Melodic Revolution 2023
Celebrating their 30th anniversary, Molise ensemble serve up a blistering, if enchanting, comment on recent global griefs.
A lot of water went under the proverbial bridge since this Italian collective delivered "Reset" which seemed to indeed reset their career but was too uneven – at least, in that album’s English version – to reveal the group’s full potential, so it took them another platter and a shift in society’s paradigm to sculpt “MMXX” whose very title stresses what the record is all about. Carved out of the artists’ hearts and souls over the course of the last two years, and given two lead voices in place of the previously installed one, here’s the team’s magnum opus – the sprawling, yet vibrant work lamenting the state of the world affairs during and after the pandemic, while also sculpting a new, optimistic view of the proceedings, and avoiding the usual Apennine sweetness along the way.
Still, the album’s very structure, where the titular tapestry starts its impressive flow and runs longer than the other tracks combined, allows for operatic complexity in which the sextet excel, and the cuts that follow this epic never feel like addendums because they unfold a further view of our recent past and near future. “MMXX” begins like an a cappella madrigal until Ilaria Carlucci and Runal’s vocals usher in Lino Giugliano’s baroque organ and split in two separate lines, propelled forward by a proper groove and launching a fusion-tinged flight of Dario Lastella’s guitar before bringing back the majestic polyphony and an almost orchestral backdrop – but ultimately the piece’s magnificent panorama is transformed into a pulsing, piano-rippled space-rock vista. As a contrast, “The Collector” offers a solid rocking rhythm, courtesy of Italo Miscione’s bass and Lino Mesina’s drums, for prog and pop passages to color the streamlined number quite brightly and let synthesizers set the scene for a six-string quietude and romantic singing.
And then there’s “Stendhal Syndrome” – a perfect sonic reflection of people’s psychosomatic symptoms when they’re in awe of human-made beauty – in which the warblers’ harmonies are honeyed and the instrumentalists’ attack is fiercely nuanced so that “Kandinsky’s Sky” – an aural reference to a particular detail on objects of art – could flesh out acoustic lace with exquisitely soft, soaring performances, and the faux-symphonic finale “MMXXII” could assist the listener in embracing here and now, the aftermath of pandemic, with the ivories’ jazzy grace signaling a fresh hope. A great achievement!