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Marco Ragni - Land Of Blue Echoes CD (album) cover

LAND OF BLUE ECHOES

Marco Ragni

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

4.00 | 17 ratings

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FragileKings
Prog Reviewer
4 stars I am surprised to see that this is the first review of this album that was released in March of this year, 2016. I have already read two reviews praising this album, but it seems so far to have flown under most prog radars here.

Marco Ragni is no up and comer. His 2014 album "Mother from the Sun" made it on the PA Top 100 of that year. And though his PA discography only includes five studio albums plus three others, his homepage includes some 11 releases. His catalogue on PA begins with his 2010 release "In My Eyes" which has a score of 4.25. Prior to his solo career he was involved in other bands for some 30 years.

"Land of Blue Echoes" has a very strong early seventies Pink Floyd vibe to it, but Marco doesn't lean solely on this rock. There are a number of surprises that keep this album ear-worthy. We begin with the short, spacey instrumental with a late sixties guitar sound and spoken recording at the beginning. Colin Tench (Corvus Stone, CTP, Oceans 5, Minstrel's Ghost, etc.) provides some lead guitar work. A very good start to the album!

There's a quick turn, though, as the 15-minute "Horizons" begins with harp and flute before transforming into a cosmic space rocker. The drums are pretty up front in the mix, and I'll admit that from my perspective it sounds more like listening to someone play drums along with the track. But just when you think you've got the album sussed out, a harpsichord becomes the sole instrument with Marco's vocals. The music changes once more with a spacey slide guitar bit and goes more up tempo with organ and guitar. That gives way to piano and then we reach a delicate solo piano segment. The track goes through a couple more twists and turns before returning to the cosmic theme near the beginning and wraps up with a bit of harp. There's a lot going on during these 15 minutes and a few choice parts for my ears.

The title track is a piano waltz with acoustic guitar and strings. There's an emotive, early seventies-inspired guitar solo to bring this shorter track to a close.

"Money Doesn't Think" is a rollicking track that sounds somewhere between "Dark Side of the Moon" and the more up tempo side of "Wish You Were Here" but with lead guitar that could have come off "Meddle". It eases back a bit more the sung parts but for the instrumental segment we are back into the exciting rolling and grooving part with some great lead guitar work. One of my favourite tracks!

"Canto D'Amore" will turn your head for sure with its harp and acoustic guitar and beautiful vocals sung in Italian. This was the first track on the album to really make a deep impression on me and even now after several listens it remains my favourite. Prog should have more harp!

Durga McBroom, who has sung "Great Gig in the Sky" and backing vocals for Pink Floyd, sings the lead vocal here. The music is very eased back with organ and electric guitar and McBroom's excellent vocal performance. Style-wise, it's not exactly my preference; however, there is no questioning the music and vocal performance.

"Beltane" is another favourite of mine. Acoustic guitar and a folk prog approach, this song features what sounds like backwards wah-wah guitar playing and has a strong cosmic rock feel in parts. There are some spoken recording added in and a ticking clock that will surely remind you of Pink Floyd again, and another smooth and soul-felt guitar solo.

The longest track on the album is "Nucleus, Pts. I-III". It covers a range of moods from more Pink Floyd-inspired lead guitar to Durga McBroom delivering a "Great Gig in the Sky" vocal performance, to more eased back cosmic groove to some great early seventies guitar rock groove with some cool, simple but chunky bass. This track of nearly 23 minutes covers a lot of ground though overall there's a laid back feeling of continuity. Some parts are a little easy to drift away in but it's not too long before something happens that reels you back in.

"Queen of Blue Fires" is also an outstanding track for me. It begins with clean electric guitar in a style almost like Pavement or Sloan but brings in organ. The chorus is the catchiest of the whole album and there are more organ, keyboard and acoustic guitar parts that are handled wonderfully. An excellent track to wrap up the album.

Though it's not every song that perks up my ears, Marco Ragni has created an album that really shows off his song- writing and multi-instrumentalist skills. If there's one criticism I have it's that sometimes the electric guitar lead work has some scratchy echo to it that works to create an atmosphere in most cases but sometimes sounds a little harsh. The drums sound great, especially the toms, but once or twice they seem to be a bit loud and to the front of the mix. I give this album a solid four stars and I am now considering which album I should go for next. I recommend this album to anyone who thinks they can enjoy early seventies, Pink Floyd-inspired, cosmic rock with some twists such as delicate piano solos and a song composed for harp and vocals. The digipak is quite beautiful, too!

FragileKings | 4/5 |

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