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Phoenix Again - ThreeFour CD (album) cover

THREEFOUR

Phoenix Again

 

Neo-Prog

3.66 | 14 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
4 stars 'ThreeFour' - Phoenix Again (7/10)

Drawing a parallel with the UK proggers in BunChakeze, Phoenix Again are a remnant of the eighties that have only recently divulged their art to the world. Originally called Phoenix, they formed in '81 and met some anticipation by those aware of their music. Though some of Phoenix's music found its way into the studio, they could not find a way to release it. By the late nineties, Phoenix had all but split, and it was conceivable that their music would never find the ears of proggers at large. Following the tragic death of guitarist Claudio Lorandi however, Phoenix (now styled as Phoenix Again) opted to release their music at long last. With that in mind, "ThreeFour" is a compilation of sorts, consisting of tracks all recorded over a decade past. It's understandable then that it contends with a weak sense of flow, and though Phoenix Again plays a familiar neo-prog style, this music deserved to be released.

Filled with melodic lead guitar and bright synths, Phoenix Again feels very much a product of the 'transition' era of prog, lodged between the vintage nostalgia of the seventies and a yearning to expand outward. Though the late guitarist Claudio Lorandi is cited as doing the 'voices' for Phoenix Again, this album is almost purely instrumental, save for a short interlude at the end of "I bambini nascono per vivere felici" where a children's choir ambles on to give the prog a breather. Musically speaking, Phoenix Again sticks to composition- oriented, melodic rock. Though there are no pesky lyrics to write verses around, "ThreeFour" is dominated by structure-based tunes, often relying upon Claudio's tasteful leads to guide the band. Synthesizers are also used in a similar context, although "ThreeFour" is certainly a guitarist's haven. The other instruments here fill a secondary role, although every musician is worthy of respect. Lorandi brothers Sergio and Antonio get a driving pulse across with their rhythm and bass work. Silvano Silva does not take the artistic license to madness I am used to hearing from instrumental prog drummers, instead going for an upbeat energy that directly compliments what's going on at the forefront. Overall, Phoenix Again perform with skill and taste.

The compositions are quite diverse, and as a result, "ThreeFour" often reminds itself that it is a compilation of tracks, thanks to a fairly hodge-podge sense of flow. Fortunately, the quality of music and production is generally consistent, although the two 'epic' tracks "I bambini nascono per vivere felici" and "Aquarius Time" both stand out as particular highlights, giving the time necessary for the Phoenix to spread its wings and explore some ways beyond the confines of their compositions. The brief "What Can I Do?" is also a gem; a two minute escape into a dream world I would sooner expect out of post-rock. "Cianuro Puro" is another surprise, moving away from the album's general pleasantry in exchange for a somewhat creepy dive into gothic-symphonic rock.

Though I imagine that this hour of music is not nearly enough to grasp what Phoenix must have done in their careers together, "ThreeFour" is a very good record. Their often 'soaring' brand of instrumental rock occasionally sounds a little tame for its own good, but Phoenix Again throws a handful of more adventurous moments our way as well. Although- to my knowledge- Phoenix will not be rising once again, it is cool to finally get to hear their music, in spite of the tragedy that provoked its release.

Conor Fynes | 4/5 |

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