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Runaway Totem - 2004 - "Plemora"

(69 min, Musea)

TRACK LIST:                             

1.  La Porta del Diat 18:35
2.  Il Lago di Fuoco 8:52
3.  Restau 5:39
4.  Abisso delle Acque 8:05
5.  Sokari 7:30
6.  I due Orizzonti 20:23

All tracks: by Runaway Totem.
Produced by Runaway Totem.


Roberto "Cahol de Betel" Gottardi - vocals; guitars, bass; sampling
Germano "Tipheret" Morghen - drums, percussions; keyboards
Susanna Villagnova - vocals (5), vocalize samples

Prolusion. "Plemora" is the fifth album by Italy's RUNAWAY TOTEM and is their third for Musea Records. I've heard most of the band's albums. If you wish to know my opinion on each of them, please click here.

Analysis. According to the CD press kit, "Plemora" is the third part of the "Andromeda" trilogy, a concept album about the soul's journey to Heaven, fighting against demons on its way to be judged by God. While some of the previous Runaway Totem albums came with semi-imaginary lyrics, this story is told in pure Italian, but alas, I hardly understand this language better than than any invented one. More important changes touched the band's lineup. Instead of a traditional quartet, here we find original members, signors Gottardi and Morghen, working as a duo, handling all the instrumentation and most vocals. As on "Tep Zepi", the operatic female vocalist Susanna Villagnova guests on "Plemora" too. One track, Sokari, features her real singing, while on the others, the only instrumental Abisso Delle Acque included, were used her vocalization samples. Gottardi sings better than ever before, appearing as a highly inventive chameleon singer, equally at ease doing operatic and, say, traditional vocals, though his singing will hardly remind you of anyone else's. Most of the tracks feature a lot of "ooh choir" sounds in the keyboard patches and some overdubbed vocals as well, all done mainly in an operatic key, which promoted to the creation of a rich and specific vocal palette. As ever, the music is rather dark and betraying Gothic overtones. The band still widely uses odd meters, as well as angular melodies, to keep off the balance, which is more typical for RIO than Zeuhl (in any case, there is no even the lightest trace of jazz-related things on this album). The latter features, however, are really striking only in the heavy sections, so those are a bit more impressive. Inasmuch as Il Lago di Fuoco and Sokari are heavy, up-tempo and intensive almost throughout, they are my favorites. I am not in the least intended to underestimate the other compositions, but each of the 'sidelong' epics, La Porta del Diat and I due Orizzonti, contains a couple of episodes with a quieter, Ambient-like music, which seems to me being out of place there. Nevertheless, while not masterworks as the aforementioned two, these, as well as the remaining compositions, Restau and Abisso delle Acque, are excellent, covering a full specter of musical emotion, from soft sections of spacey, symphonic and classical-like patterns to RIO-ish Doom Metal outburst of blistering fuzzed guitars and everything else in between.

Conclusion. After a half dozen of releases or so, many bands are way over the hill, but Runaway Totem's creation is still far from stagnation. On "Plemora", the band has once again proved that they remain one of the most unique and creative Italian outfits, at least today. Overall, the album is a fascinating journey and appeals to fans of the band and all the adventurous listeners alike. Highly recommended.

VM: March 8, 2005

Related Links:

Musea Records
Musea Records
Runaway Totem


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