It truly is a funny thing: as I listen to the streams on Progstreaming and decide which albums I want to mention in my brief reviews, more often then not it turns out that the albums are either Italian or have some sort of Italian connection. Coincidentally, I come from an Italian immigrant family.  Is there something about Italian prog that speaks to my blood, causing my general interest to spark before I even know the origin of some bands? Could be. In this case, the band/album names give it away in most cases, however, the truth still stands. Somehow I love Italian prog, and therefore, on this day I present to you a few albums that boost my ego as a good little Italian boy. Please note: while Inner Ear Brigade is NOT Italian (they’re from the Bay Area), I feel like they picked up on a lot of Italian sensibilities and it is no coincidence that their album, Rainbro got picked up by the Italian label, AltrOck. Btw, if you’re not familiar, you really need to check out the other bands on AltrOck. Also, beware! My ancestral pride does not stop here! We have two Maschera di Cera albums up for next week :)

Inner Ear Brigade – Rainbro
I feel lucky to live in the Bay Area. Why? Inner Ear Brigade, that’s why. They’re playing in a few weeks in San Francisco and this is a show I’m not going to miss. Rainbro presents an electric mix of genres; notably, I’m hearing elements of jazz (especially Brazilian), mixed with RIO, prog and experimental genres. The album is extremely upbeat and grooves really nicely. It’s complex, but doesn’t have to go into virtuoso territory to do so. Despite complex chord progressions, dense arrangements, and varied instrumentation, Inner Ear Brigade never intends to lose the listener. The songs are very easy to follow along, but they still have lots of depth. In the end, Rainbro presents music that is fun, happy, accessible, and proggy. Whether it’s gorgeous vocals, Moog synths, vibes, or Hammond B3, it’s all there for your pleasure. Pick this one up for sure, and if you’re in the Bay Area, make it to the show.

L’Ombra Della Sera – L’Ombra Della Sera
Is there anything bad that could ever be said about music written by the guys from La Maschera di Cera? In their latest incarnation under the band name L’Ombra della Sera, they manage to touch a number of styles, including, but not limited to, prog, jazz, cantebury, and avant-garde. In my opinion, this project sounds pretty different from La Maschera di Cera. It doesn’t adhere so tightly to the 70’s symphonic prog sound, but rather, each track seems to lean towards a distinct musical direction, be it jazz, symphonic, eclectic, or even folk.  As can be expected from this group of Italians, the composition is concise and melodic while the performances are professionally and tastefully executed. My personal favorite instrument on the record?: the flute; it’s absolutely beautiful, so listen for it. Lots of great Rhodes and even some Mellotron on here too. If you’re familiar with these guys’ work, you’ll be expecting good stuff, and they’ll deliver it..

Egonon – Risveglio
With Risveglio being released in 2011, Egonon is pretty new in the Italian scene; however, being new does not at all mean that they are behind the game. At first I wasn’t digging this album too much, but track after track it grew on me so much. Although Risveglio started out weak, in my opinion, it got stronger and stronger as the songs progressed; at first it seemed like it was going to have too much pop-hard-rock for my tastes, but in the end it turned out to be quite an eclectic album with lots of jazz, middle eastern influences, varied instrumentation, and a very strong folky feel. The end result is a fantastic album that fits great as a very modern version of the classic Italian prog trajectory. If you’re into the eastern sound of bands like Orphaned Land but aren’t so much a fan of the metal aspect of the band, Risveglio is an album for you. Very enjoyable and great album!