Il Cerchio d'Oro is an Italian prog that was founded in 1974 and is still active. In 2017 Il Cerchio D'Oro released the album Il Fuoco Sotto La Cenere featuring guest musicians Paolo Siani (Nuova Idea and Equipe 84), Giorgio Usai (Nuova Idea and New Trolls) and Pino Ballarini (Rovescio Della Medaglia). And now, anno 2023, the 5-piece band presents a new album entitled Pangea E Le Tre Lune featuring guest musicians Ricky Belloni on electric guitar (Nuova Idea and New Trolls), Donald Lax on violin (Quella Vecchia Locanda) and Tolo Marton on electric guitar (Le Orme). The cover was designed by Armando Mancini who was in the 70s the creator of covers for Italian prog bands such as Quella Vecchia Locanda, The Trip, Rovescio Della Medaglia and Raccomandata Ricevuta Di Ritorno.
As a huge fan of the Italian progressive rock I am delighted about this new album, it is firmly rooted into the Classic Italian Prog tradition (vocals, vintage keyboards), but wonderfully blended with the melodic rock sound of the Eighties Neo-prog, like early Marillion. The six original tracks are tastefully arranged, featuring flowing shifting moods and fine musical ideas, embellished with strong work on guitars (2 band members and 3 guest musicians) and keyboards, fuelled by a dynamic and powerful rhythm-section, and topped with inspired native vocals.
My highlight is the longest composition entitled Pangea (close to 9 minutes). After a dreamy intro with Mellotron (flutes and choir section) and classical piano, romantic native vocals join, this is wonderful Old School Italian prog. Then a slow rhythm with Hammond organ, gradually a more lush sound with electric guitar, culminating in a tight mid-tempo with swinging piano and sparkling synthesizer flights, in the end a fiery electric guitar solo. Halfway the music turns back to a dreamy atmosphere with twanging guitars (like early Genesis) and spacey synthesizer flights, topped with pleasant vocals. In the second part lots of tension between slow rhythms, bombastic eruptions, mellow climates and a swinging rhythm, embellished with powerful guitars and majestic Hammond.
Alla Deriva blends the Seventies Hammond sound with Neo-prog featuring pleasant work guitar and synthesizer in a mid-tempo, strong vocals, and finally fiery guitar solo with bombastic keyboards.
Dialogo features an intense violin sound and soaring keyboards, then a catchy beat with swirling Hammond solo, and a harder-edged guitar solo. In the second part again intense violin work, blended with rock guitar, a beautiful combination.
Le Tre Lune starts dreamy with emotional vocals, then gradually a more lush sound, culminating in a sumptuous outburst with moving guitar and Hammond, what a compelling prog sound. Then powerful interplay guitar and rhythm-section, the unsurpassed Mellotron choirs join, with sensitive guitar, wow. Halfway sparkling Hammond runs (strongly evoking early Genesis) and powerful vocals, in an up-tempo. Next the focus is on a moving guitar solo, followed by a flashy synthesizer solo with pitchbend and Mellotron choirs. Finally a dreamy atmosphere with warm vocals, what a variety, very harmonic and melodic.
Dal Nulla Così' opens in a bombastic climate, then a catchy mid-tempo with growling bass and cheerful, synthesizer flights, topped with powerful vocals. In the second part a moving guitar solo, I love the varied guitar work by the several guitar players on this album, a strong bonus.
E La Vita Inizio' alternates between bombastic and dreamy, from warm vocals to blistering guitar and bombastic Keith Emerson kind of Hammond organ.
Finally the short bonus track Crisi (from 1981 when the band was named Black Out), lots of heavy guitars, raw vocals, a thunderous rhythm-section and powerful Hammond, it ain't no surprise that the band plays some notes from Smoke On The Water!
**** Erik Neuteboom (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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