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(74:57, Musea Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Frammento Rosso 1:08 2. Visions of Helga 26:08 3. Vecchi Giochi 21:00 4. Suite dall'Inconscio dell'Assassino 25:08 5. Mirrors 1:33 PERFORMERS: Alfio Costa (1, 5) Dark Session (2) Leviathan (3) Floating State (4)
Prolusion. The Finnish progressive music association Colossus and the French progressive rock label Musea have for several years now cooperated in an ongoing series of musical projects, where artists are invited to create long, epic songs over a set theme, often a movie, and where the composition in addition to being more than 20 minutes in length also has to follow some guidelines. Most important of these are that musical instruments or traditions from the ‘80s and '90s – such as samples – aren't allowed, and that it is preferred that some of the more or less well-known instruments from the ‘70s are used, such as Hammonds, Mellotrons and Moogs. Often the participating artists will be asked to create songs in a style similar to what symphonic rock artists made in Italy in the ‘70s, or at least use those artists' sound as a guideline. GIALLO is the latest of these projects, and the theme for this release is the 1975 mystery / horror movie "Profondo Rosso", known to many progressive rock fans due to the soundtrack made by Italian outfit Goblin.
Analysis. As with most releases where the participating artists are bound to follow certain rules, you might expect the compositions to share some similar traits. But on this album, which has also been the case with most of the other Colossus projects in the series I've come across, the tracks show a great deal of diversity, much more than you'd imagine for songs made under the conditions stated earlier here. Opening and closing the album are some short mood pieces by Alfio COSTA. These tracks seem to be made to set a certain mood only, and are generally too short to have a real impact one way or the other. The three main compositions are quite a different kettle of fish though, and first out is the contribution from DARK SESSION. This project, basically a one man band with one guest musician it seems, has a clear and distinct focus on creating eerie atmospheres throughout the music, providing dark, creepy Gothic textures. The music is highly symphonic in nature, with floating and swirling keyboard patterns as one central element, guitar riffs as well as atmospheric guitar solos as other important parts of this whole. Both components are used to create melodic but eerie and creepy sounds; guitars at times distorted and played in a manner that sounds sick; keyboard sounds broken off and playing notes in a fashion that leaves the impression of being generally wrong. Harpsichord, bass guitar and drums help matters along, adding in more normal sounds that contrast with those eerie colors from guitars and keyboards; the same goes for acoustic guitars and some more traditionally-sounding keyboard layers. But most times one or more eerie element is present in this song, creating a very peculiar but fascinating atmosphere. The song as such is symphonic rock through and through in style, with a mood that made me think of the writings of Edgar Allan Poe as well as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's novel "The Hound of the Baskervilles" - Gothic in the original meaning of the word. LEVIATHAN's contribution is quite different in mood and style. There are some dark, brooding and at times eerie atmospheres here as well, but in no way close to the previous composition. Segments dominated by acoustic guitars and lush keyboards are mixed with more pace-filled segments containing driving bass lines, guitar - and quite extensive use of the Hammond. Often these various segments will evolve from one mood to another and the general approach is theatrical in manner. Also, the band seems to enjoy adding melodramatic touches. There's a fair bit of vocal parts on this song, most often with a female vocalist leading, and these vocal performances underline the theatrical and melodramatic touches to this composition. Sparkled with a decent amount of atmospheric soloing from guitar, keyboards and organ alike, and with a dark, almost haunting end segment, this track is really intriguing once it gets going, and a clear highlight for me personally on this release. FLOATING STATE didn't convince me that much with their contribution, though. Their contribution is undoubtedly symphonic in style, but there are just some elements that don't appeal to me. The various individual effects are much to my liking usually: Hammond organ, staccato and at times avant-garde tinged segments, saxophone solos, a distinct jazz-influence appearing quite often in this song, mellow moves with floating keyboards as well as driving arrangements with swirling ones. There's a good variety in sound, style and atmosphere, but a lack of cohesion and many segments where too much is happening at once may be what fails to appeal me on this occasion. Often I found that the mix of instruments turned me off as well, the manner in which the various instruments were utilized at the same time created a chaotic soundscape rather than a complex multilayered texture, according to my ears. For me this one is a jazz-influenced symphonic workout with promise, but one that needs to be developed to become very interesting.
Conclusion. As with all releases in what is often referred to as The Colossus Projects, this one is also an outing that should appeal most to fans of ‘70's symphonic rock, in particular those who enjoy long and elaborate epic compositions. As the style and mood of the music on this album are both dark and eerie, the disc isn't recommended for seekers of beauty in music. If you enjoy intense moods and atmospheres, and find dark emotions fascinating, this is a release that should have a good chance of providing many hours of joy.
OMB: September 7, 2008
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