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TRACK LIST: 1. Jerusalem (Emerson, Lake & Palmer) 3:06 2. Catherine of Aragon (Rick Wakeman) 4:42 3. Overnight Snow (John Hackett) 2:27 4. Hairless Heart (Genesis) 3:37 5. After the Ordeal (Genesis) 4:56 6. Horizons (Genesis) 1:56 7. Fanfare and Lute's Chorus (Anthony Phillips) 3:05 8. Hammer in the Sand (Steve Hackett) 3:05 9. Theme One (Van der Graaf Generator) 3:27 10. I Talk to the Wind (King Crimson) 5:53 11. Shadow of the Hierophant (Steve Hackett) 7:34 12. Hands of the Priestess (Steve Hackett) 4:00 13. Galadriel (Steve Hackett) 3:19 14. Galadriel's Memories (John Hackett) 3:11 15. Bilbo's Dream (Marco Lo Musico) 3:31 16. Visions from Minas Tirith (Marco Lo Musico) 12:13 17. The Great Gig in the Sky (Pink Floyd) 6:03 LINEUP: John Hackett – flute Marco Lo Musico – keyboards Carlo Matteucci – bass, guitars With: Steve Hackett – guitars David Jackson – sax Bona Kim – vocals
Prolusion. "Playing the History" is the name of the album and a live project credited to the trio of Marco Lo Musico, John Hackett and Carlo Matteucci. They performed a live version of this concept in 2012, and the following year they made this official album as well, supplemented with some additional compositions. Helping out with the studio version of the concept we find a couple of household names in progressive rock, Steve Hackett and David Jackson.
Analysis. "Playing the History" isn't your ordinary cover track based project, and not only because we find a few original compositions by the threesome behind the concept included either. Because this isn't an album or a concept that concerns itself with one or more artists trying to recreate or otherwise put their mark on the works of others to pay homage to the original, make a name for themselves or both of the aforementioned factors. It is an album about recreating compositions however, guided by principles of art, and the word ‘recreate’ should be read rather literally on this occasion. If you read the credits you'll note that there's a distinct absence of just about anything with a percussion role on this production, and while there are a few brief vocal lines, this is first and foremost an instrumental album where the main and dominant instrument is the pipe organ, recorded with a real church organ to boot. Those familiar with Marco Lo Musico won't be surprised by this, as his affection and expertise with that instrument appears to be fairly well known in select circles, but for fans of progressive rock this might be new information, and certainly vital information if you want to understand what this concept and this album are all about. Progressive rock is a style of music that frequently has been cited as being inspired by classical music, and the artists whose works are covered here are all good examples of that. In this case these compositions have been transformed from rock to classical music, and to a sacral variety of that as well. This concept was performed live in a church, and this is music that will make you think about churches too. The sacred spirit is just about ever present throughout this production, by way of the pipe organ and the manner in which it is utilized. Dark and bombastic or light, toned down and elegant, these compositions have been recreated to fit perfectly for a performance in a christian church. How much you will enjoy this production depends rather heavily on whether or not you're fond of the classical church organ, and of how much you enjoy the mood and atmosphere of the pipe organ used in that specific tradition. Hackett's flute does add a lighter mood to the proceedings, as does the plucked acoustic guitar details provided by Matteucci, but the organ is the main and dominant instrument on most of these renditions. Personally I found this album most interesting when the music is least sacral in spirit, Jackson's saxophone and the bass guitar used on Theme One adding a vibrancy to this performance that does set it apart, and the more dreamladen and careful arrangement used on a composition like Hairless Heart also adding a distinct mood to this rendition that suits it well and that is a compelling listen. On select occasions we're also treated to songs here without the organ present, and while the standalone piano and flute pieces don't quite manage to enthrall me, the piano and acoustic guitar take on Steve Hackett's Hammer in the Sand is more of an intriguing one to my ears, the subtle contrasts and exemplary technical skills of the performers combining beautifully on this occasion.
Conclusion. "Playing the History" is a production that has a select and finite audience, I presume. If you have a taste for progressive rock, and especially the classic 70's bands, that is probably a good place to start. If you have an affection for classical music as well that is most likely a warranted quality. But first and foremost this is a production that will appeal to those with a deep interest and affection for the classical church organ, and if you are intrigued by what classic progressive rock might sound like when performed by that instrument in the classical church music tradition then this disc is one that you you should take note of.
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