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(49:33. Lizard Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Ouverture 7:29 2. Life for Art 4:25 3. Stranger Shadow 4:53 4. Cast Revelation 5:07 5. Look Again 2:19 6. Game Over 4:44 7. Instead of You 4:01 8. Leave Me Alone 2:55 9. The Dead Dream 5:03 10. San Francisco California 8:06 LINEUP: Roberto Sgorlon – vocals; guitars; keyboards Umberto Del Negro – basses Fabrizio Morassuto – drums
Prolusion. This is the second time that I encounter the work of Italy’s QUASAR L.S. – QLS hereinafter. (The band’s full name is Quasar Lux Symphoniae, but it has not always been used by them.) While this CD, “The Dead Dream”, bears a 2012 data, the recordings herein date from 1977, the group’s very first recordings.
Analysis. I’ve made two alternative conclusions after listening to this disc. Back in the mid-‘70s, many profound progressive rock bands from Britain (the home of the genre) had moved to a more mainstream-oriented sound, so it is no surprise that some then-new Italian ones had started their work as only prog-tinged musical acts. On the other hand, QLS was too early in 1977 with an album full of art-rock ballads in an era which still hadn’t left the classic progressive cult behind. Well, there are ten tracks here, all of which sound like pale shades of the band’s later creations, such as those on the “Synopsis” album (one of my twenty, if not ten, favorite releases of 2010). Life for Art, Game Over, Cast Revelation, San Francisco California, Leave Me Alone and Ouverture are all rather plain, slow-paced songs that only hint of Symphonic Progressive’s potentials, the first two of them monothematic and yet vocal-heavy. Expect nothing spectacular from the third one either, even though it is an instrumental. The next piece at least involves a string ensemble in places, while the latter two both sound a bit unusual as well as attractive due to the absence of drums on them. Voices are added into one of the segments of each of them – whispered and spoken respectively. Musically, the latter (the more interesting piece: a bit loopy and repetitive in nature, but effectively executed) is somewhat reminiscent of ‘A Dream within a Dream’ from The Alan Parsons Project debut album, while all of the others are evocative of Pink Floyd at their most retrained. In fact, however, they fall into the same kind of quality category as the second Asia album, “Alpha”, and fall short of the best prog-related AOR acts like 10 CC, let alone Eagles or Barclay James Harvest. By the way, the title track is nothing other than AOR in style. Look Again is also a rhythmic tune, albeit only featuring acoustic guitar and vocals. Surprisingly, on the remaining two pieces, Stranger Shadow and Instead of You, QLS goes heavy, although with no surprises, delivering standard Hard Rock, in the first case vocal-heavy and repetitive alike. The singing of bandleader Roberto Sgorlon is so-so, especially considering his English. He doesn’t shine as a six-stringer either, since almost all guitar solos are slow; perhaps, they’re refined to a certain extent, but never sophisticated. He is more versatile – and generally better – when playing keyboards (particularly organ), but the rhythm section prefers four-beat patterns, rarely switching to more complicated ones, so the songs never rise above average, to say the least.
Conclusion. One can slight the album for not being structurally interesting, dynamically varied and so on, but one can also find it a fine relaxing stuff. I don’t know how many prog lovers, fans of the band included, would be interested in this release, but if you want to enlarge your ‘car’ music collection with decent background music, this is your chance – well, another one. In any event, you should have no doubt that QLS was able to write a catchy melodic tune at the very dawn of their activity.
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