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Active Heed - Visions From Realities CD (album) cover


Active Heed


Crossover Prog

3.29 | 67 ratings

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2 stars A couple of months, thanks to the social media facility I got in touch with Umberto Pagnini, who talked to me about his project named Active Heed; he kindly asked me to listen to his music, first with this debut album, and later with the second one (which I am reviewing soon). I am always thankful to people who really want to spread the word, musicians who work hard and deserve our attention, Umberto is of course one of them, which is why I am dedicating this (and the following) review(s) to him.

So "Visions from Realities" is the first Active Heed child, in which the music is actually performed by Pagnini's friends. It features 15 tracks, most of them are short, however the music flows and it could be one long 50-minute track divided in 15 passages. The music you will find here has a slightly symphonic tendency, but is not the common progressive rock from classic bands, this album builds an enigmatic atmosphere surrounded by a light sound, which is easy to dig. "Flying like a Fly" is the title of the first piece, and since the very first seconds a pastoral and soft sound can be appreciated. Mellow vocals accompanied by a nice guitar sound continue for 2 minutes, then the intensity increases, and a change is perceived when "Awake?!" starts.

Acoustic and electric guitar start in a soft and catchy way, bass and drums are also there and after some seconds vocals join. Then you don't realize but you are already listening to "Now What?", and what is different in this track is the addition of keyboards as background, maybe I would've like to perceive a louder keyboard sound, taking the main role. Anyway, the music is enjoyable and I repeat, easy to dig, which might be a double- edged weapon, because you could either enjoy it or maybe get bored. The music flows as one entity, it is not easy to notice when a new song starts, at least in the first listens. "Me Five Seconds Before" is faster and with a chorus that you may want to sing, but honestly this particular piece is not that tasty.

Now a change can be appreciated because all gets quiet and "With Joy" begins. Acoustic guitar and vocals are there; the same style for a minute and then the music changes, becoming a bit rockier, but with a really catchy sound, and though I don't dare saying this is a kind of prog-pop, it is not far from it. "Melting of Realities" is a very nice track with a kind of folkish tune that perfectly complements the last piece. The vocal work is pretty good, emotional and heartfelt, this is one of my favorite passages of the album. "Forest and Joy" is a friendly tune which includes some electronic effects as background, while bass and drums constantly play and acoustic guitar adds some nice Spanish-like notes. Nice track, but I think this one is even closer to pop, which is not bad, but for purists may be out of place.

"The Weakness of our Spinning" follows the same path, in fact, the whole album could be categorized as acoustic guitar oriented music with a mellow voice and a friendly sound. I like listening to it, it brings peace, but I admit it is not for an everyday listen. The next track is one of the rockiest of the album. "Without Joy" puts more emotions and a joyful atmosphere, there is a piano as background which can be better perceived with good headphones, but sometimes I think the voice is lost somewhere. "Every Ten Seconds Before" is the longest composition with almost 6 minutes of length. The vertiginous sound of the previous track vanishes and here again a soft and catchy one reappears. The value of this track lies on its intensity and changes that produces after a couple of minutes, where the symphonic rock appears. This might be the best track of the album.

And though I like the album, I think one has to be in the mood in order to enjoy it completely, and I say this because I think the same soft and friendliness of it could make your ears feel tired after some repetitive tunes, I remembered this happened to me the first time I listened to "F F F Flashing Fast Forward", which is a nice song by the way, but not the best at all. "If I will never be" is another nice track that flows naturally; I like the keyboard/piano background, it puts different nuances which are healthy for the music in order to fight the repetitiveness it might bring.

"Me, One Second before Johan Robeck" is a track whose rhythm is constantly increasing on intensity, both musically and emotionally. After a couple of minutes there is a chaotic passage which sounds like a dark moment on a classical opera. Very nice to hear this experimentation in the album. "Usual Plays in Heaven/Be Kind and Talk to me" gives another surprise with the inclusion of a female voice in the first minute; later electronic noises appear and the male voice returns. And the album finishes with "Our Vast Emptiness", whose sound sums up the Active Heed style.

Well, I liked it and though I am sure this is far from being a progressive rock masterpiece, one could dig it without a problem. Not a memorable album, but you can give it a spin every once in a while. My final grade will be 2 stars.

Enjoy it!

memowakeman | 2/5 |


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