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Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations) - Paradiso - The Divine Comedy, Part III CD (album) cover


Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations)

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RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
4 stars After the reviews of the first two "Cantica" of the Dante's Comedy let's look at the third one. As in the original poem, the central cantica, Purgatory, is the less interesting, but Paradise is surely what the poet was aiming to describe. As in the previous boxset we have 36 tracks versus the original 33 "canto" of the Comedy. For what it's about I remind you to the huge bibliography about Dante and because reviewing this boxset is like reviewing 4 CDs, I'll just write few words for each track.

CD 1

"1.Marco Lo Muscio - Intro The celestial Way - Towards the Paradise" An ethereal piano solo played on medium-high pitches. A newage intro to the celestial realm. "2.Little Tragedies - Canto 1" A piece of orchestral ELP. Good but clone. "3.Nuova Era - Canto 2" Good instrumental in RPI flavour with folky tones. Made of different movements separated by gaps. 3 songs at the price of 1. "4.Greenwall - Quel Mare al Qual Tutto si Move" As on Inferno they put in music the original poetry. One of the best things here and there. "5.Mathijs Herder - Longing" Acoustic song in Anthony Phillips style. Classical guitar, piano, organ and flute. "6.Nexus- El Secundo Reino" Symphonic prog a bit too dark to be Paradise. "7.Brighteye Brison - Under Ornens Vingur" A very interesting rocking song from an RPI band. "8.The Redzen - Alexa in the Cage" Interesting song with odd signature and a touch of YES but not only. "9.Tommy Eriksson - Falling into Bliss" A mellow prog-folk tune. The first really heavenly up to now.

CD 2.

"1.Posto Blocco 19 - L'Ultima Acqua" A bit experimental in the beginning. Between Yes and King Crimson with a bassist who plays like Squire and a vocalist like Steve Chapman. "2.Oracle - Kings of the Future Past" The chaotic of ELP and the acoustic of Genesis with a touch of brit-pop. "3.Faveravola - Del Francescano Sole" Dante's words as for Greenwall. This is RPI with a medieval flavour. The singer has some of Fabrizio De Andre' even if one octave higher. Very interesting band. "4.Armalite - Il Cerchio, la Luce e la Virtu" Genesis "5.Groovector - Houkutja Kuninkaat" A bit of Canterbury. Reminds to old Caravan in the melody and for the flute, even in the rock section. "6.Roz Vitalis - Canto XIV" A medieval track with a Spanish flavour. Close to Vangelis (1492) "7.De Rossi & Bordini - Dentro la Cerchia Antica" A medieval madrigal. Better than many Stivell's songs. a good track "8.Echoes - Nel Cerchio di Luce" Classic prog with an electronic start. "9.Jaime Rosas - Cruz del Sur" The Cross of South was unknown in XIII Century as it's not visible from the Northern emisphere, but Dante describes it in the Comedy. Said so, this is an average song with a touch of pop.

CD 3

"1.Kbridge - Canto XVIII" Ethereal soprano voice and keyboard. Have you present Vangelis' So Long Ago So Clear? It doesn't last long. It turns quickly into progressive Electronic still with a bit of Vangelis. An interesting one. "2.Simon Says - The Needle's Eye" One of the few 'famous' bands of the compilation. The Swedish band is not at his best here. "3.Colossus Project - In the Eye of the Eagle" Emerson meets Froese. A very good one. "4.Ozone Player - Canto 21" A dissonant piano melody makes it weird. Crossover. "5.Jinetes Negros - A li occhi belli" Organ driven medieval tune with good guitar insertions. A great RPI track with Dante's lyrics. "6.Blank Manuscript - Living Star" Living Starless? Good sax and vocals for a complex song with a bit of newage flavour. "7.Nemo - Sans Voix" Another very good track from one of the best French bands. "8.Daal - Static Stars" Progressive electronic midway between TD and Vangelis. A great track for my tastes. "9.Matthijs Herder - Sacratus" If the previous track from this artist sounds like Phillips, this one is closer to Latimer. This Herder is an artist that I should investigate better. A bit too newage.

CD 4

"1.Mist Seasons - Defending Hands" Acoustic prog-folk with a bit of Genesis and Floyd. Mist Autumn. A very good track. "2.Kotebel - Canto XXVIII" A track full of things. Starts like Oldfield, then some distorted guitar, then acoustic...I can't describe it. Fripp fans will love it. "3.Tabula Smaragdina - Angyal" Good song with interesting moments. YES as reference. "4.Raimundo Rodulfo - El Sol de Sus Ojos" Excellent acoustic track with a classical flavor. Violin, guitar and female vocalist. The keyboard sounds similar to Wakeman in Six Wives. "5.Flamborough Head - Labyrinth of Light" Another prog-folk song with acoustic guitar and flute. The uptime section is excellent. Camel's Never Let Go as reference. "6.Lady Lake - Miserere Mei" A band present on all the 3 boxsets. This time they start with a sad and a bit boring 'romantic' melody in Mahler's style, but when the music changes and odd rhythm is added it's very good prog. When violins are back the piano interlude leads to a very nice instrumental part. Symphonic prog with a touch of Pink Floyd. "7.Yesterdays - 33" This band from Romania has placed on the previous boxsets two of the best tracks at all. Also this song is very good. It's a pity that's only 3 minutes long. Great vocalist and great band. "8.Marco Lo Muscio - Outro - Towards the Stars" Closed as it was started? The artist is the same, but we have church organ instead of piano. It effectively sounds like the end-titles of a movie. I mean that's well placed. Who liked Criminal Records will like this as well. "9.Atlantis001 - Conclave Deorum (bonus track)" Do we really need a bonus track after 4 CDs? Also Deorum is plural, it means "of the Gods". No word can be more misplaced than this in Dante's comedy. Musically speaking it's everything but bad, I think i's the longest track of the whole boxset and is good, only I can't understand what's its place in the concept. Is it like a summary? Maybe I'm ignorant and it has its meaning. A note: the lyrics are in Latin.

Better than Purgatory and a little step below Inferno it's a Paradise with very few angels as the music is more often dark than celestial. None of the tracks is a masterpiece, but 36 tracks for about 5 hours of good progressive deserve to stay in any prog collection.

Report this review (#439584)
Posted Wednesday, April 27, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars The Finnish prog association Colossus and its Italian chairman Marco Bernard have been very active since 2000 in producing numerous 4-disc projects for various prog artists around the world to participate in. Perhaps two of the largest ordeals have been the trilogies based on Boccaccio's Decameron (Pt. 3 of it was released in 2016) and Dante's The Divine Comedy. "Paradiso" is naturally the final part of the latter. Here's my modest look at it, to accompany Octopus-4's more detailed review.

Marco Piva has written a 7-page essay of Dante's work. The lay-out of the thick booklet lists, including little pics too, all the performers and their instruments, with (mainly?) Gustave Doré's graphic art in the background instead of being lavishly illustrated with full-colour paintings as in the Decameron series. Looks very good anyway. Marco Lo Muscio's Intro is a piano solo. Disc One's highlights include beautiful, keyboard-centred instrumentals by NUOVA ERA, Dutch keyboardist MATTHIJS HERDER, Argentinan NEXUS and TOMMY ERIKSSON (better known as the frontman of Finland's Ageness).

Disc Two contains a bit more vocal stuff. ORACLE (ie. Canadian Cary Clouser) may not be an excellent singer but the retro-style arrangement is good. (NB! the whole set, as actually all Clossus projects, is intentionally meant to sound rather 70's.) The vocals on ARMALITE's Wakemanesque piece are not very cultivated either. GROOVECTOR offers a good composition with Finnish lyrics and a flute in a big role. ECHOES from Venezuela features as many as three guitarists; the instrumental track is moody and dynamic. The vocals are slightly average on otherwise gorgeous 10-minute track of JAIME ROSAS from Chile.

While the listener is hardly not even expected to love each participation, Disc Three is perhaps most notably uneven. Fine instrumentally oriented pieces by e.g. KBRIDGE and MATTHIJS HERDER. The female vocals grace RAIMUNDO RODULFO's 'El sol de sus ojos'. The 4th disc is stronger. Finnish MIST SEASON featuring female guest vocals is a bliss, and the Dutch bands FLAMBOROUGH HEAD and LADY LAKE are in good shape here, the latter citing Dido's Lament of Henry Purcell. The Hungarian group YESTERDAYS comes with perhaps the poppiest song of the set, sung by Hanna Horvath. Of course it would be more elegant to end the whole set with the real Outro (an organ piece by Marco Lo Muscio) instead of having a separate "Bonus Track" by Atlantis1001...

These Colossus projects are always a great way of getting to know dozens of prog acts all over the world and to hear how they are inspired by the literary source material and how they obey the producer's wish to sound like 70's prog. Italy is however much more represented than any other country, and it's understandable that often the same artists reappear on several projects. "Paradiso" could well be among the finest ones, even if the content is not as celestial as one could think, starting from the beautiful cover art.

Report this review (#1697480)
Posted Tuesday, February 28, 2017 | Review Permalink

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