Decameron: Ten days in 100 novellas - Part III
Written in the mid-1300s by Italian writer and poet Giovanni Boccaccio, the Decameron is a classic literary work of 100 tales told by seven women and three men over a period of ten days after fleeing the Black Death in Florence. Marco Bernard (The Samurai Of Prog) began publishing Colossus magazine in 1996 and the Colossus Project has been dedicated to bringing musicians from around the globe united for a common cause; the celebration and promotion of progressive rock.
The new Decameron disc Ten days in 100 novellas - Part III is the third and final set of the trilogy. I reviewed Part I a few years ago and was mightily impressed. I missed out on Part II but am all in for Part III and I have to say this is a stunning final achievement. The set is an elaborate four CD production with a substantial booklet containing amazing artwork by Ed Unitsky and a wealth of information. There are no less than thirty-six songs put forth from different bands spanning the globe. Bernard and Steve Unruh, both of The Samurai of Prog play on three and five tracks respectively.
Disc I begins in fine fashion with the quintessentially English twee of "HeeBeeGeeBee" performed by Robert Webb. It's a really catchy tune with tasty acoustic guitar and keyboards. The Finnish band Ageness is next with the instrumental "The Bizarre Garden Incident", a vibrant symphonic prog tune that hits all the right spots. The French band/artist JPL (Jean Pierre Louveton) provides some darker hues in their moody brand of heavy prog with "Masquerade (Lydia and Pyrrhus) while Willowglass's "The Siena Ghost" has a softer approach with melodic acoustic guitar and flute courtesy of Unruh before the build up near song's end. More highlights include "Two Hundred Florins" by Dutch proggers Trion with their spacy sounds and electronic motifs, the Latin tinged prog of "The Other Pig by Jinetes Negros form Argentina and "Swing the Gavel" courtesy of American band Elephants of Scotland where the soundscape of acoustic guitar and floating keys is laid down over spry tempo changes.
Disc 2 begins with "Pampinea", done in the tradition of classic Italian prog by Mauro Mulas. Melodic keys and guitar eventually morph into a luxurious jazzy motif before returning to the original keyboard melody. The carnival-like atmosphere in the jaunty "Elitròpia" by Latte E Miele is another exploration into Italian prog that is both complex and grandiose with a superb keyboard arrangement. Oceanic Legion, with members from The Samurai Of Prog and Nexus offer "Indictment Ever After" which mixes retro and modern prog featuring nice builds of guitar and keys and excellent violin work and solid vocals from Unruh. Italian band Court adds "Bleeding Hearts" where swirling guitar and dreamy keys are punctuated with huge drum strikes. The pace quickens where the riffs are much heavier and the singer really belts out the notes reminding me at times of a younger Geddy Lee. Canada's Ars Ephemera adds some lushness with a beautiful string arrangement in "At Lombardy Convent" while United Progressive Fraternity has a definite modern alternative prog sound with their addition "Mercenaries", my favourite track on disc 2.
Canadian band Rebel Wheel starts off the third disc with "A Night With Niccolosa". Quirky synth lines and spacy keys makes this one a veritable smorgasbord for those who like keyboards in their prog. The drum groove also deserves high praise as it is fantastic. Italian band Taproban adds another keyboard heavy track with "Il Sogno, la Bestia, la Ritrosa", an upbeat symphonic prog delight . I have always liked the Norwegian band D'Accord and their offering here is no exception with "Rai-ti-tai", a heavy retro prog tune with the stabbing guitar riffs having an exotic vibe. The vocal arrangement is really interesting. The humorous "Put A Tail On It" from the US band Crystal Canyon is pure fun with its over the top keyboards and amusing vocals and lyrics. American musician Fran Turner from the band Resistor adds "Neighbors" with the help of Kimmo Pörsti on drums. This is another excellent track where acoustic and electric flavours meld together over Pörsti's excellent drum work. The last track "Decamerone 10/4" is put forth by Austrian band Blank Manuskript who were completely new to me. The tune traverses a varying soundscape of angular walls of sound, gritty hard rock and more peaceful Floyd-like moments with a Dark Side Of The Moon vibe.
Highlights on disc 4 include the first track "The Winter Garden" by Italian band Ozone Player which covers jazz and heavy rock with three vocalists and a narrator conveying the story, the sweepingly majestic Italian prog of "Carlo D'Angio e L'Amore Perduto" by Faveravola which includes an excellent flute solo and the wonderful "The Knight's Tale" by American prog band Cirrus Bay. Grandiose orchestrations begins your journey into sweeping keyboard and guitar melodies and fantastic ending crescendos. The heavy retro Italian prog of "De bello inter fratres" by Marchesi Scamorza was also very welcoming to my ears.
The amount of work that went into this production is absolutely staggering. It is so well thought out and executed with every detail carefully laid out in full progressive rock bliss. It has been fun getting to know these tunes, especially from bands that were completely new to me. My suggestion is if you are a fan of progressive music, especially of the retro variety you need to get your hands on this. Really stunning stuff!
1. Rober Webb (UK): HeeBeeGeeBee (5:36)
2. Ageness (Fin): The Bizarre Garden Incident (7:43)
3. Ellesmere & Pericle Sponzilli (Ita): Sull'orlo dello spago (9:21)
4. JPL (Jean Pierre Louveton) (Fra): Masquerade (Lydia and Pyrrhus) (5:23)
5. Willowglass (UK): The Siena Ghost (8:09)
6. Trion (Hol): Two Hundred Florins (3:50)
7. Stella Lee Jones (Jap): A Wandering Poet (5:45)
8. Nexus (Arg): The Heliotrope (5:13)
9. The Nova Mob (USA): The Jagged Edge (5:24)
10. Elephants Of Scotland (USA): Swing The Gavel (5:35)
11. Jinetes Negros (Arg): The Other Pig (7:16)
1. Mauro Mulas (Ita): Pampinea (9:57)
2. Latte E Miele (Ita): Elitròpia (4:56)
3. Oceanic Legion (Arg-Ita-Fin-USA): Indictment Ever After (6:59)
4. Interpose + (Jap): Lady Of Sicily (11:43)
5. Court (Ita): Bleeding Hearts (10:45)
6. Ars Ephemera (Can): At Lombardy Convent (8:20)
7. UPF (United Progressive Fraternity) (Aus): Mercenaries (6:34)
8. Alex Grata (Rus): Take Thief (5:45)
9. Il Tempio Delle Clessidre (Ita): Gnaffè (6:28)
1. The Rebel Wheel (Can): A Night With Niccolosa (9:19)
2. Taproban (Ita): Il Sogno, la Bestia, la Ritrosa (7:23)
3. D'Accord (Nor): Rai-ti-tai (8:12)
4. Phoenix Again (Ita): The Bridge Of Geese (6:23)
5. Castle Canyon (USA): Put A Tail On It (6:08)
6. S.A.L.U.E.N.A (Spa): Ahead Of Fortune (9:40)
7. Il Castello Di Atlante (Ita): Ghino e L'Abate di Cligni (6:36)
8. Fran Turner (USA); Neighbors (5:31)
9. Blank Manuskript (Aut): Decamerone 10/4 (10:26)
1. Ozone Player (Fin): The Winter Garden (8:20)
2. Faveravola (Ita): Carlo D'Angio e L'Amore Perduto (8:00)
3. Cirrus Bay (USA): The Knight's Tale (9:37)
4. Marchesi Scamorza (Ita): De bello inter fratres (13:00)
5. Bornidol (Ita): Il ritorno mai sperato (13:04)
6. Locus Amoenus (Ita): Comunque vada (9:59)
7. Castle Canyon (USA): Nephile's Song (8:13)
Added: November 14th 2016
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Label's Official Site
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