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(49:47, Lizard Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Rhapsody & Fugue 7:44 2. Arcano 4:55 3. Snake’s Dream 6:31 4. Flying Thoughts 3:50 5. Oblivion 7:33 6. Isle Mind 4:53 7. Moses 14:14 LINEUP: Paolo Paroni – organs, pianos, synthesizer Fabio Glacomello – acoustic guitar Marco Filippo – electric guitar Fabrizio Morasutto – drums Mauro Chiapollino – basses Annalisa Malvasio – vocals Luca Vignery – vocals Ulisse Tonon – organ
Prolusion. Italy’s QUASAR LUX SYMPHONIAE (QLS hereinafter) has existed since the mid-‘70s. “Synopsis” is the ensemble’s seventh release to date, marking my first acquaintance with its work. Curiously, an average track length of the album’s seven compositions is 7 minutes.
Analysis. On all of the evenly- and oddly-numbered tracks the music sounds like being influenced by Camel and Steve Hackett respectively, circa ’75 in both cases. At the same time however, it’s clear that there are plenty of the band’s own musical discoveries too. On each of the former ‘category’ pieces, Rhapsody & Fugue (disc opener – the sole instrumental here), Snake’s Dream, Moses and Oblivion, QLS deploys some tasty heavy metal riffs as well as classical-like motifs, plus there are hints of ELP here and there, while the latter composition has additionally a majestic church organ intro, which instantly evokes the name of Johannes Sebastian Bach. The album’s concluding track, Moses, contains something distinctive too, namely two Indian music-inspired themes with only acoustic guitar and saxophone in the arrangement. (This is a quintessential sympho-prog epic, pleasing the ear over all its 14-minutes of length.) Overall however, the music is in all cases classic symphonic Art-Rock, for sure, and is for the most part dynamically evolving, with many shifts in pace, mood and so on. With each of the tracks containing a lot of themes that are explored by the octet in a proper, ensemble, fashion, this totally composed stuff will be a feast for the right ears. In particular, it stands out for the excellent keyboard work by Paolo Paroni. Besides playing Hammond and both electric and acoustic pianos, the man uses a variety of additional sounds, which well imitate those of violins, cello and saxophone, resulting in lush orchestral arrangements, so I believe there are also an ARP and mini-Moog in his keyboard equipment. Marco Filippo on electric guitar and Ulisse Tonon on synthesizer both shine as soloists too, albeit a bit less often than Paolo does. Bassist Mauro Chiapollino and drummer Fabrizio Morasutto form a tight rhythm section, supporting the lead instrumentalists’ parts very well. As to the vocalists, although Luca Vignery sings in a traditional rock manner, and Annalisa Malvasio (soprano) in a classically operatic one, their respective efforts are equally impressive, and, feeling myself as an Earthman rather than a Russian or anyone else, I decided to pay no heed to their imperfect English. Snake’s Dream and Moses both find the man doing lead vocals, whereas Oblivion only features the girl, despite the fact that this track rocks as much as the former two do. One may wonder why the singers were employed irrespective of the nature of the material. The answer would be: because both of them have an ability to work with their voices in such a way that they would suit probably any style ‘offered’. The remaining three tracks, Arcano, Flying Thoughts and Isle Mind, are particularly representative in this respect. The rhythm section appears infrequently here, and the dominant sound is in all cases an alloy of lush string arrangements and classical-like acoustic guitar courtesy of Fabio Glacomello, with the wonderful dual singing of Annalisa and Luca. Imagine something halfway between The Shadow of the Hierophant (with the magnificent Sally Oldfield on vocals) and The Hermit (where Steve sings alone) from Mr. Hackett’s masterpiece “Voyage of the Acolyte”, and you’ll get some idea of the pieces, albeit, as mentioned above, the Italian band’s music has a strong original flavor to it as well. Containing more instrumental arrangements, the first four described compositions all allow for a deeper/longer exploration, but these have their own merits, beginning with the sophistication of their, seemingly fragile, musical constructions and ending with their overall beauty.
Conclusion. This music will please any connoisseur of the art-rock genre, unless someone is exclusively into its highly-complicated variants, like Yes’ “Topographic Oceans” or “Brain Salad Surgery” by ELP. Highly recommended: Top-20-2010
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