Prolusion. RANDONE is a modern Italian band, led by singer and keyboardist extraordinary Nicola Randone. “Linea Di Confine”, their fifth album, is issued in two versions: as a full-format book (which I can’t read, as I don’t speak Italian), with a CD inserted into the pocket on the inside of its cover, and as a standard CD outing, which can be purchased from Electromantic Music, the group’s native label which owns the rights on all their other recordings. The album lasts for 77 minutes – too long for me, so I have armed myself with patience prior to taking on it.
Analysis. On this new effort Randone has deviated from the classic symphonic style with elements of rock opera that typifies most of the band’s previous work, turning towards a more light sound, which embraces Neo Prog, balladic Art-Rock and mainstream music, as well as traditional Italian romanticism – as a dominant feature of the vocal constituent. The music was originally worked out as a platform for Nicola’s vocals and so it is heavy in accompanying those almost everywhere on the album. Besides singing, however, the man pretty often narrates, at times littering the songs with alien voices of a natural as well as artificial origin, radio ones included – I really wonder why singer as gifted as he is has decided to use those. All sixteen of the compositions present suit the above idiom, save the fact that almost a half of those (tracks 2 to 5, 11, 14 & 16) are texturally fairly transparent and are instantly accessible. There are fine instrumental arrangements on the majority of those, with lush passages of a virtual string ensemble underlying a thoughtful organ solo or the interplay between piano and acoustic guitar, but they don’t appear to be really effective, since they are basically slow-paced and are overshadowed by the vocals in addition. Either way, quite a few of the songs sound cut out of the same mold. The other tracks – 1, 6 to 10, 12, 13 & 15 – are more interesting and compelling. All of them deploy elements of heavy music as a supplementary genre component (kudos to Marco Crupi, whose guitar playing is quite inventive here), showing that the band has the capability to develop a new direction. The vocals are more varied on these compositions, though it is mainly on their instrumental level that the real goods are delivered and where Nicola himself is at his best, effectively applying his arsenal of vintage keyboards. All in all, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I find Prologo, the sole vocal-free piece on the disc, to be its best track. As for the worst one, it would be Preghiera Di Un Re, which uses a drum machine throughout. Yes, a few of the other tunes contain sections (or moves if you will) that drummer Riccardo Cascone didn’t have a hand in, either: strangely enough, considering that he is still a full-member – at least is credited as being so.
Conclusion. From a classic progressive viewpoint, Randone’s “Linea Di Confine” is a step backwards compared to any of the releases that form the band’s back catalog. Nonetheless, in spite of all its flaws (to mention only one, the musicians have room to grow on each of the tracks), this is still a worthwhile effort. Why? It contains nothing flashy and – what really matters – is full of originality as well as melodic beauty.