Gigi Cavalli, Mirco Consolini and Enzo Cattini developed the idea of Mangala Vallis in 1998. The band wanders in the world of progressive rock, and the result of 3 years of hard work is "The Book of Dreams", a concept album inspired by the fantasy book-writer Jules Verne and his great books. Completely in love with the sound of the early 70's, Mangala Vallis is influenced by the music of that golden era, even if its music is filtered through with their own taste and vision. Even the care in the production and the thorough research of the original sounds and instruments of that period are fundamental elements of the band's philosophy
Gigi Cavalli - Drums and percussion; Enzo Cattini - Keyboards; Mirco Consolini - Guitars and Bass.
Matteo Setti - Vocals; Vic Fraja - Vocals; Bernardo Lanzetti (former Acqua Fragile and P.F.M.) - Vocals; Stefano Menato - Saxophone; Elisa Giordanella - Viola; Kimberly Duke - Narrator; Eugenio Carena - Lyrics; Amek - Sound Engineer.
reviewJules Verne was a French novelist which became most famous because of some fantasy stories with futuristic and science fiction elements in it. Some examples are "Five weeks in a balloon" (1863), "A journey to the centre of the earth" (1864), "From the earth to the moon" (1865), "Around the world in eighty days" (1873) and "Michael Strogoff" (1876). Together with the Englishman H.G. Wells he was the master of this genre.
It is not the first time that progressive musicians were inspired by Jules Verne, I remember the band No Name from Luxembourg who had a track called "A tale of Mr. Fogg" which was about "Around the world in eighty days". And of course Rick Wakeman, Yes keyboardist at that time, made a complete solo album with orchestra about "A journey to the centre of the earth". So the idea is not new but it is an excellent idea and inspiration to make a prog album. But let´s talk about the music now.
The album is called "Book of dreams" and opens with a short "Overture" (1:47) an atmospheric keyboard piece with some spacey sounds. Then the first long track "Is the end the beginning" (9:28) and to me it sounds not Italian but more American. That is probably because the vocals are sung in English and the vocalist Matteo Setti is more sounding like the singers of American bands like Crucible, Kansas or Glass Hammer. But after three minutes the atmosphere is changing and broad "Old Genesis like" Mellotron sounds are filling the room. Enzo Cattini is not only using Vintage keys but also uses the original keyboards of the seventies like: Hammond, Minimoog and Mellotron. (Got the attention now from all those analogue keyboard freaks!).
"The book of dreams" (7:05) is the title track and starts in a classic way with Mellotron, Hammond and a Marillion like Minimoog solo. Mirco Consolini is playing some Hackett like guitar solos. But Mangala Vallis sounds here like a mix of Genesis, Yes, Marillion, Rick Wakeman combined with those "American" vocals. Next is "The journey" (12:13) which includes vocals of Vic Fraja. There is a lot of variation in this long track with loads of keyboards and nice guitar solos. The band has accomplished their goal to bring back the music of the seventies with a modern touch. Besides all the above-mentioned bands also a touch of Floyd has been added here.
"Days of light" (9:05) is really a beauty. Vic Fraja is singing like Peter Gabriel, and there are delicious Mellotron and Hammond sounds. But in this Genesis atmosphere there is also the saxophone of Stefano Menato that add some Floyd and jazzy atmosphere in this track. For weeks I was wondering why I liked this Mellotron drenched track so much. And now writing this review I suddenly noticed the resemblance between the voices of Vic Fraja and Peter Gabriel. This did the trick for me.
"Under the sea" (3:34) is more up-tempo and have again a lot of Hammond and that Minimoog sound which Mark Kelly invented. Next again a longer track "Asha (Coming back home)" (8:20) which has more Yes influences. But everything is very tastefully done. Mangala Vallis is not a simple copycat but makes music with the atmosphere and sounds (because of using the same instruments as in those days) of that famous period.
Already the last track (time flies when you have fun!) "A new century" (10:22) with special guest vocals of Bernardo Lanzetti (ex Acqua Fragile and P.F.M.). In this track again my so beloved Mellotron sounds but also that typical Genesis acoustic guitar sound. At the end of the track there is a sound sample of some communication between earth and the "Lunar Module" of the Apollo 11 just before landing on the moon. So you see that fantasy ("From the earth to the moon" (1865) - Jules Verne) can become reality.
If you like the period of the seventies with the great Sympho bands of those days, this CD is for you. I am sure you will have much fun listening to this album. The music has been composed very tastefully and Mangala Vallis has put three years into this project to make it all perfect. They even designed their web page in the style of the album cover. This is a very serious project and they succeeded in their goal. Because it is not new original progressive music I can't give it five stars. But I think it is a very good album and project of this new Italian band. It will find it's way to the lovers of that period.