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Living Stilts - 2014 - "Shipwreck"

(62:20, Azafran Media / Musea Records)


1.  Introducing the Storm 1:04
2.  Shipwreck at Dawn 7:52
3.  A Woman Intro 1:51
4.  A Woman Part 1 1:32
5.  Facing the Winds of Doom 4:24
6.  Verticle Memories Prelude 4:17
7.  Verticle Memories 6:08
8.  A Woman Part 2 1:32
9.  A Dicer's Oath 6:08
10. A Journey into the Light 3:03
11. A Woman Part 3 1:24
12. The Traveller 8:45
13. Sirens 3:56
14. Death and the Merciful Gods 8:25


Luca Mavilia – keyboards, programming; vocals
Alfredo Cassotta – drums, percussion
Maria Tomasello – vocals 
Antonio Bella – vocals 
Ben McGuire – narration 

Prolusion. The Italian project LIVING STILTS is the creative vehicle of composer Luca Mavilia, whose stated aim is to create "evocative soundscapes and letting the listener’s imagination roam". Aided by lyricist Vincent Spasaro and like-minded vocalists and instrumentalists the concept album "Shipwreck" was crafted, and was released through Azafran Media and Musea Records in 2014.

Analysis. The opening atmospheric creation on this album, Introducing the Storm, is one of the most superb album openings I have encountered for quite a while. One minute of haunting music gradually increasing in dramatic impact, this is a creation of the kind that really raises the expectations of what is to come, the kind of opening that creates instant anticipation of a superior album. In this case what comes next never managed to captivate me on a comparable nature to this dazzling initial display however. Still, it is a masterful opening piece that merits an inspection by those intrigued by such details. The first real song on this CD, Shipwreck at Dawn, opens with a dark guitar riff and organ-driven theme that is compelling enough too, I admit. This theme, repeated throughout the song, does come with a built in major flaw however: It sounds just about exactly like one of the more famous escapades by Pink Floyd from the late ‘70s. Not performed with the same level of expertise as the old masters however, and used within a context that isn't as inspiring either. In between atmospheric-laden interludes, brief tranquil female vocals and sparse orchestral intermissions and what appears to be a pastiche of a christian sermon, Pink Floyd is something of a key association for this production. The classic, Pink Floydian-sounding darker toned guitars and organ theme is a recurring element throughout, as are elegant, careful guitar solos of the kind that invites associations to David Gilmour. Gentler, light toned sequences are the main contrasting feature, and there's also a fair few orchestrated intermissions adding a more majestic touch to the compositions, the latter detail among the more successful parts of this production. For me the songs in general become too pedestrian. The moods doesn't manage to invoke any great emotions, the arrangements don't manage to create any tension for me to focus on, and the vocals aren't of the quality needed to captivate me as a listener either. Passable is a good word to describe this album for me, pleasant music with compelling moods and atmospheres, some more than a bit familiar sounding too, bot nothing that really strikes any major chords for me. While many fine details appear here and there throughout, they aren't maintained properly or followed up in a manner that manages to sustain an initial promise to any great extent. Just about the sole exception, apart from the aforementioned opening introduction, is the darker, haunting mood explored on Sirens towards the end of this CD.

Conclusion. At the end of the day, "Shipwreck" comes across as a pleasant production in general. There's nothing truly wrong with it, but apart from the brilliant opening piece nothing truly great either. A pleasant album by a band whose talents have yet to reach their full potential. If you are a fan of concept albums in general, and have a deep fascination for artists exploring sounds, moods and themes that are heavily inspired by late 70's Pink Floyd, then chances are good that you'll find this CD enjoyable.

OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: February 16, 2015
The Rating Room

Related Links:

Azafran Media
Musea Records
Living Stilts


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