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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Lucia Micarelli

Music From A Farther Room

Review by Gary Hill

You often hear people describing the violin as a passionate or emotional instrument. Certainly it can create stirrings of passion in the hands of the right musician. The truth is, though, I don't think I've ever heard anyone create such evocative music with the instrument as Lucia Micarelli does. This album is very classical music based, but that's not the whole picture. I am including this in the progressive rock section because there would certainly be too much rock music in this for people to classify it as classical. However, with as heavy of a base in that format as this has, it really couldn't possibly fit into any category other than progressive rock. The music here is more on the sedate side, but definitely makes for a soothing and relaxing listening experience. There are only two cuts here that I would have done away with. Even with those two, it's not that they are bad; they just don't grab me like the rest of this does. This is really a great album that I believe I'll still be digging out years from now.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2005 Year Book Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Samarkand
This comes in with a definite new age texture, but gradually the modes move upward with the introduction of the violin and world music oriented vocal elements. This becomes something that while soothing is also challenging. It focuses its growing energies in the form of significant over layer changes and movements. This one becomes very lush and powerful at time before it crescendos, then the opening segments return and this is again built upon in fine fashion.
Oblivion
Beautiful yet melancholy tones begin this and the violin eventually starts to weave lines of melody overtop. This cut is very much a classical piece, but it's very powerful and evocative. It swings upward in terms of emotion and volume, soaring overhead for a time.
Meditation From Thais
This one begins sedate and slowly and is another that feels fully classical in texture. This moves through several themes and variants, but doesn't really do that much for me. It's not that it's a bad performance (far from it), but it just doesn't resonate with me like the previous two did.
Portrait
Beautiful and tentative strings start this and the violin rises up bringing with it both intensity and passion. The music begins swirling upward to greet it, and they carry forward in a dance of sound and power - each instrument gaining from the others. This is another highly classical piece at first, but later a rhythmic, new age sound comes aboard and creates a new motif and the piece keeps moving upward from there. This one becomes exceptionally powerful and gets the disc back on track. It drops down to just sedate and sad strings later for a short break before moving back upward. Eventually new age ambience ends this.
To Love You More
Piano starts this and the violin joins to help in the building process. The violin truly rules this very classical music oriented piece that grows and breathes like a living entity.
Reflexio
This starts ever so quietly with sound effects that slowly rise. Then the violin enters to climb above this backdrop. This reminds me thematically quite a bit of Jim Croce's "Time In A Bottle." The cut is an atmospheric and very pretty musical exploration that wanders along the lines of new age sounds, while not fully embracing them. This is another very evocative and powerful cut that grows exponentially and organically. It drops back to near silence, then swells up a bit to end.
Aurora
Violin comes in slowly, languidly and begins to weave waves of sound in another classical exploration, becoming loud and screaming at times, almost like a classical violin recitation of heavy metal guitar. This is a noisy and cacophonous, but also dramatic, violin solo.
Lady Grinning Soul
Piano begins this cut and carries it forward in a powerfully emotional mode through the intro. Then violin enters followed closely by an electronic rhythm and Mannheim Steamroller like keys that serve, along with the other elements, to weave a unique sonic tapestry that at times becomes very potent, and at other moments drops to just one or two instruments. This is definitely another winner and gets quite powerful in its arrangement. At times it drops back to just the piano to end.
Ravel String Quartet In F Major: Assez Vif - Tres Rythme
This is purely classical and seemingly both playful and beautiful. It gets very involved and powerful at times, but seems to lack some of the emotion of the other material. I could have done without this one.
She Is Like the Swallow
Pretty and more sedate violin starts this. The vocals here (yes, there are vocals) are very beautiful and to me this feels a bit like one of the more classical moments of early King Crimson. The violin weaves lies of instrumental fury and passion between verses and provides the only accompaniment to the voice. This is one of the highlights of the disc, and at times I think, my favorite.
My Funny Valentine
I have to go on record as saying that I always approach this one (the song, not the performance) with a lot of hesitation. Frankly there are some very good versions of this piece, but there are also a lot of hideously bad ones. Well, this take, an instrumental one that's decidedly very classical in nature is pretty and definitely avoids falling into the bad zone.
Bonus Track - Nocturne/Bohemian Rhapsody
What an intriguing medley this is! Starting on piano, just that and the violin take on a pretty and evocative classical performance. This carries forward for a good length of time before it turns the corner into the Queen classic. Micarelli's violin takes the evocative vocal line over the piano, then over the full band arrangement. This is incredibly powerful. It drops back after a brief romp through this segment to the classical elements to work through to the conclusion of the track and the CD.
 
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