This incredible project was original formed by the talented pianist Olga Garcia (piano, vocals, arrangements) in 2006 hailing from Madrid, Spain where the enchanting old world meets the modern age. She was later joined by Pilar Molina (cello, vocals) in 2009. By early 2011 they put together and released a short three-track self-titled EP which we picked up and were immediately hooked. With great anticipation we awaited the full-length debut album Itineris I finally released in September of 2011. With these two items, the project immediately received positive reviews and also enjoyed some live shows with positive responses in Spain and even at Wave Gothik Treffen in Leipzig. In the course of just over a year in between the live performances they had, these talented musicians pulled together another thirteen captivating compositions for their sophomore album Vitae Proelium released in December of 2012. For this album the duo was joined by Zevlagh on drums and flutes, Fernando on drums and Carmen with the oboe. At this point the band took a short break and Olga decided to start fresh. With a new lineup and new ideas they pulled together a number of new tracks and recorded a live show for their next album released in late 2015, simply titled En Directo 2015 (Live 2015).
The music from these talented artists as created by Olga's stunning compositions is absolutely spellbinding. They harness their incredible talents on the cello, oboe and piano, mixed with bits of layers of occasionally other instruments and early on subtle electronics for added depth to each piece and we have a set of new classical masterpieces. Influenced by other legendary great neo-classical and darkwave acts such as sToa, Arcana and Dargaard, we now have another master of these genres with this project and their small discography. Fans of these aforementioned projects will have yet another new favorite with Aura Noctis. We continue to look forward to more of a long and exciting career with these talented artists for many years to come. In the meantime be sure to pick up their three albums and DVD and enjoy.
En Directo 2015 (CD and DVD) - Review
After silence for a couple of years from this project it was a great pleasure to receive word of this new release. I'm not usually a fan of "live" albums where the band just captures a bunch of tracks from one or two given live performances. Once in a while you get a gem out of these like The Cure's live version of "A Forest" and other similar treats. However, I was very pleased to see that while you still get the applause from the audience mixed in with the tracks, the actual songs themselves are clear and pure with no added background nosie, echo, muffling or distortion from the live recording or venue. It is simply a clear and pure acoustic set of beautiful music performed to perfection and absolutely magical that will have true classical musicians and fans swooning as you listen. In fact, the other added bonus is that you can watch this entire performance on a companion DVD that is well recorded, capturing the artists in all their splendor and the music as clear as ever, mixed perfectly for a really nice touch.
On this new classical masterpiece we have a great selection of tracks, spanning thirteen pieces and lasting about an hour. As you watch the video and / or listen to the music, you can get the feeling of being there in the intimate venue as the stunning music permeates the soul. We have a selection of all new music not appearing on previous releases as well as those we've enjoyed before, some with a slightly different twist to them in this live venue. "Viajes" starts off the album and if you're watching the video you get the information that this nine-minute track is actually three different movements, each beautiful and moving as the sweet piano remains the anchor while the caressing cello and weeping oboe come together and are moved along by the subtle and somber percussion. This provides a great introduction to the album and opens and sets the stage for the magical hour that is to follow.
The album is comprised of one dreamy neo-classical piece after another with some standing out as favorites as with previous releases. For those looking for a familiar sound on this live album, we're treated with "Omnia" and "Progresiva" a few tracks in as their familiar melody rings out in captivating style. "El Cantar de las Hojas" is one of those familiar, yet presented slightly different than we've heard before with spoken word at the beginning before the lilting vocals pick up and hold the listener entranced throughout the rest of the song. The final piece that rings familiar is "Inner Chaos" with it's appropriate name as the intensity picks up with this piece across driving soundscapes.
Favorites among the newly introduced pieces are hard to single out as the entire album is full of one great masterpiece after another. We have the inclusion of vocal pieces like before with the inclusion of a definite favorite in "Furor Et Luctus" as Beatriz's siren-like vocals come out enchanting and beautiful as a perfect mix with the spellbinding music. After a few familiar tunes we're presented with the hauntingly simplistic "Drops". This sweet tune is a pure piano solo showcasing Olga's talent and flawless technique for a hypnotic journey through a minimal yet spellbinding soundscape. "Trisology" quickly stood out as a favorite from the first time listening to the album with all of the captivating attributes of soft and dreamy cello and oboe underpinning the sweet piano melodies. "Sola Dryas" stands out as a sweet little celtic inspired tune with the addition of the flute / recorder as well as the oboe and cello with the inclusion of Beatriz's haunting vocals. The album ebbs and flows over more masterpieces and finally comes to a close with "Hidden Faces" serving as a sort of finale with dark and ominous broken piano chords providing the backdrop for the somber cello and oboe, all building to a dynamic climax with the percussion adding the final punctuation to it all.
There you have it, another neo-classical masterpiece created in a way that is memorable and a new classic for our collection. Be sure to check it out, this is definitely something for fans to really enjoy.
Vitae Proelium - Review
To say I was excited when I heard of a new album from this project would be an understatement. So many tracks from Itineris I have created a longing for more great music from these artists and so it's great to finally have that longing satisfied. With thirteen captivating tracks, this album is yet another great masterpiece for the neo-classical music fan.
I think I could sum up this review and this album in about a single sentence, or maybe even just a couple of words: simply beautiful. Well, it really is so much more than that and the compositions are much more complex as well. However I have a soft spot for a great mix of piano, cello, oboe and subtle layered ambient synths all serving as a back-drop to beautifully, haunting vocals. As a musician, particularly a pianist, having performed alongside the cello and oboe on occasion, hearing each of these instruments come out so well on these compositions is really captivating. It's nice to just sit back and listen, soaking it all in as note after note and wave after wave of emotionally spellbinding music wafts over you, as a warm mist or fresh breath of air, revitalizing the soul through the grandeur and beauty of it all.
For those that enjoyed the dynamic, neo-classical tracks from the first album, there's plenty here as they build on their solid foundation. The album starts with a slightly new twist on "Windtro" which is a sort of play on the word with the wind instruments of the flute and oboe taking center stage for this introductory track. The dynamic nature of this album shines forther across the entire span as piece by piece we're presented with varying degrees of intensity and various styles. It all comes together in the powerful title track "Vitae Proelium" with a heavy, processional percussion setting the rhythm while a duo of vocals and synthesized chorus form the web of layers as the organic flute, oboe and cello bring it all together. This slightly heavier, more intense style comes alive on a few pieces, the most intense of which is appropriately named "Inner Chaos". This instrumental piece showcases Olga's excellent talent on the piano while the instruments create a nice backdrop adding more breadth and depth to it all. Other pieces come together in like manner such as "Amissi" in a slightly slower and somber mood as well as the more intense piece "Lautir" which comes out as something more of a soundtrack to an epic fantasy adventure movie.
While these are all great pieces and enjoyable, my heart and soul remain captivated by the softer, more classically oriented pieces from these artists. The angelic vocals over the softer, dreamier music is spellbending and mesmerizing. The first of these on the album appears in the form of "El Cantar de las Hojas". On their debut album "Encontrarte" was the dreamiest of pieces and it seems they've realized this and capitalized on the beauty of that structure and we're presented with a number of excellent selections on this album of similar style. "Dances of the Soul" finds itself somewhere in between the two worlds, haunting and intense, yet beautiful and alluring with the piano making the heart race while the background ambient soundscapes hold the listener entranced. Also breaking the mold slightly is the wilting fairy tune "Arevaci" that inspires a lighthearted, elf or fairy dance from some other fantasy world. The lilting waltz is bolstered and anchored by heavy percussion and deep cello while the dreamy flute and oboe keep it moving along in that buoyant, lively nature. As the album comes to a close we're treated with "Un Lugar" with more of the soft haunting vocals in spanish and with that madrile�o accent that is like sugar to the ears to someone accustomed to it, yet not around it much when living on the west coast of the United States. The album wraps up with two more beautiful pieces, "Quimera" which is another intense, yet beautiful instrumental that gives way to "Omnis in Anima Manent". This finale to the album presents us with soft, somber piano and beautiful, soft soprano operatic vocals, a truly spellbinding combination and great way to wrap up the album.
These talented artists have truly out-done themselves and shown they have a solid foundation to build on and plenty of creativity and talent to grow with. As I began this review, it can easily be summed up as simply beautiful. Enjoy!
Itineris I - Review
Presenting the debut album from this enchanting duo. It comes packaged in a standard jewel case with a small booklet featuring beautiful cover art in a wintry landscape featuring the two key instruments: a piano and cello. The imagery of the music is captured well across eleven spellbinding tracks that hold listeners entranced throughout the duration.
The album starts off dark and brooding with "Ad Occasum Tendimus Omnes", much like the darker tracks from Arcana with a lot of heavy, deep layered electronics and percussion with subtle piano and the chanting, angelic vocals to soften and accent it all. Yet even with the heavy sound, it still comes out beautifully and sets the stage for what has become a new all-time favorite album. Each piece on this album is a masterpiece as we drift from these heavier, darker pieces to the dreamier neo-classical sounds. Sometimes in the form of captivating instrumentals featuring excellent piano compositions moving along with subtle cello and other layered, synthesized sounds. Accented at times with bombastic percussion or featuring spellbinding, angelic vocals from one or both artists.
Favorites on this album could easily be every piece with the variety and beauty across the entire album. Songs like "D.e.S." as mostly an instrumental piece with the vocals not forming any intelligible vocals, but rather becoming an instrument in and of themselves. Other instrumental pieces like "Progresiva" are absolutely mesmerizing with the swift moving piano along with the cello forming a lilting rhythm that moves along, ebbing and flowing dreamily. There is a trio of instrumental pieces later on with "Erste Reise", "Zweite Reise" and "Dritte Reise" which are each beautiful in their own way. These instrumental pieces have a life and soul of their own that really shine on this album like many of the great classics and neo-classical masterpieces alike.
A few tracks on the album are made up of pieces which do feature more distinct vocals like "Solitude" with beautiful harmonies featuring both vocalists softly lilting and drifting over the somber mix of instruments real and synthetic. A definite favorite early on when their precursor 3-track teaser was released is "Breaking Thoughts". The harmonies mix operatic with clear, soft and sweet vocals for a unique, lovely style. My absolute favorite piece on this album is the simple and sweet finale "Encontrarte". The vocals are sweet and simple, sung in spanish (the only track on the album in spanish) and absolutely captivating as they move sweetly along over the mix of somber cello and beautiful, classic piano compositions. As this piece winds down, I'm left breathless, wanting more and simply wanting to stand and give these two a grand ovation for their excellent work. I can't recommend this enough for fans of sToa, Dargaard and Arcana. Pick it up, listen to it and love it!
Label: GH Records