One of the greatest challenges any artist must overcome lies in its ability to surpass a previous masterpiece, finding the narrow source of consistency in inspiration to constantly go beyond and come up with a new offering. Often, some artists decide to alter their sound or style and forge into new realms of creativity, with mixed results, some managing brilliantly and others faltering. Italian prog band LogoS reached widespread acclaim in 2014 with their third album , the sublime L’Enigma della Vita , which was universally lauded and applauded in the global prog community, a scintillating effort that had all the classic hallmarks of Italian Prog (RPI) whilst maintaining an original flavour all to its own. Everything about it was magical: sound, production, atmosphere, talent, songs with great instrumental prowess and truly excellent vocals. The artwork left no stone unturned, flush with melancholy and grandeur. 6 years later, the band comes out with its much awaited follow up, with all fans wondering if the new work will equal or surpass the previous release, or if that they had decided to go into another realm altogether. Let me reassure you all right away, there is no need for any concern, as ‘Sadako e le Mille Gru di Carta’ maintains and even exceeds expectations! Still helmed by the incredible Luca Zerman on lead vocals as well as keys, aided and abetted by fellow ivory man Claudio Antolini, as well as devilish bassman Fabio Gaspari, who doubles on guitar, mandolin and vocals and adding terrific drummer Alessandro Perbellini. The album has a theme focused on a Japanese legend, an artistic style known as Origami and combining that with history, namely Hiroshima, through the eyes of a little girl Sadako, victim of the radiation released by the A-bomb. The cover and artwork are once again highly evocative and drenched in artistic flair and melancholia.
The majestic synths open the proceedings with ‘Origami in Sol’, a bold fanfare that sets the tone, the dual keyboards cooking up quite the storm, ending with a lovely Japanese lament that lasts only a few seconds. The spellbinding 11 and a half minute ‘Paesaggi di Insomnia’ showcases the band’s strengths, namely the concept of musical unpredictability as the rumbling bass guitar takes over, helped along by string synths, switching gears into the vocal section, laden with sorrow and grace , then a soaring synthesizer melody that secures the main theme in a typical RPI manner. Sorry, but I am hooked already after only 6 minutes into this recipe! In stupendous and wholly unexpected fashion, a delirious saxophone courtesy of guest Federica Zoccatelli makes its way into the arrangement, united with the twirling keys. Prog does not get much better than this!
How about another epic, back to back? Well, Luca and the ragazzi oblige with another nearly 11-minute whopper, and I find myself giggling nervously at their audacity! Their ability to combine the simple and gorgeous melodies with complex arrangements laden with twists and turns will excite progsters to no end. The first few moments of ‘Un Lieto Inquietarsi’ have a distinctive ELP flavour, swirling keys and a chugging organ, booming and nasty bass line, pushed along by precise killer drumming. A serene mid-section weaves a delicate path, a brief respite before diving once again into a sonic fray, this time fueled by dual vocals from Luca and Fabio, the mean bass shoving the melody to higher planes. Spectacular, vibrant and grandiose, Prog does not get much better than this!
‘Il Sarto’ is a shorter piece also featuring the vocals of guest Elisa Montaldo of Il Tempio delle Clessidre , very much in the Le Orme style which should come as no surprise as LogoS started out learning their chops as a Le Orme cover band. A beautiful ballad, pastoral and bright, the voices united in passion and hope, a typical Italian accordion sound to highlight their native folk roots, often present in RPI. Delightful interlude.
How about 2 more epics to seal the deal? Va bene, let’s set up a 12 and half minute composition, ‘Zaini di Elio’, this time adorned with harpsichord-like effects (which I feel lags in prog but it’s a difficult instrument to copy, according to my musician pals), still frantic and moody, folding in some interesting additions with choppy sections, bewildering synth solos and some manic drumming from signore Perbellini! The crisp, precise and ingenious instrumental display is simply outstanding, and the vocals maintain a dazzling level of expression, the massive final chorus being as spirit rousing as it gets, tubular bells in support. I am conquered! Prog does not get much better than this!
Can this go on? Well, the grand finale is the title track, and a 21minute and 20 second masterpiece it is, perhaps their crowning career achievement up to now. Five seconds in, the desolate piano notes hit one in the gut, dripping with sorrow and dejection, a melody of classic proportions. The synthesizer takes over boldly, still flavoured with the soft piano emanations, the crushing vocals invoke the quest for the end of war, indeed of all wars and to let peace finally rule forever more. A Japanese motif creeps in amid the electronic keyboard fray, showcasing a glittering array of tonal variations, balancing bombastic with elegance, a real tour de force. A guest cameo, former guitarist Massimo Maoli lets his electric guitar rip with subtle abandon. Every sound is highly melodic, well thought out, creative and inspired. At the 13-minute mark, the arrangement shifts into a more modern groove, an electronic chugging mood that orients towards the final vocal passage, in companion with a slippery synth solo and the lurking menace of a throbbing bass guitar. The finale ends in crescendo of sound and fury, the raging guitar slicing through the mushroom cloud, the voice exalted and despondent, the piano slowly ending its march along the black and white board. The cranes have been folded. Prog does not get much better than this!
As a bonus track, a mini 5-minute version of the title track, a radio edit, recaps the entire album perfectly. I am quite sure that previous fans and critics will love this opus, which I believe not only surpasses the previous gem but will be the 2020 album of the year for many. To think that this was completed during the Italian crisis of the pandemic, clearly shows the dedication and the courage of musicians of this calibre in overcoming odds to display their talent and to entertain us with their beautiful music.
5 Orizuru (paper cranes) but there is really 1000 of them!
Original review: LINK
Album page: LINK