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This is the debut album from Alcantara, who are based in Sicily’s second largest city, Catania. Sicily may not be a hotbed of progressive rock, but of course Italy has always been a major market. However, this is not RPI in any sense at all, but rather a far more modern take. According to the band, ‘Solitaire’ is a concept album exploring the meaning of resistance in liquid modern times and is a journey through space rock, progressive ballads and psychedelic blues. All lyrics are in English, and while all three of the above genres are well represented, often at the same time, there is also a feeling of indie rock, Muse and Jadis about the proceedings as well. It is an incredibly atmospheric album, and the vocals fit perfectly with the music, which for the vast majority of the time is very laid back indeed. When listening to individual songs one finds this incredibly impressive and fascinating, as the reverb and textures really bring the listener in closer. However, when it is like this for pretty much the whole album it does tend to lose the effect and instead becomes something where the sum of the parts is certainly less than the individual. There just isn’t enough contrast within the album, and whereas some metal bands suffer by being too loud all the time, the opposite is true here. Without the use of contrast and dynamics it becomes a chore to listen to as opposed to a joy, which is a real shame as the individual songs are all very good indeed. By the time I came around to listen to this for the third or fourth time I knew what to expect, and wasn’t really looking forward to the experience, as I knew by the end I would be seeking out something quite different as a musical earwash. But, I am also aware there will be plenty who want to listen to music which is never New Age or Ambient, and is always “proper” songs, yet is incredibly laid back even though the electric guitar is an incredibly important instrument throughout. This is definitely a band to keep an eye on as they are showing great promise, but need to provide more emphasis in places.
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