When I discovered the album ThreeFour recorded by the Italian band Phoenix Again, I wasn't aware of the fact that they already had been in the music scene for many years. After the disbandment of Gruppo Studio Alternativo, the band was founded in 1981 by the brothers Claudio Lorandi (lead guitar, voices), Antonio Lorandi (bass) and Sergio Lorandi (guitars). Later on they were joined by Silvano Silva (drums, percussion). They called the band Phoenix. Since the musicians were all influenced by seventies British progressive rock it was obvious to create music related to Genesis, Pink Floyd, King Crimson, Jethro Tull, Gentle Giant and Van Der Graaf Generator.
In 1986 keyboardist Emilio Rossi joined Phoenix. Assisted by a number of session musicians they recorded some material for an album. However, they never reached that stage because Phoenix disbanded in 1998. Strange to say that Claudio Lorandi's death in April 2007 was a turning point for the former members. They started to compile previously recorded material in order to release an album and this became ThreeFour released under the name of Phoenix Again.
Unfortunately the musicians never had the chance to release their music earlier. The music they deliver on ThreeFour is of a high level and deserves to be heard by all prog heads. People who enjoy the music of Camel will find a lot of satisfaction with this album. The band only wrote instrumentals and the music from Camel's entire career seems to be an inspiration for them. It sometimes reminds me of the mellower pieces you can find on Music Inspired by The Snow Goose (1975). A good example is the opening tune Agli Amici Scomparsi. However, you can also find traces of the strong up-tempo pieces by Camel on ThreeFour. A good example is Spring containing not only fantastic guitar playing, but also fine synthesizer parts. Albums like Rain Dances (1977) and Breathless (1978), that featured Camel influenced by fusion and jazz-rock, have left their traces on this album as well. Listen for instance to Cianuro Puro and Autumn and you'll catch my drift. The classic Camel track Ice from the album I Can See Your House From Here (1979) probably was an inspiration for the track Aquarius Time.
The musicians also attempted to create a musical style that you don't hear that much on a progressive rock album. They included bagpipes on Free Ireland and African chants on I Bambini Nascono Per Vivere Felici. If you listen carefully you'll hear traces of other bands that inspired them as well, but never so evident as Camel. However, while reading the booklet another band and album from the golden age of progressive rock crossed my mind, namely Emerson, Lake & Palmer with the live album Pictures At An Exhibition (1972). Just like ELP, Phoenix Again included paintings representing a piece of music. Furthermore pictures of the band members are included from several periods in time.
Hopefully this album is not a one-off tribute to Claudio Lorandi, the musician that died much too early and who left some wonderful guitar parts behind. I guess he should have wanted the band to create a successor to this strong CD sooner or later. Well, let ThreeFour be an inspiration to carry on. It's highly recommended to people who love the albums recorded by Camel.
**** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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