The Italian quartet Barock Project have been making musical waves lately through their outstanding studio album Skyline (see review), released in 2015, which they followed up last year with the live double album Vivo (see review).
In a nutshell, Detachment further enhances them as one of Europe's current finest and most innovative bands, whose distinctive classically-led sound should attract a much wider appeal among serious prog listeners.
Mainmain Luca Zabbini features on piano, keyboards, acoustic guitar and vocals, along with drummer Eric Ombelli, guitarist Marco Mazzuoccolo and bassist Francesco Caliendo. Alex Mari and Ludovica Zanasi appear on vocals and there is also a distinguished guest vocalist, but more about that in a moment.
The 13 tracks vary in length and content, the opener Driving Rain being the shortest with the sound of traffic and rain mixing with a tinkling piano and keys. Following on, Promises is built on a huge, pulsating beat while the song's main stand-out features are its lovely melodies, vocals and a scuzzy guitar.
Happy To See You is a song with a sting in its tail, its lyrics provided by Peter Jones (Tiger Moth Tales and Red Bazar). It has some stunning classical undercurrents, superb changes of tempo and a beautiful fluent guitar solo, that elevates it to another level as the lyrics turn darker.
A classical guitar introduction sets the scene for One Day, a gorgeous song which sounds both mannered and disciplined, Zabbini's keys providing a delightful flute motif at one juncture. Changing the mood completely is Secret Therapy, a deliciously Eastern-influenced song full of crackling drama and tension.
This leads into the first of two songs on which Peter Jones provides the vocals. Broken is a beautiful ballad with just Zabbini's piano and Jones' exceptional voice creating an extraordinarily tender, moving atmosphere.
Old Ghosts is quicker paced and haunting, the spectral voices and spooky keyboards adding to the tone. Jones is back for Alone, this time, a much shorter piece but definitely in the running for being one of the most beautiful songs of the year. Hear it and weep.
Rescue Me pushes up the tempo and gallops along in spectacular fashion, guitar licks especially coming to the fore and that hookline will be in your head for hours afterwards.
Changing direction again, Twenty Years is an acoustically led song which seems to find its own pathway with some superb harmonies, dynamics and string effects added along the way before it ascends to a faster, more symphonic plane where a huge guitar, swinging beat and jazzy piano reign supreme.
There's further musical upliftment in Waiting in which Zabbini shines on piano, especially in a very stately baroque passage while the band play it tight, fast and melodic.
A New Tomorrow is a bitter-sweet song, the lyrics reflecting the album's overall theme of letting go of people, places and possessions and the process that it entails to achieve detachment. There's a flash of Celtic pipes and some pretty sequences featuring acoustic guitar and ethereal voices before it moves further into fast-paced, rockier territory.
Rounding off with Spies, the band again takes off on another musical trajectory, the song's short middle section featuring jazzy vibe voices, bass and piano offering a fabulously different kind of narrative passage.
Listeners will find themselves becoming extremely attached to Detachment for all the above reasons. Another reason is it is one of this year's must-have albums.
***** Alison Reijman
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