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Gran Torino - 2011 - "Gran Torino Prog"

(48:22, Galileo Records / Gonzo MM)



1.  Sinapsi 5:52
2.  Jack Montorio 5:24
3.  Rock Waters 5:42
4.  Joy 5:34
5.  Miridiana 4:29
6.  Fox Box 4:30
7.  Five 1:18
8.  Radio Vox 4:42
9.  Eco 3:59
10. Zorro 6:44


Cristiano Pallaoro – guitars
Alesso Pieri – keyboards
Fabrizio Visentini – bass
Gian Roveda – drums 

Prolusion. Not much to put here, as “Gran Torino Prog” is the debut album by the heroes of this occasion, namely the Italian band GRAND TORINO.

Analysis. As you can see above, the band appears as a classic instrumental progressive rock quartet of guitars, keyboards, bass and drums. There are ten tracks here, and nine of those, Sinapsi, Jack Montorio, Joy, Miridiana, Zorro, Rock Waters, Fox Box, Radio Vox and Eco, are moderately long pieces, ranging from 4 to 6-and-a-half minutes in length. What is more, all of them have a similar development, featuring some truly creative and unpredictable key changes, with the core of the sound centered ‘round the interplay between the former two instruments (the last of which, though, is a set of those, with organ and mini-Moog appearing as its main soloing items). As the CD press kit says, the band is influenced by Genesis, Jethro Tull, King Crimson, Kansas, Spock’s Beard, Area and PFM. To my ears, however, the music evokes only the first and the last of the listed outfits (hence their names are underlined), and is also reminiscent of Camel, plus there are leanings towards harder Symphonic Prog (think the guitar tones are not always clean) and even Prog-Metal in some cases. On the first five of the above pieces the arrangements suggest Art-Rock throughout, never getting real heavy, but anyhow, each of them is very good, mobile instrumental music with shimmering keyboards and electric guitar timbres. I believe it’s already clear what sets apart the latter four tracks from all of the others. Surely, it is the prog-metal influence (of the Threshold variety), which is brought into the mix by Cristiano Pallaoro’s heavy guitar riffs, yet not overwhelmingly so – quite a solid part of the music herein remains within the sympho-prog realm, with acoustic guitar at times carrying the melody as well. Keyboardist Alesso Pieri is a versatile player, who brings the sound the bulk of its melodic content and emotion. On the other hand, it’s the guitarist who brings the aggression and dynamics to the sound that serves as the counterpoint to the keyboards, albeit some of his soloing on Rock Waters is bluesy, reminiscent of that in Pink Floyd circa 1973. What may initially seem as a certain sameness in the band’s music (due to the fixed instrumentation and the aforementioned similarity in the development of tracks as well), will fade on subsequent listens, as the subtle complexities of the arrangements reveal themselves. The remaining piece, Five, is short, but is fine in terms of both composition and performance, representing an almost ever-changing interplay between acoustic guitar, bass and organ.

Conclusion. This disc is an auspicious debut for the quartet to appear on Top-20 lists of many art-rock and related publications this year. I think only those who are exclusively into the most complicated forms of the genre (e.g. King Crimson, early ‘70s Van Der Graaf Generator, Yes circa 1973-’74) might omit it in this respect.

VM=Vitaly Menshikov: November 16, 2011
The Rating Room

Related Links:

Galileo Records
Gonzo Multimedia
Gran Torino


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