1. Why did they make this album? What was the passion or message that forced them to produce what they have? Or, simply what was their motivation for the themes they chose for this album?
“Italian composer Alex Carpani was born in Montreux (Switzerland) in 1970 of an Italian father and a French mother.” “At the age of 6 he gave clear signs of a particular inclination for music, starting playing electronic organ and taking his first lessons and music theory.” “The progressive rock genre has always influenced and inspired him, maybe because of the "magic" encounter he had with Keith Emerson when he was a child.” “In 2005 he signed a contract with Cypher Arts, an American independent label that will publish and distribute his prog albums.” “Alex has also composed several electronic albums and has been performing multimedia concerts with fractal animations”.
“Music for theatre and multimedia: he composed the music for a multimedia theatre show called "Il Ritorno" (The Return) written by Filippo Finardi and represented in an historical theatre of Bologna, the music for the multimedia theatre show "Cerco un paese innocente" (Looking for an innocent country), directed by Sandra Cavallini and represented in Bologna.” “The original soundtrack of a short film called "Passaggi" (Passages) directed by Dario Marzola.” “The original soundtrack of a promotional DVD of CMAS (an international diving association), that has been distributed all over the world and the original soundtrack of a short film dedicated to the "Caritas" House of Piacenza, Italy, directed by Giorgia Scalia”.
“Alex Carpani lives in Bologna, a nice historical city of about 400.000 inhabitants in northern Italy.” “He speaks three languages (Italian, French and English) and has got a true passion for cinema, computer music, vintage synthesizers and modern & contemporary art.”
“Besides being a composer he's the manager of the culture department in a municipality near Bologna” (http://www.alexcarpani.com/, 2009).
2. What message are they delivering through their lyrics and music?
1. The Siren and the Mariner – Acoustic guitar and chimes open this beautiful piece of almost classical sounding music. The drums kick in and deliver a building beat as the keys and electric guitar are added with the entrance of the vocals. The piano drifts off and the bass follows lifting the drama of the piece as each key note drives the building melody. Then Beatrice’s lovely voice sings the sirens call, “come to me and hear me sing...” The electric guitar solo that follows is very good and eerie, like some of my favorite Genesis songs.
2. The Levees’ Break – Drums, bass, flute and keys open this song along with a grinding axe. Then those cool Genesis era keys stride in to set the real melody. Wonderful placement of the bass along with keys, then the lead and other guitars and percussion kick in to percolate the building sound. Before a quiet acoustic moment along with ‘Hackett – like’ guitar riffs. The drums build again and congas and other percussion intermingle with the beauty of the flute. Very complex and interesting music. Then the wonderful piano and flute along with percussion sounds and drums. If the ‘levees break’ they let go of all of the instruments on this one. Cool effect. The lead guitar riffs and piano interplay before the drums and strong rhythm takes over again. Wishing for a ‘Phil Collins – like’ drum solo in here, but it doesn’t come. But a highlight of the album none – the - less.
3. In the Rocks – Drums and guitar blast open this track and the vocals wade through the sound as the tempo changes and acoustic guitar takes over with Italian vocals. Bass, keys and lead electric return along with saxophone and the rhythm and melody build. The sounds of a chorus join in as backup. The beautiful piano interlude mixed with drums is fantastic and you want it to last forever. Great building melody. Then the cool lead electric solo supported by sax. However, the piano and keys are a wonderful companion throughout the piece. The end climaxes with excellent drum salutes. Second best song on the album.
4. Reclaimed – The wandering Lamb Lies Down on Broadway piano along with the ‘Hackett – like’ guitar make this my favorite. Those synthesized chorus – like effects make this a real favorite for any fan of Genesis. An instrumental extravaganza. Then those Tony Banks- like synthesizer sounds blended with grinding guitars and lead riffs. Drums, wandering piano and that building chorus – like sound from the Knife or some other early Genesis albums. Takes you right back to Foxtrot or Nursery Crime. Excellent!
5. Agua Claro – Definitely Keith Emerson inspired ‘ELP – like’ piano. Big and bold with synthesizer keys and drums supporting. Another favorite. The keyboard, synths and piano on this one are so elegant. You don’t want this one to end either. When the lead guitar shoots through it is a welcome addition. The drums are solid throughout. The ‘Emerson – like’ synth and keyboard interweaving is wonderful.
6. Starcurrents – Slow quiet opening after the power pack that just ended. Slow plucked guitar and a building drum rhythm. Then the piano is back. Softly padded drums and varying rhythm and melody keeping the listener on their feet and constantly engaged. Flutes, drums, guitars and keys mixed with that wonderful piano. Another great guitar solo and the piano returns. Then an organ- like sound keeping the listener constantly guessing what’s next. So many nice surprises. And it trails off to the cool piano.
7. Song of the Pond – Acoustic guitar opens this wonderful nature song with flute and keys surrounding. The cool bass sounds add to the effect of the quietness but fullness of sound. It sounds like it wants to turn jazzy, but Alex and the band pull back and instead create a Renaissance or Jethro Tull kind of flute song. Breezy flute mixed with working bass, piano and cymbal/drum rhythm. Another favorite. The wonderful early ‘King Crimson – like’ guitar riffs that close the song are fantastic.
8. A Gathering Storm – Heavier guitar and drums are met with sax as a tough city rhythm type of song takes shape. The bass and launching guitar riffs are great, as is the cool piano that accompanies. Then that Yes, ‘Does It Really Happen’ melody of the guitar before the piano takes over and closes the song along with some the best guitar riffs on the album.
9. The Waterfall – That cool wandering, this time more ‘Tubular Bells’, type of piano. Just incredible. Like water falling. The guitar, bass, and drums are an excellent support for the piano. String – like sounds and then a cool acoustic guitar with that wonderful piano and keys wandering all over the background. You definitely feel like you are in the middle of the waterfall with music surrounding you. Very cool effects. The solo guitar riffs and interludes add action and drama to the sound. Then a full stop as if someone shut off the waterfall.
10. Catch the Wave – Broad, bold sax, bass and drums kick this off with that cool piano and then the added organ sounds. Then synthesizer and acoustic guitar. This music is so dynamic and really has the power to keep listeners trying to find new instruments to focus on each time you listen to a piece. There is so much here to take in. Keys, acoustic, and the powerful sax acting as a guitar with its cool solos.
11. Prelude in C Minor (BWWVB47) – Beautiful rendition of this classic using sax, keys, drums, and bass. The chimes and acoustic almost harpsichord sounds before the synthesizer returns are excellent and add another wonderful surprise to an already jam – packed album of sound.
3. Does this music improve, change, or add to the genre? What does the listener receive from listening to the music?
This is an excellent album. If it came out this year it would rank high on my list of albums of the year. As I mentioned throughout the review, this music challenges the listener to keep up and try to hear and enjoy all the sounds. It is not an album you can only listen to one time to enjoy all it has to offer. It is full of good musicians and the sounds of multiple instruments. Dynamic is a good word for it. There are not as many bands incorporating all of this sound into one album like they used to. It is a wonderful album and makes me very interested in their next, coming this April.
4. Does it have longevity? Is it something a fan will like to play again and again?
Absolutely. You need time to truly digest all that is on the menu here. Very complex rhythms and melodies and you need time to appreciate each of the instruments being played.
Rating: 9/10. Excellent album. Although the music is incredible most of it lacks true lyrics. Solid well written lyrics would give these songs even more power.
Reviewed by Prof on March 20th, 2010