le - Felona e Sorona (73) - 7.5/10
Good, but in my opinion not particularly original. Influenced by classical music. Organ dominates the sound, and parallels to ELP can be drawn.
Orme, Le - Storia o Leggenda (77) - 5/10
Having heard that Le Orme was a great band, I decided to buy one of their albums when I visited Italy some years ago. Having no idea which to get, I picked this one because of the beautiful cover. Quite a bummer. Storia o Leggenda is significantly more poppy than for example Felona e Sorona. The major scale is used for the most part, and all tracks are between 4 and 5 minutes long. Some have those classic sing-along refrains and "catchy" melodies. However, it is not as bad as you may think. The music has a symphonic feel to it - organ is used a lot, as are synthesizers and acoustic guitars. The vocalist still has that relaxed, high-pitched and quite unique style as in Le Orme's earlier works. Large parts of the record are instrumental, and some of these are really nice, like the spacey keyboards finishing off the track "Se Io Lavoro". There is quite a bit of tasty keyboard work on this record, and the band works very well as a whole. And as opposed to pop, the music is frequently changing. Even if most of the "progressiveness" is gone, I have a strange feeling that this is a more mature work than their earlier records. But as stressed before: This record is very poppy. If considered a pop album, Storia o Leggenda is an excellent contribution to the genre, but from the progressive point of view, it takes some good-will to call it OK.
Osanna - Palepoli - 9/10
Complex, sometimes chaotic. Changing all the time, and often has a heavy feel to it. A classic, even if the last half is a little unfocused.
Osanna - Colonna Sonora Del Film Milano Calibro 9 - 7.5/10
Like Banco's Garofano Rosso, this was the soundtrack of an obscure Italian movie. This record is somewhat less disharmonious and chaotic than Palepoli, which most people is regarded as Osanna's best. A chamber orchestra is used in some of the tracks, with very good effect. Sax, vibraphone and flute are heard occasionally, as are some vocals sung in English with an Italian accent. Disregarding the violins and cellos, the music sounds slightly influenced by hard rock and can be compared to Jethro Tull ca. Aqualung or New Trolls. The best parts are composed by the professional composer Luis Enriquez Bacalov. Unfortunately, some of the parts made by Osanna themselves sound a little uninspired at times. Still, most of the music is well-composed, and there apparently is little filler intended to be background music here. With such a soundtrack, this movie has got to be great.