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FEM Prog Band / Forza Elettromotrice - Sulla Bolla Di Sapone CD (album) cover


FEM Prog Band / Forza Elettromotrice


Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.94 | 115 ratings

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Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars Formed back in 2007, Forza Ellectro Motrice (or F.E.M, because all the cool prog bands have three digit abbreviated names!) made an early splash back in 2012 with a short 22 minute EP entitled `Epsilon'. Breezily in debt to the vintage Italian Prog acts, it displayed plenty of potential and was positively received by RPI fans. But for their proper full length debut two years later, `Sulla Bolla di Sapone' (`On the Soap Bubble', loosly based on a 1887 tale by Kurd Lasswitz) shows the band stepping up in a big way, offering a lengthy work full of colour, liveliness and endless variety, but best of all bringing more personally distinctive characteristics of their own for their modern take on symphonic prog.

One of the instantly standout qualities on the album is the youthful lead vocals of new singer Massimo Sabbatini. Although still theatrical, he actually brings a snarling, energised and buoyant young presence instead of the more pompous and stuffy vocals often found on Italian prog albums (that's not actually a criticism!). The band offer a mix of spirited and strongly melodic vocal pieces with lengthy instrumental passages throughout, as well as fully instrumental tracks too, all seamlessly weaving together with no breaks in between. It's a lot to take in on initial listens, but repeated plays not only reveals a successfully flowing work, but also plenty of complexity and fresh ideas. The band race through a series of symphonic prog arrangements with plenty of classical sophistication and prettiness, little moments of harder guitar bite, lightly jazzy diversions, psychedelic quirkiness and orchestral bombast, most constantly up-tempo and full of spontaneity.

Looking at several of the highlights, `Il Giardino delle Consuetudini' is a punchy little melodic pop/rocker opener, then the psychedelic two-part `Microgen' starts by exploding with Alberto Citterio's liquid delirious Moog, organ and Mellotron runs over Emanuele Borsati's thrashing drum-work, the piece taking on a loopy quaklity that wouldn't sound of place on a Flower Kings album), before a forceful vocal spits with deranged menace. Delicate classical piano solo interlude `Il Mondo Bianco Opaco' allows the listener a brief moment to catch their breath from the noise of the previous tracks, before launching into the upbeat and up-tempo `Consapevolezza', then `Inctontro...' that blasts back and forth with violent heavy guitar riffing, pounding beats over swirling synths and intimidating Mellotron choirs.

`Neella Citta' moves through a range of tempos and moods, at heart a joyful melodic rocker powered by Paolo Colombo's driving soloing guitar runs alongside delirious Moog noodling with victorious themes, and `Il Signore...' introduces booming brass that recalls the orchestral pomp of the Alan Parsons Project. `Processo Alla Verita' has Marco Buzzi's murmuring bass, forceful heavy guitar, piano pops and disorientating group vocals that rise into the air on Mellotron wings. Especially take notice of the following stretch of blissful tracks in the last quarter of the album. The gently dreamy `Riflessioni' floats on clouds with twinkling jazzy piano and breezy flute, `Un Viaggio Lungo ' cruises along on mellow grooves with dazzling synth spirals and `Reviviscenza' offers nimble fingered darting bass and trilling Moog ripples, again very much in the style of the Flower Kings and other modern symphonic bands, with some lovely drowsy bluesy guitar like early Pink Floyd. The final two pieces close the album with symphonic power and grandiosity, leaving the listener to consider the exhausting amount of talented playing and ambitious compositions they've just witnessed!

Perhaps it's a little too long (15 tracks!), but along with younger bands such as Unreal City and Ingranaggi della Valle, F.E.M are offering classic Italian prog influences successfully mixed with modern sensibilities, all performed with a youthful vigour and spirited energy. Respectful of the past without simply slavishly remaking it, fans of the older vintage acts should give this band a listen to see how the proud tradition of the past masters is in good hands and carrying on in a grand and promising fashion. Bravo to Forza Ellectro Motrice for changing their approach and ensuring that `Sulla Bolla di Sapone' crackles with energy, inspiration and potential. One of the strongest symphonic prog albums of 2014, and certainly one of the more happy surprises to discover amongst Italian prog in 2014!

Four stars.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 4/5 |


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