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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

Sherpa - Endless morning - 2000
Sherpa is the name of a new band from Italy, one of the most prolific areas in the prog world. Where the progressive birth rate is constant and enviable, in spite of the rejection that, also there, provokes anything that is not built with a minimalist idea, musically speaking. The push of the great history of Italian seventies prog left kind of a rectilinear uniform movement that with more or less intensity, has followed inexorably its route along the years, until arriving to our days, leaving behind groups of an extraordinary quality.

Fabio Bonacotta (voice and guitar), Mauro Bortolani (keyboards), Christian Command (5 string guitar), Umberto Corazza (flute) and Paolo Polesel (drums) configure this new formation that tries to make an impact in the current progressive scene. A place which, it seems to me, is not easy to get, on the contrary of what one could think, as prog-rock is not a musical fashion nowadays. The progressive listener is very demanding and cautious with his purchases, which causes that many groups of great quality are forced to cause a strong impact in their first albums, if they do not want to lose the progressive concurrence.

And it is this impact which Sherpa wants to give us in "Endless Morning". A CD of little more than half an hour in which we meet a band of great instrumental quality, trying to give forms to a progressive where the classic influences of groups like Le Orme mix with more metallic ingredients. With songs where instruments as delicate as the flute, share spaces with a guitar that is dedicated to maintain the listener in tension, with overwhelming riffs, which sometimes seem unnecessary. The basics and the developments of their music are brilliantly executed, with the dressing of the surprise element now in fashion, used by many groups lately, which is a metal sound, aimed to cause more impression or to capture a wider audience.

"Overture" includes two parts "Piano solo" (3:18) and "Spellbinder" (4:13), that configure the first two songs of the CD. With these two parts, the group seems to show us in a clear way what in the rest of the album is mixed. A classic part with a brilliant piano solo, a mid tempo with a melancholic touch which in the final section merges with a very soft electric guitar and a delicate flute. Things become stronger in the second part, where the instruments bolt, and acceleration gives to the flute for example, a very Jethro Tull air, combined with quick keyboards and a guitar that becomes too hard, to my understanding, as it can distract when appreciating the good level of the remaining instruments. With "Morning Ceiling" (6:26) we recapture a sweet flute and Mauro Bortolani's excellent keyboards that make a grandiose work with some blasts of keys a la Keith Emerson really spectacular. He alternates leisurely moments with intense flares where the guitar blends in the song, played by Fabio Bonacotta that also shows us his vocal style, quite correct and not very strident in this piece.

We continue with "Age of time" (6:17), where that classic-metallic duality is appreciated again with great nerve. Parts of intense guitar and others where the progressive muses seem to drive the music of the band in interludes of absolute virtuosity for the keyboards and the flute. "Endless Origin" (4:58) is maybe the most direct and hard piece, where the guitar doesn't stop to drive the song toward developments that remind me from Dream Theater a lot. It is also where the guitar plays more coherently, with a progression inside the composition, parallel to the rest of instruments. The album closes with "Sleepa" (6:02) where the acoustic guitar, the keyboards and the bass give a good sample of the great interpretative level of these Italians. A very good closing piece, with developments of great lyricism, progressive fineness and where they cannot hide the italo-prog origin of their musical ideas.

The only problem I find, and it is just a very personal opinion, is that….. imagine that Jethro Tull or Le Orme invited John Petrucci to participate in one of their albums…. The truth is that the quality of the experiment would be undeniable, but the only problem would be, surely, the metallic riffs of Petrucci that would cause a certain musical imbalance.

Although by no means I want to put down their great quality, I would highlight from Sherpa their capacity to recreate their ideas without any fear and with an excellent dexterity, that will surely take them to much higher benchmarks.

Jordi Costa - June 2000
rating - Independent Release

 

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