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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Luca Turilli's Dreamquest

Lost Horizons

Review by Gary Hill

Luca Turilli is a busy guy. In addition to serving a major role in the band Rhapsody he has two new projects coming out. The first is an album released just under his own name. The second is this one. Both are fine examples of the process of merging classical music with hard rock. Of the two this one is the most rock oriented and mainstream. That said, the music here is still far from traditional rock fare. There are still massive amounts of opera and classical music interspersed into the collage that is Turilli's sonic palate. While I have some issues with the formatting (see the review of the solo album for my soapbox on that subject) this is nonetheless a very powerful release. I can't say that it's going to be something I'll listen to all the time, but this thing is an incredible piece of musical synthesis and well worth checking out by anyone who likes adventurous music. While it's not as Earth shattering as the other one, this still bends a lot of traditional mindsets. It's a powerful piece from this new band that Turilli says will continue to function as a separate entity from Rhapsody. I guess this way he gets the best of all worlds - and so do we.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2006 Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Introspection
This is a very short electronic and symphonic introduction. It's cool, but just a start off piece.
Virus
Coming straight out of the last track this one starts with keys, but then shifts to more furious metallic themes after a time. Operatic vocals come over the top of this introduction. As it drops back to the verse the vocals shift to a fairly airy, but quite beautiful female prog rock type sound. I hear echoes of Lana Lane on this cut. It's a hard rocking, but very prog oriented piece that is quite effective. It moves through quite a few changes and varying textures (including more of the operatic sounds) take command from time to time. This makes for a great opening salvo and has a lot of power and emotion. It's really a killer that's packed with drama.
Dreamquest
A very potent neo-classical, yet hard rocking structure starts this. Then it drops back to mellower neo-classical textures for the verse. As they pump it out into the chorus, though, they rock it out heavily. The vocals on this one combine the modes of the last one with a more pure soaring operatic style. This is another potent piece of complex musical composition. As the last number it's delivered with a heavy dosage of emotion and power. I don't think it measures up as quite an equal to that opener (I consider the first two numbers to be one piece), but that's more about how strong that track is than any weakness here. While this is definitely a rock song it has even more pure classical textures than the last one did.
Black Rose
A pretty playful melody begins this on keys, but quickly the band jump in launching into a fast paced prog rock excursion. This one is in some ways the most straight rock cut so far, but still has a good amount of those classical elements. On the chorus to this one I hear a more heavy twist on the sounds of Renaissance. The bridge with its strong classical textures in terms of the vocal arrangement and instrumental progressions, is extremely powerful. This one is another of my favorites on the disc. I have to say I'm a sucker for the type of operatic powerhouse vocal arrangement they have at points on this one.
Lost Horizons
The title track comes in tentatively, with ambient sounds starting it. A male vocal comes in as this carries on. After a while in this stripped down format they launch out into hard rocking jam that is full of old world textures and mystery. When it moves out into the verse the female vocals are once again present. This one is even more rock oriented (as opposed to the classical structures) and reminds me a lot of Lana Lane's material.
Sospiro Divino
Starting on piano, as the vocals on this enter they are entirely opera. In fact, the opening segments of this cut are pure opera. Then it drops to a more a balladic like section and while the voice still has an opera approach, it also takes on more elements of rock. This one is a powerful ballad packed with emotion through here. Even when it powers out it is with a progressive rock/classical music approach. They infuse this with more oomph through keyboards and symphonic instrumentation rather than crunchy guitar. It drops back to the balladic later to carry onward. This is the most pure classical piece on show here.
Shades of Eternity
This begins with music box type sounds, but as the rock elements kick in this one smokes. The vocals over the extended introduction are quite operatic - as are a lot of the ones on the song proper. This one again leads one to think of Lana Lane quite a bit. This is a very powerful and dynamic cut that is full of emotion. While there are some moments where effects processing on the vocals don't work so well, overall this one is a really strong one. I particularly like the instrumental segment that takes place before the last verse. This one is quite lush.
Energy
This starts with a nearly acappela neoclassical approach. Then it bumps into a potent rocker that still has a lot of operatic structure to it. They pump this to more pure rock for the verses. The Lana Lane comparisons work well on this track, too. This is the least interesting piece of music here. While on a different disc it would be quite strong, compared to the rest of the material on this one, it just doesn't hold up.
Frozen Star
Now this is more like it. Incredibly dramatic neo-classical operatic vocals and instruments start this off in fine fashion. When the rock instrumentations enter they maintain most of the drama and charm of this introduction. After a brief bit of metallic crunch it drops to a very powerful and emotional verse. They work through this theme for a time then the killer introductory themes return for the chorus. This one is a killer packed with both hard rocking sounds and classical textures. It's a very solid merging of the two motifs and one of the standout tracks of the CD.
Too Late
Symphonic instruments start this and carry it for a time. Then the band powers in, but more as accompaniment than replacement. After a while in this mode, though, they turn this around to fairly pure hard prog rock to finish out the introduction. Then it drops back to a more stripped down verse section. Nothing on this disc stays stripped away for long, though and they bring in a lot of different elements including Gregorian chant like backing vocals and more of the orchestral stuff as it carries on. This one is pretty evenly divided between the rock and classical textures. It's another that works really well.
Dolphins Heart
A beautiful ballad mode, very poignant, begins this based on piano and symphonic instrumentation. They build this up a bit then the vocals come in with an operatic style. This never really moves out into rocking fashion.
Gothic Vision
Some of the most operatic music of the album starts this one off and runs through for a while. Eventually it is joined by the rock band, kicking in almost as support for this classical texture. The sounds are merged nicely into a smoking rocker that is way beyond the ordinary. While in many ways this is one of the best numbers on show here, by this point in the album it's all starting to be a bit too much alike. It is the most dynamic and involved piece on the disc, though, taking the listener on a number of interesting twists. I'd have to say, though that it would have benefited from different placement.
 
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