Musea/Collossus have been a great
collaboration and have really been doing something spectacular for progressive
music these last years. The collaboration has been releasing project after
project of conceptual albums featuring both known and unknown bands in
contemporary prog rock. The idea is to pick a few bands, provide them with vintage
instruments fluently used in the 70’s progressive scene, pick a theme (movie,
book – always a masterpiece in the genre), distribute a chapter to the band and
let the band interpret the concept and present a track that is added to the
With Dante’s “The Divine Comedy”, this
collaboration has found the ground for their greatest and more challenging
release so far: 3 quadruple albums portraying the “Inferno”, “Purgatorio” and “Paradiso”.
For this 12 cd monstruous task, they’ve again selected a mixture of already
known and almost completely unknown or new set of bands to deliver the
Purgatorio is the second chapter of the trilogy, and, once again, is (expectebly) a bit unbalanced. Not only because of the quality of the bands involved, but also because each band has its own approach and so the album naturally gains in wideness and variety but also loses some focus and consistency.
Truth be told, this kind of releases is always a major opportunity for less known bands to show their potentialities and get noticed, and it is also a fact that such a collection of sorts can easily satisfy the prog collector, especially the 70’s prog lover, as it assorts and presents musical approaches in a distinctive vintage moindset and musicality…so this album can only, yet again, be highly recommended to those die-hard prog fans that keep their innuendo upon the 70’s techniques and instrumentations.
The first cd starts with a small, nice,
introduction by Simon Says, after which the French band
Nemo really opens the hostilities, with a good
interpretation of vintage prog done by a very much contemporary sounding band.
is the first real surprise of this album. Their music seems to have come out of
from early Genesis vault. The similarities in style and approach are so obvious
that you just have to forget about collage and enjoy the track as it had really
been recorded in the 70’s. This is also the longest track in this first cd.
Ozone Player follows with
an instrumental track that recreates the fascination for medieval music and its
incorporation in keyboard driven prog. Very vintage, very entertaining.
Raimundo Rodulfo adds the
jazzy/fusion touch that was missing up to this point and his ability to mix
that mindset with a sympho prog attitude. He shows how eclectic and dynamic his
musically normally is. A good way to discover this artist.
Ten Midnight brings us a
mix between the current interpretations of old Italian sympho school, with a slight
pop touch after a dark/Goblin start and a typical Italian keyboard solo by the
SoulEngine is another
unknown band that keeps the progression tone and aesthetic. Again, the vintage
keyboards are terribly noticeable, though the band interludes a sort of
Triumvirat reminiscent keyboard playing with a more King Crimson guitar riffing.
Willowglass brings a more
quiet and introspective approach, keeping things on a more laid back, eerie
atmosphere that turns a bit more epic by the middle of the track.
Atlantis101 closes the first cd with a darker, somehow heavier and more emotional tone.
The second cd starts with a Contrappunto
Project proposal. The neo-classic basis is punctuated by slight
dissonances. The track is an all instrumental one, played in the piano, and
provides an all new experience in this cd set.
Baccini kinds of continues the darker, experimental tone of the
previous track, adding strangeness to the album by means of a Tori Amos/Devil
Doll/Kate Bush impossible conjuration. Strange but effective, making me very
curious about her work.
takes the collection back to the purest symphonic prog path, something that
have always characterized their music. Yet, it is one of the weakest tracks so
Nuova Era’s track follows
the symphonic path of the previous, but in a more mature and enjoyable way.
Survival presents a dark/haunting
musicality that shifts moods and velocity. Again very keyboard driven.
Russian Little Tragedies
do what they can do so well: exciting and bombastic symphonic prog with a
classical touch and an excellent interplay. I simply love this band.
Armalite then starts in
a very 80’s neo-prog fashion which quickly turns into a typical Italian
emotional approach. The vocals are not excellent, but the band shows good
Phideaux is one of the best
contemporary proggers, imo. Despite the use of vintage instruments, he still
can show his very typical and unique style of modern symphonic prog in which
the instruments draw different melodies in different layers and the music oddly
seems to constantly change patterns in a sole tapestry.
Tommy Eriksson closes the second album with an instrumental track that does not seem to bring that much added value to the album.
The third album starts with
Entrance (justice to the bands name…) , their approach is very
south-American hard prog with complex arrangements and a pseudo-prog metal
vocalization. Nice for a change.
Maxwell’s Demon prefer
to keep things on a darker ambiance and bizarre atonal complexity. Sounding
like a non-metal Behold…the Arctopus until they get pastoral…
Well it was about time for some sort of weirdness that tangents the avant-garde,
Rak has adopted a more
aggressive and contemporary sounding. Somewhat between the alternative, the
psychedelic, the hard and the neo-prog. It is another track that stands out
because it dares to bring something really new to this collection.
Colossus Project keeps it
in the path of the contemporary interpretations of classic styles, with a
strong foot in the early 70’s psychedelic hard prog and another foot in the later
90’s American neo-prog. Would they have a third foot and I would have consider
it in the early 00’s Swedish sympho. It is a very varied song indeed.
Matthijs Herder (yet
another completely new band for me) is much more influenced by the early Scandinavian
prog, with some hints of anglo-saxon vintage, just to provide some spicy flavor
in the start. The band then moves on to a very eerie and atmospheric (I would
say ghostly) sound. Smooth, soft and contemplative.
Mad Crayon represents
the more neo-prog side of things, though here they really add something more
progressive and, at the same time, regressive to their proposal.
Tabula Smaragdina plays
a very Scandinavian kind of progressive which brings White Willow, Tabula Rasa
and Made in Sweden to mind.
Blank Manuskript has some
good ideas, mixing some Canterbury with early melodic psychedelic. It is hard
to get used to the vocals, but once you get there, you’ll understand and like
To finalize the third cd, Lady Lake does what they do best: pure vintage symphonic progressive rock, very Netherlander with Gentle Giant hints, very thoughtful.
The 4th cd opens up in the best
way, with one of the most underrated bands around: Groovector.
Their sound is original and focused, here in a slow, introspective tone. This
is a band I really like!
Mist Season keeps things on
the same track, in a smooth and calm manner, touching the new-age with a very
very subtle acid-jazz thrown up in the mix here and there.
presents a nice, melodic track, in the vein of contemplative instrumental prog.
The track slowly progresses and reaches a climax near the end.
This ends up being the more balanced cd of
the 4, a conclusion easily reached when getting to Hungarian Yesterdays.
The calmer and more melodic aesthetics of progressive rock are well represented
in this track, though the band also ends up adding some keyboard psychotic parts
interlude by great guitars.
B612 differs not from
the previous selections. In fact, this track would pretty much fit in any album
featuring the previous Mist Season and Yesterdays tracks. Yet, it is probably
the weakest track in this 4th cd.
Equilibrio Vital brings
back the epic feel. When it starts, the track could be a soundtrack to a movie
featuring a medieval knight riding its horse through green fields. Then it
turns strange and almost frightening, as if that knight would enter a dark and mysterious
forest, simply to return to brighter images again. This is the pinnacle of the
4th album, pure epic south-american symphonic prog.
Jinetes Negros follow
the previous path, again revisiting darker landscapes but providing them an
epic feel. The guitar riffing is heavier and when the singing starts, it brings
the listener closer to hard rock imagery with prog keys and operatic choruses. Another
great song here!
Simon Says is given
another chance here, just to close the album in the same manner it was opened…4
long cds ago.
This set has a bonus track, provided by Pasini and Ragozza, but it really does not bring any added value, in my opinion.
Again, this is a collector’s item that perfectly represents an excellent concept that must be praised and cherished. Very representative of some of the many approaches on progressive music, with emphasis on the re-creation of the earlier steps and aesthetics of this genre, as seen by contemporary bands that tribute and feel inspired by that era.
Now, after having Kalevala and Dante’s work interpreted, can I somehow suggest Musea/Colossus to study the fabulous Portuguese epic poem “Os Lusíadas”, written in the 16th century by one of our foremost poets (Luis de Camões)? I truly believe it absolutely fits the idea of this project and would be a great experience for all. Can I help?