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Conqueror - Madame Zelle CD (album) cover

MADAME ZELLE

Conqueror

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.36 | 34 ratings

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tszirmay
Special Collaborator
Crossover Team
3 stars I really enjoyed Conqueror's previous album "74 Giorni", a masterfully melodic and adventurous concept album based on seamen lost on the ocean that had all the cylinders revving. Astute melodies expressed by scintillating playing, a fabulous aquatic mood and a operatic female vocalist , all melded together in that wonderfully unique Italian prog style we all know as RPI . I was eagerly awaiting this one, as it was another concept, this time based on that foremost great spy (No, not Bond) , the legendary Mata Hari, also know as Margaretha Geertruida Zelle, hence the title. I must say the initial spin through was not very inspiring, as it happens actually quite often in prog, you got to be in the right receptive frame of mind. It's a chemistry thing? So, try again, she said, in a hefty seductive whisper? Amazing how a second attempt can shake the cobwebs of immediate judgment! The opening epic wastes no time in setting the stage, a nearly 15 minute ride led impetuously by vocalist Simona Rigano's sizzling synthesizer soloing, sister Sabrina supplying the delicate flute and later saxophones , newcomers guitarist Mario Pollino and bassist Gianluca Villa who both replaced the very solid Tino Nastasi adding their own touches while drummer Natale Russo bangs nicely. This is a very tasty opener, full of pleasant meanderings. I will interject here and boldly state that I miss Nastasi's dripping guitar style as well as his superlative Rickenbaker bass playing , both very noteworthy. "Indonesia" has a breezy melody that is to die for, fluttering sitar-like strums vying with the percussives for status, Pollino flashing some nice leads, very restrained and subtle , the flute entering the fray to add depth and a certain sultriness to the saga. There are some less successful tracks here such as "Occhio dell'Alba" a jazzier, groovier and yet somehow disheveled, as if something was missing, unsaved by the fine synth solo or the pleasant sax or "Fascino Proibito", a bluesier (Hammond M-102 with Leslie will do that for you) rant that features an extended jazzy sax solo that contrasts with the earlier harder edges. These contrasts continue less successfully on "Eleganza Perfetta" and yet "H21" is pretty interesting with assorted stops and starts, great flute and fabulous singing help this groove along. The Hammond organ solo is followed by a spiraling synthesizer job, really cool. "Da Sola" has a little dose of raunchy but stays on course. There is little doubt that the closer, "Ad Occhi Alti" is the other winner here, some finesse jazzy singing, pounding organ and a crunchy guitar solo to highlight the impending execution of the seductive spy. Expressive and dramatic to say the least. Beautiful artwork, packaging and photography as mentioned by our Minnesota Finn.

Not as successful as the previous album but there is a lot of talent here. I still prefer the moody previous opus . I guess I haven't been conquered totally this time. 3.5 Firing squads

tszirmay | 3/5 |

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