Skip to main content

Pandora, Italy



Website
Samples

Pandora - Dramma di un Poeta Ubriaco. 2008 BTF. Mini-LP
Pandora - Sempre e Ovunque Oltre il Sogno. 2011 BTF. Mini-LP
Pandora - Alibi Filosofico. 2013 BTF. Mini-LP

Pandora are yet another Italian band to have released a very fine album in 2013. I've been wanting to get them into the UTR for some months now, but it took time for me to revisit their past works - all of which I bought real time as they were released.

Pandora's debut "Dramma di un Poeta Ubriaco" seems like the group's own personal chronological trajectory. The album starts off in the standard prog metal zone with modern synthesizers - similar to other Italian bands like Eldritch or Pathosray. While they are good at this style, they are by no means exemplary. By track 3 "Cosi come sei", the band begins to become ever more complex. The metal guitars are still prevalent, but the keyboards are moving towards an analog sound. This along with some insane counterpoint musicianship, and Pandora are starting to sound somewhat like an updated A Piedi Nudi. Then the final 3 tracks pretty much kick the metal to the curb, with mellotron, acoustic guitars, and dramatic vocals in Italian, while pushing the gas harder on the progressive front. I remember my first impression of the album went something like "Oh no, not more prog metal.... wait, this is kind of interesting.... whoa... wow... this is freaking amazing!" It was 2008, and you could almost credit Pandora for ushering in the latest Italian retro progressive movement that we enjoy today. Like all of the Pandora albums, it's housed in a beautiful mini-LP fold out cover.

If the debut implied that Pandora would rather be classified "heavy progressive" versus "progressive metal", then their sophomore effort "Sempre e Ovunque Oltre il Sogno" concludes the argument. While the metal tones haven't been completely eliminated, they have been diminished significantly, and their primary role is as an accent instrument to demonstrate power (and from my vantage point, that seems to be how metal works best in the progressive field anyway). Hammond organ, Moog synthesizer, and Mellotron all guest star in this full featured Italian film. At this point, Pandora are paying homage to their forefathers from 40 years prior, with long tracks, constantly shifting meters and dynamics, and the random capriciousness expected of the genre. I did catch one direct rip from Genesis that I couldn't find credited, and I'm sure that was an oversight on their part.

Just when you think you've got Pandora figured out as an Italian retro progressive rock unit, out comes "Alibi Filosofico". They really do open up Pandora's Box on this one, and throw caution to the wind. If one thought Pandora was out of the metal business, then the band made sure there was no doubt they are back in. Only one minute into the release, not only are metal guitars back in vogue, but now they've introduced thrash amongst the usual prog rock mayhem. So perhaps they've decided to go the same route their fellow Italians Garden Wall did? Well.. no, not that either. There's also piano concerto's, straight jazz bits, folk, traditional prog metal, and Banco Del Mutuo Succorso inspired retro progressive Italiana. My only complaint is much of the material is geared towards genre hopping moreso than a fully integrated solution (I see I'm starting to mix my work terms into my music reviews - need to retire). This is a trend we've seen quite a bit over the last decade, and this technique gives the appearance that it's more progressive than it really is. The early 70s masters would use influences or snippets of other genres, but they were rarely self-contained pieces as we find on "Alibi Filosofico". Overall, it's a very creative release, though I found myself enjoying the predecessor a bit more.

For old school progressive rock fans that love modern prog metal as well, start with the debut. For fans of the early 1970s Italian progressive movement, go with "Sempre e Ovunque Oltre il Sogno". For those that love to mix different genres together, start with "Alibi Filosofico". Who knows where Pandora goes from here? I couldn't even hazard a guess.

Comments

  1. It is strange with PANDORA. Though I like very aggressive and raw metal and I don't care at all about the progressive metal style, the metal elements in PANDORA don't sound out of place for me. Probably because of the genre hopping and not its stylistic integration. And this is the second strange thing... genre hopping with this band also works for me. So much that I am rating higher, the debut and the 3rd over their 2nd. Strange these italians...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The scary thing is... I understand everything your saying! It's so true.. the metal elements here definitely aren't typical prog metal (except the first two tracks on the debut). Before doing this article, I think I had the 3rd over the second as well. But changed my mind while going through each one back to back.

      Delete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Anglagard, Sweden

News: According to the band's website from October 8th: "The band has gone into songwriting mode after several concerts in North America (which happened to include full renditions of "Hybris"). In related news, Jonas, Johan and Erik have apparently started a side project with Thomas Johnson playing some sort of progressive jazz music. In terms of website news, the recent DVD releases have finally been added to the discography." Great - add a distraction there. These guys are hilarious. Probably by 2024 we can expect a new album then...

Facebook Website Samples
Location: Stockholm

Overview: Probably the foremost contemporary post 1990 band to capture and recreate all that was great about the early 1970s original progressive rock movement.

UMR notes

Quaterna Requiem, Brazil

News: Quaterna Réquiem are very active on the live front in their home country of Brazil. No word on a new album though.

Facebook Samples
Location: Rio de Janeiro

Overview: Quaterna Réquiem were one of the first bands of the late 1980s/early 90s progressive rock renaissance to review the works of the Mediterranean bands such as Quella Vecchia Locanda and Gotic, rather than the standard English "Big 3" of Genesis, Yes, and ELP.

UMR notes

Lumerians, USA

News: Lumerians are very active playing live and touring. There's talk of a new album, but nothing since Transmissions From Telos Vol III from 2014 (which came after IV...) - an album I haven't heard yet myself.
Samples Facebook
Location: Oakland, California

Overview: Lumerians' rhythms are pure Krautrock motorik, straight from the Can and Neu! school. The dreamy vocals recall Barrett era Floyd, or perhaps more to the point, the early 90s neo psych of Sun Dial

UMR notes

Astrakan, England

News: In 2016, Astrakan released their 3rd album Hidden Agenda. I haven't heard it to date. Otherwise not much to report here.

Website Samples Facebook
Location: London

Overview: Astrakan are a fine band operating between Canterbury and jazzier forms of rock. Comets and Monsters adds an avant prog edge.

UMR notes

The Cosmic Dead, Scotland

News: The Cosmic Dead are a very active band, playing live shows throughout 2016 and 2017. They also have numerous albums, their latest being Psych Is Dead from April of this year. I've only heard The Exalted King (2013) to date.

Facebook Website Samples
Location: Glasgow

Overview: The Cosmic Dead are a Scottish quarter whose raison d'etre is improvised space rock

UMR notes

Hidria Spacefolk, Finland

News: 2017 sees Hidria Spacefolk get back into action after taking some time off. They've played some live shows and seem to be blowing the cobwebs off. No word yet on a new album.

Website Samples Facebook
Location: Lohja (west of Helsinki on the way to Turku)

Overview: Hidria Spacefolk are one of the very few bands to take the Ozric Tentacles space rock via Hillage formula, and actually take it further by adding more instrumentation, putting together more complex compositions and rocking harder than Ed Wynne and crew (that’s no small feat right there).

UMR notes

Ayahuasca Dark Trip, Peru

News: Ayahuasca Dark Trip have released their latest opus in September entitled Upaya. It's download only so far, but there's talk of a vinyl issue.

Facebook Samples
Website
Location: Lima

Overview: Ayahuasca Dark Trip are a psychedelic ambient band from Peru that use guitars and soft vocals to achieve a hypnotic affect.

UMR notes

El Circulo de Willis, Spain

News: El Circulo de Willis are active and playing live shows in their native Spain. No word on a new album. I've only heard the latest from 2015 called Retales, but I was mightily impressed with the music and will certainly explore their back catalog as opportunity affords.

Facebook Samples Website
Location: Madrid

Overview: El Circulo de Willis play an exciting instrumental progressive music driven by flute and guitar, with some sax, synthesizer, and metal touches. Like a blend of Ozric Tentacles, Naikaku, and Dream Machine with a bit of Kong thrown in.

Scherzoo, France

News: According to a September post on Facebook: "Scherzoo was in the studio in August to record the eight titles of their 4th album, and everything went great! The album is currently in the mix."  I never did hear the 3rd album, being somewhat spooked by the second one. Certainly a band I continue to follow however and welcome any chance I can to hear them.

Website Facebook Samples 
Location:  Lyon

Overview: Scherzoo's sound is somewhere between avant prog and Zeuhl, whereas Thollot's solo works scratch the avant angle and add in some Heldon like electronic rock.

UMR notes

Flor de Loto, Peru

News: Flor de Loto is a very active group in Peru. I've lost touch with them after Imperio de Cristal, but they've released 2 more studio and 1 live album since that time. It appears I have some catching up to do. 

Facebook Samples
Location: Lima

Overview: Flor de Loto are very much a modern band, but one with two feet in the past. One foot goes to the heady days of the early 1970s that produced the progressive rock scene. The other "feet" goes way back to the indigenous tribes, and their musical traditions and folklore. Recently (2017) I was in Lima for business, and Flor de Loto are a known group by folks I met at a craft beer tavern! In addition to that, the wall art is very similar to their album covers. I'm not sure if it's the same artist, or they follow a similar local style.

UMR notes