Early in 1992 I started to write reviews and articles about prog, first for SI Magazine and then Background Magazine and later Prog Archives, DPRP, The Spanish Progressive Rock Page and Progwalhalla. In the end I wrote for five different prog websites. Indeed, too much and in 2014 I decided to stop radically. Now I could listen to my own collection, rather than almost every day promo CD's. But recently I was asked by Background Magazine main editor and my good old prog friend to rejoin and write reviews on a regular basis. I said “yes' because it's a new and fresh start. And I was curious to hear the world of new prog that I had missed for five years.
Well, no worries about good new prog bands, just listen to this musical project by Andrea Orlando. It looks like a 'New Italian Prog Band Party' featuring prime mover Andrea Orlando (Finisterre, Höstsonaten, La Coscienza di Zeno) on drums, percussion and keyboards and a wide range of guest musicians from (more or less) known new Italian prog rock bands, like Alessandro Corvaglia (Höstsonaten, La Maschera Di Cera, Narrow Pass, Mr. Punch) on vocals, Agostino Macor (Finisterre, Höstsonaten, La Maschera Di Cera, Zaal) on keyboards and on guitars Stefano Marelli (Finisterre, Höstsonaten), Laura Marsano (Höstsonaten, La Maschera di Cera) and Marcella Arganese (Ubi Maior, Mr. Punch). This along other musicians on cello, bass, violin, viola, contrabass and trombone. So high expectations then because I am a huge fan of new Italian prog and have listened to tons of these bands in the last two decades.
1. Le Forme Della Distanza... (4:29) : The instrumental opener delivers an electronic music landscape with the sound of soaring strings and sequencers. The hypnotizing keyboard runs create a tension that matches the melancholic atmosphere. A bit surprising, but a strong start.
2. Oltre Domani (6:10) : In this composition sumptuous keyboards (lots of Mellotron choirs) and moving guitar with howling runs (evoking the early Neo Prog of IQ and Pendragon) are blended with dreamy parts, featuring delicate electric piano and awesome classical orchestrations. A very alternating and compelling experience, topped with outstanding Italian vocals, reminding me of Seventies Museo Rosenbach, and singer Alessandro his former band La Maschera Di Cera.
3. Cinque Giorni D'autunno (8:16) : This varied mid-long track contains a lot of shifting moods. From bombastic, with powerful Hammond organ and propulsive drums to dreamy, with tender piano and emotional vocals. And from a slow rhythm with cello and intense piano work to an acceleration with powerful drum beats, synthesizer flights and majestic Mellotron choirs. The short silences in the music are a big bonus that contribute to the excitement.
4. Cadi Con Me (3:47): A slow rhythm with a mellow climate featuring excellent female vocals. The colouring is very tasteful and varied, from fragile guitar work to subtle work on strings, piano, organ and trombone.
5. Il Giardino Di Maya (4:26) : This is an instrumental track with a propulsive and dynamic rhythm-section and a flashy Mini Moog solo with spectacular use of the pitchbend button. The violin playing brings Premiata Forneria Marconi to my mind in this swinging prog climate, this band knows how to keep my attention.
6. Fragile (5:01) : A slow rhythm with a melancholic climate and majestic Mellotron violins, evoking early Anekdoten. Again topped with excellent, very emotional Italian vocals, and fine contributions on cello and trombone. What a moving and compelling composition!
7. Dalla Vita Autentica (16:52) : Finally an epic conclusion, loaded with variety and exciting moments. First an intro with a melancholic Mellotron violin sound, then tender classical piano and soaring strings, simply wonderful.
Next an acceleration with a tight beat, sparkling piano and Hammond waves, followed by a swinging part with a dynamic rhythm-section, blended with Hammond, violin and Mellotron choirs. Halfway a short part with cello, then a propulsive rhythm-section with powerful Hammond organ and howling guitar runs, evoking Seventies Kansas.
In the final part the music slows down and turns into a mind blowing build-up and grand finale. First cheerful Vivaldi violins', then a slow rhythm and a melancholic atmosphere with wailing cello. In the end the music erupts with sumptuous Mellotron choirs, sensitive electric guitar runs, reminding me of IQ but also Pendragon, slowly the music fades away, I am carried away to Prog Heaven, what a beautiful and compelling sound this band generates!
What a stunning debut CD, loaded with varied keyboards, strong musical ideas and a wide range of instruments, highly recommended!
**** Erik Neuteboom (edited by Dave Smith)
For those who want to read more about Italian Prog, see http://www.backgroundmagazine.nl/Specials/IT1.html.
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