Cleopatra Records (label)
25 May 2018 (released)
15 May 2018
As the pantheon of popular music bends inexorably towards the electronic (EDM and hip-hop), rock music, particularly that with depth and complexity is relegated to the canon of a historical genre. Jazz which once broadly controlled the musical landscape had to eventually acquiesce to the steamroller of rock n roll. Now, it lives on in a more mature form, standing on the shoulders of its predecessors. Living in this kind of space allows for a creativity not granted when under the harsh spotlight of popular music. Unbridled creativity can thrive and new and interesting crossovers can take place.
As you follow the path of rock as it delved further into progressive territory, the parallels with classical music became increasingly apparent. Complex melodies, timings, and chord changes overtook the chase for the hook in endless repetition. Their shared musical sensibilities made them an obvious match despite their somewhat differing in mood and tone.
Italian duo Armonite takes their classical training and put it to use over the churning rhythms of progressive rock and metal. Taking inspiration from not only their classical contemporaries but also rock acts from The Beatles to Dream Theater, the duo have managed to create a stimulating album bridging the genres. For the second time now, the group has employed the talents of bassist Colin Edwin from modern prog legends Porcupine Tree to lend edge and authenticity to the project. Along with a host of impressive Italian musicians, Armonite's latest record And the Stars Above takes you on a trip through a series of vignettes filled with adventure and danger but also triumph and levity.
We begin our journey with the clockwork-like work of violinist Jacopo Bigi and pianist/keyboardist
Paolo Fosso on 'The March of Stars'. They are joined by vocalist Maria Chiara Montagnari who adds a mythic quality to the track along with several others. Following the pomp of the intro, we descend into a more chaotic landscape with Edwin's bass and swirling orchestration. We're off on an adventure.
'Next Ride' and 'District Red' continue this pace with a rolling vigour. The latter ends with a grinding bass line under tempestuous violin swoops. A decent dose of standard fare is peppered in without the feverish drums and ratcheting bass to mix in moments of levity. All in all, the album plays like an inspired soundtrack to a movie that is full of both ancient and futuristic elements.
Armonite has created an exciting and moving piece of creative, collaborative art. Beautifully merging the traditional sonics of their instruments with the wild possibilities of modern progressive rock. A great album to transport you from the mundane to the fantastical.