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Ellesmere - Wyrd CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.94 | 101 ratings

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4 stars More polished Neo Prog of the symphonic RPI sort from ambitious Italian Roberto Vitelli. Top notch, sound, musicianship and composition for anyone into those things.

1. "Challenge" (7:26) cinematic piano jazz with eerie synth and percussion sounds. 'Tron comes in at the end of the second minute to signal a change. The new motif takes off in a BANCO kind of way, supporting soli from a variety of synths, violin (David Cross), organ, and electric guitar. Another thematic shift at 4:10--this one setting up the joinder of vocals. The violin play is so dextrous yet subtle--it's crazed yet almost goes unnoticed within the tapestry. The vocalist really shows his strength with some very high, sustained notes in the sixth minute, then things fade into the wind--which then bleeds into the next song. (13.25/15)

2. "The Eery Manor" (6:24) wind from "Challenge" is carried forward by the crazed flute playing of John Hackett. The next instruments to join in give it a classically-tinged Gothic feel, John Hackett stiil going crazy, then it goes very classic RPI (LE ORME Felona e Sonora) in the second half of the second minute. At 3:15 we switch into more abrasive IL BALLETTO-like motif but then alternating into some absolutely gorgeous melodic themes over the next two and a half minutes. (8.75/10)

3. "Endeavour" (8:24) smooth opening with great sound palette across the board: Aarp synth in the lead, arpeggiated guitars, bass pedals, and syncopated drums. 45 seconds in an oddly recorded, oddly placed voice begins talk-singing with a melancholy passion. Flutes and vocalized "da-da-te-da-da de-da-dum"s play into a kind of chorus. Then raunchy Hammond organ leads us into another mre unsettling theme within which electric guitar, bass and saxes offer quite frenzied, untamed solo lines. At 4:55 we come out and smooth over again--though the sax is still a bit crazed, the lead guitar presents in a calm, heroic way. A couple more rounds in and out of chaos occur before we seem to resolve the conflict and emerge into the light of victory. (17.5/20)

4. "Ajar" (8:05) a take off/variation on some of the themes and riffs from YES's "Gates of Delirium" Still, the best song on the album. Vocals don't make themselves known until the fourth minute (with Trevor Horn-like flanged bass!). Weird reverse spoken passages persist here and there. Smooth yet-edgy sax solo (so controlled and adept by virtuoso David Jackson!) in the sixth minute. Love the grand entry of the 'Tron and saxes for the final 45 seconds. (13.75/15)

5. "Endless" (13:14) incorporating a riff that is familiar to me from an old KNIGHT AREA song (2007's "Under a New Sign") as the main melodic hook throws me a bit off. And then once I think I've gotten over it, the similarities persist- -at least for the first 5:20. The fact that it holds nearly the exact same pace and sonic palette (embellished by the saxes and flutes) is also a distraction. But then in the seventh minute the new melodic territory takes us into another familiar and gorgeous ear worm. this one from Another transition, this one more complete, at the 7:00 mark takes us into Camel-meets-Paul Reynolds (Flock of Seagulls) before turning full-on Phil Collins-era GENESIS (Duke and later especially) before returning us to the KNIGHT AREA fold. Great drumming--on a par with Phil Collins' strongest, most bombastic. At 11:00 we weirdly transition into an entirely different, more KRAFTWERK/JEAN- MICHEL JARRE-like synth-pop section--to the finish! What?!?! Please explain! The song is good, the musicianship and composition excellent, it just feels a bit . . . borrowed. But then, didn't most of the great masters of Classical Music lift and borrow riffs and themes to "play with" from all of their predecessors? (22/25)

Total Time 43:33

Creative music making that often takes us right to the edge of "acceptable bombast." The songs have a modern originality to them while also paying homage to many past RPI masterpieces and styles. Though there are plenty of original twists and effects used in the making of these songs--each with its own (though the "crazed" soli from the seasoned veterans is a pretty common thread throughout)--I still think Roberto's compositions lie perhaps a little too firmly within the "safety" of classic RPI.

B+/4.5 stars; an excellent addition to any prog lover's music collection--especially if you are wanting to hear embellishments and expansions on themes and works of the RPI masters that have gone before.

BrufordFreak | 4/5 |


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