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CONQUEROR

Rock Progressivo Italiano • Italy


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Conqueror biography
CONQUEROR is a contemporary Italian group. The line-up in their debut album is: Simona Rigano (keyboards & vocals), Gaetano Scarcella (guitar), Natale Russo (drums) and Tony Rose (bass). The history of this Sicilian group dates back to 1994 although the debut album was released only several years later. Before the debut album there had been many line-up changes and founder Natale Russo has remained the only original member of the group. The music of this group can be compared to an updated APOTEOSI because of the similar female vocals and overall melodic sense.

The debut album "Istinto" was released in 2003. It is an excellent album in the seventies tradition, but with a modern and personal sound. The group manages to produce beautiful melodic lines continuously with nice arrangements. The music is mostly driven by the excellent keyboard/guitar interplay. Also, the mesmerizing voice of Simona Rigano can't be overlooked because the female vocals do set them apart from the majority of similar groups.

A long summer tour proved the band was on its right way. The last line-up adjustment (with flute and sax) confers the band an excellent stability. In 2004 the group stages a multimedia show, warmly received by the public. In October 2005 the Conqueror released their second album called "STORIE FUORI DAL TEMPO". The album brought along other excellent critics as well as a large distribution at international level. In 2006 the group was singled out to participate at the ANDRIA PROG-FEST with other big groups of the Italian Prog scene.

In 2007 the Conqueror released their third album "74 GIORNI" which met with the most approval since their beginning. In the same year the album was nominated (among names such as PFM and New Trolls) the best album of Italian Prog-Music. In October the Conqueror took part in the Mantova Prog Festival together with the group "Delirium". In 2008 the track "NEBBIA AD OCCHI CHIUSI" was included in a Belgian compilation, and Conqueror participated at the final night of the international PROG-Resiste Festival. In 2009 the band is at work for a new album.

In the Spring of 2010, Conqueror released their most accomplished project to date, a full concept album on the life of the Mata Hari. "Madame Zelle" features a new line-up adding guitarist Mario Pollino and bassist Gianluca Villa to the core group of Simona Rigano, Sabrina Rigano, and Natale Russo.
The current band could be compared somewhat to the United...
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CONQUEROR discography


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CONQUEROR top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.93 | 24 ratings
Istinto
2003
3.73 | 34 ratings
Storie Fuori Dal Tempo
2005
3.81 | 40 ratings
74 Giorni
2007
3.36 | 37 ratings
Madame Zelle
2010
3.70 | 23 ratings
Stems
2014

CONQUEROR Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

CONQUEROR Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

CONQUEROR Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

CONQUEROR Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

4.22 | 13 ratings
Sprazzi Di Luce
2009

CONQUEROR Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Madame Zelle by CONQUEROR album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.36 | 37 ratings

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Madame Zelle
Conqueror Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars Once more Conqueror's line-up meant to meet some further shakes.Guitarist Mario Pollino had been a member of the band before ''Sprazzi Di Luce'', replacing Tino Nastasi, but only for the first time he headed to a studio recording with the group.Daniele Bambino was replaced at the dawn of 2009 by Andrea Trimarchi, who spent about six months with the band, before leaving his place to Gianluca Villa.This core recorded the fourth full-length album of Conqueror ''Madame Zelle'' at Ludnica Studio in Santa Teresa di Riva with Ottavio Leo as a sound engineer (he helped the band on guitars in the previous EP).It was released in 2010 on MaRaCash Records and marked another concept work by the band.Who the hell is Madame Zelle though?No other than Margaretha Geertruida Zelle aka Mata Hari, the Dutch dancer who was accused as being a spy during during World War I.

More or less Conqueror's style remains grounded in modern Symphonic Rock fields, however there are a few new introductions in their sound.Firstly there are some Ethnic touches during the listening and generally the folky content of the album is quite pronounced compared to the previous albums, propably to advance Mata Hari's connection with exotic and Ethnic dances.Second comes the constant use of Sabrina Rigano's flute, which is another reason the album tends to the Symphonic/Folk Rock side.Do not expect though something close to Prog Folk, the music is still 100% Symphonic Rock with dominant keyboard passages and ethereal melodies, while the rockier sensibilities appear once more in the more guitar-based parts.Simona Rigano's voice is again the absolute trademark of Conqueror: Crystalline, flawless and absolutely efficient singing.''Madame Zelle'' contains long, instrumental themes with beautiful guitar melodies, varied flute work, either with Classical or more traditional acoustics, and bombastic keyboards.The excellent production reveals the sheer dynamics of the album, which moreover contains lots of careful interplays and complex passages.But melody and groove still remain Conqueror's main elements in this new effort.

Another solid work by one of the best Italian bands of the recent era.Nice concept, solid music and pretty amazing vocals.No less than strongly recommended...3.5 stars.

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 Madame Zelle by CONQUEROR album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.36 | 37 ratings

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Madame Zelle
Conqueror Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by andrea
Prog Reviewer

4 stars After the release of an EP in 2009, "Sprazzi di luce", in 2010 Conqueror released on Ma.Ra.Cash Records their fourth full length studio album, "Madame Zelle", with a renewed line up featuring Natale Russo (drums and percussions), Simona Rigano (vocals, keyboards and synth), Sabrina Rigano (flute and saxophone), Mario Pollino (guitars) and Gianluca Villa (bass). During the recording sessions they were helped by Ottavio Leo who contributed to enrich the sound with sitar and other instruments. The result is very good and the band confirmed here all the qualities of their previous works. "Madame Zelle" is a concept album inspired by the life and legend of Margaretha Geertruida Zelle, better known as Mata Hari. Simona Rigano's inspired vocals do not tell a story, they interpret with heartfelt empathy the feelings and emotions of an unabashedly independent, sensitive woman while the music is full of colours and nuances.

The long, complex opener "Margaretha" sets the atmosphere. It begins softly, the mood is dreamy and the music features an exotic flavour. Memories from the childhood and the formative years of the protagonist emerge as little isles in the North Sea. Margaretha Geertruida Zelle was born in the Netherlands in 1876. After her father went bankrupt, in 1989, she went through a very difficult period that marked her rebellious beauty and this nice suite honours the everyday battles of her growing up... "Where the tides break in through the borders of an incomparable land / Where starfishes emerge from the seabed, playing with nature / That's where my memories recall the smell of every single day I passed at the mercy of a youth long time gone / That's where my thoughts tell the ingenuous but extrovert smile of an already prohibited charm...".

The following "Indonesia" begins with percussion and sitar. It's a beautiful instrumental track where the music conjure up mysterious Oriental charms. Margaretha got married with a captain of the Dutch Colonial Army and followed him to Java. She was unhappy in her marriage but during this period of her life she learned a lot about local culture and about the art of seduction...

Next comes "Occhio dell'alba" (Eye of dawn) that describes the birth of a legend. Margaratha and her husband went back to the Netherlands in 1902 where they separated. In 1903 she moved to Paris where she began her artistic career as an exotic dancer under the name of Mata Hari, an Indonesian name that means "eye of dawn". Her provocative style and her free-willed attitude made her a very popular woman... "The last veil of sin sets my wings free / Upon me, upon me, only upon me / Endless shapes alight upon me...".

The excellent "Fascino proibito" (Prohibited charm) describes in a poetical way the mystery of Margaretha's charm. The music and lyrics evoke perfumes and colours, wonderful flowers and falling leaves, the whirling game of senses... "It's desire that condemns and hurts the soul...". Next comes "Eleganza perfetta" (Perfect elegance) where the emphatic vocals of Simona Rigano draw the amazing portrait of a sensual woman, fragile and strong in the meantime... "I'm waiting for your fragile instinct / I'm getting lost in the sunrise that lights my eyes / And in the silence that surrounds me I can shine again... Venus no longer rules my senses / It was Venus who was caressing my smile, my face...".

"H 21" is titled after the code name that the German secret services gave to Margaretha during World War I. Charm is a key that can open many doors, there's richness and madness in this track where tension and sensuality shine through all along the way... "In the apparent perfection I will deceive the most attentive eye / Please, let me dance once more / Let me hide the cold loneliness behind my fragile body...".

"Doppio gioco" (Double-crossing) describes the feelings of Margaretha on the last night before the end of her career as a spy... "Two scraps of velvet cover my body / One is black, soft and elegant / Its colour is defined by a subtle embroidery / The other is red, worn and torn / By the fierce flames that fate has thrown at me... This is the last dance / This is the last night...". "Da sola" (Alone) is a suggestive, reflective track that describes the feelings of Margaretha with reference to the change in her fate and to the charges against her... "I live in the infinite space of my ideas / I turn away from me the fear of the dark, of apparent loneliness...".

The last track, "Ad occhi alti" (With a proud look), closes the circle. Margareth is alone in her cell before the execution. She has been condemned and in a few hours she will be killed by a French firing squad. Her thoughts go back in time, her life has flown away like a raging river but she's not ashamed of what she's done. She can go to her randez-vous with the death with a proud look... "As the evening falls, so cold and dark / Ice takes hold of my body, once charming / I get ready for the last act / After all I was just... Mata Hari".

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 Sprazzi Di Luce by CONQUEROR album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2009
4.22 | 13 ratings

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Sprazzi Di Luce
Conqueror Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

4 stars After two years of intense live activity following ''74 giorni'' Conqueror return with a self-released EP entitled ''Sprazzi Di Luce''.This short release, clocking at only 20 minutes, is mostly a musical collaboration between Simona and Sabrina Rigano, regarding the pair of new compositions.

The eponymoys opener is a great soft prog ballad, much in the style of HOSTSONATEN. Sensitive vocals accompanied by melodic flutes, symphonic synths and delicate piano work with background guitars.The following ''...E Mi Manchi Tanto'' is another soft prog ballad, actually a cover of an Alluni Del Sole track, perfectly suited to Conqueror's style. Flutes, piano and crystalline vocals have again the basic role with a nicely combined synth/sax solo by the end.''Semplice'' is more of the same, but the lovely sound leaves you wanting for more and does not get boring even for a minute.Symphonic flute/piano smooth interplays lead the track all the way with Simona Rigano's marvelous vocal chords adding a beautiful emotional color.This EP will close with a live version of ''Pensieri Fragili'' from the band's debut ''Instinto'' and this one is an absolutely great version of the track, fresh, powerful, slightly melancholic and typical of Italian Symph Prog style with some great breaks and plenty of emotional content.

The only reason I dont give this album a solid 4-star rating is its short length.But again all 20 minutes are no less than excellent, melodic and trippy Italian Symphonic Rock.Even this Conqueror EP deserves some strong recommendations...3.5 stars upgraded to 4 for the site.

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 74 Giorni by CONQUEROR album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.81 | 40 ratings

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74 Giorni
Conqueror Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

4 stars A couple of years after the very good ''Storie Fuori Dal Tempo'' Conqueror try hard to make an impact to the prog world and they really started to set the seeds.The band moved to on to their third release,for which bassist Daniele Bambino replaced Fabio Ucchino.The new album was titled ''74 giorni'',distributed by Mellow Records.

This is a concept release refering to the number of days two Italian sailors, Ambrogio Fogar and Mauro Mancini, struggled to survive after the wreck of the ship ''Surprise'' back in late- 70's.Musically this is another fantastic work by Conqueror and while the album starts off with a piano-ballad led by the sensational voice of Simona Rigano,it soon will switch into a fascinating modern Symphonic Rock trip,similar to the likes of FINISTERRE and LA MASCHERA DI CERA.The compositions alternates between vocal-based melodic themes and complicated instrumentals with light interplays and a fair amount of adventurous breaks.A great balance between the band members' sees all of their work in the front: Simona Rigano delivers lovely piano passages and grandiose atmospheres through synths,Sabrino Rigano will add the symphonic flavor of flutes and occasionally the charm of her melodic saxes,while guitarist Tino Nastasi prooves to be a major part o the band,offering both melodic and jazzy at times performances.And while the tracks are mainly short,all contain a vast spectrum of changing moods and interplays,however it is impressive how the band manages to keep a steady deep atmosphere throughout the album.

With ''74 giorni'' it is guaranteed that every Conqueror release will contain challenging, intricate and balanced material.Another superb effort by the band,highly recommended to fans of high- quality Symphonic/Progressive Rock,no matter you are fond of Italian lyrics or not.

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 Madame Zelle by CONQUEROR album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.36 | 37 ratings

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Madame Zelle
Conqueror Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

3 stars I really enjoyed Conqueror's previous album "74 Giorni", a masterfully melodic and adventurous concept album based on seamen lost on the ocean that had all the cylinders revving. Astute melodies expressed by scintillating playing, a fabulous aquatic mood and a operatic female vocalist , all melded together in that wonderfully unique Italian prog style we all know as RPI . I was eagerly awaiting this one, as it was another concept, this time based on that foremost great spy (No, not Bond) , the legendary Mata Hari, also know as Margaretha Geertruida Zelle, hence the title. I must say the initial spin through was not very inspiring, as it happens actually quite often in prog, you got to be in the right receptive frame of mind. It's a chemistry thing? So, try again, she said, in a hefty seductive whisper? Amazing how a second attempt can shake the cobwebs of immediate judgment! The opening epic wastes no time in setting the stage, a nearly 15 minute ride led impetuously by vocalist Simona Rigano's sizzling synthesizer soloing, sister Sabrina supplying the delicate flute and later saxophones , newcomers guitarist Mario Pollino and bassist Gianluca Villa who both replaced the very solid Tino Nastasi adding their own touches while drummer Natale Russo bangs nicely. This is a very tasty opener, full of pleasant meanderings. I will interject here and boldly state that I miss Nastasi's dripping guitar style as well as his superlative Rickenbaker bass playing , both very noteworthy. "Indonesia" has a breezy melody that is to die for, fluttering sitar-like strums vying with the percussives for status, Pollino flashing some nice leads, very restrained and subtle , the flute entering the fray to add depth and a certain sultriness to the saga. There are some less successful tracks here such as "Occhio dell'Alba" a jazzier, groovier and yet somehow disheveled, as if something was missing, unsaved by the fine synth solo or the pleasant sax or "Fascino Proibito", a bluesier (Hammond M-102 with Leslie will do that for you) rant that features an extended jazzy sax solo that contrasts with the earlier harder edges. These contrasts continue less successfully on "Eleganza Perfetta" and yet "H21" is pretty interesting with assorted stops and starts, great flute and fabulous singing help this groove along. The Hammond organ solo is followed by a spiraling synthesizer job, really cool. "Da Sola" has a little dose of raunchy but stays on course. There is little doubt that the closer, "Ad Occhi Alti" is the other winner here, some finesse jazzy singing, pounding organ and a crunchy guitar solo to highlight the impending execution of the seductive spy. Expressive and dramatic to say the least. Beautiful artwork, packaging and photography as mentioned by our Minnesota Finn.

Not as successful as the previous album but there is a lot of talent here. I still prefer the moody previous opus . I guess I haven't been conquered totally this time. 3.5 Firing squads

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 Madame Zelle by CONQUEROR album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.36 | 37 ratings

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Madame Zelle
Conqueror Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by TheGazzardian
Prog Reviewer

2 stars This Italian concept album about Mata Hari aka Madame Zelle falls a bit short for me. Which is a bit puzzling, because plenty of the ingredients are here - an interesting concept (even though I don't understand the lyrics), multifaceted compositions, lovely singing and music, some parts that rock out quite ably, even some jazzy influences and ethnic drumming.

I guess you could say that all the ingredients were added to the soup, but there was too much water. So while they are all present, none have a really strong flavor. The album coasts along at "pleasant" mostly from beginning to end, but rarely do I feel excited by the music, or very emotionally involved. And unfortunately, there are a few parts where the instrumentals just seem to be meandering, looking for that something that would give the album an extra boost but failing to find it...

I've put this album to rest and then picked it up again various times, in the hope of finding what it was that I missed that others are enjoying. But at this point, I have to acknowledge that maybe this album just isn't for me.

And there's not much else to be said. For sure, many will enjoy this album, especially those already inclined to exactly this type of music, but it's not the best of its type.

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 Madame Zelle by CONQUEROR album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.36 | 37 ratings

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Madame Zelle
Conqueror Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

4 stars New release by this band from Sicily. Like their previous CD 74 Giorni, this is a concept album of sorts. This time they decided to tell the story of the famous dutch female spy Mata Hari (Margaretha Geertruida Zelle), also known as Madame Zelle. And they were quite succesful again. The core of the band members (drummer Natale Russo, keyboardist and singer Simona Rigano, both founder members, plus Simona´s sister Sabrina on flute and sax) remains the same, but there are newcomers on guitar amd bass. Both of whom do a very good job here, specially bassist Gianluca Villa.

Madame Zelle shows how much this group have grown through the years. Although Simona Rigano´s style of singing is still quite typical italian, the instrumental side is leaning slightly more towards international prog music, with additions of eastern rhythms, jazzy passages and even some bossa nova bits here and there. The songs are all good, showing how much this group knows how to write great melodic tunes without being simplistic and/or falling into easy traps. Some reviewers here see their music as too mellow and not really challeging. Well, I had this impression at first, but after some spins I started to discover the great musicanship and the elaborated and tasteful arrangements hidden behind the fine tapestry of sounds they made.

It took me some time to fully appreciate this work, as most of the good prog records do. Some parts are very well done and complicated, but it is so subtle and connected to the simple melodies, you can easily mistake it for lighter stuff. And anyone who had ever tried to write memorable tunes know how hard it is to do just that. And certainly Conqueror has all plenty of talent for that, for there is not a single wasted note or filler in the entire CD. Simona Rigano has a beautiful voice but is also a skillful keyboard player (lots of vintage sounds!). I loved Russo´s drumming too: the guy is simply brilliant. The rest of the band is not far behind (new guitarrist Mario Pollino is very good, and I hope he gets the chance to show off a little more of his solos in future releases). The production is also top notch, with all the instruments and vocals very well balanced.

Highlight of the CD: the closing track, Ad Occhi Alti, really beautiful. Simona never sang better and with such emotion. Great guitar solo and moving instrumental parts.

Conclusion: another winner from this fine band. Conqueror is indeed conquering their place in prog music history surpassing themselves with each release. If you like melodic prog music with lots of 70´s references you cannot miss this one. Rating: 4,5 stars. Highly recommended!

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 Madame Zelle by CONQUEROR album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.36 | 37 ratings

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Madame Zelle
Conqueror Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Nightfly
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

4 stars One of my favourite more recent purchases is Madame Zelle, the latest of four studio albums from Italian's Coqueror. It's a concept album based on the colourful life of Margaretha Geertruida Zelle, better known as the Dutch exotic dancer Mata Hari, who met her death in 1917 at the hands of a firing squad having been accused of being a double agent. In the years since it has come to light that the accusations were unfounded and she was actually innocent.

Madame Zelle is a lovely album at the more melodic end of the RPI genre. The band certainly have plenty of experience having been around since the mid-nineties in one form or another and it shows as they turn in a classy performance of well-constructed and tuneful Italian prog with a contemporary sound, though with roots in the seventies tradition of the genre. The music features lots of instrumental sections, not overly complex but nevertheless creating a captivating listening experience as it shifts through many moods and changes created by the keyboards, flute, saxophone, guitar, bass and drums line-up. All this is topped off by the gorgeous female vocals of Simona Rigano, her melancholic tones perfectly capturing the sadness of the outcome of the story. It's not the most bombastic of albums, though it has its moments, but is more about strong melodic hooks and as a result is easily accessible. Sometimes an eastern vibe is present, no doubt to create the mood of the exotic dancer part of the story.

Despite having an instant liking for Madame Zelle, no doubt down to the tuneful nature of the material, repeated plays reveal more layers, something often lacking in more immediately accessible music. Not so here as I've grown fonder of it with each play and it's well on track to make my top 10 albums of the year. A really lovely record.

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 Madame Zelle by CONQUEROR album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.36 | 37 ratings

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Madame Zelle
Conqueror Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by toroddfuglesteg

4 stars Another revelation from Italy.

This is my first ever album from Conqueror, but it will most certainly not be the last. This band really impresses me.

I am a bit of a fan of sugar. Too much in fact. My doctor has told me to stop eating sugary stuff. Madame Zelle is full of sugar. Very sugary in fact. Some of the melodies here is bordering to too sugary and then vomit inducing like for example deep fried mars bars. But the sugary stuff here is being balanced out by some spices from the Middle East and Asia. Add that with the usual spices from Napoli, Rome and Milan.

....... Translated to English from my cookery lesson, this album is pretty commercial at times. But the rather commercial melodies here is deeply rooted in the RPI genre, although upgraded to the sounds of 2008-10. Songs like Ad Occhi Alti, Indonesia, Margaretha and Occhio Dell'Alba is exceptional good songs with very strong melody lines. In particular Ad Occhi Alti is a killer track. Simona Rigano superb tangents & (female) vocals + the flutes of Sabrina Rigano is the ones I will remember from this album. But also full credits to the rest of the band too. In short, the arrangements is excellent.

What we have here is RPI anno 2008-10 and it is an excellent upgrade of this genre. There is songs on this album which I does not find agreeable too. But I would still state my belief that this is one of the better modern RPI albums. Conquered, I am.

4 stars

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 Madame Zelle by CONQUEROR album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.36 | 37 ratings

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Madame Zelle
Conqueror Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by snobb
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars "Madame Zelle" (or just Mata Hari) is fresh Italian Prog album which attracted me by it's a bit unusual cover art. I am not a fan of RPI , unless it's an Area album. But I can listen that music time to time, just to stay informed what happens there in sweet and dreamy shores of ancient seas.

From very first sounds of this album I just returned back to my old unanswered question: is this pleasant,sweet and well rounded music prog at all? And after repeated listening, I (as almost always) just left this question unanswered for myself. Yes, this music has many prog attributes: plenty of strings, neo-classic arrangements, not too simple compositions structures, etc. From another side, I am absolutely sure, that we have plenty of similar (non-Italian) artists as Conqueror around the world, and no-one will never ever suggest them for addition to PA. We name them contemporary inteligent pop, but hardly have even idea they are connected with progressive rock music.

Now, back to album's music. Very pleasant female pop-vocal, competent arrangements, plenty of flute and strings, rich orchestrated sound. Nice melodies, really nice - in fact, many songs could be played on radio or participate on San Remo fest. Tasteful, quality and not boring art-pop Italy is known for decades.

Don't think my (as stranger's) opinion is interesting for RPI fans. But for all others - really nice art-pop album, with symphonic prog influences, modern enough not to remind you one of thousand Italian antique museums, but with all attributes of best Italian pop-music : soulful, melodic, well arranged and orchestrated, with well balanced, almost polished sound.Good soundtrack for your next weekend in Lignano.

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