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Karmamoi - Strings from the Edge of Sound CD (album) cover




Heavy Prog

4.29 | 48 ratings

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5 stars I am giving this album attention due to the strong acclaim it's been receiving despite the fact that it is album being a collection of previously-released songs that have been re-worked (several orchestrated), with newcomer Valerio Sgargi stepping into the lead vocal (and principle collaborator) for Daniele Giovannoni's compositions.

1. "Black Hole Era" (7:43) what a voice this Valerio Sgargi has! It's comparable to that of Gino Vannelli! Powerful guitar soloing in the seventh and eighth minutes. A top three song right off the bat. (14/15)

2. "Nashira" (orchestra version) (9:11) solo piano opens this seemingly playing avariation of the previous song's chord sequence. Valerio enters and the piano drops out in lieu of a cello. In the second minute other instruments begin to join in: piano, cymbal-dominant drums, fretless bass, oboe and a few other orchestral sounds but in the third minute a heavy chordal footsteps for a minute. The volume on the reed instruments seems far too high throughout this song- -even when they're in the lead or soloing, but that doesn't prevent Valerio from giving one heck of a performance (or guitarist Alex Massari in the final minute). A top three song for me. (18.5/20)

3. "Take Me Home" (orchestra version) (8:31) though the song starts out sounding like a very classic, stripped down performance of "My Funny Valentine," the highlight here is how Valerio sings a duet with himself: in two very different voices and styles, side by side, starting with the second verse. This voice could be the new That Joe Payne! The second half of the song is quite cinematic in its bombast: bombastic prog at its finest. My third top three song. (18.5/20)

4. "Tell Me" (6:07) thought the chorus sections remind me a lot, melodically and in the strummed 12-string guitar chord sequence, of Pink Floyd's "Welcome to the Machine," this is a nice, nuanced song with yet another extremely enjoyable vocal performance by Valerio Sgargi. (8.875/10)

5. "Room 101" (orchestra version) (8:40) acoustic guitar picking like at the opening to Genesis' "Dance on a Volcano" is joined by flourishes and embellishments from individual orchestra instruments. Enter Valerio Sgargi and a Depeche Mode-like singing style. Even after the brief burst of prog bombast Valerio continues singing in a commanding David Gahan-like monotone. Then the music begins to build and cycle, provoking Valerio to reach for notes that Devy Townsend or That Joe Payne are commonly heard to hit. A switch in the fifth minute to a new smoother, more orchestra-supported space music allows for more exposition to individual instrumental performers, like the piano, members of the strings, the whole bass section, and, of course, the electric guitar, but ultimately leads to a JC Superstar-like climax. (17.75/20)

6. "I Will Come in Your Dreams" (5:27) gentle piano and low strings lay the foundation for Valerio to sing--this time in a very old Elvis/operetta style of voice. Pretty but nothing very new, proggy, or exciting with this one. (8.66667/10)

7. "Your Name" (orchestra version) (8:21) more orchestra presence than on most of the other songs, the rock band and dramatic voice of Valerio Sgargi yield a bombastic sound worthy of any Andrew Lloyd Weber or Alan Menken theater presentation. The radical switch of tempo and style (and electronically-treated vocal) at the halfway point is a bit odd--and takes some getting used to--but is smoothed over by another sublime electric guitar solo in the eighth minute. (17.5/20)

8. "Zealous Man" (orchestra version) (11:55) more melodic, pensive piano opens this one, setting up in way that rivals Cole Porter, George Gershwin, Richard Rogers, or Oscar Hammerstein. By the time we reach the third minute the soundscape has burst into swirling prog fullness, but then, at 3:30, it all turns quiet with some chorus-treated 12- strings and muted vocals, but then a David Gahan-like voice takes over for a bit before yielding to the powerful play of a fretless bass and cello. Prog bombast returns in the sixth minute as Valerio's voice turns "distant choral"--to set up, of course, another masterfully calculated Dave Gilmour-like guitar solo--this one amid swirling orchestra strings--but no! It's cut off! In the eighth minute we've gone back to the quiet 12-string (zither?) palette with some slow tympanic drum play over which Valerio croons in a voice from another era. But then the prog bombast returns and, yes, the electric guitar is given a second chance to fulfill its emotion-manipulating mission. A well composed and performed song, even if it does feel quite contrived to toy with the listeners' cortisol levels. (22.75/25)

9. "Strings from the Edge of Sound" (1:57) an orchestrated song whose choral-style vocal and wording makes it sound like it comes out of a rendering of a Dickensian Christmas musical. "Marley!" "Scrooge!" Prelude to a love story? (4.425/5)

Total Time 67:52

I've never heard any of the previous versions of any of these songs but, if I were to venture a guess, I'd say that all of them were birthed as piano-voice duets--arias--all intended to end up on a stage within the context of an Andrew Lloyd Weber-like musical theatre performance. The rock instruments were added for support, the lead guitar solos as a mirroring emotional outlet, and, later, the full orchestral versions created to fulfill the composer (and vocalist)'s Broadway/West End aspirations. In the end, this is great music and that's what counts. Should these songs ever end up on a stage, I would be a willing attendee of their theatric live performance.

What a revelation is this newcomer Valerio Sgargi! I look forward to seeking out and hearing more of his recordings (in the same way I've done for That Joe Payne since I first heard him on Nikitas Kissonas' METHEXIS project's Suiciety release back in 2015).

Does anyone else find a similarity in the sound of this album to that of the 2014 album, Speak, by Jason Hart's I AND THOU?

A-/five stars; a minor masterpiece of theatric progressive rock music that would, I feel quite confident, be quite welcome in the homes (and to the ears) of EVERY prog lover.

BrufordFreak | 5/5 |


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