Barock project – Time Voyager (2024)

 

Rarely have I been so tossed back and forth between wow and ooh as with the new album by the Italian band Barock Project with keyboardist and composer Luca Zabini as one of the mainstays. The earlier albums of this not really Italian sounding band didn't really appeal to me and as a guitar lover I missed the proportional contribution to the majestic keyboard parts. Let's be sure, Zabini is truly a master of everything that has keys and he regularly shows that with truly dazzling solos but also sensitive piano pieces.

I often, or rather always, have trouble with albums that contain a hodgepodge of styles. Don't get me wrong, I like varied atmospheres and variation within the songs, but albums with and prog, and blues, and funk and..........., well, you know what I mean are just not my thing. Why do I say this, well Time Voyager contains quite a lot of styles but it works out very well, except for one song, Propaganda. Where fortunately there is no saxophone to be heard anywhere, this song immediately goes wild with jazzy playing on this instrument that, for me, is so difficult to accept and then the song develops in Toto style, but one of their lesser ones. For me, this means skipping and moving on to the next one and for the holidays, removing this song from the playlist. Sorry. Fortunately, this is the only real blemish on this otherwise fine album and it is long enough so more than enough music left. Okay, there are beautiful songs on it but also some less interesting ones, but doesn't that apply to many albums?

The album opens extremely strong with Carry on and Summer set You free and for me these remain the best tracks of the entire album. Despite the idea that you've heard it all before, the men around Zabini and co-composer Eric Ombelli show that they are great musicians and with Alex Mari they have a singer in their ranks who shows almost without an accent that he has a very capable voice with an almost American edge. I hear Styx and Kansas and I dare say that the whole album sounds quite American, so very tightly produced. Spock's Beard is also a name that comes to mind every now and then and do I hear bits of Queen (Bohemian Rhapsody) with even the guitar sound of Brian May?

Speaking of guitar, what about the guitar work on this keyboard-dominated album? Well that's pretty good, Marco Mazzuoccolo occasionally comes up with a nice solo like in the already mentioned Carry on and sometimes it rocks hard and that also works well for him.

An ordinary Day’s Odyssey is a fine song too with yet a different mood but still very proggy end with a few surprising twists.

If you choose time travel as your theme, you of course give yourself an excellent opportunity to choose atmospheres that fit a certain era, for example, The lost Ship  Tavern is a song where you can hear the sailors singing in the pub and a combination is made with modern prog, that is very clever but it will not be my favorite song although it sounds quite nice and a sentence like “bring me another beer" kind of suits me.

Voyager is another beautiful song with an orchestral beginning followed by menacing keys. It has a science fiction atmosphere and in your imagination you can hear the spaceships whizzing by. Vocaly the Swedish band  ACT comes to mind and the dexterous keyboard solo is very good.

Morning Train is a somewhat quieter song but with a melody that lingers and the dragging guitar solo is beautiful, making this another favorite of mine. The already mentioned Propaganda follows, and I have said enough about this. Hence there are a number of songs that are good in themselves but don't touch me. From relaxed (Shibuya 3 a.m.) to AOR (Lonely Girl) to summerlike (Mediterranean).

Kyanite Jewel is more to my taste and final track Voyager's Homecoming is again completely fitting for the flashy start with recurring melodies and heavy playing and unruly rhythms.

I already know that a lot of people are going to appreciate this album and it will undoubtedly pop up in various annual lists and I'm not sure yet if that will be the case for me as well. Before I write a review I want to have listened to an album several times and that has been no different with Time Voyager, but sometimes I am convinced and other times I am not. Hence my opening sentence, which also forms the conclusion of this review.

Oh no, not at all, because I haven't talked about the beautiful cover yet and certainly not about the beautiful artwork that accompanies each song because that's really a feast for the eyes with a variety of atmospheres just like with the music.

Provisional valuation then.

 

Music 80

Cover 92