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Ciccada - 2015 - "The Finest of Miracles"

(46:42, Altrock/Fading Records)


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TRACK LIST:

1.  A Night Ride 6:26
2.  Eternal 8:01
3.  At the Death of Winter 4:04
4.  Around the Fire 9:16
5.  Lover Dancer 0:47
6.  Birth of the Lights 1:52
7.  Wandering 6:42
8.  Sirens Call 1:38
9.  As Fall the Leaves 3:09
10. Song for an Island 4:47

LINEUP:

Nicolas Nikolopoulos  flutes, saxophone; keyboards
Evangelina Kozoni  vocals; glockenspiel 
Yorgos Mouhos  guitars; vocals
Yiannis Iliakis  drums, marimba
With:
Omiros Komninos  bass 
Lydia Boudouni  violin 
Marianna Vassou  cello 
Savvas Paraskevas  piano 
Panayiotis Sioras  clarinets 
Panayotis Zafiropoulos  trombone 
Dionysis Agalianos  trumpet 
Spyros Kakos  French horn
Sakis Myronis  tuba 
Jargon  vocals 
&:
A few more musicians

Prolusion. The Greek band CICCADA was formed back in 2005, with an initial core line-up consisting of Nicolas Nikolopoulos, Evangelia Kozoni and Giorgos Mouchos, supplemented by the skills of Omiros Komninos, who joined in 2009. With the aid of numerous guest musicians they recorded their debut album "A Child in the Mirror", a production that was picked up by the Italian label Altrock and released by it in 2010. "The Finest of Miracles" is their second studio recording, released through the same label in 2015.

Analysis. Ciccada is a band that comes across as increasingly more of an intellectually and emotionally eclectic unit, a band that creates material that inspires and challenges the mind as well as the heart and the soul. The music itself can be fairly challenging too, even if the moods and atmospheres explored more often than not are both compelling and dream-laden. The fairly odd description one might fall down to is that this is music that manages to be both safe and predictable, as well as daring and unpredictable at the same time, material that is both ancient and contemporary in character. A band that, one might say, resides on several borders of contradiction. The cornerstone of their style appears to be rooted in progressive folk rock, with gentle, pastoral sequences a recurring feature throughout. Wandering acoustic guitars with flute or violin are the main additional features, on occasion actually shifting towards a purebred folk-music expression, and then a medieval and English one at that. They will also shift gears to a more vibrant expression, with drums, bass and firmer guitars added in to create more of a Jethro Tull-oriented sound. On multiple occasions brief sequences are obvious nods in the direction of that band. But they will also shift to an expression more similar to what one might describe as chamber rock, with references to both medieval classical and folk music, as well as to contemporary classical music. That the band cites Gryphon as an influence is revealing in that context, at least as far as the more medieval parts of that expression are concerned. But this is a band that also will venture out into more directly symphonic-oriented landscapes, with classic organ- and guitars-driven passages that may remind ever so slightly of classic Kansas in terms of expression, especially when the violin is used in those constellations. But vintage keyboards and Mellotron will also be used in those passages for a less obvious expression, as far as possible sources of inspiration are concerned, especially when the more typical classical music instruments are made a part of those arrangements as well. On a final note we're also treated to occasional excursions into territories with somewhat more of a jazz-oriented tinge to them, and especially when those are combined with fairly complex vocal arrangements; those who know and love their Gentle Giant should find these passages to be familiar-sounding territory.

Conclusion. Diversity is something of a central characteristic to be given Ciccada's second album. The foundation of their style is progressive folk rock, but with details and excursions from jazz, traditional folk music and symphonic progressive rock incorporated into the totality, alongside elements that one might describe as *chamber rock to boot (not to be confused with RIO*). A well made album on all levels, and while not as challenging as it may sound from description, the overall production merits that description due to the sheer diversity of the material. As the band cites bands such as Jethro Tull, Gentle Giant and Gryphon as sources of inspiration, those with an affection for those bands appear to be a likely key audience for this CD, and I'd suggest that those with a general affection for bands with a diverse and varied sound, style and expression to give this one a spin as well.

OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: October 1, 2015
The Rating Room


Related Links:

Altrock Records
Ciccada


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