Active Heed came from the mind of Umberto Pagnini who wanted to take music to a different level and reach for the voyage that is about to come. When you think of the word for a band name like that, you think of spiritual adventures and a journey that the listener is about to embark on that is melodic, beautiful, powerful, and will take you into different universes you haven’t seen before. The band’s debut album, Visions from Realities, is a laid-back, folky, symphonic, and progressive-pop like no other and it’s a one of the most touching albums that I’ve enjoyed.
Pagnini, who wrote the music and lyrics behind the album, brought in some special collaborations to be a part of his project that features Lorenzo “il Magnifico” Poli on Bass and Keyboards, PelleK on lead vocals, and Giovanni Giorgi on drums along with additional vocals from Mark Colton and Marit Borresen while the mixing and mastering is Alberto “Einstein” Callegari. Now I have listened to Visions from Realities about five times already and it is something special that Pagnini brought into and the influences I hear, rage from: Genesis, The Strawbs, Marillion, and Yes.
There are 15 tracks on the album and there’s no epic 20-minute piece on here, however this is something special as each of the compositions has a narrative and story-complex songs in there as they flow with wonderful results and track by track, it is a staggering, yet captivated inspirational adventure. And through each composition, there is hope and uplifting moments that endures seven centerpieces on their debut work.
Segues between Now What? / Me, Five Seconds Before Which features this ‘70s organ-driven orchestral roar along with a psychedelic guitar line resembling Cressida’s sole self-titled debut album turned into a catchy yet jumpy rhythm section as PelleK sings his heart out as the band creates some magic here. The Celtic Renaissance Folk Ambient boundaries come in full swing on Melting of Realities. It features pumping percussions, Floyd-like acoustic guitar strumming, atmospheric keyboards, and layers of electricity on the chord section that is very lively.
Flashing Fast Forward, has this ‘60s psych swirling keyboard work and crisp guitar work and its closer to a Space Oddity-era of Bowie meets Yes’ Time and a Word period that is at times alternative prog that has some very interesting beats and groovy sounds while the tender Forest and Joy, goes into a Jazzy Folk Rock ballad and throwing in some classical guitar lines. Then, everything becomes almost like a mini-Rock Opera.
Every Ten Seconds Before, has this ¾ time signature of a Prog Waltz that is very dance-like before going back into the 4/4 signature and a knockout. A roaring surroundings of electric/acoustic guitars and organ to help out the tempo before it’s a fast-driven finale to make it to the finish line as the time signatures, while it’s different, can go through soft into a head banging melodic charm. Me, One Second Before Johan Robeck, in which the track is named after a philosopher, who wrote this essay on allowing Suicide to come from a theological point of view, has a sinister and darker view on the subject.
It starts out soft and gentle, before it goes into a hard rocking edge as it stops all of a sudden and transforms into an Avant-Rock mass madness after PelleK shouts “Give Me a Break!” It turns into orchestral buzzing noises a-la Zappa meets Van Der Graaf Generator style that is very Spaghetti Western-like noise before the calm after the storm of the Folky-Prog balladry comes in to let the listener know that everything is okay.
Pagnini has done one hell of a job unleashing the music and lyrics along with the vision he has in his head and stays in true form of the Progressive Rock genre. I have listened to Visions from Realities seven times already and let me just say, it delivers the greatest power and the vibrating glory.