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Phoenix Again - ThreeFour CD (album) cover


Phoenix Again



3.83 | 56 ratings

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4 stars Phoenix Again are a lost 1980's Italian progressive band who never got around around to releasing an LP in their heyday, but have since compiled all their music onto this one album `ThreeFour'. I tend to think that the music was written at that time, but properly recorded in our modern era for this album. This will likely be their only release, due to the death of their beloved guitar player and founding member Claudio Lorandi. Therefore, this album is probably considered as a one-off tribute to the man, and the band couldn't have put out a more deserving memento. It's a wonderfully varied and lush instrumental progressive album filled with tasteful and tuneful arrangements that frequently highlight what a talent their guitarist was, in addition to the skills of the rest of the band.

I find it strange that this band has been listed as a neo-prog band, which is far too limiting a description! When you listen to the album for the first time, several of the tracks have far more in common with the symphonic and romantic prog artists such as Rousseau, Camel, Terpandre and even the more recent Sanhedrin. In other words, lovely melodic instrumental prog rock. `ThreeFour' does eventually come across as a positive and bright neo-prog album like the Jadis debut `More than Meets The Eye' and the self-titled Index album, too.

All the tracks are loaded with soaring electric guitar solos, warm acoustic playing, bravura bass playing, varied drumming and waves of lush keyboard sounds. Despite the band being comprised of the three Lorandi brothers, with Silvano Silva on drums and percussion, the CD booklet doesn't seem to credit who plays the keyboards! The synths all over the album are mostly used to subtly colour the backgrounds of the music, with only occasional flashy solos.

In an album filled with all quality material, there's a few real highlights that truly stand out. The first track `Agli Amici Scomparsi' sets the standard for the rest of the album. Warm acoustic guitar playing, a lovely evocative violin melody and gentle flute makes the track something that wouldn't sound out of place on Camel's much-loved `Snow Goose'. It's soon joined by evocative mellotron and joyful rising electric guitar action before a stomping finale.

The majestic `Lindberg' has a grand and regal melodic electric guitar line, along with killer solos and Hackett like acoustic moments. This sounds like a classic early 70's Genesis instrumental without being a total imitation, and there's a beautiful uplifting quality to the piece.

`Quiete'' flies through a number of different styles and ideas within it's near 8 minutes. Like a heavenly crossing of early Pendragon and Camel in the beginning, before dancing back and forth between snappy 80's Yes-like guitar runs and upbeat Wakeman synth attacks, chugging bass playing and pounding drums. The guitar solo at the ends partly reminds me of the final track on Ange's `Au-Dela Du Delire'!

The 9 minute `Aquarius Time' has a harsh electronic introduction before an extended fluid and tasteful electric guitar solo from Claudio that snakes it's way along the track, through washes of Mellotron and dramatic drumming. Would probably be hailed as a classic track if it was from an IQ album!

The rest of the album offers plenty of interesting music. There's twisted metallic funk on `Cianuro Puro', the Split Enz-like quirky reggae of `I Bambini'.', the dirty jazzy grooves of `Autumn', medieval acoustic folk ballads like `What Can I do?', harder scorching riffs on `Eppur Si Muore' (but with a sumptuous acoustic solo in the finale), bouncy synth and guitar interplay in the appropriately titled `Spring' and haunting shimmering ballads in `The Phoenix Flies Again'.

Despite that this release is something of a `compilation' of all their material, with a wildly varying display of styles and genres throughout, the album never sounds too disjointed or uneven. Certainly the sound quality is always consistently full and clear, and doesn't come across as fragments taken from years of recordings. But there's so much great material on offer here that likely many listeners will find plenty to appreciate, making it a perfect prog album to gently unwind to.

`Threefour' is played with great love and energy, and there really couldn't be a finer way to commemorate not only the late Claudio Lorandi's talent, but the skills of the entire band. It's now here for us all to enjoy, no longer confined to a lost chapter in the progressive rock genre.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 4/5 |


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