La Bella e La Bestia
[translation: Beauty Is The Beast]
(2012 - AMS - Italy)
There is no doubt about it that Syndone leader Nik Comoglio (keyboards and orchestration) brings his rock opera experience to this grand release. It’s Italian trio Syndone’s own spin on The Beauty and the Beast, with quite a different view.
This concept work has the characters Belle, Father, The Beast, Narrator, and The Rose. Now I want to immediately squash any preconceived notion that this is a spoken word narration, or any sort of traditional story telling recording. It is not. In fact, the entire story is sung by Riccardo Ruggeri, who does a fantastic job of all the characters. At times I thought I was listening to the fabulous Claudio Milano (of Nichelodeon) since Riccardo has a very similar range and expansive vocal skills. To cover such a wide variety of characters (female, male, meek and beastly) by one vocalist takes not only discipline, but years of development. What a talent!
The three main members of Syndone are complimented here by a large number of guests featuring Moody Blues’ Ray Thomas on flute. The large group of musicians include cellos, brass, reeds and full orchestra. The compositions are complex and assorted. They use both ancient and vintage instruments to give all these different looks. The music is equal to the best Italian progressive rock opera style bands of the past, and stretches far beyond those boundaries. For me, this is a far more consistent and heavy duty explorative progressive music masterpiece than I would have imagined. There is much happening music wise on “La Bella e La Bestia”, and then you have the story to keep up with. I can tell everyone that if you wish to just listen to the music and vocals, not even understanding or reading along with the story, you’ll have a wonderful listening experience. It has dozens of influences from Gobin, Nichelodeon, Banco, Area, Genesis, PFM, Il Baricentro, and more. With big doses of jazz, classical, and some folk, the whole thing is as tight as a blood filled tick.
I am thrilled to find this so similar to one of my favorite Italian theatrical progressive bands Nichelodeon. The atmospheres are diverse and the music is frequently gorgeous, but just as quickly, it rushes you like a rogue wave with jazz fusion or an entry of a magical interlude, then a period piece with orchestra. Adventurous and magnificent in 46½ minutes, this is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Reviewed by Lee Henderson on October 31, 2012