Title: Handful Of StarsLabel: Jolly Roger Records
What's in a name when it comes to a band?
Well, the Italian group Buttered Bacon Biscuits certainly
got my head-a-scratching, even though I've heard nowt by
them (will check out!), and though they are no more, forming
from said group in 2014 was Witchwood. which has former BBB
members Luca Celotti (bass), Ricky Dal Pane (v.guitar.
mandolin. percussion), Stefano Olivi (piano, Hammond, Moog,
synth), Andrea Palli (drums), Samuele Tesori (flute,
harmonica) and newbie Antonio Stella (lead guitar) in their
ranks, releasing their debut album 'Litanies From The Woods'
in 2015, followed by 'Handful Of Stars', which gets it's
name from the final track of their debut, AND, this 'new'
album contains ideas/music that were held over from the
debut as it was already 80 minutes long, and we all know how
tetchy record companies can get! Anyways, if 70's
Hard/Prog Rock is your thang, (Purple Heep,etc), then look
no further as this will not only rock yer boat, but it'll
probably capsize the bugger as well, as this takes you on a
flute orientated, mind-bending bongo'd journey into the
Opening with the wah-wah'd, flutetastic 'Presentation Under The Willow', short 'n sweet it has to be said, visions of scantily-clad nymphs dancing in a field automatically spring to (my!) mind, the only thing missing is the sensual waft of Patchouli, but fear not, the following full length song 'Like A Giant In A Cage' strengthens that wanting in a flurry of Hammond, flute and a penetrating guitar, very Tull meets Heep in it's presentation, and a splifficious jam session to boot! Yeah, Maaa-aaan!! You're slowly led into the Hammond-esqued, rifferama'd pulsater 'A Grave Is A River', where the tempo gets shuffled like a pack of cards, you wanna go slow, ok. You wanna go mid tempo, u-hu, you wanna go neck-break speed ... lets go ... it's all here, and all the time the song is hypnotic to the point you forget the time that passes, you're that engrossed in the song. so it's just as well the acoustic ballad 'Mother' comes along to ruffle your hair (grrr!) to bring you back from the land of the lost, this folksy dreamer bolstered by the tender use of the mandolin and moog, whilst Medieval style chanting certainly adds to the dreamy sequences.
If you listen carefully, you can almost
hear a similar riff to that in the make-up of Mountain's
'Nantucket Sleighride' within the structure of 'Flaming
Telepaths', the Blue Oyster Cult track that WW cover as a
tribute to one of their fave bands, and well they do with
their take on it, as they do on the other homage to another
all time favourite group, Uriah Heep, where the band
take on 'Rainbow Demon', those power-chords a slow
version (almost) of that all time classic 'Gypsy', though a
lot slower in tempo to 'When I was only 17...', and there's
enough of Witchwood's own footprint in both tracks to make
sure they ain't a complete copy, just in case people think
they are trying to be a total tribute act!
The title track song is by no means ...
short! Moog and Hammond celestial intro to mess with the
brain then the doom-laden drums n guitar are joined by
vocals that would seem to be sung by someone in a hooded
cloak addressing a throng of Devil worshipers! Dal Pane
definitely knows how to get the best effect for this
dark-edged track singing this way, and even that damn flute
gives you the willies as it jabs away like a mischievous wee
imp, the track seemingly going on forever ... but in a good
way as it is another mesmerizing slab of wonderment that
eventually brings the album to it's ending ... 7 tracks ...
45 mins 11 secs ... or 2 bottles of Bud long to be
Admittedly, this would not usually be my cup 'o tea at all, but this album just overpowers you and you cannot help but be taken in by the....well...I'll say it again, the hypnotic effect that is so prominent throughout. Eerily fab!
Review by: Robb Baldwin
1. Presentation. Under The Willow
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