Active Heed is a musical project established by the Italian musician Umberto Pagnini. After writing material for his debut Visions From Realities he asked Lorenzo Poli (bass, guitars, keyboards), Giovanni Giorgi (drums) and PelleK (vocals) to contribute. He also got some vocal assistance by Marit Børresen and Mark Colton (Credo).
While listening to the songs on Visions From Realities, I immediately realized that this album can't be considered to be an average prog rock album. The reason why seems very simple because the main part of the album doesn't correspond with the kind of progressive rock on most records that are reviewed by Background Magazine. On the one hand this could mean that the music is too complex, but on the other the musical style could hardly have any relation with what we call prog rock. Well, in my opinion the latter comes closest to the truth! However, you can't ignore the fact that still some prog rock influences can be noticed, but the main part remains underneath the surface just like an iceberg in the Arctic waters.
The fifteen tracks on Visions From Realities don't take too much effort from the listener to get used to it. In other words, the music is easy to digest. Some might call the songs a lighter version of prog or mainstream prog rock. Anyway, if the songs shouldn't have any references with our favourite musical style, this album review wouldn't have been written, would it? You could say that Active Heed did more or less the same as bands like Talk Talk, Simple Minds and Propaganda did in the past, namely recording songs that contain enough elements to please fans of prog rock as well. These songs are mostly rather short and easy to sing along. In my opinion songs like Awake?!, Me, Five Seconds Before, Every Ten Seconds Before Now What? and Usual Plays In Heaven/Be Kind And Talk to Me are probably the tracks with the most enjoyable musical parts that could be labelled as a kind of progressive rock.
People who like to have their prog music not too complex are advised to listen to Visions From Realities. Others who like to hear lots of guitar and keyboard solos and bombastic musical parts better skip this album.
*** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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