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Narrow Pass - 2009 - "In This World & Beyond"

(58:33, Musea Records)

TRACK LIST:                   

1.  In This World & Beyond / Just for You 12:28
2.  Beyond 7:03
3.  Silver Lady 8:34 
4.  Somewhere by the Sea / Timeless 7:38
5.  Heaven's Crying 7:27
6.  In Your Eyes 6:01 
7.  Flying from Ireland 9:22


Mauro Montobbio – guitars; keyboards; percussion
Valeria Caucino – vocals; Irish bodhran, percussion
Alessandro Corvaglia – vocals 
Andrea Beccaro – drums 
Roberto Costa – bass 
Edmondo Romano – sax, whistles
Sandro Marinoni – sax, flutes
Vito Dentamaro – violin 
Elisa Montaldo – piano 

Prolusion. Italy’s NARROW PASS was originally a band set up by Mauro Montobbio some 25 years ago that later disbanded without releasing any material. Some time after the millennium Montobbio decided to restart this project as his creative vehicle, and with help from numerous guest musicians a debut album, "A Room of Fairy Queen's", was created and subsequently issued by Musea Records in 2006. “In This World & Beyond” is the sophomore release of the outfit and was issued in 2009.

Analysis. Symphonic art-rock has always been one of the most popular varieties of progressive music, and Narrow Pass is yet another band which knows its Genesis and Camel pretty well, but are also fairly good at creating new music within the boundaries the back catalogs of these two highly influential bands have created. Like many other artists, Narrow Pass are keen to add some personal touches to their own escapades. In this case, it is the addition of Celtic-tinged folk music: a mix of styles I can't remember having encountered too often in the past. While a true blend of these rather different stylistic expressions might have been comparatively interesting in itself, Narrow Pass has deliberately chosen to explore these two directions individually: first and foremost by shifts in style within the individual composition, where a symphonic passage is followed by a Celtic-inspired one or vice versa. At best this works pretty well too, with the emotional and distinct female lead vocals as something of a red thread, and the lush keyboard layers underscored by acoustic or clean sounding guitar licks added to the strictly acoustic Celtic themes with flute, violin and yet again acoustic guitar as the main characteristics works pretty well. On occasion dampened floating synths are also featured in the latter parts, enhancing the feeling of continuity whether the composition ventures to or from a symphonic segment. On other occasions the song ends up as somewhat disjointed though, where the transitional phase between the different sounding parts fails to create the impression that both of them are parts of a greater whole. Personally I find the Celtic parts of this album to be most enjoyable, despite the fact that this is a type of music that almost has become a cliche in itself. Narrow Pass steers clear of cliched and overly used approaches to this stylistic expression though, and when purebred on the track Silver Lady they have created a stunning song that at least for me is the clear highlight on this effort.

Conclusion. This sophomore effort from Narrow Pass is a rather good album overall, and I find it more than likely that it will have a strong appeal also outside the world of progressive music. But while their blend of Celtic folk and symphonic art rock may not be a widespread exercise, it isn't a very innovative one either. Still, those who enjoy both genres explored here should find this album to be rather intriguing, and as long as you don't expect to find any highly adventurous excursions on this disc you'll probably find it to be worth purchasing as well.

OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: December 14, 2009
The Rating Room

Related Links:

Musea Records
Narrow Pass


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