Hostsonaten - Springsong

Year of Release: 2002
Label: Sublime Label
Catalog Number: 122001
Format: CD
Total Time: 43:36:00

Sample cards from the Springsong releaseThis release from Italy's Hostsonaten is housed in some wonderful packaging -- a cardboard case holds the CD in a separate sleeve on one side, a sleeve that is illustrated on one side and gives the tracklisting on the other. And, on the other side of the "digipack" are a series of 5" square cards, each illustrated with a nature scene featuring a particular animal (tiger, rabbit, deer, various birds, a boar...), the song credits (who plays what) on the reverse. The illustrations are from The Bible Of Borso D'Este, while the other artwork (typography, layout) is by Andrea Soncini. So, you might be saying, if the outside is this special, what about the inside?

Ah, well, the inside. The inside is equally special, featuring 10 tracks of beautiful, lyrical, classy instrumental music. While for the most part it is gentle and lilting with it's classical, folk and medieval touches, there are so some prog rock moments, though wonderfully understated -- an electric guitar solo on "Kemper/Springtheme" for example. The flute has just the right tone at just the right moment, the sweet sounding violin appears just when that particular tone is needed, percussion perfectly placed. Though I had received this a few months ago, and had planned to review it for this issue or the next, a comment on the E-prog newsgroup, suggesting that those who liked Eris Pluvia's Rings Of Earthly Light (citing moi as an example) would love Springsong. Well, that astute poster was dead-on, as I truly love this CD. Kudos to AH, who gave me the tip, and a big thank you to the generous folks at Sublime (Italy) for allowing us the opportunity to experience this special release. This package had to cost a "pretty penny" to produce, I'm sure, but no "penny" was wasted, that's for sure.

Italian-prog fans will recognize the name Fabio Zuffanti from Finisterre; Hostsonaten is his baby, as he wrote all the music and arrangements, the latter with input from the others involved in this project. Those others include fellow Finisterre members Francesca Biagini on flute; Stefano Marelli on various guitars and bass; Boris Valle on piano, and Edmondo Romano on low and tin whistle, soprano saxophone, recorder. Romano, as it happens, played on Rings as well, so I can understand AH's tip. The non-Finisterre members of the Hostsonaten are Sergio Caputo on violin, derbouka, and ziff; Agostino Macor on organ, mellotron, moog, piano; Federico Foglia on drums and percussion and Robert Vigo on piano and stringsynth. Zuffanti plays both acoustic and 12 string guitars, and bass. This is Hostsonaten's third release, their first being Zuffanti's solo project under the Hostsonaten name (though many of these same artists appeared on that album), Hostsonaten (1997), their second, Mirrorgames (1998).

As the title suggests, the underlying theme is spring -- as a metaphor for nature and life. The music is so light and refreshing that I can almost forget that it's 3 days into Summer (in the Northern Hemisphere), and a balmy 80-something degrees at 10:30 p.m. I have to say, though, that I wasn't sure I was ready to write this review. Not that I didn't know what I was going to say about it, but that I was hesistant to move to that stage. I have so enjoyed listening to this album, and yet, won't really feel that that I've listened to it, until several years from now, after every nuance has been examined, every flute trill contemplated, every tinkling piano line...every drag of the bow across the violin strings... I think, perhaps, I like this release more than Rings, but it's really too soon to say that. For now, we'll leave it at "as much as."

Everybody's playing is fabulous. Every track is fabulous, whether lilting acoustic or mellow rock or jazzy rock. "Living Stone And 1st Reprise" reminded me a bit of a Landberk tune ("Dustgod") percussion-wise, as the drum rhythm and tone is very similar, but the flute floating over this tattoo tells you that it's just coincidence. Oh, and then there's Romano on the sax after Caputo on the violin, each are so melting beautiful. "She Sat Writing Letters On The Riverbank" is somewhat melancholy with that sweet violin and a lightly plunked piano (surely there's a prettier word that plunked). This track also includes an audio snippet from Andrei Tarkowky's Mirror (a 1975 film, more info). "The Underwater and 2nd Reprise" is a little jazzy, especially where the piano and Romano's sax are concerned. Actually, it's a bit ecstatic like we hear from some RIO bands, but this "mellows" into a mid-tempo rock piece with another beautiful guitar lead from Marelli. Is it my imagination, but doesn't it seem like to be a great guitarist you need to be named Steve (or regional variations of )? Hackett, Howe, Rothery,... oh to name three...add Stefano Marelli to that list. "Lowtide" is moody and mysterious. It's that Romano again, here on low whistle. But, Marelli on electric guitar, Zuffanti on acoustic, Valle's tinkling piano, and Caputo's warm violin add just the right touches. A classic prog sound - mellotron - appears at the end of "The Wood Is Alive With The Smell Of Rain" ... earthy percussion gives a Latin-esque feel to "Evocation Of Spring In A Fastdance" (more fab sax from Romano, too). "Toward The Sea" begins, with "a. blackmountains," in a jumpy, danceable way, and though the piece mellows a bit, still has a driving rhythm. We are treated to more wonderful solos from Marelli in this pieces as well - those slow burn, lovingly rendered, emotion solos that I love so much. The piece ends on with a very Celtic/medieval feel, with French bagpipes, tin and low whistles (Romano).

Well... though, I suspect this will ultimately top my list for 2002, for now I will say for sure that it is in the running. If there is a must have release for 2002, this is it. If I gave points, it'd be an 11 of 10.

In The Open Fields (4:57) / Kemper/Springtheme (5:36) / Living Stone And 1st Reprise (3:30) / She Sat Writing Letters On The Riverbank (3:47) / The Underwater And 2nd Reprise (3:28) / Lowtide (3:20) / The Wood Is Alive With The Smell Of The Rain (4:20) / Evocation Of Spring In A Fastdance (2:40) / Toward The Sea (13:18) a. Blackmountain, b. 3rd Reprise, c. Springland

Fabio Zuffanti - 12 string guitar, bass, acoustic guitar
Francesca Biagini - flute
Sergio Caputo - violin, derbouka, ziff
Boris Valle - piano
Edmondo Romano - soprano saxophone, low whistle, tin whistle, recorder, French bagpipes
Federico Foglia - percussion, drums
Stefano Marelli - classical guitar, bass, 12 string guitar, electric guitar, e-bow
Agostino Macor - piano, organ, mellotron, moog
Roberto Vigo - piano, stringsynth, Protools

Hostsonaten (1997)
Mirrorgames (1998)
Springsong (2002)
Springtides (2005)
Winterthrough (2008)
Autumnsymphony (2009)
The Complete Seasoncycle Suite (2011)
The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner (Chapter One) (2012)
The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner (Chapter One) - Alive In Theatre (2013)
Symphony #1: Cupid & Psyche (2016)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin IT

Added: June 26th 2002
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website: www.zuffantiprojects/hostsonatenweb
Hits: 1537
Language: english


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