Over the holiday break I took a trip via the Progmusic Express to my ancestral homeland and discovered Pandora, a band that really understands the meaning of "progressive music." Pandora plays prog the way it is meant to be played--loud, hard, deep, and real.
The album I have been listening to the past few weeks is called "Alibi Filosofico." This seems to be a concept album dealing with the battle of Good vs. Evil with music as the weapon of choice. The first song, "The Necromancer, Khurastos, And The Forthcoming Victim" takes you right to the heart of the fight; the center of the battlefield. The music sets an emotional tone that prepares you for a journey through darkness, rage, fear, hope, happiness, and love--lost and found. Pandora puts so much of themselves into their music it is almost frightening.
Moving to my second selection I choose "The Resurgence." The opening horn has a jazz club feel as it first rolls over your ears, but you are quickly carried away to a carnival-like atmosphere that is almost other-worldly. Pandora has strong hints of early King Crimson; I am making mental comparisons to "Lizard" and "Lark's Tongue In Aspic." The hook for Pandora, however, is the constant time and tempo changes wrapped around incredible mood swings...I find myself anticipating where the music will take me next with the excitement of a six year-old on Christmas morning. The music is layered in such a manner I feel like I am enveloped in it rather than listening to it. The guitars, keyboards, horns, and percussion meld together as if playing from one single source simultaneously...the vocals are here to explain the scene being played out musically. The resulting tapestry is quite a piece--and one to be savored.
Liner Notes...Pandora is Claudio Colombo on drums, guitars, keyboards, and flute, Beppe Colombo on keyboards, and Corrado Grappeggia on vocals and keyboards. Other vocalists and musicians are credited on particular songs but it appears that these three artists are the heart and soul of Pandora. To list every musician would force me to run the blog a bit too long...suffice to say Pandora has assembled an amazing group of artists, musicians, and vocalists resulting in an incredible prog album in the truest sense. Pandora plays as though music is the life blood of the band--and that is the way music should be played. Prog is well served with Pandora in her entourage.
Listening to Pandora is like being in the middle of a prog opera at times. Their sound is so full and complete I just want to sit back and let the music wash over my soul. Making my third selection was a bit challenging because I wanted to capture the real sense of what Pandora has done on this album. After thinking way too long I decide on "Apollo." I chose this song because Pandora uses everything here except the proverbial "kitchen sink." The song opens with some floating saxophone, surreal vocal echoes, and an almost full-color music eruption that builds to an energy level you can almost see explode. The percussion comes in with keyboards, horns, and guitars to tie it all together into an incredibly tight piece. I feel as though I am running through the countryside being swept up in the vortex of a wild musical ride.
Pandora has taken prog music back to its inception; the sound is so full, fast, emotional, energetic--and real. I have been listening to this album for two weeks now and I am still discovering new sounds and images I missed in previous listens...a true testament to the capabilities of the band. Pandora makes popping in a CD (although I still prefer putting on an LP) fun again. Listening to the music of Pandora is like an Olympic event--you need to keep up and be constantly prepared for the next challenge.
Well fellow progheads I believe we have gotten off to an awesome start with Pandora. As 2014 unfolds with high expectations, great promises, and no preconceived ideas about what lies ahead, I am excited to continue my journey through Progressive Music Utopia. Thanks for checking back in this week and I hope you will continue with me on this amazing ride. After discovering Pandora I know there are so many more amazing prog bands out there just waiting to be heard...and my ears are just waiting for me to hit the "play" button....until next week...