this title is OUT OF STOCK !!!
After their excellent debut album 'Misteriose Voci'
I was eager to listen to this italian band's second effort 'Rebus'.
My veredict is a clear thumbs up, although I must confess
that it took me a few more spins than MV to fully
appreciate this one.
The first thing you notice is a vast improvement in the recording quality, production and attention to detail. And the voice of
Luca Pancaldi sounds much better and is now more supported
by backing vocals.
The second is an evolution in the sound and style,
and this is what took my classic-prog- trained ears
a bit longer to digest.
The formula keeps similar, trying to find the best balance
of classic prog, neo-prog, pop, rock, classical music,
jazz and popular music, but the point of balance seems
at first to have been a bit shifted towards the pop-rock side
and bit less to symphonic prog, classical and jazz.
While MisterioseVoci was closer to the classic prog sound,
with a lot of acoustic piano, rhodes, hammond and moog
sounds, and natural bass and drums, Rebus sounds
much more modern, with a much wider palette of synth
sounds, the bass and drums sound more processed,
and in general closer to standard neo-prog sound.
While I found MV difficult to compare to other main prog bands,
at the first couple of listens of Rebus things that crossed
my mind included modern Yes (Magnification etc), GTR, 3
To the Power of Three, modern ELP, the good Asia tracks
and the likes.
This took me a bit off guard and for some moments
I found myself thinking 'mmm, a bit too modern for me'
(yes I know these albums are not that modern anymore,
but you know what I mean).
However MV had already taught me that these guys are
somewhat subtle in displaying their talent so I gave it more
spins and I finally got it and I have come to really enjoy this
album, and it's certainly better than many of the references I mentioned.
Band leader Luca Zabbini does not sound so much like
Keith Emerson anymore, he is finding his own style but
sure enough he shows once again his amazing skills.
They have now a full-time guitar player Max Scarcia who
does a good job although the music is still mostly
centered on the fantastic keyboards.
There are 2 tracks sung in english (plus one Easter Egg)
and a single-like track, which seems to indicate that they
aim to a wider audience.
The album opens with a ghost of the melody from the
last track Nostradamus, quickly stepping into the fast beat
of 'La Corsa Elettronica' (The Electronic Race).
A very modern sounding prog tune which especially in its
second half reminds me a bit of modern Yes.
'Don Giovanni' is an excellent and quite original track which
could be defined as 'Mozart meets Queen', with a purely classical-based verse and chorus and some Bohemian Rhapsody-like vocals and guitar.
'Save your soul' combines seemingly incompatible styles,
starting with a tune which will remind us of central-european
gipsy music to suddenly change into fast rock, followed by
typical prog synth solo lines and closing again with the gipsy
theme. It seemed a bit forced in the beginning but after a
while I got its point.
'Akery' is one of the best picks, a wonderful track with
great dynamics, starting with soft piano to gradually
increase the intensity and without knowing how you
got there you are listening to fast rock, and then to
mid-tempo prog. Great song.
'Polvere di stelle' (Stardust) could be a single, it has
a very pop and catchy verse-chorus but the instrumental
work is great and more prog than it seems at first.
'Duellum' (Duel) is the most Emersonian track, could
well have been in some of the modern ELP albums
(of which would have been probably the best song),
an amazing display of keyboard work and another
of the best picks.
'My enemy' is mostly a rock song, the weakest in the album.
'Veleno' (Poison) is the track which sounds most like
their first album MV, again with great dynamics combining prog-jazz-pop, an instrumental phrasing in phrygian scale
which gives it an andalusian feeling, and a beautiful
soft middle segment. Another best pick.
'Orione' (obviously enough, Orion) is mostly standard
neo-prog, something that would not have felt much out
of place in one of the first Arena albums.
'Nostradamus' is officially the last track, based on
frantic drums, something as if you tried to put music
to one of the drum duet solos of Phill Collins and
Chester Thompson, it took me a while to get it but now
I find it a very good and original track.
The song ends at 5:00 min, but the counter on the player
shows that track 10 lasts 11:20, betraying that there's
something more to come. Indeed after 3 minutes of
silence we get an unnamed Easter Egg in the form of a
soft ballad which while not being very prog by itself is
nice and not much different from, say, some of the
soft fragments of Jethro Tull.
A very good album which due to the modernized style
compared to MV took me a bit longer to get into,
but still a great work and much improved in many
respects compared to their debut.
Best picks for my taste 'Don Giovanni', 'Akery',
'Duellum', 'Veleno' and 'Nostradamus'.
Review by Gerinski