(All Album Reviews by maribor)
All tracks by Lavezzi and Radius, except 3 by Mogol (lyrics), Lavezzi, Dall'Aglio, 4 by Lorenzi and Tempera and 6 by Dall'Aglio
To be or not to be? To be, to be, to be!
Il Volo is yet another Italian band with a rather small discography under its belt. They only put out two albums. However, these two albums were enough to establish the band as one of the most important Italian progressive ensembles. Their sound is built around the two guitarists and the two keyboard players. This should equate to a very rich and lush sound. And so it does. In fact, sometimes there’s so much going on that it gets a bit confusing. However, once you are able to unravel the puzzle that is their music, you will be greatly rewarded.
The album opens with probably the best song on the album. There’s a synth intro at the beginning, soon the electric piano and the bass join in and then all of a sudden the song erupts into a fast tempo melody. This doesn’t go on for long because the acoustic guitars start a new melody, the other instruments (vocals used as an instrument) join in in this mellow passage. Suddenly, the musicians pick up the tempo again when the electric guitar introduces a new theme. For the ending, we are treated with a short percussion solo and a modification of the first fast passage.
The unusual-sounding synth opens the second track as well and creates a middle-eastern feeling until the song explodes into another fusion extravaganza. The vocals join in as an accompanying instrument. A guitar solo plays on top of a spacey synth line with the electric piano supplying additional ammunition. Part b begins with the strange synth again, then a melody driven by the electric piano and voice follows. After that, there’s a slower part with an interesting guitar solo. The band continues with this theme until the song fades out. Another great track in the symphonic fusion vein.
“Essere” is the only song that has vocals with actual words on it. The lyrics were written by Mogol, who also helped out PFM on their first album (“Impressione di Septembre”). At the start of the song the electric piano introduces the vocals. The vocalist sings a heartfelt melody and you wonder why they use the singer so sparingly because he has a pleasant voice and a nice timbre. After the vocals finish, the guitars play a solo with their lush sounds while the other instruments are used as background. The song slowly fades out. The whole first side of the album is excellent and probably the better of the two.
Side b opens with the typical distorted synth, however this song doesn’t develop as quickly as the first three. The electric piano starts a new melody, while the synth continues with its lonesome wailing. Finally, the song is injected with more pace. The guitars come in for a couple of solos but are otherwise not as prominent as before. A quieter passage follows only to be replaced by the previous one except at an even faster pace, thus creating a fusion confusion (the keys are all over the place, the drums and bass both get into a jazzy groove; it’s good fun).
The next piece opens with some percussion and the other instrument soon come in. The electric guitar plays a solo on top of the other instruments. It is a slow song but you expect it to pick up steam as it goes along. In the middle of the song, there is yet another fusion exercise with all the typical Il Volo elements (electric piano, funky guitar, jetty bass and drumming). This passage continues until the end of the song.
:Canti e suoni” starts slowly with the electric piano and a soft voice singing on top. The other instruments join in and there is a beautiful acoustic guitar solo. As again the pace gets faster, the song takes on a jazzy hew. A very funky-sounding guitar joins the procedures to lead the song and album into even more diverse territories. The song eventually fades out. It is a great way to finish the album (not the fade out, the song).
The sound of Il Volo is heavily dominated by the electric piano, the strange synth and lush guitar work (occasionally funky as well). The bass and drums are put to good use. They are not intrusive yet very noticeable. The vocals are also excellent; I only wish there had been more of them. The style of the album could be described as symphonic fusion or maybe symphonic rock with a big chunk of fusion thrown in for good measure. It’s definitely not pure fusion because the arrangements and compositions are much too organized for that. Perhaps the first side of the album is a bit better but the second is maybe more diverse. I really have no criticism towards this album, except that all the songs follow a similar pattern. Then again, if something works, why change it? Although the message in the title o the album is a very positive one, the music creates a contrast with its dark hues.
8.5 out of 10.
Visiting the world of Italian progressive music is like travelling to a land full of hidden treasures.