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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Marco Machera

One Time, Somewhere

Review by Grant Hill

Italian progressive music intrigues me, and while I cannot claim great expertise from much knowledge of the European progressive community, I can tell you this one thing for certain: Marco Machera is a very intriguing, insightful composer and performer. The album overall is a fusion of many, many styles, yet it truly ranks as progressive and it takes us musically in new directions. This isn’t recycled seventies prog, or even neo-prog in the strictest song-writing sense. But what Machera does is to take one on a true mind’s journey throughout the landscape of the album, including daily sounds and textures from modern life and incorporating them into the song experience of time, space, meter, and direction. Each listen will pull the receiver more inside the individual pieces, and should evoke some pretty complex feelings. I recommend this work! It’s different, enjoyable and may appeal to a very wide range of listeners.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Hello

The song employs ambient chords and legato lyrics very elegantly phrased over steady eighth note snare brush work, soulful strings, and well placed dynamic percussion changes. I would call the number uplifting, soothing, and calming to the spirit.

Stories Left Untold
Street sounds grab the listener. Then funk synth bass with matching techno funk percussion enters. Spoken word is used lyrically. This has a nice groove. The lyrics seem Belewesque in a way. The King Crimson family clearly influences this artist. In my interview with him, Machera observed his love for Crimson and both Mastelotto and Belew, which authenticates my observation. The nice, centering vibe is well expressed. This is easy to listen to without overly analyzing, but there is plenty of depth to explore if you choose to do so!
Days of Summertime
This has more of a pop feel. It’s nice! Most definitely it is Beatles influenced, again independently corroborated by the composer. This is excellent progressive pop! It will grow on you very easily. Interesting use of string sounds accent the percussion. I like the pulse behind unusual cello solo phrasing. The vocals are really very beautiful. There’s lots of dynamic diversity here!
Bright Lights, Big Cities
I reiterate how well this music employs traditional sixties based ideas, and then expands through the progressive influences of members of the Crimson musical family. With little hooks and changes, the alternative style guitar chords build tension. It’s another nice work!
El Muerto
Do you, as I do, see Clint Eastwood on a horse when you hear this? I love the “Spaghetti western” style theme! This is a very impressionistic Italian view of a very American culturally iconic image. It’s very, very cool! It’s also creative! Nice melody and background vocal harmonies are featured. “Good work!,” “Intriguing!” and “Beautiful!” are all acceptable comments on this composition.
Down Below
Strings open along with a soul-searching vocal. Wonder and introspection seem to be the order of the day in this piece. Machera’s legato vocal is really excellent, in tune, and has direction.
Gotzen-Dammerung
Unusual percussive buttons in the Mastelotto tradition are used, and so are elements of techno and trip-hop. It’s mostly instrumental with occasional spoken word. I like the laid back techno-electronica vibe. Nice resonance is employed throughout. This is an interesting, soothing, centering piece. It’s great listening music!
Hire Her
Rich synth ambience is incorporated at the opening. A broadening, morphing uni-chord grows through gradually introduced sonorities. It’s minimalistic but effective. Careful use of space and time are very much appreciated by this listener. This is unique!
Troubled Childhood
The toy piano/music box tonalities are effective. A simple, Asian style melody is clearly present. Careful use of mezzo snare rolls are executed well. Everything fits cleanly and beautifully. Nice compositional technique is displayed throughout. I like the change to a more neo-prog set groove with Metheny-style chord changes. It’s a good fusion of styles! There’s a nice build! This could very fit into a Metheny/Mays setting. It transitions back to opening theme, but it feels almost church-like the second time around. This has very nice integration of tonal and avant-garde impressionism.
 
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