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Stefano Panunzi biography
Originating from Italy, Stefano Panunzi released his first full CD, Timelines in 2005.His music can be best described as popular, progressive, even jazzy witha good crossover feel to it. Languid soundscapes and keyboards with lazy vocals all well integrated to making some very decent music.

Timelines was released in 2005 and his follow up A Rose was released in 2009. He has worked with numerous artists most notably Mick Karn from Japan. But artists who also lend different vocal styles as well. Overall a very interesting artist with a mix of ambience, jazz, prog and world music.

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2.80 | 5 ratings
3.78 | 14 ratings
A Rose
4.68 | 6 ratings
Beyond the Illusion

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Showing last 10 reviews only
 Beyond the Illusion by PANUNZI, STEFANO album cover Studio Album, 2021
4.68 | 6 ratings

Beyond the Illusion
Stefano Panunzi Crossover Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars In quoting the title of a non-prog (but still slightly proggy) song from a band of ace musicians that I have always enjoyed, namely the Fixx, the theme of this reviews intro will be "One Step Leads to Another". Rock music has always been an endless buffet of copied, then bettered, also altered and at times, even stolen styles, riffs, and melodies that claimed originality to only a certain extent, as the ''influences" continue to define it, in various states of camouflage. One fine example is how Elvis, lounge, torch singers and a tad of glam defined the voice and style of Bryan Ferry, in the context of the ground-breaking Roxy Music pantheon. That crooner flair was then eagerly lapped up by countless singers and bands, from Adam Ant, via Duran Duran, ABC, Depeche Mode, Spandau Ballet, Ultravox, Simple Minds, the Fixx , Talk Talk and countless others etc... One other that was quite important was Japan, led by David Sylvian, a New Romantic darling that had style, chops and tons of savvy, featuring David's brother Steve on drums, as well as future Porcupine Tree keyboardist Richard Barbieri and one of my all-time fave musicians, the sadly departed Mick Karn, he of the wobbly fretless bass masters. Where am I going with all this jibber-jabber, you may ask? Italy, actually. Rome in fact and Lazio to be precise. Into the world of musician, composer and keyboardist Stefano Panunzi. His progressive rock credentials are made obvious by two amazing and critically acclaimed albums by Fjieri as well as trio of solo albums, all a masterful collective of brilliant guest musicians , may locally sourced such as Lorenzo Feliciati, Giancarlo Erra, Nicola Lori, as well-as some prog invitees with impeccable pedigrees: names like Tim Bowness, Mike Bearpark, Markus Reuter, Theo Travis, Jakko Jakczyk, the legendary Gavin Harrison and the afore mentioned Richard Barbieri and of course, MICK KARN. There, one step leads to another!

"Beyond The Illusion" is his most recent and third solo album and is an unequivocal gem, as its deeply rooted in the art/prog/cinematographic style that seems to have many followers in Progland. Throw in touches of symphonic ambient, some delicious jazzy flourishes and that particularly savory of atmosphere of melancholia and you get a musical adventure of the highest order, full of delicate gestures, enthralling cadences led by that wobbly fretless and some evocative expressions of melody.

The program starts out with an exquisite 7-minute instrumental tour de force, laden with sweeping synthesizer melodies, a luxuriously cool drum pattern, the rumbling bass undertow as an anchor, a shivering violin streak and the musical mind sways into full adventure and lush discovery. Very much like a soundtrack to some eerie romantic mystery, there is both elegance and a hint of dread in the evocation of sound and colour. Fjieri stalwart Nicola Lori unleashes his rubbery bass line for the gripping "The Awakening", supplied by a great vocal from British artist Grice, who not only owns a supple voice but also excellent pronunciation. Having Tim Bowness (No-Man) adding some backing vocals certainly increases the beauty and complexity of the harmonies. If one would want to define the term symphonic modern prog, this would be a fine example. The bass steals the show though, a slithering snake that coils, hisses, and bites unashamedly, very much in the style of the mourned Japan bassist.

Segueing directly into the shorter "The Bitter Taste of Your Smile", the cast of characters changes to a new rhythmic section, the stunning Lorenzo Feliciati on the basso profundo and Cristiano Capobianco on the marshaling drum kit, as they alter the dynamics while maintaining the style. The keyboard work has a slight Oriental feel, subtlety and elegance floating through the arrangement. "Acid Love" is a brisk and crisp violin-led excursion that maintains that same Eastern feel, very moody and sumptuous, as the electronic bass and drums are tempered to give more power to the orchestration.

With "I Go Deeper", the plot is now elevated even higher to a rather simple pop tune that nevertheless catches the ear and the heartstrings get definitely pulled, Tim Bowness offering up one of his patented suave vocal lines, very much in the tradition of his stellar work with Steve Wilson in No-Man but this is actually a new version of a song Tim sang on his solo album "Flowers at the Scene. Airy, breezy, and gorgeous. Stefano always throws in new sonic twists, as with the trumpet-led charge on "Mystical Tree", a whirlwind cocktail that pushes the boundaries until Fabio Fraschini leads his charming bass guitar into spacey jazz flirtations that becomes ambient for a stretch, before the trumpet plays a final farewell. As a segue again but with a line-up change, "the Bench" keeps the ship firmly in jazzier seas, Mike Applebaum's trumpet sweetly warbling, before Michael Bearpark (Ex-Porcupine Tree) whips out a subtle and supple solo that evokes the sound of the brass instrument convincingly. Brilliant music. The mathematical drums of Yuri Crescenko welds well with Nicola's wobbly feminine bass.

Romantic spookiness returns on the 8-minute extravaganza "Her", a whispering lament from Grice on a classic ballad that could have been sung by the late great Mark Hollis of Talk Talk fame, an incredibly poignant vocal performance. Twinkling piano, deft beat, shimmering synths, and a killer sax solo to further highlight the anguish of endless love. Drop dead beautiful squeeze of the senses. "We Are Not Just What We Are" features a guest appearance from drum maestro Gavin Harrison, who certainly needs no introduction, as well as guitarist Dario Vero, Fraschini back on bass and more trumpet from Applebaum. The playing is of course stellar. Gavin does his patented rhythmic gymnastics program on his kit while Fraschini unleashes a wicked fretless bass solo that meanders like no other. The keyboards add a layer of mood and atmosphere upon which the brass twirls in the wind.

Can this kind of quality keep on giving? The answer is a YES. Another highlight track is the sheer picture beauty of "The Portrait", a languorous mid-tempo composition with the added quality of delivering another ravishing vocal from Grice (he really has an intimation of Hollis in his delivery) as well as some clever rhythmically sound lyrics, with both in meaning and technique. Needless to repeat that the Lori bass creates quite the solid foundation, on which all the exalted instruments dance. Clever simplicity and emotional input are clearly on display here. Stunning once again. Just as some would think of calling this set list a rather mellow affair, Stefano whips out the pulsating "The Doubt" , which positively bashes away like a crazed steamroller , with Lori providing the streaking bass onslaught as well as slashing guitar swaths (the solo is fiery intense) and drummer Crescenko thrashing away like a demon on fire. An ambient mid section (choir mellotron, me thinks) only serves to raise the temperature once again as the fury rejoins the thunderous cavalcade. Enthralling music.

"I Am" ends this masterful release, acting as a variation on the intro but with extra oomph, attempting to recapitulate the core of what has been listened to during the album's running time. All the usual suspects present a moody, cinematographic, highly visual expression of sonic class. The artwork, production and set list of compositions are all first rate perfect. Impeccable is the only word I could find. Had I gotten my hands on this recording sooner, it would have been in my top three 2021 prog albums, hands down.

5 Eternal Fantasies

 A Rose by PANUNZI, STEFANO album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.78 | 14 ratings

A Rose
Stefano Panunzi Crossover Prog

Review by merid1en

4 stars An amazing technical piece of recording, this album definitely fits within the crossover prog genre. Stefano is an excellent arranger of instruments and certainly knows his way around the mixing board. There are many sweeping stanzas with an assortment of instruments from flute to cello. Quite pleasing to the ear, with mood development being it's best attribute. The notable track is "On Line, Now," with its funky bass riff / melody. It stand apart as something trying to move past the easy listening nature of the album. Excellent vocals by Giacomo and Andrea, give a nice offset to each other.Play this album when you have friends over and the music isn't the prime focus of the moment. I give it 3.7 stars, so I guess I'll round up to 4. For my money, listen to Stefano's talents with his lineup in Fjieri's "Endless", coincidently produced the same year as this album
Thanks to chris s for the artist addition.

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