Review by Preston Dildine
Album art by Valeria Sorce Puls’ Art and Design, Photo by Claudia Mastaglia and Angela Canigiula
If you are in the market for a half hour of atmospheric delight, this album – Mental Maze – is just the experience you’re looking for. Davide Moscato, utilizing piano, keyboard, drums, guitar, bass, and electronica, has created a unique listening experience, and has done it expertly so. Vocally, his songs ease you into a world of tranquil, yet slightly adventurous tranquility.
The first thing about this album that stuck out to me was not it’s music, but it’s cover art. A very simple design, with the artist’s name, Davide Moscato, and beneath it, the name of the album – Mental Maze – but backed with a classic labyrinthian design. Within much of the Greek, Roman, and even English mythos, the labyrinth is symbolic of a journey. A journey in which there are many unexpected turns, varying landscapes and atmospheres, and yet our hero always meets his or her destiny at the completion of it. And, as with any adventure, there is always growth in the character. This design, while a simple and fun message to the eye, brilliantly conveys the musical journey you will take upon listening to this album.
“I’ll find my way, cuz it’s not over.” The beginning track, also entitled Mental Maze, sets the tune for this adventure, even with the first set of lyrics. The use of guitar and keyboard sets a mood of self reflection. We see the inner struggle of the singer, and hear the yearning of the desire to learn his place in the world. The drums give us a beat to move along to ,as if we are to accompany him on this adventure of self reflection. Perhaps we will learn something about ourselves as well?
We have reached a track, appropriately titled From the ashes. A nice ballad, along the same vein as the self reflecting Mental Maze, but with a much more commanding presence. A powerful statement in longing for someone, combined with the power of the drums, reminiscent of our hearts pounding, urging us to go on and find this person.
“I am the way and the wayfarer.” While remaining in a self reflecting statement, we have switched gears. This track, Wandering Upon The Wind, is much more psychedelic a musical experience than the previous two, but a nice transition. This track is far more upbeat while still holding strong to the theme of the album. The guitar is strong throughout, and the solo is impressive without being overpowering. The vocals are empowering.
We’re bringing it back down a bit with this next track. This track, Love & Psyche, is very atmospheric. A drastic change from the previous track, this is an interesting take on a love ballad, sounding like it belongs in an 80s rock/fantasy score. The use of keyboard, and I believe synth, are woven together nicely to create a mythical ambience, while retaining drive. The track is quite uneven, but it works somehow. The vocals blend together nicely, and we can feel their journey through the music. Love is, realistically, not a smooth journey, so neither should be a love ballad. Beautifully done.
We’ve hit the road again. The next track, Turning Away, has picked up the pace of the album, and we are moving along again. This track includes a very hard guitar and drum drive throughout, and feels bitter without wallowing in it. The tone is, once again, quite psychedelic, but not out of place. The vocals get stronger and more powerful as the track goes on.
We have completely strayed from the path now. So Lost, aptly named, in that this song sounds very unlike the other tracks in this album. Upbeat, with a strong mix of guitar and drums, this song takes us along a separate journey. A nice listening experience, but honestly a bit of a shock coming out of the gate.
Wings Of Fate, the next track in the album, continues in the vein of the previous track, in that it has no real semblance to the previous tracks, other than the instruments used. A very upbeat sound, this track has a very wing-like drive to it. It feels as though we are rising above and traveling on. “You talk to me, as though you never did.” We are reaching our ending, our conclusion, our answers.
Another aptly named track, Signals, is filled with electronica sound effects. This track’s vocals begin with spoken verse, and the tone has turned dark. Is this a happy ending? Not from the sounds of it. But we have reached a conclusion. The vocalist narrates what sounds like a hellscape. Is this our subconscious? “Wake up, and stand up. Fight back!” It sounds so. We are urged to wake up, and fight back. There is a happy ending, but we have to fight for it. The entire track is spoken, and accompanied with the electronica, as well as water gurgling, and a bit of a melody.
All in all, this album was an adventure. One that I might take again, but if you are looking for an easy listen, this album is not for you. But if you are looking for something self reflective, something that makes you think, ponder, wonder, something that perhaps will change you, you have come to the right place. Come into the labyrinth. Wander the Mental Maze.