Monday, 4 April 2022

Standing Still as Stony Trees (Watcher of The Trees, 2017)

The Watcher of The Trees is the brainchild of Italian composer and multi-instrumentalist Dario Marconcini. Based on the banks of Garda Lake, Marconcini was inspired by the spiritual and ancestral beauty of the surrounding forests and after several experiences in local bands (namely The Electric Shields and Moonshiners), he decided to go solo with a new moniker and released "Fireflies in The Wood", an album where the woods - and mostly the trees - act as main charachters along the passing of the seasons. 

Four seasons and four colours in this beautiful cover art.

I especially liked "Standing Still as Stony Trees" not only because I find here so many and welcome prog hints, but especially for its majestic crescendo and the perfect balance of peaceful and up-tempo moments. Unlike many similar projects and despite his patent performing skills, Marconcini's music focuses on emotions and you'll find here all the wonder and the thrill of an inner discovery: instruments, melodies, words and arrangements merge to move the listener. And frankly I'm moved. 

Thursday, 31 March 2022

Friends I + II (Turdetans, 2020)

 Turdetans are a Spanish prog band from Alcalá de Guadaíra, in the Seville area, a very important prog province, I daresay, home of Triana, Guadalquivir, Smash and many more. And after all their name comes from the ancient  inhabitants of their region. This time, don't expect a resurgence of rock andaluz: these musicians like to blend with skill all the faces of prog rock to create a fascinating sound, rich and diversified. Acoustic blue skies, fluid and captivating, are suddenly perturbed by electric and even metal storms, folk rains or symphonic winds. 

The album's cover beautifully refers to the work's main topic of dreams.

A treat, as this little suite called "Friends" will easily prove. You'll be surprised to discover how Turdetans set up a consistent and well balanced track in spite of all the changes in time, volume, mood and instrumentation they play out. Such an achievement comes from the perfect fusion of excellent melodies and genuine energy. "Suite of Dreams" in their only album to date, but we can only hope it will soon be followed by more releases

Monday, 28 February 2022

Il vento cambia strada (Garybaldi, 2016)

 I'm usually wary when it comes to resuscitate old bands and old musical styles, so I must confess that I put off the purchase of Garybaldi's "Storie di un'altra città" ("Other Towns' Stories") album. And I was wrong. Not only it proved to be a very good work tro my ears, but I appreciated the variety and liveliness of these songs, the humour and the cleverness of the band, mostly based on new and skillful members. You'll find here all the different facets of '70s Italian Prog: jazzy moods, the acoustic feelings, mellow moments and of course rock edges. All in. 

A beautiful cover art by painter Pietro Spica.

I chose for my blog the closing track, a fully melodic ballad reminding me Le Orme or some of the sweetest PFM's songs, but with a slightly acid bonus touch. There are many instruments, including a guest string duo, melancholy keyboards and both acoustic and electric guitars. The bass lines are provided by Angelo Traverso, not exactly a guest musician, being a member of pre-Garybaldi band Gleemen. For sure, "Il vento cambia strada" (meaning "The Wind changes direction") is a magical trip. And this is not vintage.... this is evergreen music!

Monday, 31 January 2022

Pavilion (Glaswegians, 2022)

Here you are a very unconventianal approach to prog, something that will intrigue, I'm sure, my open minded friends reading this blog. Glaswegians is Michael Elder's brainchild and as far as I know it's a Canadian project, so don't ask me where's its link with Glasgow... maybe Michael himself will explain this. "Pavilion" comes from the 2022 album Quaternary ( Glaswegians' fourth studio release, still to be released when I'm writing this) and is a fascinating instrumental suite, switching between twirling, compulsing electronic sounds and acoustic, melodic interludes. 

"Quaternary" includes four tracks and is the fourth album by Glaswegians.

There's an awesome number of musical instruments here and even more tempo and mood changes... so prepare yourself to a rich and unusual blend. It's almost Brian Eno meets Ant Phillips... and if you think that's an impossible match, well, listen to this and you'll change your mind. It's a profound, uncanny track, even distressing at times, but when such an experience is over you'll find yourself somewhat different, like someone coming home after a trip in a far, exotic land. Only, this land is inside yourself. Well done, Michael!

Friday, 31 December 2021

And I Stood Transfixed (The Emerald Dawn, 2021)

The first time I read something about this Scottish band (now based in Cornwall, I think) they were introduced as an average neo-prog band, so I virtually noted their name somewhere in my mind and said to myself I had to listen to their music sooner or later. Then I found this song surfing the prog net and I realized it was far more than just another derivative act. Please listen to "And I Stood Transfixed" and see what's inside this 15 minute piece of music. 

"To Touch The Sky" is the fourth studio album from The Emerald Dawn.

Obscure atmospheres, spacey keyboards, a crying sax, a pulsing fretless bass, a sensitive drumming, a wonderful guitar solo... and of course beautiful melodies embedded in a smart pattern. These musicians have their own way to take the listener in another dimension and they have a warm, creative approach to prog rock. It's one of the best instrumental tracks from the early 2020s, IMHO. The whole "To Touch The Sky" album is worth your attention, and I do believe we'll hear more of this band in the near future.

Tuesday, 30 November 2021

Ice with Dwale (Neuschwanstein, 1979)

This band has never known an international recognition and still is a hidden gem from German Golden Era of Prog. "Ice with Dwale" is taken from the band's debut album "Battlement" (even if a promo cassette of previous songs was released on CD by Muséa label in 2008). Packed with acoustic passages (flute and guitars), but also gaced by a beautiful electric guitar, "Ice with Dwale" is a remarkable period piece, influenced by the likes of Genesis and Camel and featuring well found melodies.

A less known and very good side of German prog rock.

Keyboardist Thomas Neuroth and singer Frederic Joos do their best to run through the Charterhouse boys' early days and main features, but even so they are fresh and natural like a mountain spring. I really like the keys / flute interplays, something I rearely listened to and I surely recommend this song (and the whole album as to that) to all pastoral rock lovers. 

Saturday, 30 October 2021

Concerto For Group And Orchestra (Deep Purple, 1969)

This famous Concerto was the best way to musically end up the Sixties when released back in December 1969. Deep Purple (and especially their late keyboardist, Jon Lord) concurred in their own way to the proto-prog era and this live recording is an essential part of those seething, hectic years. It's a very long suite in the shape of a classical concerto, divided into three movements: 1. Moderato - Allegro, 2. Andante, 3. Vivace - Presto. Entirely composed by Jon Lord, it starts (First Movement) with a sharp fight between the Royal Philarmonic Orchestra and the band, each of them playing the same tunes and trying to overcome their musical "opponent". 

The concert at the Royal Albert Hall took place on September  24th.

The second Movement moves to more peaceful quarters and we can also appreciate Ian Gillian's voice and lyrics laid on a beautiful ballad theme. Here the orchestra and the group begin to merge, but it's only in the final and shortest Movement that all barriers fall down and the two ensembles act as one, building up a lively and even frenzied finale. Well known as it is, this ambitious, challenging and everchanging piece of music, maybe ahead of its time, is surely worth another go on our playlist.