Pandora -
Ten Years Like In A Magic Dream...

(CD 2016, 76:59, AMS ‎- AMS Records AMS266CD)

The tracks:
Fragments Of The Present:
  1- Always And Everywhere - Overture: Fantasia In Pandora Major(8:40)
  2- The Way You Are(7:23)
  3- Turin 03.02.1974(7:52)
  4- Drunken Poets Drama(8:21)
Temporal Transition:
  5- Passaggio Di Stagioni - Lamenti D'Inverno - Canto Di Primavera (B.M.S.)(10:48)
Fragments Of The Past:
  6- Second Home By The Sea (Genesis)(8:51)
  7- Man Of A Thousand Faces (Marillion)(7:21)
  8- Ritual - Part 2 (Yes)(11:16)
  9- Lucky Man (EL&P)(6:25)

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The Italian progressive rock act Pandora were founded in the autumn of 2006 and in 2016 they had a reason to celebrate this 10th anniversary with a new release. So after the albums Dramma Di Un Poeta Ubriaco (2008), Empre E Ovunque Oltre Il Sogno (2011) and Alibi Filosofico (2013) we can now welcome Years Like In A Magic Dream ... .

As for the line up, on this new album not much has changed compared to the bands predecessor. The only difference being that the bands album designer, artist Emoni Viruet has joined the other three members Corrado Grappegia (lead and backing vocals, keyboards), Beppe Colombo (keyboards) and Claudio Colombo (drums, percussion, bass, electric & acoustic guitars, keyboards, Puerto Rican cuatro, backing vocals) on lead and backing vocals. And as on the bands former releases some guest musicians, such as Andrea Bertino (violin on 4), David Jackson (brass on 5, Vittorio Nocenzi (final Moog solo (5), Dino Fiore (bass guitar on 5) and Irma Mallus (backing vocals on 7).

The album is housed in a beautiful cover done by the earlier mentioned Viruet. When you open the gatefold cover you can see pictures of the band members. But the actual fun begins when you press the play button. From the start you are blown away by the musicianship and high level of compositions that can be heard. Wow! this is something special that the band displays on their seventy minutes long album. In this three part album the band comes up with the best music of their career. Every second is worth listening to and shows above all how much they are influenced by the big names in the progressive rock scene. So it's not so strange that the third part of the album, titled Fragments Of The Past, is reserved for some strong covers of their musical heroes. First up is the Genesis piece Second Home By The Sea. They stay rather close to the original version but if you listen carefully you can hear that they have included very cleverly, parts of The Brazilian and Los Endos in the middle section. The other three covers have more improvised parts and also differ with the vocals. These are provided by a female voice. And it has to be said Emoni Viruet does a great job singing the lyrics for Man Of A Thousand Faces (Marillion), Ritual - Part 2 (Yes) and Lucky Man (EL&P). Most of all during the Yes tune she comes close to the voice of Jon Anderson as can be heard on the original version.

Also during the second part of the album, titled Temporal Transition, the band paid homage to one of the bands that inspired them. They also interpret the famous Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso song Canto Di Primavera from 1979 with the surprise guests of original band member and keyboardist Vittorio Nocenzi, former Van der Graaf Generator saxophonist and flautist, David Jackson, Rondo Veneziano violinist Andrea Bertino and Il Castello Di Atlante bassist Dino Fiore. As a great bonus you can hear the original voice of the much too soon passed away lead singer Francesco Di Giacomo.

During the first part of the album, titled Fragments Of The Present, of course the influences of the big names in the history of progressive rock are notable. Listen for example to Turin 03.02.1974 and you can hear bits of the classic Genesis song The Cinema Show. All used as a homage to this great band.

It's obvious that the retro progressive rock is the main dish on Years Like In A Magic Dream ... . The bombastic keyboard parts and amazing solos performed on the synthesizers and guitars rule all the way! But that's not the only style Pandora incorporates in their compositions. By the occasional use of heavy guitar parts, the band isn't afraid to use elements from metal or hard rock. For me these styles make the music even more interesting to listen to. As always variety is the spice.

Even though the band harks back to the progressive rock style of those who influenced them I can only be positive about the bands fourth studio album. As I said before, the band has come up with the best music of their career. For me only the highest score can be given to Years Like In A Magic Dream ... . It was superb. I had a fantastic time listening to the entire album. The covers sounded amazing and were above all very well done. Their own compositions contain the best progressive rock music a lover of this style can wish for. So bravo to Pandora, who have peaked after working hard for ten years in the progressive rock business. Loud applause due to this great Italian band! Highly recommended!

***** Henri Strik (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)

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