Mike McLatchey    04-November-2001 La Terra dei Grandi Occhi/Citta di Frontiera

Calliope are one of the more promising progressive rock bands of the modern Italian scene, especially if you like the rich, 70s analog symphonic sound. Taking a hint from Museo Rosenbach, PFM, and Ibis, Calliope, on their debut, layer the synths (Moog/ARP), mellotron, and Hammond on thick and in a very tasteful way, making this sound warmer than many other of their contemporaries. On La Terra Dei Grandi Occhi (Vinyl Magic VMNP 01), released on Vinyl Magics new progressive sublabel, it seemed that Calliope were torn between two styles. Their highly charged progressive rock reminds one of classic Italian progressive one moment and a more modern neo progressive style in the vein of Rush the next. It almost seems instrumentally split between members: the keyboards and vocals more in the old Italian vein, and the guitar, bass and gated-sounding drums much more modern-styled. With some nice interventions from the guitar, a warm mellotron backdrop for some thick analog keyboard solos, and some ocassionally stunning melodies (and they even got the vocals right), I would definitely rate them in the promising category - only falling short of fantastic due to a couple of duff tracks like "Avalon".

Citta di Frontiera (Vinyl Magic VMNP 04) is a more confident release and a further clarifying of their style. The production is even more digitally styled this go around and it seems to me that the band decided to go with a more contemporary sound - even the analog keys seem more digital! Some of the more modern tendencies are more prominent and verge too close to bands like Van Halen, but it does seem less like overt commercial pandering than many I could name. While my personal tastes go more with some of the early Italian sounding pieces on the first one, it seems that Citta is the more self-assured release of the two and it's good to see a band continue to evolve its style.

(originally reviewed as part of The New Italian Progressive Rock Scene - Part 2, Exposť #4, p. 9, Edited for Gnosis 4/28/01)

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