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Barock Project - Seven Seas CD (album) cover

SEVEN SEAS

Barock Project

 

Neo-Prog

3.94 | 128 ratings

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progpositivity
Prog Reviewer
5 stars I see a fair number of ratings but no reviews yet for this 2019 release of intricate, complex, keyboard-driven rock fusion from Barock Project. It deserves a review so I guess it is time for me to "step up" and contribute! As is often the case, this won't appeal to everyone. Although it features punctuating passages of sheer power, these compositions more often require a chisel than a sledgehammer. The vocals are sometimes sung with a bit of a melodramatic flair which will appeal to some as very expressive and no doubt turn others away crying "extra"!

Luca Zabbini is a genius in my book. If you like keyboard driven jazz rock fusion and wish there was a band like Journey or Queen that would break use odd time signatures and/or break into complex jams reminiscent of Return to Forever or Jan Hammer, check this album out!

Here's a 'track-by-track' rundown if you are into this level of detail.

SEVEN SEAS - starts very subtly with a sound reminiscent of the clicking of a fast clock. Composer, arranger, keyboard wizard and acoustic guitarist Luca Zabbini handles lead vocals with specialist Alex Mari providing additional vox in the background. At around 1:15 into the piece, some power begins to make its way into the equation. At around 2:30 an anthemic big chorus is introduced. A grandiose symphonic interlude is followed by a calm verse which sets up a magnificently powerful organ solo at about 3:30. This solo is expressive and well executed. It does not, however, reveal the true extent of Zabbini's mastery of fusion keyboards. That will have to wait until later on in the album!

I CALL YOUR NAME reminds me of old PFM songs like "Celebration". Of course this is a modern production with a more powerful edge in the chorus, but the vocal vibe on the verses (along with the fact that the singer is an Italian singing in English as a 2nd language) is probably what evokes my memories of classic PFM. I particularly like the way this song hinges upon a syncopated guitar riff which makes the 7/8 time signature invitingly intuitive to follow (even to non-proggers IMO). Clocking in at 3:46 and with a catchy groove, this could be a "hit single" in an alternate universe where prog still makes regular appearances on the pop charts.

ASHES - introduces a combination of gently melodic, intricate piano playing, and dramatic vocal styling that will characterize much of the rest of this CD. This song is probably a pretty decent litmus test of whether this CD will be to your liking. It has complex, lush arrangements with very high quality composition and performances throughout. At about the 3:10 an energetic passage features distorted guitar. A couple of monster keyboard solos are added. But by 4:40, it gives way to a gentle - yet majestic - wave of symphonic jazz rock fusion to end the song.

COLD FOG - The mood cools down even further as this song begins with a pastoral symphonic jazz fusion introduction. At about 1:30, bass guitar, drums, and a carefully crafted keyboard sequence adds energy. At 2:00, the chorus adds a bit more energy - even so, everything is still rather gentle with piano and rhythmic keyboards at the forefront. At 2:30, a rock beat finally takes over. The arrangement rarely "sits still". By 3:00 a short vocal section introduces an elegant piano led fusion solo. The bridge carries us to another rock beat explosion for a 30 second chorus before introducing a guitar solo from 4:32 to 4:55 or so. At the 5 minute mark, acoustic guitar accompanies a bridge section which features a lower octave vocal double of the lead singer's line to great effect. The guitar solo at 6:30 boosts an already anthemic bridge progression to more expressive heights. At 7:07, it gives way to a piano interlude accompanied by a lush yet understated symphonic background. At 7:51, everything gets energetically symphonic. The song ends with one more pass at the rock led chorus and a final fusion ending.

A MIRROR TRICK - This gently bouncy song is led by acoustic guitar. It reminds me of some of Gentle Giant's less complex appropriations of Renaissance and medieval musical sensibilities. Symphonic elements come and go throughout. At 3:29, this composition will almost certainly leave fans of this style wishing for more. HAMBURG - Begins with atmospheric sounds of seaguls and the seashore. Acoustic guitar accompanies a symphonic score. Acoustic piano joins without overpowering the symphonic leads. At 11:25, this is the CD's "epic". At 1:25 drums, bass guitar and lead guitar enter to carry the song into elegant jazz rock fusion territory. Fans of Kenso would love this passage I would think. At 2:45, acoustic piano takes over to set the stage for a gently dramatic vocal verse. This seems to me like what the band Queen might have sounded like in the early 70's had they been more symphonic,complex , fusion oriented and progressive. At 4:35, the chorus is still slow and deliberate but larger and louder. At 5:00, a 30 second jazz rock interlude threatens to take the song in a new and more powerful direction yet at 5:30, we dropping right back into the deliberate pace of the large anthemic chorus. At 5:46, a soaring melodic guitar lead is introduced. Then a soaring vocal line joins to match the same line. This melody line is both fresh and yet also intuitively 'listener friendly'. That is quite an interesting combination. The guitar soars in a higher octave as it repeats this same melodic line and then starts improvise from its base. Again, this is great guitar fusion. At 7:18, solo piano resets the tone to gentle yet again. The song returns to the symphonic piano led arrangement which it began with. Everything remains gentle long enough for the anthemic chorus (at around 9:45) to sound full of vigor and powerful yet again. The soaring guitar solo returns briefly. Then quiet solo piano carries us to the same atmospheric 'sounds of the sea' from which we started.

BRAIN DAMAGE - This song also has a very gentle beginning featuring quiet yet dramatic vocals (this time accompanied by solo acoustic guitar). At about 2:20, vocal harmonies contribute a very nice feel. At around 3:05, gently picked electric guitar (on a very clean setting) enters the scene. At around 4:15, rock power enters in a big way almost reminding me of Rush's output in the late 1970's! A monster fusion synth solo follows. I fully understand that some proggers will not want to persevere through all the gentility to finally reach a section like this, but I must admit that the quietude did serve to make this section seem all the more powerful when it finally arrived. It gives way to the gentle proceedings after only 90 seconds. But don't give up on the song. Soon enough, the power returns with a wonderfully syncopated fusion jam. Again, the jamming is not entirely unlike 1970's rush except it features intricately powerful fusion keyboard solos. Fantastic composition and powerful performance. We finally get a big rock ending.

Luca Zabbini plays every instrument (even percussion!) and sings every vocal on the gentle tune CHEMNITZ GIRL. It is also the only song on the album with lyrics penned by Zabbini. Some of his Italian accent belies his English pronunciation but that doesn't bother me. This is a beautiful song.

Luca also sings lead on "I SHOULD HAVE LEARNED TO". The track placement seems wise. This upbeat sing-a-long song doesn't strike me as particularly "prog". On the contrary, it reminds me of a very professionally performed and recorded theme song to an expensive Disney movie. If a listener has "hung in there" to reach track 9 of an 11 track CD, they probably won't abandon everything because of the unexpected shift.

Alex Mari takes back over the microphone to sing on the song MOVING ON which returns us squarely to the genre of progressive rock. This song is exceptional in that the music is co-written by guitarist MARCO MAZZUOCCOLO and drummer MARCO MAZZUOCCOLO. A harder groove and more powerfull riffs abound.

THE ONES - is a pensive, gentle, lushly romantic piano based song which gains some weightiness after the 2 minute mark. At the 3:15 mark, we encounter a passage very reminiscent of "The Great Gig in the Sky" from Pink Floyd's classic "Dark Side of the Moon". It only lasts a little over 30 seconds and - as such - serves as a very nice nod of affection toward a masterwork of yesteryear.

progpositivity | 5/5 |

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