Opus Avantra — Lyrics
(Cramps Records Artis ARCD 023, 1995, CD)
by Mike McLatchey, 1996-08-01:
Opus Avantra (see overview in issue #7) were quite a unique combo. Led by Alfredo Tisocco and vocalist Donella del Monaco, Opus Avantra have been around since the mid 70s when they released two highly acclaimed albums of avant/classical/rock. Lyrics is Opus Avantra's fourth album , five or six years since their last effort, Strata. It's interesting that in the span of time the ensemble has been around, they've barely wavered in focus and for all intent and purposes are still involved in making the same type of music they did over 20 years ago. Much of this is typically analogous to some 20th Century classical music, a genre I won't pretend to know enough about to quote influences. Later in the album after two long suites, the more “avant” tendencies show through – there’s even a track with a weird percussive beat and strange voices. In general, this is quite comparable to Strata or their 70s albums and Opus Avantra fans will find much to like here.
by Rob Walker, 1996-08-01:
The latest from Opus Avantra finds pianist Alfredo Tisocco conducting his ensemble of strings and woodwinds through a variety of modern and avant-garde tinged compositions. Influences range from 20th Century composers such as Stravinsky, Schönberg, Bartók, and Hovanhess, to Mediterranean folk music, to a hint of new age sensibility on the final track. As one might expect, therefore, there is a fair amount of variety in the different pieces on this disc, from the slow crescendo of the rhythmic string pedal on the opening "Viaggio Immaginario" to the alternately delicate and chaotic textures of "Misterious Japanese Suite" to the folky vocal melodies of "Balleta" to the electronic percussion and dissonant sounds of "Danza Arcana." The classically-styled pieces, which comprise about two-thirds of this 43-minute disc, are fairly strong and cohesive; Tisocco is obviously a skilled and accomplished composer. One only wonders why he chose to play a Yamaha Disklavier instead of a real grand piano? The difference is noticeable... Recommended only to those with a penchant for modern classical music; if you are just getting into this genre, there are better places to start.
by Peter Thelen, 1996-08-01:
Only their fourth release in 22 years, yet it is surprising to see how this band has stuck to their guns, combining classical, folk, and avant-garde elements, and not given into the temptation to conform and commercialize. That doesn't mean they haven't mellowed with age. In fact for anyone who might have been put off by vocalist Donella del Monaco on the early albums Introspezzione and Lord Cromwell, this may be a good point to give them another try. Many of the old names are still here: bandleader and keyboardist Alfredo Tisocco, and violinists Piergidio Spiller and Enrico Professione have been members from day one, while cellist Alberto Brendolin, oboist Angelo Lora and percussionist Saverio Tasca survive from the last recorded incarnation in the late 80s. As usual, one can expect absolutely anything: "Ballata" is a folk tune with the unique avant-twist, while "Lirica Metafisica" is a more subtle neo-classical abstraction for string section. The three-part opener "Viaggio Immaginario" has somewhat of a 'bolero' feel with Del Monaco's voice and Lora's oboe floating over the rhythmic structures set up between the string section and percussion. And of course there had to be at least one noisy and bizzare vocal piece – "Danza Arcana" is a sure bet to clear your next party, but perhaps the album's most interesting piece is the four-part "Misterious Japanese Suite," driven by Tisocco's Synclavier experimentation. In all, this is another fine offering from this sadly overlooked ensemble.
Gong Announces UK Tour for 2020 – Having spent the last few years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour, and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases. During this live journey, Gong has delved further into the truly psychedelic, exploratory, and mind-expanding side of the music. » Read more
Wolfgang Dauner RIP – Pianist Wolfgang Dauner, one of the pioneers of both European free jazz and jazz rock, has died at the age of 84. With his own groups and with the United Jazz+Rock Ensemble, his playing and compositions were a prominent presence in European jazz from the mid-60s until just recently. » Read more
Michael Allison RIP – Michael Allison, who since 1997 has been recording as Darshan Ambient, passed away on January 9th after a long and brave battle with cancer. He has been at at the forefront of the new ambient/electronic music scene, with over eighteen releases to his credit. » Read more
Neil Peart RIP – One of rock music's defining drummers has died at the age of 67. Neil Peart's work with Rush provided one of the templates for percussion in rock, and he certainly ranks in the top ten most influential drummers of the 20th Century. Peart retired from playing in 2015 due to health issues, and succumbed to brain cancer on January 7, 2020. » Read more
Michael Hoppé, Martin Tillmann, Tim Wheater - Afterglow – Afterglow is the combined musical energies of cellist Martin Tillman, flautist Tim Wheater, and keys player Michael Hoppé. For the most part, the music is a spacious and somber affair,... (2000) » Read more
King Crimsom - A Beginners Guide to the King Crimson Collectors' Club – One thing is certain: Robert Fripp and company have found a marketing outlet to appeal to the hard-core Crimson collector. Those of us left in the financial lurch now have a suitable access to the ten... (2001) » Read more