Final, yet hardly closing, chapter in an art-rock aficionado’s individual quest – and conquest – to grasp the gist of a genre.
“By Kind Request”: such a subtitle suggests two previous volumes of Stefano Orlando Puracchio’s series elicited nice response from readers’ circles, and now the Italian scribe has brought on the third installment of this prog travelogue. You cannot help but respect and even admire the author’s determination in finding what is it that makes “progressive, or more simply, good music” tick and Puracchio’s readiness to go down the roads less trodden; Stefano’s enlisting of friends eager to venture there and contribute to the books is a testament to the infectiousness of the enterprise. As usual, there’s a heady mix of theoretical thinking and dialogue focused on various artists’ oeuvre, while bringing the likes of MAGMA and PENDRAGON to the round table may allure both experienced fans and newbies to the pages but, again, usual faults can become a hurdle for those who’d love to look under a stylistic hood.
If sometimes broken English isn’t so much a problem here, the other kind of accessibility is. What with Puracchio’s attempt to drive his concept home, a fan’s ability to get hold of famous artists is quite limited, so Stefano has to do with whoever’s available, whereas the resulting spotlight on bands with a cult outreach won’t appeal to too many a reader. At the same time, a Hungarian rock phenomenon, for instance, deserves deeper digging than dispersed dissection done here, but the author’s interest in contemporary musicians alongside classic ones can draw some previously hidden parallel lines. Some omissions are difficult to ignore, still: the absence of Storm Thorgerson and Roger Dean from the chapter on artwork is an attempt to not notice an elephant in the room, and spelling of PROCOL HARUM with “u” – the way the uninitiated do – is almost criminal; leaving the chaff out of interviews would have served them good, too.
With all diversity of subjects on offer, it’s not easy to get engaged in the book despite a reader’s love for their common denominator, yet turning this enterprise into a fanzine could lend it longevity and genuine validity.