2015 is off to an amazing start. Amazing bands and artists from the realms of Steven Wilson, Beardfish, La Coscienza Di Zeno, Sanguine Hum, and Alco Frisbass to name a few, are the names that have got the wheel on the wagon rolling. Now the wagon is ready for another adventure and this time its Unreal City’s turn to shine.
Since their formation seven years ago in Parma, Unreal City are the real deal in the Italian Progressive Rock sound that are following in the footsteps of the masters and show no sign of stopping after the release of their debut album back in 2013 called, La Crudelta di Aprile. This year, they are back with a follow up to their debut with an album entitled, il Paese Del Tramonto in which it translates to, The Country Sunset.
I’ve always been a huge fan of the Italian Progressive Rock sound from bands like; Le Orme, Banco, PFM, Not a Good Sign, Metamorfosi, and Museo Rosenbach to name a few. When I first heard Unreal City’s music two years ago when I was in College, I was completely on the edge of my seat with my eyebrows widening up being in awe and touched of what they have brought to the table.
The classical sounds, the British and Italian Prog inspirations, and the Symphonic elements throwing in, almost made it sound like they were doing a score for a movie. From beginning to the end, il Paese Del Tramonto is the continuation, but more for a movie as if they had done to set for both of the directors in the realms between Dario Argento and Lucio Fulci while Fabio Frizzi conducts the group and in awe of what they are doing.
Opening, Ouverture: Obscurus fio starts with backward tapes that increases the void followed by a synth to capture it and the piano comes in with a concerto-like introduction followed by a string section. And the drums, Mellotron, and Bass come knocking the door down as the rhythm begins along with a Guitar chord and Moog solo. It has this epic-like introduction and a surreal tone that captures the essence of Pink Floyd, ELP, and Banco Del Mutuo Sorcosso’s Darwin-era.
And then it segues into Oniromanzia (il Paese del Tramonto) in which the choir mellotron plays the same melody followed by drums, church organ and guitar. It has this wonderful reminiscent of Goblin that Unreal City pay tribute to for an introduction with the spooky sounds that Tarasconi does. And the keyboards just go into some improvisations with an amazing Hammond solo and the synths also. I have to admit, Unreal City have shown a lot in their sounds.
The ominous Caligari begins with a sinister and haunting atmospheric introduction. Francesca Zanetta’s guitar sets the tone in a style of Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells as Emanuele’s keyboards go into a ghostly vibe and then it has an orchestral ascending roar. It then has a mid-tempo rhythm with a catchy melody with some unexpected twists until the very end Zanetta goes into her guitar structures of Robert Fripp-sque finale as Unreal City pay tribute to the finale of both King Crimson and Murple.
La Meccanica Dell’ombra has this mind-blowing introduction between Emanuele using both keyboards and a theremin that kicks off into high gear. It has this combination between middle-eastern and folk-like melodies thanks to guest violinist Fabio Biale. Followed by the improvisation solo from Zanetta, Tarasconi, and Bedostri laying down on the beats on the drums, it has a softer side and then back into Tarasconi keeping the groove in as he takes his Hammond into the waters to close it off for an amazing solo finale as the music reaches a climbing end.
Il Nome di Lei has this interesting combination between Pulsar, Pink Floyd, and Locanda Delle Fate as Zanetta is in the spirits of David Gilmour with a classical Harpsichord thrown in while their homage to Deep Purple golden-era on Lo Schermo di Pietra (Kenosis) is a blistering yet driven composition. I can hear the hard rock, ballad, and intense changes like a car going at 300 miles per hour that you could imagine Unreal City could have recorded this back in 1973.
Then we come to the 20-minute 4-part suite, Ex Tenebrae Lux, shows Unreal City their masterpiece. Various changes between ambient spacey voyages into Jazz-Funk groove, Vocals, Violin, Organ, Concerto Piano, homage to Gentle Giant, and back into the harmonic/orchestral rock sounds that gives it a warmth closure at the last few minutes.
This is Unreal City's finest hour since their debut and I was blown away from the moment I put it on and knowing they have accomplished well. The Rock Progressivo Italiano scene is getting stronger each time something special and magical has happened, and Unreal City are one of the most finest bands to come out the genre. Highly recommended and worth exploring along with their debut album also.