2001: A Space Odyssey is a 1968 epic science fiction film produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick. The screenplay, written by Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke, was partially inspired by Clarke's short story The Sentinel. Clarke concurrently wrote the novel 2001: A Space Odyssey, published soon after the film was released. The film follows a voyage to Jupiter with the sentient computer Hal after the discovery of a mysterious black monolith affecting human evolution. The film deals with the themes of existentialism, human evolution, technology, artificial intelligence, and extraterrestrial life. Today, the film is widely regarded as one of the greatest and most influential films ever made. It has not only been an inspiration for several film directors, but even musicians found it a great story to work with. In the progressive rock scene it was the Italian band RanestRane who noticed that they could use it for their music as well. In 2013 they released the first part of a trilogy based on Kubrick's movie. They named it A Space Odyssey Part I Monolith. An excellent album which had contributions of Marillion's Steve Hogarth on vocals and Steven Rothery on guitar. Now two years later the band managed to come up with the second part of the trilogy, A Space Odyssey Part Two H.A.L..
The title of part two is based on HAL 9000, a fictional character in Arthur C. Clarke's Space Odyssey series. The primary antagonist of 2001: A Space Odyssey, HAL (Heuristically programmed ALgorithmic computer) is a sentient computer (or artificial general intelligence) that controls the systems of the Discovery One spacecraft and interacts with the ship's astronaut crew. In the movie HAL's exterior physical form is not depicted, though it is visually represented as a red television camera eye located on equipment panels throughout the ship, and its interior in the scene where his advanced memory modules are disconnected.
And just like on the first part of this trilogy Maurizio Meo (bass and double bass), Daniele Pomo (vocals, drums and percussion), Massimo Pomo (guitars) and Riccardo Romano (keyboards and backing vocals) manage to come up with the perfect soundtrack to the second part of this Space Odyssey story. And once again Steve Rothery helps them out by playing some excellent guitar parts on two of the album tracks (Spacewalk and La Perfezione Che Si Cerca). Once again computer sounds and spoken parts are used to 'visualise' the story. This way the interaction between the two astronauts (David Bowman and Frank Poole) and the vicious board computer becomes even clearer to the listener. For those who don't understand the Italian lyrics, a translation in English is included in the booklet, next to the original ones. Vocal wise singer Daniele Pomo once again did a great job on the entire album. He even did some strong vocal parts by only using his voice and singing no lyrics. As for the instrumentalists in the band I can only say that they brought me to higher regions several times. The many Moog Voyager solos by Riccardo just put shivers down my spine many times. Or what about the goosebumps caused by Massimo by playing some awesome parts on his electric guitar or E-bow. The level of musicianship is of an unbelievable high level throughout the entire album, no doubt about that!
As for the ten compositions on this release I can't complain either. Each and every composition is a must to listen to, no weak tracks at all! I will not go into detail by mentioning what happens on every single one. All I can say is that music wise they move into the direction of the earlier mentioned Marillion. Some songs brought me back to the Fish-era and other songs reminded me of the albums the band made with Hogarth behind the microphone. Also the many Italian progressive rock bands of the seventies that paved the way for the next generations of Italian progressive rock bands can certainly be mentioned as an inspiration or influence, such as Goblin, who wrote many movie soundtracks themselves. I also have to mention the bands Premiata Forneria Marconi, Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso and Le Orme. I guess the musicians will only agree with me that without those bands RanestRane wouldn't be releasing the albums they made so far.
When it comes to giving a verdict to A Space Odyssey Part Two H.A.L. I can only come to one conclusion. They made a true masterpiece with this release. Everything just falls into place on this CD. As a lover of Rock Progressivo Italiano and progressive rock in general I couldn't ask for more. Therefore the highest score of five stars is in place for one of the musical highlights of 2015. All I can say is “Bravissimo” and bring on the final part of A Space Odyssey trilogy!
***** Henri Strik (edited by Astrid de Ronde)
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