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(154:24 2CD, Musea Records)
Prolusion. The Finnish organization Colossus has managed to establish itself as something of a high-quality brand name among connoisseurs of niche projects within the world of progressive rock for the last decade or so. Closing in on two dozen releases by now, it has issued albums and deluxe box sets commemorating classic movies, classic literature, and vintage and obscure artists as well as contemporary and well-known ones. Most of their productions consist of material catering for the tastes of those with a soft spot for vintage art rock in general and the symphonic variety of it in particular. CANI ARABIATI – “Opening Themes" is a double CD issued in 2010, and like all the other projects that comes courtesy of Colossus it was released by the specialist progressive rock label Musea Records.
CD 1 (75:46)
PERFORMERS / TRACK LIST: 1. The Samurai of Prog: Cani Arrabbiati 5:02 2. Anima Morte: Chi Part Two 3:41 3. Anima Morte: Il Grande Silenzio 3:11 4. Anima Morte: Suspicious Death of a Minor 6:57 5. Anima Morte: Gin 2:57 6. Kate: Death Die 4:07 7. Kate: La Polizia Ha Le Mani Legate 3:55 8. Kate: Posizione Raggiunta 2:52 9. Kate: Apoteosi Del Mistero 4:09 10. Senogul: Magari Ancora Medley 6:45 11. Aurora Lunare: Connexion 5:24 12. Aurora Lunare: Gamma 4:08 13. Marco Lo Muscio: Sixty Seconds To What 4:40 14. Marco Lo Muscio: La Vittima Designata 5:34 15. Marco Lo Muscio: Mose 4:42 16. Marco Lo Muscio: Profondo Gotico 7:42
Analysis. The premise of this particular project is an intriguing one: opening themes from movies. A field that sports plentiful music that has become a part of the common cultural legacy by now. The bombastic fanfare from the first Star Wars movie back in 1977 and the haunting soundtracks from Peter Jackson's record-breaking movie edition of The Lord of the Rings being merely two examples of film scores that have made an impact well beyond the cinema audience. But in the case of Cani Arrabbiati we're not treated to renditions of such instant classics. Instead, it is scores from Italian movies that are highlighted, first and foremost ones made in the 70's and early 80's. Covering the well-known, such as scores by Ennio Morricone, as well as those more obscure where the music and movies alike have more of a cult following, lifted from western, suspense and horror movies. As is customary for any Colossus project, a detailed booklet informs the buyer of all details and then some about the movies and composers for all the material at hand. Transforming a musical score to a creation that can be enjoyed without being a part of a multimedia setting is a challenge. And while the art rock genre in general and the symphonic one in particular doesn't necessarily demand that cinematic details are transformed as such, most scores will need some additional elements to not come across as overly repetitive when they aren't utilized to supplement moving pictures. It is a task few will master, many will struggle with and quite a few will fail at. Thankfully, the artists represented on this first disc mostly avoid the latter. The most distinct artist represented is Marco Lo Musico. Covering tracks 13 through 16, these four pieces are all performed on pipe organ. And while I wasn't overly impressed as such, perhaps due to the excellent CD by Three Monks I took on a few months ago, those who have a soft spot for that instrument should find the 20 or so minutes of Marco Lo Musico's contributions to be well worth investigating. And to continue with the less impressive results, the Finnish act Kate didn't make too much of an impact either, their singular take on their chosen themes of a variety that will divide many listeners: the use of fairly original textures and repetitive themes with few variations being a hit and miss approach. But on Death Die they succeed very well, however, and as cult band Goblin is behind the original composition I'd wager a bet that this was the most memorable of the four tracks they chose to interpret as well. Spain’s Senogul and the Italian act Aurora Lunare convey fairly interesting takes on their chosen tracks, the latter the most interesting of those with an enticing rendition of Gamma as the highlight, but the most intriguing tracks on this disc are the first ones, the Samurai of Prog with their take on Cani Arrabbiati and Sweden’s Anima Morte who cover tracks 2 through 5. 70's-oriented symphonic progressive rock is the name of their particular game, with elegant use of vintage-sounding keyboards and organs and delightful melodic guitar soloing to boot – nothing fanciful or adventurous as such, but with a vintage charm and enough minor details to add a nice and effective tension to their chosen scores. The one exception comes in term of style rather than quality, as Anima Morte opts to venture into the psychedelic realms of the art rock universe for their version of Gin, which suits this particular track perfectly.
CD 2 (78:38)
While more than two hours of Italian movie scores given an art rock treatment would appear to be an exercise aimed towards a small niche, "Cani Arrabbiati" does a good job of documenting otherwise. I would suspect most fans of instrumental art rock should find plenty of material to their satisfaction on this production, and in particular those fond of what one might describe as vintage-oriented arrangements. But the core audience of this double feature is most likely one less than stellar in size: Dedicated enthusiasts of older Italian movies or movie scores who prefer listening to progressive rock for their musical enjoyment.
Conclusion. While more than two hours of Italian movie scores given an art rock treatment would appear to be an exercise aimed towards a small niche, "Cani Arrabbiati" does a good job of documenting otherwise. I would suspect most fans of instrumental art rock should find plenty of material to their satisfaction on this production, and in particular those fond of what one might describe as vintage-oriented arrangements. But the core audience of this double feature is most likely one less than stellar in size: Dedicated enthusiasts of older Italian movies or movie scores who prefer listening to progressive rock for their musical enjoyment.
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