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(44 min, Musea)
TRACK LIST: 1. Rings of Earthly Light 17:12 2. In the Rising Mist 4:26 3. The Broken Path 1:32 4. Glares of Mind 3:56 5. Pushing Together 4:40 6. You'll Become Rain 2:14 7. The Way Home 9:17 All tracks: by Serri & Eris Pluvia. Produced by Eris Pluvia. LINEUP: Alessandro Serri - lead vocals; el. & ac. guitars; flute Edmondo Romano - flutes, saxophone; b/v Paolo Raciti - piano & keyboards Marco Forella - bass & ac. guitar Martino Murtas - drums & percussion with: Sabrina Quarelli - violin (4 & 7) Alessandro Cavatorti - acoustic guitar (4) Enrico Paparella - acoustic guitar (3) Valeria Caucino - vocals (1c)
Prolusion. Alessandro Serri and Edmondo Romano began collaboration in 1984, which culminated in Eris Pluvia and the release of "Rings of Earthly Light" in 1991. Both left the band, which released only the one album, but their further work together resulted in another band, The Ancient Veil, which produced "Morning After" (a demo) and a self titled release from Mellow Records in 1996, which can also be found listed as Eris Pluvia: The Ancient Veil. In addition to this, they worked on "A Tribute To Genesis: The River of Constant Change", a double CD involving 25 bands.
Analysis. "Rings of Earthly Light" bathes the listener with warmth from the first notes of the title track. There is a magic of a time gone by, where you sense that life is always spring. Recorders open the track, leading us to where saxophone, drums and guitar infuse the melody with a greater enthusiasm, though not frantic or harsh, but simply bringing the music to a higher energy. It is like when at dawn the air suddenly becomes alive with sound. Eris Pluvia brings these disparate elements together, folk/Renaissance and jazz/rock with finesse. Throughout the five sections of the title track the music alternates between these, acoustic guitar and recorders with more up-tempo passages with more electric instrumentation. Serri's vocals did not strike me as anything particularly special at first, but with repeated listens I have found his voice to be just right for the music, very soothing and plain in the best sense, not pretentious or affected, like fresh baked bread with butter. In the Rising Mist is simply orchestrated with recorders, acoustic guitar and soft keyboard strings in the background framing the vocals. I was surprised when I read the lyrics to this song, because the peaceful scene the music paints contrasts with the words. (Serri's English is heavily accented by his native Italian, so that the lyric sheet is helpful.) Lyrically, the song is about a warrior, an ancient knight, wandering a blood stained field, strewn with the bodies of those who perished in combat, but then a distant light clears his mind and the mist becomes snow. Musically, the song is wistful, but not fully melancholy. The music is very evocative, here and throughout the album. In places I'm reminded of Mike Oldfield and Camel. In fact, when I first heard Serri's voice, it occurred to me that his was something like an Italian Andy Latimer. The first time I heard Camel, I was not taken by Latimer's voice, but it became like that of a good friend over time. So it is becoming with Alessandro Serri. The Broken Path fades in with electric guitar and drums set at a driving pace, but not pounding. The keyboard is like xylophone, or similar hammered melodious percussive instrument. The pace pauses for just a moment, just a few measures of string chamber instrumentation before finishing out with the main instruments of the piece. This is the most raucous of all the tracks, if indeed 'raucous' can be used to describe any of the tracks on "Rings of Earthly Light", but I use it relative to the other tracks, not to music in general. Even this never challenges the listener's tolerance in tone or time. It is one of two instrumental pieces, the other being next. The melody in Glares of Mind is played by flute and recorder, accompanied by acoustic guitar and piano, giving a folk/Renaissance ambience; very relaxing and peaceful. Slowly and gently the tones of flute and reed-like keyboard mixed with occasional distant sounding bells or gongs, with an almost Oriental air rise from nothing in Pushing Together. This mysterious ambience gives way to lilting piano, which is joined by the vocals sung with flute providing harmonies. When the electric guitar does enter, it does so at a distance, complementing the other instruments, never demanding attention at center stage. Saxophone returns for You'll Become Rain, adding a light jazz flavor. The final track, The Way Home, is in 3/4 time, featuring Serri's vocals, with acoustic guitar and recorder, joined part way by electric piano and keyboard strings. There's a very nice recorder solo during the first instrumental passage, then matched by a sax solo following the next vocal section, shifting into 4/4 time. This last song takes the most stylistic twists of any on the album and includes two differently voiced guitar solos before giving Romano another moment to shine on sax before being rejoined by the vocal. Truly, there is a very amicable balance between the use of saxophone and guitar through this final song, which perhaps should be anticipated since these are the instruments of the two whose collaboration formed Eris Pluvia, Alessandro Serri & Edmondo Romano.
Conclusion. This is a delightful and gentle landscape in the world of prog. Eris Pluvia melds folk, jazz and rock with the Renaissance, to create and engaging, sometimes soothing and sometimes energetic music. I found myself thinking at one point that if hobbits lived in the age of rock, this music might well have been popular at the Prancing Pony. Recommended for fans of the Italian school, such as early works by Premiata Forneria Marconi, but also other purveyors of pastoral prog, mid-70s Genesis and Camel.
KW: Agst 10, 2005
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