It seems that every band at some point in their career, comes out with an album that while not necessarily distinguishing itself in terms of quality, is decidedly different from the others in some aspect. With the third chapter in the musical saga of Nicola Randone, a much more laid back and song-based approach to record making is used, to mixed success.
While one of the things I really love about the music of Randone is his ability to make cohesive song suites that encompass the entire course of the album, each track here feels very individual and separate from the rest. Although this is the way that many pop/rock albums are intended to be, Randone has proven itself to be a group that can do much more. This aside however, ‘Ricordo’ is still a very good piece of music, although it doesn’t quite compare to some of the masterpieces the band has released over time.
‘Ricordo’ (italian for ‘memory’) is more or less set up like Rush’s seminal ‘2112’ record; a twenty minute ‘epic’ at the beginning with five shorter length songs afterwards. Having greatly enjoyed Randone’s music throughout all of what I had heard so far, the prospect of a twenty minute composition was pretty exciting. Unfortunately, while the music is pleasant with quite a few excellent parts, it didn’t quite match up to my expectations. The idea of a great epic is to cycle through a great many different sounds and emotions while making it all still sound like a single piece of music. While it does grow with each listen, the epic ‘Jill’ could have been so much more with the sort of dynamic range that is present on alot of other Randone albums. The highlight of ‘Jill’ would have to be the vocal work, both male and female. There is definately the sound here of a Spaghetti Western epic in the works; even the FX whinnies of horses help to reinforce this notion… However, unlike a proper Western, there doesn’t seem like there is proper tension (the archetypal ‘showdown’) towards the apparent ‘climax’ of the song. In any case however, there are some brilliant sections where Nicola enlists the talents of singer Maria Modica which work very well over the soothing symphonic arrangements underneath.
The rest of the songs have many of the same strengths and weaknesses that the epic did. Things feel a little too subdued with this one; mellotron, keyboards and soft vocals take place where heavier organs, and electric guitars took the forefront. While it’s definately good to do something different in terms of an album, I have to admit I enjoy Randone when there is always something new and exciting coming around the corner for each track instead of something more uniform. Of the shorter tracks, my personal favourite would probably be ‘Culia’ which at seven minutes, is a mini epic in itself; it almost feels like it covers more ground than ‘Jill’ itself, despite being less than half of the length. Half way through, some of the harder rock starts pouring through, which sounds all the more exciting due to the inherent lack of it over the course of the album.
The performance in terms of musicianship is very professional, but once again; I cannot praise it as highly as on masterpieces such as ‘Nuvole Di Ieri’ and ‘Linea Di Confine,’ simply because there is less diversity and technicality here. Still, the instruments are played with feeling to them, and Nicola’s voice is as strong and emotive as ever. The production for some reason however, feels a bit more lo-fi than even on the previous release ‘Nuvole Di Ieri,’ which sounded crystal clear. Here, some of the electric guitar work sounds like it wasn’t mixed quite as well as it should be, which is a shame due to the fact that some of the best sections on this album are driven by axework.
It’s not that I instantly disdain Randone for making something that is more ‘mellow’ than their other albums; I love Opeth’s ‘Damnation’ as much as anyone else out there. The fiery passion here just doesn’t seem to shine out as much. While this feels like a bit of a low point, theres still alot of beautiful sections and gorgeous keyboard work to dive into. Certainly an album that a mellotron fan will love! A lower point of the Randone saga, but still competitive with much of the other music coming out of the modern prog scene.