This Bandcamp special version (only digital download) features a brand new track never released, "Isola di Sara intro" with Benedetta Degli Innocenti as Sara, composed and realized for the live version of Preda in 2012 but never performed.
"Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection"
Mad Crayon continues on its merry journey with an out of this world release much heralded by PA gurus Mellotronstorm and Finnforest and providing some additional vindication for this band that takes its sweet time to push out a bambino (10 years have gone by since 'Diamanti'!) and the wait has been quite worth it. The scope of their songwriting has evolved tremendously, with anything from harder rock, to funk, via some space, a touch of symphonics and a dose of fusion-jazz. Main guitarist Daniele Vitalone is unafraid to squeeze as much wah-wah pedal and assorted effects out of his crunching macho style, while the dual keyboard attack rekindles fond memories of RPI stalwarts Banco, Goblin and Il Volo. Delicious bass and thoughtful drumming makes this a pulsating affair, full of bravado, pomp and passion. Mad Crayon likes to offer 2 part song structures, often one after the other like a suite but also book ending the disc with sulfuric "Re Schiavo" and its reprise finale.
This opener is a devastating piece, metallic, tangible and yet audacious, setting a bold tone right from the get go, stating the fact that this will be an inspired ride.
On the 2 part "Preda" suite, everything is tossed into the mix including brutal organ rumblings, swift electronics and slithering beats, all welded together by some molten-hot guitar runs.
But it's the next core series of songs that impresses from the very first listen, a captivating flow of RPI of the highest standard. "Gabriel" is more keys oriented and as such there is a lovely piano lead into the arrangement that has some jazzy moments as well as a more psychedelic one, whilst providing some excellent Italian language vocals. The raspy axe stretches the mood brilliantly while the ravishing bass burps comfortable and content to even solo fretless. Darn good stuff this! When the guitar solo erupts, the tension is palpably demented like sonic Vesuvius, exploding chords into the air.
But the cornerstone genius of this album is the blooming electronic aura of "Xoanon", a scintillating slice of stellar space/psychedelia of the loftiest caliber, loaded with mood and atmosphere, all played with vivid authority and dedication. The synthesizers hold the rushing organ's hands as they travel through space and time, a loopy bass scurries thoughtfully, emitting a definite Brand X feel. But when the organ starts flying, ooooh my! This is a fascinating piece of work that can rival anything in the RPI catalogue (Si signore, its dat good!).
"L'Isola di Sara" is the designated ballad, a style Mad Crayon is very good at (as per the delectable "Poggia di Fiori" off Diamanti) showcasing Federico Tetti's buoyant and dreamy vocals , all blanketed with some spirited playing by all instrumentalists , less languorous and more assertive than ever before. The acoustic guitar solo is expressive to the max and surprises with its freshness and vivacity. Damn these guys are talented; just check the guitar solo, pfffff!
Then we have the epic 2 part "Sovrano dell'Illusione" with its ultra symphonic mellotron- guided intro, allied with nimble piano and acoustic guitar, evoking hints of pastoral/medieval Ant Phillips-like horizons before the fragile vocals kick in and remind us that we are in Alba and not Albion . But the 'tron keeps reappearing amid the various passages, where somber vocals reign supreme and flute-patch synths whistle in the gale. The longer second part has a more cohesive makeup, the rocky guitars reappear with unabashed vigor, the bass rumbles nastily and the whole sonic locomotive becomes a authoritative force. This is splendid music, where organ, synth and fretboards combine to create a frenzy of resonance, constantly weaving between soft and hard sections, like a musical teeter-totter. When the piano 'jazzlounges' towards the end, we are knowledgeably in the presence of something astounding as the ivories flow into the "Re Schiavo reprise". This only serves to consecrate this lively album further, easily the biggest surprise of 2011, as I thought these guys were gone from the face of Prog. Bravo!
I am therefore not surprised that mellotronstorm may have humidified his Fruit of the Looms, as this is definitely his style of adventurous, hard-edged yet fluid progressive rock. This is a monster album that deserves the highest praise, only the sucky cover art is unworthy (Pacman , really?).
Anyway, I adore it too, Gianni!
Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover Team
A big thankyou to Finnforest who suggested I check this out. I believe Jim said it would make me wet my pants. Well thankfully that hasn't happened yet but I agree with you, this is one wild ride. I had their previous album from 1999 which was good but I honestly could take it or leave it.Then I heard the song they did in 2005 for "The Colossus Of Rhodes" project and man they impressed me there. So it appears these guys are getting better with time as this latest release from them really made my day everytime I heard it.
"Re Schiavo" opens with atmosphere and a sample of people speaking. Psychedelic guitar comes in with drums and more followed by vocals. Mellotron too then it kicks in. It settles back as contrasts continue. Piano leads before 4 minutes as it calms right down.Guitar comes in soloing before it kicks in one last time.Great tune. "Preda Part 1" opens with some exellent bass as drums and guitar come in. Funkytown ! Vocals join in then it turns heavier before 2 1/2 minutes but it's brief. It does kick in again only this time for a longer period. Some funky bass as it settles before 5 minutes. "Preda Part 2" hits the ground running with riffs then the organ gets a workout as drums pound. Synths add a spacey vibe.Piano before 4 minutes as the riffs continue. "Gabriel" is one of my favourite tracks. A top two for sure. It opens with liquid keys then builds quickly. Vocals join in. What a great sounding tune. The guitar rips it up 4 1/2 minutes in when the vocals stop. Love this track.
"Xoanon" is my other top two. A dark soundscape here to start. Very cool. Electronics as the guitar echoes in the night. Drums after 1 1/2 minutes then it kicks in after 3 minutes heavily. Nice. Organ 4 minutes in as the bass throbs and the drums and synths also impress. The electronics return as it settles. "L'Isola Di Sara" is fairly laid back and vocals come in after a minute. I really like the sound after 2 minutes when it all picks up. Contrasts continue. Beautiful stuff. "Sovrano Dell'Illusione" opens with piano as the mellotron floods in. Acoustic guitar and synths follow then reserved vocals. "Sovrano Dell'Illusione Part 2" is the longest track and it's a killer. Love how it sounds to start. It kicks in before 3 minutes before settling back with guitar that echoes. It kicks back in quickly with riffs and organ as the contrasts continue. Vocals before 7 1/2 minutes. Piano only 9 1/2 minutes in followed by mellotron. "Re Schiavo Reprise" opens with piano only as background samples come in like on the opening song. Vocals and a fuller sound takes over.
I've really grown to adore this album.
Review by Mellotron Storm
The band was formed in 1988 near Rome, Italy. They published three albums and a number of collaborations for various progressive projects. Worldwide known as one of the most interesting italian prog bands from the 90's.