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

ULISSE - L'ALFIERE NERO

Progenesi

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.99 | 99 ratings

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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

tszirmay | 5/5 |

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