Its no secret that Italian bands tend to have a special little extra artistry and musicianship that I just love in the context of prog, and I don’t mean only the classics like PFM, Le Orme or the absolute masters, known for short as BANCO. Check out the latest output by DFA, Deus Ex Machina or La Torre dellAlchimista to see that the tradition of excellence is still strong.
Naturally, then, I was very excited to get this disc for review, and biased in what I thought I was going to hear. I say this because this release does not really match the style or ambition of the previously mentioned new Italian crop, so to speak, and I was thus originally a bit disappointed by this album.
Don’t get me wrong. The music offered here is a very good collection of prog-flavored pop ballads and AOR soft rockers, featuring the excellent vocal prowess of Nicola Randone. This guy can really sing, delivering with emotion and intensity that makes him sound like a mix of Fish and Le Ormes Aldo Tagliapietra, and all the tunes he chose are tasty and well crafted. Melodic, spacious and austere in all the right places, this is music where every instrument provides vocal support, and is yet allowed to breathe and move on its own, like the very tasty guitar solos peppered through the album that have that distinctly Rotherian mix of bittersweet beauty and anger.
There are many other hints of classic English prog instrumentation on this album. For example, the opening track Visioni features a keyboard lead sound and vibe that are identical to those found on the Floydian opus Dogs, and the intro arpeggio to La Giostra is an instant reference to Alan Parsons Tales Of Mystery and Imagination. Moreover, like in most of the work by both of these bands, many of the songs are interconnected by strange ambient holophonics (heartbeats, radios tuning and thunderclaps), lending continuity to the whole album. I could go on, but you get the idea. The production is immaculate, and overall this is a very professional piece of work.
Obviously this isn’t going to please diehard Magma fans, but people who dig sweet’n’happy neoprog of the kind served by Pendragon or Glass Hammer, are likely to really enjoy this release. If you’re interested in getting it here in the USA, I’d suggest getting in touch with Kinesis. I don’t get commission, and I’m sure the other prog pushers probably have it, but I just remember seeing it on the Kinesis catalogue.