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At the time of their last album, 2016’s ‘Silence Between Sounds’, the band had been reduced to a trio with guests, but now they are down to just the duo of Daniele Giovannoni (drums, keyboards and backing vocals) and Alex Massari (guitars and backing vocals) as bassist Alessandro Cefali is also now listed as a guest and only plays on four songs. Strangely, all vocals are by Sara Rinaldi who also provides the lyrics, but she is not listed as being a member of the band. It is safe to say that I haven’t been the biggest fan of this band in the past, viewing their last two albums as solid and okay but not incredibly interesting, but that is no longer the case as I have found myself playing this a great deal indeed. Interestingly, this a concept album, but not the normal subject matter one may expect. When the tragedy which was the Grenfell Tower fire took place on 14th June 2017 the writing of the album was already well advanced. 89 people died in the burning of that London skyscraper and among the many stories, we were deeply struck by that of two Syrian boys, Omar and Mohammed, who fled from Syria in the war, finding refuge and a new life in Britain. Mohammed died in the fire and his brother was unable to help him. Daniele Giovannioni continues: "This typified my feeling of discomfort with the world. Many of us humans are on the run and living in fear of not being accepted. The two Syrian boys typified this feeling of unease. The terror in the eyes of the survivors of the fire was the same as that of the survivors of a bombing or an attack. Certainly, those who suffer a such a bombing know that it is possible there will be another, while those who are victims of a fires can hope that such a thing will never to be repeated, but the desire to escape is the same for everyone." Again, there are plenty of guests involved, most notably Colin Edwin (Porcupine Tree) and Geoff Leigh (Steven Wilson, Ex-Wise Heads), but this album works best when it is at its most simple, gentle atmospheric piano combined with ethereal vocals. The production is superb, while the use fretless bass adds additional dynamics. This definitely feels like a band as opposed to a few musicians being thrown together for the occasion. At times incredibly Floydian, others more like Camel, what makes this album work so well is the sense of drama and the way the music moves and flows from one style to another. I wasn’t a fan of Sara’s vocals on the last album, but here she is a perfect fit with the music, and in many ways, this feels to me like a totally different band to what I had reviewed in the past. There has been major step change in all directions, and the result is an album that is full of passion, thought, hooks and drive which keeps the listener involved engaged. That they can change from simplicity to complexity, quiet solitude to rock band, totally confident in throwing out rock guitar shapes and solos or keeping it tied down, shows just how far they have come in such a short time. Well worth investigating.
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