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Garden Wall (Italy)
(an overall view)


Discography:

1993 - "Principium" (appr. 45 min)
*****

1994 - "Path of Dreams" (60 min)
******[!]

1995 - "The Seduction of Madness" (appr. 55 min)
******[!]

1997 - "Chimica" (appr. 52 min)
******

2002 - "Forget the Colours" (68 min, "Mellow")
******[!]

All these are released at German prog-lable
"Music is Intelligence".

Most compositions are written
by A. Seravalle, the rest by M.Olivo.

Current line-up:
Alessandro Seravalle - vocals, guitars,
                       bass (in 1993, 1994),
                       keyboards (in 1993)
Mauro Olivo          - keyboards
Camillo Calleluori   - drums
Marco Ferrero        - bass (ex-Asgard)

Previous members:
Fabrizio Zidaric - bass 
Thomas Schaufler - drums (ex-Asgard)

No doubt, Garden Wall is the most underrated prog-band of the present day. As a matter of fact, these very Italians are, in my opinion, the most innovative and original contemporary progressive band. Led by the guitarist / vocalist, composer / lyricist Alessandro Seravalle, Garden Wall has already four fully developped albums, each being different from another, though all of them are made within the framework of the band's own original stylistics. Up to now there have been no reviews on Garden Wall in the net, except for Gibraltar, where you find just few lines that describe this band as "a sort of Neo compared to Asgard" (?!- it's possible, because ex-members of Asgard from time to time are in Garden Wall's line-up: but what a comparison?).

Already their first album shows that this is a very original band with a level of the complexity of compositions that can be quite compared to the most serious albums of the '70s. However, Garden Wall sounds not like a band (so many of them!) recycling the ideal, though old, structures, but really modern and fresh. I don't take into account a slightly accented vocals of Seravalle here, because it's really original and impressive, though, I think, Alessandro may have been inspired by Peter Hammill, in vocals as well as in lyrics. Indeed, Garden Wall's lyrics are as profound and full of grotesque with a touch of surrealism sometimes. "Principium" and the latest album "Chimica" can be called stylistically as being somewhere in the middle between classic prog-rock and prog metal, with the former nearer to the classic prog-rock genre.

The second album from Garden Wall "Path of Dreams" sounds unexpectedly after the familiar "Principium". This is, on the whole, an album of the purest classic symphonic progressive, full of polyphony, with equally prominent roles of guitars and keyboards so as to create a full-blooded piece of art of symphonic rock. "Path of Dreams" is a more mature work than the already distinguished debut, with countless innovative and complex arrangements within every song, fantastic interplays between keyboards and electric or acoustic guitars, energetic and dramatic vocals already without accent (only not counting the pronunciation of the word communion). However, here more than a half of the compositions are solely instrumental, including the most beautiful piece of the album The Bride Of The Wind. Some instrumentals have been written only by Olivo and played with piano and synth-clavecin and sound with a clear "breath" of the Middle Ages. Maj di Muart is the only one from the whole discography where Alessandro sings in Italian, his native language. So, already the second album from Garden Wall turned out to be a true masterpiece of progressive rock.

The third Garden Wall's album "The Seduction of Madness" (their first with a full-bodied line-up) sounds again too unexpectedly after a symphonic "Path of Dreams". With the exception of Naia, where Alessandro sings only to the accompaniment of medieval keyboard instruments, this is on the whole the heaviest album from these guys. However, you are unlikely to perceive it as a prog metal album at all: this is simply a really heavy work of symphonic progressive rock, another state-of -the-art album from such a young band. I've never heard such a marvellous style! And it's not a mix of symphonic rock with prog metal, no way! Just listen to the gems like La Chatea Fou, an incredible heavy... waltz, and you'll understand, what a gem goes unnoticed up to now!

One and a half years later Garden Wall are back with their fourth album, whose release is known, I'm sure, just to a handful of people, for there has been NO information on "Chimica" on the net for 18 month since the release date. And if you the guys from Garden Wall, are reading these lines, please welcome to our "Progressor" site! Just write me at e-mail: vit@progressor.uz, and you will be welcome guests on it. Coming back to "Chimica", we learn that this new one sounds again differently from any of Garden Wall's previous albums, as always. The first 35-minute Chemotaxis is a major outstanding composition here , as well as another long one from Seravalle La Belle Dame (over 10 minutes, they form the whole album together!). This time we hear an excellent mix of both styles from "Path of Dreams" and "The Seduction of Madness", though the way arrangements are made here is an absolute breakthrough. The rest 20 minutes contain three short fine instrumentals and two songs. The first of the songs sounds original and striking, though the main theme is based on a kind of rock'n'roll, but it's not my cup of tea. The second song complets the album with slight Hammilesque intonations (circa "Roaring Forties"). Of course, it's just a matter of taste, but as for me, this album would have all the six stars of mine, if it weren't for the two abovesaid songs, and not just five and a half...

Summary is simple. Garden Wall is one of my dearly loved prog bands ever: Top 20 of all the prog-years. This is the best Progressive Rock band ever since "U.K." and "Marillion" (and just due to "Brave", their only true classic (not neo) progressive rock album). I am just waiting for Garden Wall's next album... content

VM. 28.10.1998


2002 - "Forget the Colours" (68 min, "Mellow")
******

1. Lead 9:29
2. Hatred 7:42
3. Anniversary 8:58
4. Bistury & Withered Rose 9:17
5. Deinococcus Radiodurants 5:42
6. Obsession 4:50
7. Children's Eve 5:47
8. Negation of Becoming 8:00
9. Dreams' Slayer 7:43

All music & lyrics by Alessandro Seravalle,
except 8 words by Camillo Calleluori.
All arrangements: by A. Seravalle & C. Calleluori.

Line-up:

Alessandro Seravalle - vocals;
electric & (12-string) acoustic guitars, guitar-synth
Camillo Colleluori - drums & percussion
Pino Mechi - bass guitar
Raffaello Indri - electric & (6-string) acoustic guitars

Guest musicians:

Simone D'Eusanio - classical & electric violins
Alex Stornello - electric guitar

With:

Christian Rigano - "aural intruder"

Produced by Alessandro Seravalle.
Recorded, mixed, & mastered by Marco Artolozzi
at "GEM" studios, Vicenza, Italy.

Prologue. In fact, this album should have been released in the end of 1999 by the same "Music Is Intelligence" label that all the previous Garden Wall albums were released through. (Though at that time, the album had a different title and there were only seven tracks on it.) Unfortunately, soon after the release of Garden Wall's only mini CD "Aliena(c)tion" (1999), which included four tracks from the upcoming full-length album, the label went bankrupt. During 2000 and 2001, while drummer Camillo Colleluori was looking for a new album, the former, leader, and the main mastermind behind Garden Wall, Alessandro Seravalle, has completely rearranged all the contents of that album and, in addition, composed two new songs.

The Album. Above all, the music that is presented on "Forget the Colours" clearly shows that, unlike most of the contemporary Progressive Rock performers, Garden Wall continue to transform their style well into the 2000s. So, the mighty Garden Wall are back with an album, which, both stylistically and structurally, is different from any of the band's previous albums that, in their turn, are in many ways different among themselves as well. However, "Forget the Colours" is radically different from anything that was created by the band before. This time, these very talented Italians discovered a new area of Prog-Metal where only Alessandro's expressively aggressive and theatrically dramatic vocals can be recognized (not always, though). In short, the best definition of music that is presented on this album would probably be a blend of Prog-Metal and Fifth Element. Really, a new Prog-Metal by Garden Wall is so unique that, IMHO, it is impossible to squeeze it into the framework of Classic Prog-Metal of any sort. Have you ever heard Prog-Metal, most of the compositional canvas of which were based on the laws of Avant-garde Academic Music with its very unstable structures, seemingly dissonant arrangements, atonalities, etc? All of this, being, in addition, mixed with the elements of Techno-Metal, Art-Rock, RIO, Jazz-Fusion, Waltz, and even some of one quaint Folk music, is present on the new Garden Wall album. This is an extremely intricate music. Most of the songs on the album are marked by the constant development of both the instrumental and vocal arrangements, kaleidoscopic changes of tempo, tone, and mood, very complex stop-to-play movements, and the complete absence of even meters. (I don't know what a method was used when composing some of the episodes of this album. However, it was not even a 12-tone scale.) As well as all the other Garden Wall albums, "Forget the Colours" is a concept album, created within the framework of a unified stylistics, which, overall, I have already described. However, there are many of the quiet and completely 'non-metallic' arrangements on the album as well. Furthermore, each of the nine "forgotten colours" contains a few 'lyrical' parts, all of which, though, sound either dark or dramatic. Most of you, profound and adventurous Prog-lovers, know that in the new millennium, a number of classic RIO bands (Finnegan's Wake, Thinking Plague, 5UU's, to name a few) moved towards a heavier sound, which, in fact, is much heavier than "your typical" RIO sound. (Instead of calling the most innovative RIO and RIO-related bands "RIO-freaks" because of their new music doesn't fit any of the four 'chief' progressive genres, including RIO, but in order to distinguish them from "your typical" RIO, etc, performers, I 'discovered' the Fifth Element genre.) Now, when the "Forget the Colours" album is part of Garden Wall's discography, I see the band as a Prog-Metal counterpart of those ex-RIO bands that currently play a blend of RIO, Prog-Metal, and Avant-garde Academic Music. Really, various interplay between the virtuosi solos of guitar-synth (that, by the way, sounds not unlike an electric piano or synthesizer) and intricate passages of violins, acoustic, and semi-acoustic guitars that are featured on several tracks of this album, are in the vein of RIO rather than Symphonic Progressive. The parts of drums are incredibly diverse and complex on this album. The world of Prog-Metal doesn't know any example of such a mind-blowing drumming that is featured on "Forget the Colours". This is undoubtedly an hour of triumph of Camillo Colleluori, who, in my view, is now one of the best drummers on Earth. However, all the members of Garden Wall have demonstrated a fantastic mastership on this album. As for Alessandro Seravalle, I realized that he is one of the most innovative and brilliant composers in the history of Prog several years ago.

Summary. On the one hand, it's obvious that the new Garden Wall album "Forget the Colours" won't have more or less a broad audience because of its compositional structures that are not only extremely complex, but also rather rough. On the other hand, all those who are open-minded and adventurous enough to appreciate the creation of such bands as Thinking Plague and Watchtower, Mekong Delta and Happy Family, Doctor Nerve and Finnegan's Wake, etc will love this album to death. Finally, I'd like to say the next. If only most of the serious contemporary Prog performers were free of their daily job, they would be able to release new albums almost every year, despite the fact that the progressive creation is currently by no means as profitable (to put it mildly) as it was in the 1970s. Of course, saying so, I imply Garden Wall as well.

VM. June 10, 2002


Related Links:

The official Garden Wall homepage: http://www.progressor.net/garden-wall/

"Mellow Records" - web-site & online store: http://www.mellowrecords.com/


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