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Cage - 2009 - "Secret Passages"

(43:31, Musea Records)

TRACK LIST:                   

1.  Movements 5:09
2.  The Scream 6:45
3.  Bitter Honey 4:53
4.  Marta 3:13
5.  Secret Passage 6:02
6.  Dream like Broken Glass 4:57
7.  Time to Go Back Home 6:14
8.  M31 Live 6:18


Andrea Mignani – guitars 
Alessandro Bugliani – keyboards 
Claudio Franciosi – keyboards 
Augusto Morelli – vocals 
Fulvio Mele – bass 
Andrea Griselli – drums (+ guitar: 4) 
Vituschi Fruendo – flute (6)

Prolusion. The Italian outfit CAGE was initially founded in 1987 and was an active live unit for the next seven years. They did issue a single back then too, but at the time never got around to recording any more material. In 1994 the musicians went on a hiatus, but in 2000 they decided to revive the band. They were signed to Musea Records in 2004, which subsequently issued their debut album “‘87/’94”, consisting of material written in the first active period of the band. Late in 2008 their second album “Secret Passage” was released, and as with their first effort by Musea Records.

Analysis. Following a blazing opening number, blending symphonic art rock and fusion in a tight and at times pretty spectacular manner, this sophomore effort by Cage settles into a stylistic expression many followers of progressive rock will be familiar with for the following 6 efforts – vintage sounding symphonic art rock. The two keyboardists in the line-up serve up some delightful layered themes, sometimes with two floating or melodic keyboard themes, but most of the time combining the piano with the aforementioned lush patterns or with the organ. The guitar work tends to be on the atmospheric side of matters as well, slow melodic soloing passages and wandering undistorted passages the order of the day, while heavier drawn out riffs are utilized as effects on select occasions: melodic, harmonic and richly textured music. Add in a vocalist in the Peter Gabriel vein and the end result sounds very much like mid-‘70s Genesis. While the originality contents of these ventures may not be of the highest (with the neat acoustic guitar piece Marta performed by drummer Griselli arguably the most surprising venture due to the fact that it is the drummer performing it), the songs are well made and well performed. The melodies and themes are strong, the moods captivating and containing plenty of details to enjoy for those who appreciate art rock of the symphonic variety. And with the addition of distinctly jazz-influenced tinges to the bass guitar, and to a lesser extent the piano, the similarity in sound to Genesis isn't on the level of being derivative either. With the final track on this disc, M31 Live, Cage comes full circle, ending the album as it started with a composition characterized by a strong fusion tinge to it. This final effort isn't as satisfying as the opening number though, despite being a live recording, but at least it's better than the tune ending the symphonic part of this venture. Time to Go Back Home, although pretty intriguing compositionally, does contain a few too many passages of keyboard explorations that sound like they were recorded with the wrong equipment back in the ‘80s, producing a sound that to my ears is distinctly unpleasant. In my book this is also the only really weak effort on this recording.

Conclusion. “Secret Passage” is a good second effort by the Italian act Cage. Most of the album is made up of symphonic art rock of a variety pretty similar to the more atmospheric ventures from mid ‘70s Genesis, and should have a strong appeal amongst those who generally enjoy and appreciate that specific stylistic expression.

OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: December 10, 2009
The Rating Room

Related Links:

Musea Records


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