Romantic Warriors — Battlefield
(Vinyl Magic VMNP06, 1993, CD)
Secret Cinema — Dreamin' of My Past
(Vinyl Magic VMNP 011, 1994, CD)
Tower — Tales from a Book of Yestermorrow
(Vinyl Magic VMNP 10, 1994, CD)
by Mike McLatchey, Published 1995-07-01
These titles are all combined as these are all projects either including Beppe Crovella or being one of his projects. Crovella was Arti e Mestieri's keyboard player and is the resident producer for VMNP (Vinyl Magic New Progressive Series).
Romantic Warriors is Crovella on keys plus many guests. The music is a glossy high tech neo- progressive with bombastic keyboards – some 70s (Mellotron, Hammond) but most gated and digital. The music tends to stick to the Asia/Saga format – tedious 4/4 rhythms and pop styled lead vocals. Amazingly, drummer Furio Chirico plays on six tracks but nowhere does he show the incredible fluid style he used to play on Arti e Mestieri and The Trip albums. Some of the instrumentals are nice, with fairly complex Emerson-like keys but overall this is typical of the average Italian neo like Calliope, Clarion, Barrock, or maybe Nuova Era on their debut.
Tower is Crovella plus vocalist Paola Mei and drummer Elio Rivagli. Basically, this is very similar to Romantic Warriors except with a bit more Genesis and a female vocalist too far in the Tina Turner / Pat Benatar / Patty Smyth mode for comfort. While the music also has its instrumental moments, parts of this sound like theatrical soundtracks in the Les Miserables / Cats vein, a twist I haven't heard in neo styles yet not one I'm sure I like. Overall, a typical Italian neo with too forward of a vocalist.
Secret Cinema is a far more interesting release with two album length suites (around 33 minutes each) of music solidly in the 70s Italian vein. Crovella seems to be the musical organizer or leader here, yet evidently he's not truly the band's keyboard player full time as they have someone to replace him for live shows. Crovella's keys are definitely the front for the band and he uses the Mellotron and Minimoog prominently throughout the album (although his thanking of Mike Pinder in the credits implies the 'Tron sounds may be sampled). The rest of the band is young and quite talented; drummer Enrico Matta and vocalist Agnese Cacciola are standouts, although the vocals don't always seem to go well with the music. Overall, this is a really nice release with the occasional brilliant melody and plenty of dramatic dynamics. My only reservation is the obvious lack of cohesion of the band – sometimes it seems that the themes could have been more fully developed and sound a bit too thrown together. Dreamin' of My Past is an appropriate title – the music is quite nostalgic, yet this certainly is a very promising release.
Gong Announces UK Tour for 2020 – Having spent the last few years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour, and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases. During this live journey, Gong has delved further into the truly psychedelic, exploratory, and mind-expanding side of the music. » Read more
Wolfgang Dauner RIP – Pianist Wolfgang Dauner, one of the pioneers of both European free jazz and jazz rock, has died at the age of 84. With his own groups and with the United Jazz+Rock Ensemble, his playing and compositions were a prominent presence in European jazz from the mid-60s until just recently. » Read more
Michael Allison RIP – Michael Allison, who since 1997 has been recording as Darshan Ambient, passed away on January 9th after a long and brave battle with cancer. He has been at at the forefront of the new ambient/electronic music scene, with over eighteen releases to his credit. » Read more
Neil Peart RIP – One of rock music's defining drummers has died at the age of 67. Neil Peart's work with Rush provided one of the templates for percussion in rock, and he certainly ranks in the top ten most influential drummers of the 20th Century. Peart retired from playing in 2015 due to health issues, and succumbed to brain cancer on January 7, 2020. » Read more