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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Ciro Manna

XY

Review by Gary Hill

This is an unusual set. Ciro Manna is an Italian guitarist known for his jazz styled sounds. This set is a fusion album, more or less, but a couple songs land more in the rock end of the spectrum. We generally include fusion under prog at MSJ, so I’ve done that here. There are two songs here with vocals, with the rest remaining purely instrumental. A number of guests are included on the set, running like a bit of a who’s who. Andy Timmons, Paul Gilbert, Guthrie Govan, Simon Phillips and Lelan Sklar making the bulk of the list. This is a great set, particularly for those who love killer guitar work.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2016  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
X1

The guitar on this thing really scorches. The instrumental piece is very much a screaming hot bit of hard rocking fusion.

X2
Here we get another killer slab of rocking fusion. The melodies are great on this. The balance between more powered up and mellower stuff is perfect, too. This thing is such a killer instrumental.
X3
While the general concept of instrumental guitar dominated jamming hasn’t changed, this is a different kind of tune. It’s more along the lines of bluesy southern rock. It’s still based in some fusion elements, but overall, this is cool hard rock.
Fear & Fire
This is a huge change. It starts with some electronic sounding percussion. The first vocals of the CD come in over the top of this. They are female and ranging from soulful mellow ones to rocking. There are Latin elements to this piece. Overall, it lands in the neighborhood of jazz, but there are more pure rock sections in the powered up moments. This is a great tune that’s probably best described as “fusion.”
Mosaiko Rock
This powerhouse instrumental is amazing. It’s very much a fusion cut. In fact, in a lot of ways it makes me think of Al Di Meola. That said, there are cool bits of Middle Eastern music and some metal built into this.
Drivin' On
There is a bit of a rock edge to this killer instrumental. Overall, though, it’s more of a pure fusion thing. It really is very much along the lines of guitar jazz.
Bad Brakes
Closer the hard rocking end of the spectrum, this is guitar god music at its best. The guitar soloing is technical but still has soul and passion. The mellower jam mid-track takes into some killer jazz territory.
Secret Potion
Another cut with vocals (male this time), this is a rocking tune. It’s got a really funky groove to it. Somehow it makes me think of things like King’s X a bit. It’s not a jazz number at all. Indeed, this is pure straightahead rock.
XY
Back into instrumental territory, the opening movement of this is quite mellow, echoey and rather intricate. It works out to some metallic technical fusion from there.
Wheels On Fire
Some of the guitar soloing on this brings us back into that Southern rock territory. Otherwise, though, this is another that’s like a cross between hard rocking guitar hero stuff and fusion. It’s another smoking hot instrumental.
Just in Time
This is much more of a pure jazz piece. The keyboard soloing mid-track is exceptional. The whole piece, though, really works so well. In fact, I’d have to say that this might well be my favorite thing here. It has such a great classic fusion vibe to it. The instrumental work is just so strong. It makes for a very effective closer.
 
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