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.

Destroyed Residential Building Under Gray Sky

The Complexity of Engaging With My Russian Fans

Disclaimer for Russian Readers

Before we proceed, I want to make it abundantly clear that I fully support Ukraine in the ongoing conflict. This post may contain viewpoints that are upsetting to some, particularly my Russian fans. While I appreciate your support for my music, it’s crucial to be transparent about where I stand on this issue.

As you might know, I have a diverse fan base that spans across the globe. I’m grateful for the love and support I receive from all corners of the world. Especially strong are the Latin American countries, the Baltic region, but also Turkey, Northern Africa, Southeast Asia, Japan and – of course – Russia.

However, the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine has put me in a difficult position, particularly when it comes to engaging with my Russian fans. I feel compelled to address this issue openly, as it’s something that has been weighing heavily on my mind.

Music has an unparalleled ability to bring people together, regardless of their geographical location, cultural background, or political affiliations. However, in a world increasingly divided by geopolitical conflicts – most notably the ongoing crisis between Russia and Ukraine – I find myself grappling with a complex moral dilemma. Specifically, how do I navigate interactions with my fans from countries embroiled in such conflicts? To delve deeper into this issue, I’ve compiled a comprehensive Top 50 ranking of countries where my music is most popular, based on data from SoundCloud, Spotify, and Apple Music.

The Global Footprint of My Music: A Comprehensive Top 50 Ranking

First and foremost, I want to express my deepest gratitude to all my fans around the globe. Your unwavering support has been both humbling and inspiring. According to my multi-platform statistics, the Top 50 countries where my music is most listened to are as follows:

  1. 🇺🇸 United States
  2. 🇩🇪 Germany
  3. 🇷🇺 Russia
  4. 🇬🇧 United Kingdom
  5. 🇺🇦 Ukraine
  6. 🇲🇽 Mexico
  7. 🇨🇦 Canada
  8. 🇯🇵 Japan
  9. 🇹🇷 Turkey
  10. 🇫🇷 France
  11. 🇮🇳 India
  12. 🇦🇺 Australia
  13. 🇭🇺 Hungary
  14. 🇪🇸 Spain
  15. 🇨🇭 Switzerland
  16. 🇧🇪 Belgium
  17. 🇳🇱 Netherlands
  18. 🇦🇷 Argentina
  19. 🇧🇷 Brazil
  20. 🇵🇱 Poland
  21. 🇮🇱 Israel
  22. 🇸🇪 Sweden
  23. 🇮🇹 Italy
  24. 🇷🇴 Romania
  25. 🇦🇹 Austria
  26. 🇨🇱 Chile
  27. 🇰🇷 South Korea
  28. 🇵🇭 Philippines
  29. 🇳🇴 Norway
  30. 🇫🇮 Finland
  31. 🇳🇬 Nigeria
  32. 🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia
  33. 🇱🇹 Lithuania
  34. 🇦🇪 United Arab Emirates
  35. 🇲🇾 Malaysia
  36. 🇰🇪 Kenya
  37. 🇨🇿 Czech Republic
  38. 🇹🇼 Taiwan
  39. 🇭🇰 Hong Kong
  40. 🇸🇬 Singapore
  41. 🇮🇪 Ireland
  42. 🇰🇿 Kazakhstan
  43. 🇵🇪 Peru
  44. 🇬🇭 Ghana
  45. 🇮🇶 Iraq
  46. 🇩🇰 Denmark
  47. 🇮🇩 Indonesia
  48. 🇪🇬 Egypt
  49. 🇨🇷 Costa Rica
  50. 🇪🇨 Ecuador
red and black heart illustration

Fan Support by Continent

When we consider the fan support by continent and adjust it for the total population, the list becomes even more telling:

  1. North America (Approx. 579 million population)
  2. Europe (Approx. 748 million population)
  3. Asia (Approx. 4.6 billion population)
  4. South America (Approx. 430 million population)
  5. Africa (Approx. 1.3 billion population)
  6. Oceania (Approx. 42 million population)

It’s interesting to note that despite Asia’s massive population, it ranks third in the list, suggesting that the per capita fan engagement is higher in North America and Europe. Similarly, Africa, with a population of around 1.3 billion, ranks lower.

Europe’s second-place ranking is particularly noteworthy given its smaller population compared to Asia. The high level of engagement from European countries speaks volumes.

The Weight of the Numbers

The presence of Russia (#3) and Ukraine (#5) in my Top 50 ranking is both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, it’s a testament to the universal language of music, its ability to transcend political and cultural barriers. On the other hand, it serves as a constant reminder of the ethical tightrope I walk on. Engaging with fans from countries actively involved in conflicts that have resulted in atrocities is a moral minefield.

The Fan-to-Population Ratio: A Revealing Metric

One of the most striking aspects of my fan base is the disproportionate level of support I receive from Ukraine. Despite the vast difference in population sizes, Ukraine ranks impressively high in my Top 50 list, even surpassing many larger countries. This outsized support from Ukraine is not just heartwarming; it’s a testament to the love and passion I receive from the Ukrainian people.

  • 🇺🇦 Ukraine (5th in the ranking, 37 million population): The support from Ukraine is remarkable when you consider its population size. The country ranks impressively high on the list despite having far fewer residents than many other nations in the ranking.
  • 🇷🇺 Russia (3rd in the ranking, 144.4 million population): Despite its large population and high ranking, there’s a discrepancy here. The per capita support from Ukraine is significantly more intense.
  • 🇺🇸 USA (1st in the ranking, 331 million population): As the largest country on the list, it’s not surprising that the USA tops the ranking. However, in relation to its population size, the support isn’t as intense as it is from smaller countries.

This contrast adds another layer of complexity to my ethical considerations. While the sheer numbers from Russia are higher due to its larger population, the intensity of support from Ukraine is incredibly meaningful. It serves as a constant reminder of the human aspect behind the statistics and the ethical tightrope I walk on when engaging with fans from these conflicting nations.

The Harsh Reality of War

The conflict between Russia and Ukraine is not merely a political issue; it’s a devastating humanitarian crisis. Reports of war crimes, including targeted attacks on civilians, forced deportations, and sexual violence, are more than just headlines – they’re a horrifying reality for countless individuals. What complicates matters further is the seeming indifference or even tacit approval of these actions by a significant portion of the Russian populace. This societal lethargy in the face of human suffering adds another layer of complexity to my dilemma.

Specific Atrocities

It’s crucial to understand the gravity of the situation in Ukraine. The invasion by Russian forces has led to a humanitarian crisis of immense proportions. According to credible sources, including the International Criminal Court, there have been numerous war crimes committed, ranging from targeted attacks on civilians to mass killings, forced deportations, and sexual violence.

  • Over 121,000 Ukrainian children have been kidnapped and deported.
  • During the siege of Mariupol, thousands of residents were forcibly deported from Ukraine to Russia.
  • Arbitrary detention and enforced disappearances of civilians are rampant.
  • Attacks on civilians, including the use of cluster munitions in populated areas, have been documented.
  • Massacres like the one in Bucha have occurred, where hundreds of civilians were killed, some through execution.

Just to name a few.

A Balancing Act

Herein lies the essence of my moral quandary. My music enjoys popularity in the Top 50 across multiple platforms, including in countries like Russia and Ukraine, which are embroiled in a deeply troubling conflict. This presents a precarious situation: How do I reconcile the love and support I receive from Russian fans with the harsh realities of their country’s actions? How can I engage with my Ukrainian fans without appearing insensitive to the immense suffering they are enduring?

No Easy Answers

I hope this post, framed by my comprehensive Top 50 ranking, offers a nuanced perspective on the moral and ethical challenges I face. While I am profoundly grateful for the love and support from all my fans, the ongoing geopolitical crises compel me to reassess how I engage with fans from countries involved in such devastating conflicts.

For those interested in learning more about the situation, I recommend visiting the Wikipedia page on war crimes in the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. As we navigate these complex issues, let’s all strive for a more peaceful and just world.

red and orange galaxy illustration

Why I’m a Pantheist. And What About My Album “GOD”?

From my earliest memories, the universe has always been a source of profound fascination. The night sky, a tapestry of stars and cosmic wonder, seemed to pose questions that penetrated the very core of my being. My quest for answers led me through various domains – religion, philosophy, and empirical science. Yet, none offered the holistic understanding I yearned for. That is, until I discovered Pantheism.

At its core, Pantheism is a worldview that is both elegantly simple and profoundly deep: the universe and everything within it is divine. But let’s clarify what I mean by “divine,” as it’s a term often misunderstood. For me, divinity is not about an anthropomorphic God sitting on a celestial throne. I’m an atheist in that regard, finding no logical or empirical basis for such a deity. Instead, my sense of the divine is rooted in the inherent order that permeates the universe – an order that allows for the existence and functioning of all things.

This divine order is not a set of commandments but a natural, self-organizing system that can be observed in everything from the laws of physics to the complexity of biological systems. It’s the reason why planets orbit stars, why ecosystems maintain their balance, and why we, as conscious beings, can ponder our place in the cosmos. This order is the closest thing to “God” in my Pantheistic view, and it’s an understanding that fills me with awe and wonder.

When I first encountered the concept of quantum entanglement, it felt like a scientific affirmation of this divine order. Here were particles, separated by vast distances, yet intrinsically connected in a way that defied classical understanding. It was as if the universe itself was giving a nod to the Pantheistic idea of interconnectedness, an inherent feature of this divine order.

The first law of thermodynamics further resonated with my Pantheistic beliefs. This law, stating that energy cannot be created or destroyed but only transformed, seemed like another expression of this divine order. It’s a principle that can be observed in the water cycle, where water evaporates, forms clouds, and returns as rain, never being destroyed but merely changing form. This eternal cycle of energy and matter is a testament to the inherent order that governs all things.

The cyclical nature of the universe, as suggested by theories like the Big Bang and the Big Crunch, also aligns with this view. These theories propose a universe in a constant cycle of birth, expansion, and eventual contraction, mirroring the eternal cycles that are a cornerstone of Pantheistic thought and another manifestation of this divine order.

The concept of emergence, where complex systems arise from the interactions of simpler entities, offers yet another glimpse into this inherent order. Consider a termite mound: each termite contributes to a complex, self-regulating system, a microcosm of the divine order that I see as permeating the universe at all levels.

Fractals, with their infinitely complex patterns that are self-similar across scales, serve as a beautiful metaphor for this divine order. Whether it’s the branching of trees, the course of rivers, or the structure of our lungs, these fractal patterns are a testament to the inherent order that underlies all existence.

So, why am I a Pantheist? Because Pantheism offers a framework that harmonizes the spiritual with the scientific. It provides a lens through which the mysteries and realities of existence can be explored and appreciated. In embracing Pantheism, I’ve found a spiritual home that satisfies my intellectual curiosity, fills my soul with a sense of divine wonder, and aligns perfectly with my atheistic rejection of a traditional deity. For me, Pantheism is not just a belief; it’s a profound understanding of the divine order that makes us, and everything around us, a part of this wondrous cosmos.

The Irony of “God”: My Musical Perspective

Now, you might be wondering about my album titled “GOD.” I have never explained this. This is a first.

Contrary to what the title might suggest, it’s not a religious work. In fact, it’s quite the opposite – it’s a satire, a commentary on how religious teachings, particularly those surrounding figures like Jesus, have been misunderstood and distorted over time.

I have immense respect for Jesus as a historical figure. He was a revolutionary who preached love, tolerance, and understanding in a time when such ideas were radical. However, I believe that his messages have been twisted and turned into something he never intended. My album “God” aims to poke fun at this religious misinterpretation while also shedding light on how I see the divine order that governs the universe.

Back then I have been accused of blasphemy and even been threatened by religious fanatics.

In the album, I explore themes that resonate with my Pantheistic beliefs, using music as a medium to express the inherent order and interconnectedness that I see in the cosmos. It’s my way of challenging conventional religious thought and encouraging listeners to consider a more harmonious and scientifically coherent understanding of divinity.

So, when you listen to “GOD,” know that it’s not an homage to a deity in the sky but a musical journey that invites you to question, explore, and ultimately find your own understanding of the divine order that makes this universe so incredibly awe-inspiring.