Mangala Vallis - The Book Of Dreams

Year of Release: 2002
Label: Tamburo AvaporE Records
Catalog Number: TAVR 012001
Format: CD
Total Time: 62:03:00

Mangala Vallis' Book Of Dreams is a concept album based on the works of Jules Verne, the 19th Century writer of such classics as Around The World In 80 Days, 20,000 Leagues Beneath The Sea, and A Journey To The Center Of The Earth (an inspiration for two albums from a well-known keyboardist). The band itself is a trio of Gigi Cavalli Cocchi on drums and percussion, Mirco Consolini on guitars and bass, and Enzo Cattini on various keyboards, Mellotron, Hammond C-3 and mini-Moog. The band have brought it a couple of guest to handle vocals, Matteo Setti (2 tracks) and Bernardo Lanzetti (ex-Acqua Fragile and P.F.M, 1 track) and Vic Fraja (3 tracks) ? 2 of the album's tracks are instrumentals.

What will strike you immediately upon hearing The Book Of Dreams is how much they sound like Genesis (in fact, you'll hear MV's take on "Apocalypse in 7/8" during "Is The End The Beginning?" ? that is, throbbing bass and drums in a familiar, though not quite as violently plucked and pounded. They aren't playing that passage, and are playing different things - guitar solo, later a keyboard solo - over it, but it sounds very close to it. And, like Clayton remarked, there is a Spock's Beard feel to the first part of this piece. However, the Genesis feeling (which dominates) is further reinforced on those tracks where Fraja provides lead vocal, as he sounds very much like both Peter Gabriel and Fish, which isn't so surprising, is it. Setti, on the other hand, sounds just a little bit like Stuart Nicholson of Galahad (doing ex-Spock's Beard vocalist Neal Morse) -- which the closest comparison I can make. He has a certain "neo-prog" voice, at the very least (and looks like he could be a Calvin Klein model!) and Bernardo Lanzetti who sounds only vaguely like Gabriel and Fish; his phrasing and style is closer than his tone.

In addition to Genesis, there are keyboard passages here and there will recall other 70s (and a few 80s) bands. In "Is The End?" there's a flash of Styx, though a particular "Watcher" like passage can also be heard. And something that so reminded me of The Rolling Stones' "You Can't Always Get What You Want" ? that chorus of voices singing "ah" on the outro ? though I think it's keys here. The intro to "The Book Of Dreams" has both a "Watcher" like intro before giving way to that early- Marillion Mark Kelly shrilly-parpy sound (oh, think "Garden Party", though the whole rhythm is quite different ? Il?vatar comes to mind a bit). "The Journey," which comes next, has a bit of a Pink Floyd-ness about it ? a bit of "Fearless" and bit of The Wall. In the case of the latter, we can detect various textures from that album.

But, I'd rather not write a review that takes each song and tells you which other song it sounds like. "Ouverture" isn't what you'd expect, as it doesn't state the themes that'll be heard later in the album, rather instead starts us out with a floaty, misty, swirly keyboard passage. Of course, swirly keyboard passages will appear in later pieces, but not quite in the same manner. "The Journey" is the longest track at 12-plus minutes, most of that a long instrumental passage, in the middle and at the end. I don't hold this up as a unique structure, of course. Stefano Menato guests on sax for "Days Of Light," which is a mellow, languidly paced track. (I will mention that I was reminded of Fish's "Angel Face" (from Tony Bank's Still album). "Under The Sea" is the muscular instrumental, as the heavier bottom end of drums and bass, provide a foundation for Consolini and Cattini to solo and duet over. "Asha" is another nice, epic length track, which includes some very nice performances from Consolini. In his solo spot, he plays some very delicate and fragile guitar phrases, though they are almost buried by the crisp percussion from Cocchi and gently throbbing bass of?well, Consolini. The latter half of this track is the spoken word (Kimberly Duke) and swirly keyboard interlude called "Coming Back Home." This leads into the triumphant, 10-plus minute "A New Century." It starts out heavy (though shy of metal) and then becomes a lighter, steely lattice of guitar and keys, all leading up to a big, epic passage. The theme of this song is how what was mere fantasy to Verne in the 1800s became reality in the 1900s (the 20th Century) ? One of Verne's works was From The Earth To The Moon, and The Book Of Dreams ends with a sound bite as spacecraft is descending to the surface (whether the soundbyte is from the Armstrong-Collins-Aldrin mission of 1969 or not, I can't tell ? it's not Armstrong's famous phrase).

You could hold its Genesis-isms against it, but why? The band is not pretending that this isn't the case. They deliberately sought out vintage instruments so that they could get that feeling of that period. I mean, we don't fault television shows or movies that are set in the past for using the fashion and music of the period they're in. Would you believe an Arthurian tale if instead of armor Lancelot wore Armani? Yeh, perhaps the music up to the last track should have had an 19th Century feel, but? well, now you're just splitting hairs. Relax, and view The Book Of Dreams for what it is, an homage to both a classic band and a classic author. Yes, the comparisons to Genesis don't go very much deeper than the surface, but it's a feel their after.

I will say in closing that "The Journey" might go on a bit too long in the middle section, but as a debut with no compunctions about what it's about, it's pretty darn good and enjoyable to listen to.

Ouverture (1:47) / Is The End The Beginning ? (9:28) / The Book Of Dreams (7:05) / The Journey (12:13) / Days Of Light (9:05) / Under The Sea (3:34) / Asha (Coming Back Home) (8:20) / A New Century (10:22)

Gigi Cavalli Cochi - drums, percussion
Enzo Cattini - keyboards
Mirco Consolini - guitars, bass


Bernardo Lanzetti - vocals (8)
Matteo Setti - vocals (3)
Vic Fraja - vocals (4, 5, 7)
Elisa Giordanella - viola
Stefano Menato - saxophone
Kimberly Duke - narration

The Book Of Dreams (2002)
Lycanthrope (2005)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin IT

Added: January 12th 2003
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 1277
Language: english


[ Back to Reviews Index | Post Comment ]