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The Samurai Of Prog - Bernard & Pörsti: Gulliver CD (album) cover


The Samurai Of Prog


Crossover Prog

3.82 | 122 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars (NB: The Samurai Of Prog is NOT "Crossover Prog", it's SYMPHONIC PROG, more and more clearly with each release, but I won't trouble the Symph team again on this matter.)

TSOP, this time namely bassist Marco Bernard and drummer Kimmo Pörsti from Finland (American Steve Unruh only guests here), continue producing multi-nationally composed and played first-rate symphonic concept albums with an amazing album per year phase. In 2019 came the anime/manga inspired Toki No Kaze, which I felt was the finest TSOP release so far. For me, this brand new album based on Jonathan Swift's classic satire isn't taking that place, but this is actually the most coherent TSOP album ever, with an easy-to-follow single narrative entity, dealing with Samuel Gulliver's adventures in four different imaginary lands.

There are six tracks on this 62-minute album. 'Overture XI' (7:42) is an instrumental composed by and featuring Andrea Pavoni on keyboards. Vintage keyboards dominate this RPI-flavoured piece, until the electric guitar (Kari Riihimäki) starts soloing after a pastorally quiet moment, later to be joined by Marek Arnold's saxophone. Excellent symphonic prog track!

'Lilliput Suite' (17:53) is the longest piece, divided into six movements. Composition and keys by Oliviero Lacagnina, and a wider guest list (e.g. violin, flute, trumpet). The music strongly resembles the Foxtrot-era GENESIS -- partly due to the Gabriel- esque vocals of Marco Vincini -- with some ELPish organ work and orchestral arrangements thrown in. The movement changes are not as seamless as they could be, but overall this is a fine symphonic prog epic in a classic style. It's important that there are delicate moments between more majestic parts, and lots of instrumental sections.

'The Giants' (8:42) is an instrumental symph prog piece, composition and keys by Mimmo Ferri. The excellent arrangement gives various instruments their own turns to play powerful melodies. 'The Land of the Fools' (14:30) is written by keyboardist Alessandro Di Benedetti and sung by Daniel Fäldt from Simon Says. I'm not very fond of the vocals as the lyrics occasionally feel too central, but on the numerous and lengthy instrumental sections the music is very versatile and nuanced, sometimes reminding of e.g. Flower Kings, sometimes Happy The Man. The delicate piano is in a classical / jazz mould. Beautiful, fusiony or Camel-like guitar parts by Federico Tetti and Massimo Sposaro.

On Luca Scherani -composed 'Gulliver's Fourth Travel' (10:17) vocalist-violinist Steve Unruh shares the bilingual vocals with Stefano Galifi from Museo Rosenbach. This very RPI-ish, dynamic piece is, especially in a dramaturgic sense, reminiscent of Genesis around 1972-4, plus the lovely violin. The album ends with Alessandro Lamuraglia's instrumental 'Finale' that indeed has a bold atmosphere of a grande finale.

As I said, "Gulliver" is a coherent album, despite sharing the composion duties between six various keyboardists. I wouldn't be surprised at all if several TSOP listeners named this one their favourite (well, the only preceding reviewer already did). As always, Ed Unitsky has done terrific job on the covers and the booklet.

Matti | 4/5 |


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