You could be forgiven for thinking that this was an album from the heady experimental era of the 1970s. Listening to this I am reminded of Jethro Tull, Mountain, Van der Graaf Generator and even Mike Oldfield. As a debut album, it demonstrates indisputable maturity and invention. With vocals reminiscent of Ian Anderson (Jethro Tull), Roger Chapman (Family) and, at times, even Roine Stolt (Flower Kings/ Transatlantic), Psycho Praxis has drawn together to release a debut offering of serious worth and ability. This young collection of talented individuals has crafted a collection of material worthy of a far more experienced outfit, each track is totally unique in construction and style and each, in true progressive fashion, with its own story to tell.
The five members of Psycho Praxis, Andrea Calzoni (vocals/flute), Paolo Vacchelli (guitars), Paolo Tognazzi (keyboards), Matteo Marini (bass) and Matteo Tognazzi (drums) hail from the Northern Italian city of Brescia. Eight years from their inception, Echoes From The Deep was unleashed onto the ears of the listening world in 2012.
Hopefully we won't have to wait another seven years for their follow up! It's clear, from the opener, Privileged Station, with its fast and frenetic pace and lyrics depicting dark desperation, that this is going to be an extremely interesting piece of work. Heavy with keys, drums, distinctive vocals and an instrumental second half this track will appeal to lovers of retro progressive rock.
The opening of P.S.M slows the pace right down and I am immediately reminded of early Genesis, Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells and the vocals and flute of Ian Anderson. Although the influences are clear, they have been used extremely creatively in producing an original sound.
Hoodlums is a strange track lyrically, with undertones of Pink Floyd, however the instrumental second half takes an entirely different direction, being an interesting blend of flute, keys and guitar with a distinctive Barclay James Harvest resemblance. I found this track extremely organic in texture and the more I hear it, the more I like it.
The classical and distorted guitar of Black Crow again has a real Tubular Bells feel to it; dark lyrics and flute add to the atmosphere of another totally original track and, at a little over nine minutes, is the longest on the album. This leads us into the penultimate track, Awareness. This instrumental offering comes across as something akin to a jam session and I found it to be the weakest track on the album, being slightly disjointed. For me, it lacked direction, cohesion and identity.
Finally we arrive at Noon and in my opinion, they have certainly saved their best track to close the album. The jazz flute and keys really jump out and, in similar fashion to previous tracks, it's a composition of two parts. The excellent instrumental first half gives way to vocals and a seamless progression into what could almost be a separate track in its own right. Again, the brief and dark lyrics have a nightmarish quality in keeping with the overall theme of the album. A fine track indeed.
Psycho Praxis appears, at every turn, to have drawn deeply from all that is good in the well of classic prog, and in doing so have created a competent body of work. At times lacking in finesse it is, nevertheless, a surprisingly adept debut album. I will await the follow-up with interest!
*** Sue Doyle
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