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Alex Carpani Band - Waterline CD (album) cover

WATERLINE

Alex Carpani Band

Symphonic Prog


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Ivan_Melgar_M
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Prog Specialist
4 stars Yesterday's afternoon I received a demo copy of "Waterline" by ALEX CARPANI BAND and can't be more satisfied, being an Italian Symphonic fan, there's no way this excellent album couldn't please me, it's simply a breeze of fresh air in the 21st Century.

The surprise was bigger when I found that the legendary Aldo Tagliapietra from LE ORME was the lead vocals, but at the same time I had the fear that the album would be a futile display of nostalgia and an attempt to recreate what other bands did in the 70's; luckily I was wrong, even when the references to Italian Symphonic, GENESIS and even ELP are present, the sound is extremely original and with a modern approach I could hardly expect.

Of course there are Mellotron sections a la Banks and organ passages that remind of Keith Emerson, but it's only that, an echo from the past, respectful enough to keep the attention of Classic Progheads but modern enough to sound new and original.

The concept of the album is simple, the thin line of water that divides the emerged world and the submerged, a dual concept that Aldo Tagliapietra must have loved being that reminds a bit of the duality between Felona and Sorona.

The composition and arrangements by Alex Carpani are simply perfect, it's evident we're before a musician who has very much to offer, every song, section and piece of the album links perfectly with the rest, which makes hard to believe it was written in three weeks.

The album opens with "The Siren and the Mariner", which starts with a medieval intro played by keyboards and drum which lead to a more aggressive section in which the song starts to develop into radical changes and musical explosions, but always keeping the peaceful atmosphere which is enhanced by Tagliapietra and Beatrice Casagrande's vocals. The track ends with a vibrant section in which the listener can enjoy almost everything Prog can offer, from aggressive guitars to soft keys.

"The Levees' Break, starts deep and dramatic with a GENESIS inspired keyboard section, the use of mellotron voices and guitar in Hackett's style make this reminiscence more evident, but from the start you can notice they are not copying anybody, the mood is more pastoral with that Italian touch so unique that we learned to love. Now the changes are soft and go step by step, when an instrument enters, the others take the supporting role, excellent work.

"In the Rocks" returns to the roots of Italian Symphonic but without loosing the mystery that describes the duality between two worlds, Tagliapietra's voice blends perfectly with the music as if everything was played by one and only ultra versatile instrument, this track flows gently from start to end.

"Reclaimed" piano intro is absolutely surprising, seems like we are going to be in front of a frantic track, but the GENESIS like atmospheres take the lead role to make the effect smooth. A distorted guitar takes the lead covered by a very accurate drumming and rhythmic bass section, but again a dramatic change takes us to unknown and unexpected territory, Alex Carpani simply gets mad with his keyboards, hitting us with all he has, the only word I can say is outstanding.

"Agua Claro" again begins with a piano intro that leads to a jazzy section in which flute and keyboard mix into a Baroque atmosphere that suddenly changes into an aggressive section with clear ELP references, the use of different keyboards is very tasteful, another high point.

"Starcurrents" is a harder song, melodic but dark and a bit haunting, probably because Aldo Tagliapietra adds that distinctive dreamy attributes only he can provide, some dissonant keyboard sections create a strange effect that breaks the peaceful atmosphere for the first time in the album, good change.

Well, what better time for a semi acoustic than after a frantic track, and Alex's timing is perfect with "Song of the Pond", a beautiful track that reminds of Focus, first in their Flemish style and then with a lighter and a bit funky jazz mood.

"A Gathering Storm" breaks the peace achieved by the previous track, again jazzy with a very efficient saxophone but with an electric guitar that provides a cheerful ambient enhanced by a background piano.

"The Waterfall" takes us back to classic Symphonic territory, vibrant well crafted keyboards covered by well structured rhythm section, probably the most unexpected track in the album, but as everything before has a role to play and covers it well. A beautiful Spanish guitar creates a new effect that combines with an almost psychedelic keyboard that jumps to dramatic moods.

"Catch the Wave" is another jazzy tune with psyche oriented keyboards, reminds of ALAN PARSONS PROJECT, but to be honest it's the only song that doesn't impress me, not even in the vocals which make me remember of "Vulture Culture" with changes that are too predictable.

The album ends with an incredible arrangement of Johan Sebastian Bach's Prelude in C Min. (BWV847) hard to describe in words without taking the beauty of it, again outstanding.

Normally I don't rate the first album I listen from any artist with 5 stars and this will not be the exception, because I believe we're before a composer and a band that hasn't reach their peak, but any rating bellow 4 stars would be unfair.

An album that every Symphonic fan should enjoy from start to end as I do.

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Send comments to Ivan_Melgar_M (BETA) | Report this review (#175682)
Posted Saturday, June 28, 2008 | Review Permalink
Todd
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Rock Progressivo Italiano!
4 stars A pearl that has stayed below the Waterline!!

I'll admit I had never heard of this band, when while browsing Wayside's clearance list this album cover caught my attention. No wonder! It's Paul Whitehead! In reading about it (including Ivan's great review, to which I refer you), my curiosity was piqued. I was instantly hooked when I read that vocals were done by Aldo Taglipietra of Le Orme.

Let me quote from Eddie Lascu on the Gnosis website:

Alex Carpani was born in 1970 in Switzerland from an Italian father and a French mother (great ingredients when it comes to musical influences). Showing a great interest for music as early as when he was 6 years old, Alex was encouraged by his parents to pursue his talent. We don't know whether a meeting with Keith Emerson was instrumental (Alex and Aaron, Emerson's son were classmates in Switzerland), but Alex took on the piano and became a very talented keyboard player.

This album is definitely keyboard driven, with great melodies and really interesting chord and time signature changes. The instrumentation is fabulous, including lots of organ, mellotron, flute, and acoustic guitar. Electric guitar solos are also prominent, and there's some sax in there too. This is a well-crafted album!

Again to quote from Eddie Lascu:

The music is undeniably rooted very deep into the great Italian traditions. This album can be placed without any hesitation into the pantheon of Italian progressive masterpieces, even though it was only released in 2007. Carpani's style of playing is reminiscent of PFM and Le Orme at the peak of their careers. His compositions are complex, offering a lot of interplays between Carpani's keyboards, the various guitars guest on the album and Cory Wright's pastoral flute ("Song of the Pond") or jazzy sax ("A Gathering Storm"). He reviews some of the genres that influenced him early in his career (listen to the spatial electronic intro to "The Waterfall") but almost always leads the song back into the realm of progressive rock.

As Ivan has given his impressions of every song, I won't get too detailed. I agree with his enthusiasm! I will say that my tracklist is different from his, and what he calls "Song of the Pond" is entitled "Oceana" on my version. I would also like to particularly recommend "Siren's Call," "In the Rocks," "Waterfall," and "Gathering Storm." But actually all the tracks are excellent, from the pastoral mood of "Oceana" to the straight-rocker with sax (but still with great melodic underpinning) "Levees Break." The sample track on the website, "Reclaimed," is a bit more straightforward than my favorite songs on the album. In fact, it seems to add some of the electronic element that Carpani apparently utilizes on other releases and is a bit atypical of the other tracks on the album. But if you like it, you'll definitely like the other songs.

My only complaint is related to what sparked my initial enthusiasm-the underutilization of Aldo! He sings on four songs, almost exclusively in Italian (yes, he sings a few lines in English on one song). And when he is used, the vocals are a bit too low in the mix for my taste. But this is a small criticism of what amounts to an outstanding album, one that REALLY deserves greater recognition on this site and in the prog community at large! Four stars.

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Send comments to Todd (BETA) | Report this review (#210695)
Posted Tuesday, April 07, 2009 | Review Permalink
Windhawk
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Swiss born, Italian based composer and musician Alex Carpani is no stranger to the art of creating music. He has recorded and issued a number of albums prior to to 2007 - but when he issued "Waterline" it was his first production exploring the realms of progressive rock.

Like many other artists it's the symphonic side of the progressive rock universe that has fascinated Carpani, and whilst there's certainly a distinct vintage sound to this first venture of his in this stylistic expression he's to be given credit for finding a sound that doesn't immideatly make you think of other artists, although for the first half of this album the reason for this is also one of the major weak points of this venture as far as I'm concerned.

The reason for this are the constant changes in style and mood in the compositions for the first 6 tracks or so. I get the feeling that these excursions consists of more transitional segments and breaks than actual themes themselves - the individual passage hardly have time to settle before we're moving on to the next, and more often than most it's done by a transitional part than by a more freely flowing evolvement. Personally I like to be able to get somewhat familiar with a theme before the next one appears; but this is more of a personal point of view of course; many find these arguably frantic shifts intriguing in themselves; and those of that opinion should find this album pretty captivating due to that.

For my sake the second half of this effort is much more interesting though. Although changes in sound and style still happen more frequently than on many other albums the intensity of these shifts lessen somewhat, and the inclusion of more typical fusion elements to these compositions also makes these tracks more anjoyable for my part. Even the one tune here with a sound pretty distinctly similar to one other band - "Song of The Pond" the track and Camel the band - is so well made that it's a pleasure rather than an annoying feature.

The songs are all keyboard dominated; and the piano is the most dominant of the keyboards used here, with the organ a close second. Vintage sounding keyboard themes and floating patterns are used neatly as embellishments and to add the odd detail, while acoustic guitars and toned down guitar riffs flesh out the soundscapes. For the latter half of the album some pretty neat sax work is added in to strengthern the fusion touches of these tunes. And as far as intrumental performance go it's pretty top notch from start to finish here. The mix and production does come across as somewhat rudimentary at times though; but as this does add a vintage touch to the proceedings this may as well be a planned effect - many fans of progressve rock do prefer the warm, vintage sounding production over the crystal clear and slightly cold modern one after all.

All in all a talented debut album, and one that warrants to be checked out by fans of symphonic progressive rock.

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Send comments to Windhawk (BETA) | Report this review (#230811)
Posted Monday, August 10, 2009 | Review Permalink
andrea
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Alex Carpani was born in Switzerland in 1970 of an Italian father and a French mother. Later he moved to Italy and graduated in Musicology at the University of Bologna. As a composer and musician his activities and interests range from soundtracks for cinema and theatre to electronic and progressive rock. From 1990 to 2007 he self-produced many works without a great success, then he met with Le Orme's singer Aldo Taglipietra and his career suddenly took another direction...

According to Alex Carpani's official website, "Waterline" is a progressive rock concept album dedicated to the thin line dividing the world emerged from the water (the familiar one) from the submerged world (the unknown one). Originally conceived as an instrumental project, it has become an album with lyrics and vocals thanks to Aldo Tagliapietra. It was composed and recorded as a demo in three weeks by Alex Carpani in his home-studio, then Alex sent it to Aldo Tagliapietra, who liked the project and connected him with the American independent prog label Cypher Arts. Alex Carpani met Cypher Arts' director Dan Shapiro in Los Angeles and the album was finally refined and released in 2007 with the help of many musicians of the American prog scene and the art cover by Paul Whitehead. The result is excellent and if you like the works of bands like Le Orme, BMS, early Genesis and ELP I'm sure you'll like this work too.

The opener "The Siren And The Mariner" should be a true delight for symphonic prog lovers. It starts with a tasteful classical intro that leads to a duet between the voice of the mariner Aldo Taglipietra, who sings in Italian, and the voice of the siren, the guest singer Beatrice Casagrande, who answers in English... "Your voice shines like the sun on the sea... Come to me and hear me sing / Leave behind your hopes and fears...". Then, after an instrumental break featuring an electric guitar solo, Aldo Taglipietra concludes... "I'm losing myself into the light / Following your voice... I'm feeling like a leaf lost in the sea".

"The Levees' Break" is a beautiful and dreamy instrumental featuring delicate flute passages and shifting tempos. Next comes the darker "In The Rocks" that tries to depict with music and words the feelings of the survivors sheltered on the rocks after the wreckage of their ship, into the mist...

The solemn "Reclaimed" is another beautiful instrumental track that leads to the quiet navigation on the clear waters of "Agua Claro"... "A new direction covers the past / Take the white wave / Ride towards the sun...". "Starcurrents" is more dramatic and mystical. The navigation leads here to a path of stars without frame, a metaphysical journey into the space...

The calm instrumental "Song Of The Pond" features a delicate acoustic guitar arpeggio and dreamy flute passages leading to a final joyful section... "A Gathering Storm" is more aggressive, with the sax in the forefront and a tasteful jazzy feeling while the following "The Waterfall" begins with a cascade of notes played by piano then joined by the other instruments for another musical ride...

On "Catch The Wave" the saxophone leads the dance until an acoustic break, then vocals soar... "With no more fears / I ride the wave towards the open sea / In harmony whit this sea / I can't fall / I can't fail...". An interesting arrangement of J.S. Bach's "Prelude In C Min." concludes this excellent album.

Not necessarily the vocals of Aldo Taglipietra and the art cover of Paul Whitehead make the difference between a very good album and a masterpiece. On this work in some passages Aldo's vocals seem almost "unnatural", like if he had tried to make an effort to sing in a different way and with a lower register than on Le Orme's works. Nonetheless I enjoyed the music and I'm looking forward to a new Alex Carpani's album...

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Send comments to andrea (BETA) | Report this review (#250353)
Posted Friday, November 13, 2009 | Review Permalink

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