Ataraxia / Autumn et sa Rose - _La Via Verso il Cielo_
(Equilibrium Music, 2005)
by: Pedro Azevedo (8.5 out of 10)
Ataraxia and Autumn et sa Rose are generally agreed to be two of the most prominent names in the neoclassical genre, and more specifically its Italian scene. What we have on _La Via Verso il Cielo_ ("The Path to Heaven") is a split double CD featuring acoustic performances by both bands; and with about a dozen tracks on each CD, you basically get two nicely packaged full-length acoustic sets for a reasonable price.

Ataraxia utilize three main components to shape up each song: piano, acoustic guitar and female singing. Francesca Nicoli's full-bodied voice shines in this context, with the lush piano and guitar providing a very suitable surrounding. Percussion, flute and male vocals occasionally make their way into the mix as well, but are limited to secondary roles. The general tone of the material Ataraxia chose to rework is relatively sombre, with "Tu Es la Force du Silence" and closer "Medusa" standing out -- soulful performances indeed. The collection of songs also manages to be subtly varied without too many jarring changes. ("Fuga Trionfale" sounds a bit out of place to me though.)

Contrarily to Ataraxia, Autumn et sa Rose opted to include reworkings of songs originally by Ataraxia and Tuxedomoon, in addition to their own material. They also made one choice that sits particularly well with me: their music prominently features a cello. This is added to a piano, some poetic recitation and soprano vocals, and various ambient effects. The music has a strong dramatic emphasis, and is more abstract and sparse than Ataraxia's; at times, it even wanders off a bit, but the band is nonetheless able to reach some excellent passages.

Even though I am not a connoisseur of this style, and therefore cannot appreciate the work that has been done in order to create these acoustic versions, _La Via Verso il Cielo_ certainly had a far more positive impact with me than any of the fragments I had previously heard from studio albums. Although at times they may falter for a few moments, both discs contain a number of spellbinding moments that may well, in time, send shivers down your spine. Quite a remarkable journey in all, and one worth investing some time into.


(article published 23/7/2005)

3/16/2007 Q Kalis 8 Ataraxia - Paris Spleen
10/1/1998 P Schwarz 6 Ataraxia - Historiae
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