In 2009 we reviewed Alconauta (see review)), the second album by PropheXy, an Italian prog metal band from Bologna. They delivered their first effort Enforce Envolve in 2003. Recently PropheXy released the first live album Improvviso which was recorded on the 17th of March 2013 in Vicenza, Italy. On this live album the band no longer sounds as a traditional prog metal band. Although the heavy guitar parts, the screams and chaotic passages remained intact, they no longer dominate the music that much, something you would expect from a prog metal band.
This time more progressive rock elements have taken over from a style that can be described best as the sound of the Canterbury scene. These influences are more prominent on this live album. Apart from that I noticed that the influences of King Crimson are more obvious. I think the reason for this different sound is a line-up change, because the new band members Luca Fattori (vocals) and Diber Benghi (keyboards) clearly leave their marks on the overall sound. Compared to PropheXy's previous work, this certainly is a positive change of direction as far as their style of music is concerned. However, in order to understand the music the average listeners still have to undergo some difficult moments. Initially I didn't know what to make of this music either, but I gave them the benefit of the doubt.
By listening to Improvviso more often I discovered that there's a lot to enjoy. In particular the fine instrumental parts with lots of improvisations, hence the title Improvviso. The new arrangements of the older songs certainly help to make them sound more acceptable to a wider audience. This way the three songs from Alconauta get a second life, while the four brand new numbers show that the band is ready to take a step forward. The sound of the Canterbury scene can be heard several times throughout the album for example on Trickster and Paradigmi Mentali. The fine flute playing by bass player Alessandro Valle is mostly responsible for that sound. Especially the two bonus tracks Disassociation and Golf Girl resemble that style of music, but that's quite logical since these are two covers from Caravan. They are often mentioned as being one of the founders of the Canterbury scene. These Caravan classics are played very well also due to the fact that no-one less than Richard Sinclair, co-founder of this British band, sings on these tunes.
People who take the time to listen to some new and rather experimental progressive rock music might be interested in Improvviso. I gave it a chance and draw the conclusion that it was worthwhile listening to. Sure, it wasn't always easy but that either applies to your first kiss, your first beer and your first cigarette!
*** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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