Shakary the Swiss band of Scandy
& Lele Hofmann has a special place in my heart. After Lele's
departure of Clepsydra he joined Scandy
to help him with his "Alya project". And after a struggle of
five long years they presented under the name Shakary
a marvelous double album entitled "Alya".
I immediately fell in love with this passionate album and gave it five
stars. It became my favorite album of the year 2000. And I still enjoy
listening to that debut album. Now, two years later there is a new album
called "The last summer". The
basis of the band is more or less still intact. Walter
Calloni (ex PFM) is still taking care of the drum kit but Clepsydra's
singer Aluisio Maggini is replaced by Michael
Branzino. This is for me the biggest change besides the departure
of the violin of Carlo Cantini.
The lyrics and art direction of the cover are again from the hand of Sandor Kwiatkowski.
(Sandor, what have you done with the naked lady of the blue skies!)
Scandy - bass, keyboards; Lele Hofmann - lead guitar, classical guitar, keyboards; Giovanni Galfetti - piano, Hammond B3, Kurzweil K2500X; Mario Krag - rhythm guitars, acoustic guitars, lead guitar; Walter Calloni - drums; Joe Coxx - percussion; Micheal Branzino - vocals.
Katja Vanini - Alya; Gabriele Martini - flute; Ilario Garbani - bagpipes; Mauro Ghisletta - trumpet; Vos da Locarno - female voices; Mario Del Don - backing vocals; Fabrizio Ghinnghelli - backing vocals.
The opening track of the album is called "Different places" (4:59). It has a strong instrumental start. Fat sympho with passionate guitar, a lot of keyboards and great drum work of Walter Calloni. I must admit that the first time hearing the album, I had to get used to the voice of newcomer Michael Branzino. But this is more because I associate Lele Hofmann's guitar sound with the voice of Clepsydra singer Aluisio Maggini. Micheal Branzino has the difficult task to let us forget Aluisio. You can hear in some tracks that he is trying so hard to do the job right that it sometimes sounds a little bit forced.
"The play of my life" (4:52) is a track, which has two sides for me. The basis and vocal parts of the track are more simple or casual than the usual Shakary music. But the two parts with the guitar solos have a beautiful melody and the passion I associate with Shakary music.
The third track "Sparkles in the dark" (7:20) I like better. The slow vocals of this track are sung in a way like Andy Latimer (Camel) does. The emotional guitar solo is breathtaking and played with a lot of passion. One of the better tracks in which surprisingly some bagpipes appear, played by Ilario Garbani. In "Love warchild of 64" (6:41) a Jethro Tull guitar is accompanied by a great synthesizer solo. After the great opening the track is becoming more mainstream rock.
The next track "Masks" (6:44) is in my opinion more interesting. It simply has more variation. The track opens with a slow piano and a beautiful Camelesque flute melody. I like the lyrics Sandor wrote: "people hiding their feelings" and "people closing their hearts". Sounds familiar to me. In the middle section is an emotional guitar solo.
Acoustic guitars can be heard in the opening of "Two days left" (5:26), which starts like a ballad but soon develops into a song with happy and nice melodies. In the end the acoustic guitars appear again.
The last track of the album is also the longest one. "Dreaming in L.A." (14:07) and opens with a classical atmosphere created by a harpsichord and string sounds on the keyboards. This piece has a lot of variation. I really like the beautiful atmospheres created by the keyboards. The middle section sounds very symphonic. This is absolute the best track of the album. Hammond organ, flute and classical guitars are passing before the track is building to a climax with some nice guitar and keyboards.
After the fantastic "Alya" album I was very keen on writing the progVisions review for the new Shakary album. I love the violin/guitar duels of that first album. But I think it is not fair to compare this new album with a masterwork, which took them five long years to achieve. But on the other hand I must be honest with you. There are some nice tracks on this album but it has not the high quality of "Alya". And I am writing this with pain in my heart. I like the uneven track numbers better than the even ones. But that is maybe a coincidence.