Mangala Vallis - The Book Of Dreams

Year of Release: 2002
Label: Tamburo A Vapore Records
Catalog Number: TAVR012001
Format: CD
Total Time: 62:03:00

I really have to change the way I treat fantastic good albums. Up until now every time I encounter a brilliant new album I put it in my car stereo where it stays for a very long time, being played over and over again. Before I know it months have slipped away and the album still hasn't been reviewed! That's exactly what happened to the Mangala Vallis debut The Book Of Dreams which is one of the most stunning debuts I have heard for a long time! In a way, you could regard Mangala Vallis as kind of another Ayreon because it also concerns a nucleus around which other guests have been gathered. Main difference however is that the nucleus concerns three individuals of which Mirco Consolini handles both guitar and bass, a feature which might not be so handy in live circumstances. "Is The End The Beginning" is a wonderful example of what to expect containing wonderful guitar, Squire-like bass, superb Hammond C3, Mellotron and a truly enjoyable voice delivered by one Matteo Setti. Needless to say, a lot of Genesis influences from the "old" school have crept inside this music but who are we to argue if it's played to perfection?

Dedicated to the memory of Jules Verne, the album tries to take us on a journey through new landscapes. Sometimes however the landscape looks rather similar as the title track does indeed hold a lot of resemblances to "I Know What I Like" composed by the masters themselves. Once again Mellotron rules, whilst the song also sports some nice harmonies and diverse sounding Mini-Moog. "The Journey" introduces the voice of Vic Fraja whose timbre can be situated between that of Phil Collins and that of Fish. Another great asset to the astonishing music of Mangala Vallis, certainly a name to be dealt with in the future. Acoustic instruments alternate with guitar and organ in order to announce a more contemporary feel, a driving force also including the kind of synth solo one would associate with National Health and the late Alan Gowen. Then again "Days Of Light" is slightly more accessible, more in the style of early For Absent Friends also introducing the saxophone of Stefano Menato giving the song a slight jazzy feel. Before the actual "grand finale," a powerful instrumental is included by means of the melodic "Under The Sea." It's followed by one of the nicest compositions what structure is concerned. True, "Asha" could certainly be an outtake from the Genesis album Duke introducing enough "panache" to keep this ballad interesting throughout. The ending switches to some tasteful blues that evolves towards the kind of bombastic outro this song truly deserves before ending with some tasteful narration. Fragile guitars from the Anthony Philips household open "A New Century" just in time to introduce guest singer Bernardo Lanzetti whom everyone knows from his involvment in the bands Acqua Fragile and PFM. The song itself is yet another pearl for lovers of divine Mellotron and Moog. The album closes with a piece of conversation from the central room at NASA so as to illustrate the journey from the vision of Jules Verne to reality.

With this album Mangala Vallis seriously introduces itself as one of the strong contenders of the current wave of symphonic rock. Regardless of the many Genesis references the music is clever, well arranged, and keeps a nice balance between the vintage approach and the current rock scene. No doubt this release will end high in many lists. Now, if you'll excuse me because I need to give this disc another spin!

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 - drums and percussion
Enzo Cattini - keyboards
Mirco Consolini - guitars and bass

The Book of Dreams (2002)
Lycanthrope (2005)

Intergalactic Live Video Archives (DVD) (2009)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin IT

Added: October 13th 2002
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

Artist website:
Hits: 601
Language: english


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