Duo review: By Cor Smeets (rating *) and Henri Strik (rating ****)
Review by Cor Smeets:
The Italian three-piece Pandora started in 2005 and currently consists of Beppe Colombo (keyboards), Claudio Colombo (drums, percussion, bass, acoustic and electric guitar, keyboards, flute) and Corrado Grappeggia (vocals, flute). They describe their music as 'stainless psychedelic symphonic rock'. All band members are inspired by seventies bands like Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Premiata Forneria Marconi ( PFM), Genesis, New Trolls, Gentle Giant and Le Orme, but also a band like Dream Theater inspired them. Before Alibi Filosofico they recorded Dramma Di Un Poeta Ubriaco (2008) and Sempre E Ovunaque Oltre Il Sogno Il (2011, see review). They contributed on tribute albums for Pink Floyd and The Flower Kings as well.
On their latest CD Alibi Filosofico the band invited some special guests such as David Jackson (saxophone, Van Der Graaf Generator), Arjen Lucassen (MiniMoog, guitar, Ayreon) and Dino Fiore (bass, Il Castello Di Atlante). Besides these well-known musicians they asked The Meldreth School Children, Leo Gallizio (electric and fretless bass), Emoni Viruet (voice, percussions) and Duilio Mongittu (voice of Apollo).
I found it difficult to describe the individual songs on Alibi Filosofico. The easiest way to describe what's going on during these songs is noise, a lot of noise. That's my conception of Pandora's music. While listening I thought several times: what a strange kind of music this is! Sometimes it slightly sounds as the heavy prog metal of Dream Theater, but then it suddenly changes into the pomp rock of Magnum or the neo-prog of Arena . My personal highlight on this album is the song La Risalata on which just the playing of a single piano can be heard for several minutes followed by a saxophone solo by Jackson. Some spoken words have been included as well. Then again it has a silly ending with some stupid laughing. Unfortunately I couldn't enjoy the Italian lyrics either and I couldn't notice the contribution of my compatriot Arjen Lucassen on Né Titolo Né Parole.
As far as I'm concerned the entire album sounded as an endless jam session in a recording studio performed by a band that just started. I couldn't find any logical sequences or melodies in the songs. It seems as if all musicians play what they like to play without taking the other band members into account. Perhaps Alibi Filosofico is suitable for people with an adventurous musical mind, but I'm sorry to say, this certainly isn't my cup of tea.
* Cor Smeets (edited by Peter Willemsen)
Review by Henri Strik:
After listening to the opening piece of Alibi Filosofico it was hard for me to believe that I had listened to the same band that was responsible for the excellent album Sempre E Ovunaque Oltre Il Sogno Il! The first track Il Necromante, Khurastos E la Prossima Vittima sounds more like prog metal than progressive rock, a style which most Italian bands are known for. Unlike their previous album I didn't hear any traces of influences of bands such as King Crimson, PFM, Yes, Emerson, Lake & Palmer or Genesis. The music on Alibi Filosofico is above all inspired by a band like Dream Theater.
However, when you're patient enough to listen to the songs more often, you'll discover underneath the sometimes heavy guitar parts more melodic parts shine through. In a way I had the same problem with Improvviso (2013, see review) from their compatriots of PropheXy. This album initially sounds as if you're listening to chaos instead of music as well. But the more I played the CD, the more I started to like this 'chaos'!
This also happened to Alibi Filosofico. In the end I found it just terrific and I enjoyed the many outstanding keyboard and guitar parts. These parts sometimes even tend in the direction of the aforementioned classic prog bands. Especially the acoustic guitar and piano parts are of a very high level. However, I still admit that these compositions aren't easy to digest for people who hear them for the first time. Eventually I rated this CD with four stars out of five just like their previous album. In general their penultimate album had much more symphonic elements, but that doesn't mean that I find Alibi Filosofico less enjoyable!
**** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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