Barock Project 2024

Album Review: Barock Project – Time Voyager (2024)

Introduction to Barock Project

Barock Project is a progressive rock band that has been enchanting audiences with their unique blend of classical influences and modern rock elements since their formation in 2003. Originating from Italy, the band was founded by Luca Zabbini, a talented keyboardist, composer, and multi-instrumentalist. Zabbini’s vision was to create a sound that combined the complexity and elegance of classical music with the energy and innovation of progressive rock.

Early Years and Formation

The band’s early works were heavily influenced by the giants of the progressive rock genre, such as Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Genesis, and Yes. Barock Project’s debut album, “Misteriose Voci”, was released in 2007 and immediately garnered attention for its sophisticated compositions and rich orchestral arrangements. This album set the tone for their future endeavors, showcasing Zabbini’s classical training and the band’s ability to weave intricate musical tapestries.

Rise to Prominence

Over the years, Barock Project continued to refine their sound, releasing several acclaimed albums. “Rebus” (2009) and “Coffee In Neukölln” (2012) further established their reputation in the progressive rock community. With each release, the band pushed the boundaries of their musical capabilities, incorporating more complex structures and diverse influences.

In 2015, Barock Project released “Skyline”, an album that marked a significant step forward in their artistic development. The album’s blend of progressive rock and symphonic elements received widespread praise, and it helped to solidify their standing as one of the leading acts in the modern prog rock scene.

Live Performances and Global Reach

Barock Project’s reputation for delivering powerful and engaging live performances has played a crucial role in their growing popularity. Their live album “Vivo” (2016), captured the energy and precision of their concerts, offering fans an immersive experience of their stage presence. The band’s tours have taken them across Europe and beyond, allowing them to connect with a global audience.

Recent Works and Evolution

The band’s subsequent albums, “Detachment” (2017) and “Seven Seas” (2019), continued to showcase their evolving sound and thematic depth. These releases were noted for their lyrical introspection and the band’s ability to create expansive, cinematic soundscapes.

Current Lineup

The current lineup of Barock Project includes:

  • Luca Zabbini: Keyboards, vocals, acoustic guitars, and primary composer
  • Alex Mari: Lead vocals and acoustic guitars
  • Eric Ombelli: Drums, percussion, and backing vocals
  • Marco Mazzuoccolo: Electric guitars
  • Francesco Caliendo: Bass guitar

“Time Voyager” and Beyond

In 2024, Barock Project released “Time Voyager”, an album that encapsulates their journey through time both musically and thematically. This ambitious concept album explores different temporal moments and dimensions, blending nostalgic elements with futuristic visions. It marks another milestone in their illustrious career, demonstrating their continued relevance and innovation in the progressive rock genre.

Barock Project’s dedication to their craft and their ability to seamlessly blend classical and modern influences make them a standout act in the progressive rock landscape. For new listeners, their discography offers a rich and rewarding journey through some of the most sophisticated and emotive music in contemporary progressive rock.

For more information and to explore their music, visit the official Barock Project website.

The Review

As someone deeply entrenched in the world of music production, with over 30 years of experience and a keen ear for progressive rock, I find “Time Voyager,” the latest release from Barock Project, to be a landmark achievement. This album, released on June 3, 2024, represents a profound exploration of time through a meticulously crafted sonic landscape.

Overview

“Time Voyager” is Barock Project’s seventh studio album and stands as a testament to their evolution as a band. The concept revolves around temporal journeys, with each track serving as a portal to different moments and dimensions. This ambitious theme is masterfully executed, blending nostalgia with futuristic elements to create a cohesive and immersive listening experience​​.

Track-by-Track Analysis

  1. Carry On (6:35) The album opens with “Carry On,” a track that immediately sets a powerful tone with its dynamic structure and Alex Mari’s compelling vocals. The song features intricate instrumentation, with a blend of electric guitars and keyboards that create a layered, immersive experience.

  2. Summer Set You Free (4:41) This track brings a lighter, more melodic feel to the album. The uplifting lyrics and breezy arrangements provide a refreshing contrast to the opener. The interplay between Luca Zabbini’s keyboards and Marco Mazzuoccolo’s guitar work stands out, creating a harmonious and feel-good atmosphere.

  3. An Ordinary Day’s Odyssey (6:04) “An Ordinary Day’s Odyssey” takes the listener on a complex journey through sophisticated musical arrangements. The track features shifting time signatures and elaborate instrumental passages, showcasing the band’s technical prowess and creativity. The narrative arc of the song mirrors the concept of an epic odyssey through time​.

  4. The Lost Ship Tavern (4:40) This atmospheric track is enriched by the violin performance of guest musician Alessandro Bonetti. The haunting melodies and evocative lyrics transport the listener to a bygone era, fitting seamlessly into the album’s theme of temporal exploration.

  5. Voyager (8:08) Serving as the centerpiece of the album, “Voyager” is an orchestral and cinematic masterpiece. It begins with a Vangelis-like synth introduction, evolving into a pulsating rhythm driven by keys and drums. The song’s narrative unfolds through heroic vocals and dynamic shifts, encapsulating the essence of the album’s concept.

  6. Morning Train (6:08) “Morning Train” features a more reflective and introspective tone. The gentle acoustic guitars and soothing vocals create a serene atmosphere, making it a standout track for its emotional depth and simplicity. The song reflects on the passage of time and the quiet moments of life.

  7. Propaganda (6:33) This track delves into more intense and politically charged themes. The aggressive instrumentation and powerful lyrics address themes of misinformation and societal control. The energetic performance and sharp, incisive lyrics make “Propaganda” a memorable and thought-provoking piece​.

  8. Shibuya 3 A.M. (4:30) Inspired by the vibrant nightlife of Tokyo’s Shibuya district, this track captures a dreamy, nocturnal atmosphere. The blend of synth, piano, and gentle percussion creates an evocative soundscape, reflecting themes of lost love and yearning. Luca Zabbini’s vocals add a personal touch to this introspective piece.

  9. Lonely Girl (5:09) “Lonely Girl” opens with a jaunty key and guitar intro, progressing into a more complex and emotionally charged composition. The song’s structure conveys a sense of frustration and longing, punctuated by Eric Ombelli’s rhythmic drumming and energetic rock passages filled with strings and organ work.

  10. Mediterranean (5:17) This track brings a sunny and optimistic mood, characterized by Francesco Caliendo’s subtle bass lines and bright piano passages. The song evolves into a dazzling display of organ and electric guitar, capturing the essence of the Mediterranean’s warmth and vibrancy.

  11. Kyanite Jewel (5:35) “Kyanite Jewel” features the delicate acoustic guitar work of Eric Ombelli, alongside his vocals. The song’s serene and peaceful quality is reminiscent of the blue metamorphic jewel it is named after, believed to have healing properties. This track promotes a sense of inner peace and tranquility​.

  12. Voyager’s Homecoming (7:36) The album concludes with “Voyager’s Homecoming,” a dramatic and powerful piece that brings the journey full circle. The track features a blend of heavy guitar, keys, and drums, leading to a triumphant and celebratory finale. The synthesizer sweeps and harmonic vocals convey the protagonist’s return, wrapping up the album’s narrative arc beautifully.

My Personal Highlights

Sorry, there are none, because they all are. Each in their own way. Maybe I have slight issues with The Lost Ship Tavern, but that’d be nitpicking. And just maaaaaybe I prefer Voyager’s Homecoming over all others a bit, but not massively. But in all honesty, there’s not a single filler or bummer in there.

Virtuoso Playing

The musicianship on “Time Voyager” is nothing short of virtuosic, as on every Barock Project album. Luca Zabbini’s masterful command of keyboards and synthesizers lays a complex and lush foundation throughout the album. His ability to blend classical influences with modern progressive rock elements is a testament to his skill and artistic vision. Marco Mazzuoccolo’s guitar work is equally impressive, ranging from delicate acoustic passages to powerful and technically highly challenging solos that drive the album’s emotional core. Eric Ombelli’s drumming is on an exceptional technical level, ultra-precise and dynamic, providing the rhythmic backbone that propels each track forward with energy and sophistication. Francesco Caliendo’s bass lines add depth and texture, perfectly complementing the intricate arrangements. Together, these musicians create a sound that is both technically proficient and deeply emotive, showcasing their collective talent and synergy as a band​.

Oh, and I know that the guys are able to showcase the same abilities in a live setting.

Production Quality

Produced by Luca Zabbini and co-produced by Eric Ombelli, the production quality of “Time Voyager” is exceptional. The album’s sound is lush and expansive, with every instrument meticulously placed in the mix. All band members deliver stellar performances, as mentioned earlier (but I can’t mention that often enough).

Final Thoughts

“Time Voyager” is more than just an album; it’s an experience. Barock Project has successfully navigated the complexities of progressive rock while staying true to their unique sound. The album’s thematic depth and musical sophistication make it a standout release (not just) in 2024 and a must-listen for any fan of the genre, and beyond.

For those interested in diving deeper into this musical journey, “Time Voyager” is available on Barock Project’s official website. This album is poised to be a defining moment in Barock Project’s career and a significant contribution to the progressive rock landscape.

The 10 Best Drummers of All Time (According to Me)

In the world of music, there are legends who have the power to move souls with their rhythmic magic. Among them, the drummers stand tall as the untamed giants of the beat, the fiery guardians of the groove. Spanning across genres, from the smoky realms of jazz to the thunderous realms of rock, these sonic revolutionaries ignite fires within our hearts. Now, behold the divine pantheon of the ten awe-inspiring drummers who have transcended mere virtuosity to become symbols of passion, power, and pure musical wizardry!

(In no particular order, although Gavin Harrison and Simon Phillips are my 2 absolute favorites)

🥁 Drum roll, please! 🥁

Gavin Harrison

  • Biography: Born in 1963 in England, Gavin Harrison showed an early interest in drumming. He joined Renaissance at 19 and later became a sought-after session drummer. His work with Porcupine Tree and King Crimson has earned him numerous awards and accolades.
  • Current Projects: King Crimson, Solo Work
  • Artists/Bands: Porcupine Tree, King Crimson, The Pineapple Thief
  • Equipment: Sonor Drums, Zildjian Cymbals, Vic Firth Sticks, Remo Skins
  • Why I Love Him: Gavin’s precision and creativity are unmatched. His ability to weave complex rhythms into accessible music is pure genius.
  • Fun Fact: Gavin has authored several drumming books!
  • Watch Him in Action:

Simon Phillips

  • Biography: Born in 1957 in London, Simon Phillips began playing professionally at the age of 12. He’s played with a wide range of artists, including The Who and Toto. His powerful style and versatility have made him one of the most respected drummers in the world.
  • Current Projects: Solo Work, Protocol
  • Artists/Bands: Toto, Mike Oldfield, The Who, Judas Priest, Michael Schenker
  • Equipment: Tama Drums, Zildjian Cymbals, Pro-Mark Sticks, Remo Skins
  • Why I Love Him: Simon’s versatility and power behind the kit make him a force to be reckoned with.
  • Fun Fact: He’s played on over 400 albums!
  • Watch Him in Action:

Mike Mangini

  • Biography: Born in 1963 in Newton, Massachusetts, Mike Mangini’s drumming journey began at age 2. He’s played with Extreme and Steve Vai, and in 2011, he became the official drummer for Dream Theater. His incredible speed and precision have earned him several World’s Fastest Drummer records.
  • Current Projects: Dream Theater
  • Artists/Bands: Dream Theater, Extreme, Steve Vai
  • Equipment: Pearl Drums, Zildjian Cymbals, Vater Sticks, Remo Skins
  • Why I Love Him: Mike’s technical prowess and speed are jaw-dropping. His solos are a rollercoaster ride!
  • Fun Fact: He holds five World’s Fastest Drummer records.
  • Watch Him in Action:

Gergo Borlai

  • Biography: Born in 1978 in Hungary, Gergo Borlai was a child prodigy, starting to play drums at age three. He’s known for his fusion of jazz, rock, and funk and has played with artists like Scott Kinsey and Gary Willis. His unique style has made him a prominent figure in the drumming community.
  • Current Projects: Solo Work, Various Collaborations
  • Artists/Bands: Scott Kinsey, Gary Willis, Tribal Tech
  • Equipment: Ludwig Drums, Meinl Cymbals, Vic Firth Sticks, Evans Skins
  • Why I Love Him: Gergo’s fusion of jazz, rock, and funk is a rhythmic feast for the ears.
  • Fun Fact: He started drumming at age three!
  • Watch Him in Action:

Nick D’Virgilio

  • Biography: Born in 1968 in California, Nick D’Virgilio is known for his work with progressive rock bands like Spock’s Beard, Big Big Train and Genesis. He’s also a talented singer and has contributed to numerous albums as a session musician. His melodic sensibility and technical prowess have earned him a dedicated fan base.
  • Current Projects: Big Big Train, Solo Work
  • Artists/Bands: Spock’s Beard, Genesis, Tears for Fears
  • Equipment: DW Drums (and many others), Sabian Cymbals, Pro-Mark Sticks, Evans Skins
  • Why I Love Him: Nick’s progressive rock chops and melodic sensibility are second to none.
  • Fun Fact: He’s also a talented singer and plays the guitar!
  • Watch Him in Action:

Sarah Thawer

  • Biography: Based in Toronto, Canada, Sarah Thawer is a self-taught drummer known for her unique blend of traditional Indian rhythms with modern jazz. She’s a YouTube sensation and has performed with various jazz ensembles. Her innovative approach to drumming has made her a rising star in the music world.
  • Current Projects: Various Collaborations, Educational Work
  • Artists/Bands: Independent, Various Jazz Ensembles
  • Equipment: Yamaha Drums, Zildjian Cymbals, Vic Firth Sticks, Remo Skins
  • Why I Love Her: Sarah’s blend of traditional Indian rhythms with modern jazz is refreshing and unique.
  • Fun Fact: She’s a self-taught YouTube sensation! And she drums with her face, too. Her facial expressions are something!
  • Watch Her in Action:

Buddy Rich

  • Biography: Born in 1917 in Brooklyn, New York, Buddy Rich was a jazz drumming legend known for his incredible technique and showmanship. He led his own big band and played with greats like Frank Sinatra. His influence on drumming continues to be felt today.
  • Current Projects: Passed away in 1987
  • Artists/Bands: Buddy Rich Big Band, Frank Sinatra, Tommy Dorsey
  • Equipment: Slingerland Drums, Zildjian Cymbals, Buddy Rich Signature Sticks, Remo Skins
  • Why I Love Him: Buddy’s showmanship and technique are legendary. He’s the original drumming superstar.
  • Fun Fact: He once had a drum battle with Animal from The Muppets!
  • Watch Him in Action:

Jeff Porcaro

  • Biography: Born in 1954 in Connecticut, Jeff Porcaro was a founding member of Toto and an in-demand session drummer. His groove in songs like “Rosanna” is timeless, and his feel for the music made him one of the most recorded drummers in history.
  • Current Projects: Passed away in 1992
  • Artists/Bands: Toto, Steely Dan, Michael Jackson
  • Equipment: Pearl Drums, Paiste Cymbals, Regal Tip Sticks, Remo Skins
  • Why I Love Him: Jeff’s groove in songs like “Rosanna” is legendary. His feel is simply magical.
  • Fun Fact: He’s one of the most recorded drummers in history.
  • Watch Him in Action:

Marco Minnemann

  • Biography: Born in 1970 in Germany, Marco Minnemann is known for his incredible independence and creativity on the drums. He’s played with The Aristocrats, Steven Wilson, and Joe Satriani. His ability to play a different rhythm with each limb is mind-blowing.
  • Current Projects: The Aristocrats, Solo Work
  • Artists/Bands: The Aristocrats, Steven Wilson, Joe Satriani
  • Equipment: DW Drums, Zyn Cymbals, Pro-Mark Sticks, Evans Skins
  • Why I Love Him: Marco’s creativity and independence on the kit are out of this world.
  • Fun Fact: He can play a different rhythm with each limb! He always seems to have the most fun behind the kit.
  • Watch Him in Action:

Chris Coleman

  • Biography: Born in 1977 in Michigan, Chris Coleman is known for his gospel chops and has played with a wide range of artists, including Prince, Chaka Khan, and Stevie Wonder. His soulful playing and finesse have made him a favorite among musicians and fans alike.
  • Current Projects: Various Collaborations, Educational Work
  • Artists/Bands: Prince, Chaka Khan, Stevie Wonder
  • Equipment: Sonor Drums, Meinl Cymbals, Vic Firth Sticks, Remo Skins
  • Why I Love Him: Chris’s chops and musicality are insane. He plays with soul, power and finesse. Very hard hitter, super groovy.
  • Fun Fact: He’s played with everyone from Chaka Khan to Prince.
  • Watch Him in Action:

So, there you have it, my personal top 10 drummers who’ve ever graced a drum throne. From legends of the past to modern maestros, these drummers have shaped the way I hear and feel music. 🥁💥


A Personal Take On Rammstein

I’ve always been one to appreciate a wide range of music, but there’s one band that I’ve never been able to get on board with: Rammstein. The German metal band has long been a source of controversy, and for me, their actions and representations have always been a step too far.

Let’s start with their performances. Rammstein is known for their grandiose shows, complete with pyrotechnics and dramatic theatrics. Generally, not really my thing. Plus, beneath the spectacle, there’s an element that’s deeply unsettling. The band’s use of Nazi propaganda aesthetics and right-wing iconography is, in my opinion, a blatant disregard for the historical trauma associated with these symbols.

As the taz article “Verharmlosung von Rammstein: Eiertanz ums Eiserne Kreuz” aptly points out, their shows “[deliver] a celebration of flame-encircled masses as updated staging strategies of the NS propagandists Leni Riefenstahl and Albert Speer and imitate these models under the insignia of the musical shock troop, an Iron Cross.”

Some might argue that this is all part of their artistic expression. But let’s cut the crap here. This isn’t just about pushing boundaries or being edgy. This is about using loaded symbols for shock value and, as some suggest, as a marketing strategy. And that, my friends, is where I draw the line.

But the controversy doesn’t end there. The band’s lead singer, Till Lindemann, is currently embroiled in a MeToo scandal, facing allegations of sexual assaults against young female fans. This, coupled with Lindemann’s past lyrics that fantasize about the rape of a drugged woman, paints a troubling picture.

The taz article states, “If the just exploding scandal gains further substance in the face of the alleged pattern of sexual assaults by frontman Till Lindemann against young female fans, Rammstein would again be number one in Germany, but in the biggest MeToo case.” This is a stark reminder that we need to hold our idols accountable, regardless of their artistic contributions.

And then there’s the academic trivialization of Rammstein’s actions. A book titled “Rammstein’s ‘Deutschland’. Pop – Politics – Provokation” presents the band’s controversial actions as “complex works of art”. The taz article criticizes this perspective, stating, “The reader ‘Rammstein’s ‘Germany’. Pop – Politics – Provokation’… presents the result of cultural science research on Rammstein’s pop-cultural total work of art permeated with fascist aesthetics, right-wing iconography, and sexual violence fantasies.”

To me, this feels like a dangerous oversimplification that overlooks the potential harm such portrayals can cause. It’s like saying, “Sure, they’re playing with fire, but look at how pretty the flames are!” It’s a way of avoiding the hard questions, of sidestepping the uncomfortable truths.

While some may appreciate Rammstein’s boldness and refusal to conform, I find their actions deeply problematic. The controversy surrounding Rammstein serves as a reminder that as consumers of art, we need to keep our eyes open and our minds critical. We need to hold artists accountable for their actions, especially when they exploit historical trauma and personal boundaries for shock value.

At the end of the day, it’s not just about the music. It’s also about the message. And when that message is wrapped up in controversy and exploitation, it’s time to take a step back and ask ourselves: is this the kind of art we want to support?