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(50:11, Mellow Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Lady Roma 8.51 2. Vento Dell'Est 7.00 3. EnteRomaPatia 4.43 4. Roma Dei Misteri 4.44 5. Diafana Ipnosi 3.09 6. Imperium 1.29 7. Testimone la Luna 4.37 8. Quel Folle Girotondo 4.36 9. Zucchero Filato 6.27 10. Tramonto Sul Giardino Degli Aranci 6.35 LINEUP: Corrado Sardella – keyboards Milton Damia – vocals; guitars Riccardo Mastantuono – guitars, el. violin, mandolin Vincenzo Antonicelli – saxophones Marco Maiolino – bass Davide Guidoni – drums Nicola Di Gia – ‘ambient’ guitar With: Vittorio Riva – drums (2, 3, 5, 9, 10) Lisa Montaldo – backing vocals (1) Daniele Si Nasce – recitation (1, 6) Ian Mosley – drums (6)
Prolusion. DORACOR (anagram of Corrado) is the pseudonym of Italian composer and multi-instrumentalist Corrado Sardella, who has been active on the Italian progressive rock scene since 1997. “Lady Roma” is his seventh studio album, recorded with some of his longtime collaborators, and released on Mellow Records like all his previous efforts. This is the first time Doracor has employed real drummers instead of programmed drums, namely Davide Guidoni, also known as a prolific, award-winning graphic artist, and experienced sessionman Vittorio Riva. Marillion’s Ian Mosley appears on one track
Analysis. In his over twelve years of activity as a progressive rock musician, Corrado Sardella seems to have learned a very important lesson: one-man bands, no matter how gifted a musician one can be, will hardly ever be able to replace a real band in terms of delivering the goods. After his somewhat tentative first recording efforts of the late Nineties, Sardella started employing an increasing number of guest musicians, some of whom have become steady presences on his albums over the years – a winning move reflected by the steadily growing level of his releases. Here, finally dispensing with electronic drums (in so many cases the kiss of death for an album) has given the album a richer, more organic sound – we finally get the impression of a real band, not just a collection of hired hands to provide a backing for the main man. The album is meant as a tribute to the Eternal City of Rome (my home town, as well as Sardella’s), represented in the title and on the cover as a beautiful woman. In spite of that, my personal impression is that it does not sound as distinctively Italian as other recent releases from Italian bands. Rather than the legendary Italian prog outfits of the Seventies, the main sources of inspiration here seem to be bands like Camel, Genesis and Marillion. While a certain Mediterranean lushness can be occasionally perceived, on the whole there are very few elements that anchor the album to the Italian musical tradition: the Italian-language lyrics, as well as the occasional use of the mandolin, courtesy of long-standing Doracor collaborator Riccardo Mastantuono. Corrado Sardella is first and foremost a keyboardist; therefore it will not come as a surprise that the album is quite strongly keyboard-oriented. However, all the instruments involved in the recording of the album work together smoothly and seamlessly, as reflected in the open, airy nature of the music. Melody is the name of the game – nothing here sounds strident or overly cerebral, and the tracks blend into each other with a pleasing, natural flow, at times uplifting, at others somehow tinged with sadness for things that have gone forever. This wistful, melancholy quality is complemented by the autumnal beauty of the pictures in the booklet. One in particular deserves a mention – a breathtakingly beautiful, lavender-hued shot of St Peter’s Basilica taken at the twilight hour from the best possible vantage point, the majestic Ponte Sant’Angelo on the Tiber. The album opens with the title-track, a mini-suite in four movements introduced by a rather unusual passage recited by the soothingly deep voice of Daniele Si Nasce, mainly known for his activity as a one-man tribute to Roman-born singer-songwriter and showman Renato Zero. The lyrics, written in the Roman vernacular, are a paean to that ‘vanished Rome’ which has been the subject of many paintings, and as such sharply reminiscent of another famous song dedicated to the Eternal City, Antonello Venditti’s ‘Roma Capoccia’; Mastantuono’s lilting mandolin, underpinned by tinkling ivories, lends a folksy quality to the tune. The rest of the suite is more along Genesis-influenced, classic symphonic prog lines, with clean-sounding guitar and broad keyboard sweeps, and excellent vocals by Milton Damia – who gets another chance to show his considerable chops in the following song, the atmospheric, sax-infused, blues-tinged ballad Vento Dell’Est, which reminded me of songs in a similar vein by bands like Colosseum-II. The instrumental Roma Dei Misteri, somewhat dark in tone as the title suggests, opens with faint mandolin strains, then turns into a pulsing synth riff lifted out of Rush’s ‘Subdivisions’, while the short Imperium, featuring Ian Mosley on drums, is a heavier, synth- and guitar-driven piece with a solemn, church-like introduction. On the other hand, the neo-prog influence shines through in the romantic, keyboard-led mid-tempos Testimone la Luna and Questo Folle Girotondo. As a whole, “Lady Roma” is a classy package, further enhanced by Milton Damia’s stunning vocal performance. He is definitely a singer that deserves much more exposure, combining as he does the best of the Italian and English singing traditions. It is to be hoped that Corrado Sardella will try his best to keep this group of top-notch musicians together for his next recording efforts.
Conclusion. Fans of classic symphonic prog, as well as neo-prog, will not fail to appreciate such a well-rounded, well-crafted effort as “Lady Roma”. Even though the album does not offer any really ground-breaking ideas, it is nonetheless a very enjoyable listen, executed in flawless fashion by some very accomplished musicians – a more than fitting tribute to the City by definition.
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