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

Litmus, England

Website
Samples 
ProgArchives

Litmus - You Are Here. 2004 private
Litmus - Planetfall. 2007 Rise Above. CD and LP
Litmus - Aurora. 2009 Rise Above. CD and LP
Litmus - Slaughterbahn. 2012 private. CD and LP

"You Are Here": Blazing out of the gates with a monolithic guitar riff, twee-twee-twee Moog knob twiddles, and a neanderthal 4/4 rhythm, I was immediately reminded of those 90s aggressive festival rockers Omnia Opera, minus any of their Floydian cosmic buildups. Or, of course, I could have mentioned the real inspiration at work here – which would be primo early 70s era Hawkwind, if Lemmy ran the band that is. They put the “B” in subtle, and pulverize most of the songs right through the wall. The keyboardist is the same gentleman who runs the excellent Planet Mellotron site, and so no surprise the mellotron gets more than its share of studio time. Though good luck in hearing it over the racket. I like my space rock a bit more cosmic and trippy me-self, but OK, that’…

Kenso, Japan

Website
Facebook

No new updates from Kenso since 2015.

Kenso - s/t. 1980 Pam (LP); 1995 Arcangelo (CD)
Kenso - II. 1982 Pam (LP); 1993 King (CD); 2002 Pathograph (CD papersleeve)
Kenso - s/t (aka III). 1985 Nexus (LP; CD); 2011 King (CD papersleeve)
Kenso - Sparta. 1989 Crime (CD); 2009 Pathograph as Sparta Naked (CD)
Kenso - Yume No Oka. 1991 King; 2011 Pathograph (CD papersleeve)
Kenso - Esoptron. 1999 King (CD); 1999 Musea (France CD)
Kenso - Ken-Son-Gu-Su. 2000 Pathograph (CD)
Kenso - Fabulis Mirabilibus De Bombycosi Scriptis. 2002 Nexus (CD); 2002 Vinyl Magic (Italy CD)
Kenso - Utsuroi Yuku Mono. 2006 King (CD)
Kenso - Uchi Naru Koe Ni Kaikiseyo. 2014 King (CD)

There are many other live and archival releases from the band, though I only own Ken-Son-Gu-Su. All the other entries above represent their studio albums. There's also a 14 CD box set on King that contains all their studio albums through 2012, as well as a handful of live recordings.

For a band with so many recordings, an…

Egonon, Italy

Website
Samples

Egonon - Risveglio. 2011 private

Here's one courtesy of our Gnosis friend Eddie - the same gentleman that brought us all those wonderful Romanian albums earlier in the year.

The 1970's Italian progressive rock greats are regarded as such because of their innate ability to compile and distill the influences of their day. Namely classical, jazz, rock, indigenous folk, avant-garde, and canto. And a big old scoop of youthful exuberance. Considering this, Egonon are true to the philosophy of their ancestors. Rather than recreate the sounds of the 70s, as many Italian bands are doing today (and wonderfully so I might add), Egonon are assimilating their own influences. In their case, the list might look like: Heavy Metal, Alt-Rock, World Music, funk, and... everything that was also included in the 1970s Italian progressive rock scene, including the end result of said scene, which they clearly respect and pay homage to. It may be a restaurant with too many ite…

Happy Family, Japan

Facebook
Samples

Happy Family - s/t. 1995 Cuneiform (USA)
Happy Family - Toscco. 1997 Cuneiform (USA); 1997 Arcangelo
Happy Family - Minimal Gods. 2014 Cuneiform (USA)

---

Perhaps no band arrived with such an in-your-face sound as Happy Family did in 1995. Their fabled live shows were popular amongst the tape trading crowd of the early 1990s. So there was quite a bit of buzz on what their first CD would sound like. The band insisted their albums come out on the preeminent Avant Prog label Cuneiform, and were willing to wait until that label had room on their release schedule. By 1995, anticipation was high, and Happy Family not only delivered, but exceeded, most everyone's expectation.

Consider the first track 'Rock & Young'. Hard to imagine anyone delivering such a strong overpowering opening punch as Happy Family did here. If this track doesn't move your heart rate up a few beats, you're probably dead already, and no one told you (did Aunt Sally for…

Fusion Orchestra 2, England

Website
Samples
Facebook

Fusion Orchestra - Skeleton in Armour. 1973 EMI
Fusion Orchestra 2 - Casting Shadows. 2013 private

Today we have a dual posting - with UMR doing the heavy lifting on the 1973 album...

Well, well, look who's back? I would not have thought of Fusion Orchestra that's for sure. Original guitarist Colin Dawson reformed the band, with 4 new players involved including the all important ingredient of a female vocalist - this time performed by the lovely Elsie Lovelock. Despite the new membership, the band sounds very much like an updated "Skeleton in Armour", which is all one could - perhaps should, given the moniker - hope for. Lovelock's vocals retain that husky soulful jazzy tone that Jill Saward brought forth in the early 70s. And it's nice to see Dawson continue to carry a psychedelic sound in his energetic guitar playing. On the keyboard front, Ben Bell, it appears, has decidedly gone with modern gear - much of it representing the sounds o…

Hooffoot, Sweden

News: Their debut album has finally been issued on CD! Something I plan on picking up. And references to a second album have been mentioned as well.

Website
Samples
Facebook
Location: Malmo

Overview: Hooffoot are a fantastic new retro prog band from Sweden. As of this writing, their debut album is the highest rated for 2015 on Gnosis!

Reviews (click on album cover)

Purson, England

News: Well... It appears Purson has broken up. One band member (George Hudson) has now hooked up with a new project called Flare Voyant. OK, let's see where all this goes. Bummer though, as Purson had enormous potential. Perhaps a reformation will happen. 

Facebook Samples
Location: Southend-on-Sea, Essex

Overview: The Circle & The Blue Door was an homage to 1971 England, whereas Desire's Magic Theatre seemed more geared toward 1969. They're going in the wrong direction for my tastes, but still intriguing enough to leave as an A-lister.

Reviews (click on album covers)


Atomic Simao, Ukraine

News: Hot off the press, Cosmic Eye of Greece have just announced they will be releasing the latest album from Atomic Simao on vinyl. Release date set for April 4th. Label says: ""Echo" is the second album from Kiev's ATOMIC SIMAO and we're privileged to issue it on vinyl, as a follow-up to their successful first LP "Nōdo" of two years ago.

On this sophomore effort, the band abandons the Hendrixian jamming of their debut and takes a long head-dive into funked-up spacerock. The style on this release is a complex instrumental mix of acidic guitar, psyched-out electronica and Middle-Eastern influenced laid back space-jazz feel. A multitude of rhythms are swirling everywhere, funky jazz grooves spice up the recipe the Funkadelic way, and a soaring sax brings the compositions to Gong's "Shamal" era territory and beyond. Adjectives to describe the listening experience: trippy, complex, eclectic, intense, surreal...

Overall, "Echo" is no…

Gösta Berlings Saga, Sweden

News: Their 4th album Sersophane was released at the tail end of 2016, and has garnered excellent reviews to date.

Facebook Website Samples
Location: Stockholm

Overview: On their first couple of outings, Gösta Berlings Saga could be considered the perfect modern Swedish progressive rock band. They look inward towards their own country for melodic inspiration, rather than the UK/US style of groups like The Flower Kings. Recently the band has moved into Post rock / avant prog areas, which moves a bit outside of my enthusiastic zone. I haven't heard their latest, but I'm very tempted to try it anyway.

Reviews (click on album covers)


The Morrigan, England

Website
Samples

The Morrigan - Spirit of the Soup. 1984 private (LP); 1999 English Garden (CD)
The Morrigan - Rides Out. 1990 private (LP); 1997 English Garden (CD)
The Morrigan - Wreckers. 1996 English Garden
The Morrigan - Masque. 1998 English Garden
The Morrigan - Hidden Agenda. 2002 English Garden

I haven't heard the debut, so we start with "Rides Out"...

On paper at least, England's The Morrigan doesn't sound like my cup of tea. In essence, The Morrigan play rocked out versions of English traditional folk songs. Or self-penned tracks that sound like English traditional folk songs. Fortunately I happened upon "Rides Out" not long after the CD release, and was captivated immediately. Not only are these spirited reproductions - or originals - but there is definitely a psychedelic/heavy rock slant to their approach (and guitar sound), reminding me of some of the early 70s greats like Mellow Candle or The Trees. The female vocals and recorders - heck th…