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Present - Barbaro (Ma Non Troppo) CD (album) cover





4.27 | 150 ratings

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5 stars Six stars. Best music of all time. This is the definition of 21st century progressive music.

Summary: unequalled compositions and musicianship. After an intensive listen to Barbaro (ma non troppo), Close to the Edge or Thick as a Brick seems to have the musical appeal of a nursery rhyme or "twinkle twinkle little star".

The package contains a CD and a DVD. The CD is 44:22 minutes which is a perfect duration for this music. Being intense and complex, it demands from the listener focus and concentration. This is definitely not the kind of music you can play and enjoy while doing something else. It needs the same level of commitment as the musicians' exhibit during its creation.

The DVD is just under three hours long and has three segments: 2007 RiO festival in France, 2006 art rock festival in Portugal and archival videos. The recording quality and sound quality are very good.

Although at $36 it is an expensive acquisition (@ Wayside Music), it certainly is an unbeatable value.

This review will focus on the CD only.

The music differs from their more recent resent CDs such as No6, Certitudes etc. It reaches deeper into their history and draws from Heresy era Univers Zero. Compositions in Barbaro have the same "feel" as Heresy but all elements of the music are now brought forward to our current time. This is 21st century Heresy.

I recollect reading somewhere that Present's sound was described as "somewhere between Univers Zero and King Crimson". I am a great fan of King Crimson (KC) but I think if Mr. Fripp could write compositions of this caliber he would be doing back flips despite his bad back. I have no idea how they come up with such comparisons. Maybe what they were trying to convey was the fact that both Present's and KC's music have dark colors, at times ominous, and can even be scary. If KC and Present were compared on a scale to measure these particular characteristics then they will rate 4/10 and 9/10 respectively.

Present consists of nine excellent, brilliant unbelievable (can I find more adjectives) musicians playing wide verity of instruments ranging from standard rock instruments to cello, tube and various saxophones. The sound is full, has depth and intense of texture. Recording quality is excellent. I strongly recommend listening to this CD through a high quality sound system at high volume. If that does not alter your perception trust me nothing will.

The CD contains three compositions: Vertiges, A last drop and Jack the Ripper. Vertiges and A last drop are new compositions whereas Jack the Ripper is a new interpretation of a composition from Heresy.

Vertiges is without a doubt the best new progressive music composition of our time. Although the music is complex it is not complexity for its sake. This is hard hitting, dark music that pulsates between all out mayhem and quiet, pensive passages. It consists of two parts: The composition opens up like a soundtrack to a panic attack in progress and does not give up its intensity for about three minutes. Then we get a break. The attack ceases and we hear the reflection of our heart beat at the core of the music. This brief interlude does not last too long and we are pushed down head first into another rabbit hole that keeps getting deeper with every passing minute. As despair engulfs your being, brief melodies frequently pop up to somewhat relieve the anxiety and terror. But? you keep going down relentlessly. At about the 9 minute mark everything comes to a grinding halt. The second part starts with the solo cello, soon accompanied by the piano. Shortly after electric guitars come in with the intensity of habanero peppers and burn your neurons to smithereens. Music marches on with short-lived melodies floating on the dark clouds of cello, base, and drums. Hypnotic! Without a doubt this is one of the best if not the best composition ever written.

"A last drop" is a less intense composition, which provides a much needed break for the psyche. It still has the perfect sound textures carrying forward from Vestiges albeit slightly lighter color. We even get to hear harpsichord halfway through the composition. What a delight! The compositional structure is delicately complex, intricate, highly listenable and immensely enjoyable.

Well, those of you who read this far into this review are probably already familiar with Jack the Ripper. This composition was included in Univers Zero's Heresy. Present stays mostly true to this 31 year old composition. What they do with the new version is extremely subtle but highly significant. I listened both versions back to back several times and came to the conclusion that the 30 year old version was a bit like a smeared picture. You could see the picture but many details were washed out and not quite recognizable. The current version removes the fuzziness of the old and exposes the intensely scary picture behind. Superb! The emotions that ran through my brain while I was listening to the current version of the Jack the Ripper is how I would have felt with my finger on the "button" at the heat of the final battle.

Good luck.

spleenache | 5/5 |


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