Alex Carpani — So Close. So Far.
(Ma.Ra.Cash Records MRC060, 2016, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2016-08-02
We managed to miss out on Carpani’s previous release, 4 Destinies from 2014, but I’m happy to report that 2016’s So Close. So Far. is a stellar example of modern progressive rock that honors the past without wallowing in it. Carpani’s songs are well written, consisting of ten tracks of moderate length — no epic suites here, just concise statements that do their thing and get out of the way for the next track. The artwork has a dystopian edge to it, with figures in gas masks, but the lyrics (almost all in English) don’t seem to coincide with that at all, instead consisting mainly of personal observations that apply to modern life. Vocal duties are balanced between Carpani himself and Joe Sal, and in general this sounds more like a band effort than a keyboard player’s solo album. Ettore Salati’s guitars in particular are given lots of great spots, whether it’s beautiful picked acoustic or soaring electric. Carpani’s keyboards are of course stellar, and the instrumentation and details of tone are chosen well. Many tracks take unexpected turns in the keyboard department, like the percolating sequence that runs through “Next Time.” There are occasional sampled voices from historical sources, though the connection between the voice and the song where it appears seems arbitrary. This is a really solid album, and it’s hard to find fault anywhere. I’d have to say that even though the vocals (both lead and backing) are outstanding throughout, it might be nice to get an instrumental workout thrown in the mix to see what these guys can do. My only real complaint is that Carpani is indulging in the modern trend of over-punctuating album titles (see Hand. Cannot. Erase.), presumably for some kind of emphasis.
Related artist(s): Alex Carpani
Celebrate 10 Years of Fruits de Mer – As a special celebration for a decade of cool vinyl releases, our friends at Fruits de Mer records have prepared a limited edition reissue of an album by the first band ever to appear on the label: Schizo Fun Addict. The band is known for unusual release strag » Read more
Mega Dodo Presents New Charity Album – Our friends at Mega Dodo have put together a lovely compilation of their artists performing new arrangements of nursery rhymes, and all the profits from sales of the album will benefit Save the Children. It features a number of artists we've covered. » Read more
Phil Miller RIP – Sad word reaches us today of the passing of another of the great musicians of the Canterbury Scene — guitarist Phil Miller. His distinctive sound added greatly to Matching Mole, Hatfield and the North, and National Health, and he also contributed to albums by Caravan, Dave Stewart & Barbara Gaskin, and many others. He was 68. » Read more
Moonjune to Distribute Tony Levin's Back Catalog – It has been announced that Moonjune will now handle distribution for Tony Levin's catalog of releases. These great albums will now be a bit easier to get hold of, so check out the site and see what you're missing. The veteran of King Crimson and Stick Men worked with a host of great players on these albums, and we've reviewed most of them over the course of the years. » Read more
Bandcamp Shines Light on Niches We Like – Bandcamp has developed into one of the best places to discover new music, and even a lot of old music is showing up there. In addition, their staff has been producing periodic articles spotlighting some interesting stylistic areas. On 20 September, they published one called "The New Face of Prog Rock" which bears checking out. » Read more
Shawn Phillips with J Peter Robinson and Paul Buckmaster - Living Collaboration – Hot on the heels of his Living Contribution concert DVD is Living Collaboration recorded at the Minnesota Zoological Gardens the evening of July 19, 2008. Living Collaboration is a bit different from... (2010) » Read more