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Carpe Nota

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Honorary Collaborator
4 stars US quartet CARPE NOTA was formed sometime around 2006, and is from what I understand an active live entity as well as a recording unit. "Carpe Nota" is their first CD, and was self released in the spring of 2012.

"Carpe Nota" is a fairly well made production, and while it isn't a brilliant one as I experience it, the songs are fairly accomplished, pleasant at worst and compelling at best. Not a CD that will draw in new fans to this type of music, but those who suspect they might enjoy a blend of instrumental hard rock, metal and symphonic art rock, with a distinct focus on the latter throughout, should check out this promising US foursome.

Report this review (#880777)
Posted Sunday, December 23, 2012 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars What to say about, to my ears, not only the strongest instrumental prog album of 2012, but also my favourite progressive album overall for this year? A self-titled debut crammed full of so many ideas and styles, all seamlessly flowing together, while at the same time heading in all sorts of directions. Highly melodic, always accessible, gorgeously produced, upbeat and emotionally driven instrumental progressive rock, it's a credit to the four piece that their compositions are so strong while maintaining a sense of control with real energy and excitement. It's also deliciously and proudly `Prog' with a capital P, with endless keyboard soloing, guitar histrionics, aggressive upfront bass and attacking drumming. What you hear on this album is the sound of musicians so devoted and truly in love with music, and it's impossible not to be caught up in that same affection. I can't think of an album that has brought me more musical pleasure and excitement in quite some time. It's not often that an album, especially a debut, totally grabs your attention and captivates you for it's entire running time.

You want variety? You will not find a better prog album this year for that. Jazzy diversions, classical drama, middle-eastern influences, heroic motifs, crunchy hard-rock grunt, spacey jamming, reflective acoustic passages, grand symphonic rock, metal - it just goes on. Most of the compositions are filled with endlessly joyful and energetic soloing and oceans of Mellotron, so this is one album you 'Tron freaks are going to want to devour right away!

`Thoracic Park' opens with a pumping heartbeat, ghostly choral synths and somber operatic wordless female vocals, but quickly manic winding guitar riffs and swirling synths crash in with nightmarish energy. Darting back and forth between up-tempo runs and slower driving moments, filled with murmuring bass, snappy drumming and ghostly Mellotron, the band races through a blur of middle eastern-influenced themes, bluesy guitar wailing and Ozric Tentacles freeform keyboard soloing. Pay close attention to the emotionally charged passage that runs from 7:30 to 9:25. It begins with crunching Hammond and Nick Mason-style plodding drumming then quickly launches into the skies with a wavering keyboard swirl, searing electric guitar solo and eerie washes of synths before a cheeky snap back to the manic and twisted main theme. Totally addictive and begging to be replayed over and over. What am I saying, the whole album is just as good as this!

The bluesy guitar strut of `Welcome To The Edge' over Neo-prog styled keyboard themes truly humming with warmth and fuzziness, the Iron Maiden metal gallop and 80's synths that cut in from the ambient and haunting Middle Eastern ethnic/electric guitar introduction of `Obsession', and the creepy and moody King Crimson/Metallica/Mellotron meltdown of `It Can't Be So' (check those final three minutes especially!) all score so highly.

Also outstanding is the stomping and prog-metal/classical/Middle-Eastern crunch of `Obsidian' that's overloaded with Rick Wakeman/Clive Nolan dancing classical keyboard pomposity and thoughtful synth themes, as is the Alan Parsons Project instrumental/Pink Floyd guitar-play drama that gives way to a frantic synth heavy/Iron Maiden race against time hard-rock freakout on `Bio- Freez'. Closer `For All Time' starts with a lovely and reflective Camel-like floating romantic synth theme and grand guitar majesty, before classical drama and snapping technical riffs, attacking drums and wavering loopy keyboards wrap the album in a whirlwind of wailing urgency and wild grandiosity.

Special mention must go to the deliriously catchy and joyous synth themes spliced with driving riffs on love letter to 80's synth pop/AOR of `Batovich' that really shows the band have a sense of humour by composing such an upbeat and foot-tapping piece, and it will have you grinning in no time!

In a year full of so many wonderful instrumental progressive albums from bands such as ADM (Arena Di Tollo Marras), Forgas Band Phenomena and numerous others, this one is neck and neck for me with Kotobel's `Concerto for Piano and Electric Ensemble' as the true highlight. Although sounding nothing like each-other, both deliver exciting, energetic and wildly passionate progressive rock that display a true love for the freedom, joy and endless possibilities of the genre.

Carpe Nota's album is such a joy to listen to, one of the freshest, most uplifting and exciting albums I've heard in a long time, and it's already become one of my favourite modern progressive albums. The fact that's it's only their debut album suggests even greater things to come. But they've seriously set the bar so high that they'll have a hell of a time reaching the heights that this one does again. Then again, one listen to the sheer virtuosity of the four band members on display here reassures that they are definitely up to that challenge.

Five stars - Highest possible recommendation!

Report this review (#881860)
Posted Tuesday, December 25, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars Carpe Nota from USA is one of the most intresting bands coming in last years. With selftitled album released in 2012 this band manage to attract my attention big time. Heavy prog is what Carpe Nota offers here and a damn fine one in every way. This is a dynamic release with many changes in tmpo, very string musicianship and fresh ideas overall. Whole album is instrumental with quite long pieces where each musician shine, from the excellent keyboards works to the heavy but yet melodic guitars, busy drums and fine bass lines, Carpe Nota did it for sure, very intresting and catchy album to my ears with plenty of memorable parts and without dull or boring tracks. Every piece is a winner, from the excellent opening track Thoracic Park , going through catchy Welcome to the Edge or Batovich - Carpe Nota delivers one of the most intresting instrumental heavy prog albums is last years not only from 2012, I really love it. Recommended and 4 stars easy, one damn fine release by this american band.
Report this review (#900350)
Posted Sunday, January 27, 2013 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars I had a Carpe Nota review almost done, giddy as I was from all the praise given by Aussie- Byrd-Brother as well as listening to this marvel on the car stereo but I had a PC meltdown due to my son in law who wanted to clean up my files. He did such a good job, he got rid of EVERYTHING! It's okay, he bought me a new laptop, so I still love him dearly. But the review, as well as many other files were erased into oblivion. He thought I would be angry but I explained that prog makes you mellow (yeah, bitches!). So it's back to the drawing board for this stunning piece of work from American band Carpe Nota.

Yes, kiddies, this is perhaps one of the finest instrumental prog-rock albums ever, with a plethora of brilliant tracks that harken back to bands such as classic Focus, Allman Bros, Rush, King Crimson (Wetton-Bruford-Cross era), Metallica, scents of Return to Forever, even hints of Led Zeppelin.

A heartbeat, huge mellotron choir waves and rustling cymbals ignite the marvelous opener, "Thoracic Park", a 10 minute+ extravaganza of rollicking, bruising, kick-ass, highway star driving rock music with all the trimmings, sauces and condiments. Slithering synths, crunchy rhythms, crushing bass and manic drumming keep things pressure-cooker intense, with sublime guitarist Peter Rubinetti ripping off all kinds of majestic solos, where both speed and emotion rule the roost. The pace is gruelling yet smooth, the bass carving quite nicely (Ken Sundling is awesome), Dan Pluta's keys coloring the arrangement with stylistic touches of the finest order, especially when he combines brooding organ runs with Manfred Mann-like bending Moog flights. Yeah, it's definitely 'chopzilla' but with purpose and balls! Check out the wicked axe solo, pfffffff! Like they say in the hardware store, "Screw Me"! Add the reptilian bass and the deranged drumming, there is so much pleasure to deal with, my goodness!

"Welcome to the Edge" is progressive rock 'roll, a sensual frolic that just chugs along like some prog-infected Southern boogie with instantaneous appeal, the rhythm guitar just stuns with raucous rage, the tortured solo is a sizzling Sidewinder missile heading right up the rear-end engine exhaust, ready to go BOOM! Sundling then blasts some fine lines from his hot bass guitar, keeping things sweaty and perverse. Bloody brilliant stuff, this!

The classic 9 minute "Obsession" infuses a little Middle Eastern aroma into the mix, 'yalla habibi' but in a nasty way, full of lush bravado and hard rhythmic pounding, hints of Robin Trower or Iron Maiden are accurate, as its scorching and weighty in the prog desert! Driving, relentless and passionate, the highlights include the stunning violin-patch synth solo that is incredibly gorgeous and the acoustic guitar solo that is even more mind-blowing! Forge ahead with a brutal electric rampage, dripping with angst and dexterous speed, I mean how can you not be intoxicated? This is sonic hashish! Knock me down and call me Aisha!

"It Can't Be So" is the same length, a tad more investigational in nature, weaving dense grooves that has a slight Focus "Hocus Pocus" feel but bluesy and greasier. Rubinetti gives his fretboard a real workout initially, then falling back to prepare the final mellotron-infected onslaught, a colossal explosion of temperament and purpose that will shake your tree, with blazing synths, insane riffs and squealing leads! Almost like a Focus/Anekdoten mix!

"Obsidian" is rock solid and obsessive, almost a companion piece to "Obsession" where frantic meets delirious, soaring electronic keyboards amid harsh guitar rasps, pummeling drums and that darn bass rumbling madly. Halfway through, the stage is set for some more ponderous moments to reflect on the heavens in an almost jazzy, contemplative oasis. Sure, Rubinetti brings back the fiery leads to the forefront, just in time to keep the listener perplexed and breathless. His main solo is very Robin Trower circa Bridge of Sighs while Pluta manhandles his Moog like some Jan Hammer clone.

The shorter "Batovich" is fun, a toe-tapping groove piece that is not nuclear science but just plain entertainment. Pluta in particular does some stellar work on the ivories while Paul just unleashes a massive rip from his inspired 1976 Stratocaster.

Another 9 minute + job, "Bio-Freez" is a looser piece with some interesting keyboard sounds, intricate bass swerves and of course, Rubinetti slicing through the haze. Drummer Derenbecher is no slouch either, drumming like some possessed madman. This is probably the most deconstructed piece here, very much a monster jam with everyone grooving along. Bass fluttering amid the mellotron, I mean really! Lots of soloing on this one, folks!

The 10 minute finale "For All Time" is a subtle piece that seeks out gentler pastures, easily the most symphonic piece, illustrated by a gorgeous melody, punctuated by a forlorn bass and a seductive, almost Italian synth passage. Gaga Gaga! Wakeman would be soiling himself over this! When Rubinetti introduces his passionate guitar, the Italian feel becomes even more apparent, an instrumental prog ballad of the highest order. Colossal contrasts, breathtaking musical skills (these are not young rascals) and a perfect ending to a phenomenal album. Easily my favorite track here, though all are simply excellent pieces that will stand the test of time.

An absolute must for fans of heavy instrumental prog, with massive doses of masterful soloing and exotic arrangements. I mean, WOW! Not a single second of drudgery, a pure delight?..Ideal car driving or love making music. I have listened to this at least 50 times, a rather rare event in my busy prog schedule! Desert Island classic and 2011's highest recommendation. Oh, the cover art is stupendous! Can't wait for their next one!

Now I have to thank my Aussie pal Michael H for reminding me that I was amiss in rewriting the review for this masterpiece.

5 seized goldfish

Report this review (#958568)
Posted Sunday, May 12, 2013 | Review Permalink

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