Seldom these days does an album capture your attention in the very first few bars and then for the ensuing 70 minutes, whisks you away on a magical musical journey like no other.
But Barock Project, an exciting relatively new young band from Italy, do just that with this, their fourth album Skyline, which should now be every young musician's “go to” album for how to create THE total prog album. Why it works so well can be summed up simply: they are virtuosos at playing their instruments and this is coupled with an innate talent for combining so many musical elements into each of these ten wonderful compositions.
From the opening bars of Gold sung a capella like Moon Safari to the dramatic closing seconds of The Longest Sigh, Skyline is a total joy.
It comes as no surprise that band founder Luca Zabbini is a fan of Keith Emerson, as his influence is writ large across the only instrumental Overture that dashes along at a rate of knots with lots of big crashing drums from Eric Ombelli and synth embellishments.
Joining them on vocals and flute for the title track is New Trolls mainman Vittorio De Scalzi, a beautiful folk inspired piece that takes off on a big rock adventure half way through, guitarist Marco Mazzuoccolo taking a leading role in this.
There is so much to admire throughout. They offer the complete short ballad, The Sound Of Dreams, using only piano, guitar and a 'cello sound and the longer, more complex classical-themed Tired, Zabbini excelling again with some gorgeous rippling piano work.
Spinning Away also brings something different to the party, the wonderful almost waltz-like rhythm finally giving away to a delightfully discordant strings section.
There's also a jazzy, funky feel to The Silence, which contains so many different styles and elements; you can only marvel at their ability to mix things up with incredible ease.
Luca Pancaldi also proves that having the right vocalist with perfect pitch makes all the difference.
With its crystalline production and wonderfully ornate artwork from Genesis illustrator, Paul Whitehead makes Skyline the complete prog package. It's fearless, it's confident, it's dramatic and it's utterly joyous. There will be very few albums this year which has the swagger and the style the way that Skyline has from start to finish.
***** Alison Henderson
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