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Pandora - Sempre E Ovunque Oltre Il Sogno CD (album) cover



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Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Back in 2008 I discovered one of the most exciting Italian prog bands of recent years. Their debut album Dramma Di Un Poeta Ubriaco while clearly influenced by the golden era of Italian prog had one foot firmly in the present and was a captivating blend of symphonic and heavy prog with metal flourishes. Naturally I was intrigued to hear that a second album was now released and ordered it without hesitation.

Sempre E Ovunque Oltre Il Sogno does not disappoint and is if anything a more adventurous and sophisicated piece of work than their debut. This is immediately apparent from the bombastic classical introduction that is Il Re Degli Scemi. A second instrumental follows - L'Altare Del Sacrificio and it's clear that Pandora's complex and exciting musical interplay is still intact. One quickly gets the impression that some sort of concept is at work here but frustratingly not speaking Italian I couldn't say for sure. Further investigation is clearly in order.

All the afore mentioned elements that make up Pandora's sound are still clearly in place but the band have gone out of their way to make sure that Sempre.... is a more dynamic and grandiose piece of work. They have undoubtedly succeeded and whether this is better than their debut is difficult to say. However it's certainly its equal as one memorable track follows another. The first track to feature vocals, L'Incantesimo Del Druido twists and turns through complex rhythmic changes, ambient moments, metallic riffs and memorable hooks and is an exhilarating ride. More sombre is following piece Discesa Attraverso Lo Stige with a haunting mellotron and acoustic guitar dominating.

Ade, Sensazione Di Paura is next and gives the best of both worlds from its melancholic organ drenched opening it's soon into busy trademark Pandora instrumental interplay and features some of the bands heaviest playing to date. To this point vocals haven't played a large part on the album and sure enough Ade, Sensazione Di Paura turns out to be another instrumental. This changes for 03-02-1974 as vocals return accompanied by beautiful guitar arpeggios. Intriguingly the picture accompanying this piece in the booklet shows a painting of what appears to be Peter Gabriel in his flower head costume and a quick musical reference to Genesis appears as the track develops. La Formula Finale Di Chad-Bat at less than 4 minutes is one of the shorter pieces and after a short vocal introduction develops into another largely instrumental track, vocals only briefly re- appearing it features some pleasingly searing guitar work.

Pandora save their longest piece until last and Sempre E Ovunque clocks in at a hefty 23 minutes. Running through classical and jazz themes, metallic riffs, flamenco guitar, symphonic keyboard work underscored by the busy and complex rhythm section it pretty much covers all the bases in Pandora's musical arsenal and it all makes for another exhilarating journey. A fine close to a fine album.

Overall then Pandora have excelled and proved they have it in them to grow and develop from a strong debut which was never going to be an easy act to follow. Anyone who enjoyed that release will undoubtedly be thrilled by Sempre E Ovunque Oltre Il Sogno and already we have an early contender for best RPI album of 2011.

Report this review (#393143)
Posted Thursday, February 3, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars A very big mouthful, the new Pandora album is. It is like opening a pandora's box (sorry, I could not resist this pun...... shame on me !).

It has therefore taken me a long time to really digest this album. Mostly because this album is so complex (a big mouthful). The basis of this album is RPI. But this album also detours into symphonic prog. The Cinema Show extracts midway through the album really underlines the Genesis and Selling England By The Pound influences on this album. But you can also add a lot of really heavy ELP influences here in addition to a lot of fusion and prog metal influences too.

The songs here are both long and complex. They are also full of contrasts and colours. This album has the concept album feeling. But to my knowledge, it is not a concept album. The sound is modern and very much 2010-11. But the origins of this album is very much the 1970s and the early RPI scene.

It takes a long time to get under the skin on this album. But what then opens up is a great album and one I really treasure. The same goes for the elegant packaging, btw. I am not overawed by everything on this album. But the overall quality is great. So without further ado.....

4 stars

Report this review (#419979)
Posted Tuesday, March 22, 2011 | Review Permalink
Metal / Heavy / RPI / Symph Prog Team
4 stars The quality of their 2008 album was high enough to encourage me to get this cd. And they find a way to impress me again with this new release. What i like about this band is that they sound very modern and not like your typical italian band. They use not only symphonic music, but also heavy prog with a dark atmosphere, and sometimes they cross the prog metal sound for a brief moments. All the songs make a great transition with the soft and heavy parts. We can hear a wide variety of sounds especially when they play a more classical oriented song, like the first track and at the end. Also, it seems to me that i have heard the sound of a bell! There is a rip off of a Genesis's songs at some place, and i found a big neo prog influence in a lot of songs. The epic track at the end is full of contrast and mood and deliver some exquisite moments that put a great final touch to this remarkable cd, that does not contain a weak track, if not a weak moment.

Report this review (#420893)
Posted Wednesday, March 23, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars It's an eerie silence followed by the powerful blow of a gong that opens up Pandora's masterful Sempre e Ovunque Oltre il Sogno, their second studio album to date. An album that must be listened to more than once, not just because it causes you to do so, but because you will surely find something new with each listen. From the booklet one learns that much of this CD's birth is credited to Pandora's drummer and multi-instrumentalist, Claudio Colombo, the youngest musician.

Right of the bat, Il Re degli Scemi, makes for an excellent Intro start to this album, entirely orchestral and its entirely colossal entrance hints at a likewise incredible content that will follow. From the start there is a definitive sense of narration, almost as if it were cinematic. The moog is alive and well, showing up proudly towards the middle, joining the orchestra.

Another instrumental comes forward presenting us with the three-part mini saga: L'Altare del Sacrificio, L'Incantesimo del Druido, and La Formula Finale di Chad-Bat, the latter one showing up after another mini suite that takes us through the Dante's Styx river (I'm talk about Discesa Attraverso lo Stige and Ade, Sensazione di Paura, but I'll get to that later). According to some articles, they tell the story of a powerful Celtic priest or druid called Chad- Bat. L'Altare del Sacrificio in an instrumental song that immediately promises an epic battle. An outstanding "conversation" between keyboards and electric guitar creates a great sense of narration and conclusion for the sung L'Incantesimo del Druido, the second part to the mini saga. Incredible atmospheres and use of the drums here is mesmerizing to say the least. The third and final chapter of the saga is entitled La Formula Finale di Chad-Bat, the shortest track, wonderfully held by an captivating electric guitar solo that sums up our Celtic priest's victory and end of story. Pandora's themes are varied and fantastical, and just like with their Breve Storia di San Georges (2008), they successfully added yet another Fantasy- themed song, or in this case mini saga, capturing all the magic and imagination with their music.

Of course it isn't all fantasy for the group, as they show their cultural and mythological side with Discesa Attraverso lo Stige. The simplicity is what makes this track so intriguing and takes us right into the waters of the Styx river. The moans and anguish coming from the background are a good touch that creep through the spine and gives a sense of realness. Acoustic guitars and a mellotron is all it takes to journey through this emotional song, the final note fades away and is immediately followed by one of my favorite tracks, Ade, Sensazione di Paura, that still maintains the dark and gloomy atmosphere left by the previous track, and slides into an even darker side, accentuated by bass and drum work and the unmistakable moog that turns things up a notch transforming the environment into total chaos. In my opinion this is the most complex and experimental track, yet still finds a way to make a fine ode to Pink Floyd's Shine on You Crazy Diamond with David Gilmour's unforgettable four notes. The with a single moog note at the end is one of the most exciting moments in Pandora's music.

There is a song that quickly catches your eye entitled 03.02.1974 (February 3rd, 1974), the date of a historical event for Italians and all others that came to see Genesis' Selling England by the Pound tour at Turin, Italy. The dedication to the English band is evident by the nicely added hints of memorable songs such as The Cinema Show, Supper's Ready and bits that recall that Tour, especially those bits of recordings of Peter Gabriel's voice that echo through the song and makes you, for an instant, live a second of those glorious moments that made Progressive's history.

And now to the final track, the very potent and masterful Sempre e Ovunque, a 23 minute- long final suite that makes you travel through Progressive's past, present, and future. Upon doing some research, Sempre e Ovunque turns out to be the story that reflects the strong bond and relationship of a father and son, namely Claudio Colombo (drums, multi- instrumentalist, vocals) and his father Beppe Colombo (keyboards, vocals). The suite is divided into eight parts, containing a wide variety of melodies that transform and evolve as the song goes along. Once can compare it to Genesis' Supper's Ready, as far as its compositional placement and changes. A lot of the keyboards remind me of E.L.P., especially Tarkus. Hints of jazz, hints of hard rock, metal, symphonic melodies, all put together accompanied by mini guitar, drum, and keyboard solos, ranging from slow pace to fast pace, to happy, to sad, to victorious melodies, all full of instrumental moments that leaves one in awe at what music can still do nowadays. Of course a touch of Italian lyrics is another good element as well. Composed by Claudio Colombo, seems like an upgrade of his Salto nel Buio (2008).

Sempre e Ovunque Oltre il Sogno is double rainbow of musical inspirations and techniques that cross all borders and experiments with new idea yet keeping their style intact and stronger than ever, going beyond what your typical Italian-Prog band is all about, they are in fact an All-Prog band. Pandora surely shows what its capable of, with a successful debut album Dramma di un Poeta Ubriaco (2008), and now with the release of this second album. No instrument is left behind, as drums are fantastically musical and lively reminding me of Simon Phillips, 70's Carl Palmer, and Mike Portnoy. Incredible and varied electric guitar work reminding me of John Petrucci and sometimes of Steve Hackett and incredible keyboards that remind us of the legendary Keith Emerson and melodic Rick Wakeman. Pandora's vast musical culture, influences and genius are present and these elements work as an intense Prog lesson for any new and old fan. Italy has a group that will go on for the ages, and is for all ages. This is what Pandora is all about.

5/5 stars

Report this review (#422594)
Posted Friday, March 25, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Italian band PANDORA was formed back in the autumn of 2005, instigated by Claudio Colombo with keyboardists Beppe and Corrado the first to opt in on this endeavor. After stabilizing as a four piece they were signed to AMS Records who released their initial production "Dramma di un Poeta Ubriaco" in 2008. "Sempre E Ovunque Oltre Il Sogno" is their second album, and was released in early 2011.

If you generally enjoy music branded as symphonic progressive rock, Pandora is a band that you most likely should check out, especially if your tastes are liberal to the extent that listening to a band that blends the retro-oriented strains of the genre with elements of a more modern origin, first and foremost in the shape of metal guitar riffs, sounds like an interesting experience. A fine and well made album overall, sporting some of the best quality drum work I have encountered for some time as an additional bonus.

Report this review (#455863)
Posted Thursday, June 2, 2011 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
3 stars While PANDORA's debut won me over easily with it's power and beauty this follow-up album is an altogether different beast. In fact it's a difficult one for me to actually enjoy and there is more of a classical vibe here with the odd orchestral flourishes.This certainly has it's moments but overall this is a disappointment when compared to their debut. It's like the things that I loved about the first one have all been scaled back or replaced with things i'm just not that into. My tastes of course.

I get off to a bad start with the first track "Il Re Degli Scemi" which is bombastic and orchestral in nature. I kept thinking this sounded like part of a soundtrack for a movie. It at least ends well. "L'Altare Del Sacrificio" has a good sounding rhythm section here as the guitar eventually comes in over top. It's a short instrumental.

"L'Incantestesimo Del Druido" is led by piano and drums early then the tempo picks up and vocals join in. A calm before 3 minutes then the drums start to lead. Organ joins in after 4 1/2 minutes. Guitar a minute later then it settles back after 6 minutes.Vocals are back late. "Discesa Attraverso Lo Stige" opens with nature sounds then acoustic guitar takes over with atmosphere.

"Ade,Sensazione Di Paura" is a top two song for me. More acoustic guitar then we get a heavy sound that takes over after 2 minutes. Synths and atmosphere before 3 1/2 minutes. It's heavy again before 5 minutes as contrasts continue. "03.02.1974" opens with acoustic guitar as reserved vocals join in. It kicks in as the tempo continues to shift on this one.

"La Formula Finale Di Chad-Bat" is my other top two. Spoken words to start then the guitar and a beat take over. Nice. Atmosphere after 2 1/2 minutes then it kicks in with the drums out front.Vocals follow. "Sempre E Ovunque" is the closing epic clocking in at 23 minutes. An orchestral-like intro before drums and synths kick in after 2 1/2 minutes. It turns jazzy after 4 1/2 minutes but not for long.The tempo and mood really change a lot on this one. Piano leads after 7 1/2 minutes then we get a calm with spoken words 8 1/2 minutes in. Great sound before 11 minutes as it gets heavier. Unfortunately that doesn't last long. Another calm after 13 minutes. It picks up before 18 minutes then turns heavier a minute later. It settles then gets heavier one last time.

A good album no doubt, but one that's missing that special RPI flavour that I love so much.

Report this review (#472434)
Posted Wednesday, June 29, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars In 2011 Pandora released their sophomore work on AMS/BTF, "Sempre ovunque oltre il sogno" (Always everywhere beyond the dream), with the same line up featuring Beppe Colombo (synth, organ, backing vocals), Claudio Colombo (drums, percussion, bass, acoustic guitar, synth), Corrado Grappeggia (vocals, synth, organ, piano) and Christian Dimasi (electric guitar, backing vocals). The overall sound of this second work is mellow and symphonic and every track is described in the booklet with a painting by the American artist Emoni Viruet (who now is Claudio Colombo's wife), almost a ghost member of the band. She is also the author of the art cover while Beppe Colombo painted the inlay picture titled "Sempre e ovunque".

The instrumental opener "Il re degli scemi" (The king of fools) is a solo performance by Claudio Colombo who composed the piece and played keyboards and percussion. According to an interview with the band it was inspired by a short story that his wife wrote after a dream. It tells of a powerful king who could impress his people with magic but who didn't know what's real love. This track reminds me of the soundtracks of some films of a genre called Sword-and-sandal, Italian low budget imitations of Hollywood historical epics that were in fashion in the early sixties...

The short instrumental "L'altare del sacrificio" (The altar of sacrifice) and the following "L'incantesimo del Druido" (The spell of the Druid) tell the story of a fantasy character, a Druid called Chad-Bat, who with his rites and his magic helps a king and his army to defeat their enemies... "There's no one like me / No one is greater than me...". Well, when listening to this track try to imagine the busy wizard at work...

"Discesa attraverso lo Stige" (Descent through the Styx) and "Ade, sensazione di paura" (Hades, feeling of fear) are two long, complex instrumental tracks linked together that describe the story of a woman who crosses the waters of the river Styx and enters the secret world of Hades. Follow her and you will see fire and ice dancing together, lost souls and demons dancing with Death in the wide hall of immensity... Eventually, if you are lucky, you'll find the way back!

"03.02.1974" (February 2, 1974) is about another kind of magic. The lyrics evoke the feelings and emotions provoked by a Genesis' concert in the seventies... "It wasn't just music that evening / It wasn't just a show in that moment... It was a magic touch flying away... They weren't just songs... Then The Knife broke in / Shouts, shivers, tears / It was the end for us... Even today I think of you / I can still feel the emotion and I cry...".

On "La formula finale di Chad-Bat" (The final formula of Chad-Bat) the busy Druid comes back to offer you his help. All in all there's no one like him to conjure a magical dream...

"Sempre e ovunque" (Always and everywhere) is a long suite in eight parts that concludes the album. It begins with a nice instrumental overture, full of symphonic suggestions to stir your fantasy... "Here I am, my young prince / I'm just back from the past... I'm back to give you all what I gathered in all this time / I'm back to give you the keys of my coffer / My young prince, here you are / That's the key of your empire...". The coffer is full of dreams and emotions, the same dreams and emotions that a father would like to pass on to his son. Opening the coffer you shiver, understanding the real value of that treasure you could be overwhelmed by emotion... "I have lived to give you my world / Here I am, my young prince / Look at your empire / Look where the past comes from, where the future begins... Take up in your hands all my emotions / And keep them with you, always and everywhere...". Now the son is the keeper of his father's dreams... Progressive rock will live on! Well, a great finale for a very good album...

After the album was released Christian Dimasi left the band and now Pandora are a trio again but don't worry, they won't stop...

Report this review (#606238)
Posted Monday, January 9, 2012 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Review originally posted at

Once again, Italy shows us their musical catalogue is wide and awesome, that is why I love their music. This time, the turn is for Pandora, a band that started back in 2005 with Claudio and Beppe Colombo, Corrado Grapeggia and Christian Dimasi. The music they play is a nice combination of 70s progressive rock with a fresh and new sound from the 00s. In 2011 they released their second studio album, entitled 'Sempre e ovunque oltre il sogno', which consists of eight compositions that make a total time of 57 minutes. Actually, the album could be divided in two halves, the first one composed by seven songs, while the second one finishes with a long epic.

It starts with 'Il re degli scemi', which is a wonderful instrumental introductory track that produces a symphonic sound inspired by classical music. The work of the keyboards here is excellent, creating different nuances and emotions. Here I imagine this music could be used as a film score, because I can see images while the seconds pass. Great first song! The following track is 'L'altare del sacrificio' which happens to be the shortest one of the album. Here drums appear with a solid and decisive sound, accompanying the cool keyboard passages and those nervous bass lines.

When we less expect it, we are already listening to 'L'incantesmo del druido' which has a nice piano sound that contrasts with the powerful drums. Here after a minute, vocals enter for the first time in the album, fortunately, with lyrics in Italian (I say fortunately because I love this language, and I always prefer the bands singing in their native languages). The voice is excellent, a perfect complement for the music, which has a nice mixture of some spacey effects, with heavy rock passages and the inherent symphonic touch. Before the third minute the music slows down and a soft spacey moment is offered; later it changes, the guitar produces a strong sound and the tune becomes a bit heavier. This is an excellent composition, one of the album's highlights!

'Discesa attraverso lo stige' starts with a water running sound, then it vanishes and acoustic guitar enter along with a mellotron as background. After a minute we can listen to some people's noises, creating a kind of desolated mood, which is contrasted with the acoustic guitar sound that puts a sense of hope.'Ade, sensazione di paura' starts with that delicate acoustic guitar, however here the nuances created mainly by keyboards are different- Here the track is purely instrumental and with a lot of textures and colors that let our imagination fly. I have once again the feeling that this track could be used for a movie soundtrack, there are moments that really work for it. In this track we can also appreciate the compositional skills of the band, because it is a complex song where we can listen to the heaviest sound of Pandora, and in other moments, to their softest.

'03.02.1974' has a more delicate sound that shows the beauty of their music. Here the vocals return and perfectly accompany the acoustic guitar. A minute later it begins to flow, progressing little by little until it reaches a climax. At half the song there is a significant change, the music slows down and keyboards, acoustic guitar and vocals return with their soft and mellow sound, but it only lasts for a moment, because later the intensity is increasing once again. This song is a rollercoaster of sounds and emotions.

And the album finishes with a 23-minute epic entitled 'Sempre e ovunque', a challenging composition that shows the pinnacle of Pandora. It starts with a instrumental symphonic- classical sound that once again, reminds of a movie. After a couple of minutes guitar enters along with a piano, creating a tense atmosphere that will become tenser when drums, bass and keyboards enter and implement a faster rhythm. After five minutes there is a new passage, first the music vanishes for some seconds and then a new structure begins, with nice keyboard melody and great guitars that make a heavy symphonic rock sound. What I love from Pandora is that capacity of making creating powerful moments and later transforms them into soft, mellow and delicate passages. In this long song we can appreciate that in several places. The voice is always great, emotional and transcendental for the music's success. This song has in fact different moments that may have their own sound, but that at the same time are necessary to complete the structure, I mean, these short passages are like jigsaws that together will complete the puzzle.

What a great album by Pandora, I quite like it and would like to recommend it to any progressive rock fans, mostly, to those like me love the Italian prog flavor.

Enjoy it!

Report this review (#708224)
Posted Wednesday, April 4, 2012 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Pandora's debut was followed by some nice live gigs next to both Italian and foreign bands, such as Ubi Maior and Riverside, but according to the band's official site they had to face the departure of guitarist Christian Dimasi.Quite strange thing, as he is listed in the liner notes of the second album of the group with the romantic title ''Sempre e ovunque oltre il sogno''.This one was released in 2011 again on BTF/AMS.

Far from being romantic themselves, Pandora belong certainly among the heavier and more bombastic Italian Symphonic Rock acts, moving a bit away from the classic style of the Italian groups for a more virtuosic and technical approach with strong RICK WAKEMAN influences and similarities to JAIME ROSAS' works, while the guitar follows the long keyboard fanfares with powerful lead parts.The music has often a cinematic flavor with atmospheric dual synthesizers, which are also the leading instrument of the album, although great Hammond organ, piano and Mellotron washes appear quite frequently.Melodies are not absent either, coming mostly in a GENESIS style with delicate synth and piano lines, a couple of tracks even contain some mellow acoustic parts.Vocals are not appearing much, the moments they do the band comes very close to the LE ORME stylings yet in a much modern way.Compositions are quite tight and an attempt on their own prog journey is made by Pandora with the 23-min. long title-track, which comes as an amalgam of bombastic DREAM THEATER-like Progressive Rock/Metal with flashy keyboard parts and a very high level of technique with more laid-back moments, typical of Italian Prog, characterized by expressive vocals, acoustic lines and piano-based melodies.They get too excessive at some point with the extended keyboard instrumentals, still this is a pretty good track with changing moods between haunting and calmer soundscapes.

Keyboard freaks will love this work, which can also please fans of Prog Metal and Italian Prog.Dense and powerful Symphonic Rock with endless keyboard attacks, that sometimes needs a bit of refinement.Recommended overrall.

Report this review (#1054880)
Posted Sunday, October 6, 2013 | Review Permalink

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