From: Richard Stockwell
The Cranium Music Album Of The Month for August 1998 is "CURSES AND INVOCATIONS" by three piece Italian band STANDARTE. The group feature two mellotrons, organ, piano, harpsichord, bass, drums & vocals. Released on the Italian Black Widow label, this is Standarte's 2nd release. The group have managed to capture a feeling of the music coming from the '70's even though this album was only recorded in the last two years. If you like the music from such 70's keyboard heavy bands as Atomic Rooster, Czar or Gracious then be prepared for a keyboard and mellotron drenched "CURSES AND INVOCATIONS". All the tracks on this release are written by Standarte with the exception of "The Arrival Of The Traveller" which was written by Davis Kitkat of the band Gracious. Three sound samples in Real audio format are available on our samples page. If you are a fan of walls of keyboards then check out this excellent album.
From: Mark Fonda
Standarte is a 90's band with a 70's sound reminiscent of Atomic Rooster. They have two albums - the first is self-titled (1995) and the second is 'Curses and Invocations' (1996)... a third called 'Stimmung' is due out in September. They are an Italian trio featuring the strong keyboards of Michele Profeti, solid percussion and vocals from Daniele Caputo and scorching bass guitar (and additional keys) by Stefano Gabbani... these are all men, despite the names. They are a 70's retro sound complete with hammond organ, harpsichord, piano, 2 mellotrons, 2 moogs, etc... and vocals sounding like The Doors (or actually more like Atomic Rooster from 'In Hearing of...'). Both albums are hard driving but with a smooth structured feel and the concepts are very dark, but yet I find the music surprisingly uplifting.
The first album is actually dedicated to the late Vincent Crane, keyboardist from Atomic Rooster, who committed suicide in 1989. It has some spoken words (English w/British accent) interspersed with some excellent vocals that set the tone of gothic horror. The vocals are in English which are not always clear and only the spoken word lyrics are shown in the liner notes. The hammond organ dominates almost every song, but the other instruments are all well balanced and equally strong. One song is called "Charge of the Light Brigade" which is very fast and fiery, reminiscent of ELP 'Tarkus', but with a much coarser edge. Then there's 'Peace in the Garden' which is a church hymn... a very dark ominous organ, followed by 'In My Time of Dying' whose lyrics go "In my time of dying don't want nobody to moan... meet me lord, meet me in the meddle of the air and if my wings should fail me won't you provide (me) with another pair... all I want from you to do is to burn my body to the bone." The last song is called 'I Want You' which is a rip roarin' guitar and organ extravaganza which sounds strikingly similar to Atomic Rooster's 'Break the Ice' song from 1971.
The second album 'Curses and Invocations' picks up right where the first album leaves off. More spoken words followed by crunching organ passages, hard-edged vocals, scorching bass and tight percussion. There is good change of pace and plenty of variety to keep you on your toes. "What More I Have To Pay" has some really cool harpsichord and some twisty off-beat vocals. All the lyrics are shown in the liner notes. "City of Towers" has some more bright harpsichord and organ with some very catchy vocals... followed by a real trippy electronic synth passage that is the only hint of any 90's technology at all. In the notes there is a caption under a picture of some tortured demon-looking face which says "Evil is luxury, loneliness a conquest"... funny, the music is so positive that the morose backdrop is overshadowed and without the liner notes or the lyrics, I'd say this is a very upbeat album!! Maybe one thing that intrigues me about this group is the dichotomy between dark and light, old and new, etc.
I am not normally into gothic nor 'hard prog' but Standarte seem to have a formula that works for me. I was a fan of Atomic Rooster way back and maybe this takes me back to that feel, I'm not sure. I wouldn't say this is a must for every keyboard enthusiast, but for a change of pace and a unique retro sound, it may be worth a listen. I find these tunes going through my head for hours after listening to them... They have a website (in English) which is http://space.tin.it/musica/dnicoli/standarte.html and Cranium Music has some sound clips.
From: "Mark Fonda" <>
Standarte 'Stimmung' - excellent new live recording with more power than ever and more upbeat... still plenty of great Hammond... imagine Deep Purple with a contemporary polished presentation.