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PHAEDRA - NORN (2024) (Ma Ra Cash Records)

Updated: 6 days ago

“Norn” is a rock opera based on a piece of Gothic literature written by Claudio Bonvecchio called “The Prisoner”. The word NORN refers to the three deities of Norse mythology, overseers of the destiny of humanity.


The main vocalist is Matteo Lorenzo, but the first voice (an operatic one) we hear is that of Catia Borgogno on the 10-minute opener ‘La Selva Degil Ombros Faggi’. Both singers do a fine job here and there are some nice exchanges between violincello (Stafano Gasparetti) and piano (also Gasparetti, I think) and commanding guitar work from Gabriele Girardi. ‘Canto per Lucy’ has some Canterbury stylised electric piano; Cristiano Conte’s stick work, Claudio Bonvecchio’s nimble bass guitar both impress, and there is a wonderful early GENESIS- like pastoral moment with Bonvecchio on 12-string guitar, before the tempo changes to more challenging rhythms, not dissimilar to GENTLE GIANT especially evident in the guitar/ organ interactions (as indeed on the next track ‘L’Empio Simulacro’).


The crowning glory on this very fine album is the 23-minute epic, ‘Prigioniero di Prisca Dogrianza, another short pastoral ‘Genesis’ yielding to something far more dramatic. With a hint of PROCOL HARUM at times, the mellotron/ classical guitar passages are sublime, and it’s magical how the band weaves such a rich tapestry of music: I ‘La Radiante Foresta’ is a beautiful way to finish. I know I keep making a comparison, but it sounds like some long-forgotten GENESIS classic.


Phaedra have absorbed their influences well, including the great legacy of Italian prog and this album comes highly recommended.

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