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Deus Ex Machina - Cinque CD (album) cover


Deus Ex Machina

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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The Owl
5 stars Brilliant! A wonderful melding of Mahavishnu Orchestra, Area and biting satire/philosophising, all sung in Latin. And how often is it a band writes a song about the Sun asking the Earth how it's enjoying life since the humans all left? ("Olim Sol Rogavit Terram I")
Report this review (#11866)
Posted Tuesday, November 25, 2003 | Review Permalink
Founding Moderator
5 stars Deus ex Machina continues to be perhaps the most underappreciated prog-rock band in the world, as well as continuing to surprise their audience with ever-progressing prog-rock sensibitilies. With Cinque, they have hit an amazing balance between their obvious influences (Mahavishnu Orchestra, ELP, U.K. et al) and their own admittedly (and happily) strange brand of prog-rock. It almost doesn't matter that the lyrics are printed and sung (and sometimes screamed) in Latin by oddball bandleader Piras: his (and his bandmates') ability to seamlessly blend those lyrics with truly "orchestral" prog-rock is eminently enjoyable, as well as often quite exciting. This is an album you can listen to multiple times and never get bored of it.
Report this review (#11867)
Posted Tuesday, January 6, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars I heard this live in Barcelona, and I must say these guys play the best live music I´ve ever heard. Absolutely mind blowing, full of risk, with a level of interplay out of this world. The drummer, Claudio Trotta gave us a rush of perfect and risky drumming, in the line of Capiozzo-Chirico-Bruford, and Alberto Piras, the singer, sang even better than in the record. The rest of the musicians are absolutely top-notch. Deus ex Machina are the true Area of XXI century, in the best tradition of italian jazz-free-prog-rock, I mean, experimental music in a wide-open plan, without any constraint, more than any other italian band. I won´t talk more about genres, but this is undoubtedly a step further in music.
Report this review (#11868)
Posted Friday, February 27, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars It is the year 2034!!..And you are reading this review in the Prog Archives web site...

"Amazing band from the turn of the Century that has influence several bands over the past years! Which after several good albums, with mainly Italy/European distribution, they decided to go global into the US market, releasing this Gem of Progressive Rock material. Without a doubt their MASTERPIECE, in the vein of Area (another Italian Band, this one much older..70', which my Dad was and still crazy about) and with a complexity of the old British pros like GG, or even KC! Most likely one of the best, if not the ONE release, in 2002!!. Amazing vocals in Latin by Alberto Piras with stunning interplays of Instrumentation. There is something here for everybody.... Six superb musicians on this band with Bass, Drums, Guitar, Keys and Violin; Eclectic use of guitar and aggressive rhythm sections makes this album a real treat for any PROGRESSIVE music lover"....Faaar ouuut, my friends!!!

My point is...Do not, and I repeat..DO NOT miss the chance to grab a copy of this one!! This IMHO is going to be one of those Classics in the future, which bands will be measure against.

Just Brilliant!.5 solid stars!!!

Report this review (#11870)
Posted Thursday, May 6, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars It just doesn't get better than this. Hard to believe that an album this addictive and seductive can appear in 2002. It hints at the sounds of many bands (Area, Banco, Gentle Giant, Deep Purple, Return to Forever), while retaining enough originality to not be derivative. All the players are stunning virtuosos, except the bass player who, though competent enough, seems to just be along for the ride. The vocalist is a monster, and seems to combine the operatic values of Banco's singer with the gymnastics of Area's late lamented Stratos. The guitarist and keyboard player are up there with the best of them. Cinque really took me by surprise. This is a solid 5-star in any company, there are no two ways about it.
Report this review (#11871)
Posted Tuesday, July 13, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars I'm not sure why (at the time of this writing) the band is listed as "Italian Symphonic prog". Italian they certainly are (even if the singing is in Latin), but the music on "Cinque" is a near perfect example of jazz fushion. The album is full of infinitely fascinating jazz harmonies with plenty of dissonance, and the overall sound is quite raw, with emphasis placed largely on guitars (in both acoustic and electric modes); while the keyboards figure prominently, they are rarely used to create a "symphonic" atmosphere. In terms of influences, the bands that immediately come to mind are Mahavishnu Orchestra and Deus Ex Machina's countrymen Area. Reflections of the former arise throughout Cinque both sound- and composition-wise, while the latter comes to mind due to the fact that the powerful, operatically inclined vocals of Alberto Piras frequently resemble those of Area's Demetrio Stratos . But those of you who treasure originality need not worry, for DEM's music is unique and highly creative in it's own right. The intricate interplay heard on "Cinque" also deserves a special mention, as each member possesses impressive skills on their respective instruments that allow the band to masterfully intervine guitar with strong violin melodies and interesting keyboards, aided by adventurous bass guitar and drum work and Piras' powerful vocals.

I have no trouble choosing my favourite track from 'Cinque' : that's undoubtedly the opening track, 'Convolutos'. The focal point here is the outstanding chorus melody, but the song has tons more to offer, as repeated listens uncover loads of absolutely exquisite harmonies (the intro, in particular, is marvelous). Now, I usually find it rather disheartening when the opening track turns out to be the best cut on an album, but in the case of Cinque, there is plenty of other material to get excited about. Among the other highlights is certainly 'il Pensiero.', which alternates between frantic fusion freakouts, dissonant (yet very catchy) riffing and skillful keyboard soloing. 'De Ordinis Ratione (Nuovo)' is another solid cut, with similar dissonant riffs and plenty of weird synth solos (the keyboardist specializes in strange sounds). The remaining tracks are all very impressive but slightly less striking and a bit samey-sounding, although each one of them has something in store for the listener. 'Rhinoceros' features a cruchy guitar riff, along with a very eccentric performance by Piras. 'Uomo del Futuro Passato' unveils more of the intriguing jazz moves, while the acoustic instrumental 'Luce' highlights the fine interplay between Maurino Collina's guitar workand violinist Alessandro Bonetti. 'Olim Sol Rogavit Terram I' , another track based around acoustic guitar, sounds rather boring to my ears until Collina plucks away through a sweet solo. And finally, we have '. Terram II' : unfortunately, the 20-minute length is somewhat misleading, as the composition itself takes up only the first half of the track, consisting almost entirely of Bonetti's violin work (with interesting chromatically descending motifs scattered throughout) and vocals by Piras; the remainder of the track appears to be merely a collection of snippets from the band's studio hours - it's mildly interesting but doesn't really justify the amount of time it takes.

So, despite having praised the band so much, I'm afraid I can't award this album a "masterpiece" rating, as it gets a bit dull in places (especially next to the standout moments). However, the amount of well-composed and crisply executed material is nonetheless staggering, and 'Cinque' easily deserves a place next to the classics of jazz fusion (and prog rock in general).

Report this review (#69838)
Posted Saturday, February 18, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars What a dissapointment. There is a big hype around this band and this record. I don't get it. This is more jazz than porog and as jazz not very inspirating. Good playing technically yes but the melodies are dull. I would not say that this is totally bad album, no. But as prog it is very much non-essential and I would suggest it vto fans and collectors only. 2˝ stars which here this time means 2.

The "hidden" end is actually good. It is the most interesting part of the record :-)

Report this review (#84744)
Posted Tuesday, July 25, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A recent thread discussed the obsession with "band X sounds like band Y" and since then I've been trying to think who Deus Ex Machina sound like. Think of a heavier Gentle Giant mixed with jazz-fusion and Echolyn, with Italian and Latin vocals and you being to approach the sound of this band.They are all masters of their art, from the strong, operatic vocals of Alberto Piras to the tight drumming of Claudio Trotta and the instrumental work on this album is excellent throughout. The production is clear and well- balanced, which brings out the power of this band.

The first song "Convolutus" (Wound) gets us off to a relatively low-key start, then things start to pick up with a hint of funk in "Rhinoceros", featuring some nice keyboards from Fabrizio Puglisi. "Uomo Del Futuro Passato" (The Man of the Past Future) is possibly the best track, finishing as it does with a wonderful jazzy electronic piano solo, under which the rhythm section subtly picks up the beat and heads us off towards the climax.

"One Day The Sun Asked the Earth" takes things down a bit, consisting of just vocals and acoustic guitar. "Luce" is another gentler track, this time instrumental, with acoustic and bass guitars and violin. The final track starts off with violin and vocals, then there is a gap before we get to the "hidden track" - snippets of rehearsal music and studio chatter.

Those of you who have dismissed jazz- fusion as people noodling around on trumpets should hear this album and marvel at the instrumental work, which is as perfect a blend of rock and jazz as anyone could wish for. It's always varying and interesting and is underpinned by one of the best rhythm sections around.

As I mentioned the lyrics are in either Italian or Latin but the sleeve helpfully translates the Latin tracks into Italian and the Italian lyrics are also translated into English . One of the best albums I've heard since discovering PA and a good entrance to the world of jazz-fusion. It's one of those albums you can listen to many times and still find something new to enjoy in it. Highly recommended.

Report this review (#113915)
Posted Thursday, March 1, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars One of the prog masterpieces of the new millenium so far, CINQUE is prog with a capital P. It pays respect stylistically to famous 70s bands, such as Mahavishnu, Crimson, even ELP, without ever copying any of them. One of the most striking features here are the operatic vocals of Alberto Piras. They are an aquired taste (like with so many prog vocalists), but technically excellent and delivering so much emotion. For skeptics, listen to the vocal performance on Rhinoceros from the 5:00 mark. The lyrics are not really accessable for the average listener, as most of the album is sung in latin. But this language is very pleasing to the ears, perhaps even more so than Italian. The rest of the band plays excellently as well; guitarist is not very technical but he has a unique style, great rhythm chops, and uses his wah pedal in a rather complimentary way (I find many guitarists abuse this tool). The drummer has a very busy and jazzy style, one that manages to driving the music forward without interfering with it. And what can be said about the keyboard player? His first choice seems to be hammond, not rhodes as would be expected in a fusion oriented band. There is some great moog work too. Bass is fine, but it mostly just copies the guitar/keyboard riffs. All the compositions are excellent and the album as a whole is diverse. I think as Hybris was seen as the best album of the early 90's, this one should be seen as the best of 00's, at least so far I haven't encountered a better one.
Report this review (#126974)
Posted Thursday, June 28, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Yeah! Fifth Deus Ex Machina studio album just confirm how great and innovative is this italian band!

As the previous DeM albums, this one is full of complex rhythms, surprising solos, solid arrangements and of course, the powerful voice od Alberto Piras. All these elements build a consistent album, fulll of extraordinary jazz-rock fusion or dark proggy sections. I agree with Prognut review: Dem "is going to be one of those classics in the future".

Many highlights on this album and many memorable moments to play again and again, starting with the almost folk/fusion intro of Convolutus a song which suddenly turns into a "classic" DeM song, full of complexities and surprising changes. Rhinoceros starts with a dark keyboard section that turns into a syncopated rhythmical background leaded by Piras vocals and several guitar and keyboard solos. Uomo del Futuro Passato is another great song marked with the classic DeM style and some nice jazzy sections a la Mahavishnu. The beautiful acoustic Olim Sol Rogavit Terram I is a powerful and solid piece of music... At last, the great violin solo of Luce sometimes simple sometimes so complex but always beautiful and softly dark...

No doubt, another great album of DeM. Don't miss the chance to hear it or buy it, you wouldn't be dissapointed. A particular and awsoem prog style that you will love immdiatly!


Report this review (#147493)
Posted Saturday, October 27, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Deus Ex Machina is an incredible band. High tempo outstanding interplaying between guitar and organ, great bass and fab drumming, nice violin additions and the pirotechnical singing. A really outstanding combo. Very bizzarre sounding, a must of a band. That said I would like them to spend longer time with the writing of the albums. Half of the stuff is gorgeous, the other half just filling. This is the main reason I give this album 4 stars instead of 5. The other one is because the sound and production is moving to the american side. Not a good move imo. Cinque is good but weaker than the two precedent studio efforts. I am a bit doubtful about their comitment and future. I hope the best is yet to come.
Report this review (#147895)
Posted Monday, October 29, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Deus ex Machina, after four albums, had finally generated enough buzz to get picked up by Cuneiform Records who would distribute their work worldwide. Their fifth album, aptly titled Cinque, was clearly going to be the group's most important release to date. Fortunately, the album was and continues to be a success. They increased their fanbase and received a bunch of positive reviews. It's clear why. The six members of Deus ex Machina are all fantastic, quirky musicians who play hard without giving the listener the feeling that they are showing off (for some reason, prog fans these days have a problem with self-indulgence). Their compositions are complex (although not as much as they were on the preceding album), though, and it definitely takes a few listens to get a good grasp of everything. Also, and this is my only complaint about this album/band, there are no strong melodies anywhere. Vocalist Alberto Piras has a five-octave vocal range, but it seems that he hasn't figured out how to use all of it to great effect. The vocal lines are able to show off his range without the feeling that they're only written to show them off, but they don't have any effect whatsoever. The listener will easily make a connection between Piras and Area vocalist Demitrio Stratos, but while Stratos' vocal lines were either bold and insane or straight-up melodic (both used to great effect), Piras tries to blend both and the result is rather difficult both to enjoy and to remember. Fans of the avant-garde will have little trouble accepting or even enjoying these vocals, and they are more than likely who Piras is catering to anyway.

For me, the band is actually most stunning in the acoustic format. The songs "Olim Sol Rogavit Terram I" and "Luce" involve a lot of intricately woven acoustic guitars & violin and they are the most passionate pieces on the disc. However, the rockin' jam toward the end of "Uomo Del Futuro Passato" is also really strong in this regard. Consequently, these songs are the highlights for me.

Adventurous, challenge-oriented music fans will get a kick out of this disc. Jazz-Fusion fans will at the very least dig the instrumental passages. Everyone else may have a more difficult time with it, but I would recommend sampling at least the three aforementioned tracks.

Report this review (#150752)
Posted Wednesday, November 14, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars This is a frustrating album for me to listen to and to review.... It contains a few sections that I enjoy quite a bit.....It jumps from pretty kool jazzy music to loud almost metal..... But it also contains long sections of whining vocals in a language that I don't understand without any significant musical accompaniment.....I own and love albums with vocals in many it's not just that it is foreign that bothers's more the whining tone.....if there is an instrumental album by this band I might be tempted to acquire it.....but I cannot listen to large portions of this without cringing.
Report this review (#169949)
Posted Monday, May 5, 2008 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars This is quite the display of jazzy, complex, avant-garde music. Factor in the classically trained vocalist (Alberto Piras) who recalls the great Demetrio Stratos from AREA and we've got something very special here. I had this playing in my store today and a customer who was waiting for me to finish with someone else said "That has to be CAPTAIN BEEFHEART or ZAPPA ?" I told him it was DEUS EX MACHINA, but he had never heard of them, but he left impressed with what he heard.

The first track "Convolutos" actually reminds me a lot of ECHOLYN.This song is different from the rest. It's very laid back to start with. Violin and a fuller sound a minute in. Vocals 2 minutes in. Violin comes and goes. Check out the guitar after 4 1/2 minutes ! The drumming is killer as well. The vocals are so impressive. "Rhinoceros" features this repetitive beat. Guitar after a minute joins in. Vocals before 4 minutes. They become theatrical before 5 1/2 minutes as the guitar comes in aggressively. The organ work a minute later is outstanding. Awesome sound ! The guitar is on fire to end it. "Uomo Del Futuro Passato" opens with some raw sounding guitar. The tempo picks up as those incredible vocals join in. Organ,guitar and vocals seem to fight for the spotlight. Great sound 3 1/2 minutes in. It calms down before 5 minutes as we get a Canterbury flavour with keys and light drums. This amazing section continues until before 8 minutes when the guitar comes in abrasively to end it.

"Olim Sol Rogavit Terrami" is an interesting song because it's basically vocals and acoustic guitar but both change constantly throughout. Good tune. "Il Pensiero Che Porta Alle Cose Importanti" features wildly changing tempos until a steady rhythm arrives 1 1/2 minutes in with vocals. The organ is excellent but the vocals steal the show. A change 3 1/2 minutes in as the tempo picks up. Great sound. The guitar a minute later is anything but tasteful. Haha. "Luce" features intricate acoustic guitar and violin melodies throughout. They make it very interesting though. The mood changes often. "De Ordinis Ratione" opens with 1 1/2 minutes of amazing instrumental music. Vocals then come in. Guitar arrives before 3 1/2 minutes and promptly puts on a show. I like the way it ends with Alberto repeating this vocal line over and over. "Olim Sol Rogavit Terram II" features a string quartet. Vocals after 1 1/2 minutes. This one is kind of dark.

Highly recommended to all you adventerous Prog heads out there. This one won't disappoint.

Report this review (#180665)
Posted Sunday, August 24, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Deus Ex Machina were formed in Bologna in 1985 and have released six studio albums so far. "Cinque", their fifth one, was released in 2002, after three years of hard work, on the American independent label Cuneiform and it is usually considered their best album. The line up features Alberto Piras (vocals), Fabrizio Puglisi (keyboards), Maurino Collina (guitar), Claudio Trotta (drums), Alessandro Porreca (bass) and Alessandro Bonetti (violin) plus some guests musicians. Along their career the members of the band have matured a good live experience and improved their compositional skills blending challenging avant- garde passages with rock and jazz. Acoustic parts and electric ones are always well balanced and the result is a very peculiar and original sound halfway between Area and PFM. One of the characteristics of the band is the use of vocal parts in Latin. According to the band, "the use of Latin lyrics originate from the need to reconcile the melodious nature of Italian (which is difficult to transpose into rock), and the immediacy and fluency of English". Anyway, if you don't understand Latin don't worry, in the booklet you'll find the translation of the lyrics in Italian and English.

The opener "Convolutus" (Wound) starts softly with an acoustic guitar arpeggio, then violin and other instruments come in setting a neurotic and agoraphobic mood. Sometimes relations with other people and events of real life are difficult to deal with and you look for a safer exclusive inner world as a shelter... "Wound around my thought, this world meets my need for joy and simplicity / I won't waste another drop of myself out there / This world takes away my inability to love and respect myself...".

"Rhinoceros" (The rhinoceros) is about freedom of expression. The atmosphere is dark and surreal while music helps you to imagine a rhinoceros in a library ready to charge... "There's a rhinoceros looking at a pile of books, you can't imagine how many, you can't imagine which ones, you can't take one without making them all fall... Whatever thought is contained in them, the earth will always receive it".

"Uomo del futuro passato" (The man of the past future) is sung in Italian. It's a long and complex piece about the incapability to enjoy what we have because of the desire to have something more that we can't obtain, even in love and relationships. Music features frenetic parts and calmer ones and it perfectly fits the lyrics... "I run from you and you're the street under my feet / And I run faster and faster / Before me there's what I never had / Behind my there's what I've lost / In the middle is you, whom today I desired and tomorrow I'll miss...".

"Olim sol rogavit terram I" (One day the Sun asked the Earth) is a beautiful acoustic track featuring only acoustic guitars, violin and vocals. Lyrics deal with ecological issues and depict an imaginary dialogue between the Sun and the Earth about new horizons in an upcoming future... "One day the sun asked the Earth:- How's going? / - Better now, the cities have disappeared under thick vegetation which turned them into root drainage, nothing remains of machines and technology but a word lost in space after a radio broadcast from who knows how long ago... Life has new vigour, in fact, it's going better now".

"Il pensiero che porta alle cose importanti" (The thought that leads to the important things) is another track sung in Italian. Music leads you through winding alleys and dark paths inside your brain... "The thought that leads to important things is oblique / The brain hides the way with easy, close lights, excellent remedies for a tired soul...".

"Luce" (Light) is a good instrumental where acoustic guitars and violin are absolute protagonists. It's full of stop and go and music every now and again reminds me of the walk of a "Pink Panther".

"De ordinis ratione" (The theory of order) is a dynamic and well crafted piece about the need for order and its dangerous consequences... "We order things for fear of not recognizing ourselves / We classify for fear of being different / We destroy, simplifying multiplicity to the essential / That is the only way for the world to take the forms of our ideas / Ideas born from eyes that don't know how to see, that catch only distorted reflections of a simple denied complexity".

Last track "Olim sol rogavit terram II" has a strong classical feeling. This time the background for the dialogue between the Sun and the Earth features a string quartet and a very peculiar and nocturnal arrangement. At the end of this piece, after a pause, you can listen to a "ghost track" featuring some sound-checks and the voices of the musicians during the recording sessions. It's not a song but it can give you an idea of the hard work behind this excellent album...

Report this review (#301001)
Posted Thursday, September 30, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars The relative popularity of this fifth studio album by the deluxe Fusion sextet of Deus Ex Machina (currently boasting the highest score in their discography here at Prog Archives, and with twice the number of reviews as the runner up) is really just a consequence of its wider exposure. The album marks their first (and so far only) effort to be distributed in the United States, by the good folks at Cuneiform Records, bless their hearts.

And yet the music itself is hardly more accessible. If anything it's the band's most difficult and challenging album to date, with an even higher proportion of the edgy, angular (and some might say irritating) eclecticism that marks their style. The song "Convolutus" is an attractive curtain raiser, with a catchier than usual melody and chorus. But after that the weirdness only escalates, in the avant-rock "Rhinoceros": all clashing solos in unfamiliar tunings, and with the bel canto tenor shrieking of Alberto Piras in peak form.

His unique vocal styling can have the same memorable effect as fingernails on a chalkboard, alleviated somewhat by the novelty of singing in Latin. The choice of language supposedly made the songwriting smoother. But I would challenge listeners to follow along with the enclosed lyrics to see exactly how each verse was twisted and bent to accommodate the music (English translations are included, and unlike most lyrics are worth reading for their own sake).

In retrospect the album is hardly the best I've heard from this band, but even at its most abstruse it's never less than fascinating. Some highlights worth mentioning: the constipated funk of "Il Pensiero che Porta Alle Cose Importanti" (yes, some of the tunes are in actual Italian); the uneasy instrumental calm of "Luce" (an - almost - unplugged guitar and violin duet, beautifully rendered); and the two-part, eco-friendly "Olim Sol Rogavit Terram", which exemplifies the band's shift away from traditional forms of Jazz Rock Fusion toward something more aligned with 20th century classical avant-garde. (Never mind the long, 'hidden' bonus track, by the way: a bootleg quality, barely audible verité-style rehearsal, caught on an open studio microphone and brutally spliced together.)

Compared to the uninhibited mania of earlier Deus Ex Machina albums the energy level is notably muted here. A sign of maturity, perhaps, but punches were definitely (and deliberately) pulled in the recording process.

Report this review (#587228)
Posted Monday, December 12, 2011 | Review Permalink

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