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Daal - Daedalus CD (album) cover




Eclectic Prog

4.15 | 106 ratings

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5 stars Unabashedly and unashamedly a huge fan of symphonic group DAAL, since its birth back in 2008 in the beautiful town of Bergamo (Citta Alta, wow!), I get goose bumps whenever my friend and master drummer Davide Guidoni (the DA in DAAL) sends me some new material to review. If one looks at the ratings on PA for the DAAL studio albums, the results should be quite convincing! Their style of symphonic and cinematographic prog has a quality edge that never seems to become dull, with massive dollops of luxuriant mellotron splashes spread throughout the lavish arrangements. Keyboardist Alfio Costa (the AL in DAAL) utilizes an arsenal of mostly vintage old-school ivories to elevate the proceedings to the loftiest heights. Both are fabulous musicians as well as clever composers. Their allies are the usual crew, Ettore Salati on guitars, Bobo Aiolfi on bass guitar and they also shine, being very familiar companions since pretty much the very beginning. Their seventh album is called "Daedalus", based on the famous Greek legend of Icarus and Daedalus, though this is not a concept album by any stretch. The striking purple cover artwork bodes well for the musical adventure to begin.

These are seasoned pros, extremely confident in taking their time in elaborating a classy work of the highest order, so it comes as no surprise that the opus is bookended by the "Journey Through the Spiral Mind Parts 1 and 2", nearly 22 minutes in scope, with a 14-minute opener and an 8-minute closer. Sweeping atmospherics and shimmering cymbals introduce Alfio's unadorned piano motif, soon to be united with a similar crisp guitar line, a fretless bass loop and a deliberate expansion into mysterious realms, alternating the initial serene simplicity with rising crescendos of power streaks, an upward vortex of sound that is breathtaking. A spooky organ chills the atmosphere even further, while a forlorn piano warms the melody, ushering in a steady beat, only to be slain by a totally unexpected wall of glorious mellotron thunder that is triumphantly compelling. The finale is a return to the tranquil start. Magnificence incarnate.

The boisterous "Icarus Dream" explodes right from the get-go, a rifferama piece full of piss and vinegar, totally unanticipated, featuring a nice middle section where Davide gets to do his classic Bruford wallop, while Bobo plows forward, Ettore and Alfio supplying all the power one can hope for in this moody slice of classic prog. The mellotron is a huge part of the DAAL sound as many others have commented on, and there is no shrinkage here! In fact, possibly mellotron heaven as the great white beast just keeps on giving. This is nearly King Crimson territory and a killer track. Grandeur personified.

At first, the slightly dissonant, dreamy and melancholic "Painting Wings" invokes a slew of soothing keyboard and guitar motifs before the bruising Hammond organ shoves all the prettiness aside with a coarse blast, drums ablaze and no holds barred. The boys keep the listener on their toes as nothing here is predictable, where constant evolution, endless surprise and imaginative eloquence rule the roost. Of course, the finale ends in calmer pastures, almost experimental yet atmospheric. Power embodied.

Another epic 13-minute juggernaut "Labyrinth" carves out darker and more somber terrain, where gruesome organ and shuddering synths that almost hint at Hawkwind provide the angst, offering up a plodding muffled rhythm for a fair stretch before blooming into another unforeseen twist as the wicked drums come barging in as if in a frenzy, bopping bass leading the way, scouring the skies with mellotron squalls, liquid strips of flash and fury. This is exhilarating music, challenging yet comfortable, expertly played and delivered. Splendor exemplified.

Can this possibly continue on such a high note? Si is the answer. "In My Time of Shadow" may even be my favorite here, a gorgeous melody dripping with sadness and melancholia, elegantly draped with flickering guitar, soaring keyboards with robust bass and drum support. Ettore gets to show off some glimmering licks on his electric guitar, such a great musician in his own right. Once again, the band display high levels of creativity and sound exploration even though this is a simple arrangement. DAAL loves to blend these two elements into their craft, attention to detail is a great quality to have. Beauty in the flesh.

And yes, its time to close the book on this hour-long masterpiece and what a damn whack Part 2 is! Hot, hot, hot! No fiddling around here, the volcanic mellotron onslaught is positively fuming here, bold and overbearing, proud and loud. Davide pounds away like a madman on his kit (well, he is a little pazzo), much to our collective delight. Majesty epitomized.

Any fan of instrumental modern prog should have the honour and privilege to listen to how it's done by true masters of the genre, particularly fans of Goblin, King Crimson and symph prog in general. Just remember not to fly too close to the sun.

5 Waxed wings

tszirmay | 5/5 |


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