ATARAXIA – Deep Blue Firmament | Aristocrazia Webzine

ATARAXIA – Deep Blue Firmament

Band: Ataraxia
Title: Deep Blue Firmament
Year: 2016
Country: Italy
Label: Sleaszy Rider Records

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  1. Delphi
  2. Message To The Clouds
  3. Greener Than Grass
  4. Myrrh
  5. Alexandria I
  6. Rosso Sangue
  7. Galatia
  8. May
  9. Vertical
  10. Ubiquity
  11. Phoebe

2016 was a very interesting and lively year for the thriving Italian ethereal neofolk scene, which has always been an environment quite open to external influences and experimenting with other genres, as also proven by Corde Oblique's "I Maestri Del Colore", by the anticipated return of Ashram's pianist Luigi Rubino, and the band itself is scheduled to release a new work this year. One of the main pillars of this current is of course Ataraxia, the historic band hailing from the Emilia Romagna region.

As we all know, their production dates back to the late Eighties/early Nineties, a very long span of time through which Francesca Nicoli and her partners have explored many aspects of their sound and worked together with scores of musicians and labels. For their latest and anticipated work "Deep Blue Firmament", Ataraxia chose to work with the Greek label Sleaszy Rider Records, and actually they seemed to have put an accent on their amazing live rituals, as all four members are portrayed in the booklet while performing.

The record contains about an hour of splendour (a bit longer in the digipak version, that also includes the bonus track "Alexandria II") and starts off with the almost rockish "Delphi", that makes pretty clear how much Ataraxia follow the scene around them, and just how much they want to explore different territories (although we can always hear the eternal Dead Can Dance in the background). Apart from being really good quality music, "Deep Blue Firmament" can also serve as an intense spiritual soundtrack, for example enhancing the experience of walking around one of the hundreds of medieval towns scattered around Europe. In my case, the quaint alleys and squares of Pisa's historical centre proved a spectacular setting for "Myrrh" or "Vertical".

There are even four songs inspired by the works by Irish poet William Butler Yeats (such as "Greener Than Grass"). Nevertheless, it appears verticality — both external and internal — is one of the album's main themes, in an upward tension towards the secrets of the firmament ("Galatia") and at the same time a search of our innermost selves (through the howling black abyss mentioned in the outstanding "Rosso Sangue").

Ataraxia once again proved to be a certainty for fans of this particular genre, you just have to think about all the many projects inspired by them (for example Hexperos, or …All My Faith Lost) and think of the fact that the quartet from Modena is still there at the top of the list after more than thirty years of career. "Deep Blue Firmament" is a great opportunity to get in touch with a world that someone might define as divine.