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Progenesi - Ulisse - L'Alfiere Nero CD (album) cover




Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.99 | 99 ratings

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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.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 4/5 |


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