Unlike the Cicada insects whose music might sit comfortably in the avant-garde/noise camp, this Greek sextet called Ciccada makes pleasant melodic, folk-tinged progressive rock with heavy emphasis on keyboards and flute.
Ciccada came to be in 2005 as Nicolas Nikolopoulos (flute, keyboards) and Yorgos Mouchos (guitars) joined forces, soon joined in by vocalist Evangelia Kozoni (who also plays accordion and percussion), thus forming the core of the band. More musicians came and went as years went by and in this album they are joined in by bassist Omiros Komninos and contributions from session musicians.
The band’s music lies in what many call “symphonic rock” (a term I’m not sure of its meaning, but if it helps you, then that’s good). Their music is very pleasant and warm, even soothing and calm. The dominance of the flute and Evangelia’s vocals (not an in-your-face type of presence, but in the sense of being at the forefront, leading and setting the tone) is the element that permeates throughout the entire album and creates its atmosphere and its charm.
While other reviewers and the press release cite Jethro Tull, Renaissance, Gentle Giant and the likes as influences, which is all well if you’d like to get an idea of what to expect, I’ll chime in with two notions:
One, I personally would place Ciccada in a “camp” along with Viima and their “symphonic folk prog rock” style.
Two, instead of searching for labeling and sound-alike bands, I’ll say this: Ciccada’s music finds its inspiration and characteristics from symphonic prog, folk and to a lesser extent jazz. The result as I hear it, is a compelling, though not flawless, sound that doesn’t appear as a senseless mélange as can be the case sometimes.
I appreciate very much their use of varied instruments to create a rich and spacey sound (acoustic and electric guitars, flute, clarinet, strings, French horn, trumpet, glockenspiel, piano, violoncelo and of course bass and drums).
Another aspect I like here is the balance between the mellow and the less delicate. There are moments of higher intensity (as much as it can get intense in this album) where more instruments chime in, or the electric guitar gets involved (such as in The Endless Sea) and elevate the energy, whereas there are more refined and serene moments where only a few instruments play (usually the flute) along with Evagelia’s singing. But even as they become more powerful and noisy, it never gets over the top or abandons completely the peaceful roots of their sound (manifested in the accompaniment of the flute, piano and vocals as well as the pace of the music).
I must say I’m very happy to hear such a lovely album that is filled with beauty and tamed passion. Though I’d love to hear more daring and breaking out of the mold from this talented band, this is an album I enjoy listening to and one that has made me look out for their future release.