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The Rome Pro(g)ject - The Rome Pro(G)ject CD (album) cover


The Rome Pro(g)ject


Symphonic Prog

3.94 | 41 ratings

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4 stars 'The Rome Pro(G)ject' is a concept album that reflects the history, monuments and psyche of The Eternal City via a series of musical vignettes and features several well-kent names from planet prog. It's also a glorification of Anglo-Italian collaboration and alternate tracks feature the likes of continentals Mauro Montobbio of Narrow Pass and members of Il Tempio delle Clessidre, and John Hackett and Nick Magnus from the UK. The path travelled follows the city's evolution, from the mythic material of twins Romulus and Remus suckling on a wolf's teats, to the modern day and projecting forward as a city of the future.

After a short prologue featuring Banco's Francesco Di Giacomo reading extracts from Livy's 'The History of Rome' the album kicks off proper with '... April 21st 753 B.C.' Appropriately enough - since it deals with the birth of the city and the legendary circumstances around which it got its name - this track features the Italian house band. The listener's attention may be focused on the big guns of the duty roster but the album isn't solely dependent on the famous individuals. Vincenzo Ricca is the main man behind the project and his vintage keys have more fizz than a sherbet fountain, although admittedly there are occasional nods to 'Cinema Show' on this track.

Talking of fountains, the inspiration for the album came when Steve Hackett quipped to his friend Ricca in 2009 that he would like to make a record about the fountains of Rome. The idea subsequently grew to involve a number of famous musicians and 'Over 2,000 Fountains' showcases the almost liturgical violin (acoustic and electric) of David Cross, along with more Genesis influence in the form of 12-string guitars and a 'play me Old King Cole' feel in places. Hackett himself features on 'Down To Domus Aurea' and this track has enough pomp and bombast to match that of the great city.

While the expansive form of the music largely reflects the subject matter, the English musicians involved in the project likewise have connections to Italy. 'Caracalla's Dream' is a sensitive dialogue between a flute and the fretless bass of Richard Sinclair, a chap who has all but settled in Italy and lives there for most of the year. And of course David Jackson has close links to Osanna; the album is mostly an all-you-can-eat symphonic feast but his 'A Mankind Heritage...' provides a significant counterpoise and it sure spices things up with its Bacchanalian sax and flute evocations.

Saying that 'The Rome Pro(G)ject' represents a bonanza of famous English proggers is a bit like describing Gustav Klimt's 'The Kiss' as two people snogging in a psychedelic sleeping bag. But it's very much a joint venture with enough arrabbiata sauce to satisfy fans of the Italian prog; it harks back to a lost golden age and seventies-style prog almost leaps out of the speakers like that mythical wolf.

seventhsojourn | 4/5 |


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