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(50:07, ‘Active Heed’)
TRACK LIST: 1. Flying Like a Fly 2:53 2. Awake 1:53 3. Now What 1:34 4. Me Five Seconds Before 2:42 5. With Joy 2:26 6. Melting of Realities 3:21 7. Forest and Joy 3:32 8. The Weakness of Our Spinning 2:42 9. Without Joy 1:43 10. Every Ten Seconds Before 5:49 11. F F F Flashing Fast Forward 3:28 12. If I Will Never Be 4:33 13. Me One Second Before Johan Robeck 4:06 14. Usual Plays in Heaven / Be Kind and Talk to Me 4:47 15. Our Vast Emptiness 4:40 LINEUP: Lorenzo Poli – bass, guitars; keyboards Umberto Pagnini – music, lyrics Giovanni Giorgi – drums PelleK – vocals With: Mark Colton – vocals Marit Borresen – vocals
Prolusion. The Italian project ACTIVE HEED is the creative vehicle of composer Umberto Pagnini, and rather than a common band project with a main composer handling one or more instruments Active Heed appears to be a true project band where Pagnini employs friends and acquaintances to record his material while his own role is limited to be the composer. "Visions from Realities" is the first album to be issued under the Active Heed moniker, and was self released in 2013.
Analysis. As far as progressive rock goes, Active Heed is a band that resides in the outer perimeters of this particular universe, at least as far as their debut album is concerned. While quite a few of the fifteen tracks does come across as parts of a greater whole, and the album as such appears to be a conceptual one, many of the classic progressive rock idioms are missing on this particular production. But some instances of multiple themed creations, unusual developments and arrangements with a higher degree of sophistication are to be found. That the music as such is arguably more accessible than what most would associate with progressive rock is one of those details that will divide opinions on this disc, albeit first and foremost within the progressive community. Compelling, pleasant melodies and arrangements with fairly gentle overall atmospheres are defining traits of this production, with acoustic guitars as a just about ever present feature. Steady bass and rhythms supplements, fairly smooth keyboards are common additional details, as are additional acoustic or electric guitars, but with a firm focus on the lead vocals in all passages where they are featured. The individual songs tend to be fairly straightforward affairs, with a predictable development, but the instances where two or more tracks appear to be a single composition divided into multiple parts does offer a bit as far as multiple themes go, as do some of the relatively longer compositions in the second half of the disc. Relatively, as the songs are fairly short here as regarded from a progressive rock point of view. Quirky details do appear from time to time, unusual pace elements first and foremost, and alterations in pace and intensity are utilized as the main effects to maintain nerve and tension, shared with the lead vocals, that have at times more of a theatrical delivery. Theatrical is probably a good manner in which to describe some of the more sophisticated compositions as well, with associations going towards some of the productions Clive Nolan have made in the last few years, at least as far as structure effects go, but not in overall arrangements, sound and general expression. The end result is an album of fairly sophisticated yet highly accessible art rock, with strong references towards pop music and mainstream oriented rock in general. With subtle twists and quirks of the kind that isn't common in mainstream rock, some structural elements and arrangement choices that vouch for a composer seeking out beyond the common borders, but not to the extent of leaving them very far behind.
Conclusion. Active Heed's debut album "Visions From Realities" is a production that should have a fairly broad overall appeal, with plenty of accessible compositions of a fairly straightforward nature sharing space with creations taking on an approach in terms of structure or arrangements that does have more of a sophisticated nature to them. Those fond of accessible, careful and melodic progressive rock should find plenty to enjoy on this one, especially if you have a taste for elements of a subtly theatrical nature.
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