Progenesi are a young prog band hailing from Milan and formed by four musicians coming from different musical backgrounds. In 2013 they released an interesting début album titled “Ulisse l'alfiere nero” (Ulysses the black bishop) with a line up featuring Omar Ceriotti (drums, percussions), Dario Giubileo (bass), Patrik Matrone (electric guitar and acoustic guitar) and Giulio Stromendo (piano, Hammond, synthesizers, keyboards) plus two guests, Eloisa Manera (violin) and Issei Watanabe (cello). Their aim was to blend progressive rock, jazz and classical music and among the influences they boast you can find Premiata Forneria Marconi, Le Orme, Emerson Lake & Palmer, Genesis, Pink Floyd and Porcupine Tree along with jazzists as John Coltrane and Dave Brubeck or classical composers as Bela Bartok and Chopin.
According to the band, “Ulisse l'alfiere nero” is a concept album freely based on Homer's epic verses about the fall of Troy in the Iliad. The album is completely instrumental and the story is told just through the music and the nice pictures that you can find in the booklet. Your imagination has to fill all the gaps but I'm sure it won't be difficult since the overall sound is rich and full of evocative colours that will help you.
The opener “La gioia della pace” (The joy of peace) recalls PFM and is a lively piece celebrating the end of the siege. The picture describing this piece portrays a chessboard with a black knight in the forefront that is facing alone all the white pieces. Now imagine the joy of the inhabitants of Troy dressed up in white dancing around the deceiving, threatening black wooden horse on the beach at a tarantella rhythm while in the sky a light bird goes...
The music of the following track, “La strategia” (The strategy), was inspired by Béla Bartòk's “Suite op. 14”. It features more aggressive passages, some jazzy touches and a martial marching beat in the middle section. The picture describing this piece portrays a chessboard with a black bishop in the forefront that is observing the battlefield and planning a subterfuge to defeat his white enemies. Well, if you like an album such as “Il passo del soldato” by Nuova Era I'm sure you'll be delighted by this amazing piece.
“Il blue della notte” (The blue of the night) begins softly, with a delicate passage for piano and strings. The city is asleep and there' no one but the wind who is talking in the streets. Then the rhythm rises bringing a sense of impending tragedy. In the picture describing this piece you can see a black bishop in the dark leading his pawns toward the chessboard while the knight is in the rear.
“Il rosso della notte” (The red of the night) is divided into two parts. The first one begins in an aggressive way with dark chords and frenzied organ rides. The slaughter begins and the city is put to fire and sword while the dreams of the inhabitants turn into nightmares. The first part ends in a surreal dirge. In the second part the sound of a gong introduces a more relaxed passage with a mysterious flavour but then the rhythm rises again while the raging fire still paints the night in shades of purple and other deep colours.
The last track, “Un grande eroe” (A great hero), is a long, complex celebration of the victory. In the picture describing this piece you can see the black bishop observing from a shelf a heap of black and white pieces scattered on the ground. The war is over but home is still far and the music seems to suggest that the journey will be long and full of surprises.
Progenesi: Ulisse l'alfiere nero (2013). Other opinions:
Todd Dudley: In what is becoming a banner year for Rock Progressivo Italiano, another excellent entry is new band Progenesi. Their debut is a concept album centered around Ulysses, entitled "Ulisse: L'Alfiere Nero" (the Black Bishop). This ambitious album is entirely instrumental, but surprisingly the narrative stays strong throughout the work, even without words... (read the complete review HERE)