Rounding off their first decade, Italian purveyors of grandiosity report from the road.
It’s somehow comforting that this quintet don’t burden their listeners with experimental notions and go so tightly along their name that there’s a line to be drawn between progressive and art rock. But then, what is a live album if not a glance over one’s shoulder? The retro feel doesn’t permeate these performances, though, of tracks culled from all the ensemble’s records bar their first, and doesn’t get in the way of surprising the audience. A nice trick of setting “Overture” in the middle of the concert rather than at the beginning, and preceding it with “Los Endos” – too faithful a rendition even for those clearly influenced by GENESIS, to which the version of “The Longest Sigh” is both a testament and a commentary – is one of those surprises.
From the boiling “Back To You” onwards, classical vibe and intricate instrumentation keep momentum afloat and in focus – except, perhaps, for “Inside My Dreamer’s Eyes” whose relentless effusiveness outstays its welcome. “Duellum” may concentrate too much on the group’s interplay, yet Luca Pancaldi’s voice and his namesake Zabbini’s piano fill “Coffee In Neukolln” with a magnificent twilight shimmer before unfurling operatic panorama and folding it to jazzy romanticism. Just as easily, they go for airy vocal harmonies in the funky “Gold” and heavy riffs in “Save Your Soul” where Marco Mazzuoccolo’s guitar cuts through a gentle flute melody that, down the line, brings a Renaissance dance to the stage, while “Fool’s Epilogue” takes it all to a theatrical level. Much harder hitting is an acoustic lace of “Skyline” – the title cut of the band’s latest offering, half of which is performed here – as it’s there that the artists’ emotions come to the fore most sincerely to stage an elegant rage and get as eloquently pacified in “The Silence Of Our Wake” to fuse baroque into vigorously sweet pop tunes, the whole array of these within a single piece.
Picking up from there, “My Silent Sea” – a studio track previously available on vinyl only – shows a way forward: that’s where BAROCK PROJECT finally reveal their prog intent. If this is the direction the band are about to embark on, “Vivo” is a remarkable milestone.