Greek progressive rock band Ciccada has released this, its third album, Harvest. The bands influences are very much the progressive rock acts of the 1970’s, including very classy bands such as Camel, Jethro Tull, Gryphon, Gentle Giant, Strawbs, Renaissance, Hatfield And The North, Curved Air and Spirogyra. These are lushly interwoven with traditional Greek folk music. The resulting sound is a quite pastoral other-worldliness, bathed in rock, jazz and folk colours.
The overall sound sees the band balancing acoustic instruments with electric ones, allowing the music a seeming simplicity whilst actually being somewhat more profound. At times there’s an almost childlike air on display, then something more jazzy but playful, then the kind of piquancy that a heartfelt folk song can produce. The vintage prog-rock and the folk in many ways makes this a nostalgic, wistful sounding album.
A lot of the colour on the album though comes from the clever use of the instrumentation. Although the standard of musicianship is high, it is not on display to be dazzling but effective. The skills serve a purpose. It is the guitar work of Yorgos Mouhos and the interplay with the keyboards and wind instruments from Nicolas Nikolopoulos that initially catches the ear, with the other musicians giving the music emphasis when required. The vocals of Dimi Spela and Evangelia Kozoni work well together and serve the music well. Their vocal stylings are very reminiscent of Annie Haslam and Sonja Kristina, along with Barbara Gaskin from progressive-folk band Spirogyra. But it is the interplay of all these talents that makes the album what it is.
There are six songs on the album and the song writing skills are high. There are long musical passages and it remains very melodic throughout. It may be a backward- looking album, but its energies remain positive and cheerful. This is not a soppy pining for yesteryear, but a stroll down memory lane to a favourite recollection with a smile on a summer’s evening. This is a vivid but somewhat relaxed listen from a very good multifaceted collective.
1. Eniania (Keepers Of The Midnight Harvest)
2. Open Wings
3. The Old Man And The Butterfly
4. No Man’s Land
5. Who’s To Decide?
6. Queen Of Wishes
Dimi Spela: vocals
Evangelia Kozoni: vocals
Yorgos Mouhos: 6- and 12-string acoustic guitars, electric guitar, vocals
Nicolas Nikolopoulos: flute, clarinet, tenor & baritone saxophones, recorder, piano, electric piano, organ, Mellotron, synthesisers, harpsichord, Clavinet, glockenspiel, backing vocals
Marietta Tsakmakli: soprano, alto and baritone saxophones, backing vocals
Aggelos Malisovas: fretted and fretless basses
Yiannis Iliakis: drums, percussion, backing vocals
All songs written and arranged by Yorgos Mouhos and Nicolas Nikolopoulos.