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(62:58, Musea Records)
TRACK LIST (PERFORMER): 1. The Voice of Silence (Little Tragedies) 19:30 2. Suite Pauline (Yesterdays) 20:00 3. Epilogo (NOT) 23:28
Prolusion. The French record label MUSEA and the Finnish progressive rock fan site and fan magazine COLOSSUS have cooperated on a number of projects in the last few years, and amongst the most successful ones have been the albums in “The Spaghetti Epic” series. On these productions various artists have been invited to contribute vintage-sounding symphonic art rock compositions of epic length, based on one specific Italian-made western movie from the ‘70s. In this third installment of the series the movie in question is The Great Silence.
Analysis. The art of creating symphonic art rock compositions of epic length is a demanding task for any artists, whether they are highly experienced or not. It takes a great deal of effort and planning in managing to construct a musical piece that will hold the listener's attention for more than 10 minutes, and especially when crossing the 15 minute mark it takes a lot of skill and talent to make it work perfectly. When you have additional parameters to consider as well, in this case a particular topic and a specific stylistic expression as boundaries, most if not all artists faced with this task will face a pretty daunting challenge. First one out on this production is the Russian act Little Tragedies. For the last 15 years they have made a total of 11 albums exploring a sound pretty much in the same vein as requested for this album, and as such one might think that they had a few natural advantages in regards to the task at hand. Even so, their composition is a magnificent creation, probably the best contribution I've encountered so far on any of these joint collaborations initiated by Colossus. Layers of keyboards and organs underscored by skilled guitar textures and inventive rhythms captivate, enthrall and hypnotize in the close to 20 minutes long track; energetic passages and majestic climaxes blended perfectly with elegant atmospheric sequences in a fluctuating yet coherent and consistent venture. Several themes and passages are revisited throughout, but continuity is also created in a somewhat more subtle manner with certain specific sounds and instrumental flourishes repeated. The Hungarian band Yesterdays became something of a letdown after this fantastic opening. Their take on the task at hand is slightly more folk-tinged and on the only album I've heard from this act they are capable of producing some really enthralling moods, at times coming close to sheer sonic beauty – if such an expression can be said to be understandable. Some neat jazz-tinged passages and intriguing layered, Gentle Giant-style vocals are other features on this effort and vintage fluctuating synthesizer layers are a distinctive feature in many parts, but ultimately Yesterdays' contribution ends up as a bit too much of a patchwork as I experienced it – many of the passages excellent individually but not coherent nor consistent enough assembled in one composition. Italian act Not was the only unfamiliar name for me on this album and its contribution made me want to get to know them more from a musical point of view. Epilogo is a hard-hitting excursion dominated by guitars and a distinct, highly distorted bass. Keys and organs add majestic textures to their distinctly heavy approach to the task at hand. In many ways this act reminds me of other Italian symphonic outfits I've gotten to know about in recent years, blending elements from jazz and hard rock in a driving, energetic and hard hitting variety of symphonic-oriented art rock. The guitar sound is vintage, though, and never approaches metal territories – indeed of the three acts contributing to this release NOT is arguably the one with the most vintage-sounding effort.
Conclusion. For fans of symphonic art rock of the epic length variety the various projects instigated by the Finnish prog rock society have all been pretty much in the must-have category of albums, even if slightly uneven at times. That is pretty much the case this time around as well. Any fan of both symphonic art rock and spaghetti westerns can safely order this one, and most fans of the former should also find this production highly appealing.
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