Fading Records has all of a sudden become my cup of coffee lately in which it’s a part of the AltrOck family. And one of those cups is a band from Greece that formed ten years ago by flautist and keyboardist Nicolas Nikolopoulos called Ciccada. The music behind the band’s sound is this combination between Classical, Jazz, Medieval Folk, and Progressive Rock as if Gentle Giant and Gryphon had teamed up to do a side project together.
The band released their debut album A Child in the Mirror back in 2010. And five years later, they have a new album in which it’s their follow up entitled, The Finest of Miracles. And while this is my introduction to the band’s music I have to say I’m impressed from what I was hearing of their second album. And having special guest bassist Johan Brand of Anglagard, its almost as if he and along with other guests along with the Suono Brass Quintet, are here to lend a helping hand for the quartet to show they got their backs.
Not to mention the artwork done by drummer Yiannis Iliakis, in which it really has this late ‘60s psychedelic touch resembling the animated classic of Yellow Submarine, fits the vibes and atmosphere of Ciccada’s music. A Night Ride is the opening track that starts it off with an ascending and idealistic adventure that almost reminisces of Arachnoid, Camel, King Crimson and bits of Led Zeppelin’s No Quarter thrown in that makes the track an excellent way to kick into high gear.
With violin solos, heavy and melodic psychedelic guitars, keyboards, and flutes from the Mellotron, it has this dream-like quality that makes you explore into other worlds to see what they do in their time. But everything changes when vocalist Evangelia Kozoni comes in and it’s very beautiful, gentle and smooth on Eternal.
Through different time changes in the Medeival-Prog-Symphonic Folk Rock boundaries, there’s a lushful and unexpected moment throughout the composition to see where Ciccada go into. With string sections and moog and organ solos followed by Johan’s bass in the midsection giving it an increasing tempo for a couple of seconds before going back into the free rein moments of a Zappa meets Gryphon moment that will make you go into overdrive.
Ciccada show their love of Gentle Giant’s music with the harmonizing vocalizations of Minnear and Shulman along with a waltz-like groove on the keyboards and Mouhos’ guitar, followed by the glockenspiel by giving it a jazzy groove for A Death in the Winter. In which was inspired by Mike Harding’s poem on The Green Man. And the poem fits the music very well for its odd time signatures and Evangelia, Nicolas, Yorgos, and Yiannis have done an excellent job on their homework.
Around the Fire starts off with a folk introduction between the recorders and a classical guitar introduction for the first minute before it becomes a sanguine rhythm before heading back into the symphonic medieval resemblance of Red Queen to Gryphon Three-era and Latte E Miele’s Papillon-era before going back into the up-tempo rhythms that you can almost dance to. And not to mention the flutes and Mouhos’ guitar going into jazzy and folk sound in the styles of Jethro Tull that is astonishing and breathtaking on where the band can go into next.
And then it’s back to the thumping percussion, recorder, organ, and trumpet on the brief instrumental of Lemnos (Lover’s Dance). Now we are ready for the five-part of the title track for The Finest of Miracles. I can hear the boundaries of symphonic, folk, and jazz with a strong and melodic touch to it. I can tell that Ciccada have really come full circle with the suite on the first three parts of the suite that are instrumental.
Not to mention the menacing Mellotron brass, guitar, strings, and horn section that strikes a touch of King Crimson on the relaxing turned heavier punch on Birth of the Lights and Wandering while Evangelina comes in with her voice on the last two-closing pieces sung in Greek with As Fall the Leaves and Song for an Island. It took me a while to get into Ciccada’s music and I have to say, this is one of their astonishing albums I have listened to this year.
The Finest of Miracles is for me, a thrill-seeking and wondrous album I’ve listened to the moment I put the CD on from beginning and right into the very end. So if you love Medieval Folk, Symphonic, Classical, and elements between Gryphon, Gentle Giant, Anglagard, and King Crimson, Ciccada’s music will take you into an adventure and explore the wonders and mysteries for The Finest of Miracles.