Not a Good Sign — From a Distance
(AltrOck Productions FAD-019, 2015, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2015-05-13Seems like just yesterday I was spilling words about this unfortunately named band’s debut release, but time does fly. From a Distance is a powerful follow-up to the band’s excellent debut, and in most aspects a more direct progressive rock approach, though the band avoids a lot of the excesses that typify that genre, like long extended suites and a forced-retro sound with retro or faux-retro instrumentation. No, you won’t find any Mellotrons here, and the longest of the ten tracks is just over seven minutes – the average being much shorter. This bears more of classic progressive rock’s more complex elements presented with arrangements borne of current-era instrumentation, but informed by the greats of the past. Certainly one will be reminded of 70s Crimson, or early PFM at times, but those moments are mixed well with a blistering blend of current Italian songcraft. The songwriting team of founding members Francesco Zago (guitar) and Paolo “Ske” Botta (keyboards) remains intact (both also members of Yugen), with Zago composing most of the band’s English lyrics, delivered with power, punch and sensitivity by lead singer Alessio Calandriello. The band is rounded out by the rhythm section of incoming bassist Alessandro Cassani and drummer Martino Malacrida, plus several guests including pianist Maurizio Fasoli of Yugen on about four tracks, Jacopo Costa (vibraphone & glockenspiel) on five, and double-reed player Eleonora Grampa on three cuts, including the short, gentle keyboard based closer “Farewell” written by Botta, also featuring Fasoli and Grampa, as a farewell to Zago, who left the band shortly after the recording, since replaced by incoming guitarist Gian Marco Trevisan. No doubt the third album will be different from this one, but From a Distance builds on all the strengths of their debut.
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