Self-released [7 December 2012]
There’s a line in the classic film ‘Planes, Trains and Automobiles’ where John Candy and Steve Martin are being driven round and round in a taxi in this hick town in the American mid-west where Candy comments “He’s proud of his town, that’s a damn rare thing these days”.
And so it is here, where Italian creative, composer, arranger, producer and all-round keyboard whiz Vincenzo Ricca, with prompting from our very own Steve Hackett, has written a musical paean to the wonders of Rome.
As can probably be deduced from the punnish title (see what he did there?), the album is unashamedly progressive rock – and not just any old prog either but a real throwback to the glory days of the genre in the early 1970’s.
And what a job he’s made of it – The Rome Pro(g)ject must be up there with some of the finest progressive rock released in the last five or ten years: some feat when you consider there’s been a plethora of outstanding releases from the likes of Airbag, Katatonia, Riverside, Marillion, Porcupine Tree et al during that time.
What has helped to create this retro-prog masterpiece is the recruitment of musicians who were not only there at the birth of prog but were also in the vanguard as the genre developed.
Alongside many excellent home-based musicians, Ricca has called on the colossal talents of the likes of Steve and John Hackett (Genesis), David Jackson (Van Der Graaf Generator), Richard Sinclair (Caravan) and David Cross (King Crimson) to realize his vision, and, needless to say, they have delivered in spades to stunning effect.
The album begins with a narrative of the foundation of Rome by Romulus and Remus (in Italian) and, unless your first language is Italian, is the only time you’ll need to press the skip button on your remote.
What follows is nothing short of progressive rock Nirvana as one gem of a track follows another – each one different, each one exceptional in both composition and musicianship.
All ten tracks are instrumental (with the exception of the narrative opener) and tick all the prog boxes with a myriad of time signature changes, wonderful progression between passages, fabulous instrumentation and almost other-worldly musicianship throughout.
To select highlights would be superfluous as that would suggest there are some tracks here that don’t come up to the mark and this is patently absurd – the whole album is a highlight
It’s some time since I listened to an album that held me spellbound in its entirety, but this did, from Ricca’s opening keyboard progressions on post-narrative opener ‘April 21st 753 BC’ to the moment Hackett’s guitar faded into the ether on the closer ‘The Mouth Of Truth’ that left me slack-jawed and fumbling for the repeat button.
Review by Alan Jones
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