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(76:31, Musea Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. The Good 25:04 2. The Bad 24:23 3. The Ugly 26:57 PERFORMERS: Randone (1) La Voce Del Vento (2) Tilion (3)
Prolusion. The Finnish progressive rock association, Colossus, have for several years had an ongoing musical project, in which artists are challenged to create epic songs in the same general musical style as classic symphonic prog bands from the early '70s, and where the music also has to incorporate influences from specific movies. THE SPAGHETTI EPIC-II was released early in 2007, and on this recording the artists were challenged to make music inspired by Sergio Leone's classic spaghetti western "The Good, the Bad & the Ugly".
Analysis. The nature of this 3-track release suggests that the end result would be three songs in the same general style. This is not such a case however, although there are quite a few shared qualities to be found on each of the songs. The retro feel of the '70s is present on all of them, although highlighted in slightly different manners. The symphonic elements are present, with some at times really impressive and effective use of various keyboards. All songs have some jazz influence to them, ranging from jazzy moods and fusion escapades to themes and parts with jazz-influenced drumming or some jazz-tinged elements in the soundscape. Each of the three is a true epic, lasting for more than 20 minutes. All of them have numerous twists and turns in style and mood and are interesting from start to finish, just as you would expect from this kind of music. The songs also incorporate musical elements from the movie itself. Looking at the credits, it is easy to get the impression that all the contributing bands are from Italy, but facts are stubborn things. Anyhow, the Italian names of the groups are another shared trait here. Italian band RANDONE kicks off this release with The Good, a track mostly on the mellow side, but with some ventures into hard rock territory. The extensive use of saxophones, the blues-inspired atmospheric guitar (whose lines are somewhat similar to David Gilmour's) and the Latin-flavoured acoustic guitar are all distinct features of this track, which comes across as an atmospheric and dreamy song somewhere in a twilight zone between symphonic prog, fusion and hard rock. LA VOCE DEL VENTO, playing the next track The Bad, is a project consisting of English musicians Andy Tillison and Guy Manning, best known for their work with The Tangent. Manning's distinct vocal style is a trademark feature on this song, and his extensive use of keyboards of various types to create big, epic soundscapes also sees to it that this track gets an identity of its own. Keyboards are very much a dominant force, at times giving the song some slight Tangerine Dream flavouring. All in all, The Bad comes across as a Manning song, and wouldn't have been out of place on his "Anser's Tree" as an instance. The main difference between The Bad and Guy's regular outings is the lack of folk influence here, which is replaced by some influences from jazz and fusion. Italians TILION finish off the album with their homage to The Ugly from the movie. This contribution is quite different from the previous two songs, featuring sections influenced by early 70's psychedelic hard rock, as well as some mellow jazz-infected themes, some ventures into fusion-tinged musical landscapes, and finally some disharmonic escapades not too dissimilar to King Crimson or Gentle Giant, albeit much darker in mood.
Conclusion. All the songs on "The Spaghetti Epic 2" are well performed and well made, though the opening track The Good appears to be slightly less expressive than the following ones. Overall however, this is an excellent release, which should appeal to fans of symphonic prog in general and Italian prog lovers in particular.
OMB=Olav M. Bjornson: January 1, 2008
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