‘Solo Piano’ reviewed in MainlyPiano.com

I’m delighted to announce that ‘Solo Piano’ has just received a wonderful review from Mainlypiano.com! 😍

The review has been written by Kathy Parsons. I think she has made a very perceptive and sensitive analysis of the album’s emotional nuances. For anyone interested, I definitely encourage you to read it, and for those who like piano music, to visit mainlypiano.com regularly.

MainlyPiano.com is the home site of Kathy Parsons, Michael Debbage, and Steve Yip.
It features 3,300+ album reviews of more than 1,180 artists, in addition to 385+ songbook reviews and more than 270 interviews.

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Review in Gothic Paradise – En Directo 2015

Review published in Gothic Paradise on March, 28, 2016, about our latest album “En Directo 2015”. Thank you very much!!

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.

Rating: 5/5

Wolfhall: Vitae Proelium Review

Review published in Wolfhall, in December, 2013. Languages: German & English.

Wolfhall: Aura Noctis – Vitae Proelium (English)

Album Rezension, Jan. 2013 | Album review, Jan. 2013

After ‘Itineris I’ dating from 2011, now the second album by the female Spanish duo is out, noticeably matured and more clearly focused. Expect an excellent blend of ‘Ethereal’, Medieval and ‘Neoclassical’. The skilled use of acoustic instruments is obvious, only towards the end spheric synthie-sounds are incorporated. That is the main difference regarding the first album, where keyboards have dominated. The vocal parts are particularly charming. Solos, duets or pieces with a Gregorian touch sung by the two. In addition they play the piano and cello. Guest musicians were signed on for flute, oboe and percussion, all deliver a fabulous job. The title song of the album, ‘Vitae Proelium’ (lat.): ‘Battle of Life’ is the most prolific.

About half of the tracks are instrumental, supposedly they were meant for loosing up, or just to round off the CD. But this remains the only thing to complain. Enchanting highlights are undoubtedly the pieces featuring vocals, I demand more of those on the upcoming release.
The mastering was done by the boss of the French label Prikosnovénie, which was a pretty good deal for them.

Fenris W.

Wolfhall: Aura Noctis – Vitae Proelium (German)

Album Rezension, Jan. 2013 | Album review, Jan. 2013

Nach ‚Itineris I‘ aus dem Jahr 2011 kommt nun ein deutlich augereifteres, akzentuierteres zweites Album des weiblichen spanischen Duos. Den Hörer erwartet eine exzellente Mischung aus Ethereal, Mittelalterlichem und Neoclassical. Der Umgang mit den akustischen Instrumenten ist gekonnt, lediglich gegen Ende erklingen noch Synthie-FlĂ€chen im Hintergrund. Das macht den Hauptunterschied zum ersten Werk aus, wo Keyboards dominierten. Insbesondere die GesangsstĂŒcke sind sehr reizvoll angelegt. Solos, Duette oder gregorianisch angehauchte Partien von beiden SĂ€ngerinnen. Außerdem spielen sie Klavier und Cello. FĂŒr Flöte, Oboe und Schlagwerk wurden Gastmusiker gewonnen, die ausnahmslos eine versierte Arbeit abliefern. Der Titelsong des Albums, ‚Vitae Proelium‘ (lat.):‚Kampf des Lebens‘ ist wohl das gelungenste StĂŒck.

UngefĂ€hr die HĂ€lfte der CD sind instrumentale Titel, vermutlich waren sie zur Auflockerung gedacht, oder damit die CD voll wird. Ansonsten kann man den KĂŒnstlern wenig ankreiden. Bezaubernde Höhepunkte sind zweifelsohne die StĂŒcke mit Gesang, davon wĂŒnsche ich mir noch mehr wenn die nĂ€chste Veröffentlichung ansteht.
Das Mastering der Produktion wurde vom Chef des französischen PrikosnovĂ©nie Labels ĂŒbernommen, bei dem sie sichtlich in guten HĂ€nden waren.

Fenris W.

Heathen Harvest: Vitae Proelium Review

Review published in Heathen Harvest in June, 16, 2013, about our album Vitae Proelium. Language: English.

Aura Noctis is a band that has somehow eluded me throughout my musical journeys above and beyond. Twice before have they been reviewed on The Harvest, and both times I was brooding away on some black metal barbarism or introverted space ambient, but this third time is a charm and now I finally have the chance to review their latest album, Vitae Proelium. Aura Noctis is a neoclassical act that started out with Olga on piano and Pilar on cello while both added vocals into the mix. In Vitae Proelium, the ranks have been bolstered by Rubén on flutes, drums and vocals, Fernando on drums and Carmen on oboe. Plenty of neoclassical bands have a tendency to use way too many synthetic instruments in their music ending up with songs that sound partially monotonous and lifeless. Sometimes the use of synthetics might be charming, and I admit that my own opinion on black metal bands such asSummoning have gone from adoration to mediocrity due to the synthetic sounds becoming too clean, but here the purity of sound works on a whole different level and really brings forth the life of the songs.

The album starts slowly with “Windtro” being a slow and serene story filled to the brim with both melancholy and beauty. The album quickly gains some pace however and really starts to bloom in the title track “Vitae Proelium” with its slow but steady drumming and ominous voices that bloom out in solemn voices over a sweet melody of flutes. The album continues to evolve with the minimal and heavenly “El Cantar de las Hojas” which masterfully manages to blend vocals, flute and piano together in an effortlessly exquisite way. “Inner Chaos”, on the other hand, is more of a hefty and rigorous composition with a harder, more distinct sound — the complete opposite to the rather serene introduction. The album continues this journey between the blissful and the rough within a balance that is uncanny in many ways. This is an album bristling with diverse and varied content that spans from the enchanted “Arevaci”, which conjures imagery of faery feasts in forlorn parts of the woods, to the sad and melancholic atmosphere of “Un Lugar” with its sweet Spanish vocals that truly lift it above and beyond.

Vitae Proelium is truly a strong album and the combination of fine artistry and marvelous compositions really nails this album down as one of the best neoclassical albums of the later years. Not only does it manage to feel fresh and exciting in a scene that has, for some time now, not really done much to reinvent itself. The instruments really breathe life into each and every song of the album, and the production is excellent. This is truly a musical hydra with many different heads, each singing its own song from the depths of a shared soul. In the end, this album has been a pleasure to encounter and I give it my deepest recommendation. Vitae Proelium is a dream distilled into music and it will surely linger in my soul for many years to come.

_Track List:_

01) Windtro
02) Vitae Proelium
03) El Cantar de las Hojas
04) Inner Chaos
05) Dances of the Soul
06) Amissi
07) Frater Mortis
08) Lautir
09) Arevaci
10) Verna
11) Un Lugar
12) Quimera
13) Omnia in Anima Manent

Rating: 5/5
Written by: Skarsnik
Label: In the Morningside Records (Spain) / MORNING019 / CD

Gothic Paradise Vitae Proelium Review

Review published in Gothic Paradise, about our album “Vitae Proelium”.

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 sould 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 madrileĂŻÂżÂœo 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!

Rating: 5/5

Gothic Paradise Itineris I Review

Review published in Gothic Paradise, about Itineris I.

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!

Rating: 5/5

Heathen Harvest: Itineris I Review

Review published on September, 01, 2011, in Heathen Harvest Periodical.

Aura Noctis is a brand new project from Spain, comprised of two female musicians, Pilar (cello, vocals) and Olga (piano, vocals, arrangements). “Itineris I” is their first full-length album, following their very recent self-titled promo presentation. It comes in a CD jewelcase packaging accompanied by beautiful artwork, depicting snowy natural landscapes in a melancholic, romantic manner. Their home is the also Spanish Gradual Hate Records, which has released recordings by acclaimed artists, among others Francisco López, :Igniis: and Silent Love of Death. Ethereal neoclassical is a difficult genre and requires a significant amount of talent, dedication and creativity in order for a project to distinguish itself within its boundaries. Perhaps for that reason, and despite the entrance of classical elements in the general post-industrial world, few projects manage to make themselves truly noticed. Its affinity to classical music makes the listeners more demanding, whereas the all too common occurrence of these elements – sometimes with questionable taste – detracts from the potential effect they might have otherwise been able to cause. It is an extremely pleasant surprise therefore, to see new blood in the scene, following the tradition of names very dear to fans, such as Arcana, Artesia, Dark Sanctuary, Dargaard.

Aura Noctis adapt that tradition properly, using its forms to create, but not to imitate. The first impression from “Itineris I” is that it’s a fresh, inventive album made by two musicians clearly skilled in interpretation, vocals and composition, as well as arrangement. The piano and cello dominate the ensemble, but each track has its own character and various components are accordingly introduced. The artists themselves label their music as Neoclassical/Darkwave. Listening to the album carefully I believe their influences balance evenly between classical and neoclassical/darkwave. For instance the sharp, quick, flowing piano sequence of “Progresiva” is very reminiscent of the renowned contemporary Italian composer Ludovico Einaudi – the same vein of intensity and harmony can be found here. The track is given a more majestic, sombre tone by the cello opposing the main melody. “Ad Ocasum”, the album opener, begins with an ominous, heavy female chorus sung in Latin, which could’ve easily been part of Wojciech Kilar’s “Dracula” score, if only it had been a little faster and more high-pitched. The voices and the piano interpose one another to bring the mood back to the realm of neoclassical.

“Breaking Thoughts” with its distressing, anxious piano sequence, the combination of ethereal and operatic vocals, the dramatic pauses, the sudden turns in melody and its overall tension evokes the much loved sounds of Michael Nyman. “D.E.S.” combines cello, piano and heavenly voices to create a downcast, fallen-from-grace atmosphere, very similar to Dark Sanctuary. “Solitude” continues from there, introducing a few lighter, electronic elements and operatic vocals, which we also find in “Luctu Furiata”. “Fantasia” and “Encontrarte” (the only track in the album with Spanish lyrics) are two more captivating, mournful tracks, while the “Journeys” trilogy (Erste, Zweite & Dritte Reise) is the climax of the compositional complexity which seems to be the stamp of Aura Noctis’ music. All three are truly inspiring, to the point where it is impossible to choose one over the others.

I started listening to “Itineris I” with the expectance of being once more carried away to enchanted forests, dreamy landscapes and poetic fancies, as is always the case with good records of this genre. The essence of romanticism is to find the beauty in melancholy, the melancholy in beauty, to focus on yourself and allow the sensations and thoughts to flow freely, the imagination to run wild, your humanity to be felt completely. An escapist form of art to some, to me it is cathartic if nothing else. Filtering the emotions through an artistic process, creating harmony and meaning out of the very depths of the soul, is that not the definition of art? My expectations were wonderfully fulfilled and now I am optimistic again, that we have something new to expect from this genre in the future. Aura Noctis have created a fine work of romantic art, impeccable in all its aspects. Loyal to their ethereal/neoclassical descent but also imbibed with their own, personal lightness of spirit, their Mediterranean freedom and harmonious plasticity. Highly recommended for fans of neoclassical as well as classical music.

Rating: 5/5

Written by: VITRIOL

Peek-a-Boo Magazine: Aura Noctis EP [CD]

Review published on July, 13, 2011, in Peek-a-Boo Magazine. Languages: English & Dutch.

Aura Noctis EP [CD] (English)

The Spanish Aura Noctis brings us melancholy neofolk / darkwave. This EP is a bit short to assess this band but these three songs already give a clear idea what this band stands for.

The EP opens with “Breaking Thoughts”. Repetitive piano, cello and high ethereal voices create a beautiful melancholy, a deep sad feeling that undersigned often can appreciate in music.

During the second song, “Progresiva”, the cellist Pilar plays an amazingly beautiful main role where the repetitive piano creates the perfect accompaniment to a wonderful instrumental.

The third and final song of the disc is the slow “Zweite Reise”. This time pianist Olga may pull out all the stops. The synths and strings form the perfect soundscape. Again it is a gloomy black gem.

Three numbers is unfortunately too few to really get to know the band, although this is a very strong EP. I really look forward to the full length album, on their website announced as “coming soon”.

A recommendation for neofolk / darkwave fans and an extra name in my booklet “bands to follow”.


Aura Noctis EP [CD] (Dutch)

Het Spaanse Aura Noctis brengt melancholische neofolk/darkwave. Deze EP is een beetje kort om de groep te beoordelen, maar geeft met haar 3 songs wel al een goed beeld.

Het schijfje opent met “Breaking Thoughts”. Repetitieve piano, cello & hoge etherische stemmen creĂ«ren een mooie weemoed, een diep intriest gevoel dat ondergetekende vaak kan appreciĂ«ren in muziek.

Tijdens het tweede nummer, “Progresiva”, mag de celliste Pilar alles uit de kast halen waarbij het repetitieve pianospel voor de perfecte begeleiding zorgt in een supermooie instrumental.

Het derde en laatste nummer van het schijfje is het trage “Zweite Reise”. Ditmaal mag pianiste Olga alle registers opentrekken en zorgen synthesizers en strijkers voor de perfecte begeleiding. Ook hier weer is een zwarte mistroostige parel ons deel.

Drie nummers is helaas een beetje weinig. Weliswaar een zeer sterke EP maar ik kijk toch uit naar de volwaardige langspeler, die op hun website voor binnenkort wordt genoteerd.

Een mooie aanrader voor neofolk/darkwave fans, en een naam extra in mijn boekje “bands to follow”.


Heathen Harvest promo single review

Review published on July, 4, 2011 in Heathen Harvest.

Here we have a neoclassical band, which has two members (well, neoclassical band doesn’t need more anyways): a pianist Olga and cellist Pilar. It was interesting to get acquainted with a neoclassical project coming from Spain no matter I was first a little bit skeptic about the band, when I read the description and references. I can’t really say what I was waiting for from the band, perhaps I was waiting for nothing, because each time you are waiting for something original from the bands having a reference to Dead Can Dance, your expectations fail. But! When I finished listening to this short release, rather an abstract from a story to tease you, I almost felt the tear coming from my eye (apart from that it got combined with windy and rainy window behind my window really well). And to be honest, it was long ago when I was moved by the sounds of music last time.

As I already said this release looks like a teaser, an abstract from a story that interrupts all of a sudden and you cannot figure out why, because for the last 11 minutes your world was completely filled with the sounds of piano and cello, combined, intertwined, talking to each other, quarrelling and singing together, being in a hurry, going up and down and carried away in the stream of synth background, accompanied by rare vocal and drum fragments.

Certainly, it is a very lyrical piece of music. I think each track in this release is worth mentioning and description, in the end, there are only three of them. Each of the tracks has synth atmospheric background that gives the tone to the tracks and an album as a whole. The first track, Breaking Thoughts, is the only one that has vocals and clear synths on the background. It can be compared to the swinging teeter-totter, first the amplitude is low and the sound in the track is rather calm and unemotional, but then it slowly develops, becomes more powerful, and then again almost stops, as if the one who was swinging the whole thing suddenly got deeply into the memories, which then become more and more disturbing. And then the sound becomes strong again and the whole thing gets to the culmination closer to the end. The second track, Progresiva, is very ringing and sparkling and tickly and transparent and aerial and passionate thanks to piano passages that go throughout the track being a perfect background for the cello, creating an incredibly tense atmosphere. And I guess you feel the same when the airplane takes off and the land stays behind while you go up in the skies
The third track compared to other two overall is rather calm, unites two previous tracks and puts not a comma, but three dots

In fact, I don’t think it has much in common with Dead Can Dance, rather with Arcana, which kept developing a certain part of Dead Can Dance, and with Stoa (at least from what I have heard). Generally, this release is characterized by the idea of hope you have while listening to the music which is rather melancholic and even tragic, perhaps. It has unexpected turns, interesting harmonies and melodies as well as ways of expression. I wouldn’t say that they did something extremely original that no one has ever done before. No. I would rather say that they created a piece that sounds very honest and touching, very natural and inspiring and something you want to listen to again and again. Weird thing: it feels like winter nature waiting for the spring to come, although the band itself comes from Spain.

Rating: 5/5

by Elena ZG