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Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations) - Decameron - Ten Days In 100 Novellas (Part III) CD (album) cover


Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations)


Various Genres

3.83 | 56 ratings

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5 stars In 1353 Giovanni Boccaccio completed his famous book Decamerone, in which a company of ten young Florentians have escaped the Black Death epidemic of 1348. During ten days each of them tells a daily story; thus the complete Decamerone contains full 100 short stories. It's undoubtedly the most important book in the whole history of short stories. The word 'novella' of Italian origin, used in this three-part anthology series, actually means (in today's English) a short novel, so it's a bit out of place... But anyway, the now-completed massive international project organized by the Finnish prog society Colossus and its Italian chairman Marco Bernard wasn't to make any compromises: each and every story has been given a musical interpretation on three 4-disc sets. Sadly I haven't listened to the previous parts.

In one word, it's a cornucopia! I have been listening to these approx. 70-minute CD's several days now, and I really could have continued to do so for many more days before reviewing. But now to the music. Quite a few of the artists participating in this anthology have favoured notable Medieval/Renaissance flavours (that I'm fond of) in their compositions or arrangements. That would not be the point at all, it simply wouldn't feel natural if all the dozens of prog bands/artists with their own styles tried to catch the spirit of the 1400th century. It's enough that the bands more or less share the spirit of the Golden Age of progressive rock. Downright modern stuff you won't find here. Who would want or expect to? Mellotron, Hammond, Korg, Moog, clavinet... and of course violin and flute are frequently listed on these pages.

My favourites on the first CD include instrumentals by AGENESS (Finland), WILLOWGLASS (UK), and a song by a US group ELEPHANTS OF SCOTLAND, one of the few using recorder to bring some Medieval touch. Before I forget, the best thing about this anthology has nothing to do with bygone centuries, it is the fact that it's exhaustingly full of excellent prog. The second best thing is that it introduces to me - and surely to anyone - numerous interesting prog acts I hadn't even heard of. I never would have guessed STELLA LEE JONES to be a Japanese prog group.

The most frequent countries are Italy and USA. Italian bands feature e.g. LATTE E MIELE, IL TEMPIO DELLE CLESSIDRE, TAPROBAN and IL CASTELLO DI ATLANTE. There are artists from Canada, France, Spain, Argentina, Australia (UNITED PROGRESSIVE FRATERNITY), Russia, etc.

Less than 1/3 of all artists I had earlier listened to, but I daresay everyone has taken this project with passion and high artistic goals. The existent stylistic variety naturally means that not a single listener can be impressed by all 36 tracks. However, only a very few tracks I rather skip (and I am generally pretty fond of the skip button, believe me). I'm glad that the majority of the tracks are instrumentals. Sometimes the lyrics are slightly clumsy as they concentrate in telling the story. Amusingly there are a couple of tracks with a theatrical or even opera-reminding dialogue approach: 'Put a Tail On It' by CASTLE CANYON (USA) is guaranteed to raise a smile. Usually an instrumentally oriented OZONE PLAYER (Finland) has invited four vocalists.

"Intro" piece by ROBERT WEBB (of England fame) and "outro" by Castle Canyon, again (their 'Nephile's Song' is one of my favourites) aren't directly based on Decamerone stories. Nearly each of the remaining 34 tracks are accompanied with a story synopsis, which is very nice. The thick booklet designed by Ed Unitsky deserves all the praise, managing to be both informative in a user-friendly way and visually beautiful. The same way as the CD's by The Samurai Of Prog, which as a multi-national virtual band can be seen closely related to these Colossus projects. Also here there are pieces featuring musicians from various corners of the globe. In the Internet Age it's not necessary to even meet in person in order to make music that matters.

It's not often that I'm willing to give a full rating to a various artists set, but this is such occasion. If I was imprisoned for months and was allowed to have just one CD release, this might be the one.

Matti | 5/5 |


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