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Progenesi Ulisse - L'Alfiere Nero album cover
3.98 | 102 ratings | 8 reviews | 24% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2012

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. La Gioia della Pace (4:46)
2. La Strategia (6:23)
3. Il Blue della Notte (11:06)
4. Il Rosso della Notte pt. 1 (7:50)
5. Il Rosso della Notte pt. 2 (8:30)
6. Un grande Eroe (10:12)

Total Time 48:47

Line-up / Musicians

- Patrik Matrone / electric & acoustic guitars
- Giulio Stromendo / piano, Hammond, synths, keyboards, composer & arranger
- Dario Giubileo / bass
- Omar Ceriotti / drums, percussion

- Eloisa Manera / violin
- Issei Watanabe / cello

Releases information

Artwork: Simone Ceriotti

CD Raffinerie Musicali ‎- RM013PR (2012, Italy)

Thanks to Todd for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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PROGENESI Ulisse - L'Alfiere Nero ratings distribution

(102 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(24%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(39%)
Good, but non-essential (30%)
Collectors/fans only (8%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

PROGENESI Ulisse - L'Alfiere Nero reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Todd
4 stars Another great 2013 RPI release

In what is becoming a banner year for Rock Progressivo Italiano, another excellent entry is new band Progenesi. Their debut is a concept album centered around Ulysses, entitled "Ulisse: L'Alfiere Nero" (the Black Bishop). This ambitious album is entirely instrumental, but surprisingly the narrative stays strong throughout the work, even without words. But regardless, the music is special--as my friend and RPI team member Aussie- Bird-Brother commented, "there's never a weak moment." And it is true! The heart of the work is 1970s RPI (the band states on their website that Le Orme and PFM are influences, but I can also surely catch Banco in there), mixed with the work of 1970s English bands (specifically ELP and Genesis, with some Pink Floyd). But there are also classically inspired themes (Bartok especially plays a role on the second track) and jazz passages-- but despite the great musicianship of the band members, virtuosity never eclipses melody and theme on this album. And the melodies are strong--like any great RPI band. All of the musicians share the stage, with no one in particular dominating--and guest musicians provide violin and cello to wonderful effect, greatly enhancing the mood and feel of the album. Perhaps two contemporary references that come to mind are Ego (especially their "Evoluzione delle Forme" album) and the recent debut by Soulengine (as pointed out by my friend and RPI team member seventhsojourn). But in my opinion, Progenesi is a few steps ahead of those worthy bands, particularly on the strength of the melodies and themes.

Visit the band's website, where there are links to YouTube videos of several of the songs on the album, as well as photos on Facebook that are contained in the CD booklet, photos that add to the narrative sense of the work. Enjoy this wonderful band! Four solid stars, and climbing! (Gnosis 12/15)

Review by andrea
4 stars Progenesi are a young prog band hailing from Milan and formed by four musicians coming from different musical backgrounds. In 2013 they released an interesting début album titled "Ulisse l'alfiere nero" (Ulysses the black bishop) with a line up featuring Omar Ceriotti (drums, percussions), Dario Giubileo (bass), Patrik Matrone (electric guitar and acoustic guitar) and Giulio Stromendo (piano, Hammond, synthesizers, keyboards) plus two guests, Eloisa Manera (violin) and Issei Watanabe (cello). Their aim was to blend progressive rock, jazz and classical music and among the influences they boast you can find Premiata Forneria Marconi, Le Orme, Emerson Lake & Palmer, Genesis, Pink Floyd and Porcupine Tree along with jazzists as John Coltrane and Dave Brubeck or classical composers as Bela Bartok and Chopin.

According to the band, Ulisse l'alfiere nero" is a concept album freely based on Homer's epic verses about the fall of Troy in the Iliad. The album is completely instrumental and the story is told just through the music and the nice pictures that you can find in the booklet. Your imagination has to fill all the gaps but I'm sure it won't be difficult since the overall sound is rich and full of evocative colours that will help you.

The opener "La gioia della pace" (The joy of peace) recalls PFM and is a lively piece celebrating the end of the siege. The picture describing this piece portrays a chessboard with a black knight in the forefront that is facing alone all the white pieces. Now imagine the joy of the inhabitants of Troy dressed up in white dancing around the deceiving, threatening black wooden horse on the beach at a tarantella rhythm while in the sky a light bird goes...

The music of the following track, "La strategia" (The strategy), was inspired by Belà Bartok's "Suite op. 14". It features more aggressive passages, some jazzy touches and a martial marching beat in the middle section. The picture describing this piece portrays a chessboard with a black bishop in the forefront that is observing the battlefield and planning a subterfuge to defeat his white enemies. Well, if you like an album such as "Il passo del soldato" by Nuova Era I'm sure you'll be delighted by this amazing piece.

"Il blue della notte" (The blue of the night) begins softly, with a delicate passage for piano and strings. The city is asleep and there' no one but the wind who is talking in the streets. Then the rhythm rises bringing a sense of impending tragedy. In the picture describing this piece you can see a black bishop in the dark leading his pawns toward the chessboard while the knight is in the rear.

"Il rosso della notte" (The red of the night) is divided into two parts. The first one begins in an aggressive way with dark chords and frenzied organ rides. The slaughter begins and the city is put to fire and sword while the dreams of the inhabitants turn into nightmares. The first part ends in a surreal dirge. In the second part the sound of a gong introduces a more relaxed passage with a mysterious flavour but then the rhythm rises again while the raging fire still paint the night in shades of purple and other deep colours.

The last track, "Un grande eroe" (A great hero), is a long, complex celebration of the victory. In the picture describing this piece you can see the black bishop observing from a shelf a heap of black and white pieces scattered on the ground. The war is over but home is still far and the music seems to suggest that the journey will be long and full of surprises.

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars It's easy to lose count of the amount of times things like `There's been so many amazing instrumental albums recently', and `There's been so many good Italian albums recently' can be said, but it's even better even more when both of those things come together on a truly superb album such as `Ulisse: L'Alfiere Nero', the debut work by Progenesi! This is not a slavish recreation of typical 70's Italian grandiosity, rather a collection of six dynamic compositions that blends progressive rock, classical influences and jazz to very exciting results. The band mix the instrumental dexterity of DFA, the stomp of P.F.M, the searing violin of Quella Vechio Locanda and Arti e Mestieri, with the rollicking playfulness of Fruupp, Genesis, ELP, Camel and even Porcupine Tree. Despite the occasional darker flourishes, this is a truly uplifting and positively charged album, yet it's never too sweet or schmaltzy, rather it's dynamic and action packed, yet rarely bombastic and bloated. Prog fans are in for a real treat with this one.

Giulio Stromendo's keyboards literally hum with warmth, plied over so much of the album. His Moog has that classic whirring vintage prog sound, his piano glistens with jazzy lightness, and his sparse contributions of Mellotron are used in just the right moments. Omar Ceriotti's drumming is varied, punchy and changes direction frequently, Dario Giubileo bass is confident and fluid, and Patrik Matrone's reaffirming guitar playing is majestic and beautifully melodic. Eloisa Manera and Issei Watanabe on violin and cello provide an exquisite touch of drama and sophistication to the arrangements. You couldn't ask for a more talented bunch of musicians for bring the story of `Ullysses: The Black Bishop' to life, only through their instrumental skills with no vocals or narration to carry the story forward.

Opener `La Goia Della Pace' charges at the listener in the same peppy and bouncy way that the P.F.M track `E Festa' does, with swirling Moog and snappy drumming, it will have your foot tapping in no time! `La Strategia' will keep you guessing with it's numerous tempo changes, jazzy piano diversions and psychedelic keyboard explosions. There's a slightly foreboding sound to parts of it, very unpredictable and varied, with lots of manic and maddening twisting electric guitar runs. Giulio is all over `Il Blue della Notte' with a million ideas! Despite the downbeat cello introduction, he finds time for some Jordan Rudess-like synths, a very catchy strident and purposeful repeated keyboard melody, Mellotron washes, blaring Hammond and a wide range of different emotions and moods weaving through his various piano touches. It's possible to detect even just the slightest touches of the Ozric Tentacles and Dream Theater worked into this piece, even if just for a few seconds here and there. There's also plenty of gutsy electric guitar grunt from Patrick and lovely sadly romantic violin in the finale from Eloisa too.

Eliosa also tears through the main violin theme of the aggressive `Il Rosso della Notte pt.1', searing playing that cuts through intimidating church organ, manic gothic piano and unhinged drumming for an unpredictable and dramatic atmosphere as good as Banco from all those classic 70's Italian releases. Lovely murmuring bass playing, short bluesy stabs of electric guitar and maddening loopy synths top it off nicely, as well as the cold ambient outro that brings an unsettling chill to the air. `Pt.2' continues with a sad and weeping violin melody, that quickly turns reflective and uplifting as it's soon joined by a triumphant synth solo and punchy drumming. Although very uptempo in the middle with some highly energetic and joyous electric guitar soloing and driving bass running amok, the glum opening is reprised in the finale to wrap this two part epic in a thoughtful and moving manner.

To bring things back around full circle, the band return to an extended and improvised continuation of the galloping P.F.M-like melody of the opening piece, with added cheeky strolling bass, infectious keyboard overload, rumbling drum solo and stirring violin bringing a very grand and near- orchestral grandiosity to wrap the album on.

Make sure to add `Ulisse: L'Alfiere Nero' to your `Must Buy' list straight away. It's easy to play over and over and still keep discovering new exciting moments on it, in addition to constantly being thrilled by the terrific playing and dazzling diversity. Along with recent vocal-free albums by Carpe Nota, Il Giardino Onirico and PTF, instrumental progressive rock simply doesn't come any better than this, and let's hope we get a follow up album in the future.

Four stars.

Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Progenesi was a labour of love, as I had to listen to it many times, including the 'car torture test' before the qualities of this all-instrumental affair came to the forefront. The reason is that upon initial audition the record comes across as being a bit of a show-off technical skills extravaganza, something I personally do not always cherish. This anathema stems from having a lifelong odd appreciation for ELP, in that they (especially Emerson and Palmer) like to over-prove their talent with regular chopzilla.

Progenesi is perhaps closest in style to legendary fellow Italians D.F.A (whose splendid career ended with the untimely death of their keyboardist in a 2011 car accident ), a lofty compliment to say the very least. This talented Milan quartet plays hard and fast, as per the opening blitzkrieg that gives keyboardist Giulio Stromendo the platform to lather up the proceedings with a brittle display of slithering Hammond organ regalia, slammed with suave synthesizer shavings. The track is humorously entitled 'La Goia della Pace' and also provides guitarist Patrik Matrone to shine in a style that is part ELP and part Booker T and the MGs. The sweet mid-section introduces delectable piano rippling in alliance with some pastoral strings before rejoining the RPI autostrada. Both bassist Dario Guibileo and drummer Omar Ceriotti keep a tight rein on the rather blistering material.

Case in point, the vigorous rhythmic explosions that kick off 'La Strategia', a colossal track that takes you by the throat and does not let go, where the seamless infusion of jazzroom piano noodlings, pulsating to a bopping bass combine with some serious soloing by Stromendo and Matrone. This is stormy, bold, vivacious, petulant and frightening progressive rock.

But where this debut really starts pushing one's buttons, is on the tremendous classically- injected 'Il Blue della Notte' where the mood just erupts in a shivering 11 minute cocktail of resonating material, cello and violin on one hand and buzzing interplay that reminds me of Triumvirat's finest moments, particularly how Stromendo masters layers of organ, piano and synth. Insinuating that Giulio is anywhere near J'rgen Fritz's talent is quite a stretch but this man really slays the ivories! The underlying theme is heavy and saturated with booming riffs, until the arrangement evolves into a brief electronic mood (Like APP's 'I Robot') that then segues into an organ, bass and drum onslaught that will knock your dentures out! Furious, carnal and sizzling is the subsequent guitar solo before that intoxicating theme returns a final time, these are absolutely highlight reel moments! The mood swings are smooth and creative, keeping the listener on constant edge. The extended violin fade out is simply heart stopping.

'Il Rosso della Notte' resumes the torrid pace, like some heavyweight pugilist unafraid to pound out more rounds, Matrone's fretboard now taking over the raging dialog with piano/organ. This is thumping stuff, as the extended organ flurry combines with some pipe organ interjection, giving the piece a very strong Trace/Ekseption feel. When the hard rock guitar slides in, with its Robin Trower-ish bluesy screech, the whole thing just burns brightly. Nothing here is soft and gentle, or even sentimental. Quite to the contrary, the pulse is ecstatic, frenzied, manic and delirious. This is why the initial impression was so 'technical' as the band prefers the 'assault and battery' approach to the 'Lets mix it up with contrasts' method. Now, that does not prevent them from very occasionally diving into more spectral moments, as the final minute here is full of doomed sonic gloom. Wow!

As if that was not enough to convince, 'Il Rosso della Notte 2' suggest a slightly more symphonic translation of the same melodies, boldly pursued by a strong bass anchor. The upward spiraling orchestral introduction just lays down the foundation for Matrone to unleash a gritty solo, followed by some tauter group interplay that serves to continually edify the arrangement. They finally pause for a few minutes, luxuriating in a neo-classical, violin- led pool of orchestral sound that gives their raunchy music even more credibility. The sonics suddenly evolve into an effects-laden fade away that is unexpected yet brilliant.

The pungent finale 'Un Grande Eroe' is a reprise of the opening rambler, just like the bookends of a mythological book of intrepid travels (Ulysses- The Black Bishop) and this is where the clincher ultimately occurs. The band sets down a captivating and mellifluous groove and the inspired players just weave musical magic of the very highest order. Stromondo's piano work is again to be commended, the man is surely among the new breed of RPI keyboard maestros (together with Scherani, Macor, Liberati, Tarasconi and company). Fantastic pace, tremendous talents and incredible delivery.

As per their website description 'There is the experience of the classic 70s prog-rock (ELP, Genesis, Le Orme, PFM), the research in the psychedelic path of Pink Floyd and Porcupine Tree's contemporary style, a passion for symphonic music by Beethowen, the romantic lyricism of Chopin, the compositional ideas of the first '900 (Bartok in particular) up to the sounds of jazz (specifically Coltrane, Brubeck and Russell). Thus the music of this album has a strong descriptive and narrative character, which is combined with a set of photographic pictures, both functional to the portrait of Ulysses in the famous episode of the Trojan horse.'

5 Trojan horses

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Born from the chambers of the music conservatory in Milan, Progenesi comprised of keyboardist/pianist Giulio Stromendo, bassist Dario Giubileo, guitarist Patrik Matrone and drummer Omar Ceriotti with the first becoming the main composer of the band.With E.L.P., Genesis and Italian Prog legends as their basic influences and having a background in Classical, Jazz and Modern Music, they decided to dedicate an album to the adventures of hero of the Greek mythology Ulysses.They visited the Lacchiarella comune, where the Raffinerie Musicali were based and with the help of Eloisa Manera on violin and Issei Watanabe on cello they recorded their debut ''Ulisse l'alfiere Nero'' for the studio's label, released in 2012.

To present a story with an all instrumental sound is quite an achievement and Progenesi revisit the story of Ulysses with various moods, instrumental density and shifting tempos in an album, characterized by its evident vintage influences and the instrumental and stylistical diversity.The young group plays music with flexible inspirations.Strong Classical nuances, Jazz Fusion techniques and Heavy Prog pounds are all present here, which is both a good and a bad thing.Good, because the album is never boring, contains some excellent stylistical switches and becomes a seminar of varied instrumental Prog Rock.Bad, because it's not overly cohesive plus I have the feeling that some vocal parts could have exploded its value.Even so the combination of analog keyboards and piano with the flaming electric guitars and the modern sound of synthesizers is pretty charming and convincing with lots of impressive rhythmic parts, symphonic overtones and jazzy interludes in the process.Stromendo appears to be a lover of the Hammond organ, as this one dominates the whole album in a very 70's style.Complicated time signatures, technical efficiency and a raw power are all over the place next to some lovely piano arrangements and themes, on the other hand the melodies are rather absent, I think they would definitely add some cathartic lines if displayed.

Not quite there with the most excellent efforts of the modern Italian Prog scene, but the instrumental and composing talent of the band are things we should not deny.Plus there is some huge background for a potential masterpiece in the future, if there is any, as the updates of the band have slowed down.Warmly recommended.

Latest members reviews

5 stars Some of my friends (all "prog maniacs") said to me "I think that I've already heard something like this before " and I answer "... me too ... but I liked so much !!!" In fact soon in the track 1 "La Gioia della Pace" the PREMIATA FORNERIA MARCONI's influence appears in a incontesta ... (read more)

Report this review (#1083991) | Posted by maryes | Sunday, December 1, 2013 | Review Permanlink

5 stars What a wonderful record! The Italian group "Progenesi" has released their debut record this year and "Ulisse: L'Alfiere Nero" maked me shiver through the whole listening. There is something out standing in this subgenre. I think it's the thought of the 70s which is still in them and who wouldn ... (read more)

Report this review (#1058978) | Posted by DrömmarenAdrian | Saturday, October 12, 2013 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Thanks for setting up the thread, Todd! ★An unbelievably flawless album, considering the production age★ At first listening, one would inevitably think of ELP, obviously from their keyboards. But if you listen to this album more than three times, you would come to discover the divers ... (read more)

Report this review (#967084) | Posted by YoshiPK | Thursday, May 30, 2013 | Review Permanlink

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