Gran Turismo Veloce is a rather new Italian progressive rock band from Grosseto, Tuscany. The band's name is a homage to the famous Italian sports car whose popularity spread throughout Europe in the seventies just as the Italian progressive rock did. The band consist of Claudio Filippeschi (lead vocals, keyboards), Flavio Timpanaro (bass, backing vocals), Stefano Magini (drums) and Massimo Dolce (loop programming, guitars). In 2008 they started to compose original music inspired by all kinds of musical genres and artists liked by the band members. So there's no reason to be surprised if you recognize musical elements from J.S.Bach and Meshuggah on their debut album Di Carne, Di Anima.
Their first album was mainly composed by following their own instincts rather than to rely on well-known chords or harmonies. That's the reason why you don't hear the usual progressive rock structures or melodies. Most prog rock sounds are performed by using vintage instruments like the MiniMoog, Taurus bass pedals, the Hammond organ or the Mellotron. The musicians felt that it was important to use those original instruments because they still sound unique and are difficult to copy by digital samples or VST-instruments as far as depth and dynamics are concerned. That's why you can enjoy these instruments in full glory throughout the album. At the same time Gran Turismo Veloce like modern electronic sounds made by modern synthesizers as well and blend them with the vintage instruments. A good example is the Mellotron-flute in La Paura mixed with modern equipment.
The nine compositions on the album are all of a high standard. However, like most albums recorded by bands in the same genre you don't hear any long epics. The songs are rather short, but that doesn't mean that the musicians are unable to perform their musical tricks. They manage anyway to put plenty of ideas and inventive instrumental interplay into the compositions. That's why the band isn't easy to pigeon hole due to the fact that they get their ideas from different musical sources. On the one hand the band members aren't afraid to show off their heavier influences by using aggressive guitar parts; on the other hand you can enjoy melodic guitar solos as well. A good example is the instrumental piece Quantocāmia, most certainly one of the highlights on Di Carne, Di Anima.
Apart from the many aspects of the progressive rock spectrum and the metal guitar riffs you'll notice many jazz elements, but also fine symphonic touches with classically tinged piano playing. These elements beautifully counterbalance the heavier ones. The strong vocals are sung in the Italian language which strengthens the emotions that usually get lost when an Italian band sings in English. All of the compositions contain a high standard of musicianship. As a result these songs are really outstanding, most inventive and very captivating.
Di Carne, Di Anima is very enjoyable for people who like a mixture of retro prog with elements of metal, jazz-rock and classical music. This mixture I liked a lot which means that the high rating of four stars out of five is well-deserved for the musicians of Gran Turismo Veloce.
**** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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