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Not a Good Sign: Not a Good Sign

Italy's Altrock Productions houses a plethora of promising artists, and Not a Good Sign is a project that finds several of them coming together to form "a new blend of their musical attitudes." The list of players is vast and includes Paolo, Marcello Marinone, Botta, Francesco Zago, Martino Malacrida, Gabriele G. Colombi, and Alessio Calandriello. Overall, the album is packed with progressive rock theatricality and technique, including vintage keyboard timbres, frenzied percussion, dynamic arrangements, and intimidating guitar work. Not a Good Sign is very good indeed.

From the opening moments of opener "Almost I," the traits of the most beloved 70s genre pioneers shine through. There's the synthesized majesty of Genesis, the rhythmic drudge of King Crimson, and the dominant bass lines of Yes, to name a few. In addition, the darkness of early Anekdoten permeates throughout. Although it's not especially original, the track is still quite impressive. With "Almost II" and the title track, we get a calmer experience highlighted by the inspired vocals of Calandriello, who mirrors the cadences of Tom Luchies (Sky Architect) perfectly.

As for the rest of the record, it follows the usual tropes. "Witchcraft by a Picture" soars because of its diversity—its virtuosic bookends are complemented by a serene middle section in which Sharron Fortnam's delightful falsetto (she'd be a fantastic addition to the Ayreon roster) is matched by beautiful acoustic guitar arpeggios. "Coming Back Home" is among the most melodically pleasing tracks; Calandriello sings around the instrumental counterpoints with expertise. Later on, "The Defeaning Sound of the Moon," despite the misspelling in its title, is perfectly aggressive and nuanced, while closer "Afraid to Ask" builds from near silence to a regal hodgepodge of tender piano, reserved drumming, biting chords, and superb orchestral accompaniment.

Not a Good Sign isn't really that daring or novel—hell, there's likely nothing here that you haven't heard before. However, that doesn't mean it isn't striking from a technical perspective. The performances are flawless, the structures are elaborate, and the timbres are captivating. There's plenty to like about this collection as long as you don't expect it to be a breath of fresh air. Instead, it's like a favorite meal or drink—indelibly familiar yet consistently welcomed.

Track Listing

1. Almost I
2. Almost II
3. Not a Good Sign
4. Making Stills
5. Witchcraft by a Picture
6. Coming Back Home
7. Flow On
8. The Defeaning Sound of the Moon
9. Afraid to Ask

Added: July 10th 2013
Reviewer: Jordan Blum
Related Link: Altrock Productions Site
Hits: 1796
Language: english

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