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(46:33, Black Widow Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Privileged Station 8:07 2. PSM 8:17 3. Hoodlums 7:47 4. Black Crow 9:07 5. Awareness 5:56 6. Noon 7:19 LINEUP: Paolo Vacchelli – el. & 12-string guitars Matteo Marini – bass & ac. guitars Paolo Tognazzi – organ, pianos Andrea Calzoni – vocals; flute Matteo Tognazzi – drums
Prolusion. Comprised of six moderately long tracks ranging from six to nine minutes, “Echoes from the Deep” is the debut album by Italy’s PSYCHO PRAXIS, a quintet of musicians with an average age of about 24 years.
Analysis. The press release for the CD says that its creators are influenced by Soft Machine, Can, Pink Floyd and Van Der Graaf Generator, which I find irrelevant or even totally misleading, at least as regards the former two acts, since there are not even tiny hints of Jazz Rock here. From the opening track, Privileged Station, it becomes clear that the album is aimed at being an epic statement of vintage-style Symphonic Progressive. The influences in evidence are early Camel at its most intense and Jethro Tull circa 1972, albeit the latter reveals itself not too often, only apparent in some – of the numerous – flute and organ patterns, and also in the vocals on the concluding piece Noon. The said compositions (both of which are largely instrumental), and also Awareness (the one that doesn’t contain any singing at all), have a lot in common between themselves, each a full-blown sympho-fest that no single adherent of the genre will remain indifferent to. Playing with great technique and expressivity, the musicians navigate the complex arrangements and keep the energy level high almost throughout in all cases, with the speed of performance mostly up-tempo to very fast. Let’s move further. PSM and Black Crow both also find the quintet being strong all around: from the inventive and intricate keyboards and guitars of Paolo Vacchelli and Paolo Tognazzi, respectively, to the picturesque flute leads of (singer) Andrea Calzoni to the varied bass patterns of Matteo Marini and the precise drumming of Matteo Tognazzi. The delicate acoustic guitar and synthesizer interchanges that each of these begins with serve effectively as a prelude to full-blooded arrangements in the band’s primary style, and are touched by the wing of magic. While there are more vocals-based moves in both cases, those are overall as resourceful and complex as the instrumental ones which, in turn, dominate all the second half of each of them, still performed at a breathtaking speed. Hoodlums is the sole track here that has a song feel to it – within its first three-fifths, to be more precise, but then the band returns to its rail, still rushing like an express train in a way.
Conclusion. On each of the album’s tracks from beginning to end it’s clear that these young guys are no amateurs. What is more, the band manages a very full sound without the use of flashy overdubbing: virtually everything here sounds like the live output of five musicians. All in all, the properly titled “Echoes from the Deep” is one of the very best vintage-style sympho-prog releases I’ve heard in years. Connoisseurs of the genre! Don’t miss it at any rate. Top-10-2012
VM=Vitaly Menshikov: March 2, 2012
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