Moongarden - The Gates Of Omega

Year of Release: 2001
Label: Mellow Records
Catalog Number: MMP 398
Format: CD
Total Time: 100:34:00

Whilst the band's debut Brainstorm Of Emptyness was strongly rooted in the back garden of Camel, after a rather long silence Cristiano Roversi has penned eight brand new compositions that he has spread over two CDs. So expect 100 minutes worth of original pure symphonic delight in which all of the genre's highlights are bundled into a new, powerful musical statement that holds the middle between vintage progressive rock and contemporary pop. [A demo-album, Moonsadness, was released by Mellow prior to Brainstorm's release, making the latter their first full-length release. -ed.]

A thing which strikes me from the very beginning is the perfect English from singer Luca Palleshi. In the past, some of the highlights of Italian progressive scene sadly suffered from a weird pronunciation of the English language, which had us reach for the bands that sang in Italian instead, bands who had not tried their luck and fame on an international level by releasing English-language version of their material. Another important aspect of the Moongarden music is the inclusion of drummer Massimiliano Sorrentini who approaches his drums in a similar way that England (remember their album Garden Shed?) drummer Jode Leigh does, which means not using the snare. The music on this double album is mainly of a very calm and intimate nature as is illustrated by means of "5 Years" which sees the vocals blend with wonderful piano and acoustic guitar resulting in a breathtaking song with international exposure!

The title track of the album introduces a lengthy track of no fewer than 26 minutes. It kicks off with an atmosphere that comes close to that of Peter Gabriel around the period of his third album (the rhythm in the intro makes me think of "Biko"!). The drums have a world music feel whilst there's also some magnificent fretless bass before the acoustic guitar takes us on a journey throughout a rather mystical nature rubbing shoulders with ambient music. Once the drums go silent, the strings take over introducing almost a cosmic feel, going as far back as the Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze school, augmented with a little Karda Estra. After a not so interesting middle section, the rhythm takes over again steering the music into a Genesis direction which we can situate around the Wind And Wuthering period. That world music feel is slightly repeated in the rather short "Moonsong" which introduces Indian tabla but also the female narration of Pamela Brooks.

The second CD begins with "Home Sweet Home," again floating on a great drum sound, guitar loops and that splendid voice of Luca, which really is the greatest asset of the revamped Moongarden! The way he sings here could easily be associated with Ronnie James Dio when he used to sing the ballads during his Rainbow days, although not as high pitched. There's also a slight hint of Enchant singer Ted Leonard to be found. The way guitar and mellotron melt together is like listening to White Willow and Änglägard with a twist of AOR. This fifteen minute track also introduces great synthsounds which together with the snareless drum and the fretless bass make for some very interesting listening. Don't be at all surprised when, at the end of the song, you are treated to some flamenco type acoustic guitar which switches towards Metheny like material. Although very few people will actually understand what I'm talking about here, the intro of the Moongarden song "Castles Of Sand" comes damn close to "Hope, faith And You" from the band White Buffalo, who used to open for Marillion last year! By means of some cosmic elements the song then goes on to live a life of its own. "Stars And Tears" will please a lot of fans of authentic vintage keyboards as there's a lot of mellotron, organ and synth up to par.

As with disc 1, disc 2 closes with "Moonsong" (here "The Conclusion"), an uptempo song which could fit in well during chill out parties. Again it uses some backward played guitar loops to enhance the contemporary feel making it clear that Moongarden is indeed progressive all the way without feeling it necessary to copy the big names from the seventies. The result is some of the finest and most interesting music to be released the last decade. One word of criticism maybe which concerns the longer tracks. Some of these, if not all, include certain sections that could have been left out in order to deliver a more direct album and who knows maybe in that respect all of the material could have fit onto a single disc because, believe it or not, but for a lot of people the name Moongarden will be totally new, and buying two CDs of an unknown artist instead of one still is a gamble few music lovers are willing to take!

Disc One: Forever Chained (7:56) / 5 Years (6:27) / The Gates Of Omega (Omega - Beyond The Gates - Metamorphosis Complete) (27:03) / Moonsong (4:04)

Disc Two: Home Sweet Home (Homeless Heart - The Onelyness War - Silent Cry - The Road To The Old House - All I Can Do) (16:20) / Castles Of Sand (11:44) / Stars And Tears (Night Words - This Little Dream - Who Are You? - Stars And Tears - Day Words) (17:10) / Moonsong - The Conclusion (9:50)

Luca Palleshi - vocals
David Cremoni - guitars
Massimiliano Sorrentini - drums
Cristiano Roversi - Chapman grand stick, keyboards, piano, fretless bass

Moonsadness (1995)
Brainstorm Of Emptyness (1996)
The Gates Of Omega (2001)
Round Midnight (2004)
Songs From The Lighthouse (2008)
A Vulgar Display Of Prog (2009)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin IT

Added: July 16th 2002
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

Artist website:
Hits: 985
Language: english


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