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(48:36; Instant Curtain)
TRACK LIST: 1. Reverse in the Sand 6:20 2. Tell the Tales, May I 5:07 3. The Beginning 4:15 4. All White 4:26 5. The Ship Battle Down 7:27 6. And the Rest Divide Us 5:23 7. Safe as the World 6:14 8. Stay 5:14 9. April 4:10 LINEUP : Fabrizio Paggi - bass, keyboards, drums Carlo Maria Marchionni - drums Massimo Gerini - vocals Giuseppe Petrucci - guitars, organ, piano, Mellotron, synthesizers
Prolusion. Italian band INSTANT CURTAIN appears to be a relatively new addition to the progressive rock scene in Italy, and at least online they didn't appear as a unit until 2020. "Let Tear Us Apart" is their debut album, and was self released in the summer of 2020.
Analysis. Instant Curtain is one of the Italian bands that, interestingly enough, doesn't appear to desire to explore the progressive rock legacy of their homeland. Instead, it seems apparent that a lot of their focus is directed at a scene generally known as the Canterbury tradition, which is one of the more distinct English variations on progressive rock. My impression is that their aim goes elsewhere as well, but Canterbury is a good place to situate the band as far as general style is concerned. We have a band here able and willing to blend elements of jazz and progressive rock, flavored with gentle psychedelic elements and, possibly, a few traces of more folk music oriented details too. The latter aspect doesn't rise to the surface all that much however, hence it is the blend between progressive rock, jazz and psychedelia that I feel define this band's palette as of 2020, and the psychedelia aspects probably being the least dominant of these. How the band goes about this is interesting. Many if not most of the songs actually have passages and sequences with more of a straight forward, almost pop/rock oriented expression, and some start out in such a manner too. And remnants of this are often maintained too, usually by one instrument. It is the manner in which the members make subtle alterations to the manner in which they perform their instruments that brings about alterations in how the songs sound. With the bassist or the drummer shifting to a more jazz-oriented motif, or the guitars slightly change their mode of delivery so that two guitars suddenly are slightly off kilter to one another. At times the songs will develop into quite the expressive creations too, and then with some subtle alterations we are smoothly taken back into more of a straight forward and harmonic universe again. At least that is what I think I hear when listening to this album, and this creates a slightly unnerving feeling that maintains tension and interest quite nicely indeed. The use of keyboards and synthesizers of various kinds are applied with a careful touch more often than not. Very much present and accounted for, but rarely if ever in a dominant manner and just about always tastefully and purposefully used. The use of the organ and Mellotron in particular are key elements in some of the passages when the band hits out at a more purebred 70's progressive rock sound and style. While the strictly Canterbury bands are stated influences for the band, some of the material had expressive moments that reminded me quite a bit about Gentle Giant too, including a couple of vocal details, while some of the calmer sections gave me vibes closer to the likes of Camel. And while the more expressive guitar work also had a little bit of a Gentle Giant touch to it at times, there were also solo and backing guitar details popping up here and there that made me think of Robert Fripp and King Crimson too. To my ears and my mind this album is a subtle and unnerving, cleverly made production. Canterbury elements are a big part of this for sure, but don't quite cover all the ground covered. And while perhaps accidental, the odd album title "Let Tear Us Apart" is indicative about how I feel about the album as a whole too. Subtly unnerving, but in a compelling manner of the kind that invokes interest and intrigue.
Conclusion. Instant Curtain as a band appear quite happy to see that just about everyone states that this is a band that fans of the Canterbury tradition of progressive rock should desire to get familiar with. I do tend to agree to that, but would add that I suspect quite a few gentle Giant fans might also spend a few minutes to hear what this Italian foursome have to offer. A subtly different and slightly odd but also compelling and well made slice of retro-oriented progressive rock.
Progmessor: January 2021
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