Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Phoenix Again

Greetings from the Concert Closet fellow progheads!  Continuing my search for all things prog, my objective this week was something with a throwback vibe that hits a nerve...a "new" sound that pays homage to the progressive masters of yesterday.  I wanted to find a band that knows how to slap you on the back of the head one minute and rub your shoulders the next.  To find this multi-faceted collection of musicians in one group I traveled all the way to Italy...welcome to the diverse prog atmosphere of Phoenix Again.

Phoenix Again has an interesting history (I will discuss later in liner notes), and describe themselves simply as a progressive rock band from Brescia, Italy.  My initial reaction is just a slight interest--until I read further and discover Phoenix Again originally formed in 1981.  That peaked my interest a bit more, so naturally I had to give them a respectable listen--three decades together has to count for something.

My first taste from the prog buffet is a song called "Dance of Three Clowns."  Instantly I am swept away by the beautiful serenity of the music.  This is not your every day progressive music...more like Robert Fripp if he had been light-hearted in the hey-day of Frippertronics.  Think Yes with Uriah Heep playing classical music together and you are starting to catch a glimpse of what is happening here.  Everything flows calmly, even as the tempo starts to pick up.  This is progressive music for a more refined pallet...and so far I like.

The buffet should be accented with foie gras and caviar this week, but I am plenty sated with my second helping, a song called "Oigres."  This is a very smooth instrumental piece; the keyboards sit on top a bit while the guitars swirl around the drums, enveloping the entire piece.  The mood swings upbeat to mellow.  Phoenix Again has set up in the ambient section of the prog garden not too far from Brian Eno.  The music flows right through your ear canals and cascades down into your soul--you feel enraptured.

Liner Notes...Hailing from Brescia, Italy, the band started out in 1981 as Phoenix, founded by Claudio Lorandi on lead guitar and vocals, Antonio Lorandi on bass, Sergio Lorandi on acoustic and electric guitar, and Silvano Silva on drums.  Emilio Rossi joined the band in 1986 on keyboards and mixers.  Phoenix built their unique sound following the trail blazed by King Crimson and Genesis among others in the ambient/jazz fusion corner of the prog garden.  Unfortunately the untimely passing of Claudio in 2007 left Phoenix without its founder.

Determined to honor their fallen leader, the remaining brothers Lorandi lifted Phoenix Again from the ashes in 2008--the name symbolic of a re-birth.  Phoenix Again continues to soar with the next generation Lorandi; Antonio's sons Marco on guitar, Giorgio on percussion, and Sergio's daughter Alessandra on flute.  Keyboardist Andrea Piccinelli rounds out the current line-up.

My third and final selection for the week is a song called "Lookout."  This piece starts out faster than previous, yet stills follows the trail Phoenix carved out and Phoenix Again continues to trample.  The tempo picks up and settles down rhythmically, taking you on a emotional ride not quite roller coaster-esque, yet enough to make you feel the blood pumping through your veins.  The hard driving drums keep it all together, and the guitars and keyboards are doing just fine dancing on the edge of the stage. Phoenix Again can channel Dream Theater and Adrian Belew era King Crimson--but their sound is more a creative interpretation rather than a reflection.

The piece I posted below for your listening pleasure is called "Adso da Melk."  Forgive my inability to translate the written word--but for musical translation there is no need.  Imagine Gregorian Rock taking an acoustic break and blend it with some Transatlantic...you're getting close.  Phoenix Again has been through some difficult times, proudly channeling that energy and introspection into some powerful music.  This song proves you don't have to be loud to be good; everyone needs a good shoulder rub now and then.  Learn more about Phoenix Again at http://www.phoenixagain.it/ and follow them on Twitter at @ThePhoenixAgain  

Once again fellow progheads, seven days have fallen off the calendar faster than Wiley Coyote falls off a cliff.  The prog garden has brought a bumper crop into the barn this season, and the harvest comes from all over the world.  Phoenix Again has given new meaning to the term "Never give up."
I am sure Claudio is smiling and enjoying the great progressive sounds his family has put together. They say the band in heaven performs on a crowded stage; no doubt Claudio is there both as a member and a fan.  My search for all things prog continues...until next week...



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