Skip to main content

La Coscienza di Zeno, Italy


Samples
Facebook

Originally published November 3, 2013 and moved forward to highlight their new album La Notte Anche di Giorno.

The band is still active as of August 2016, and a 4th album is in the works.

La Coscienza di Zeno - s/t. 2011 Mellow (CD); 2014 Fading (CD)
La Coscienza di Zeno - Sensitivita. 2013 Fading (CD)
La Coscienza di Zeno - La Notte Anche di Giorno. 2015 Fading (CD); 2016 Fading (LP)

----La Coscienza di Zeno

La Coscienza di Zeno's debut is fastball down the middle Italian progressive rock. If you're a fan of the style, then hard to imagine one not enjoying this. It does eschew the retro instrumental palette, but compositionally similar to the 70s masters.

----Sensitivita

Continuing on from their debut, La Coscienza di Zeno have made some significant improvements in many areas... and perhaps a few steps back in others. Let's focus on the positive first. The instrumental palette has been increased to include more of an analog orientation, though there is no mistaking this is a modern recording (the robust production alone is to be admired). Piano, in particular, is a dominant instrument here, and when played as expertly as it is done on Sensitivita (brilliant in fact), it certainly recalls the 1970s masters. Choral Mellotron (which may be sampled) is also used in abundance, and the entire dual keyboard format recalls classic Banco del Mutuo Soccorso. Taking the BMS metaphor just a bit further, Alessio Calandriello is proving to be possibly one of the finest vocalists in Italian progressive rock today. While not singing in the operatic style of di Giacomo, Calandriello possesses an incredible voice, that would actually be much admired in today's howling-singer styled pop culture. And perhaps now is a good time to introduce the main issue I have with the album. Sometimes the music just stops, and everyone buys a ticket to watch Calandriello belt out verses while the rhythm section keeps a steady beat.  I'm not sure if there's an Italian Idol TV show, but if there is, then Calandriello most certainly would have to be considered a finalist. He's that good of a talent. However, none of the great 70s Italian masters, who also featured singers with similar golden pipes, would exhibit the patience La Coscienza di Zeno demonstrates here. I just keep waiting for the inevitable breaks, those turn-on-a-dime rhythms with crazy solos, that make the entire Italian prog genre so special. And yes, they do eventually come through with just that, but sometimes after I find something else to do while waiting for glamor boy to close his trap. Perhaps another demerit goes to the guitarist, who adds little but cliched distorted metal chords throughout. While I'm OK with a little extra muscle, I'm not feeling the added value. And the rhythm section keeps things moving along, but they definitely take a back seat to the dual keys and precocious boy. So why the 4 stars? Well it was close to 3.5, but most of the material is very solid, if never actually excelling. The final track 'La Temperanza' (10:38) is the highlight with added flute and violin, adding much needed distractions to the singer songwriter aspirations that begin to creep in. I think La Coscienza di Zeno have left plenty of room for improvement. They have the tools, and the talent, to release a RYM 5 star / Gnosis 13+ masterpiece. Let's see if they rise to the challenge. Fans of Italian progressive rock should take my criticisms as data points, but don't let them keep you from buying this. I stand by the high rating (Gnosis 11 / RYM 4 stars)

----La Notte Anche di Giorno

Given La Coscienza di Zeno's (CdZ) immense potential, I went forward with their 3rd release La Notte Anche di Giorno sound unheard. Or as we collectors like to say "auto buy". And the result? Well, unfortunately, this band continues to sit on that cusp between very good and excellent - and this time I rounded down instead of up. On the plus side, they did add a violinist full time which adds much to the melody and atmosphere department.  Alessio Calandriello continues to belt it out with the best of them, and his voice is truly something to behold. I'll also give them points for supplying more textures and color while he sings, rather than sit back and be content with a simple rhythm. All this sounds like a distinct improvement on Sensitivita. And it is, so what exactly is the issue here? The songwriting. CdZ have this nagging desire to paint with broad strokes when delicate intricacies are needed. There are two long suites this time. The opener is Giovane Figlia, and I was at first quite disappointed in the direction, though I was stricken by the melody. With CdZ, I get a sense of commercial styled pop music at times when the band goes for these simpler structures. Then came part 3: Libero Pensatore, and suddenly I was mesmerized, proving to me that CdZ really are force to be reckoned with. From there through the remainder of the suite, I was captivated with the brilliance of Domenico Ingenito's violin, Calandriello's voice, and the analog/digital keyboards/piano of Luca Scherani. To me, it sounded like the very best of Sithonia (a UTR favorite) updated for 2015 (or 1973 lol). The melody line is sublime, and no one can sing it better. Going into suite number 2, I was convinced this would be CdZ's finest album. But I was let down, and the return of the broader - almost Pink Floyd like - soundscapes and slow pompousness returned. The overall effect is maudlin, not joyous, or even introspective. It's not the right sound for the band in my estimation. In reading other reviews, I fear that I'm in the minority here. Let me be absolutely clear though: I like this band and I like this album. But I know they can do better (at least for my tastes, so take that for whatever it's worth). The beauty of progressive rock is that it can be played many times over and new results will emerge. For better or worse. Can we expect a 4th studio album from them? If so, I probably will buy again without hearing it first. I'm loyal that way. 

Last update: August 20, 2016

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Il Bacio della Medusa, Italy

News: Il Bacio della Medusa have a new album, their 4th, called Seme*,and has just been released om AMS, who picked the band up in 2015 and reissued their back catalog. Label says: "Contrary to what often happens in the vast progressive rock panorama, crowded by many prolific artists, Il Bacio della Medusa has always taken their right time to release a new album: this time six years have in fact passed from the previous “Deus Lo Vult”. Nothing to complain, however, when the wait is rewarded by the high quality of the result.“Seme*” is no exception in this sense and, if the wind instruments played by Eva Morelli and Simone Cecchini’s voice represent elements of continuity with the past, everything else has been completely revolutionized. We are in fact facing the band’s most immediate and at the same time more varied record, a blend of hard, folk, jazz and classic rock, typical songwriter’s moments and even country and electronic music! If it’s true that ‘prog’ means also evolutio…

Kenso, Japan

Website
Facebook

No new updates from Kenso since 2015.

Kenso - s/t. 1980 Pam (LP); 1995 Arcangelo (CD)
Kenso - II. 1982 Pam (LP); 1993 King (CD); 2002 Pathograph (CD papersleeve)
Kenso - s/t (aka III). 1985 Nexus (LP; CD); 2011 King (CD papersleeve)
Kenso - Sparta. 1989 Crime (CD); 2009 Pathograph as Sparta Naked (CD)
Kenso - Yume No Oka. 1991 King; 2011 Pathograph (CD papersleeve)
Kenso - Esoptron. 1999 King (CD); 1999 Musea (France CD)
Kenso - Ken-Son-Gu-Su. 2000 Pathograph (CD)
Kenso - Fabulis Mirabilibus De Bombycosi Scriptis. 2002 Nexus (CD); 2002 Vinyl Magic (Italy CD)
Kenso - Utsuroi Yuku Mono. 2006 King (CD)
Kenso - Uchi Naru Koe Ni Kaikiseyo. 2014 King (CD)

There are many other live and archival releases from the band, though I only own Ken-Son-Gu-Su. All the other entries above represent their studio albums. There's also a 14 CD box set on King that contains all their studio albums through 2012, as well as a handful of live recordings.

For a band with so many recordings, an…

Malady, Finland

News: Malady have announced their second album will be released February 2! It's titled Toinen Toista and will be released on Svart as was the debut. I'm most excited about this one, as their debut is excellent.
Samples Facebook
Location: Helsinki

Overview: If you like the music of Finland circa 1973, you'll love Malady. They've captured the essence of another era perfectly.

UMR Notes

Astrolabio, Italy

News: Astrolabio are still quite active on Facebook anyway, and touting their 2nd album from 2016. I still haven't heard it, but did finally manage to get a few notes out on their debut.

Facebook Website Samples
Location: Verona

Overview: Astrolabia was formed from the ashes of a band called Elettrosmog who released a couple of demos in the mid 2000s. They are yet another fantastic band playing the Italian retro prog style. Their first album L'isolamento dei Numeri Pari received high marks from me, though unfortunately I didn't get a chance to pen any notes down. Next time. But it left a strong enough impression for me to add them to the A-List,and I look forward to the new album.

UMR notes

Ayahuasca Dark Trip, Peru

News: Ayahuasca Dark Trip have released their latest opus in September entitled Upaya. It's download only so far, but there's talk of a vinyl issue.

Facebook Samples
Website
Location: Lima

Overview: Ayahuasca Dark Trip are a psychedelic ambient band from Peru that use guitars and soft vocals to achieve a hypnotic affect.

UMR notes

Taipuva Luotisuora, Finland

News: Taipuva Luotisuora have returned in 2017, after a two year break, playing live concerts well into the summer. No word yet on a new album.

Facebook Website Samples
Location: Turku

Overview: Taipuva Luotisuora started as an Ozric like band before incorporating post rock and space rock elements in their sound.

UMR notes

ARC, England

News: ARC has a new album entitled Fleet that was just released on October 20th. Auto buy!

To the best of my knowledge, there is no centralized website or Facebook for the band. There's plenty of samples, mostly under the Ian Boddy name. I have no idea why the band's name is capitalized. As far as I know, ARC is not an acronym that stands for something. Maybe the progenitors will inform us?

Overview: One of the premier Berlin School electronic revivalists going today. Mark Shreeve already is enshrined in the school's hall-of-fame with Redshift, so ARC makes it 2 for 2. And Ian Boddy needs no introduction either to fans of the genre.

UMR notes

Homunculus Res, Italy

News: New album out February 15th (was slightly delayed and is now available as of March 8). Title is Della Stessa Sostanza dei Sogna.

Facebook Samples
Location: Palermo, Sicily

Overview: Homunculus Res are a tremendous new Canterbury styled band from Italy that have perfectly captured the spirit of another era. Brilliantly mixing melody and complexity, with a jazzy undertone.

UMR notes

Il Segno del Comando, Italy

Website
Facebook

Well I can see that I never created any notes or updated this post for Il Volto Verde. I bought it after release and think it's great! So next time I hear it, I'll update here and move the whole thing forward.

Il Segno del Comando - s/t. 1997 Black Widow (CD; LP)
Il Segno del Comando - Der Golem. 2002 Black Widow (CD; LP)
Il Segno del Comando - Il Volto Verde. 2013 Black Widow (CD; LP)

----Il Segno del Comando

Il Segno del Comando's debut comes from the 90's renaissance wave of darkly influenced Italian progressive music as promoted by the Black Widow label of Genoa. Their haunting formula includes pipe organ, synthesizer, echoplex'd guitar, and impassioned vocals in Italian. Il Segno del Comando were the culmination of Black Widow's stable of the era, which included Runaway Totem (especially at the time of their debut), Standarte, Malombra, and Abiogenesi. Perhaps a bit more space rock influenced than the aforementioned bands, making it …

Purson, England

News: Well... It appears Purson has broken up. One band member (George Hudson) has now hooked up with a new project called Flare Voyant. OK, let's see where all this goes. Bummer though, as Purson had enormous potential. Perhaps a reformation will happen. 

Facebook Samples
Location: Southend-on-Sea, Essex

Overview: The Circle & The Blue Door was an homage to 1971 England, whereas Desire's Magic Theatre seemed more geared toward 1969. They're going in the wrong direction for my tastes, but still intriguing enough to leave as an A-lister.

Reviews (click on album covers)