Barock Project, The - Misteriosevoci

Year of Release: 2007
Label: Musea Records
Catalog Number: FGBG 4728.AR
Format: CD
Total Time: 60:30:00

Here's the history of Italian progressive rock according to me. I'm doing this from memory so if I get some minor detail wrong, then give me a break will ya?

Rock 'n' Roll came late to Italy. It had very little in the way of an English type explosion of beat music or any swivel hipped rock stars like the USA. By the time rock music was becoming a serious force in the Italian music scene prog rock was raising its head in England. The first British invasion in America had spawned a multitude of Beatles or Kinks wannabes, but in Italy it was the first prog albums by King Crimson, Genesis and ELP and, most of all, the mania that the first Italian appearances of Emerson, Lake and Palmer caused that most influenced a generation of young musicians eager to match their abilities with those of the progressive pioneers of the UK.

So strong was the development of a unique Italian sensibility that the world of Italian prog became almost hermetically sealed, influencing others rather than the other way around.

So here we are, two generations past those days and the current group of young Italian proggers seem to be reaching out to the spirit of early UK prog once again. Now in the waning days of the year we get a release from Musea that harkens back to the dim days of the early 70s when Italian progressive rock bands were enamored with their English heroes.

Misteriosevoci is the debut disc from The Barock Project, a band that has all the potential in the world. Rarely does a young band put out such a mature and sophisticated initial recording, but The Barock Project is no ordinary band of proggers. Let me admit at this point that I have had a copy of the demos for this album for more than a year and that I am acquainted with several of the band's members. Nevertheless, I am completely confident in calling this the best new band and the best debut disc of 2007. If one blended the sounds of classic Italian bands like PFM and Alphataurus, mixed that with elements of traditional English bands such as ELP, Genesis, a bit of hard rock like Deep Purple and some very accessible jazz influenced pop music then the resulting brew would sound just like the music that you will hear on Misteriosevoci.

The music I am talking about comes from the band's keyboardist and composer, Luca Zabbini, who has songwriting style that can only improve with age (the average age in this band is something like 24 years old) and technique and chops that would smother a mere mortal. Zabbini is a master at producing impressive layers of keys and is just as good at kicking out blistering organ solos and sensitive and fluid unaccompanied piano passages. As GB, the band's bassist, once told me, "The guy writes songs every day. And they're all good!" Given the quality of most of this debut offering and some of the as yet unreleased tracks that I've heard, I would generally agree.

The rest of The Barock Projects players are equally adept with their instruments. The aforementioned GB (Giambattista Giorgi) is truly one of the best bassists I have heard in many, many moons. He plays very well thought out lines, sometimes playing in opposition to Zabbini's keys, sometimes in harmony with them, his style and tone superb. He plays his instrument every day and it shows. I think he even sleeps with his bass, but don't quote me on that.

Giacomo Calabria, the drummer, is also a rising star. He has all the ability to match Bozzio or Peart and the taste and dynamics to play more than double bass fills. The disc's third track, "Eclissi," has a brief piano prelude followed by an intro in 12/8 and a dramatic shift to the main theme in 7/8. Giacomo's drum part propels the band into the song and his drum work is central to the band's musical strength.

The Barock Project's vocalist, Luca Pancaldi, comes to the band from a background in an Iron Maiden tribute band and brings some undeniable vocal power to the band. The only real criticism I can make of The Barock Project's sound is that, given Luca's background as a former heavy metal vocalist, he could have given his vocals a bit more edge and personal flair, but this is just a minor complaint indeed.

As well as producing some of the finest progressive rock ever heard, Italian prog bands have a reputation for writing and recording some very sophisticated and infectious pop music, usually with jazz influence and progressive sensibilities. In this regard The Barock Project also attempts to be all things to all people. Half the material on this disc is full on symphonic progressive rock and half is pop music. These songs will remind the listener of the type of material that PFM and Banco released during prog's lean days in the 1980s. One or two of the band's pop offerings are less than endearing to my ears, but most, including "Senza Regole," "Quello Che Resta" and "Gentile Direttore," are very catchy and quite well written and arranged. Even after having had a chance to listen to these nuggets for months and months they still sound fresh and energizing.

The real treasure to be mined from this release however is the collection of progressive gems that stud this disc. Beginning with "La Danza Senza Fine," a modern take on songs like PFM's "E'Festa" and ending with the brilliant "Un Altro Mondo" which is an instant progressive rock masterpiece, the symphonic compositions on Misteriosevoci are all memorable works that will continue to grow on the listener with each spin of this wonderful disc. "Eclissi" has become one of my all time favorite pieces of music with its smooth shifts of tempo and meter; its powerful main theme, which somehow reminds me just a bit of Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir;" and its impressive keyboard lines. "Odio" even allows the listener to engage in a bit of head banging, sounding like a cross between ELP and Deep Purple with an exciting opening fugue that would fool anyone into thinking that this is Keith Emerson at the Hammond organ. The tune continues with thunderous percussion, a great dissonant melody and a searing organ solo from Zabbini.

"Premonizioni" is yet another master work featuring GB's bass trading lines with Zabbini's string synth and a fantastic jam which percolates with a virtuoso walking bass line and another jaw dropping organ solo.

This disc closes out with The Barock Project's crowning glory, "Un Altro Mondo," a showpiece of progressive keyboard excellence. During this tune, one can experience all that was best about Italian prog of the 70s. There are echoes of the classic Italian bands and hints of ELP and Genesis. The development of its main and secondary themes and the subtle textures show the band's unparalleled musicianship and, once again, Zabbini's undeniable skill as a composer and arranger.

Now, let me very calmly say with complete seriousness that, given a bit of luck, The Barock Project is going to be the hottest prog band in Italy and one of the top progressive units to be found anywhere. These guys have all the dedication needed to survive and all the talent that is needed to succeed and flourish.

Now it's up to us. Musical greatness exists, will we recognize it? I sure hope so, because if The Barock Project can make a debut recording as good as this, then I want to hear what their third or fourth disc will sound like. I hope we can make sure there are many more albums to come from The Barock Project.

La Danza Senza Fine / Senza Regole / Eclissi / Anima / Odio / Quello Che Resta / Premonizione / Volo / Gentile Direttore / Luce / Un Altro Mondo

Luca Zabbini - keyboards, guitar, backing vocals
Luca Pancaldi - vocals
Giambattista Giorgi - electric and fretless bass
Giacomo Calabria - drums

Misteriosevoci (2007)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin IT

Added: January 10th 2008
Reviewer: Tom Karr
Artist website:
Hits: 3673
Language: english


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