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ART AND ILLUSION

Eclectic Prog • Italy


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Art And Illusion biography
The history of this band is so complicated, it's a wonder they ever stuck together long enough to record any album. They started off as a live act covering bands like GENESIS, MARILLION, JETHRO TULL and PINK FLOYD in various local clubs. They've also participated in numerous compilation and tribute albums. In between gigs - and through a continuous turnover of musicians that threatened the band's inner equilibrium - they've managed to record their first album in 1990. At last count, the group consisted of Luca Sabia on lead vocals and guitar (the only member from the original line-up); Alberto Callegari on bass, mandoline, flute, backing vocals, keyboards and samplers; Paolo Lisé on drums and percussion; and Barbara Martini on keyboards and backing vocals.

None of their three albums really break any grounds, yet they offer an interesting mix of the bands mentioned above: melodious and subtle 70's prog / 80's neo-prog with a rich, full-bodied sound, focussing mainly on alternating acoustic and electric guitars. They can rock like Hogarth-era MARILLION or cruise along simple, folksy tunes à la JETHRO TULL. The vocalist, although a little shaky, has a pleasant voice, sounding somewhat like a cross between Peter Gabriel and Steve Hogarth. Their third cd ("Seasons") is the more personal of the three, proving that the band can be original without totally abandoning their love for the old masters.

Not absolutely essential but still an interesting item for art rock fans.

: : : Lise (HIBOU), CANADA : : :

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ART AND ILLUSION discography


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ART AND ILLUSION top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.50 | 2 ratings
Art and Illusion
1990
2.51 | 3 ratings
Monolithos
1993
2.80 | 3 ratings
Seasons
1995

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ART AND ILLUSION Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Seasons by ART AND ILLUSION album cover Studio Album, 1995
2.80 | 3 ratings

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Seasons
Art And Illusion Eclectic Prog

Review by The Mystical

4 stars "Seasons" has been spun over and over again in my bedroom over the past few months. It is a very nice record with some great songs. There is nothing groundbreaking here, but the album is a very pleasant and easy listen. The influences of this band are evident, but there is a lot of originality here, particularly in the overall sound and production. The songwriting in the album is fairly standard; there is very little here that hasn't been done before, but their is still an air of mystery in these songs that I personally look for in prog music. The band is tight and the musicians are all pretty good. Luca Sabia has a nice voice, pleasant to listen to, but a little weak in a few spots on the album.

My favourite tracks on the album are "Seven seasons", "(Livin') borrowed time" and "Strange little baby". "Seven Seasons" is a fresh sounding prog track, and has a rather dark sound. The song concludes with a climatic and uplifting ending. "(Livin') borrowed time" is my personal favourite track on the album. It is catchy and has some great melodies. "Strange little baby" is another great track. It is a catchy prog song and is not overly complicated, something that I appreciate about this album.

I would generally give an album like this a 3 star rating, but I feel that "Seasons" has earned my fourth star. I have listened to this album MANY MANY TIMES, and I think that this is because I love this album's honest and raw nature. The album is free from the extravagance that most progressive rock seems to accommodate, yet there is still something that I find very mysterious in the music. I recommend this album to those who are looking for a musical experience that is unique and honest.

"Seasons" gets a 4 star rating from me.

Peace!

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 Art and Illusion by ART AND ILLUSION album cover Studio Album, 1990
3.50 | 2 ratings

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Art and Illusion
Art And Illusion Eclectic Prog

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

4 stars So far, this minor but engaging Italian outfit has been unfairly dismissed on their pages here at Prog Archives. And too bad, because the band's 1990 debut is a genuine diamond in the rough: unpolished, only semi-professional, but with enough promise to easily merit a second listen.

At this stage the band was more a solo project of the multi-talented Luca Sabia (handling all the instruments except classical guitar), and his album presents a not unpleasant blend of radio-friendly Neo Prog with retro-70s stylings. The influence of early GENESIS looms large (of course), but the music is far enough removed from its source of inspiration to at least sound halfway original.

The gentle, pastoral melodies, arranged with disarming homemade simplicity for keyboards and (mostly acoustic) guitar, sometimes even achieve a quasi-symphonic fullness reminiscent of the best MARILLION: check out the melancholy title track, or the 13+ minute mini-epic "Lost In Time" (the title is a reference to Rutger Hauer's dying speech in the film "Blade Runner"). You would never guess the album to be Italian; the Anglo-American sound and English language lyrics place it well outside the mainstream of Rock Progressivo Italiano.

The iffy audio quality is a liability, sounding as if the master tapes had deteriorated over time. But look on the bright side: the background hiss does help to mask the artificial drum programming (later albums would employ an actual percussionist). And at least the price is right. All three Art and Illusion albums (and sundry other miscellany: covers of PETER GABRIEL, VAN DER GRAAF and NICK CAVE songs) can be downloaded free of charge from the band's website: an ingratiating act of rare cyber-charity worth a round of applause all by itself.

Consider it an official bootleg perhaps, or a demo package never intended for public sale. Just ignore the production flaws, and concentrate on the music itself, with an open pair of ears.

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 Seasons by ART AND ILLUSION album cover Studio Album, 1995
2.80 | 3 ratings

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Seasons
Art And Illusion Eclectic Prog

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

3 stars I can hear the argument already: how good can any album be if the band is giving it away for free? In this case better than you might expect, and certainly more worthwhile than some reviewers would have you believe.

It's easily the most polished of the band's three studio albums (all of them available for complimentary download from their web site), if sometimes the least appealing musically. The stripped down simplicity of their earliest efforts (think of an unplugged MARILLION) is missed, replaced here by a polyester-smooth production and the occasional detour into the same ersatz jazzy pop of groups like STEELY DAN.

Elsewhere their sound is lush and romantic, and hardly Italian at all (the songs are all in English). But this was always a band that took unabashed pride in its role models: chiefly GENESIS and solo PETER GABRIEL, filtered through a warm Neo-Prog sieve.

Never mind the more commercial pap ("Shadowspell"; "Still") and concentrate on the better cuts: the album opener "Seven Seasons", with its groovy 12-string guitar intro and unexpected ambient fade-out; the lilting acoustic folk-pop of "Springtime Again!"; and "Reflections", one of several numbers with a rhythm track that wouldn't sound out of place on a PETER GABRIEL album. There's even a decent cover of the early GENESIS hit "I Know What I Like", a throwback to their days as a tribute album group-for-hire.

Apparently Art and Illusion began its life as a hard-working Prog cover band, playing old GENESIS chestnuts at a time when Phil Collins and company were touring sold-out stadiums around the world (with inferior music). To which I can only say three cheers for the struggling underdog, especially one with enough faith in its own music to give it away free on-line.

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 Monolithos by ART AND ILLUSION album cover Studio Album, 1993
2.51 | 3 ratings

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Monolithos
Art And Illusion Eclectic Prog

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

3 stars This defunct Italian band was unfairly maligned in earlier reviews, and deserves the benefit of a contrary opinion. I can certainly understand how such buttery Neo-Progressive pop music could leave a sour aftertaste, but it's a reaction I would strongly (and respectfully) disagree with.

A lot of Neo-Proggers have used middle-period GENESIS (circa 1974-1976) as their role model. Now imagine a band shaping its musical template around milder Genesis tunes like "More Fool Me" or "Ripples", and you'll have a pretty clear idea of the Art and Illusion aesthetic. This is music with no sharp corners or acute angles, and as such would hardly appeal to fans conditioned more to Avant-Prog or Post Rock.

What's immediately apparent in the band's sophomore album is the professional production job, a vast improvement over their rough-around-the-edges 1990 debut. The addition of an actual drummer must have provided a real shot in the arm, and the entire album shows an increased confidence stemming no doubt from a more stable line-up of musicians.

It's true a few songs are awfully conventional (or conventionally awful: listen to the milquetoast M.O.R. schmaltz of "Now or Never", something even PHIL COLLINS at his most commercial wouldn't have touched with a ten foot pole). And the band certainly doesn't sound even remotely Italian. But at its best ("Walking Behind the Sad Theatre"; "Traveling With Mouthpiece the Elf"; "The Stone") the music has an understated emotional appeal that sits easy on the ears.

Art and Illusion were never going to revolutionize modern music. But undiscriminating Progheads will find enough here to warrant further exploration, and the band makes it easy by allowing free downloads from their website of just about everything they ever recorded. Maybe they figured no one would have a chance to hear any of it otherwise, or maybe their motivation was (admirably) never geared toward a profit margin. Either way this is a band entitled to a fair hearing.

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 Seasons by ART AND ILLUSION album cover Studio Album, 1995
2.80 | 3 ratings

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Seasons
Art And Illusion Eclectic Prog

Review by Prog-jester
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Probably their highlight. I mean it's the same way boring and badly played and composed as all they've done, but you may happen to like some tunes and pieces here. The best song here is "I know what I like" - somehow they've managed to preserve its atmosphere and didn't ruin the impression...anyway these guys are 100000 miles behind GENESIS' worst efforts. Don't get me wrong , I don't want to hurt anybody...Just face it: ART AND ILLUSION are here BY A TERRIBLE MISTAKE. Not recommended to anybody.Better buy yourself some donuts

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 Monolithos by ART AND ILLUSION album cover Studio Album, 1993
2.51 | 3 ratings

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Monolithos
Art And Illusion Eclectic Prog

Review by Prog-jester
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Non-interesting prog-maybe-related rock with some H's MARILLION wannabee- bits.Quality of this record is better than the previous one's but that's probably only one nice thing here.Being a 2-star cover-band, ART AND ILLUSION haven't managed to find their own face (IMHO) and they are very derivative in composing their own material.I don't know how this can be regarded as Progressive Rock Album, but whatever - if it is here and I heard it, you may get my review as a result

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 Art and Illusion by ART AND ILLUSION album cover Studio Album, 1990
3.50 | 2 ratings

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Art and Illusion
Art And Illusion Eclectic Prog

Review by Easy Livin
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

3 stars Competent

Italian band Art and Illusion's eponymous first album was in fact originally intended as a demo, only being officially released on CD some years later.

For a band founded in the tribute arena, the music is surprisingly assured and confident, if largely unoriginal. With the line up at this stage consisting only of founder Luca Sabia and classical guitarist Fabio Antonelli, the sound is generally light and acoustic, a point emphasised by the four brief "Soliloquy" interludes, which bizarrely appear in reverse order. These give the album an ANTHONY PHILLIPS feel; rather appropriate in view of their GENESIS tribute band history.

Sabia's slightly quivering vocals may be an acquired taste, but there is no doubt he is a competent singer, veering towards the operatic, or at least tenor singer at times.

The feature track is the multi-part "Lost in time" which, while pleasant, hardly justifies its numerous separately titled sections. The piece is largely of the same pace, with little variation in melody or sound.

In all, a decent if lightweight demo which whets the appetite for future albums by the band, but is far from essential in itself. The complete album is currently available for free download at the band's website, linked to via their page on this site.

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Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to easy livin for the last updates

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