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progVisions

progVisions is a progressive rock e-zine, published in English and made by an international group of members. Our objective is to become a centre of information that contributes to the knowledge, growth and development of progressive rock.

album reviews

album review

Shakary - Alya - 2000

"… in the beginning there was God …
Like all the creatures of the universe,
God had a place He called home.
This place is Shakary,
The center of the universe …"

"Alya" is a concept (double-) album, which is inspired by the books of apocalypse (bible). However the story is woven within a sad love story. The main character of the story is in thoughts at a bar. And with the help of a (real existent?) man he starts an inner journey based on memories of Love, Hate and Fear. But in the end also about Hope …

The idea of using the books of apocalypse for the lyrics of progressive rock songs was born at the time Clepsydra was composing their first album "Hologram" (1990) and came from Philip Hubert (keyboards). Sandor Kwiatkowski wrote a series of lyrics intended to be the lyrics for the second Clepsydra album. But the story was too long and when a second shorter story was written Clepsydra had already started to compose their second album "More grains of sand" (which became a little gem). Scandy, at the time Clepsydra's sound engineer asked permission to use the lyrics for his own band. At that moment the "Alya" project had started. The band of Scandy split up and Scandy decided to continue "Alya" alone. In the year 1995 he asked Lele to help him. Most of the songs were written in that year. Lele decided in 1996 to leave Clepsydra and give all his attention to the "Alya" project. The project was almost cancelled in 1998 when it became too big. So it took five years to make this album and I can tell you already, the waiting was worth it!

Shakary is a project by: Scandy (ex Clepsydra sound engineer) - musical concept, bass, keyboards & some vocals. Lele Hofmann (ex Clepsydra) - musical concept, lead guitars, keyboards & some vocals. Sandor Kwiatkowski (graphic designer of Clepsydra covers) - lyrics & design.

Guests: Walter Calloni (ex PFM) (drums), Aluisio Maggini (Clepsydra) (vocals), Giovanni Galfetti (keyboards), Carlo Cantini (violins), Gabriele Ferro (rhythm guitars), Giogio Borghini (percussion), Stefano Pista Salvadè (trumpet), Alain Scherrer ("The Man") and Katja Vanini ("Alya").

"Sunset" (4:52): The first disk opens with an acoustic violin playing a clasical theme, then we hear cafe noises, a door opens and our main character is entering and is pouring out a bottle of beer. The sound of keyboards swells and before we can realise it we are in "progheaven". Great sympho sets the tone for the whole "Alya" album. Aluisio Maggini is singing the lines: "Lost between the last sunrays… I find the safety in the dim lighting… In this subterrean world… Where the waitress flirts with her own memories… Disguising in always new adventures." "Lost Angels" (6:07): A beautiful piano melody introduces Alya "I remember your presence… Your face invaded like an avalanche… " Aluisio Maggini we all know from Clepsydra is becoming better and better. He brings the story with a lot of passion and his English is much better than on the first Clepsydra albums. Great guitar sounds with beautiful melodies played with a lot of emotion.

"Time Trap" (5:54): This piece is more up-tempo with great drum work of Walter Calloni (ex PFM), threatening keyboard layers with a fantastic electric violin solo which reminds me of Jerry Goodman. "The Man" is saying "Follow me up there I'll show you the visions". "Starless Nights" (4:35): Rain is pouring down and thunders strucks at close range. We go inside and close at the fireplace we hear an acoustic guitar piece.

"Seals" (9:57): Opens with a beautiful vocal line. Then strings and melotron sounds swells. Again we are in "progheaven". Lele's guitar playing gives me the shivers. To give you a reference, guitarwork ala Clepsydra/Steve Hackett. But don't get me wrong, Shakary has it's own sound. The melodies are beautiful and we are confronted with guitar/synthesizer duals. This is one of my favourites. The last sounds of the song reminds me of a song of "Voyage of the Acolyte" (Hackett). "Alya" (4:22): Organ, harp sounds and clasical violin gives this piece a folky touch. But then the violin is combined with a trumpet. This combination is very original. The song has a slow character with again a beautiful melody and is ending with a synth solo, which is fading out.

"The First Inquisition" (6:10): "And so the seven angels prepair themselves to blow the seven trumpets" Bass synths and threatening keyboards. A great song with a lot of tempo changes. I would like to describe the middle section as "full sympho". Heavy guitar solo's, great drums, keyboard & violin solos. The song has everything a sympho/prog fan could wish for. Great one !!! "Pain?" (1:42): Ending of disk one and a bridge to disk two. Keyboards piano and a vocal line. After the violent solos of the previous track, this is a welcome point of rest.

"Pain!" (3:29): Sounds of a cold wind with in the distance a South American trumpet tune. Then we hear some experimental "out in space" sounds with the beating of a heart. The heart beats faster and faster …… "Sentence" (6:10): …… fades into the next song. This is the oldest song of the album. It was already written in the year 1995. We hear some Clepsydra influences of that particular time period. Guitar with the first vocals. The song builds up slowly, but soon we are hearing great guitar sounds with fat layers of keyboards underneath. The vocals of Aluisio have that great passion again as mentioned earlier. Delicious and melodic guitar pieces.

"The Dark Kingdom" (6:09): Dark synth sounds are opening this track and the music reminds me of the American band A Triggering Myth. This is because the music has an experimental character. After that we hear slow Hackett like guitar work which build up to an emotional ending. "The Last Drink" (8:18): The magnus opus of this project. After some synth sounds a heavy guitar sound is combined with walls of keyboards and screaming electric violin parts. The song is my personal favourite track. Only for this piece you have to buy "Alya" - so much emotion !!! We are in"progheaven" again. We want more…more…more…

"Alya" (3:45): The applause at the beginning of the track gives the impression of a live recording. This second version of "Alya" is more up-tempo than the first one but the refrain has the same melody. "Babylon" (6:17): From the beginning till the end this track swings. The bass and Chapman stick are the reason for this. Sound effects announce "the fall of Babylon". After a slow synthesizer solo the guitar solos are back again.

"New Angels" (3:52): This brings us to the last track with vocals. "The waitress still flirts with her memories… The glass is empty…". We here once again all the voices of the characters of the story. Even Alya (Katja Vanini) has returned, more beautiful than ever". Beautiful vocals with great melodies. In the end we see the "New Jerusalum". The lyrics who were written by Sandor Kwiatkowski (he did also the graphic design of this project) are of high quality. The use of the books of apocalypse for the lyrics are inviting us to pick up the holy book again and read and study the books of apocalypse again. "Open Skies" (5:47): This double CD comes to it's end with "Open Skies". All the different music styles of the previous tracks are present here. Some themes return and we hear again the fat synthesizers, the beautiful keyboard strings, passionate guitar and the electric violin.

Great ending of a very interesting project. All the fans of Lele Hofmann, who lost track of him after his Clepsydra departure and wondered what he was doing, are getting now the answer. Together with Scandy he was working with the material for "Alya". Most of that material was already written in 1995. So it took almost five years to refine and publish the material. And I can only say; it was worthwhile. I am sure that this brilliant album will be in many prog top-10 lists at the end of this year. The best thing of Shakary is that it has it's own sound and there are some fine musical discoveries to make.

On the back of the CD inlay you can read the following message.

"We thank God for the following mankind inventions: Mellotron, Hammond B3 Organ, Mini Moog model D, Kurzweil K 2500, Protheus 2000, Roland & Korg Synthesizers, Taurus Bass Pedals, Chapman Stick bass, ESP Guitars & Basses, Roland VG8 Guitar Synthesizers, Apple Macintosh."

We prog & sympho lovers are thanking God for giving Lele and Scandy the inspiration and confidence to work for so long on this project and never give up their dreams.

Douwe Fledderus - March 2000
rating - Kaliphonia

 

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