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Sophya Baccini - Big Red Dragon (William Blake's Visions) CD (album) cover

BIG RED DRAGON (WILLIAM BLAKE'S VISIONS)

Sophya Baccini

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.84 | 24 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

octopus-4
Special Collaborator
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team
5 stars I can't wait. I should have reviwed other albums before this but it's the first thing that I listen from this artist and I wasn't expecting anything like this. Symphonic orchestral arrangements on melodic bases and a concept behind. I'm not expert in William Blake's poetry but this album has made me curious.

The introduction "William" is a symphonic piece of beauty with a guitar of the "not a misplaced note" kind, like Andy Latimer is used to do, some "mute" vocals and a very nice melody. A stunning surprise.

"Angel Of The Revelation" starts with electronics and piano, then vocals and a proper song starts. The high pitched voice of Sophya joined in a choir by whom? Maybe Sonja Kristina who features in the guests? The guests list is another thing to check. This is a progressive track as I think people usually intends "progressive": sung parts alternated with instrumentals, structured as a suite with different movements and recurring themes. And all in 4 minutes and half.

"Satan" has an obsessive rhythm and has the theathrical flavor of a rock opera. The electronics behind have a vintage sound but is remarkable the dialogue between guitar and piano before the last sung part and the coda. Another great song.

"Love Of Hecate" Is a slow waltz. It's folky and theathrical in the same time, with excellent vocals again. The signature changes in the chorus. It's still a 3/4 (almost) but the tempo is accelerated. Vocals like in Mozart's magic flute are replaced by a cymbal, then piano and vocals. Another very complex and "circular" song.

Percussive piano and bass with water sounds to start "La Porta Dell'Inferno". This is a little mistake: it's taken from Dante's Comedy, but the door should lead to the "anti-inferno". The first lyrics are taken from Dante, then the man talking leaves the Dante's book to give a different view of the hell's entrance. "Here nothing grows because nothing dies". Another great song with the music perfectly fitting with the concept. The violins support the whole track, choirs, a stupendous coda... Great.

After a track like the previous one staying on the same level is very difficult, so the style changes totally. "The Number" is a rock song. Of course the number is 666. It starts hard rock, but with no relations with Iron Maiden, and the rock screamed part is alternated to more quiet and symphonic interludes. The organ is excellent, neither Emerson nor Wakeman, the sound reminds me more to Vitalij Kuprij (Artension).

"Just" is opened by percussion, piano and cello. The theme recalls "La Porta Dell'Inferno" but the vocals take a different direction. The song's intro, before the male singing, makes me think to the Russian Iamthemorning, mainly because of the instruments used. However, after 2 minutes the song changes drastically. The impression is still of a rock opera. Remove the metal element from Ayreon and add more symphonics to have an idea. The vocals here are more operatic. Not enough to think to Zeuhl, but enough to enhance the track. Great guitar solo in a Van Halen style which slows down and closes Floydian before the last sung reprise.

"Cerberus" is the three-headed infernal dog. Keyboard and strings introduce the song which reprises the chords of the main theme. It's on this song that I'm almost sure Sonja Kristina is singing. I don't know it for sure because I have received a download link from Blackwidow records and I haven't seen the notes on the CD. This is a very dark song on which the rock-opera factor is very relevant. I want to add the the most I listen to this album the most I'm surprised. It's surely one of the best albums I've listened to during all the 2013.

"While He's Sleeping" starts in a weird way respect to the symphonic mood of the previous tracks. It's still classically influenced but has a touch of Canterbury, especially in the melody. Not an easy track, but very enjoyable.

Back to full orchestra and theatrical suggestions. "Au Matin Du Premier Jour" (At the morning of the first day) is sung in French by a man who sounds like the chansonniers of the end 50s / early 60s. French and operatic don't mean Magma, but this song has a Zeuhl flavor in the instrumental parts.

"Beatrice" brings us back to Dante's Comedy. To Paradise now. Her character would deserve some words but this would lead us off topic. Of course there's less darkness now. Piano and ethereal voice for a very melodic song. A Sophya's solo performance and let me add that the sequence of chords deserves a mention. There's plenty of good passages. excellent also from the composition point of view.

We are now at the title track. Full orchestra and voice plus some electronics behind. It starts like a symphony and turns into rock. I don't know who's the male singer but his voice is incredible. The mood is still of a rock opera I'm finishing the words...

The album is closed by a cover. "Jerusalem" has been played and recorded by the likes of Vangelis, Emerson Lake and Palmer, Par Lindh Project for what I remember. Well, I must say that it's probably the best version that I've heard up to now. It's a new interpretation when the one from Par Lindh was an ELP clone.

A masterpiece, amazing because unexpected. How can an artist that I've never heard before have done a thing like this? Symphonic proggers and RPI fans will surely agree with me, but there's so many stuff in this album. It will stay in my portable reader for a very long time, I think.

5 obvious stars

octopus-4 | 5/5 |

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