An ambitious concept for a very particular debut album: Althea tell us the story behind “Memories Have No Name”
No compromise, no fear of facing the giants of the genre. Born a few years ago in Milan and with just an EP out, Althea bump in the crowded world of progressive rock with a sophisticated and ambitious debut. “Memories Have No Name” has the rocky American prog sound and the atmospheres of modern British derivations, along with a strong taste for melody. To complete the picture, a vast array of carefully blended inspirations (ranging from electronica to hard rock) and an interesting “circular” concept: the sixteen songs are combined in a single endless path, and venture between the flows of human psyche, memories, and emotion.
We had a chat with guitarist and composer Dario Bortot about the genesis of the record.
Althea – Memories Have No Name
Just as a starter: why Althea? What does your name mean? What’s the history of the band?
It’s an old story and it was rathera random choice. We’ve never been so good with names, we used a lot of strange fantasy names before we came up with Althea. At some point we knew that we needed a final name for the band. We ust opened an English dictionary and the first word we found was Althea. We liked it, and we called the band that way. Only after some time we realized that Althea is actually a Greek goddes. We started few years ago as a power-prog band, then we developed towards more experimental sounds. Those that you can find on MHNN.
You’ve just released Memories Have No Name. It is indeed a very rich and complex -in a good way, of course- release for being a debut album. How was the creative process behind the album? And what have been your main inspiration, either coming from the world of music or not?
I’m glad you spotted the essence of the album. It’s true, it’s a kinda complex and rich album in its structure, but it’s still quite easy to listen to. The creative process was really complex. I had the idea of the concept, then I started writing the music and lyrics. Together with Alessio (the singer) we worked on the melodies and completed a full demo of the songs. We did not have specific references for this album. Of course we’re big fans of progressive rock, but we also like experimental, ambient, dark music. Pretty much everything! In the album you can definitely hear some classic prog influences, but also some ambient and alternative music. Even some pot. I think it’s really a cross-genre album.
Artists of your genre often abuse of sad and gloomy sounds. Your music appears to be way more uplifting than the average. What are the feelings that you want to be lived by your listener?
I think MHNN is lead by feelings and experience. The concept behind it is its undamental aspect, and it is a very complex concept with many facets. The music adapts to the various states of mind lived by the two main characters of the story. You must have noticed darker sections, aggressive traits, while other parts are more pensive and intimate. The album has been quite a trip for us, we hope the listeners can experience the same feelings we feel.
Memories and feelings (there’s also the L.O.V.E. acronym in the title of one of the tracks) are at the very center of your concept. Can you tell me me something more about the story that you want to tell?
Basically, as human beings, our main intangible assets are our memories. In general, you can define every person as the sum of all memories -in the broadest sense- that come from his experience. But that experience is not always as factual as too often we think. In fact the same shared experience can be perceived in a diametrically opposite way by different people, and bring along completely different memories. That’s why “Memories have no name”: there is no absolute memory, the understanding of which should lead to greater acceptance of ourselves and others in our lives.
The history revolves around two men, John (a creative, instinctive and emotional man) and Dalia (a rational and pragmatic woman) whose views on life and relationships are completely influenced by the wall of memories that defines them, and that often leads them to misunderstandings. At the end of the album, they find themselves thinking about the same needs and feelings, and start a process of acceptance of the other, through a process of regression from all regrets (the first song of MHNN). In fact, MHNN is a circular concept.
It’s not so uncommon for prog to get involved with social, politic and religious tematics. You seem to keep away from that.
I completely agree with you. We are interested in politics, but we are not interested in using Althea for this purpose. It’s also very easy to be trivial and pathetic, dealing with it. When it comes to social issues, in a sense, the line is more subtle, and certainly some passages of the album are a reflection of our society. I can definitely say that our mission as a band is not to use music to change the world socio-political dynamics. We are storytellers, and we prefer to create emotions for our listeners.
Let’s fake that I know nothing about prog and I’ve never listened to a prog album. Give me a reason why I should start with MHNN.
I would tell you that prog is probably one of those genres that are always changing, experimenting, finding something different. The progressive term groups bands that are very different from each other, loosely tied by a philosophy or an approach to making music. I think MHNN has a lot of progressive elements, especially in its underlying phylosphy. But it’s also a very melodic and a fairly accessible album. It’s not extremely technical. Therefore it can be a good album to approach the world of progressive music, provided you have at least 50 consecutive minutes for listening to it! It is a very genuine and honest album, and I think it’s something that we somehow miss in today’s music.
Where do you see yourselves in the future? What are your projects for the immediate future?
We live day by day. We try to give as much as possible with our efforts and our music. We would like MHNN to be listened as much as possible, to reach as many fans as possible, and to play live around the world. Realistically, we cannot achieve that in the near future. We are planning some live shows, where we hope to meet our firends and fans. And… in case there’s any representative of any label among your readers: yes, we are looking for you!
WE TALKED WITH…
Dario Bortot (Guitar)
Fabrizio Zilio (Bass)
Marco Zambardi (Key and Loops)
Sergio Sampietro (Drums)
Alessio Accardo (Vocal)
“Eleven” EP 2014
“Memories Have No Name” 2017