Nuova Era - L'ultimo Viaggio (1988)

With their new quintet format (including the entry of bassist Ares Tavolazzi) Area managed to consolidate their radical avant-garde approach to jazz-rock and achieve a more powerful ensemble sound: the result was properly incarnated in their genius second album “Caution Radiation Area”, a manifesto of bold inventiveness and sheer energy. Their explosive mixture of Weather Report/Mahavishnu Orchestra-inspired fusion, psychedelia, free jazz, North Africa/Middle East folk and concrete chamber comes to a more cohesive and challenging fruition than in their already excellent debut album. The opener ‘Cometa Rossa’ serves as the beginner’s perfect introduction to both the band’s artistic ideology and legendary Demetrio Stratos’ unique vocal style: basically, it is a rocky-edged jazz fusion number that includes a deliciously extravagant sung interlude, during which, the instrumentation comes down to a more subtle ground. It is not only the effective melodic lines and the amazing interplay between all five musicians that will leave the aware listener stunned; just pay attention to Capiozzo and Tavolazzi’s masterful functioning as a rhythm section alone, as a clear example of the band’s combined technical talent and energetic fire – their input should leave the listener speechless while listening to the entire album (or almost). The next two tracks explore the jazz-psychedelia-folk stuff even further: since the vocal parts are decreased, the room for instrumental pyrotechnics gets properly expanded. Tofani is an authentic guitar visionary: to some degree influenced by Fripp, he manages to go to bizarre places of his own with his peculiarly atonal guitar soloing, which in many passages is processed through synthesizer-based effects. Meanwhile, Fariselli provides a solid foundation on both electric and grand pianos in order to build a bridge between Tofani and the rhythm duo; his melodic input is mostly provided on his synth solos. Stratos is not only the Tarzan-meets-mental hospital patient singer; he also provides some effective organ harmonies and countermelodies, as well as some percussive extras. The 10+ minute ‘MIRage? Mirage’ is the longest track in the album, leaving enough room for the succession of diverse motifs and extended jams, taking the band’s peculiar penchant for surprise. Tavolazzi’s performance on double bass - delivered with exquisite panache - provides the track a sense of focus among all the sonic insanity that his partners indulge into with unhidden gall and total enthusiasm. Somewhere in the drastically minimalistic interlude, a few chords on harpsichord (courtesy of Stratos) appear floating by, adding some bizarrely delicate colours to the moment's tapestry: even delicacy can be disturbing. ‘Lobotomia’ is the closing number, an exercise on electronic experimentalism designed to ultimately lobotomize the captive listener (or even displease the When the guys of Nuova Era debuted with 'L'Ultimo Viaggio', they were seeing themselves as mere heirs of a glorious prog time passed: what they couldn't foresee by then was that they were actually pioneering an era of, as some label it, prog revival in Europe. Since this is the starting point, Nuova Era has not managed yet to achieve its own voice, that is, they are still very dependant on the peculiar sounds that their old predecessors created. Nuova Era articulates a prog with a hard rock leaning, infused with a melodic sensibility (like Alphataurus, Biglietto per l'Inferno, and to a lesser degree, Museo Rosenbach) and a sombre romanticism (Apoteosi, E. A. Poe). Their repertoire comprises plenty of excellent musical ideas, such as catchy melodies, well crafted textures on keyboards (the main factor), a tight confident rhythm section, interesting guitar and synth solos; the performances are skillful and sensitive, without meandering in the excesses of self- indulgence (that's actually a real danger inherent to the pretentiousness of the prog genre). 'L'Ultimo Viaggio' is a concept-disc, centered on a heroin addict's struggle to kick off his terrible habit in order to assume a more constructive attitude towards life. The story's happy end is properly reflected on the enthusiastic two final numbers: 'Ritorno alla Vita' is a splendid testimony of self-redemption, while 'Epilogo' celebrates the sense of hope regained with excellent bombast. But before all that, some stuff had already kept the listener's interest. For instance, the namesake track developed the opening track's main line and added a lot of melodic and mood shifts, depicting in this way the addict's danger of dying; the two 'Cattivi Pensieri' numbers are fiery instrumentals full of creative pyrotechnics, yet keeping themselves very structured; 'La Tua Morte Parla' exhibits the more obscure side of the album, in an almost nightmarish horror-movie-esque ambience - this is the crucial moment where the addict character ultimately faces the prospect of his own death. While not perfect, it is clear tha 'L'Ultimo Viaggio' is the initial testimony of a band that had a lot of good stuff to offer,... and so they did, eventually!

(I dedicate this review to myy friend Aldo Buscaglia, whose generosity allowed me to become familiar with Nuova Era's music) - Review by Cesar Inca (César Inca Mendoza Loyola)

Track Listings

1. Eterna Sconfitta (5:34)
2. L'ultimo Viaggio (12:55)
3. Cattivi Pensieri (I) (2:13)
4. Cattivi Pensieri (II) (3:22)
5. La Tua Morte Parla (9:14)
6. Ritorno Alla Vita (4:55)
7. Epilogo (4:55)

Total Time: 43:08

- Walter Pini / organ, synthesizer
- Alex Camaiti / guitar, vocals
- Enrico Giordani / bass
- Gianluca Lavacchi / drums
- Ivan Pini / words
Releases information

Re release in 1998 by Pick Up Records (Bassano Del Grappa, Italy) 5490112 with this bonus track:
8. Senza Parlare

Download - Pass: hmenonprog

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