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Tracklist: 1. Different Places 4:59 2. The Play of My Life 4:52 3. Sparkles In the Dark 7:20 4. Love Warchild of '64 6:41 5. Masks 6:44 6. Two Days Left 5:26 7. Dreaming In L. A. 14:07 All music by: Scandy & L. Hofmann. All lyrics by: see Line-up. Line-up: Scandy - fretted bass; keyboards Lele Hofmann - lead electric & classical guitars; keyboards Giovanni Galfetti - lead keyboards: piano, organ, & synthesizer Mario Krag - rhythm electric & lead acoustic guitars Michael Branzino - lead vocals Walter Calloni - drums (ex-PFM) Joe Coxx - percussion With: Sandor* Kwiatkowski - lyrics; art direction (*Pronounces as Shahndor. Btw, his first name is Hungarian, while the last name is Polish.) Guest musicians: Ilario Garbani - bagpipes (on a few tracks) Mario Del Don & Fabrizio Ghiringhelli - backing vocals (=) Vos da Locamo (vocal ensemble) - female vocalizes (=) Plus: Gabriele Martini - flute (on 7) Mauro Ghisletta - trumpet (=) &: Katja Vanini - Alya's few words Produced by Shakary. Recorded, mixed, & mastered by Shakary at "Phat Sonic", Tenero.
Prologue. Lele Hofmann formed Shakary at the end of the 1990s after he left one of the most well known Swiss bands, Clepsydra. These were verses by Sandor Kwiatkowski (see line-up above) that stimulated Lele to create a new project. What's interesting is that the verses that become lyrics of the debut Shakary album "Alya" (see discography below) Sandor wrote in 1995, whereas his verses, used on this album, were written in 1993.
The Album. First, I'd like to present you kind of a stylistic scheme of "The Last Summer" album. Here it is. Different Places, The Play of My Life, and Sparkles In the Dark (1, 2, & 3) are about Neo Art-Rock with elements of Prog-Metal. A blend of Neo and Classic Prog-Metal with elements of Art-Rock is the stylistics of Love Warchild of '64 (4). A fusion of Neo and Classic Art-Rock with elements of Prog-Metal is presented on both of Masks and Two Days Left (5 & 6). Finally, the music that is featured on the epic Dreaming In L. A. (7) represents quite a unique mixture of Classic Symphonic Art-Rock, Classic Prog-Metal, and Classical Music. All of it looks quite motley, though, in fact, only two songs, Warchild of '64 and Dreaming In Los Angeles (4 & 7), sound radically different from all of the other tracks on the album. (There are no instrumental pieces on it.) In other words, each of the remaining four songs that follow the first three tracks on the album is better than the previous one. Although almost all of the songs that are presented on the second Shakary album are quite accessible, all of them are rather original and very tasteful. Thanks to the presence of bagpipes, apart from the traditional soloing instruments, most of the songs are here very rich in sound. Though all the solos of organ, electric, and bass guitar and passages of piano and synthesizer are also very colorful. And these are active (on the credit side, to say more precisely) throughout the album. The 14-minute Dreaming In L. A. is the only track on the album that all the instruments and voices that are listed above were used in. The (crossing) passages of classical and acoustic guitars are present only on Two Days Left (6). Apart from the album's closing track, a wonderful female choir is featured also on Sparkles In the Dark and Masks (3 & 5), while a mixed choir on The Play of My Life and Love Warchild of '64 (2 & 4). Different Places and Two Days Left (1 & 6) contain predominantly the parts of lead vocal, while (this time, male) backing vocals are heard on each of them only twice. Finally, the heroine of Alya (by the way, this is the eastern female name) said only a couple of words in the very beginning and in the very end of the album. The main merit of "The Last Summer" is the continuous activity of instrumental arrangements, which is quite a rare case within the framework of Neo Progressive. Michael Branzino has a very original voice, and his way of singing is original as well. In my view however, it would've been better if he had sung here in his native Italian language. While the verses by Sandor Kwiatkowski, who, as it seems to me, prefers writing his poems only in English, should have remained in the CD's booklet in their original form, of course. (Certainly, the ears that hear the English-language music day by day already for more than thirty years - almost from the cradle actually - are more than able to perceive any kinds of accented and non-accented vocals.) Finally, I'd like to mention that there are not that little of the dark and dramatic episodes on this album, which, though, is full of different moods, except for those of an enormously optimistic character.
Summary. It is impossible not to appreciate such a high-quality Neo album as "The Last Summer" by Shakary. Everything is very tasteful on it, to say the least. It would be great if all of those novice music lovers who are naturally disposed towards complex forms of progressive music could always begin with such inspired albums as this one, and on no account with those by wannabes.
VM. October 3, 2002
Shakary - discography: 2000 - "Alya" (2CD) 2002 - "The Last Summer"
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