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Mauro Pagani - Mauro Pagani CD (album) cover

MAURO PAGANI

Mauro Pagani

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.88 | 45 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

zeuhl1
4 stars First off, I have to say I have never been a fan of solo albums from my more favorite groups, prog or otherwise. What we usually end up with is a watered down version of the mothership, or a muddleheaded excursion into territory best left for those who have a gift for that particular field. I can count on one hand solo albums that are really stand-outs from a collection of 3,000 or so lps and cds. The few exceptions are the ones that really strive to break new ground that the parent band wasn't ready to try. This album is one of them.

First thing fans need to know: this album does not sound at all like PFM. The second thing is that this album is mostly acoustic. Those two facts might stop folks from jumping in right away, but before you turn away, please read a bit further.

There is an all star cast of guests on here, but the main players are from PFM and even more tantalyzing-Area. However, their participation is limited to mostly only 3 of the 8 songs. Opener Europa Minor sets the tone and has a strong Balkan folk feel reminiscent of some of Boiled in Lead's excursions on Orb from 1990, and features most of Area, sans Stratos. The second song features vocalist Teresa De Sio, and is supported only by an oboe and bouzouki with some violin interludes in the instrumental section. Her voice sounds a bit like a 'prettier' Dagmar Krause for the Cow fans out there. A processed violin solo is a little forgettable but leads to the one track that will probably entice PFM fans (it contains Franz Di Coccio, Patrick Djivas, Franco Mussida and collaborator Roberto Colombo). This track echoes some of the proggier midtempo jazzy pieces from later Dixie Dregs as Mussida and Pagani have a delicate electric dance between lead guitar and electric violin. One of the better songs on the album, and we have arrived at the end of side one (too quickly by my estimation). Overall, side one has a subdued feel similar to Oregon's work of the 1970's-delicate guitars and oboe weave throughout.

Side two begins with a stunner-a full on Area workout? Featuring their drummer, bassist, keyboardist, magical vocalist Demetrio Stratos with only Pagani as the non Area member we get a full on Area styled opus. This song alone makes this album essential to any Area fans-Stratos weaves his lyricless vocal intonations throughout in a way that only he can. The only flute on the album shows up on the next song, Choron- a flute and percussion workout that some might consider filler until a nice trio of percussion duo with violin enters abruptly, saving the song from anonymity with a bit of furious bow scraping over Indian styled percussion talking drum. That is followed by Il Blu Incomnicia Daverro, a longish lingering duet with acoustic guitarist Luca Balbo with Pagani on bouzouki would be comfortable on Dimeola, DeLucia and McLaughlin's Friday NIght in San Francisco-(I even played it for friends who love that album and told them it was an outtake and they believed me without questions). Gentle acoustic interplay that is magical, but still very far from PFM. The album wraps up with a reprise of L'Albero Di Canto-Demetrio Stratos shows up again with a vocal that brings the whole proceedings to a joyous end-like the final song of an all night outdoor mediterranean sunset party. A repeating figure on processed violin invites us to join for a final magical whip round that, in the spirit of things, never really gathers. Stratos quietly whoops and intones in his best 1978 fashion until the fade out.

Remembering this is acoustic album primarily, fans of Paul McCandless and Ralph Towner's work in the jazz band Oregon might want to give this a spin. PFM fans may find this too far a stretch as Balkan influences are strong, but Area fans should jump on this immediately for what is really a 15 minute Area EP contained inside a Pagani solo album.

Four stars for the adventurous, three stars for prog purists.

zeuhl1 | 4/5 |

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