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30 May 2017

Various:The Colossus Of Rhodes "The Seventh Progressive Rock Wonder" Finnish 2005 Prog Rock , Symphonic Prog

Various:The Colossus Of Rhodes  "The Seventh Progressive Rock Wonder" Finnish 2005 Prog Rock , Symphonic Prog

The Colossus of Rhodes: The 7th Progressive Rock Wonder is the third collaborative project between Colossus, The Finnish Progressive Music Association and Musea Records, where several bands are handed a remit and told to write a lengthy epic to fit, using only '70s equipment, or (note the 'or') reasonable facsimiles thereof. Contrived? You bet. I'm not saying you can't produce decent music this way, but the odds are surely against producing anything from the heart, as the bands concerned struggle to shoehorn their style into the format. In this particular case, six bands were asked to contribute, three of whom I've never even heard of before, although kudos to both organisations for encouraging new progressive talent in this way. The music is actually pretty decent, although every track is rather longer than it really needed to be, and I have absolutely no idea how any of them fits the concept of one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, or indeed, the Colossus itself, despite the plot summaries on the Colossus website.

Of the six 'suites', Greenwall's The Secret Passage is the most adventurous, utilising male and female vocals singing in both Italian and English, and chopping drastically between styles, while still managing to write a (relatively) cohesive piece of music. Possibly the best piece of music here is from unknowns Velvet Desperados (the only Finnish band present) with Lords & Knights, despite its unnecessary blues section halfway through. As pointed out in several online reviews, Italy's Revelations (nothing to do with the dodgy late-'90s UK band) are unadventurous neo-prog, making a mockery of one reviewer's assertion that their (grotesquely overlong) track sounds like a Selling England... outtake. Er, hello? As far as Mellotron use goes, Sinkadus get plenty in on God Of Silence, probably real, as you can hear a note choke off at one point. I'm deeply unconvinced by the strings on Mad Crayon's Like The Wind I Will Come Back, however lush they sound, and the strings and choir on Revelations' A New Dawn are almost certainly samples.

So; another sprawling epic from Colossus/Musea. You may feel that this approach is legitimate, you may not; either way, there is some very good music here, plus a good deal that's trying really hard but not quite cutting it, largely due to the format's restrictions. Decent enough 'Tron use, at least some of which is probably real.

After the success encountered by the KALEVALA and THE SPAGHETTI EPIC projects, the French label Musea and the Finnish fanzine Colossus are associated once again for a titanic piece of work: THE COLOSSUS OF RHODES. Subtitled "The Seventh Progressive Rock Wonder", this new double-CD is based on one of the Seven Wonders of the World. This is also the main theme of a movie directed during the Fifties by Sergio LEONE, an obvious link with the previous project. An Italian-dominated international cast (LEVIATHAN, GREENWALL, SINKADUS, MAD CRAYON, VELVET DESPERADOS and REVELATION) has been chosen for that matter. In more than twenty minutes, every band has been given the chance to display its own interpretation of the work. Once again, the spirit of the masters of Seventies symphonic Progressive rock has been faithfully observed, including the wide range of the sounds of that era: analogic keyboards, Mellotron, no electronic drumkit... The result is splendid, as for the booklet that is both luxuous and complete, and enhanced by a funny black and white comic ! The sleeve is once again designed by Paul WHITEHEAD, the author of the famous illustrations included in the first GENESIS albums. Here's a masterpiece that will surely please the true fans of GENESIS, YES or PINK FLOYD. Amongst others !...............

Inspired by the success of the international rock act "Kalevala" (2003), the Finnish association of progressive music Colossus with the support of the French company Musea has muddied the next project from the same series. The storyline was the story of the Colossus of Rhodes, more precisely - the 1961 film of the same name, directed by Sergio Leone, the godfather of "spaghetti westerns". Six art-rock compositions, by and large - Italians. The result will be announced later. For now, let's move on the numbering.
Going first Leviathan good impressions on their own left. From the entire 27-minute suite decently sounds only transparent-symphonic intro with a lyric flute. The Italian vocals and the obvious "zakos" under Genesis - not the most successful layout.
The compatriots of the above-named Greenwall figures tried to formalize their "The Secret Passage" in a kind of mini-opera. Despite the involvement of the string-wind sections, organ jogging and saxophonist exercises, it is extremely difficult to endure half an hour of such music making.
The situation is saved by Swedes Sinkadus. Laconism in the vocal plane, gloomy sound component. Called them to life "God of Silence" is strikingly different from the sun-cheerful hymns of the inhabitants of the Apennines. That and good. Lyrics in English - an extra plus in the asset.
Another "Madonna" Mad Crayon bungled a rather sluggish crossbreed: symphonic jazz cries of the keyboard, almost hard rock rhythm section and absolutely no singer. In a word, there is a green melancholy in every note.
The young depressive Finns of Velvet Desperados were an orchestra of nine people. Their mid-tempo minor progressive with rather original instrumental solutions and a very bad game on Hammond in comparison with the previous comrades is perceived as the top of perfection.
Unfortunately, the citizens of Revelation also failed to add points to the credit of the Italian national team. Intense in form and in a third way.
In general, as they say in Russia, a swing for the ruble is a blow to a penny. Even to order should be written with inspiration. Alas, its something here and not enough. The Colossus fell victim to banal boredom.............

Number three in a string of projects produced by the French label Musea and the Finnish magazine Colossus, The Colossus of Rhodes is The Spaghetti Epic's twin. Both albums were started at the same time, both are two-CD sets consisting of six epics, both are based on movies by Sergio Leone. But this time around, the Colossus team opted for a rather obscure Leone work, a peplum movie that predates his spaghetti Western years. The screenplay has been divided into 12 sections; each participating band was entrusted with two contiguous sections and asked to compose a progressive rock suite based on them. The rules were the same as in the previous projects: no electronics, only vintage keyboards, in the style of '70s Italian prog. By now it is clear that this series of well-conceived concept albums has a way of pushing participants to their creative limits, and The Colossus of Rhodes is another notch above the previous two projects. The main reason is disc one and its trio of stunning tracks. Leviathan's "Un Pensiero E Sempre Libero" has all the right bells and whistles to tickle the fancies of Banco fans, without coming out as a knockoff. It has great themes, strong playing, complex developments, and soul. Greenwall's "The Secret Passage" is the album's undisputed highlight. The group's slightly Baroque writing, its singer's enrapturing voice, and the sound construction of the epic all score significant points. This first disc is rounded up by Sinkadus' "God of Silence," a welcome dose of Scandinavian darkness at this point and one of the group's strongest, most moving pieces to date (although more vocal content would have been nice). Disc two is less stellar, but still quite enjoyable, except for Revelation's pedestrian "A New Dawn," a disappointing anticlimax. But Mad Crayon's "Come Vento Tornero" is up to the high standards of disc one and the Velvet Desperados' harder-rocking "Lords and Knights" is a satisfactory inclusion. As with Colossus' previous projects, the booklet includes a detailed synopsis of the movie and English translations for all lyrics. Highly recommended to prog rock François Couture.................

Always with the same specifications (in a few words: bring together several progressive groups on the same project, give them a theme to illustrate in their own way, interpreting it with analog instruments to sound as much as possible as in the 70's) The Colossus collective (The Finish Progressive Music Association) handed over the cover just six months after The Spaghetti Epic.

For its first edition 2005, the theme chosen is the story of the Colossus of Rhodes, reviewed and dusted by the filmmaker Sergio Leone in 1961. A few historical reminders (not on the awesome Mister Lion, but on the equally famous and gigantic statue Greek): as everyone knows, thanks to the fabulous crossed contribution of the national education and the ultra kitsch peplum of Sergio Leone, Colossus of Rhodes was a statue of 32 meters high, erected by the Greeks in the 3rd century BC To represent Helios, God of the Sun, son of the Titan Hyperion, spanning (or not, it seems, but not our problem) the entrance of the port, and destroyed by an earthquake some seventy years after its construction.
Is all this enough to make a good two-hour album concept prog? Not won in advance, especially since this story, and especially what Sergio Leone has done, evokes more memories of men in skirts with large oily muscles and women in long dresses of modesty also Unacceptable that their false transparency. In short, of the fantasy of teenager who does not bear too badly the trumpets peregrtoires and Hollywood clichés (it was the Hollywood seen on the side of Cinecitta). To put it another way, after the relatively obscure Finnish legends for most of us and spaghetti westerns with untouchable and very stereotyped imagery (a priori at 1000 places from that of prog rock), the new Colossus project left us Priori skeptics - at best curious, at worst worried - for the groups involved, and for the credibility of this kind of athlete meeting.

But let's face it, mythology or Greco-Roman antiquity have never been shunned by the Prog, and it is not Steve Hackett and his recent Metamorpheus who will contradict us. Concerning the solar myth, it is not the first time that progressive music celebrates the God of the Sun, especially in its Egyptian representation. Just remember the song "Ra" by BJH on Octoberon (76) or Todd Rundgren's Utopia, which gave the name to an album (same year, as if by chance). I'll let you complete the list.

After a project Kalevala a little too long and quality too uneven (some groups offering material of little interest) not to leave a mixed memory after the Spaghetti Epic more modest and which our fellow Laurent Métayer told us the greatest good In spite of some reservations, what is the fate of this third version? In truth, is it successful? Let us endeavor to advance a few enlightening points of view, while taking into account the fact that in art both truth and success are often relative notions ("truth, like art, is in the eye of that Who contemplates it, "says the sage).
First of all, a few general considerations: all the requisitioned groups, again six in number (as on the previous project), gave birth without pain to a least honorable piece of twenty minutes, While preserving the spirit demanded and the quality so far respected on previous projects. First, as in the Spaghetti Epic, where the bands had been forced to play a part of the synopsis of a film by Sergio Leone ("Once upon a time in the West"), here all the titles tell us fairly accurately "Colossus of Rhodes", cinema version, without respecting the musical stereotypes. Second observation: it is clear that the artists summoned gave the best of themselves, which is generally a constant since the first Colossus project. The selected pieces are once again major works and do not feel the recovery. Moreover, nobody has given in to the facility. As if all these groups wanted to launch or relaunch their career in the brightest way possible, placing themselves at the top of the game.

Let us now turn to the music itself, detailing the set of copies made:


After a long absence, Leviathan returns with confusing ease. Always in the same register, but by multiplying his emotional matter. Imagine a kind of explosive fusion between the Genesis of "Battle Of Epping Forest" and the Branduardi of the "Lord of the Baux". We find all that is expected of a Leviathan in the best of its form, and also all that is expected of a group that seemed to belong to the past but past of the prog: a singular look On the prog in general, a personal point of view on the transalpine prog in particular, an attention to the passing time and to the details that move.

"A Thought Is Always Free" is a piece of music as we do not cross every day and that joins without difficulty the nuggets of the last album dated Leviathan. Unlike her realization on Kalevala, she managed to keep the distance without bending: twenty-five minutes of diablerie with Latin charm where poignant melodic themes are developed, stretched to the point of rupture, repeated until exhaustion of their Creative sap around a stunning rhythm. Everything I have defended for ten years in the transalpine prog is condensed in this piece: a voice with sensitivity to skin, plus a festive spirit heated under the sun regenerating by wine and good flesh, plus bitterness That one feels to think that all this will not last, more Ars Longa Vita Brevis and Sic Transit Gloria Mundi. One comes out breathless, conquered, broken but happy.......


Here is the group of the subtle pianist Andréa Pavoni, who already counts two sympathetic albums to his credit. We had been delighted, seduced and then convinced by his participation in the Kalevala project, but it was not expected at such a level.

With a melodic imagination without falling into a regime, shamelessly passing through a rather rough chain, a jazzy prog which reconciles Banco (ELP period) and Camel (Canterbury period if any) to experimental symphonism straight out Of Atom Heart Mother, "The Secret Passage" serves much more Greenwall than their participation in Kalevala, who "contented" us to want to listen to the old Renaissance. Here, hardly one is hampered by a convoluted construction and a medieval melodic interlude, which nevertheless constitutes a crusty anachronism.

Greenwall is a kind of group a priori minor, somewhat lost in the mainland prog but which comes to surprise us simply by taking back the old recipes of their elders. A little in the way of Retrohead this year, the modernist approach less, Greenwall reinvents the prog of the euphoric 70's and never ceases touching us, making for the nullity the debate "for or against an analog instrumentation" , And imposing, with a final sublime to the piano to the existential melodic depth, the admiring silence or the passionate and infinite commentary............


Naturally at ease within the limits imposed by the concept, Sinkadus makes the old memories of the early Crimson speak in the manner of a melancholic Änglagård (pleonasm?). Beginning with the brilliant rises in power gorged with pathos of the mellotron, sustained as it should be by heart-rending guitar solos, with this sense of the drama common to many works coming from the cold (special mention for the final to spin the flesh Chicken to an ice cream cone). Nothing new (is it the goal?) But clearly more consistent and enlightened than the performance he had been willing to give up for the Kalevala project. With this "God Of Silence", Sinkadus returned to its best level, that of its acclaimed first album. The kind of music very inspired to inoculate your philtre of mortal love only after several visits. Recommended on wave evenings to soul to better feel in phase. ...............

Mad Pencil:

Falsely convoluted construction, captivating melodies, exciting arrangements, needless to hide our enthusiasm for this splendid work that manages to make the modern prog with the old. As much emotional value as on the Leviathan, but less linear developments and greater melodic richness, despite some discrete bridges between the two pieces. A final worthy of that of the illustrious "Shine On You Crazy Diamond", needless to say more, "Like The Wind I Will Come Back" is definitely the top of the box. Another sumptuous success inciting to the curiosity and the discovery of the rest of the work of Mad Crayon which is among what the Italian prog made the best, all the times confused........

Velvet Desperados:

Coming from some planet (in fact: from Norway), this group is the most surprising of the lot. While remaining in the prog sphere, alternating a dynamic rock and a warm celebration of the Blues in the style of Brian Auger (circa 69) or that of Procol Harum (the live of 1971) for a sumptuous finale. ..........


We finish with Revelation which always proposes a conventional neo-progressive, with risk-taking zero, but which still nevertheless tutoie sometimes the best moments of the first IQ (The Wake). Associated with an nth reading of the Genesis of the green years, all this not inciting us to indulgence, we will classify this "A New Dawn" in the half successes, at least until Revelation opens the instrumental valves in the second part Of the song. But despite this exciting new excitement as well as some, if not palpable, progress compared to what he proposed on Kalevala, Revelation has a bit of trouble keeping the distance and our interest over thirty minutes, which makes his participation Less convincing of the project. But considering the high level of quality of this one, it means that Revelation does not have to blush....................

Only complaint to the record: the lack of musical unity. Even if this bias brings a pleasant diversity, even if we are far from the indigestible stylistic burst of Kalevala, although some will claim that this is the charm of this kind of compilation, one feels on this Colossus of Rhodes The difference between the Latin style (four groups) and the Scandinavian style (only two groups), hence a certain mathematical imbalance. All the more so because everyone respects fairly the stereotypes that are given a priori to the prog ressu of these European regions.

Would Colossus' idea (the label) be reaching its limits? The next commissioned production, with its promising poster that highlights the standard of diversity (Minimum Vital, Nathan Mahl, Glass Hammer, XII Alfonso, Simons says, CAP, Nexus, etc ... I sleep no more at night) Will tell us more. But we will allow ourselves this next time to raise the bar even SUCCA..........

Leviathan (Italy)
Greenwall (Italy)
Sinkadus (Sweden)
Mad Crayon (Italy)
Velvet Desperados (Finland)
Revelation (Italy)

A Thought is Always Free
The Secret Passage
God of Silence
Mad Crayon:
Like the Wind I Will Come Back
Velvet Desperados:
Lords & Knights
A New Dawn

johnkatsmc5, welcome music..





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