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IL PAESE DEL TRAMONTO

Unreal City

Rock Progressivo Italiano


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Unreal City Il Paese Del Tramonto album cover
4.00 | 333 ratings | 17 reviews | 33% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
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Studio Album, released in 2015

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Ouverture: Obscurus Fio (5:01)
2. Oniromanzia (9:01)
3. Caligari (10:05)
4. La Meccanica Dell'Ombra (9:16)
5. Il Nome Di Lei (8:25)
6. Lo Schermo Di Pietra (Kenosis) (7:54)
7. Ex Tenebrae Lux (20:34) :
- i) Gelida Imago Mortis
- ii) Ciò Che Disse Il Tuono
- iii) Processo Secondario
- iv) Ab Aeterno

Total Time 70:16

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- Emanuele Tarasconi / piano, Hammond, synth, Mellotron , harpsichord, Theremin, clavinet, vocals
- Francesca Zanetta / electric & acoustic guitars, Mellotron
- Dario Pessina / bass, bass pedals, backing vocals & spoken voice
- Frederico Bedostri / drums, percussions

With:
- Rossano Villa / trombone, accordion
- Fabio Biale / violin

Releases information

CD AMS - AMS240CD (2015, Italy)

Thanks to mbzr48 for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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UNREAL CITY Il Paese Del Tramonto ratings distribution


4.00
(333 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(33%)
33%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(30%)
30%
Good, but non-essential (16%)
16%
Collectors/fans only (15%)
15%
Poor. Only for completionists (6%)
6%

UNREAL CITY Il Paese Del Tramonto reviews


Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by memowakeman
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Recently, among my fellow Mexican prog friends, the name of Unreal City has been mentioned several times and always with positive comments about them. Now, after some weeks I've been listening to them, I have to thank them for bringing this band to my ears, and thank the band itself for creating such wonderful RPI gems that any fan of the classic Italian prog would love. After their incredible debut, entitled "La Crudeltá di Aprile", this 2015 the band comes with their second child, named "Il Paese del Tramonto", whose first class music will satisfy us.

It features 7 tracks that make a total time of 69 minutes that provide a feast of retro prog with the undeniable modern touch, so go figure. The album opens with "Ouverture", a 5-minute introductory track which happens to be the shortest one. Some voices or noises at the beginning, later piano in a classical way and then the other instruments enter and begin to create a structure; of course, the keyboard work stands out in some moments, while strings create nice somber atmospheres. It is an instrumental track with some great inner changes.

The second track "Oniromanzia" opens with the increasing sound of keyboards, which remind me of Anglagard in some way. It is strange, but in moments while listening to them, not only RPI bands come to my mind, also Swedish and even Japanese, so they sum up different prog cultures and styles in a few minutes. After two minutes, male vocals appear for the first time in the album, you will immediately notice the 70s resemblance, however, it is important to mention these guys are young musicians, but tremendously talented. In this second track I love how they pass from smooth passages to tense and fast moments, and so on. After 6 minutes there is a moment where a flute appears, adding a pastoral touch, but it lasts some seconds and later voice and a rockier sound come.

"Caligari" is a 10-minute track that really brings the modern sound of RPI, though of course the retro elements prevail in some moments, but I think here it is more evident this fresh and new sound. The quantity of nuances they create through the minutes is impressive, so their talent is evident in both, composition and performance. The voice is great, and thankfully they sing in Italian, which is a lovely language. What I like a lot is that all the musicians are equally important, the music would not be the same without one of them, I mean, they complement each other really well, and know where to emphasize keys, bass, guitars and drums.

"La Meccanica dell'ombra" is a fabulous track whose sound might be something like "modern gothic", if that exists. The composition is very well crafted, nice tense atmospheres, fast passages contrasting with some faster moments, great piano in the right time, etc. It is impossible not to praise them, and not to be surprised by their inner changes in time and mood. After four minutes the voice enters and adds that soft and gentle sound. Great song! Later, "Il Nome di Lei" is another wonderful track where their musicianship floats, and where no matter how many retro prog elements they bring, the sound is totally modern. I hope you get me, but well, I perceive it. Unreal City might actually have two different sounds: with and without voice, because when Tarasconi's vocals appear, the sound immediately becomes mellower, beautiful, calmer.

"Lo Schermo di Pietra (Kenosis)" is a great bombastic track that brings more energy and power than the previous ones, the rock is evident here, perfectly suited by keyboards, strings and drums. But well, it shows the two faces again, because the instrumental introduction is the faster and passionate, and later when voices enter, it brings the emotional but calmer sound. But wait, after minute three, both sides are combined, so we listen to a fast and exciting song with vocals included. Great track without a doubt!

Finally, the long 20-minute suite "Ex Tenebrae Lux" which simply shows how competent they are in compositional terms, they are young exquisite musicians that have much more to offer in this progressive rock realm, this sole song is enough to realize about that. This epic song is amazing, they combine space rock (first moments) with a gothic sound, with even funk in some brief passages, with jazzy tunes and of course, a splendid progressive rock predominance. The addition of some non-conventional elements such as the violin, is always welcome because it brings new textures. But well, it would take me another page to describe all the moments of this song, but I will sum it up in this line: a magnificent salad of progressive sounds gathered in the cage of life.

Unreal City really rock, I am happy to listen, review and recommend them. So do not hesitate and get this album (and their debut one, which is as wonderful as this one) soon. In Mexico the album will be distributed by Sol & Deneb records, so if you are from my country, you know where to buy it.

Enjoy it!

Review by admireArt
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Epic, well threaded, lots of keyboards, true to the bone electrics and a precise dosage of vocals.

Unreal City- "IL PAESE DEL TRAMONTOI", 2015.

It is quiet a surprise to listen to young musicians being so truthful to their heritage, RPI speaking. Most of those pioneer band's elements are fully displayed, yet the technological recordings are now, almost by rule, better than those days of yore. Therefore the thrill is listening to this young and talented quartet show the same energy of early Banco or Il Balleto di Bronzo, but translated to today's younger audiences in this high-tech environment, which means usually refinement.

Taking in, a general overview, it will reveal immediately that the songwriting is generous and expansive in creative ideas, not necessarily RPI, it takes some interesting detours (ELP comes to my mind) . The performance is impeccable all way through, although the vocalist voice is not that great, he manages to keep it in size.

Now at close distance, the keyboard's extraordinary work is what makes this album the real deal. The majority of the songs structures rely on them and their ideas, therefore freeing the electric guitars and fiddles and vocals and other musical decorations to different moods and settings without being obligued to be upfront as usually is understood and being always supported by the keys creative progressive inventions.

The acoustic piano songwriting is superb!

****4 "A blast to the past and its comeback and future" PA stars.

Review by TCat
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Having lived for almost 2 years in Italy, I should know a little more about Italian prog rock than what I do. But, it was in 1980 that I lived there and I didn't keep up on the scene like I should have. Of course, I am somewhat familiar with PFM, i Pooh's "Parsifal" (which is frankly the only real progressive piece they did in their huge discography), and The New Trolls and their progressive work in that era. I really should have stayed up to date, but I haven't. I have basically concentrated on the many progressive bands that are English based, and that is where my weakness with Prog lies, in the huge library of RIP music out there. Time for me to get to work, right?

So, in reviewing this album, I am perhaps comparing somewhat unfairly to the Progressive music that I am familiar with. But, if it is unfair, I still think this is a worthy progressive release anyway. I must say, for only a 2nd release, this band sounds very mature and well-versed in progressive techniques and have quite an impressive understanding of the music that they have been inspired by.

Overall, the voice and the instrumentals work well for the genre. The vocals do have a little naïve sound to them, but not enough to put me off or make me think that their sound isn't mature enough. On the contrary, the sound is very mature. The guitar and bass guitar work is well done and tasteful, the keyboards are mostly current sounding and in good taste, especially the acoustic piano work. There are some synths that sound dated when compared to some of the general sound of progressive music, but those times are seldom and short. It may be that the sound is current in the sub-genre of Italian Progressive, I'm not sure, but to me there are a few times the seem dated. But that still doesn't put me off much. In most cases, the interplay of the instruments on the long instrumental passages is really very tasteful and mature sounding, very well done. I also love the addition of the violin from time to time that helps to give the album more character and variety.

To mention a few highlights, there is some nice inventive sections in these songs. In the first half of "Caligari" there is a great instrumental passage 5 minutes in that shows off that interplay between the instruments between the bass, the lead guitar, the piano which is later swapped out for the organ that is fun and exciting which later turns into a keyboard-led ballad with wordless vocals towards the last part of the song. "La Meccanica dell'Ombra" has an almost Jewish dance music vibe to it during the first part and later easily morphs to a mid-eastern style vibe. "Lo Schirma di Pietra" has a more dense section that actually approaches the sound of The Mars Volta for a few minutes. But the sound never really settles in to anything predictable throughout the entire album and if anything, compares a lot to a Neo-Prog sound. You get glimpses in the album of their contemporaries both old and new, but the music still stays fresh and alive throughout. The biggest highlight here is the multi movement 20 minute epic "Ex Tenebre Lux" which is a masterpiece and some of the quickest 20 minutes ever because it goes by so quickly and never drags.

The biggest complaint is that with the multi-faceted songs, there are a few times when things sound a little same-y and it can be hard to distinguish one song from another as far as each song's individuality. I think that might be only an issue for the first few listens though. It would have been nice to give each track a little more individuality, that maybe the ever changing music is a bit overplayed within each track, but as I get more familiar with the songs, that might change. In any event, I enjoy this album enough to want to get to know it better. I can easily give it a four star rating and would easily recommend it to fans of the more progressive Saga music or even Spock's Beard.

Review by Guillermo
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I was asked to listen to this album and to write a review about it.

This is a band of four young musicians from Parma, Italy, and this is their second album. As I don't speak, read or write in the Italian language, my review is only about the music of this album.

I don`t know if this album is a conceptual album or not, but in general the music and the arrangements are very good. It contains a lot of ingredients from the Prog Rock music style: different time signatures in the songs, the use of silences and variations in the intensities of the music, long song structures, the use of 'old' keyboard sounds (organ, analog synthesisers, mellotron, piano), some Classical Music influences in some of the piano arrangements, etc. The music in this album remembers me of influences from several other Prog and Neo-Prog Rock bands like Emerson Lake and Palmer, Triumvirat, IQ, Marillion (with Fish)'. but without really losing their Italian identity. All the young musicians of this band (they really look in photos of not being of more than thirty years old, but I could be wrong) sound like being musically trained in musical schools or even with private musical classes (but I also could be wrong on this, too). They are very good musicians and they seem to have a lot of musical ideas which as a whole sound arranged and performed well.

The music is melodic for the most part. It really is not very 'dark' like some of the titles from the songs (or my little understanding of the Italian language) could suggest.

The use of the organ sounds (I don`t know if it is a real Hammond organ or not) make the musical influences from ELP, Triumvirat and Rick Wakeman very clear, at least for me. The same could be said about the use of analog synthesizers and of the mellotron (done with the real old instruments or being sampled from them or created with new digital keyboards). The keyboards create musical atmospheres on which the occasional guitar solos are good. The lead vocals are good, even if they are not really outstanding. Also there are some occasional backing vocals.

As a whole, this is a good album which is a good representative of the Prog Rock musical style. Even if the music is not totally Italian in a strict sense, the mixture with the influences from the Prog Rock from other countries (particularly from England) makes this album interesting. Maybe their main idea as a band was to 'rescue' the influences from mainly the 'old' Prog Rock bands from the seventies using those 'old' analog sounds with lyrics written and sung in the Italian language. As a whole, all these things work very well.

I also like the recording and the mixing of this album. The cover design is also good. The album sounds like being made with a lot of work and dedication. So, I give a four stars rating to it.

Review by zravkapt
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Post/Math Rock Team
4 stars This is the second album from this group of young Italians. I haven't heard their first album yet but after listening to this I now want to. The music is a mix of retro symph prog and more modern harder-edged stuff. The sound and production is really good. Not too loud and the drums in particular are mixed very well. The keyboardist is also the lead vocalist. The keyboards are generally retro sounding while the guitar playing alternates between bluesy 'classic rock' style and a more modern distorted sound.

"Ouverture: Obscurus Fio" opens the album with some altered vocals and spacey sounds. Then some piano lays the foundation for the other instruments to join in. A great symph prog instrumental with some great synth soloing. The track moves around to different sections and is a great introduction to the album. After a majestic theme "Oniromanzia" goes into more straight-ahead rock territory. The vocals here are in the traditional emotive Italian variety. The clavinet is a nice touch in the keyboard department. A soulful organ solo in the middle. Changes to a few different sections for the rest of the track.

"Caligari" starts with some bells and other atmospheric sounds. I like the delay/chorus effect on the guitar near the beginning. After it goes into traditional symph prog territory. Then it goes into an upbeat marching band type of vibe (including brass, although I'm not sure if it's 'real' or not). A jazzy section with a piano solo follows. I really like the 'la-la-la" section with the background vocals. "La Meccanica dell'ombra" opens with some MidEast inspired synth work backed by a sympathetic rhythm section. Eventually goes into RPI style ballad territory. Nice organ solo towards the end when the music gets more busy.

"Il Nome di Lei" has some great harpsichord work and some Floydian style guitar soloing. The vocals arrive once the music settles down into RPI ballad territory. Near the end is piano chords reminding one of Floyd's "Echoes"/The Phantom Of The Opera. "Lo Schermo di Pietra (Kenosis)" has a video for that can be watched on YouTube. This is both the most retro sounding and also the most modern sounding track on the album. The album closes with the 20+ epic "Ex Tenebrae" which is divided into four parts. Spacey synths and random drumming which gets more busy gives way to classical piano. Then we are in heavy symph prog territory. Then it switches to great funk-rock with clavinet playing. At one point you hear a violin.

The vocals appear once the track has changed to a ballad vibe. There is a catchy vocal part which is repeated. Classy organ and guitar soloing over an odd time signature in the middle. Gets more traditionally symph prog oriented over halfway. I like the jazzy piano riff and altered vocals around the 17 minute mark. It is too early yet to say if this will be one of the better prog releases of 2015 but I wouldn't be surprised if it is. This album is yet another example of the great music that continues to come out of Italy. 4 stars.

Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover Team
5 stars This band from Parma has got it all! I will now waste little pretense and gobbly-gook by anointing Unreal City as the next BIG THING in prog, now that the Porcupine has fled the Tree. Their 2013 debut album 'La Crudelta di Aprile' was received by glowing praise and general trepidation by the progressive community and that acclaim was richly deserved. But what really seemed so impressive is that for a band of youngsters barely in their twenties, they seem to have incorporated mountains of hours in reliving the RPI greats of the past and simply learned from their glorious history and forged a new form of RPI. A land where history is evident on every street corner, in every town, this should come as no surprise. Not much has changed on this sophomore release except for a new bassist in Dario Pessina but the maturity of lead singer and keyboardist Emmanuele Tarasconi has already leaped forward by a Mao Tse Tung mile, while guitarist Francesca Zanetta has now assumed much more confidence, once showing timid tendencies both on the previous work as well as in a live setting. She literally smokes on this album, her fuzz-laced tone mindful of past greats like Franco Falsini (Sensations Fix) and Franco Mussida (PFM). Now Tarasconi showed off some incredible piano and synth chops but here he includes incredible organ ramblings as well as astute harpsichord and clavinet where needed. His singing has quickly evolved into greatness, a combination of speed and substance, full of theatrics and sustained emotion. Drummer Federico Bedrosti is a fine basher, masculine and complex when prompted which is often as this gleaming Maserati has an engine that can rocket with the best in the business. All of the tracks are bathing in pubescent exuberance and talent that verges on genius. Within the confines of one track, there is an abundance of diversity, feeling, mood swings and technical know-how that will make your head shake/quake in disbelief. Not even a bum second on this piece of plastic, just a sheer pleasure ride.

"Ouverture" opens the show with a terrific synthesizer fueled instrumental that has classic RPI stamped all over it, imagine modern non-vocal version of Banco at its prime, with Tarasconi doing some weird things to his electronic instruments. Exalted, eruptive, turbulent and sizzling, the mood inducer is just a proper introduction to all the 'sturm und drang' that follows.

The first one to hit you between the ears is the enormously appealing "Onoromanzia" that gets you grooving right from the get-go, good sound and a suave delivery. Yes, classic RPI expedited with flair and passion, the vocals simply divine, somewhere near Aldo Tagliapietra meets Francesco di Giacomo. The introduction of funky clavinet within such symphonic confines is irresistible. This is followed up by a tight organ flurry, sensationalist flute and a rollicking electric guitar and synthesizer duet, mellotron haunting the back alley. Needles to repeat again, the vocals are simply off the charts!

The creepy 10 minute "Caligari" starts off in a solemn mode, slowly building up into a frenzy, winking at Roller- era Goblin and then infuses some lovely 'la la la' moments, respectful of their Italian canzone folk roots, with a divine mandolin-like buzz. The stage is thus set for some tight mini soloing where everyone takes a brief turn, combining the past with the future, the fast with the slow, the soft with the hard, all done with immense precision and yet fueled by that peculiar Italian talent of effortless class and natural style. A mind-blowing roller coaster experience where Tarasconi does another fab job on the vocals. The last two minutes in particular are gently awe-inspiring, going from serene to volcanic in a Pompeii heartbeat! Let the lava flow!

On the 9 minute "La Meccanica dell' Ombra", a trilling synthesizer and choir mellotron are both propulsed by the tight rhythm section, while Zanetta shows off some slick licks and guest violin does the Italian 'dolce vita' soundtrack circa 1961 (another reviewer wrote about a Jewish dance style of music, which is not a bad analogy). This then seamlessly morphs into a more somber affair with gloomy guitars serving a stark mood. But when Tarasconi sits down at the piano and adjusts his tuxedo tails, cracks his knuckles and gets it done with expressive piano ornamentals. Then he grabs the mike and delivers a haunting vocal, gauzed in that gorgeous language we all love so much. As if that was not yet enough, he then masturbates his synthesizer into gurgling out effervescent liquid bubbles of sonic madness. He then lays the screws to the organ and tortures it courteously. Finally, Zanetta pushes this into the ether with her celestial guitar foray. Mamma mia, this is dramatic and so hot!

The heat is kept on with the enchanting "In Nome di Lei", a perfect template for Unreal City's vision of new RPI, a clash of Titans, with harpsichord and violin ushering in electric guitar themes that seem to come from heaven, mellotron haunting in the forefront (why stick it in the back, eh?), an endlessly evolving style that leaves no stone unturned, and then infusing modernisms that identify the current times, mostly found in the youthful and powerful vocals. Zanetta flashes a lovely bluesy lead that has that Falsini feel mentioned earlier and combines with the melodic voice to simply kill it. Wow!

Check out the video for "Lo Schiermo di Pietra" and you will immediately understand where these crazy Italians are coming from and just how close they are to being the next big thing! Emmanuele looks like a fiendish madman as he assaults his keyboards but his facial and corporal expressions are a tribute to the theater and the drama stage, otherworldly, bizarre, punky and slightly deranged. Please remember that old adage 'Italy is not a country but a series of civic theaters"! The delivery goes from insane, speedy and fiery to the opposite end, lush, symphonic and intense. And then back, of course! What a ride!

They ended their debut with an epic, the gripping Goblin-esque "Horror Vacui", so why change the successful menu, bring on "Ex Tenebrae Lux" (out of the darkness, light)? A 20 minute rampage that spares no prisoners, pillaging everything in sight with magical displays of technical fire, showing their mastered progressive rock heritage with unabashed pride and inventive creativity. Sweeping synths enter the room, almost ambient in nature as a distant drum beat announces the road ahead. The mood then [&*!#]s to symphonic/gothic and then, much to my surprise into a funky, clavinet-led jazzy exploration that is just jaw-dropping! The synthesizer then takes over and rolls the train forward, mellotron, bass and drums in tow, in a truly classic prog motif, traversed by another violin scratch that hits the spot. Tarasconi embraces his microphone with confidence, singing his heart out, old-school organ burning the pace, then nimble piano, slippery Moog runs. In fine prog tradition, he mentions the debut album 'La Crudelta di Aprile' in words and then propels the whole into an entirely new atmosphere that brings images of ELP, Deep Purple and all the classic RPI paragons out there.

The cover art is drop-dead beautiful, the sound ecstatic and musically, a glaring omission of any kind of occasional blandness or prog-by-the-numbers. The end result is possible the finest RPI album in recent and past memory, full of bravado, courage, balls and delight. A classic prog album.

5 Lands of decline

Review by aapatsos
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Metal and Heavy Prog Teams
4 stars Second album from these talented Italians and a late (better than never!) review from my part. I have now spun this album more than a few times and it always leaves my ears satisfied: retro- (almost medieval in a way) Italian progressive rock, also influenced from the Brit scene, but maintaining a peculiar dark/gothic, and, at the same time, 'Italian-optimistic' character. To this largely contribute the mellotron and lush keyboards in a plethora of different formats e.g. organ, high-pinched, piano etc.

Somewhat reminding me of my favourite "Eternity" album from Anathema, the album kicks off with a 'dream sequence' sample and a lovely piano intro, followed by a much more dynamic keyboard section which alternates between grandiose and 70's electronica, before setting off to a pure progressive tempo and improvisation. Traditional Italian music, symphonic a-la Genesis progressive rock, jazz/fusion and middle-eastern passages comprise a purely varied album where fear for experimentation is non-existent. Within this mix, there are enjoyable heavy references to Sabbath and Atomic Rooster (see e.g. the closing sections of ''Caligari'' and ''Lo Schermo di Pietra'' or the beginning of ''Ex Tenebrae Lux''), which work exceptionally well with the gothic atmosphere and the revolving theme of dreams.

Despite its long duration (ca. 70min), the variation and ideas of the album are more than enough to maintain interest at high levels. Perhaps a small potential for improvement is the vocals of Emanuele, which are full of energy but at times sound rather rough around the edges or rather too flat. A bit more colour would lift the compositions even higher, but appreciate the youth element here!

Most likely one of the top-10 prog releases in 2015. The 70's RPI pioneers would be proud of their children. Personal highlights: Ouverture, Caligari, Ex Tenebrae Lux

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Jazz-Rock / Fusion / Canterbury Team
4 stars This album has disappointed me. I raved about the fresh new voice coming from Unreal City's debut album two years ago but still felt that the young men had some growing to do. The 'growth' on display here is not the direction I hoped for. Here I see far less presence of vocals--which mystifies me when such an outstanding voice as Emanuele Tarasconi is available. Plus, there is often a poor mix of vocals into the music (recording, engineering sound mix is not yet a strength of theirs). I find myself reacting irritably to an unusually long list of "old" or "cheap" keyboard sounds (as if trying to step into the shoes of 1970s BANCO DELLA MUTUO SUCCORSO using keyboards from the 80s or 90s like Casio and Ensoniq). Also, sometimes there seems to have been the choice made to go the easier route rather than the more impressive and complex way. Too bad! Then there are other times where rather odd and unusual, even discordant choices were made to fit passages into songs in ways that just feel . . . odd and discordant. Still, this is not a bad album by any means. There is a high standard of ideas and performances on display here. There are even a few five star songs, like "Caligari" (10:05) (9/10), "Lo schermo di pieta (Kenosis)" (7:54) (9/10), and the album's ultimate epic, "Ex tenebrae lux" (20:35) (9/10). I would just like to see/hear less jumping around, more cohesive coherence, less reliance on the sound and sounds of their RPI predecessors.
Review by Angelo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Symphonic progressive rock has been one of Italy's many successful export products for years. Even though I am not one of the people who literally make it into a daily consumption, I have enjoyed my share of progressive rock from Italy the past couple of years. It's not difficult to appreciate the older bands there, like Banco del Mutuo Soccorso, Premiata Formeria Marconi (PFM) or Museo Rosenbach.

When I was actively monitoring Unsigned Bands on ProgArchives, I also got to know bands like I Pennelli di Vermeer, who took a completely new angle on progressive music by mixing symphonic rock with ska and musical style things, and J'Accuse...!, who took a more psychedelic than symphonic approach.

And now, with Unreal City, there is another young band that makes me feel glad the country from which my name originates has entered my collection. This time, it is a band that is rooted very much in symphonic, keyboard oriented rock that we know from the seventies, but who manage to completely overhaul it to a 21st century sound and structure - and quite succesfully so.

As can be expected, the leading role in the compositions of this band go to the keyboards and guitar - played by band founder Emanuele Tarasconi and Francesca Zanneta. They cannot exist without the rhythmic foundation of Dario Pessina (bass) and Frederico Bedostri (succeeded by Andrea Gardani after recordings of this album were finished).

The music that Unreal City presents on this album is contains everything from melancholic piano pieces, to almost ELP-like craziness, and from folk like tunes to full blown rock. All of this pieced together in 7 tracks, varying in length from 5 up to 20 minutes.

The instrumental opening Overture: Obscurus fio already contains a lot of the above. A rhythm pulse laid down by the drums and bass seems to drive the keyboards, only interrupted briefly for a guitar solo.

On Oniromanzia the keyboards lead once again, from the start, but soon quiet down to let Emanuele demonstrate his fine Italian his voice. After an organ solo we are treated to some full blown rock before Emanuele returns to complete the story he is telling in the (unfortunately for me Italian) lyrics. A similar build up, yet still a completely different song, is shown in Caligari, another great rock piece - that invites to turn up the volume. After that, La Meccanica dell'ombro starts in a more folky fashion - containing both Greekish folk tunes, as well as middle eastern tunes on the keyboards and guitar. After an emotional piece of singing, the keyboards once again explode to finish off the song.

Then on Il Nome de Lei, for the first time the guitar is the leading instrument, with two very tasteful solos by Francesca, that seamelessly go in and out of the vocal parts. This serves as a relatively relaxed intro to the rockiest track on the album, Lo Schermo di Pietra. Bombastic, with whirlwinds of drums and keyboards, but also with a soft, piano accompanied vocal part hidden in the middle. This is easily my favourite song, and I would love to see Emanuel pull of the keyboards and vocals (interacting with each other in the finale).

The finale of the album itself is a 20 minute epic called Ex Tenebrae Lux. This one requires a good listen - but there is no background music on this album anyway. Great vocals, nice interaction between guitar and keyboards and once again a mix of ELP-like keyboard punishment interleave with quieter parts. To top it off, Francesca lets here mellotron have the last word.

Cross posted from my blog on www.angelosrockorphanage.com

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
5 stars Two years ago, a young Italian group based in Parma, under the guidance of modern RPI notable Fabio Zuffanti, released an incredibly vibrant and confident debut album `La Crudelta di Aprile'. That band was Unreal City, and it ended up being one of the Italian Prog highlights of 2013, as well as a thrilling progressive rock work in general. Full of a dazzling variety of instrumental flair, charismatic vocals, winning melodies and ambitious symphonic arrangements, thankfully the band have delivered another winner of an album with their follow-up `Il Paese del Tramonto' (The Country of Sunset). While it holds to some of the format of the first album, this time around the band adds even more theatrical moments, longer jazzier passages and carefully cultured qualities that brings it closer to the rich history of music from their home country. Considering their young age, the band show a complete devouring and knowledge of vintage RPI bands both popular and more obscure, virtually overdosing on those sounds and applying it to their own contemporary style. It's retro by way of a sleek modern sound, all played with youthful vigour and presented in an attractive package that will likely instantly appeal to both a younger audience and established veteran prog rock and RPI listeners.

Right from the opening instrumental `Ouverture - Obscuris Fio', frontman and keyboard player Emanuele Tarasconi is front and center, covering the piece with his swooning yet sombre classical piano, spinning Moog dashes, Fender Rhodes splinters and orchestral Mellotron blasts. Federico Bedostri's drums skitter with driving purpose once the piece jumps up in buoyant tempo, and female player Francesca Zanetta offers a tease of the symphonic guitar greatness to come. With a case of Banco-like schizophrenic musical multiple-personality, `Oniromanzia' may open as a gutsier tune with initially bluesy guitar soloing, electric piano and a reflective lead vocal from Emanuele, but it quickly diverts into energetic jazzy drumming and fiery Hammond organ runs, early King Crimson-esque regal fanfares and all manner of whirring synth goodness. Darker gothic moods permeate `Caligari', Dario Pessina's bass creeping and lurking, eerie Antonia Rex/Goblin- like synth weirdness playfully trilling and imposing organ booming. Stately flights of fancy in the manner of early Genesis rise around a prancing theatrical vocal purr and Francesca's guitar whimsy before the piece careens away into nimble piano runs and a snarling heavy finale.

Violin and accordion strains bring echoes of more folky Italian music of old throughout `La Meccanica dell'ombra', with creeping bass strolling around the background, sitar-like echoing guitar strains, thoughtful delicate classical piano and no shortage of schizophrenic synth delirium! The band don't always feel the need to dial the instrumental prog-outs up to 11, and the dreamy vibes that float through `Il Nome di Lei' show just how well the band do calmer and more direct tunes, with gorgeous ringing electric and soothing acoustic guitar soloing and some prancing harpsichord prettiness that tickles of classic RPI. The deranged `Lo Schermo di Pietra (Kenosis)' is full of hyperactive instrumental explosions, break-neck tempo changes and punky boisterous vocals, and the orgy of keyboard orgasm all over it makes it the `adult movie' of modern RPI by way of hyperactive good-looking youngsters overdosing on filthy battery-acid energy drinks!

But once again, just like on the first disc, the group save the best until last, and the twenty-plus minute four part suite `Ex Tenebrae Lux' is the highlight of the album. Dynamic and daring, playful and determined to impress, the longer running time allows the band to more calmly explore new directions without trying to cram in quite so many quicker racing passages and shorter pieces. Everything from malevolent spectral piano tiptoes, easy-going breezy jazzy electric piano and light jazz/fusion bass grooves, fiery guitar and rippling Fender Rhodes duelling back and forth are included, and some drifting electronic drones hint at new and daring directions the band should consider exploring more in the future. With a greater sense of build, atmosphere and emotion, the music here is truly joyful, and this epic is a big step up in maturity and sophistication for the band while also showing greater subtlety.

Some listeners may find it a little disappointing that, considering Emanuele is an impressive vocalist full of flair, there's more emphasis placed on longer instrumental sections. But this is a case of band really showing what they can do musically as a proper group, giving attention to all the players and letting their abilities shine through. Considering there's a great buzz around the band, they could have focussed more on shorter, more simplistic vocal pieces, or (even worse) chosen to sing in English in a misguided attempt to appeal to a wider audience. But instead, they've delved even further into more ballistic, self-indulgent and pompous Italian prog rock than ever before, and progressive listeners will be in absolute heaven! The first album might just have the edge with stronger tunes, and this one may lack the initial surprise that hit when their debut first arrived, but `Il Paese del Tramonto' is a gifted band taking their own sound, influences and supreme musical talent even further, and it's just as good as the debut while promising so much more exciting music to come in the future.

Another five stars for a shining light in the modern RPI world!

Review by Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars While I really enjoyed this young band's debut it didn't blow me away like it seemed to do to so many. And unlike most I'm more impressed with this the followup which just connects with me a lot more. Love both of their album covers by the way. This is rather long at over 70 minutes and it includes an over 20 minute closing suite. This was the highest placing RPI album in the "Album of the Year" voting for 2015.

"Ouverture: Obscurus Fio" has this surprising psychedelic intro that really impresses me before piano only takes over. It kicks into gear before 1 1/2 minutes as vocal melodies then synths lead the way. This is amazing. Emotion 4 1/2 minutes in as the guitar joins in. "Oniromanzia" sounds incredible as well to start with those keyboards then it turns powerful rather quickly. It mellows out with synths out front before 1 1/2 minutes then we get some nice guitar which ends when the vocals arrive for the first time on this album. Some cool instrumental work 4 minutes in including the bass work. The organ follows as it stays all instrumental. The vocals return briefly and we get lots of synths late.

"Caligari" opens with atmosphere and samples as picked guitar and bass join in. Higher pitched synths start to lead. The guitar replaces the synths before 2 minutes but the synths return followed by organ as the drums pound. A change before 3 minutes as it turns brighter and the vocals join in. Catchy stuff with background synths, piano and more. Lots of piano during an instrumental break. Melancholic synths follow then vocal melodies replace the synths. Some cool vocal arrangements follow then it kicks in hard at 8 1/2 minutes. So good! "La Meccanica Dell'ombra" has a very AREA-like start which is fantastic to say the least. Love this stuff! Violin before 2 minutes then prominent bass before that AREA-like flavour returns. A calm with piano follows then it starts to build. Nice guitar here then another calm as themes are repeated. There's that AREA sound before 6 1/2 minutes then the organ leads the way.

"Il Nome Di Lei" sounds really to start with plenty of depth then it lightens quickly. Back to that more fuller sound and this is all so interesting the way it changes and developes. Piano only 3 minutes in as reserved vocals join in. An instrumental break with relaxed guitar follows. Nice. The vocals are back 5 12 minutes in. This is such an uplifting track. "Lo Schermo Di Pietra(Kenosis)" is uptempo to begin with including lots of keyboards. The bass is excellent then it settles back with piano and vocals. Mellotron before 2 minutes. The guitar follows as the vocals stop then it picks up with organ after 3 minutes. The vocals are back then we get a calm after 5 minutes. Check out the organ before 6 minutes. Killer!

"Ex Tenebrae Lux" is the closing suite and it's worth over 20 minutes of music. I really like the melancholy to start in the form of keyboards and synths. It kicks in hard around 3 minutes and it sounds like clavinet before 4 minutes. Great sound. A CAMEL vibe around 5 1/2 minutes but it's brief. Violin after 6 minutes followed by a calm as the vocals join in. Piano leads after 8 minutes as the vocals stop. The vocals are back quickly as the tempo picks up. Another calm 9 1/2 minutes in and check out the bass before 10 minutes! Love the keyboards that join in here. Guitar as well as it turns powerful. The vocals are back before 12 minutes. Lots of synths too trading off with the vocals. A calm with piano after 13 minutes then mellotron a minute later followed by laid back guitar then synths. The tempo continues to change then we get these theatrical spoken words. The vocals late sound incredible.

A must for RPI fans out there and thank God for these talented young Italian bands making the kind of music that the seventies RPI bands would be proud of.

Review by Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Representing a fresh new generation of Italian prog musicians, the members of Unreal City take the group's sound from strength to strength on this second album. No sophomore slump for this talented group - if anything, tighter production and some absolutely gorgeous compositions helps refined the style of La Crudeltà di Aprile, as well as prompting them to dip into some unexpected stylistic detours along the way - the intro to La Meccanica Dell'Ombra, for instance, takes in a range of Middle Eastern musical styles and gives a spacey enough twist to them to resemble something that Ozric Tentacles might belt out. Unreal City are at the top of their game here, and I'm eager to see where they go next.

Latest members reviews

5 stars I wanted to do another review, but I hear this superb album and I postponed the other review to do this one instead. My reason to do that was a simple one: this album is just fantastic in my opinion. Is dark, dramatic and mysterious and of course, is prog. I cannot stop from listening to this ... (read more)

Report this review (#1483432) | Posted by Prog Maniack | Friday, November 6, 2015 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is the second album of the marvelous RPI band. Like the debut release, it develops 'nervous' and 'dramatic' sides of the genre: Unreal City is closer to Museo Rosenbach and Banco del Mutuo Soccorso than Celeste and PFM. Sometimes this music is rather dark, although almost always beautiful an ... (read more)

Report this review (#1454405) | Posted by felonafan | Tuesday, August 18, 2015 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Second step of Unreal City,very young band from Parma, Italy. Confirmation of the first cd in all the aspects, but with a natural development and a more mature approach. Now the structure of the music is more coehent,with a better use of all the instruments The center remains the keyboard wizar Ta ... (read more)

Report this review (#1414770) | Posted by RolandoM | Thursday, May 14, 2015 | Review Permanlink

5 stars When they came to Québec city in the Spring of 2014, Unreal City played "La Crudeltà Di Aprile" in full, but also performed a few pieces from their future album. Back home, I wrote to friends that, from what I had heard, I wasn't worried at all about the content of their sophomore album (contr ... (read more)

Report this review (#1376758) | Posted by MELNIBONÉ | Monday, March 2, 2015 | Review Permanlink

5 stars After the awesome La Crudelta Di Aprile, the modern kings of RPI come back with Il Paese Del Tramonto. This album contains every thing that I like in Unreal City. Great melody, great vocals, intelligent compositions, epic music, progressive keyboards solos, beautiful guitars,etc... This album is alm ... (read more)

Report this review (#1345984) | Posted by floflo79 | Thursday, January 15, 2015 | Review Permanlink

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