venerdì 27 aprile 2012

A PIPE ORGAN DELIGHT

Three Monks come from Arezzo and were formed on the initiative of the classical trained organist and composer Paolo Lazzeri (a.k.a. Julius) and of an experienced bassist, Maurizio Bozzi (a.k.a. Bozorius). The trio line up was completed by Roberto Bichi (a.k.a. Placidus) and Claudio Cuseri (a.k.a. Ursinius) who alternate on drums.



Their first album, “Neogothic Progressive Toccatas”, was released in 2010 on the independent label Drycastle Records and re-released with a different art-work one year later on Black Widow Records. The use of a pipe organ sound backed by a rock rhythm section is the trademark of the band and gives a particular Neo-Gothic flavour to the Three Monk’s compositions. I’m sure that fans of Emerson Lake & Palmer, Le Orme or Quatermass will love them! Their debut album features seven instrumental tracks full of energy, seven toccatas where all the members of the band showcase a great musicianship.

The sparkling opener “Progressive Magdeburg” is dedicated to the reconstruction of a pipe organ that was destroyed during the bombardment of the German city of Magdeburg. In fact, Magdeburg was heavily bombed by the Royal Air Force during the World War II and the RAF bombing raid on the night of 16 January 1944 destroyed much of the city, including the Cathedral with its beautiful pipe organ built by Adolf Reubke. In 2009 a brand new organ was built in the Cathedral and the band celebrated this “rebirth” with this excellent, thundering piece. 



The long, complex “Toccata Neogotica #1 (Merseburg)” is dedicated to another famous pipe organ that lies in the Cathedral of another German city, Merseburg. It was built by Friedrich Ladegast and, according to the booklet, it was the “inspirer and witness of the first performances of the grat comopsitions by Franz Liszt and Julius Reubke. This piece is a free prog rock influenced tribute to their style and in some passages it could recall Le Orme’s “Collage”. 

Next comes “Neogothic Pedal Solo” features three sections and a mysterious, disquieting atmosphere. It begins with a particular monks choir, then a bass solo follows and finally an organ solo concludes the piece. On the following “Herr Jann” the rhythm section comes back for another fiery musical ride. This piece is dedicated to another magnificent pipe organ, an organ built in 1989 by Georg Jann in the basilica of Waldsassen, in Germany. According to the booklet it is “a splendid fusion of baroque and contemporary organ craft” and the music tries to evoke this perfect blending of classical and modern.



“Deep Red” and  “Profondo Gotico” are two tracks linked together. The first one is beautiful cover of a famous piece by Goblin from the soundtrack of Dario Argento’s film Profondo Rosso. The second one is a “gothic” variation based on Goblin’s theme and is a tribute to one of “the most significant rock composition for pipe organ”.

The conclusive “Toccata Neogotica #7 (St. Florian)” is another wonderful piece full of charm and dark energy. It is dedicated to the Austrian composer Anton Bruckner who was the organist of the Sankt Florian’s abbey. He died in Vienna in 1896 at the age of 72 and was buried in the crypt of St. Florian monastery church, right below his favourite organ as he wished. 

On the whole I think that this is a very good album, especially recommended to Keith Emerson’s fans!


Three Monks: Neogothic Progressive Toccatas (2010). Other opinions:
Jim Russell: “Neogothic Progressive Toccatas” will truly be a one of a kind in your progressive rock collection. The project is cantered around the incredible pipe organ playing of Paolo Lazzeri supported by a thundering bass/drums rhythm sections and little else. This album is a church organ purist’s dream... The music is incredibly heavy, vast, formal, and tinged with centuries of age. You feel as if you are walking into one of those centuries old European cathedrals and hearing the bombast of the ancient organ, yet it is swirled into often dizzying progressive rock pieces... (read the complete review HERE)
Olav Martin Bjørnsen: If you like the organ and love the pipe organ, or vice versa, Three Monks have crafted a CD you have to investigate. If not for any other reason than for its rather unique nature; to my knowledge, the number of progressive rock albums with a pipe organ as the main instrument makes for a very limited selection. In this case bass, drums and the pipe organ combine neatly to create majestic, dramatic and dark musical landscapes of an impressive nature, with a vast array of subtle and finer details to discover as one becomes more familiar with this creation... (read the complete review HERE)

Read the interview on Progarchives. Click HERE


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