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progVisions

progVisions is a progressive rock e-zine, published in English and made by an international group of members. Our objective is to become a centre of information that contributes to the knowledge, growth and development of progressive rock.

album reviews

album review

Ataraxia - Deep Blue Firmament - 2016
albumcover

    
“... Deep Blue Firmament is an album of pure beauty ...”

In September of this year I wrote the following words about Ataraxia's album “Ena”;
“What a beautiful and relaxed album. The music on this album radiates the atmosphere of purity and love. A blissful celebration of an open-hearted attitude. Nowhere on this album the music sounds hectic. The album is in balance and the instrumentation is delicate.” And I told you that I was very curious about the new album “Deep Blue Firmament”. It took a while to get a physical promo copy of the new Ataraxia album, but now I can inform you about “Deep Blue Firmament”.

Francesca Nicoli - vocals; Vittorio Vandelli - electric and acoustic guitars, guitarra fado, bass guitar, backing vocals (1,3,4,6,8,9,11,12); Giovanni Pagliari - keyboards, harmonizing, male vocals (2), backing vocals (4,6); Riccardo Spaggiari - snare-drum, frame drum, daf, darabouka, cymbals, drum-pads; Totem Bara - cello (1,6,8)

The album is released on the Greek label Sleaszy Rider Records. Sadly I did not receive the limited digipak version with the bonus track “Alexandria Pt. 2”. On the standard jewel-case version we can find the following 11 tracks; “Delphi”, “Message To The Cloud”s, “Greener Than Gras”s, “Myrrh”, “Alexandria Pt. 1”, “Russo Sangue”, “Galatia”, “May”, “Vertical”, “Ubiquity” and “Phoebe”. Besides the lyrics of singer Francesca Nicoli the band uses on tracks 2, 3 and 8 the poems of William Butler Yeats.

According the band in November 2015 they entered their new recording studio without any idea, any thread of notes in mind, completely empty as channels ready to be filed by grace. Within a period of 7 months 12 new musical pearls are born driven by a powerful inspiration, free and cleansing as the wind, deep and sensitive as the sea waters, passionate and courageous as a burning flame, rich and welcoming as a fertile land. “Deep Blue Firmament” is our trip as sailors before the stars, the firmament is our life-map over a sea of notes. These songs bring harmony, magic, awareness and clarity of vision. This text is typical Ataraxia. According their website Ataraxia is spiritual balance, a lack of inner turmoils, a deep harmony ....

A good description of the atmosphere that this album radiates. Like “Ena” this “Deep Blue Firmament” is also an album that is in balance and with a delicate instrumentation which supports the beautiful vocals of Francesca Nicoli. The music of “Deep Blue Firmament” could be described as Neo-Classical with ambient and ethereal atmospheres. When I first heard the opening tracks “Delphi” and “Message To The Clouds” I noticed that I find the music more symphonic. Maybe orchestral is a better word. You find beautiful and delicate keyboard orchestrations on this album. And the use of the cello (Totem Bara) in three tracks strengthens the classical atmosphere of the album. In “Greener Than Grass” the instrumentation is more acoustic but the atmosphere stays relaxed. This is one of the three tracks with lyrics based on the work of Yeats. The first part of the slow “Myrrh” sounds a little bit darker and mysterious. It is the longest (8:48) track of the album and one of my favorites. The second part sounds more uplifting and the vocal harmonies and melodies are just breathtaking. This is followed by the short “Alexandria Pt. 1” in which the voice of Francesca is shinning on a bed of a classical instrumentation. “Rossi Sangue” is also one of my favorites. In this track the male vocals of Vittorio and Giovanni are combined with the angelic voice of Francesca and the cello is enriching the instrumentation of this track. In “May”, one of the Yeats tracks you can also hear the cello. I love this instrument that is always an enrichment to the music. “Vertical” is a little gem of pure beauty. The vocal melodies and the orchestration are of unparalleled beauty. For me this is the most beautiful track of the album. But the keyboard orchestrations of the following track “Ubiquity” are also very beautiful. You can imagine the “Deep Blue”. The album closes with the more acoustic “Phoebe”. In this piece there is more room for the acoustic guitars of master Vittorio Vandelli. A worthy ending of a remarkable album.

“Deep Blue Firmament” is an album of pure beauty. The keyboard orchestrations are just amazing and I love the addition of the cello in some of the tracks. As always the vocals are exceptional on an Ataraxia album. The combination of the voices of Francesca, Vittorio and Giovanni enriches the vocal colors of the music. The music sounds relaxed and the album is well balanced. The band sounds more modern and contemporary on this great album. Highly recommended for the open-minded music lover.

Douwe Fledderus - November 2016
rating - Sleaszy Rider Records

 

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