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Hostsonaten - Springsong

Hostsonaten - SpringsongIn the last decade, a couple of bands in particular have captured my interest; one is Finisterre, of which I have only heard the odd track so far (note to self Ė get some Finisterre CDs) and the other is the fabulous Eris Pluvia whose Rings of Earthly Light I consider to be an essential album.  Finisterreís founder, Fabio Zuffanti, embarked on a new project a few years ago which was given the name Hostsonaten after a film starring Ingrid Bergman for which she was nominated for best actress.  Springsong is the latest album from Hostsonaten and features some past and present members of Finisterre and other talented musicians including ex-Eris Pluvia saxophonist Edmondo Romano.

I must comment first on the CD packaging; in place of the usual jewel case we have a beautifully designed heavy-duty paperboard (with a velum quality) container that opens up to reveal two inner pockets.  One pocket contains the CD in a bespoke inner sleeve on which is printed the track listing and artwork; the other contains ten cards with stunning images taken from The Bible Of Borso DíEste which come with musician and instrumentation information on the reverse for each individual track.  I canít say I go overboard usually as regards to CD packaging, but it would be worth framing these ten mini gems for display rather than keeping them in their rightful place.  A lot of thought has gone into this.

And a lot of thought has gone into the music too!  The first track is an amalgam of delicately plucked acoustic guitar, haunting flute and violin and unobtrusive base in the style of Anthony Phillipsí The Geese And The Ghost which develops into a fuller sound when it merges into the second track incorporating organ, Mellotron, electric guitar, low and tin whistles.  Iím actually listening to the album again as I type and, to be honest, I have an almost uncontrollable urge to close my eyes and drift with the music.  Iíve reached the third track, which is almost Celtic in feel and slightly jazzy, not unlike Moving Hearts finest album, The Storm (another must-have by the way).  Track four is piano and violin in the style of a classical lament.  Fifth track starts off in a avante garde jazz style which reminds me of the band Gong and their album Shamal, but then Mellotron is introduced and Enid sounding lead guitar.  Delicate percussion draws us into track six with violin, guitars, piano and low whistle adding to the hypnotic effect.  The recorder on track seven reminds me of Gryphon but that soon leads onto an early Genesis sound and faster yet delicate pace.  Woodwind, strings, Mellotron and organ Ė sheer bliss.  Track eight is a pacey, jazzy number with a Moroccan feel, again not unlike the sort of thing Moving Hearts used to be famous for.  The final track, the longest at over 13 minutes, is again an eclectic mix of styles and instruments, combining the modern with the traditional, closing with a distinctively Celtic theme.

Iím not going to pull any punches; I love this album for a number of reasons; itís entirely instrumental, full of melodies, full of changes, demands to be listened to and yet allows the listener to lose themselves, in nature I suppose, which is the overall theme.  Styles incorporating classical, jazz, prog, Celtic and even world make it hard to pigeonhole this album (but to this prog fan, itís definitely prog!)  The entire package is indeed a work of art.

Jem Jedrzejewski


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