Hailing from Italy is another great offering from one of the world’s most prolific regional prog music scenes. As mild mannered and personable as any man you will meet, Nicola Randone introduced me to his musical world with his latest album, ‘Linea Di Confine,’ which after repeated listens, blew me away and left me wanting more of his music. After having spent many hours wrapped up in the symphonic rock of Randone, I can safely say that this group’s work ranks up there as one of my favourite recent musical discoveries. Taking the musical style developed by generations of Italy’s best modern musical minds and putting his own personal spin on it, Nicola Randone is certainly consistent in terms of the quality of his material. And ‘Nuvole Di Ieri’ is no exception to this rule.
Like much of his other work, Randone lets this album flow seamlessly from one track to another; giving the impression that ‘Nuvole Di Ieri’ is actually the title of a forty minute song, instead of merely an album. At eighteen tracks, there are a foray of different musical ideas and moods that the music cycles through. It does not take long for things to get rolling; a short prelude introduces one of the main recurring motifs of the work before one of the most exciting tracks ‘Partenza’ comes into play. From this first ‘actual’ song alone, it’s not in question that Nicola and his fellow musicians are highly skilled and talented at their work. Although Mr. Randone has a dayjob as a graphic designer (as can be seen in the band’s beautiful album artwork) and only pursues his music out of love for the art, Randone is easily talented enough to be a full-time, professional act. On top of this skilled musicianship, the music here is very tastefully produced and arranged; there are plenty of little nuances in the music you likely will not pick up until after a few intent listens.
While the fact that ‘Nuvole Di Ieri’ is a song cycle makes it all the better in terms of cohesion, I sometimes wish that alot of the musical ideas could have been developed more and explored in further detail. While there is nary a single minute of music here I don’t find excellent or at least very good, the sheer amount of concepts that roll through the course of the album means that there is not very much time for most of the melodies and concepts to establish themselves before the album moves onwards. With many of the tracks averaging around the two minute mark, ‘Nuvole’ is certainly not the sort of work that can be analyzed track-by-track, but rather as a whole.
More so than the other music I’ve heard from Randone so far, this is a highly guitar driven album. While there are plenty of vocal and symphonic arrangements to give depth to the music, you will not go a few minutes here without hearing a guitar solo or flourish from the man himself. While heavy concentration on guitar has led to me appreciating a few albums in my collection less, the guitar work here never gets tasteless. While many contemporary guitarists exchange taste for technical flair, the guitarists here manages to make their guitars sing, all the while throwing something technically impressive our way to keep us on our toes. Being that this is a very guitar-driven album, there was definately consideration in getting a fitting tone for the axework here. Much of the lead work and guitar work here is very close to the sort of stuff that made Brian May of Queen famous for his skills. As much as he is a great composer of epic song suites and a skilled tenor, Randone really excels at his mastery of the guitar. Lead work from guitarist Marco Crispi is also a real highlight here.
‘Nuvole Di Ieri’ is a great offering to the Italian Prog scene, as well as a fit addition to Randone’s discography. While the style is more or less the same as the rest of his albums and works like ‘Linea Di Confine’ seem to have more standout moments and leave a somewhat stronger impression, ‘Nuvole’ is definately an album that will be getting repeated plays from me over the years.