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(49:11, Lizard Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Ouverture 7:22 2. Life for Art 4:54 3. Stranger Shadow 4:52 4. Cast Revelation 5:05 5. Look Again 2:17 6. Game Over 4:42 7. Instead of You 3:59 8. Leave Me Alone 2:53 9. The Dead Dream 4:58 10. San Francisco California 8:09 LINEUP: Roberto Sgorlon – vocals; guitars; keyboards Fabrizio Morassutto – drums Umberto Del Negro – bass
Prolusion. The Italian band QUASAR LUX SYMPHONIAE (QLS from now on) was formed back in 1976, and as far as I know, they are still an active entity to this date, which makes them a veteran band at this stage. They have 6 full-length studio albums to their name. "The Dead Dream" is the most recent of these, and was released by Lizard Records in 2012.
Analysis. From what I understand the pre-history of this production is a fairly interesting one. "The Dead Dream" was originally recorded back in 1977 in a home studio environment, but never saw an official release. When the original recordings were lost, the band decided to record it again in 1995. It would take a further 17 year for this production to be released however, so this is a fairly rare instance of material that is actually more than 30 years old before being released for the very first time. The history of this material is, sadly, rather more interesting that the compositions themselves, in my opinion. Those looking for lost gems and materials that should have been presented to an audience long before should probably look elsewhere, as this is an album that, I presume, will be of interest to fans of this band first and foremost. Or to put it that way: there are many bands out there that explore material of this nature in a much more interesting manner than what QLS does on this occasion. We have, basically, three types of songs on this CD. There are the delicate acoustic guitar and vocals compositions, and both of the ones present don't really manage to convince in any department. The acoustic guitar motif isn't interesting enough to create a strong atmosphere, lead vocalist Sgorlon isn't a strong enough singer to manage to carry songs of his own, unless you have a strong taste for vocalists who focus on emotional delivery rather than the more traditional melody and harmony based approach, and the one occasion where fragile keyboards supplement, they don't really manage to add anything to what's going on either. The band also tries out on a harder edged, hard rock style, complete with melodic hard rock type circulating, easy on the ear recurring keyboard or piano motifs, more powerful lead vocals and attempts at beefy guitar riffs to add edge and power – where a crude guitar sound and overly emotional lead vocals are the main flaws. I truly like music of that kind when done right, but on this occasion I'll be diplomatic and merely state that the end result is flawed. Harsher descriptions could have been used, but again, this isn't music that impress all that much. Basically a scaled down, minimalistic and less sophisticated take on mid ‘70s Eloy and Pink Floyd, slow-paced bass motifs and steady, slow rhythms support floating keyboards, dampened, careful guitar motifs and lead vocals on these excursions. Some additional organ details may come and go, and the most often plucked guitar motif will often unfold into a careful, elegant guitar solo of some kind or other, but generally speaking not in a manner that impresses in any department, at least as far as I'm concerned. Title track The Dead Dream is the best of these, sporting a more elaborate and worked out arrangement, some additional sophisticated details in the keyboards department and a rather nice, elongated psychedelic-tinged guitar solo that adds a rougher, more vibrant dimension to the proceedings, but by and large, this is music less than impressive on most levels. At the very best a pleasant, but not all that engaging listen.
Conclusion. "The Dead Dream" is an album, I assume, will have a rather limited appeal. The music may be described as a scaled down, minimalistic version of mid ‘70s Eloy and Pink Floyd, focusing on slow-paced atmospheric landscapes, but without any complexities, subtle details or other touches of sophistication you'd normally find on a progressive rock album. Apart from fans of QLS, I'd say that this is a CD that might be worthwhile to check out for those who find symphonic progressive rock to be interesting but rather too challenging. Others should approach this production with some caution.
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