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TRACK LIST: 1. Time Machine 5:08 2. Faithless Breed 5:28 3. My Friend My Enemy 6:40 4. Runaway 4:20 5. Noise 4:58 6. A Different Man I 6:46 7. A Different Man II 7:48 8. Landscape 6:24 All tracks: by S & L. LINE-UP: Lino Esposito - electric & acoustic guitars Salvio Schiano - keyboards; programming With: Mariano Barba - drums Corrado Callignano - bass Marco Basile - vocals Produced by S & L. Engineered by M. D'Ambra at "MDA", Naples.
Prolusion. "Time Machine" is the second album by the Italian project S&L. The review of their debut is >here.
Synopsis. Three out of the eight tracks on the CD are songs with lyrics in English, excellently sung by Marco Basile: My Friend My Enemy and A Different Man, parts 1 and 2. The album's title track contains vocal lines as well, but there are literally only a couple of them. In addition, they are very brief and are whispered rather than sung. So I am inclined to regard Time Machine as an instrumental piece. S&L appear on this recording as a highly professional outfit with their own vision of progressive things, and not as a simplified version of Dream Theater as it was on their first album. The music is quite strong throughout. A rather noticeable improvement in composition, arrangement, and performance is evident everywhere on the recording, but especially on the second half of it. Well, some shadows of Dream Theater are still apparent in places on the first three instrumental pieces: Time Machine, Faithless Breed, and Runaway (1, 2, & 4) and the song My Friend My Enemy (3) as well. Overall however, each of these represents quite the original manifestation of 'classic' contemporary Prog-Metal with some definitely fresh ideas and, for the most part, diverse and really interesting arrangements. The more or less frequent use of solos of the vintage Hammond organ is also of help, making the material sounding rather different from that, which is typical for most of the contemporary bands of the genre. However, all the principal virtues of the album appear on its second half, which consists exclusively of the works that are close to the status of a masterpiece - at least within the framework of this direction. Starting with the instrumental Noise (5), original ideas and non-typical decisions run down like from a cornucopia, and more and more of the parts of acoustic instruments (acoustic guitar, piano, and some woodwinds) become involved in the arrangements, raising their diversity and enriching their sound. On the whole, Noise follows the predominant stylistics of the album, but it is much richer in elements of Symphonic Art-Rock and all the 'consequent' progressive features than any of the preceding tracks. However, the absolute winners are the last three compositions on the album, all sounding amazingly fresh, diverse and intriguing. Both parts of the song A Different Man (6 & 7) represent a highly original combination of Prog-Metal, Art-Rock, and Jazz-Fusion, and the last track, the instrumental Landscape, a real classic Symphonic Progressive with elements of classical and oriental music.
Conclusion. The second S&L effort is in every respect mush more a mature album than the band's first output. In addition, it is very well produced. If each song here had as many distinct signs of originality and inventiveness as the last four, I would've been doubtless to rate "Time Machine" as a masterpiece.
VM: April 16, 2004
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