Italy's violin rock outfit Armonite recently released And the Stars Above, a 12-track (plus two bonus tracks) neo-classical prog rock gem.
Classically trained, composer Paolo Fosso (piano, keyboards) and Jacopo Bigi (acoustic and electric violin) blend classical themes, moody soundscapes, hints of jazz, and stylish prog rock into a sound devoid of vocals, lyrics, and guitars. Their unique sound utilizes the electric violin to attain modified guitar tones.
"Our goal is to capture and raise the imagination" Fosso explains. "Everyday life can be so saturated with cynicism, sometimes we need a ladder to the stars - a reminder that we can live on the vertical dimension of life, high above the surface level."
On the Cleopatra label, And the Stars Above features the talents of Colin Edwin and Alberto Fiorani (bass); Giacomo Lampugnani and Gianmarco Straniero (double bass); Corrado Bertonazzi, Emiliano Cava, and Jasper Barendregt (drums); Maria Chiara Montagnari (voice); Marcello Rosa (cello); and Quartetto Indaco.
In 2015, Armonite released their debut LP, The Sun is New Each Day, to wide acclaim, followed by a tour encompassing the UK, Italy, and Switzerland.
And the Stars Above opens with "The March of the Stars," starting off with a virtuoso intro of dazzling keyboards and an adolescent choir flowing into a galvanizing prog rock tune. Bigi's pulsating, trembling violin merges with the surging synths, creating magnificent sonic surfaces.
Personal favorites include "District Red," with its plucking intro flowing into prog rock burnished by classical flavors riding on a fuzzed-out bassline reminiscent of Muse. The rhythm canters and then gallops, as piercingly delectable layers of violins shed resonant tears. "Plaza de Espana" streams elegance, as the piano courses below tight delicate strings. This is a gorgeously evocative tune.
"Blue Curacao" thrums with edgy emergent synth colors and a crunching groove traveling on a Latin jazz-tinged prog rock tune. The electric violin radiates organic tearing howls, along with deeper guttural growls. "By the Waters of Babylon" merges neo-classical savors with glowing spills of prog rock.
And the Stars Above is glorious. Refined classical aromas swirling with textures of prog rock energy coalesce into nuanced sublime music.
Randy Radic is a Left Coast author and writer. Author of numerous true crime books written under the pen-name of John Lee Brook. Former music contributor at Huff Post.
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