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PROWLERS - ORCHIDEA (Maracash Records/ Bandcamp) (2024)

Alfio Costa is not only the keyboard player but has also written an excellent review of the music already, referring to the “vintage sounds in modern contexts” and going on a “sonic journey” from rock songs to acoustic compositions” with “deep, personal themes”, with each track of “part of a larger mosaic”.

‘Univers Paralleli’ is a typical example of the combination of guitar-driven rock (and roll) of the first three-minutes transmogrifying surprisingly into a piano-driven section with prominent bass in classic Italian prog style, ending with a catchy chorus delivered by the fine twin vocals of Laura Mombrini and Cristina Lucchini, with descending organ chords providing a coda of sorts. ‘Clorofilla’ is a piece namechecked by Alfio, an exquisite little piano-driven ballad with accompanying viola, violin and cello (and also final piano-led ballad with lovely classical guitar,‘Non sei mai andato via’, dedicated to Marco Premoli, the band’s bassist in the 1990s). ‘Il Bao Della Luna’ is an organ-driven number with classical undertones, with a heavier organ riff moving the piece into a more heavy rock-orientated direction (think ATOMIC ROOSTER perhaps), although again there is a surprise twist in a section that might be loosely be described as having a reggae beat; it seems an awkward fit but works well; Costa’s organ playing is delightful. ‘Bocche D’Ambra’ is another track on which organ is prominent, Fulvio Rizzoli’s fluid chording and note progressions elevating the music (a soulful DAVE GILMOUR feel permeates).

The near 20-minute centrepiece of the album is ‘Ultimo Viaggio’ with its (Alfie again) “complex, compelling tempo changes and intricate melodies”. It is impossible to argue with this description in a thoroughly engaging suite of music. Around four minutes in there is a glassy sounding synth variation to the main theme followed by another twist, springing surprises in the delightful way TRIUMVIRAT used to in their early years. The vocals return as the bedrock of a piece that is then interrupted by a classically-inspired organ/ guitar passage. But the quixotic tendency returns with more heavy rock and a reprise of the vocals, a piano interlude accompanied by synth taking us gloriously out with a steady rhythmic base provided by bassist Roberto Aiolfi and drummer Marco Freddi, Rizzoli’s guitar soaring above it all.

The instrumental work and vocals are top notch throughout “Orchidea” which breaks some norms in its genre-hopping, but is all the more enjoyable for it. Maracash Records are really bringing some talented prog bands to our attention – grazia!

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