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Songs from the Lighthouse

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Audio CD, January 1, 2001
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Product Description

The chance of working on a full length album came with the "Brainstorm of Emptyness" sessions. This is the second official release under Mellow Records, but in many ways the first real Moongarden one. This CD saw the addition of Massimiliano Sorrentini on drums and Ricki Tonco on vocals. Moreover, during this period, the band published a cover called "There Will be Time" by Osanna for The 70's Italian Progressive tribute album.

Luca Palleschi joined the band as the new official vocalist, and a few months later the new album was ready. The Gates of Omega, the third official release, represents so far the most complex and mature work produced by the band, and has obtained enthusiastic comments by both public and critics. Further to this last publication, Moongarden have finally set the basis for more intense musical activity: a successful series of concerts and live performances around Europe, a new label, Galileo records, and the fourth album Round Midnight....... Max Sorrentini and Luca left the band in 2005 for human and artistic divergences....after a year we finally find the new definitive line up with the singer Simone Baldini Tosi (he was the singer of the first album Moonsadness) and drummer Maurizio Di Tollo. The new album called SONGS FROM THE LIGHTHOUSE is finally ready, with the artwork of the great cover artist Ed Unitsky. ...and the story goes on...

This 5th Moongarden album follows up the highly successful release "Round Midnight" from 2004 that won many album of the month and year awards. Since that release the band has added a new guitarist and vocalist, which brought even more energy to the band with this amazing new release.

Review

It s only been four years since the last Moongarden CD release entitled Round Midnight, but a lot has happened to the band. They ve incorporated an excellent new guitarist and a masterful new vocalist and all of this has had a dramatic and positive effect on the band. It s really energized them and it shows in the music they ve created for their fifth studio release entitled Songs from the Lighthouse, which comes in a beautifully designed package compliments of master designer Ed Unitsky. It is a thing of beauty. ***

Italy s Moongarden came together in the early nineties and in their early days they were not afraid of covering classic Genesis or even Osanna for various tribute recordings. All of this certainly helped this quintet formulate their own sound and style, which if you were to describe it would include equal parts classic symphonic prog blended with some modern alternative rock sounds. The newer sounds are incorporated exceptionally well through the use of skilled keyboard work and complex brooding arrangements. Many of the songs are longer, running over seven minutes with three even longer than that. Perhaps picking up on the tracks title My Darkside (7:26) displays a darker, melancholy feel with the composition ending with some haunting Mellotron strings. We re then treated to a deceptively simple song It s You (7:04) that builds in intensity throughout it s length ending in massed Mellotron choirs and huge orchestration. Next is Solaris (13:00) which is easily one of my favorite tracks inspired by the classic Russian movie of the same name. It features multiple rhythms and melodies drifting in and out of the song s length. This track also features a little more aggressive guitar that fits so neatly against the Mellotron string backdrop. This track, like many of the others goes through a number of mood shifts in time and tempo as well as intensity. The instrumental interplay is very accomplished even though it s not overly complex. For me each of the 10 tracks held something more intriguing than the sheer number of notes used. Each was hypnotic in its own way. Fans of The Tangent will be excited to hear the distinctive voice of Andy Tillison on That Child (5:52), a track that is as large and symphonic as they come. I could go on but I m sure you get the picture.***

To my ears, Moongarden have really stepped up their game with Songs from the Lighthouse. The symphonic prog they create sounds both classic and yet very modern. Like their previous release there are some alternative elements but never straying very far from a symphonic prog foundation. In fact I d say the emphasis on this release is at times more along the lines of the classic Italian symphonic bands that played with a harder edge. This is brilliant stuff and easily another CD that will be one of my favorites of 2008. If you haven t clued into Moongarden yet....don t hesitate, pick up Songs from the Lighthouse today! --Progressive Land

Moongarden's fifth album Songs From the Lighthouse sees the return of Simone Baldini Tosi (singer on the first album Moonsadness from 1994). Fans of Luca Palleschi may not be a fan of the present singer (especially if they aren't familiar with the first album). Though, this may only be an unwillingness to adapt their expectations, and to not constantly think about how Palleschi would have sung on the album. Simone Baldini Tosi has a deep and textured voice, and delivers with a style that at times reminds me of Mariusz Duda (Riverside). However, Simone is uneven at times, while his voice can be extremely emotional and strong, at other times when he tries to get the grit his voice weakens. Yet, he's better than most singers out there and that has to count for something.

Essentially, the band plays progressive, atmospheric, music that travels between rock and metal. The first song, "My Darkside", is a bit similar to something you would hear from Riverside or Porcupine Tree, and it's my favorite track on the album. The songs have a laid back nature to them, and I've found it is best listened to while laying back on a comfortable couch with your eyes shut. Perhaps all albums should be listened to that way.

Emotion is what this band is about, and since it sends me on an emotional journey it works. The lead guitarist, when given a solo spot delivers. Check out "Solaris" to hear his playing. Its not technically flashy, just emotional in that Gilmour style. The band's only real downfall might be that everything from them will seem too familiar to certain people, but I think that their strong compositions will hold out. For example, check out "Flesh" and the mostly-instrumental song that has great atmospheric piano playing, and emotional violin solos. --Sea of Tranquility

Analysis. Since their last album in 2004, Moongarden has had a line-up in change, one of numerous such in the band's history. For this latest release former vocalist Simone Baldini Tosi has returned to the band, and Maurizio Di Tollo has become the new drummer. Both of these fine musicians have put their mark on "Songs from the Lighthouse", vocalist Tosi in particular. The main musical focus for the band seems to be symphonic progressive rock. They are not fully committed to this style, but most of the tunes here are to a greater or lesser degree dominated by elements of this brand of music, with layered keyboards as the central element conveying constituting this approach. Electric and acoustic guitars are the other dominating instruments, weaving moods, melodies and atmospheres throughout the compositions, sometimes underscoring the keyboards and synthesizers and at other times underscored by them. A dominating trait in the songs containing vocals is the absence of guitars in some of the segments with vocals, most often the verse part of the tune in question. These sections are lush affairs with mellow, layered keyboards as a beautiful foundation for the vocals, often with an intriguing bass line underneath. And said vocals are a third vital element in the soundscape when used, especially when on tracks like My Darkside, Solaris and Dreamlord the voice of Simone Baldini Tosi, with its slightly rough, melodic but still fragile sounding quality, adds emotion to the songs by the bucketful. His voice comes across as strikingly similar to pop artist Seal, which I did find quite fascinating. With guitars and keyboards being the dominant instruments, the vocals do have a secondary role on the album as a whole though. They are vital for the parts where they are utilized, but this is very much an album where the instruments have the centre stage much of the time. There are long instrumental passages where vocals are added as background effects at best, with dreamlike and often lush atmospheres created the by guitarist and keyboardist, and there are also a couple of instrumentals where the keyboards in particular have the most important part when it comes to delivering melodies and moods to keep the listener's attention. There are a few weaknesses in the execution here though. Although songs like Sonya in Search of the Moon-V and the brief but effective instrumental Flesh are brilliant, the other tunes lack some elements to get to this level. Even so, most compositions here are seen by me as clearly above average, with just a very small number of tunes coming across as nice but no more.

Conclusion. Followers of neo symphonic progressive might be the ones who will get the most out of this release, dominated by melodies, layered keyboards and dreamy soundscapes as it is. People into melodic rock might also find this release intriguing, with the opening track My Darkside in particular having a strong commercial potential. --Progressor

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (January 1, 2001)
  • Original Release Date: 2008
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: PROGROCK
  • ASIN: B0011X9RY0
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #289,842 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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By Tony Teuma on August 17, 2013
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Moongarden have a unique sound which makes them stand out in this genre. Some of the most beautiful guitar melodies supplied I have heard.
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By Mayer More on May 2, 2015
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
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