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(49:54, Mellow Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Riproduzione Meccanica 8:03 2. Cielo Di Piombo 6:56 3. Art Nouveau 6:49 4. Dinamiche and Alterazioni 13:35 5. MCM 3:40 6. Egofuturismo 2:03 7. Fantasia Architettonica 8:44 LINEUP: Pierluigi Caramel – keyboards; flute Daniele Mentasti – bass; trombone; vocoder Sergio Iannella – drums With: Bob Crystal – saxophone (3)
Prolusion. Hailing from Castiglione Olona (Varese), in north-western Italy, EGO are an instrumental trio that have been together since the early 2000’s. “MCM Egofuturismo” is their third album, following their self-titled debut (2005) and “Supportatio Annorum Mundi” (2007).
Analysis. To followers of progressive rock, the very mention of a keyboard-based trio may immediately bring to mind one of the cornerstones of the genre, the much-loved and equally much reviled Emerson, Lake and Palmer. Indeed, while ELP appear as one of the more evident influences in Ego’s third release, it would be rather unfair (not to mention wrong) to tag the band as a bunch of ELP clones without vocals. Based on an elaborate philosophical concept detailed in the CD booklet, “MCM Egofuturismo” belongs to the growing contingent of instrumental albums coming out of Italy – a country where the art of singing is so revered that in the past it was not usual to come across recordings dispensing with vocals. In fact, the album does not sound as typically Italian as other recent productions, and therefore may appeal to a wider audience than just the loyal contingent of Italian prog fans. Blending electronics and all kinds of futuristic effects with the warmer, more natural sound of analog keyboards, as well as instruments such as the flute and the trombone, the music presented on “MCM Egofuturismo” possesses a kind of cinematic quality, though eschewing the disturbing overtones that characterize Goblin’s output. As a matter of fact, Claudio Simonetti’s band – one of the very few completely instrumental Italian prog acts – are one of the strongest sources of inspiration for Ego, together with another trio, Le Orme. Often dramatic, nearly always atmospheric, occasionally upbeat, Ego’s music is constantly supported by a remarkable amount of technical skill. The seven tracks on the album (which runs at a very restrained 50 minutes) run the gamut from the spacey electronics of opener Riproduzione Meccanica, enhanced by robotic, disembodied voices a la Karn Evil 9, to the ambitious construction of the obligatory epic, the multi-part Dinamiche & Alterazioni. Some of the compositions, in spite of their limited running time, give an impression of patchiness on account of the frequent tempo changes, which on occasion do not occur as smoothly as one might wish. Even though the keyboards are the undisputed stars of the show, the other instruments make their contribution clearly felt, especially Daniele Mentasti’s versatile bass; while the drumming may sometimes be perceived as a tad too mechanical, following a 4/4 rhythm that confers an undertone of monotonousness to the music. As previously implied, Dinamiche & Alterazioni tends to draw the listeners’ attention, and not only because of its running time and epic structure. Strongly dominated by keyboards, both digital and analog, the compositions exudes an organic feeling of warmth, and even the numerous changes of pace do not come across as jarring. The cinematic quality mentioned above is at its most intense here, enhanced by the frequent interventions of the trombone. Another highlight, though considerably shorter, MCM features Hammond organ reminiscent of Jon Lord’s distinctive touch and a majestic, march-like ending , while the piano parts bring to mind some of Keith Emerson’s piano-based compositions. On the other hand, Art Nouveau crosses into jazz-rock territory, with a relaxed quality underpinned by leisurely sax, though the annoying whistling sound of the synth occasionally spoils the atmosphere. Fantasia Architettonica closes the album on a slightly patchy note, though the solemn trombone opening channels Ennio Morricone, and the keyboard work is expressive as usual. A warmer, more upbeat effort than Daal’s “Disorganicorigami” (another recent Mellow Records release, which I see as a sort of companion effort), “MCM Egofuturismo” does not claim to break new ground, but it is definitely a worthwhile proposition for anyone interested in new instrumental, keyboard-driven prog. Ego show indeed a lot of promise, and hopefully this release will not be the last we hear from them.
Conclusion. Definitely an appealing prospect for fans of classic prog keyboards, especially those who worship Keith Emerson’s flamboyant style, “MCM Egofuturismo” is a well-crafted album that, however, does not always show enough personality to stand out among the ever-growing mass of progressive rock releases. It is, however, a very pleasing listen, which lovers of old-school instrumental prog may be interested in checking out.
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