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Il Cerchio d'Oro - Il Viaggio Di Colombo CD (album) cover

IL VIAGGIO DI COLOMBO

Il Cerchio d'Oro

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.81 | 41 ratings

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Finnforest
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars From the old world to the new

Born in Savona in 1974, Il Cerchio d'Oro were never able to release an album in the '70s but did manage some singles. Over the years there would be two compilation releases which featured these singles, unreleased album tracks, and cover songs. Some of the band members participated in other groups and projects. But it was not until the band reformed in 2006 (with original members) that this group finally were able to create a proper album. "The Voyage of Columbus" is a conceptual album that proves it was worth the wait. This music is a celebration of everything many fans of progressive rock seek and only occasionally find. It is heartfelt and clearly the product of lives spent in pursuit of a certain "vision." The band's members include keyboardist Franco Piccolini, drummer Gino Terribile, bassist Giuseppe Terribile, and guitarists Piuccio Pradal and Roberto Giordana, with vocals handled by everyone it appears.

As you can decipher from the album title and gorgeous cover art this album uses the story of Columbus as a starting point for the various themes. Voyage is yet another example of Italy's continued dominance in the field of romantic and earthy symphonic progressive rock with some influence of neo-prog. Here the sound is a mixture of retro guitar and both retro/modern keyboard-based symph with easy-going Italian vocals and not a ton of extra frills. The sound and production are modernized of course but the sound here is more sympathetic to the classic sound than other new Italian band shoot for. They are also less sharp-edged heavy than the new Pandora or Senza Nome albums I recently reviewed which contained some clear metal influence in the riffing-here the electric guitar sound is a bit softer and dreamier, though still able to rock for sure. This album also has a very homespun feel to me that reminds me a lot of the French band Emeraude and their album "Geoffroy." A certain warmth and relaxed feeling is present in the proceedings which in some part may come from the years the band have known each other and their desire to make this a more personal, intimate statement. To this end even the backing vocals are provided by the "family and friends choir" which is exactly what it says it is-and they're great! At first the vocals and percussion reminded me a bit of Corte dei Miracoli but there is more guitar here. The tracks represent the "sailing" theme well with creaking boat sound effects and certain guitar/keyboard parts that actually "sound" like waves, choppy waters, mixed with whistled shanties and the sounds of the sea. The more I listen to this album the more impressed I become with the persistent song construction, melodies, and storytelling feel. It moves from dreaming to leave the old world, to the stories of the sailors and their anxieties about being away from home, to the desperation of never knowing if you'll walk on land again, to the finish line where Columbus is questioned: "Columbus, whatever have you done? A discovery which you will never know.the whole world now will soon change." One of the drawings appears to show the sailors looking with disdain at the natives who offer gifts of welcome, while other sailors plant a cross in the soil behind them. Back to the music: It opens so well with "Ouverture" majestically laying down synth and piano, the melody having feelings of anticipation as leaving home surely would. The centerpiece of the album is the trio of longer songs called "3 Sailors/Yesterday, Today/Noisy Silence of the Sea." The first two are multi-part suites with carefully built sections. Naturally "3 Sailors" tells the stories and thoughts of three different sailors and there is some impressive guitar work. "Yesterday" gets into the mind games that endless waiting at sea can have on the men, set to nice dual leads and strong bass, then to some soft and pastoral moments. "Noisy Silence of the Sea" is working horse symphonic with the band constantly working every run, strong keyboard sections with both electric and acoustic guitars coming and going, and tireless grooving rhythms. The lead guitar sound during the many solos is somewhere in the Gilmour universe but on the rock side, with the addition of synths and good vocals with harmonies. There are also some nice folkish touches like "Preghiera al Vento" with acoustic and piano. There are beautiful strings (or synth strings) in "Cercando" leading to a wonderfully emotional "sunset" kind of guitar solo, slow and dreamy. It is all so tremendously satisfying taken in as a whole and it is difficult to relay the moods of the music in these words. I can only say that fans of classic oriented prog with a bent towards historic themes should be thrilled with the results.

This is another very strong album that is going to appeal to fans of classic Italian prog, it's a very serious effort with almost no weakness. Even the artwork and packaging was well-executed, with lovely themed images and Italian lyrics also provided in a translated form for English readers. Another plus is that the two bonus tracks (from 1977) are really quite good, in fact I love their sentimental, sweet, slow piano. They might be too sweet for some, but compared to what often passes for "bonus tracks" these are awesome. Black Widow Records is on a roll of late and I can't thank them enough for making the effort to bring Il Cerchio to the growing legions of Italian prog fanatics.

Finnforest | 4/5 |

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