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Mad Crayon

Rock Progressivo Italiano


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Mad Crayon Preda album cover
3.89 | 23 ratings | 6 reviews | 13% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 2009

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Re Schiavo
2. Preda
3. Preda Part II
4. Gabriel
5. Xoanon
6. Isola di Sara
7. Sovrano dell'Illusione
8. Sovrano dell'Illusione Part II
9. Reprise

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

-Daniele Vitalone / Vocals, Guitar, Bass
-Alessandro Di Benedetti / Vocals, Keyboard
-Daniele Agostinelli / Keyboard
-Federico Tetti / Vocals, Guitar

Releases information

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DiamantiDiamanti
Import
Dark Matter Distribution 2006
Audio CD$24.99
$108.34 (used)


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MAD CRAYON Preda ratings distribution


3.89
(23 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(13%)
13%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(48%)
48%
Good, but non-essential (17%)
17%
Collectors/fans only (13%)
13%
Poor. Only for completionists (9%)
9%

MAD CRAYON Preda reviews


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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Jazz-Rock/Fusion/Canterbury Team
4 stars RPI and prog lovers in general: You're missing some GREAT music if you haven't heard Predo! These guys can play. Discovered through the HIGHLY RECOMMENDED Colossus Project "Kalevala: A Finnish Progressive Rock Epic" I have been blown away by the freshness and clarity of this music. Recorded so cleanly, using so many sounds in such unusual combinations, and constructed with such nuance and unpredictability it is a true listening adventure. (Put on the headphones!) Lots of piano and acoustic guitars, crisp drumming, and bass playing that is so alluring as to constantly draw my attention from the rest of the ensemblature. One very noticeable element of Predo's recording is the wonderful and brilliant use of space within the music; they don't fill every second for the sake of filling space; they let the sounds, chords, and melodies seep, percolate and fill your soul. And the singing is in Italian!

 "Re Schiavo--Part 1" is, at times, somewhat on the rock edge, kind of like SAGA, yet other times the bass and piano inerplay reminds one of a jazz CHICK COREA jazz concert. The drum playing is very solid, if mixed a bit in the background. 7/10

 "Preda--Part 1" starts with a TONY LEVIN-esque funk bass line before turning into an intermittently hard rocking, sometimes 'lounge' feeling, sometimes JEFF BECK-feeling piece. Also has a SYLVAN "Force of Gravity" feel to it. Definitely defies eras and music styles. Love the bass playing (PINO PALLADINO-ish?) 7/10

 "Preda--Part 2" begins with some heavy guitar riffing and steamy organ soloing playing over the same jazzy bass playing and solid drumwork from "Part 1" before segueing into some soli from some pretty unusual synth and guitar sounds. The three minute mark reintroduces a kind of 'light metal' theme over BRUFORD-esqu snare, then suddenly a lounge jazz piano shows up to solo over this driving theme. A brief, strange and unpredictable lull with some treated vocals appears just before the song exits with its original driving pace. Interesting song, to say the least! 6/10

 "Gabriel" enters with a softer feel, piano lead, and moves quickly into a complicated and tempo-rolling vocal section. Here is where this group's compositional use of space, pause, and sustain really show itself. Brilliant. To my mind, this shows great courage, confidence and maturity. My favorite instrument of this group, Daniele Vitalone's fretless bass gets a very cool fusion solo (EBERHARD WEBER?) at the 3:50 minute mark before the song surprises with a brief foray into high energy guitar chords and solo. The song decays beautifully with synth and piano outro. Wonderful song-writing filled with many catchy, though often all-too brief melodies. Like a train ride in the mountains: alternating lulls and breathtaking views. 8/10

 "Xaonon" is the song that really got me hooked on this group. A real Neo-Prog bordering on eclectic classic. The only thing missing are the English vocals (I keep expecting the song to evolve into a MOONGARDEN classic like "Round Midnight"). Begins with one and a half minutes of very fresh electronica before the rhythm section joins in. Kind of like OZRIC TENTACLES plays TANGERINE DREAM. Then the 3:00 minute mark introduces some 'light metal' themes, sounding a lot like RIVERSIDE, before backing down to a kind of ARGENT-sounding organ-with-guitar and rhythm section. The changes in this song are so frequent, so unpredictable, and so delightful. These are some very disciplined musicians! 9/10

 "Isola di Sara" is another gem/highlight beginning with a surprising 'Buddha Lounge' like feel before spiking off into various unusual and unpredictable sound and tempo directions. Very difficult to describe; you simply must discover it for yourself. The 2:05 marks notes the all-too-brief introduction of the song's immensely engaging and melodic 'chorus.' The band is so tight, the vocals so moving! 4:00 4:20 an entirely Latin flavored acoustic guitar-led section 5:15 a segue into a more rocking variation on the chorus theme before bridging back to the true chorus?which then evolves into a brief and beautiful piano solo before down-shifting into a kind of lounge end which is not the end at all but merely a transition to some HACKETT-esque volume pedal notes fading out over the bass's ad libbing. Wow! What a beautiful ride! 10/10

 "Sovrano Dell'illusione--Part 1" begins with some ELP/PFM-ish piano before stopping to make space for the second beginning--a very GENESIS-like mellotron-washed section. But this section too yields, ends, to allow the introduction of a very PFM-like acoustically accompanied vocal section. Absolutely gorgeous music, melody, and singing! The EMERSON-piano returns at the 3:35 mark to provide the base for the return of the vocals. Stunning songwriting! As good as any PFM high points that I've ever heard. 5:05 marks the emergence of a beautiful synth sound soloing briefly before the music settles back to the vocal with piano/acoustic guitar outro. 10/10

 "Sovrano Dell'illusione--Part 2" uses electric piano and echoing bass to provide its initial ominous jazzy feel. Again images of EBERHARD WEBER's works are conjured until the 2:40 marks the introduction of some skillful EDDIE VAN HALEN-sounding guitar chord playing bursts onto the scene. It disappears for a gap of a few seconds during which a few strange sentences are uttered, then comes back with a vengeance as synths and guitar soli emote themselves. 6:20 change: Mellotron and bass pedals! Then another odd shift into distorted electric guitar arpeggios over which the very strange vocals re-emerge until the music and vocals suddenly shift, mid-stream, to a very dreamy, melodic feel, back to guitar arpeggios which literally fadeout as a SATIE-like solo piano takes over. What an amazing rollercoaster ride! Mellotron! Weird background noises! The end! Wow! 9/10

 The final song, "Re Schiavo--Part 2" begins with a piano reiteration of now-familiar themes--again very SATIE--esque. New themes are introduced at 1:00, 1:10, and 1:15 as the vocals commence. Multi-voiced chorus harmonies precede a beautiful section in which a TONY BANKS-like synth solo performs over acoustic guitars, fretless bass, and quiet batterie--leading to the final, brief vocal recitation and piano fadeout. Beautiful. 9/10

 Seriously, folks: Check out this album! They need to be discovered and promoted. I bet their concerts would be amazing: Musically, kind of like the early Gabriel-era GENESIS shows without the theatrics. Four and a half stars (and growing!)

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Review by Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars A big thankyou to Finnforest who suggested I check this out. I believe Jim said it would make me wet my pants. Well thankfully that hasn't happened yet but I agree with you, this is one wild ride. I had their previous album from 1999 which was good but I honestly could take it or leave it.Then I heard the song they did in 2005 for "The Colossus Of Rhodes" project and man they impressed me there. So it appears these guys are getting better with time as this latest release from them really made my day everytime I heard it.

"Re Schiavo" opens with atmosphere and a sample of people speaking. Psychedelic guitar comes in with drums and more followed by vocals. Mellotron too then it kicks in. It settles back as contrasts continue. Piano leads before 4 minutes as it calms right down.Guitar comes in soloing before it kicks in one last time.Great tune. "Preda Part 1" opens with some exellent bass as drums and guitar come in. Funkytown ! Vocals join in then it turns heavier before 2 1/2 minutes but it's brief. It does kick in again only this time for a longer period. Some funky bass as it settles before 5 minutes. "Preda Part 2" hits the ground running with riffs then the organ gets a workout as drums pound. Synths add a spacey vibe.Piano before 4 minutes as the riffs continue. "Gabriel" is one of my favourite tracks. A top two for sure. It opens with liquid keys then builds quickly. Vocals join in. What a great sounding tune. The guitar rips it up 4 1/2 minutes in when the vocals stop. Love this track.

"Xoanon" is my other top two. A dark soundscape here to start. Very cool. Electronics as the guitar echoes in the night. Drums after 1 1/2 minutes then it kicks in after 3 minutes heavily. Nice. Organ 4 minutes in as the bass throbs and the drums and synths also impress. The electronics return as it settles. "L'Isola Di Sara" is fairly laid back and vocals come in after a minute. I really like the sound after 2 minutes when it all picks up. Contrasts continue. Beautiful stuff. "Sovrano Dell'Illusione" opens with piano as the mellotron floods in. Acoustic guitar and synths follow then reserved vocals. "Sovrano Dell'Illusione Part 2" is the longest track and it's a killer. Love how it sounds to start. It kicks in before 3 minutes before settling back with guitar that echoes. It kicks back in quickly with riffs and organ as the contrasts continue. Vocals before 7 1/2 minutes. Piano only 9 1/2 minutes in followed by mellotron. "Re Schiavo Reprise" opens with piano only as background samples come in like on the opening song. Vocals and a fuller sound takes over.

I've really grown to adore this album.

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Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover Team
5 stars Mad Crayon continues on its merry journey with an out of this world release much heralded by PA gurus Mellotronstorm and Finnforest and providing some additional vindication for this band that takes its sweet time to push out a bambino (10 years have gone by since 'Diamanti'!) and the wait has been quite worth it. The scope of their songwriting has evolved tremendously, with anything from harder rock, to funk, via some space, a touch of symphonics and a dose of fusion-jazz. Main guitarist Daniele Vitalone is unafraid to squeeze as much wah-wah pedal and assorted effects out of his crunching macho style, while the dual keyboard attack rekindles fond memories of RPI stalwarts Banco, Goblin and Il Volo. Delicious bass and thoughtful drumming makes this a pulsating affair, full of bravado, pomp and passion. Mad Crayon likes to offer 2 part song structures, often one after the other like a suite but also book ending the disc with sulfuric "Re Schiavo" and its reprise finale.

This opener is a devastating piece, metallic, tangible and yet audacious, setting a bold tone right from the get go, stating the fact that this will be an inspired ride.

On the 2 part "Preda" suite, everything is tossed into the mix including brutal organ rumblings, swift electronics and slithering beats, all welded together by some molten-hot guitar runs.

But it's the next core series of songs that impresses from the very first listen, a captivating flow of RPI of the highest standard. "Gabriel" is more keys oriented and as such there is a lovely piano lead into the arrangement that has some jazzy moments as well as a more psychedelic one, whilst providing some excellent Italian language vocals. The raspy axe stretches the mood brilliantly while the ravishing bass burps comfortable and content to even solo fretless. Darn good stuff this! When the guitar solo erupts, the tension is palpably demented like sonic Vesuvius, exploding chords into the air.

But the cornerstone genius of this album is the blooming electronic aura of "Xoanon", a scintillating slice of stellar space/psychedelia of the loftiest caliber, loaded with mood and atmosphere, all played with vivid authority and dedication. The synthesizers hold the rushing organ's hands as they travel through space and time, a loopy bass scurries thoughtfully, emitting a definite Brand X feel. But when the organ starts flying, ooooh my! This is a fascinating piece of work that can rival anything in the RPI catalogue (Si signore, its dat good!).

"L'Isola di Sara" is the designated ballad, a style Mad Crayon is very good at (as per the delectable "Poggia di Fiori" off Diamanti) showcasing Federico Tetti's buoyant and dreamy vocals , all blanketed with some spirited playing by all instrumentalists , less languorous and more assertive than ever before. The acoustic guitar solo is expressive to the max and surprises with its freshness and vivacity. Damn these guys are talented; just check the guitar solo, pfffff!

Then we have the epic 2 part "Sovrano dell'Illusione" with its ultra symphonic mellotron- guided intro, allied with nimble piano and acoustic guitar, evoking hints of pastoral/medieval Ant Phillips-like horizons before the fragile vocals kick in and remind us that we are in Alba and not Albion . But the 'tron keeps reappearing amid the various passages, where somber vocals reign supreme and flute-patch synths whistle in the gale. The longer second part has a more cohesive makeup, the rocky guitars reappear with unabashed vigor, the bass rumbles nastily and the whole sonic locomotive becomes a authoritative force. This is splendid music, where organ, synth and fretboards combine to create a frenzy of resonance, constantly weaving between soft and hard sections, like a musical teeter-totter. When the piano 'jazzlounges' towards the end, we are knowledgeably in the presence of something astounding as the ivories flow into the "Re Schiavo reprise". This only serves to consecrate this lively album further, easily the biggest surprise of 2011, as I thought these guys were gone from the face of Prog. Bravo!

I am therefore not surprised that mellotronstorm may have humidified his Fruit of the Looms, as this is definitely his style of adventurous, hard-edged yet fluid progressive rock. This is a monster album that deserves the highest praise, only the sucky cover art is unworthy (Pacman , really?).

Anyway, I adore it too, Gianni!

5 Atari Italiani

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Review by Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Preda moves the band into a new era

Mad Crayon recently celebrated their 25th anniversary as a band. They began in the middle 80s with other Italian groups who pioneered what would become another wave of RPI into the 90s, influenced by the 70s symphonic bands and neo prog. They did not remain there however, instead Mad Crayon has evolved from the typical early 90s Italian sound to the modern RPI edge of today. The five-piece still sports two of its original members in keyboardists Alessandro Di Benedetti and Daniele Agostinelli. They are joined today by guitarists Federico Tetti, Daniele Vitalone (guitar/bass), and drummer Stefano Fabiani (though Stefano Crudele recorded Preda.) Their Cygnus Records debut in 1994 was admittedly heavily influenced by 1970s Genesis and was warmly received by fans of the traditional style. The good response led to a 2nd album this time on Mellow Records, Diamanti, for which the band were attempting to become more complex.

Then in 2009 Mad Crayon reinvented themselves with a much more technically complex and harder edged modern sound on Preda. Most of the Tony Banks inspirations have been replaced by something closer to Ozric Tentacles, D.F.A., Yugen, and even a few bits of Porcupine Tree (Deadwing era, with some metal influence but not quite metal.) It is pretty obvious that the guys labored hard over these tracks, they are filled with ambition and complexity. As mentioned songs have a basis not so far from Ozric with a sort of free form instrumental jam and some spacey sound effects. Occasionally they'll inject a jazzier feel which accounts for my DFA reference, and there are some heavy guitar sections that sound like they came straight outta "Anesthetize." The RPI touches are there as well, the vocals and some of the lovely piano gracing certain sections resemble what a younger Banco might sound like today. It's all a very feisty and energetic ball of sound that bounces you around the room.

Some of the cooler parts are jaw-dropping good, nimble electric jamming, with amazing acoustic sections for balance, often over some dreamy sound effects. And yet to be frank there are sections which drag a bit for me, and some of the heaviest in particular can sound a bit forced. I love it best when the loudness falls away and the simple beauty of the keyboards brings the Italian flavor back to the forefront. Vocals do no play a huge role on Preda but they are definitely there and of decent quality. The variety of styles and the wide swings in intensity provide a package that will surely satiate adrenalin seeking prog fans. I think "Preda" is a good album by a very tight band. I'm torn between 3 and 4 stars as I often am, rounding up here because of what I feel would be their wide appeal to PA listeners. But I also feel that compositionally this band can do even better, at least for my personal taste. They have all the chops and imagination in the world, I'm truly anxious to hear where they go next.

Since the album's release Mad Crayon have been performing Preda live and working on new material, so stay tuned. 25 years on, the party is not over yet!

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Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The next decade would be a transitional period for Mad Crayon regarding both their music and the personel.The band started adapting new elements and influences in their music and the seeds of their efforts can be heard in the 2002 demo ''Citta frontale'', which was a small taste of their upcoming album and the new direction.In the meantime they had a hard time replacing their previous drummer Stefano Fabiani, the attempts on live shows with newcomers failed and they decided to focus on the rehearsals for the third album.With also Luca Clari out of the picture Mad Crayon continued as a quartet, but kept composing music, as they were regular participants in various concept albums of the Musea label (''Kalevala'', ''The Colossus of Rhodes'', ''Dante's Purgatorio: The Divine Comedy - part II'').The recordings of the long-awaited ''Preda'' album were completed again with Stefano Crudele as a session drummer and the album was originally self-released by the band in 2009, reissued two years later by BTF.

''Preda'' marks a huge change in every aspect of Mad Crayon's sound.The band had two keyboardists, but the keyboards rarely become a centerpiece in this album with the main contribution coming from the guitars of Daniele Vitalone and Federico Tetti.In other words ''Preda'' sounds like a much more balanced work regarding the guitar and keyboard parts compared to the band's past, mostly GENESIS-influenced albums.Stylistically there is a bit of everything contained in ''Preda'', offered in mid-length, proggy compositions, a fact that partly hurts the consistency of the album but simultaneously shows the band's development over the years.Some tracks are dominated by spacey and mascular synthesizers, flavored by electronic samplers and featuring some very heavy guitars, reminding of OZRIC TENTACLES or QUANTUM FANTAY.Almost in every track elements from the more loose side of music are present, either this is called Jazz, Funk or Fusion, while the harder, guitar-driven material with the slight distortions in a rather psychedelic mood crosses the borders of the PORCUPINE TREE/PINK FLOYD principles.And there are even some pieces, which still retain some of the band's past stylings, like ''Sovrano dell'Illusione'' or ''Re Schiavo Reprise'', with their deep Italian colors, the sensitive melodies on musicianship and vocals and the charming keyboard and piano arrangements with the symphonic and jazzy underlines in evidence.I believe the second half of the album is stronger than the first, which is rather unoriginal and dominated by the new influences of the band.The second one is measured and more personal with a lovely combination and balance between Italian-spiced proggy music, intense spacey soundscapes and heavier moves.

So a new era begun for Mad Crayon with ''Preda''.The following year Stefano Fabiani rejoined the group, so we could expect another work by the band in the future.In the meantime this is some very daring work by the Italians, suffering a bit from the new direction in the first pieces, but eventually evolving in some very good, modern Progressive Rock on the way, keeping its Italian character alive.Recommended.

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4 stars A newish Italian band with a very modern sound. Listed under the RPI genre, this normally means a band who play hommage to the old masters of RPI. Mad Crayon does not follow that recipe though. Their sound is mix of fusion, metal, modern rock, funk and symph prog. OK, with some RPI influences t ... (read more)

Report this review (#493082) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Saturday, July 30, 2011 | Review Permanlink

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