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Ian Narcisi

Weight of the Words

Review by Gary Hill

The first full length release from Ian Narcisi, this shows him to be a musical force not to be ignored. He deftly combines modern and old school progressive rock and other sounds into a tapestry that is both complex and accessible. The music leans at times on various musical styles or references while remaining wholly original.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2011  Volume 5 at

Track by Track Review
Twilight's Last

Rather symphonic keyboard sounds lead this off. From there we move towards some dramatic mellow sounds as it gradually builds. As the rhythm section joins it feels a bit like something from Jeff Wayne’s version of “War of the Worlds.” The vocals bring a more accessible approach. A Klaatu-like jam is added mid-track. After more vocals it shifts to rather Yes-like territory for a time, and then works to some seriously heavy prog, ala Dream Theater. It works out from there towards more melodic progressive rock. The bass line has some interesting moments and there’s a killer guitar solo. Ambient weirdness comes in to end the cut.

Unaccompanied vocals lead this out and then we get a piano dominated arrangement with some sound bites for a short time. From there it moves to a rather pop-like jam that’s got plenty of progressive rock in for balance.
The first extensive section here is based on a piano and vocal motif, but it shifts out later to acoustic guitar laden progressive rock that has a lot of folk music built into it. When keyboards come over the top later, there’s a Beatles-like psychedelia brought to the table. Harmonica later reinforces the folk influences and the cut returns to that folk-like movement to take it out.
Along for the Ride
There’s a bouncy, yet atmospheric element to this and as it’s built on it has some hints of Pink Floyd-like music. Still other sounds bring it into a more upbeat and accessible progressive rock territory. This instrumental is tasty.
Throw It Away
There’s sort of an Italian gondola music element here mixed with a progressive rock texture that makes me think of Genesis’ And Then There Were Three album. Some funk is brought in with the bass and the guitar turns toward flamenco music. As it continues those world music sounds are merged with fusion and some intriguing progressive rock elements into a texture that’s quite unique and intriguing. It gets very involved and is very beautiful.
Bass leads out here, then some hard rocking guitar joins. It works to more melodic territory from there. Still, as it builds there is definitely a hard-edge. It drops way down from there, though as more café meets prog sounds take it in atmospheric directions. Then it works towards RIO before this instrument drops out to end.
Around to Face You
Keyboard dominated progressive rock brings this in and builds gradually upward before powering out into the song proper. There’s definite a pop or classic rock angle to this. There’s a rather metallic movement later in the cut, too. Later we get a fusion-like jam that’s tasty.
Quevlar's Journey
Dramatic music leads this off and it takes several turns and shifts along this path. At times it feels a bit like Genesis, but then we get sections that are closer to modern melodic progressive rock bands. Although there are some non-lyrical vocals here, this is essentially an instrumental.
Cold Rain
Dramatic, lush and powerful mellow music brings this in with some non-lyrical vocals laced over the top. It grows from there with some changes and alterations and then moves to something closer to melodic fusion before working out to the balladic verse. Intricate and pretty it calls to mind Genesis, Pink Floyd and Marillion all at once. There are some instances where it turns harder, but overall it remains melodic. Then there’s a section after the four and a half minute mark that is decidedly Fish-era Marillion inspired. That segment takes the piece to a satisfying conclusion.
Forever Today
Multiple layers of keyboards start things here. It rises to energized melodic progressive rock and the musical journey that ensues works through in those kinds of styles. It gets very powerful as it works along this road and this is one of the highlights of the set.
Trouble Free
While this is still melodic progressive rock, it really has a lot of Beatles-like elements. That’s particularly true of the vocal hooks. There are also some killer instrumental passages. A world music combined with classical piano movement takes it to a false ending. Then it works out from there in a motif that has a lot of movie soundtrack textures. It still has the Arabic world music built into it. Further down the musical road there’s a jazz-like section that’s quite tasty and an intriguing change of pace.
Raid 5
Mellow progressive rock with some serious electronic effects on the vocals bring this into the world. It feels a little like some modern hip hop with those bits of weird vocals. Then piano takes into more exploratory and rather jazz-like territory as the cut continues to build outward. As it continues more of those vocals appear, and, in fact, other than those, this is an instrumental.
Violet and Blue
Atmospheric and dramatic musical elements open this. Then vocals come in after the short introduction. The music that makes up the song proper is more like a modern progressive rock in a stripped down arrangement. There’s some guitar soloing in the background that calls to mind Mark Knopfler.

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