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.

black and white book composing document

A Psychological Guide to Harmonic Mixing and Composing

Harmonic mixing is an advanced technique used by top DJs and producers worldwide. It involves mixing tracks that are in the same or related keys, enabling long blends and mashups. The Simple Harmonic Mixing Tool on my website is designed to make this process even more straightforward. It’s an evolution of the Camelot Wheel, providing you with a unique code for each of the 24 possible musical keys (12 major and 12 minor keys). This tool is not just for DJs but also for music theory students and musicians who want to better understand the relationships between different musical keys.

The Emotional Landscape of Musical Keys

Understanding the emotional nuances of each key can add another layer of depth to your mixes or compositions. Let’s delve into the psychological characteristics of each key, along with examples from the electronic music world to illustrate these points.

Major Keys

  1. C Major (8B): Often considered the “default” key in Western music, C Major is straightforward and lacks sharps or flats. It’s the key of choice for simplicity and purity, often used to convey innocence and straightforward emotions.
    • Example: “Xtal” by Aphex Twin captures a sense of nostalgia and simplicity, making it a go-to for ambient sets.

  2. Db Major (3B): A somewhat rare key that’s often used for unique, ethereal sounds. It can evoke a sense of mystery or otherworldliness.
    • Example: “Polygon Window” by Aphex Twin uses this key to create a haunting, yet ethereal atmosphere.

  3. D Major (10B): Known for its uplifting and triumphant feel, D Major is frequently used to convey joy and happiness. It’s a key that’s often used to elevate the mood of a piece, making it ideal for peak moments in a set.
    • Example: “Spastik” by Plastikman uses this key to create a hypnotic, yet uplifting atmosphere.

  4. Eb Major (5B): This key is often used to convey a sense of majesty and grandiosity. It’s the key of the epic, of the grandiose, often used in anthemic tracks.
    • Example: “Strings of Life” by Derrick May uses this key to create a sense of uplifting grandeur.

  5. E Major (12B): Known for its majestic and heroic qualities, E Major is often used in anthems and other grandiose pieces. It can evoke a sense of grandeur and majesty, making it ideal for tracks that aim to inspire or uplift.
    • Example: “Why Does the World Exist” by Max Cooper offers a complex, yet majestic auditory experience.

  6. F Major (7B): Known for its warmth and harmony, F Major is often used in songs that offer comfort, solace, and a sense of belonging. It’s a key that can evoke a sense of warmth and envelopment, making it ideal for more introspective moments in a set.
    • Example: “Vanishing Point” by Matrixxman uses this key to create a warm, enveloping soundscape.

  7. Gb Major (2B): A rare key that’s often used to convey complex emotional textures. It can evoke a sense of complexity and depth, making it ideal for tracks that aim to provoke thought or introspection.
    • Example: “Mentasm” by Second Phase uses this key to create a complex, thought-provoking atmosphere.

  8. G Major (9B): Often associated with the pastoral and the rustic, G Major is the key of the outdoors, of the countryside, and of the simple life. It can evoke a sense of earthiness and groundedness.
    • Example: “Tha” by Aphex Twin captures a sense of pastoral tranquility, making it ideal for more laid-back moments.

  9. Ab Major (4B): Known for its dreamy and heavenly qualities, Ab Major is often used to convey a sense of ethereal beauty. It’s the key of the otherworldly, of the sublime, often used in tracks that aim to evoke a sense of dreaminess or transcendence.
    • Example: “Energy Flash” by Joey Beltram captures a sense of ethereal intensity, making it a go-to for more transcendent moments.

  10. A Major (11B): A bright and cheerful key, A Major is often used in songs that are upbeat, happy, and optimistic. It can evoke a sense of brightness and cheerfulness, making it ideal for uplifting moments.
    • Example: “Inspector Norse” by Todd Terje is a cheerful track that’s both danceable and uplifting, making it a crowd-pleaser in many sets.

  11. Bb Major (6B): Known for its optimistic yet complex qualities, Bb Major is often used to convey a sense of complexity tinged with optimism. It’s a key that can evoke a sense of layered emotion, making it ideal for tracks that aim to provoke thought while uplifting.
    • Example: “Acid Tracks” by Phuture uses this key to create a complex yet uplifting atmosphere, making it a staple in many acid house sets.

  12. B Major (1B): Known for its brilliance and optimism, B Major is often used to convey a sense of optimism and brightness, albeit with a level of sophistication. It’s a key that can evoke a sense of sophisticated optimism.
    • Example: “Clear” by Cybotron uses this key to create a futuristic, yet optimistic atmosphere, making it a classic in many techno sets.

Minor Keys

  1. A Minor (8A): A versatile key that’s often used to convey a range of emotions from sadness to introspection. It’s a key that’s as flexible as it is popular, often used in tracks that aim to evoke complex emotional landscapes.
    • Example: “Windowlicker” by Aphex Twin uses this key to create a complex emotional landscape, making it a versatile track for various moods.

  2. Bb Minor (3A): Known for its mysterious and introspective qualities, Bb Minor is often used to convey a sense of mystery or introspection. It’s a key that can evoke a sense of inward focus, making it ideal for more introspective moments in a set.
    • Example: “Voyage” by Gregor Tresher uses this key to create a mysterious, introspective atmosphere.

  3. B Minor (10A): Known for its darker tones, B Minor is often used to convey a sense of melancholy, introspection, and sometimes even despair. It’s a key that can evoke a sense of emotional depth, making it ideal for more emotionally charged moments in a set.
    • Example: “Dead Skin Cells” by Future Sound of London is a haunting track that perfectly captures the essence of this key.

  4. C Minor (5A): Often used to convey a sense of tragedy or heaviness, C Minor is the key of the dramatic. It can evoke a sense of weight and gravitas, making it ideal for tracks that aim to create a sense of emotional intensity.
    • Example: “Risingson” by Massive Attack uses this key to create a brooding, intense atmosphere.

  5. Db Minor (12A): A rare key that’s often used for deeply emotional pieces. It can evoke a sense of emotional depth and complexity, making it ideal for tracks that aim to provoke thought or introspection.
    • Example: “Schöneberg” by Marmion uses this key to create a deeply emotional atmosphere.

  6. D Minor (7A): Known as the “saddest of all keys,” D Minor is often used to convey a sense of deep emotional weight, often tinged with a sense of finality or loss. It can evoke a sense of melancholy and depth, making it ideal for more emotionally intense moments in a set.
    • Example: “Halcyon On and On” by Orbital captures a sense of melancholic beauty, making it a staple in many chillout sets.

  7. Eb Minor (2A): A complex key that’s often used to convey intricate emotional textures. It can evoke a sense of complexity and depth, making it ideal for tracks that aim to provoke thought or introspection.
    • Example: “Dominas” by Carl Craig uses this key to create a complex, thought-provoking atmosphere.

  8. E Minor (9A): Known for its melancholic yet hopeful qualities, E Minor is often used to convey a sense of melancholy tinged with hope. It’s the key of the bittersweet, of the hopeful lament, often used in tracks that aim to evoke a sense of complex emotion.
    • Example: “Porcelain” by Moby captures the essence of this key with its melancholic yet hopeful tones.

  9. F Minor (4A): Known for its depth and its ability to convey a sense of gloom, sorrow, or existential angst. It’s a key that can evoke a sense of emotional depth, making it ideal for more introspective or moody moments in a set.
    • Example: “Knights of the Jaguar” by DJ Rolando is a deep, introspective track that captures the essence of this key.

  10. Gb Minor (11A): An enigmatic key that’s often used to convey a sense of mystery or otherworldliness. It’s a key that can evoke a sense of enigma and complexity, making it ideal for tracks that aim to provoke thought or introspection.
    • Example: “Age Of Love” by Age Of Love captures a sense of timeless, mystical allure.

  11. G Minor (6A): Known for its ability to convey a sense of sadness tinged with passion or a sense of urgent longing. It’s a key that can evoke a sense of emotional urgency, making it ideal for more emotionally charged moments in a set.
    • Example: “Rez” by Underworld uses this key to create a sense of urgency and emotional depth.

  12. Ab Minor (1A): A rare key that’s often used to convey a sense of haunting or otherworldly qualities. It can evoke a sense of haunting beauty or etherealness, making it ideal for tracks that aim to create a sense of emotional complexity.
    • Example: “Born Slippy .NUXX” by Underworld uses this key to create a haunting, yet uplifting atmosphere.

Practical Uses and Personal Recommendations

The Camelot Wheel and the Simple Harmonic Mixing Tool are primarily used by DJs and music producers to group keys based on their harmonic relationships. Keys adjacent to each other on the wheel are considered compatible and can be mixed or transitioned between more easily than keys that are further apart. This avoids dissonance or clashes between different musical keys, making your mixes smoother and more emotionally resonant.

It’s worth noting that my recommendations for chord progressions are based on my personal experience and expertise as a musician and composer. There are 7 possible following keys that I find harmonious or serve a meaningful corresponding purpose. However, these are my personal recommendations and should always be taken with a grain of salt.

Conclusion

Understanding the emotional nuances of musical keys can significantly enhance your harmonic mixing skills. Whether you’re a DJ looking to create a seamless mix or a composer aiming for a particular emotional impact, the Simple Harmonic Mixing Tool can be an invaluable resource. It simplifies the complex world of harmonic relationships between keys, making it easier for you to create emotionally resonant mixes and compositions.

Feel free to explore the Simple Harmonic Mixing Tool to get a hands-on experience and make your musical journey even more enriching.

I hope this deep dive into the emotional nuances of each key provides you with valuable insights for your next musical project. Happy mixing and composing!

Cover Extreme Six

REVIEW: Extreme’s “SIX” – A Symphony of Sonic Surprises and Unapologetic Authenticity

(Isn’t the album cover extremely awesome?)

As a grizzled veteran of the rock ‘n’ roll rollercoaster, having clocked up a half-century on this spinning rock we call Earth, I’ve been a passenger on the Extreme journey since the band’s genesis in 1985. Their latest offering, “SIX”, is a testament to their musical evolution, a sonic tapestry that weaves together the threads of their past while boldly striding into uncharted territory.

“SIX” opens with “Rise“, a track that hits you like a shot of adrenaline straight to the heart. It’s a powerful opener that sets the tone for the album, a narrative about the fickle nature of fame that resonates with anyone who’s been around the block a few times. It’s a reminder that success is transient, a theme that echoes through the annals of rock history and reverberates in the hearts of seasoned fans like me.

Next up is “#Rebel“, a track that lives up to its name in every sense. It’s a rebellious anthem that channels the spirit of Marilyn Manson, a stark departure from Extreme’s usual style. It’s a bold move, but it’s this willingness to push boundaries and experiment with new sounds that has kept Extreme relevant over the years.

Banshee” and “Other Side of the Rainbow” offer a softer side of Extreme, with their intimate ballads that hark back to the band’s earlier days. These tracks are a comforting reminder of the band’s roots, a nostalgic nod to the past that old fans like me can appreciate. They’re like a warm blanket on a cold night, a familiar comfort that wraps you in a cocoon of melodic memories.

Small Town Beautiful” and “The Mask” continue this trend, with their well-crafted rock music that breathes the spirit of the 90s yet finds its place in the here and now. These tracks are a testament to Extreme’s ability to evolve while staying true to their unique sound. They’re like a fine wine, maturing with age yet retaining the essence of their original flavor.

Thicker Than Blood” and “Save Me” are where the album takes a turn. These tracks are a departure from the band’s usual style, with a modern, US mainstream rock sound. It’s a surprising twist, but one that showcases the band’s versatility. It’s like stepping into a time machine and being catapulted into the future, a thrilling ride that leaves you breathless and eager for more.

X Out” is undoubtedly the standout track on the album. It’s a kaleidoscope of influences and styles that highlights Extreme’s musical range. Bettencourt’s guitar work here is particularly noteworthy, with dazzling riffs reminiscent of Van Halen and a musical structure that echoes U2’s modern phase. It’s a sonic masterpiece that showcases the band’s musical prowess and creativity.

On the other end of the spectrum is “Beautiful Girls“, a track that can only be described as an inexplicable mishap on an otherwise flawless album. Despite the band’s obvious musical prowess, this song seems to fall out of line and doesn’t quite fit with the rest of the album. It’s like a jigsaw puzzle piece that doesn’t quite fit, a perplexing anomaly in an otherwise seamless sonic landscape.

The album concludes with “Here’s to the Losers“, a poignant ballad that serves as a fitting end to the musical journey that is “SIX”. It’s a reminder of the band’s ability to evoke emotion through their music, a skill that has remained consistent throughout their career. It’s a heartfelt farewell that leaves you with a sense of satisfaction and a longing for more.

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Nuno Bettencourt (right) probably is the best guitarist this planet has ever seen.

“SIX” is an impressive album that showcases Extreme’s musical maturity and creative diversity. It’s a testament to the band’s ability to evolve while preserving their unique sound. It’s an album that will delight long-time fans of the band, like me, as well as those being introduced to their music for the first time. It’s a rollercoaster ride of musical mastery and unexpected turns, and one that I’m glad to have been a part of.

To further immerse myself in the Extreme experience, I plan to attend one or two live shows in 2023. There’s nothing quite like the electrifying atmosphere of a live concert, the raw energy of the band, and the collective excitement of the crowd. It’s an opportunity to witness the magic of Extreme firsthand, and I’m eagerly looking forward to it.

For those who wish to join me in this musical journey, you can purchase the album and merchandise on the band’s official website here. The site also provides updates on the band’s upcoming live shows, including dates in the US, Australia, Japan, the United Kingdom, and several European countries.

Footnote: In my enthusiasm for the album, I sought to purchase the t-shirt featuring the striking gorilla album cover, only to find it was sold out. A testament, perhaps, to the widespread appeal of this latest offering from Extreme. Here’s hoping for a restock soon. After all, what better way to celebrate the release of “SIX” than by wearing it on your chest?