Three Monks — The Legend of the Holy Circle
(Black Widow BWRCD 159-2 / BWR 159, 2013, CD / LP)
by Henry Schneider, Published 2014-05-04
The Legend of the Holy Circle is the second all instrumental release by this Italian trio of Paolo “Julius” Lazzeri (neogothic organ & synths), Maurizio “Bozorius” Bozzi (bass), and Claudio “Ursinius” Cuseri (drums on tracks 1, 2, and 5) and Roberto “Placidus” Bichi (drums on tracks 3, 6, and 7). Given this combination, you might immediately think of Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, which would not be that far off the mark. The difference here is that a grandiose church pipe organ is front and center, with the synths so well integrated into the background that you hardly notice them. The seven tracks are heavily influenced by baroque music, though it is Julius’ artistry on the keyboard that stands out with his multiple keyboard runs and shear energy. Listening to the opening track “The Holy Circle” you can easily picture this track performed live and whipping the audience to a frenzy. Julius’ playing also calls to mind Gianni Leone’s keyboard chops. Even though there is not much variation in the instrumentation, Julius and bandmates are able run through a range of emotions within and across the seven tracks, from dark gothic atmospheres to spiritual hymns. “The Rest of the Sacred Swarm” particularly pays homage to Bach and a vague reference to Procol Harum’s “Whiter Shade of Pale,” as well as the closing track “Toccata Neogotica n5” that immediately calls to mind Bach’s “Toccata and Fugue.” Another stand out track is “Rieger” with its heavy progressive arrangements and martial pipe organ. The Three Monks are a unique band. As far as I know, no one else is composing music like this today. And The Legend of the Holy Circle will appeal to all lovers of heavy progressive organ dominated rock. It is certainly in my top ten albums I have recently discovered!
Ennio Morricone RIP – Famed composer Ennio Morricone has died at the age of 91. The creator of scores for more than 500 movies, some of his works have become the most recognizable sounds in the history of cinema. His soundtracks for Sergio Leone's Westerns made from 1964 to 1971, are iconic landmarks in film music, but he also composed for dramas, comedies, and other genres. He won the Academy Award for Best Original Score in 2016 for The Hateful Eight. » Read more
Keith Tippett RIP – One of the giants of British jazz has left us. Keith Graham Tippetts, known professionally as Keith Tippett, died today at the age of 72. His work from the late 60s into the 70s and beyond includes some of the greatest jazz produced in the UK, and stands as an impressive oevre to this day. » Read more
Phil May of The Pretty Things RIP – We were saddened to learn that Phil May, lead singer and founding member of The Pretty Things, has died at the age of 75. The band's 1968 album S.F. Sorrow is one of the enduring classics of the psychedelic era, and the group existed in various forms until finally retiring in 2018. » Read more
Jorge Santana RIP – Jorge Santana, noted guitarist, leader of the band Malo and brother to Carlos Santana, died on May 14 at the age of 68. Jorge and Carlos worked together on a number of occasions, though Jorge's career was centered around Malo, solo work, and with Fania All-Stars. » Read more