Armonite -
The Sun Is New Each Day

(CD 2015, 31:03, Private Release)

The tracks:
  1- Suitcase War(3:45)
  2- Connect Four(3:22)
  3- G' In Aces Gears(3:21)
  4- Sandstorm(3:44)
  5- Slippery Slope(3:17)
  6- Satellites(3:47)
  7- Die Grauen Herren(2:48)
  8- Le Temps Qui Fait Ta Rose(3:26)
  9- Insert Coin(3:37)

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The band Armonite was founded in Pavia, Italy in 1996. Three years later their debut album Inuit was released. After a long period of silence, the band returned to the music scene on the initiative of Paolo Fosso (keyboards) and Jacopo Bigi (electric violin). This resulted in the release of The Sun Is New Each Day in 2015. Strangely enough I heard the album for the very first time in 2016!

The album came together with the help of producer Paul Reeve, famous for his work with Muse. The songs were recorded with the Australian bassist Colin Edwin (Porcupine Tree) and Dutch drummer Jasper Barendregt. They finished the album with guest cellist Marcello Rosa, who contributed on two tracks.

The Sun Is New Each Day contains nine instrumental tracks, on which the violin and keyboards are intertwined with each other. Besides the many progressive rock and jazz rock influences you will also hear classical influences. This is not so strange when you know about the classical training of the two core members. Thus, for example, this is the case with the opener Suitcase War. On the next piece Connect Four you can hear electronic sounds mixed with some folk and classical influences, while Sandstorm moves more towards oriental influences. A track such as Satellites is somewhat dreamier and has, just like Le Temps Qui Fait Ta Rose, occasionally a more romantic sound.

Although The Sun Is New Each Day only last half an hour, you never get the feeling you have very little time to enjoy the music. You could say the album is rather easy to access despite the diversity of inspiration taken from video games, the book The Little Prince by Antoine Saint-Exupéry and the film The Neverending Story by Wolfgang Petersen. The technical level of the participants is to blame for this easy to digest album. The craftsmanship is never in the way because all of the tracks are below the four minutes limit. This way it all appears naturally vivid and dynamic and is never boring. Moreover, supported by a strong and effective rhythmic section, the violin and keyboards build up very strongly and combine unabated. The wide palette of keyboards combined with incessant twirling and the electric violin gives the album a lot of originality and richness. The electric violin also brings a unique character, typical and welcome freshness to the compositions.

The Sun Is New Each Day is overall a very good album that should convince lovers of progressive rock and jazz rock to look out for this release, most of all those who don't miss the electric guitar and are in for a replacement by the violin. Hopefully we will hear more of this kind of strong short instrumentals on the band's next release! Go check them out, because the album is available for free on the band's website.

**** Henri Strik (edited by Astrid de Ronde)

Armonite is a project which, though founded this year (2015), borrows its name from the old version of the band founded in 1996, according to Bandcamp information. At its core are Italian violinist Jacopo Bigi and composer Paolo Fosso, who, in turn, have borrowed the talents of Porcupine Tree's bass player Colin Edwin and leading Dutch session drummer Jasper Barendregt to supplement a short and relatively sweet collection of instrumentals. These were produced by Paul Reeve and mastered by Geoff Pesche at Abbey Road Studios in London.

It is primarily a close collaboration between Bigi and Fosso, and as a musical team, they work very well together. Each of the nine tracks is tight, melodic and shows a terrific interplay between Bigi's crisp electric violin style and Fosso's dramatic keyboards.
There is not a great deal of compositional variety on show, save for the Middle Eastern vibe of Sandstorm and the tender, moody balladic Le Temps Qui Fait Ta Rose, with Fosso's expressive piano very much to the fore. There's a little frisson too with 'G' As In Gears, its spoken section coming from a passage by Samuel Gompers in 1890 about the daily grind of going to work, that still rings true today. It is the shortest track, Die Grauen Herren, that captures the attention the most, Edwin's growling bass kicking off a piece that manages to sound mannered, classical and jazzy in equal measures along with a ticking clock.

Available only on download and on a “name your price” basis, it does have a lot to commend it: but in such a current crowded prog market, you have to really stand out to get yourself seen and heard. This one might get slightly lost in the general “noise” as a result.

*** Alison Reijman

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