Ciccada were formed in 2005 in Athens and made their first steps in the progressive rock genre with the release A Child In The Mirror in 2010. Now five years later, this band from Greece comes to the outside world with their second albumThe Finest Of Miracles-an album that was made with the current line up of Evangelina Kozoni (lead vocals),Yorgos Mouhos (guitars), Yiannis Iliakis (drums, percussions) and Nicolas Nikolopoulos (recorders, flute, sax, Mellotron, synthesizers, electric piano, glockenspiel, organ). As you can read no one played the bass guitar, therefore they asked several guests to play on this instrument such as Johan Brand of Änglagård. Furthermore, a large list of other guest musicians were used to play on instruments such as French horn, trumpet, cello, violin, tuba, clarinet and trombone.
Unfortunately, I can't compare their second album with their first release as I've never heard their debut. However I can tell you that The Finest Of Miracles was a feast for my ears. I can tell you also that their music has its roots in folk music. Their most of all complex and compelling music borrows influences from many bands in the progressive rock genre who most of all made their names in the seventies. If you're intrigued by fusing the most complex moments of Renaissance, King Crimson, Jethro Tull, Gryphon and Gentle Giant, this band is highly recommended. However, I would not call their successful blend of all different varieties of progressive rock of the 70s just ordinary retro rock. They manage to create their own unique sound in our universe and are most delicate on their acoustic instruments, but on the other hand, they dare to include sometimes a more heavy guitar or drum part when this is needed in their compositions. Many other bands that make the so-called retro rock of the seventies use an abundance of retro keyboards such as Mellotrons and Mini Moogs. This is not at all the case in the music of Ciccada. Sure occasionally you can hear the sound of the Mellotron but not as often as the Italian bands used to do in this type of music. Here the sound of the flute, sax, recorder, French horn, trumpet, cello, violin, tuba, clarinet and trombone give the band a kind of identity of their own. But still they honour their possible influences by playing parts that resemble the distinctive sound of the earlier mentioned acts. Also the use of those instruments plus the acoustic guitars gives them often a medieval sound which runs throughout the whole album. Other times, those instruments-most of all the use of the recorder-move the music into a jazzy direction and exudes a strange Gaelic-Anglo-Saxon atmosphere.
Although the album consists of a large part of instrumental music I'll have to say that the vocals on this release are also worth mentioning. Evangelina has a fine voice who almost perfectly sings in the English language (Eternal and Around The Fire) and even better in her native Greek (The Finest Of Miracles Suite).
With The Finest Of Miracles this Greek quartet makes a strong successor to their debut. This original and varied mixture of influences taken from the seventies shows above all, that retro prog, despite borrowing from the 70s, can result in catchy music which does not have to be mundane-just beautiful and how I like it most of all! So well done indeed!
**** Henri Strik (edited by Robert James Pashman)
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