Say Psych: Album Review: Nero Kane – Tales of Faith and Lunacy

Tales of Faith and Lunacy is the new album by Italian songwriter Nero Kane, a visionary story with a cinematic flavour, a timeless journey conceived in a personal vision of faith between spirituality and passion. The album unfolds in a desert landscape where medieval European mystical influences blend with the flavour of the American West to weave a gloomy, minimal psychedelia. Hypnotic ballads press to the rhythm of a horseback ride through the dusty prairies, where echoes of holy women appear in the heat of the day and in the chill of the night, including Mechthild Von Magdeburg, a thirteenth-century Christian mystic, whose writings are quoted in the album. Readings with a gospel ring converge in a crescendo of old-time organ and string music. Tales of Faith and Lunacy will be released on 30 October in multiple formats; vinyl with Berlin based label Nasoni Records, CD with Italian BloodRock Records, cassette tape with Italian Anacortes Records, and digital.

It is the second album by Nero Kane, following the November 2018 publication for the LA collective American Primitive of Love In A Dying World, recorded and produced in Los Angeles by Joe Cardamone (The Icarus Line / Holy War). The new album also features singer, musician and lyricist Samantha Stella, the artist who made the film shot in the Californian desert that accompanied the release of the first album, and whose keyboards and vocals join Kane’s guitars in the duo’s live performances. The album was recorded and produced in Italy by Matt Bordin (Squadra Omega) of Outside Inside Studio, with the guest collaboration of violinist Nicola Manzan (Bologna Violenta). Here, the axis shifts from the purely autobiographical dimension of the first album to the form of telling other people’s stories, intertwined to form different chapters in a single film with a psych dark folk mood.

Opening with ‘Lord Won’t Come’ whose video was directed by Stella between the Californian deserts and Italy, it is a clear reference to the atmosphere of the film that launched Kane’s first album, where we find the American West landscape and, now more evident, the spiritual flavour of the European artistic past, of which a medieval depiction of The Dance Macabre and the Triumph of Death is recognisable. This is the type of track you want to listen to because you become drawn into its story, it feels like it could kick into full swing at any moment, but that isn’t what Nero Kane is about so sit back and absorb its ethereal beauty, particularly when Stella’s vocals come in. ‘Mechthild’ sees Stella’s vocals take the fore at the open alongside a hypnotic guitar riff that lulls you gently, pulling you deeper into the safety of the music. ‘Mary of Silence’ is a touch lighter than its predecessors, but that doesn’t make it any less emotive or powerful and ‘Magdalene’ is a wistful storytelling. ‘Lost was the Road’ features ‘that’ guitar sound, the one we have come to know Nero Kane for, and the one that keeps fans coming back for more. The dual vocals and the slow rising presence of the synth are enough to move even the hardest heads to acknowledge its beauty. ‘I Believe’ acts as an interlude between two lengthy tracks, with their opus ‘Angelene’s Desert;  coming in at just over ten minutes which is so intoxicating that at times it is almost overpowering, but such is the skill employed that you are pulled back from the brink and plunged deeper instead.

Nero Kane has become a master of evocative dark, western-tinged psych. He doesn’t just create music, he creates soundscapes with imagery deeply entrenched that leave you so deep in thought you wonder how the effect will ever leave you.

Order the vinyl here

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