Isproject: The Archinauts (2017)

Written by: Kev Rowland

This is the debut album by Italian duo Ivan Santovito (vocals, keyboards) and Ilenia Salvemini (vocals), who have been joined by Giovanni Pastorino (keyboards, programming), Simone Amodeo (guitars), Andrea Bottaro (bass guitar) and Paolo Tixi (drums), along with special guest Martin Grice (flutes, saxophones) (all of whom, apart from Andrea, are in Z-band). I am a little surprised to see these guys listed on ProgArchives as being RPI in nature, as apart from being Italian and Progressive I personally think that description is tenuous at best. Firstly, all of the lyrics are in English (which is often an automatic disqualification), and much of the music is much cleaner, simpler and less layered. But, there are times when they do definitely bring in that style and approach, but for me this isn’t the pervasive sub-genre. Just goes to show that although we all attempt to categorise music, sometimes the best we can do is to say whether it is good or bad, which is always a subjective opinion even though every effort is made to be as objective as possible.

Putting all that to one side, this album is a delight from start to end. The vocals are fresh and not forced, and the arrangements are quite superb. There are times when they are symphonic in nature, and others where the piano is definitely the most important instrument. There is a strong use of space, leaving plenty of room for the atmospheric nature of the music to come through. For the most part this is a very modern sounding album, rarely looking back to the Seventies, and the duo have obviously followed their own course as they bring in elements of electronic and pop, so much so that at times I was reminded as much of Savage Garden as I was of IQ. The use of different keyboard sounds and textures is important, while Simone’s guitar is sometimes non-existent and at others providing an incredibly dynamic solo, again adding to the textures. This is a modern progressive album that has been released on CD by AMS but is also available through Bandcamp, and is one of the best new projects I have heard from Italy in quite a while.

Rating: 8/10

Track list:
Ouverture // The Architect // Mangialuce // The City and the Sky // Lovers in the Dream // The Mountain of Hope // Between the Light and the Stone


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