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Tracklist: 1. Overture 1:47 (inst.) 2. Is the End the Beginning? 9:28 3. The Book of Dreams 7:05 4. The Journey 12:13 5. Days of Light 9:05 6. Under the Sea 3:34 (inst.) 7. Asha (Coming Back Home) 8:20 8. A New Century 10:22 All music: by Mangala Vallis. All lyrics: by Eugenio Carena. Engineered by Amek. Line-up: Gigi Covali Cocchi - drums & percussion Mirco Consolini - electric, acoustic, & bass guitars Enzo Cattini - digital keyboards, Hammond, & Mellotron Guest musicians: Bernardo Lanzetti (of Aqua Fragile & PFM fame) - vocals (on track 8) Matteo Setti - vocals (on 2 & 3) Vic Fraja - vocals (on 4, 5, & 7) Elisa Giordanella - violin (on 2 & 5) Stefan Menato - saxophone (on 5) Kimberly Duke - narration (on 7)
Prologue. "The Book of Dream" is dedicated to the memory of Jules Verne. While this is the debut album by the band called Mangala Vallis, its members are by no mean novices on the Progressive Rock scene.
The Album. Yet another Genesis influenced band! No less than two thirds of the reviews that I have written during the last three weeks were albums by bands influenced by Genesis. It was the famous producer and wise man Jonathan King who called the Charterhouse school band, Genesis. Did he really foresee that they must become kind of a musical bible for the legions of future bands? Fortunately, as well as in the case of Metaphor and Scythe, there are enough original ideas in the music of Mangala Vallis to call them the true followers of Legend. Well, it is time to describe the contents of another gospel of the newest testament of Genesis, which is called "The Book of Dreams". (The musical gospels of the true followers of Titans are always better than the apocrypha of imitators, aren't they?) The first track, Overture, is a short instrumental piece, which features only slow symphonic passages with two keyboards. Doubtless, it can be regarded just as an intro to the album, all of the following tracks of which were created within the framework of a unified stylistics (and I like this). As well as the debut Metaphor album "Starfooted", "The Book of Dreams" is a serious and profound work of the Classic Symphonic Art-Rock genre. While the vocal and instrumental parts are balanced well on each of the songs on the album, the instrumental arrangements flow nonstop regardless whether there are vocals or not. It needs to be said that all of the band's members are outstanding musicians. Their instrumental arrangements are very tasteful and truly masterful everywhere on the album. Apart from the tight work of the rhythm section, most of the tracks on the album feature the riffs and solos of electric guitar, passages of acoustic or semi-acoustic guitar, solos and passages of synthesizers, Hammond organ and Mellotron, as well as very diverse interplay between all of these instruments. The frequent changes of tempo and mood, odd measures, and contrasts are also typical for this album as a whole. The passages of violin are heard only on Is the End the Beginning and Days of Light (tracks 2 & 5). The latter song also contains a lot of the varied solos of saxophone. The piano passages were played exclusively on A New Century (track 8). To my surprise, it turned out to be that the more carefully that I listen to "The Book of Dreams" the number of the Genesis influences decrease. It must be said that these influences appear only here and there on the album. Also, they become apparent only in some solos of synthesizer and passages of Mellotron, and in some vocals. (In other words, the parts of all guitars are original everywhere on the album.) The echoes of Genesis's albums "Foxtrot" and "A Trick of the Tail" are noticeable in the parts of the said keyboards on Is the End the Beginning, The Book of Dreams, and The Journey (tracks 2, 3, & 4). However, the timbre of voice and vocal intonations of Matteo Setti, who sings on the first two of these songs, have just a little to do with those of Peter Gabriel. Whereas Vic Fraja, who owns the microphone on all three of the following songs: The Journey, Days of Light, and Asha (tracks 4, 5, & 7), is very reminiscent Genesis's original singer. What is especially intriguing is the instrumental parts that are featured on all four of the last tracks on the album (5, 6, 7, & 8) are free of any influences. In short, only a few vocal parts are marked with the Genesis influences on Days of Light and Asha. Finally, there are not any distinct traces of Genesis's influences on Under the Sea and A New Century (tracks 6 & 8), the first of which is a purely instrumental piece. To be honest, it is rather difficult to imagine Bernardo Lanzetti behind the vocals that are on A New Century. If I hadn't seen his name in the booklet, I would've been sure that it was none other than David Surkamp (of Pavlov's Dog), who sung there with his unique falsetto. Well, while Bernardo has once again proved that he's not simply a great singer, but a great singer-chameleon, it would've been better if the same vocalist had sung all of the songs o
Summary. It's clear (at least for this reviewer), Matteo Setti is the only singer whose vocals really fit the music of Mangala Vallis. (Just let him arrange all of the vocal parts, and everything will be fine. Especially since you yourselves are on the right way regarding your future works, which is clearly shown on the second half of the album.) While the band's debut album "The Book of Dreams" is by all means excellent, hopefully their second one will be a true masterpiece. The band has all of the necessary prerequisites for this.
VM. March 27, 2002
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