Mike McLatchey 24-Feb-01 Aviolinee Utopia

As with many listeners, I was late in discovering this title, due mostly to the lack of Mellow distribution in the United States. Truly, this is one of the finest albums of the label, making it all the more a shame that the group disbanded soon after making it. This is one of the best Italian symphonic rock album of the 90s, taking a step forward from Eris Pluvia in their merging of a modern instrumental line-up with a classic progressive sound. Aviolinee Utopia were a six-piece of vocals, bass, guitars, keys, drums, and saxes, and they flesh out a sound that is influenced by many a progressive group, without forgetting that what makes the music fresh is to combine these influences into something that doesn't play out any single influence too strongly. Aviolinee Utopia have the modern slant of Eris Pluvia, but their sound is more aggressive and prone to moments of strange invention and tangents that are surprising and exciting. Perhaps the closest analog would be DFA, as Aviolinee Utopia have the same penchant for the guitar outburst - take the 7 1/2 minute "Marsiglia" with its Gong-like vamp, a moment that elicits goosebumps on an orchestral scale. The album's finest vocal moment is "L'Altra Parte." I don't think it's too far off to say that Giuliano Lott probably draws influences from both Demetrio Stratos and Sting, or at the very least, he sounds like a mixture of the two. His voice isn't overwhelming and fits the music very well, taking appropriate moments to play his part and leaving plenty of room for instrumentals. One hopes that such a fantastic release will find its way into more CD players; this one is still in print and available, so find it while you can.

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