Welcome to the world of the modern rock impresario, the musician/composer with no band yet also not really a solo artist but rather the guy with just an idea who gathers musicians to his vision. Obviously the great Ayreon is the prime example of this way of producing his music and we recently reviewed the excellent horror rock opera Dreams In The Witch House. Now, we’ve got a new project in that vein, The Experiment No. Q, a project by Italian musician/comedian/scenographer Paolo Vallerga (aka No.Q) and a huge cast of musicians to realize his vision. While a few of the players have played with well-known bands like Therion, Loch Vostok and Section A, most are very unknown. As No Q puts it “This is a Rock album with some metal peak and with a small rain of poetic atmosphere full of the energies of the musicians who play on it. Musicians are characters, music is a story, in a path to live in a metal dimension, with leather, poetry, sensuality and steampunk dust everywhere! This is not a project in which I asked famous musicians to play on it just to have big names in the lineup. All the musicians involved in the project are special friends of mine, fantastic guys, gorgeous musicians who are happy to play in my project and this you can feel in every note of each song. For this reason, to record the album, we wanted them in the same time, in the same place… We needed to share time together to feel music at better.”
The album itself is a very exciting blend of hard charging progressive metal, progressive rock theatricality, dramatic vocals and an exciting modern compositional style that is extremely exciting to listen to. The album is comprised of 10 songs and after a short instrumental intro, the album kicks in with To The Wise and Understanding Reader a kick-ass progressive hard rock epic featuring a great Steve Hackett-esque guitar solo and great heavy keys underneath male and female vocals. Unpainted Leaves is an incredibly powerful ballad with more great vocals from No. Q.’s female and male singers (he really knows how to have voices play well off each other) and some searing guitar work to underscore the theme of the song. Romantiquesque is an intense metal song that has some death metal vocals to amp up the intensity and leads into The Dream Of The Whales, a beautiful dark-hued piece featuring piano, female vocals and another powerful guitar solo. The album then veers directly into prog rock territory with the wonderfully literate The Ship and The Poet which features another theatrical vocal performance (by Kevin Zwierzchaczewski) and some beautiful transverse flute. After a few songs that travel similar territory as on previous songs, No. Q pulls out his fantastic epic, the melancholy The Testament Of Cremer – a wonderful song with a short beautiful melodic motif throughout, an intense and heavy prog metal mid-section and a softly beautiful classical guitar to finish it. It’s a great song and easily my favorite on the album. The Experiment No. Q closes with another flute-drenched melodic prog rock song, Il Comandante which also featuring some great acoustic guitar. I’ve always been a sucker for Italian progressive rock from the 70’s and it’s a real treat to hear modern groups echo those sounds so well.
The Experiment No. Q is an exciting and very passionate new addition to the progressive music scene The album is consistently excellent throughout and has moments of sublimity that keep me coming back to the it over and over again and I really hope that this wasn’t Vallerga’s one and only attempt and creating a setting for his music because this guy has a ton of talent and passion for what he does and also has a real knack for bringing people together to create some great music.
Review by Jeff Stevens
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