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Akt - II CD (album) cover




Eclectic Prog

3.84 | 69 ratings

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5 stars I haven't heard from this inventive and unusual Italian band since their wonderfully refreshing album Blemmebeya from 2011--which earned the #9 spot on my Top Albums list for that year. If five years is what it takes to make another masterpiece then I welcome it, for AKT has done it again: it has created a refreshing and masterful collection of songs in their unique and eccentric style and sound. The band has expanded its membership from the trio of Blemmebeya of Simone Negrini (vocals, drums, keyboards), Marco Brucale (vocals and acoustic and classical guitars) and Alessandro Malandra (acoustic and electric basses) to include Elianto Puro on piano, melodica, Mellotron, and Moog, Achille Ottani on electric guitar and banjo, and Paolo Fiandra on vibraphone, xilophone, and flute. There are so many unpredictable twists and turns on this album and yet there is a commonality of sound basics: lots of techno-computer-generated sounds and sequences are interlaced within the music--often with a percussion/timing effect; lots of gorgeous acoustic guitar work and simple yet central and important bass play, and many unexpected and quite dynamic shifts. And, of course, the unusual yet subtly powerful low tone vocals of Marco Brucale (which are actually used somewhat sparingly on this album).

1. "Coincidenze" (5:10) opens with some Avant-RIO sounds weaving together until the familiar almost-whispered deep voice of Marco Brucale enters at the one minute mark. By the end of the second minute we are treated to some pretty awesome full-band sounds with an impressive electric guitar solo. The three minute mark brings a dramatic lull and shift into more abrasive, treated vocals--though the keys and chord structures remain as gorgeous as ever. A weave of shifting arpeggi from multiple instruments provides the foundation for a fretless bass lead with some kind of wooden flute. Awesome song! (9/10)

The end of Song #1 lets you know that this is definitely a concept album as it bleeds straight into song 2., "Stazione" (4:42). The song takes almost two minutes to establish itself as we are familiarized with the train/train station theme with samples and voices before a more ominous full-band song is established. A break at 3:10 leads into a section which presents a kind of sad, upsetting classically-oriented music--that is, at least until 3:55 when all electric hell breaks loose--at full volume--before ending with another radio/PA sample. (8/10) 3. "II" (9:31) is a cinematic instrumental with many shifts in time and texture and the nice foundational use of congas. In a nine and a half minute song it is again unusual and unexpected that there are no vocals save for a heavily distorted vocal over a 40 second span in the last 90 seconds of the song. This song has no real flaws but it is not as engaging or as memorable as the album's other songs. (8/10)

4. "Frenetica dialettica dell'etica" (2:49) opens with a very engaging, friendly Italian feel (the tremolo mandolin?) then shifts down to allow for one of AKT's most delicate and pretty vocals--lead and harmony--spiced up with fuzz solo guitar riffs in between and a "C" part with piano and acoustic instruments weaving together beautifully. Great song! (10/10)

5. "Convoglio" (5:50) opens with some train and glockespiel sounds that make me think back to Supertramp's Crime of the Century's "Rudy" and Steve Hackett's Voyage of the Acolyte's "Shadow of the Heirophant." Eventually piano, guitar and simple pulsing bass provide background for Marco's quiet, treated vocal. At 3:35, just after the song had built up to full dynamic strength, it stops and totally shifts gears with fast-picking electric guitar, computer- generated fluttering percussion noises, complex drum, bass and keyboard segments before settling into a rather straightforward ballad-like construct for the final minute. Interesting! And unusual! (9/10)

6. "Scambio" opens with Marco's heavily treated voice singing to us in his whispery low tones before acoustic guitars and then strings, congas, and other acoustic instruments of traditional and classical nature (accordion, woodwinds, mandolin) join in. This is just an absolutely stunningly gorgeous song--and Marco's vocal is central and tantamount to this effect. Too bad I don't know Italian! (10/10)

7. "Binario morto" (6:23) is for me the weakest song on the album in that the vocal sounds strained and pitchy, and the music never really grabs me--it never seems to get itself established--just wanders and meanders aimlessly. (8/10)

8. "Passeggero" (12:30) is a gorgeous pastoral epic that has a kind of modern Sergio Leone movie soundtrack feel to it. Chords and sequences of sensitive arpeggiated melodies from acoustic guitars and harmonica, the odd low register singing of Marco and the odd computer-generated sounds in the sixth minute along make for a brilliant first half--but then in the second half the drums, bass, and lead electric guitar joins in to lend the song their magic and we have the makings of a prog classic. Brilliant electric lead guitar work going from beautifully melodic to emotionally unglued! Awesome! (10/10)

This is the first album of 2016 to have earned "masterpiece" status from me. I am so glad to have new AKT in my life! Wonderful, gorgeous, melodic, sophisticated, and unique progressive rock music for the ages!

BrufordFreak | 5/5 |


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