[Reviewed by Damiano Lanzi]
The Illusion Of Silence is a songwriter from Turin in Italy and his style could be described as dark-folk and neoclassical. But here we have to make an important distinction, since “Black Rainbow” is not one of the numerous neoclassical records where all the “classical” instrumentation is played by a computer with virtual instruments and in most cases badly arranged, without a real knowledge of how you should arrange a classical score. On the other hand, what we have here is music played by trained musicians with a classical formation, a real piano, real percussions, real accordion and keyboards, and notably a real string quartet. This is impressive if we consider that aside from some compilations and co-recordings with other bands this is the first full-length album released by this Italian project, but I believe that working in a professional way is always a good choice when you have the chance to do it, so I appreciate this kind of approach.
TIOS has cooperated with Sunset Wings for a track on their 2014 album “Life As A Child At Play” and this gave him the opportunity to have some members of this band playing with him, most notably multi-instrumentalist Aleks Popov, singer Tatiana Korotkova and cellist Anna Ivanova who has also helped score the strings. The album has been recorded in Kaliningrad, the Russian enclave on the Baltic sea, and this probably helped the cold, Nordic atmosphere of some tracks. The role of the strings is crucial and there are beautiful arrangements: in “Blooming” they perfectly underline the themes of the changing seasons and the way they affect our feelings.
Nature is the thematic fulcrum of the album; the semantic field of vegetation is present everywhere, with a focus on the transformation of natural elements that is somewhat esoteric. I like to think that this might relate with TIOS’ hometown Turin, a city that’s considered an energetic centre for both black and white magic, filled with mysterious symbols. While walking on the streets of this city, you can feel a sense of ambiguity together with fascination. That’s the same duality that you can perceive in these lyrics, the contradiction between opposite forces that is remarked even by the album title and the namesake track; “Black Rainbow”, spoken in Italian, is indeed about the struggle between darkness and light and the permeation of these two elements during the dawn.
Aside from the epic “The Old Seaman” (which had already appeared in the compilation “Snowflakes IV” by the German label At Sea) the tracks are brief, but in their conciseness there’s nonetheless the time for memorable melodic intuitions (“Implosion”) or melancholic instrumental codas (“Winter Solstice”). Some other times TIOS radically changes the atmosphere of a song, as it happens with my favourite tune “A Dream Lost Forever”, that opens with bouncing piano octaves and ends with a gloomy part with sparse notes of psaltery and dramatic choirs. You always have the impression that even if the track lasts for only two minutes, TIOS has managed to say everything there was to say, and to create a small poetic gem.