Prog Rock Little Place
Wednesday, 31 May 2023
Esotanc (Yesterdays, 2022)
Sunday, 30 April 2023
Cascate di cristallo (Celeste, 2023)
The few readers I have in this blog, already know Celeste and their master mind Ciro Perrino. If not, feel free to browse my previous reviews. The band's return in the late 2010s confrmed their skills in weaving and perfecting the sweetest and most refined melodies. This song comes from their 2023 release introducing a new and welcome feature: an entire orchestra formed by more than a dozen members and including winds, woods, strings and, of course, a piano.
The CD cover painting is by Mara Catelani. It is perfect for what'is inside...
"Cascate di cristallo" (meaning "Crystal Falls") is simply perfect to me. Not only it enhances the suitably called Celestial Symphony Orchestra potential, but it includes some of the best and most inspired compositions by Ciro Perrino. The exquisite intertwinings, the elegant themes and the manifold arrangements are a treat for any musical sweet tooth. This instrumental track is not the only pearl in such a beautiful album, but it surely catched my attention on first hearing and proved itself more and more profound during the subsequent listenings. Don't miss this one, my prog friends!
Friday, 31 March 2023
Funeral (Mice on Stilts, 2016)
Let's explore something from the dark, even mourning side of prog. "Hope for A Mourning" was the second album by Mice on Stilts, the brainchild of singer, writer and guitarist Ben Morley and one of the most interesting acts from New Zealand in recent years. Sure, the sombre atmosphere of "Funeral" reminds me of some Scandinavian bands from the '90s, but there is a special, thougtful way here, both melancholy and dreamy.
Despite the mournful titles of both the song and the album, there is less proper grief than spiritual abandon in this music, like in a misty dawn over still waters. It's an intimate journey, a dreamlike meditation and still we're far from the minimal approach of ambient music. The melody line and the arrangements are rich and set on a slow paced crescendo that drags the listener's soul through dramatic landscapes and a growing sense of wonder. A beautiful, enriching experience.
Tuesday, 28 February 2023
Time Capsule (Arena, 2022)
This was one of the first tracks Arena released from their "The Theory of Molecular Inheritance" album and one of the more diversified ones. The album was based on a tricky concept about a scientist able to riproduce the genius of dead people into living brains.
This is a surprising song, including both hard and melodic passages, all perfectly melt into a coherent sound. Mitchell vocals are stunning and, of corse, all the band are there to show their skills. Pure prog, folks!
Tuesday, 31 January 2023
Il petalo del fiore (Greenwall, 1999)
"Il petalo del fiore" (meaning "The Flower's Petal") is a na long suite (nearly 34 minutes) split into two tracks and six movements by the Italian act Greenwall, the brainchild of keyboard player Andrea Pavoni. It comes from the band's debut album and proves once more the equation prog = diverse, probably the only mathematics thing I perfectly understand. Keyboards are obviously the main course of this song, but if the piano driven sections are my favourite ones, I also like the way other instruments come in and draw a colourful fresco all around me.
Mellow Records is responsible for this hidden prog jewel.
Fabio Nani's guitars are simply perfect here in both electric and acoustic moments, even where a dreamy mandolin comes in. I like the wide range of musical writing, spanning from well found (and so Italian) melodies to groovy, nearly spoken lines, not too far from the '70s singers-songwriters way. Furthermore, you'll find complex and symphonic parts along with ethereal, minimal phases. That's the perfect solution to the above equation.
Friday, 30 December 2022
Universal (Anathema, 2010)
Arguably one of my favourite tracks by Anathema, "Universal" has a very atmospheric mood, a beautiful musical theme, a dreaming guitar, some splendid keyboards and even a shoegaze-like section. No doubt, when it comes to slow paced and majestic sounds this Liverpool band is among the best you can find over there. Not only they know how to write and perform good music, but they also have sort of a Mida's touch and they totally deserve their success.
Take this track (from "We're Here Because We're Here" album), for example: it flows away like springy water and cleverly skips redunancy thanks to a series of slight and effective changes, consistent and surprising at the same time. Building up a song is never easy, but Anathema know how to handle this and how to mix prog rock and mainstreap pop. Brilliant!