Ingrannagi Della Valle - Warm Spaced Blue
"Italy's Ingrannagi della Valle delivered a dazzling and brilliantly performed debut, `In Hoc Signo', back in 2013 on the Black Widow label, a thrilling shot-in-the-arm for the traditional vintage symphonic RPI sound, fuelled by endless searing violin and extravagant vocals. It was the classic sound of Italy's proud prog past meeting a youthful and exuberant future, one for lovers of bands such as Quella Vecchio Locanda. So having accomplished that, what was next for the band? How about aiming even higher in something of a different direction and possibly setting the standard for modern progressive rock overall? Because that's what the band have achieved with 2016's `Warm Spaced Blue', a defining work that not only almost completely eclipses their first work, but more than ever sets the band up for a bright future that lifts their status considerably.
It's a little disappointing at first to discover that not only have Ingrannagi della Valle abandoned some of the more obvious classical/theatrical/symphonic styles often associated with those bands that fall under the RPI banner, they've also switched to singing in English (usually this is an absolute disaster, or worse, kind of offensive to purists of the style). But all of that is pushed to one side from the scintillating first few minutes of opener `Call for Cthulhu: Orison' that paves the way for a surprisingly predominantly instrumental-based album. Eerie droning electronic ambience and doomed piano, scratchy Mellotron and Marco Gennarini's stirring violin weave together in unison behind a constant rumbling drum storm and a brief crooning vocal, the spontaneous and lively piece thankfully still containing much of the gothic atmosphere and darker unpredictability found in many of the classic Italian groups. The unsettling and playfully malevolent mood grows in drama and heaviness, and it's perfectly complimented by murmuring bass contributions from guest musician Fabio Pignatelli of Goblin, Cherry Five and Goblin Rebirth.
The ten-plus minute improvisation-heavy `Inntal' is unhurried and offers endless twists and turns of glistening electric piano tiptoes, creaky Mellotron flutes/infernal choirs and Mattia Liberati's overall psychedelic keyboard malaise fused with a delicious jazzy shambling. It peppers the album with bombastic bursts, a gloomy narration, indie-rock posturing and sprightly acoustic jangling, culminating in `Call for Cthulhu: Through the Stars', a nightmarish collage of humming distortion and ghostly piano. Parts of the up-tempo and frantic `Lady Niva' come the closest to a more traditional vocal/song piece, Davide Savarese's wavering and young falsetto voice darting between Shanti Colucci's skittering drumming, Antonio Coronato's purring bass and Flavio Gonnellini's stop-start guitar spasms, but lengthy ambient drifts with serene Mellotron veils and cinematic-flavoured violin strings lift the piece to exotic heavens.
`Ayida Wedo' crosses the sombre reflection of Porcupine Tree's `Dark Matter' off their modern prog classic `Signify' with the heavy grooving guitars of their later `In Absentia'-period, with just a touch of playfully maniacal Goblin/`Roller' electronics thrown in for good measure too! Closer `Call for Cthulhu (Promise)' is a deceiving beast, opening sweetly with chiming acoustic guitars and a reflective vocal, but a creeping heaviness and growing tension emerge to quickly twist it with thick organ, mournful group-harmonies and no end of growling guitars and searing Mellotron.
`Warm Spaced Blue' presents a bold and challenging new phase for this talented Italian group, a work that holds plenty of appeal to both younger and older listeners. So much of the disc is made up of extended instrumental and improvised passages, yet it never sounds aimless or drawn-out, and the punchy vinyl length means it never becomes overlong or causes interest to wane. If there's any justice in the music community, Ingrannagi Della Valle will become one of the biggest progressive rock bands on the planet based off this album, and it is not only probably the best Italian disc of 2016, but absolutely one of the essential Prog rock albums of the year as well. Well done once again to this truly superb band!"-ProgArchives
- LabelBlack Widow