Those who read progVisions from the early days will know that the italian band Ataraxia always has good reviews by my side. That´s because I consider this band, as in other way Sopor Aeternus, something more than a “musical band”. Their music can´t be taken out from their visual and philosophical concepts. You can read a couple of reviews in progVisions and you can find one bio and an interview I wrote for the early progVisions years ago.
Every Ataraxia´s album has its own concept. “Sueños” was based on water, eastern cultures and medieval times; “Lost Atlantis” on civilizations drown by oceans; “Concerto N. 6 : A Baroque Plaisanterie” on XVII Century; and so every release (more than ten) is one lesson of History. “Saphir´s” concept is about gardens of all times and all places (Babylonian Gardens, Zen Gardens, English Gardens). The booklet has text about Gardens and some lyrics are taken from different books. As in previous albums Ataraxia keep on singing in several languages.
The line up is still led by Francesca Nicoli (vocals and texts) and Vittorio Vandelli (classical and electric guitars, vocals) accompanied by Giovanni Pagliari (keyboards, vocals) and the new percussionist Riccardo Spaggiari (darbuka, frame-drum, timpano, udu, cymbals, manjira,...) who replaces Francesco Bancini, now working on his interesting mediaeval project named GOR.
I can´t review this album track by track because this is an insoluble concept. The whole album is infused with a weird and quiet beauty only broken by the epic “Azar”, the opening song sung in spanish language and led by hardened spanish guitar´s arpeggios. They should have taken more care of the adaptation in spanish language because there are sentences that don´t sound good, but well… it doesn´t matter at all. After that song we immerse into the beauty of the music thanks to soft classical guitars and gentle percussions that cradle the listener though the minutes (who cares if we´re listening to the fourth or the eighth song?). Francesa´s voice and Vandelli´s classical guitar transport us to an oneiric trip through the gardens of the world, as Spaggiari provides gratifying soundscapes. Sometimes he leads some songs, as in “The Gentle Sleep”, with a wonderful piano. Francesca speaks to us with her voice – sometimes sweet, sometimes rough- in Spanish, in English, in French… but you won´t notice it because she really talks in the language of Music.
After “Mon Seul Desir” (2002), an album I consider a blunder, the Italian band Ataraxia proves that unlabelled music can still be written. This is not a music with “nerve”, so you won´t find here power or energy. Here you´ll find fragility and sensitivity.
Take a look at www.ataraxia.net and you´ll know in depth the concept of this band. I´m sure you´ll find it interesting.