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FEM: Mutazione

Following on from their debut album, Sulla Bona de Sapone, Italian traditional Progressors FEM (short for Forza Elettromotrice) return with Mutazione (Mutation) and a new singer. The man in question is Alessandro Graziano, who it has to be said covers all the bases for a frontman from his native land. Slightly classical/theatrical in delivery, with wonderful (Italian language) pronunciation and a real showy charisma, he thrives in the setting FEM provide. As with what came before from this band, that situ is symphonic prog, but, maybe through the more embellished style of their singer, the Dennis DeYoung fronted Styx also springs to mind across this album in a way that the previous effort maybe did not.

A short intro welcomes you, intending to set the tone but only really annoying the senses before the melodious tones of “Lo Mi Trasformo” rather wonderfully illustrates the slow building symphonic prog that you can expect to find. Graziano immediately makes his presence felt and adds to the mood and tone of the Yes-like fare that greets you. Bold and proud, the sound could fill 100 rooms and still ask for more, the keys of Alberto Citterio backed, rather unexpectedly, by the trombone of Pietro Bertoni, which adds a welcome depth and texture to proceedings.

“La Cura Delle Cose”, even with blasts of brass, maybe steps a little too close to Fragile territory Yes for comfort, but it’s done with tremendous style and grace, before “Musica Di Vento” brings the more ‘show’ style of this album to the fore, voice and piano taking things in hand, while the guitar solo from Paolo Colombo is something to behold. Again, the brass elements add an unexpected dimension, as they do throughout this album.

The precision time-keeping from drummer Emanuele Borsati and bassist Marco Buzzi is tested wonderfully in “Mai Tardi”, but then, with squeals, beeps and honks, so is your patience for Euro-humour in this otherwise excellent piece. Thankfully it’s the only slight deviation into this landscape, with the bright and breezy Styx meets Yes-athon of “Il Cielo Di Se” a controlled contradiction of mood and drama, “Attesta” a short piano, violin and vocal aside and the album’s title track a forceful instrumental pulse of time signatures and virtuosity.

All of which leaves the electro-voiced (Mr Roboto anyone…?) of “Se C’e Una Buona Ragione” to close out in reasonably strong style, although at ten minutes long it is the album’s lengthiest cut, but not necessarily its most memory snagging. Still, that is as much a testament to what has come before as is it any real comment about the lack of excitement displayed here.

As previously, FEM Prog Band, while possibly having a name that suggests something else entirely, are an undiscovered gem in the European prog scene. They do, undoubtedly, wear their influences for all to see, but with brass, marimba, violin and a theatrical edge, they certainly aren’t afraid to bring their own distinct personality into play. Thankfully it’s their strongest suite and something that I’d love to explore more of on their future releases.

Track Listing
1. Il Palazzo Del Chaos
2. Io Mi Trasformo
3. La Cura Delle Cose
4. Musica Di Vento
5. Mai Tardi
6. Il Cielo Di Sé
7. Attesa
8. Mutazione
9. Se C'è Una Buona Ragione

Added: February 24th 2019
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Mutazione on bandcamp
Hits: 789
Language: english

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