Amazing review from the pages of Prog Archives for our new album: Il Corponauta.
Every year presents no shortage of superior Italian prog discs, but there’s always that handful of titles that completely stand out from the rest as an almighty progressive musical statement, and Brescian band Il Paradiso degli Orchi (The Orcs’ Paradise) have absolutely delivered one of them with their second album `Il Corponauta’, inspired by the novel by Flavio Emer. Overseen by modern Italian prog notable Fabio Zuffanti, the group present a chaotic, hair-tearing work of loopy intensity that always remains highly melodic and accessible without skimping on daring progressive technicality, and their richness of vocal arrangements is truly without compare. The group always sound very youthful and contemporary, but they also show a great understanding of the classic Italian prog groups with influences from the first few Premiata Forneria Marconi albums, King Crimson, Pink Floyd and the many vintage Italian bands who featured a heavy use of flute in their music, but they never come across as mere imitators for even a second.
Opener `Il Mondo dei Pensieri’ bristles with a purring danger of all those wilder classic RPI discs, full of energetic guitar bite, searing Mellotron cuts, ruminative flute and exotic percussion, and the variety of group vocals and harmonies is seductive. The gloomy piano-driven of `Il Corponauta’ is darkly theatrical and maddening (and just listen to that sneaking bass in the background!), `Silenzi’ (perhaps one of the greatest tunes to appear on an Italian prog disc throughout 2016 to date, and vocalist Sven Jorgensen delivers an incredible performance) is a melancholic ballad that slowly builds in power and victory, echoing classic-era Genesis and Premiata Forneri Marconi due to its pastoral qualities from chiming acoustic guitar, gentle flute and wispy Mellotron. `Specchio’ is a warm pop-rocker with whirring synths aplenty, P.F.M fans will instantly fall for the ravishing`Pioggia’ with its bouncy energy, peppy synth lines and hearty acoustic guitar strums, and `Volare Via’ combines dynamic controlled drumming and fiery-edged extended guitar soloing passages with a youthful indie-rock spirit that reminds of Chilean band Aisles.
`La Stanza dei Ricordi’ has spirited Mediterranean-infused infectiousness, `Addio al Corpo’ rumbles with infernal Mellotron- spiked malevolence and ranting vocals, and `Il Volo’ is a shorter fanfare with sly grooves. But the showcase moment is the 18 plus-minute `Deserto’ where a complex range of vocal arrangements weave in and out of everything from bluesy saunters of Pink Floyd-like guitar fireworks, drowsy harmonica drones, even subtle reggae struts and dramatic spoken-word passages. But the second half is dominated by devilish flute wisps, classical dark-edged fancy and theatrical crooning in the manner of the classic vintage Italian works. The nine-minute finale `Il Gran Finale’ is just that, a fitting closer that, after initially opening full of upbeat Yes-like energy with lots of snappy time-changes, heads into darker chanting vocals and creeping Mellotron murkiness with grand guitar soloing to wrap on.
The 79 minute running time is a risk, but there is literally not a wasted second on the entire disc, and it constantly proves the band is bursting with inspiration and musical creativity with the enviable technical skills to bring those ideas to life. It has a rich and sophisticated production from Fabio Zuffanti that doesn’t skimp on dirty rough edges when it suits the music, and there is no other Italian disc in 2016 so far that comes close to matching the complex and exquisite vocal arrangements found here. Every track is incredible on its own, but all housed together on one disc means you have an utterly essential modern Italian prog disc, one that will surely increase the status of the group from this point on. It makes `Il Corponauta’ the absolute standout Rock Progressivo Italiano album for this year, and just one of the best progressive rock albums overall as well. Well done, Il Paradiso degli Orchi, you’ve set the prog-rock standard for 2016!