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Daal - Decalogue Of Darkness CD (album) cover




Eclectic Prog

4.27 | 303 ratings

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5 stars Italian team of ALfio Costa and DAvide Guidoni are back with what is BY FAR their greatest contribution to prog world. If you get a chance to see the AMAZING video presentations of their music (on YouTube), do so. As a matter of fact, all of the songs here sound and feel as if they should companion videos. (Maybe they do!) The band is definitely expressing their curiosity with the dark side of the cosmos. I want to add that the production values on Decalogue are exceptional: the sound quality is incredible and the CD artwork is one of the best I've ever encountered--mediæval-inspired art perfectly matched to the songs and subject matter and simply gorgeous!

1. "Chapter I" (6:00) with or without the accompanying video (footage from the 1930 Swedish film Häxan) this is an amazingly mature and perfect prog instrumental. It opens with simple arpeggio soon joined by several layers of keys (including Mellotrons) before the drums and bass join in. Even into the second minute we're still in the intro. Around 1:30 we finally get the establishment of the foundational groove--and it's a good one! The full, lush layers of keys and guitars are pretty steady while the bass and drums are very busy. At 3:30 things break down leaving bass, piano and drums to duke it out until the re-establishment of the driving groove. This is awesome! So much to listen to! So many instruments adding their little but important input! Then things stop and the final 35 seconds are spent with a kind of solo bassoon dirge. Definitely perfect soundtrack music! (10/10)

2. "Chapter II" (16:25) opens with household noises before ominous minor key piano, Mellotron and tympani join in with a slow death march. Piano, bass, and Mellotron try to run counterpoint to each other but it just doesn't work for me--the 'tron does a poor job of trying to substitute for orchestral strings. Then fifth minute's near-disturbing controlled cacophony plods along too slowly; this may have worked at a faster pace, or without the militaristic drum backing. Soft, delicately played sections such as the one in the second half of the seventh minute work well--and I love the introduction of 'tron voices in the eight minute--but then the new "upbeat" section at the beginning of the ninth minute is just too incongruous, too inconsistent (though in and of itself it's a section of very nice instrumental performances). Just before the ten minute mark things pause while a Frippertronic guitar holds his notes, then things reconvene to continue the upbeat section with the guitar become more distorted and aggressive a minute later. The fourteenth minute is better, but the brief return of the descending scale chord progression in the sixteenth minute is a disappointment, and the soft single instrument (synth flute) outro (as usual) is anti-climactic. After a half-dozen listens to this one, I am no more enamored or esteemed of this song than my first lesson. It's just too scattered and lacks engaging melodies and chord progressions. Even the drumming seems odd and often irritating on this one. (8/10)

3. "Chapter III" (4:24) uses two alternating themes throughout, one quite simple and sparse with slowly played notes from piano and guitars, the other a driving groove more lush and full with Mellotrons and full rock instrumentation. There is quite a familiar early-ANEKDOTEN feel to this music. Nice melodies and excellent sound and instrument construction. (9/10)

4. "Chapter IV" (6:07) several rather dissonant instrument lines are woven together for a while before finally coming together at the end of the second minute. The drumming is quite brilliant. There's quite an early-KING CRIMSON feel to this one. The excellent guitar lines are very Frippian, very mathematical--even in the extended bird- accompanied outro over the final minute--and the Mellotron is quite prominent (maybe too much so), but it is the drums that take top honors for me on this one. (9/10)

5. "Chapter V" (4:49) another song that opens with some brilliantly creative sound and instrument choices woven together. It doesn't feel as if it's going to work, as if all of the odd sounds are going to shred the song (or my ears) until drums, bass (fretless?), keys, and guitars finally settle into a groove driven by an eight-note melody repeated well into the fourth minute before things "fall apart" and a post-apocalyptic chaos of disorganized percussives ensues until the final note. (8.5/10)

6. "Chapter VI" (5:04) opens as an emotional grand piano piece, soon accompanied by acoustic guitar arpeggi and soloing electric guitar, but at 1:05 the prog band bursts in, giving us a glimpse of what will soon be established. Lots of Mellotron and Robert Fripp "Book of Saturdays" guitar soloing behind, within, and in front. At 2:45 the addition of steady drums, bass, and a chord-playing electric guitar give the song a heavier sound as a lone synth takes over maintenance of the melody line. Once again, the final section is a quiescent single instrument (lead electric guitar) softly soloing into the sunset. (9/10)

7. "Chapter VII" (4:24) opening with bass, cymbols, and discordant piano chord being arpeggiated while while fuzzy electric guitar chord rises to the fore (this is familiar from previous DAAL songs) but then at 1:14 everything falls away save for flanged cymbol play and a whole new, gentle and pretty theme is established. This is quite beautiful! Mellotron "flutes" in one of the leads as a weave of several instruments keeps this section going until it begins to fracture and fall apart in the fourth minute. Lots of door- or wood-knocking (like someone trying to break out from inside a coffin) filling the background as the discordant opening theme returns and takes us to the end. Cool song! (9.25/10)

8. "Chapter VIII" (8:35) opens with a Russian-like chord slowly arpeggiated by the lower end of the piano (and later by the Mellotron) while cymbols and right and of piano play at something else. This sounds a LOT like Javi Herrera's KANT FREUD KAFKA work on his 2014 album No tengas miedo--especially the songs "Antiesis" and "Hombre." Add Fripp guitar and flute to the slow palate and we still have a KANT FREUD KAFKA soundtrack feel. At 3:05 drums, bass, and guitars condense and Mellotron takes over the lead to create a rather eerie section. Again, great drum play through out this song. At 6:12 the heavy section ends and the piano-based opening section begins to repeat itself--though it shifts this time into acoustic gentle guitar strumming with and Fripp lead carrying us into the final minute and then solo "harpsichord" to finish. (8.5/10)

9. "Chapter IX" (4:18) pretty piano arpeggio with reverse electric guitar lead playing just beneath open this song. Near the minute mark the guitar drops out and the piano completes a full bridge by itself. When the "verse" picks up again the piano and reverse guitar are joined by keyboard wind section (flute, oboe, bassoon) to weave in an alternate melody. At 3:11 we again get a break for the solo piano bridge but this time no one rejoins him as he plays improvisationally to the song's close. Pretty song. Simple and succinct. Like the second verse the best. (8.75/10)

10. "Chapter X" (10:21) piano and gently plucked electric guitar with symphonic cymbol play cover an almost HARMONIUM-sounding opening three minutes before the full band kicks into a really beautiful, steady, emotional prog instrumental--one in which, again, it feels as if a story is being conveyed. Brilliant stuff; definitely the most melodically engaging song on the album. (10/10)

The engineering and sound production are impeccable--it does NOT get better than this--and the instrument selection and combination throughout the album is creative and compelling, with clarity and distinctiveness to all instruments no matter how many layers DAvide ALfio use in construction. Perhaps there is a little over-use of Mellotron and Fripp guitar noodling.

Five stars; a masterpiece of modern instrumental progressive rock music.

BrufordFreak | 5/5 |


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