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Pascal Van Den Dool - Piovecoian Islands CD (album) cover

PIOVECOIAN ISLANDS

Pascal Van Den Dool

 

Crossover Prog

2.00 | 1 ratings

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TCat
2 stars PASCAL VAN DEN DOOL is a young composer that has already composed and produced more albums than some artists have ever done in their lifetimes. He was born in the Netherlands in the year 2000, started making orchestral music and albums early on and then transitioning to Progressive Rock in 2014 when he fell in love with Pink Floyd's music. After a few progressive albums, he started doing some experimentation with music. He has had different styles, thus is considered a Crossover Prog artist. 5 albums are listed in the archives, even though he has produced more than that, and his most recent album is called "Piovecoian Islands" which was released in May of 2019. This album only consists of Pascal on piano and vocals which were recorded together with no overdubbing. The album consists of 11 tracks totaling a bit over 41 minutes.

The tracks here are all covers starting with "Fly Me to the Moon" which is the jazz standard that everyone is probably familiar with. It is easy to pick out that the vocals are not embellished or overdubbed as they can sound a bit off sometimes, but not obnoxiously so. What is surprisingly apparent is Pascal's amazing use of jazz chords that are played on the fly. The following track is "Estate" which is originally an Italian song. It starts out in English and he switches to Italian part way through. Again, the jazzy accompaniment is pretty amazing.

He moves to more current songs at this point starting with IMAGINE DRAGONS "Radioactive". His singing is a bit questionable, but again, he has the amazing ability to accompany himself with an amazing ability, translating the original songs into nice stripped down piano versions. The fact that this is done without overdubs is pretty amazing. I would have liked to hear songs like this one with a more jazz style, however. Next he takes on THE BEATLES' "Lady Madonna" and even includes the same vocal effect, or at least tries to imitate it. The accompaniment is pretty much faithful to the original, just transcribed to piano. "Proclamation" comes next. This time he uses an electric piano. I am not familiar with this song, and it could be an original as I couldn't find any credits. We could have easily done without this track as the vocals are awful and the accompaniment is very uninteresting. At least he does keep a progressive feel to the instrumental solo, but this just doesn't seem to translate to this format very well, but then, I haven't heard the original to this track, if there is one. This is also one of the longer tracks at over 5 minutes and the regular piano probably would have been better.

So, let's try a QUEEN song next. "Somebody to Love" sounds better on a regular piano this time around, but the operatic and overdubbed style of the original doesn't fair well here either all stripped down. This sounds like someone playing around and making a recording for family or something. He moves back to a jazz sound with the slow and pensive "I Fall in Love Too Easily" made popular by SINATRA and covered by MILES DAVIS and CHET BAKER. I can't help but think that the jazz styles sound so much better given Pascal's raw treatments, though his vocals aren't the best, his musical skills are definitely quite impressive. He gives a lovely piano solo in the middle, and that is where he shines the brightest. Next he does Australian singer DEAN LEWIS' "Be Alright". Not good.

From there, he moves to COLDPLAY's "Everything's Not Lost". He keeps the pensive feeling of the original, doing okay on the piano (the original was quite piano heavy too) but messing up the vocals, almost sounding like he was getting either tired or careless with the sound, but again the music gets translated well to the piano. The heartfelt singing of the original gets destroyed in this cover as Pascal has a hard time singing the high notes. RANDY NEWMAN's "You've Got a Friend in Me". He plays with a Honky Tonk ragtime piano style effect copying Newman's original. He obviously sings this because it is probably one of his personal favorites, but he doesn't add anything to the original and does take away from it with his shaky vocals. Last of all comes "Islands". That's right, it's the KING CRIMSON classic, the last masterpiece written by PETER SINFIELD for the band. This is the biggest surprise of all, at least for this album. This cover is actually decent. The soft, pensive song doesn't have to be translated very extensively to solo voice and piano, and the original vocals, which were quite vulnerable, remain that way with Pascal's treatment. That is what gave the original song its heart, and it does here too. This one really works well.

So, I can't help but wonder how much better this would have been if Pascal would have translated all of the covers to a more jazz style arrangement as that is where he shines the most. Also, adding the nice surprise of "Islands" is a highlight to the album. I am not a fan of his versions of the more popular and current songs because they don't add anything, and make this sound more like an album released for his own family or die hard fans. At least he reminds us a couple of times on here that he knows his music. His singing definitely brings this down a few more notches, and it only really works on the jazzier numbers and, again, on "Islands". I suppose this album was released for his fans, though. He is quite brave to have released a raw album like this, and I admire him for that, but he should have translated all of the songs to a more jazz style, which he does have the ability to do so. Anyway, the stripped down versions of the pop songs just don't help them become more interesting, in fact, it ruins them. Stick with the jazzier numbers on this one, and avoid the others. "Fly Me to the Moon", "Estate", "I Fall in Love Too Easily" and "Islands" are the highlights, the rest of the album is like listening to a recording he did for his family that wasn't supposed to be released to the public.

TCat | 2/5 |

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