“Layers Of Stratosphere” is for me an introduction to the Italian band Raven Sad. But this album is already their third effort. The Italian record company Lizard Records released earlier their debut album “Quoth” (2008) and “We Are Not Alone” (2009). The band deserves our full attention because “Layers Of Stratosphere”” is a wonderful album full of mellow atmospheric rock.
Giulio Bizzarri - bass; Simone Borsi - drums, percussion, gong; Samuele Santanna - vocals, electric and acoustic guitars, gong, synth; Fabrizio Trinci - piano, organ, Hammond, synth, backing vocals
Claudio Carboni - soprano & tenor sax on “Lullaby for a Son”
Camilla Gai - backing vocals on “Lies in the Sand” and “The Highest Cliff”
A nice detail of the music of Raven Sad is that the band is integrating several sound samples of NASA communication from the Apollo flights into their music. As a young boy I collected all the articles about those flights that were published in our local newspaper - sweet memories for me. These sound samples are fitting perfect in the music the band is making. You can hear some of these communication samples in the opening of “Door Almost Closed”, a track with some space-rock influences. Samuele Santanna is playing the most beautiful melodic and soaring guitar solo's in this fine opener. This piece sets the atmosphere of the album. The music is light, relaxed and melodic. I would describe is as atmospheric neo-symphonic prog with a mellow character. If you want some names as a reference to discover if this album is for you; what about Pink Floyd meets Camel and Airbag.
The second track of the album, “Lies In The Sand” is the longest (16:42) and the one with a rhythm change that will surprise you. After a slow opening the music suddenly gets a jazzy atmosphere. The sometimes funny lyrics (“I'm still your toy”) are sung by Samuele Santanna and guest Camilla Gai. Both vocalists have a heavy accent. In the case of Camilla it sometimes sounds funny. For me “Lies In The Sand” is one of the highlights of this wonderful album. Not only the guitar parts are noteworthy but also the refined keyboard parts of Fabrizio Trinci are delicate and beautiful. Sometimes those keyboard parts reminds of the work of the late Richard Wright (Pink Floyd). The tasteful guitar parts and the overall atmosphere of the music reminds of the band Airbag. It is poignant that a band as Airbag (because of the Pink Floyd label) has managed to get the attention of the progscene and that this Raven Sad is only known by few music lovers. The music on this third Raven Sad album is in my opinion more adventurous and diverse than the music of Airbag.
In the instrumental “First Layer” piano and delicate ambient keyboard layers accompany a beautiful melodic guitar solo that reminds me of Camel's Andy Latimer. “Mind Flies” has very beautiful atmospheric keyboard parts. The combination with the melodic guitar and piano makes of this composition a little instrumental gem. The next track “The Highest Cliff” has melodic vocal refrains and beautiful backing vocals by Camilla Gai. In the end we are treated again on a melodic guitar solo. “Second Layer” is one of the beautiful instrumental tracks of this album with music that will relax you after a hectic working day. The beautiful last track of the album called “Lullaby For A Son” has some Pink Floyd influences. The lyrics of this song are moving. Guest Claudio Carboni is playing soprano and tenor sax on this fine composition.
“Layers Of Stratosphere” the third album of the Italian band Raven Sad is a beautiful album full of atmospheric mellow neo-prog. The first time I listened to this album ... I was so positively surprised ... that I pushed the repeat button on my CD player. You simply don't want that the music stops! After a hectic working day it is great to relax while listening to this beautiful music. You can fly away into space with this music. The music is light, relaxed, melodic and very beautiful. The band is making progress, the band sounds more mature then on the previous album “We Are Not Alone” and has found it's own identity. If you like the mellow side of prog and enjoy melodic guitar and (ambient) synth solo's ... this album is for you. You won't be disappointed. Highly recommended for fans of bands like Camel, Pink Floyd and Airbag.