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Egonon - Risveglio CD (album) cover




Rock Progressivo Italiano

4.19 | 197 ratings

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5 stars The best album to come out in the 2010s thus far, one of the most pleasant surprises I have experienced in my prog journey (perhaps only surpassed by the discovery of the Cardiacs) and an album that deserves only the highest praise and the top recommendation.

I grew up with grunge, study middle eastern music, am fascinated by and constantly listening to psychedelic music, attempting to delve into jazz and have been consuming Italian prog at an alarming rate so when I hear an album such as this one that contains all of these elements (and so much more) I am surprised, impressed and utterly in awe of the sheer adventurous quality of the musicians.

-- rant begins --

Before I go into the music itself I want to give credit where it is due to albums such as this one, albums that have no boundaries that produce so many ideas and envelop so many styles that the sound feels as though it can only be described as creativity incarnate. Too many bands (not only in prog but throughout the music business) are content with playing it safe and catering to an audience. This isn't entirely bad, after all, we all are (humanity) the audience being catered to but at the same time it leaves me at a bit of a loss, how can we expect music to truly expand and grow as an art form if we don't support those who are trying to change everything we thought we knew about music? I find far too often people use the complaint, music has gone stale, everything has been the same as its been before ect. ect. These are all fair complaints but then a band like Egonon comes along where things are weird, and things are different (dare I say things are unknown) and nobody gives them a second look. The band is almost completely unknown with extremely mediocre sales to boast from this album... I am notorious for not buying cd's for being content to just listen to music on Youtube or to just steal (borrow) cd's from my father or friends but sometimes you just would kill to see a band make it, to make another album and to want to continue being adventurous on their next release. I have bought this album 8 times now, twice digitally (because I lost the first digital copy with a hard drive crash) and six cd's (2 for me, 4 for friends). I don't mean here to make people feel bad for not getting this record (most people likely haven't even heard of it... It was freak chance that I did). On top of that, not everybody will enjoy this record, it's not everyone's cup of tea and I am in no position to argue against that. This is just a frustrating trend I've found of late... In all genres of music.

-- rant over --

On to the album itself, in some ways I don't even know how to begin... I could start at the beginning of the album and review it on a song-to-song basis but, in truth, the strength of this album isn't don justice in the individual songs. This isn't that the songs are bad, but as I've found in attempting to show this album to all of my friends, acquaintances and those poor passer-by's who only get a passing glimpse into my life, if you're given a song to listen to, on its own it can leave (even prog fans) disoriented and unsure. Hopefully it will leave the curious listener interested but this may not always be the case.

Instead I just hope to talk about the aspects of this album that truly shine. It's far to easy to simply say 'all of it' and go get an early lunch but that doesn't exactly do the album justice. I want to start by talking about the vocals, or rather, the vocalist. Fabio Calo has one of the most striking and emotive voices I've heard in prog in a long long time. He brings to mind the passion and intensity of many neo-prog bands but for me, the most striking and readily apparent comparison is to the vocalist of Polish band 'Abraxas' -- the sound is theatrical, at times very aggressive but beyond all else captivatingly passionate. In prog, far too often vocals are pushed to the side so it's nice to see a stunning and captivating vocalist. Unlike with Annie Haslam and Renaissance however, the vocals don't carry the band or even shine through the band but rather blends in perfectly, augmenting the band.

So the band itself, what I like about the band is that nobody really stands out (in a good way) rather they all seem to stand up, together. Every musician has their moments to shine, just as the vocals have their shining moments (such as the stunning Khamsin) each instrument has their moments where they stand out, never long enough to take the spotlight, and then blend back in. I could go through each part saying: "Oh the guitar solo on for example 'Maya' is fantastic" or "The drummer is tight, a real backbone to the band". Ultimately however, while these claims are true they are ultimately meaningless and offer little insight to the cohesive power of the fully realized sound this band has managed to create.

There was one reviewer who complained that the main issue with the album is that it follows a formula: softer openings, harder choruses and weirder bridging sections. I feel as though this is partially (though certainly not universally true to the songs in this album as in many cases the harder sections bridge the softer choruses). In any case I don't feel as though there is any problem with blending strong dynamics, constantly changing sounds and a common theme or style, especially when it's YOUR theme and YOUR style.

Nevertheless this is a complaint that I've heard a couple of times from people that I've shown the album to. That despite the obvious daring and adventurous nature of the sound itself the songs do begin to blend together with one another. This is a fair criticism, Calo's voice permeates throughout the record in a (sometimes) similar style -- though how you can say he sounds the same on Khamsin and Tutto Cio Che Avevo era Un'Anima is beyond me. Nevertheless I understand the criticism and recognize the subtle differences in the music isn't always easy to notice and that (often the harder sections) can blend together at first listen.

I mentioned the Cardiacs earlier and I would never dare to compare the two bands in sound (both I feel are wholly unique and instantly recognizable) but I would like to argue that the songs off of this album, to me at least, function in the same way as those in 'A Little Man And A House And The Whole World Window'. On both albums you can't point to a single song and say "that one, this song best describes or is the best example of the band" but on both albums you see a band that have created a unique style and sound that works for them. On top of that, in both cases, the albums feel complete and fully realized, giving us a new style that can't be pigeonholed as one thing or another. In a sense you can't even call these avant-garde or experimental because they're not, the bands have found their sound and delivered it to us on a silver platter. Music like this shouldn't be condemned because the band sounds to much like the band, rather the band should be revered for creating a music so unlike other music that we can only know them as the band. RPI is a distinction (in this case) far more on location than on sound, although there are certainly RPI elements and influences there is so much more. Another way to look at this is through this question, "Is Magma Zeuhl or is Zeuhl Magma?" Because there couldn't be one without the other. Without the bands distinction of themselves as Zeuhl where would they be placed on the prog rock spectrum, again saying avant-prog or experimental doesn't do it justice because above all else it (as well as I'd argue The Cardiacs and Egonon) is a sound that knows itself (far more than we know it).

One reviewer stated that the music would come across as gimmicky if it wasn't played so well and I think that's completely right, it takes elements and ideas and themes that, had they not been constructed together so imaginatively would seem completely gimmicky. Heck, at times the sound is gimmicky, but that is played to the bands advantage rather than focusing on the gimmick of something different, instead using it to create the sound that I can only call Egonon. Similarly (not to dwell on this point for longer than its worth) I feel that The Cardiacs and Magma can be seen in the same way, as potentially gimmicky if not fully realized as it was. But what genre has been created that hasn't been seen as gimmicky? Psychedelic music was seen as gimmicky by many music critics, in the Jazz community Fusion was seen as gimmicky for not keeping the jazz tradition, despite the fact that 'Jelly Roll' Morton in his early documentation of jazz described the gimmicky nature as essential to the genre.So I ask, what's wrong with being gimmicky? Because as far as I can tell, modern bands that I see as gimmicky such as A.C.T. and Seven Steps 2 the Green Door can simultaneously be seen as some of the most adventurous bands and that is not coincidence.

I'm bringing forth a lot of issues that extend far beyond the band themselves and perhaps an album review isn't the place to express these thoughts but I'm only doing so because I feel that Egonon so accurately describes what I'm talking about. What we have here is a band that's creative, talented, fully realized and wholly unique (with brilliant song-writing and impressive recording quality to boot).

Conclusion: If you want to skip all of my tangential thoughts and simply read this for my thoughts on the album feel absolutely free.

This album cannot be expressed through words alone, the dark atmosphere the passionate vocals the blending of sounds that transcend genre or style makes this an experience that I feel every prog fan (heck! Every music fan for that matter) should experience.

Vocals: 6/5 Instrumentation: 5/5 Songwriting: 5/5 Production: 5/5 Technicality: 4/5 Diversity within the album: 4/5 Diversity from other bands: 6/5 Freshness: 6/5 (certified Fresh sound)

I've been reluctant to give this album so much praise, feeling as though I must still be in the honeymoon phase. In my experience however the honeymoon phase doesn't last two years and the praise and affection I have for this album will likely remain with me for years to come. There may come a time when I don't wholeheartedly adore this record, and if / when I come to that point I will change my opinions, change my review but I don't see that happening anytime soon... If at all.

I would give this 6 out of 5 stars if I could. A masterpiece like no other.

MJAben | 5/5 |


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