Rock Progressive Italiano is a subgenre of Prog that boasts some of the greatest Prog bands of all time. One need only mention the likes of Premiata Forneria Marconi, Le Orme or Banco del Mutuo Soccorso to understand how important this genre is in the Prog community. Now in the modern era along comes Logos with their album “L’enigma della vita”. 13 years in the making, and the third album for Logos, it is the epitome of all that encompasses the very best of RPI. The foursome consists of Fabio Gaspari on guitars, bass, and vocals, Luca Zerman on keyboards, and lead vocals, Claudio Antolini on piano, and keys, and Alessandro Perbelini on drums. The music Logos generate is nothing short of astonishing, executed with virtuoso finesse and structured with innovation and invention. It is such a pleasure to listen to an album where each track stands alone, an album of diversity so infused with passion and power during its entire 75 minutes running time. It opens with ambient Pink Floyd strains and atmospheric fervour on ‘Antifona, lucid and flowing with an organic soundscape. As the thunder rolls across the heavens the drums pick up and it moves into ‘Venivo da un Lungo Sonno’, replete with violining guitar and pastoral textures of keyboard pads. The vocals are brief and Italian in the traditional sense of homegrown RPI. The sound ignites with Hammond and mellotron vibrations, and melodic soaring guitar; generating symphonic grandeur. It is a wonderful 9 minute track that highlights the awesome dexterity of Logos, and we are only at the beginning.
‘In Fuga’ follows, glistening over with sumptuous mellotron and the glaze of spacey organ. The tranquil atmosphere is beautiful and then it erupts into synth bliss, and pulsating guitar picking similar to Pink Floyd’s ‘The Happiest Days of Our Lives’ style. The vocals come in prominently until an interlude of heavy guitars keeping up with a fast keyboard phrase, sounding like Gryphon’s medieval trademark sound. The shimmering organ is joined by a speedy lead guitar and it is capped off by a fractured rhythm; a great track with many layers.
‘Alla Fine dell’ultimo Capitolo’, fades up sounding decidedly different to previous tracks, especially the guitar phrases, processed with reverberating delay and a steady cadence on percussion. The vocals are harmonised nicely in places, and I wished I knew some Italian to pick up what the song was about. The guitar switches to a dynamic distortion, and there is a Hammond waiting round the bend to add flavour. A wah wah guitar chimes over, then staccato keyboards and some high pitched notes scream out. The song switches gears and becomes ominous in the next section. Vocals join in the quivering keys, and quick bursts of percussion and bass attacks. Another 9 minute delight shredding delightfully through my speakers.
‘N.A.S.’ is a fast paced excursion into explorations of urgent guitars battling an incessant organ. The guitar sound is a King Crimson sound ala ‘Lark’s Tongues in Aspic’ and the bass is ready to back them. The swirling synths are vibrant and spaced out, and it is all driven by a thunderous drum rhythm. As an instrumental the track offers a prime example of how to maintain listener interest, with diversions into time signature switches, and a variety of instrumental sounds. It is a powerful rendition that resounds with powerhouse energy and innovation throughout its 7:43 running time.
‘L’enigma della vita’ is the title track and these tracks usually deliver wall to wall brilliance. The sound moves into electro-beats, startling after the previous tracks. It is a more commercial sound overall with echoing vocals, and funky bass motifs. The quavering keyboards have a crystal clear sound, over a multi layered symphonic foundation. I particularly like the guitars on this at about 4 minutes in, when the 3 chord riff dominates, merging into a lead guitar break. A saccharine fresh synth breaks through and it culminates in a choral sound with majesty and flourish.
‘In Principio’ runs to 11 minutes, and is a tour de force of instrumentation starting with trickling piano like rain falling down, cascading over with acoustic guitar trimmings. The vocals are melancholy, and guitars howl over adding to the sense of loss. It threatens to break out, building as we hear bird calls and then the spacey keyboards squelch through with percussion embellishments. Electric 70’s organ sends out little flames and the flickering candle of shuddering synths are joined by more Italian vocals. There is a break in transmission then a major change in rhythm as a synth motif trembles, making way for jazz reflections on electric piano. A succulent guitar solo adds flavour to the banquet, and crashing cymbals and drums garnish the feast. The spacey synth sounds return to farewell this awe-inspiring track.
‘Completamente Estranei’ has a Twilight Zone-like synth motif, before launching into raucous guitars and organ layers. The bombastic choral voices enhance the mood, until staccato blasts of broken rhythms join the main melody. Mellotron chimes under some Floydian guitar picking, and then the vocals are heard. Again, the track delivers a wide range of styles and time changes. The band are given space to unleash their talents, including a glorious lead break and dazzling synth solos.
‘In Quale Luogo si Fermo’il Mio Tempo’ is a piano driven piece, in the tradition of the great composers, or more recently Keith Emerson’s explorations on his side of “Works”. It is a brief showcase for Antolini, the calm before the storm, being the next track.
‘Pioggia in Campagna’ is a 10 and a half minute symphonic prog workout, that fades up with a marching beat, reminding me of ELP. It has a soft guitar solo in one section, and then breaks out with a tempo change, gaining heaviness with guitar and keyboards in synch. There is an onslaught of twin barrelled keyboards trading off, and then the phased guitar solo adds spice. Another time change welcomes in lased edged synths, and guitar tones, prior to a new verse of lyrics. This is a glorious mini epic with inventiveness and an ever changing palette of instrumentation.
‘Il Rumore dell’aria’ is ushered in by dripping raindrops, and an ethereal narrative voice. The atmosphere is portentous and assumedly has deep meaning. And so ends the master work of Logos. The influences of Le Orme and Banco del Mutuo Soccorso are obvious and the band in their early days used to do covers of such RPI legends. “L’enigma della vita” is an outstanding album with music that never outstays its welcome. It deserves repeat listens and certainly sparkles with invention, vitality and dynamism. Every track drips with its own energy and all are as diverse as the next and still manage to generate a powerful unity. Logos have excelled on this album in every department and the encapsulating music resonated with my senses. A masterpiece that will gain the band recognition as they have produced one of the top ten albums of 2014!