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Barock Project - Detachment CD (album) cover


Barock Project



4.04 | 347 ratings

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4 stars Without a doubt one of the highest profile prog-rock bands hailing from Italy of the modern era, Barock Project can be equally frustrating as they are superb! Press releases in the past have made wild boasts about the band being the `symphonic heirs to New Trolls, Premiata Forneria Marconi, Le Orme and Banco del Mutuo Soccorso', and yet with the exception of some of the fancier orchestral elements and an accent detected in the English vocals, there's very little to associate Barock Project with much of the pure Italian progressive music over the decades.

But hang-ups (and typical press-release excitement!) aside, there's no denying that what Barock Project do, they do damn well, and they've delivered their strongest and most varied disc to date with `Detachment', their fifth full-length set since forming in 2004. The band fuse a wide range of rock, pop and even heavier styles to ambitious orchestral arrangements (actually worked into the music, not merely an orchestra slapped on top, mind you!), all coated in an overly polished production to appeal to as wide a worldwide prog audience as possible.

After a teasing little piano and ambient introduction, proper opener `Promises' is a punchy vocal rocker in the Enchant, Spock's Beard/Neal Morse and even Dream Theater manner, right down to charmingly accented vocalist Luca Zabbini's soaring radio-friendly chorus with slick harmonies - and great frantic drumming from Eric Ombelli on this one too! Some light touches of electronic programming flitting around gorgeous pristine piano would make Radiohead envious throughout `Happy to See You', quickly revealing to be a soft romantic rocker where lush orchestration weaves in and out of Luca's busy keyboard soloing and Marco Mazzuoccolo's slow-burn electric guitar soloing runs. Along with expertly delivered drama and tasty bombastic bursts, much of the vocal melody takes on a memorable `sing-along' quality after only a few listens! There's ravishing Gentle Giant-like chamber prog touches to the sparkling acoustic guitars, dancing flute and groaning group vocals throughout `One Day' which eventually turns into a defiant up-tempo rocker, and breathless Eastern flavours permeate `Secret Therapy' as well as a very spirited chorus.

The nine-minute multi-sectioned suite `Broken' is the longest and most ambitious portion of the disc, a dazzling and sophisticated Big Big Train-like symphonic pantomime utilising English multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Peter Jones as well as female singers. The darker and reflective `Old Ghosts' crams an insane amount of ideas, tempos and moods into a mere four minutes (a great track, but worth it alone for Luca's electric piano touches), Peter Jones takes the lead again on the heartbreaking and melancholic ballad `Alone' that could have been an Eric Woolfson standout on an Alan Parsons Project album, `Rescue Me' is a bold, cool and jangling indie-pop rocker full of momentum, and the wistful and reflective `Twenty Years' is initially elegant with plenty of delicate acoustic passages, soft sweeping orchestration and a sparse heartfelt vocal before crashing into boisterous bluster - phew, got all that?!

`Waiting' is a darker-tinged electronic rocker more along the lines of Porcupine Tree where Francesco Caliendo's thick bass slithers with eerie purpose (and Luca's recurring piano refrain is delightful). `A New Tomorrow' opens as another sweetly romantic piece with dreamy guitar bends and warmly embracing group harmonies that suddenly takes off with energetic up-tempo Kansas-like Hammond bursts and a swooning orchestral finale (the piece will likely become an anthem for the group when performed live!). `Spies' is then a sleek indie pop-rocker with heavier flavours, but it might have been better placed somewhere in the middle of the disk, where the previous track would have served as a stronger and more striking closer, although the devilish jazz-fusion middle instrumental stretch is especially superb!

Yes, the album is absurdly long at over seventy-five minutes (bands, just because you can fill a compact disc to eighty minutes doesn't always mean you have to!), but it's hard not to be won over by the impeccable and varied instrumental arrangements, killer choruses and quickly revealing strong tunes. The album is also constantly optimistic and loved-up, and it refuses to merely be a retro throwback by fusing vintage elements into a firmly modern style. Barock Project have absolutely delivered another crowd-pleasing collection of music here that will not only be adored by their large fanbase, but probably - and absolutely deservedly - bring in a whole new bunch of listeners.

Great stuff all round - four stars.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 4/5 |


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