Exposé print issues (1993-2011)
Elisa Montaldo — Fistful of Planets Part II
(Bandcamp no#, 2021, CD / DL)
by Henry Schneider, Published 2022-12-31
Six years after her previous solo album, Italian keyboardist and prog rocker Elisa Montaldo has released the sequel, Fistful of Planets, Part II. Continuing her departure from the hallmarks of Italian progressive music, Elisa presents nine new musical planets and satellites, but do not expect anything like cosmic space rock. Instead Elisa composed some early 20th Century nostalgic tracks, mournful gothic tracks, delicate chamber rock, some symphonic prog, and some ballroom music. Quite a mixed bag of styles that works extremely well. The album opens and closes with two slightly different versions of “Valse de Sirènes” with operatic singing and orchestration that could have been lifted from old 78 rpm records. And the closing version (“Grand Finale”) is outstanding that mixes in elements of Jeanne Moreau, calliope, and ballroom dancing for an exquisite waltz. In between are tracks with former bandmate Paolo Tixi on drums and Swedish drummer Mattias Olsson (White Willow, Änglagård, Necromonkey, etc.). There is also the excellent “Earth’s Call,” a dark, sonorous instrumental augmented by classical guitar, flute, and some majestic Mellotron choruses evoking images of Popol Vuh. Then there is the magnificent “Feeling / Nothing / Into the Black Hole” that takes you on a sonic journey from symphonic prog to mysterious soundscapes to unrelenting throbbing music sucking you in to the black hole that fades away to muffled white noise, Elisa singing, and a return to the vintage 78 rpm sounds. Fistful of Planets, Part II is quite an achievement that shows Elisa stretching her musical muscles into new territory. I look forward to her next solo, which could easily be titled For a Few Planets More.
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