[Review] Bernard & Pörsti – Gulliver

Marco Bernard & Kimmo Pörsti are respectively bassist and drummer of the well-known band The Samurai Of Prog, an international project that has been offering Progressive thick and quality records for years. Assisted by numerous guests, on January 25, 2020 they publish “Gulliver” for the Seacrest Oy label, a 6-track concept focused on Gulliver’s adventures written in the 18th century by Jonathan Swift. The music is strongly inspired by the masters of the genre of the 70s, long instrumental plots on the style of bands such as ELP and Genesis, of which they also remember the vocal setting. The album opens with “Overture XI” an introductory piece that immediately immerses us in the atmosphere of the album where references to classical music permeate the layers of keyboards. The duets with the guitar are elegant, and the rhythmic session, like the rest of the structure of the piece are not a simple copy and paste from the past but a modern reworking of the band’s stylistic influences and ideas. “Lilliput Suite” longest track on the album, where the band showcases all its compositional and executive quality, divided into 6 parts. Gulliver’s first trip to the land of Lilliput is best described with high-level instrumental parts with clear references to classical music and elaborate structures and intricate structures at times reminiscent of Genesis. Even the vocal is on Gabriel’s style, lacking a personal character that would improve its style and enhance the excellent suite proposed. “The Giants” has a softer and more melancholy beginning, the rhythms are softer first and then after a while increase in intensity and transform with darker atmospheres. With the entrance of Marek Arnold‘s sax, he takes a more jazzy path of fine workmanship with layers of dreamy keyboards and protagonists synths. An acceleration in the end and the song increases in intensity with the keyboards always in the foreground. “The Land Of The Fools” is another 14-minute long piece with more modern sounds, more intricate in structure than the previous suite. The rhythmic session guides the sound, the keyboards are always at the center of the project and the vocal is different in style compared to the previous one but not very incisive. The long instrumental parts are a mix of elaborate structures and melodies and sweeter and symphonic traits. “Gulliver’s Fourth Travel” sees the participation of Steve Unruh on violin and English vocal parts and Stefano “Lupo” Galifi singer of Museo Rosenbach in the Italian ones. A piece with a more positive atmosphere, the violin takes the sound to another level with the vocal parts which are energetic and adapt better to the proposed music. The album ends with “Finale” a short closing of about 3 minutes where there are cheerful duets between guitar and keyboards similar to a fanfare, pleasant and fun. A good album for technique and quality expressed both in the compositional and executive part, where all the performers collaborate in the success of the sound. Not the usual Prog album but a job that after careful listening will reveal all its beauty. The references to the groups of the past leave room for the personal characters of the band, between refined and high-level sounds. Recommended listening, in line with the releases to which the two musicians have accustomed us, one of the best records listened to so far this year.

Tracklist

01. Overture XI (7:42)
02. Lilliput Suite (17:53)
– Part 1: The Voyage of the “Antelope”
– Part 2: Prisoner
– Part 3: Inside the Emperor’s Palace
– Part 4: Peculiar Traditions
– Part 5: The Theft of the Blefuscudian Fleet
– Part 6: The Departure
03. The Giants (8:42)
04. The Land of the Fools (14:30)
05. Gulliver’s Fourth Travel (10:17)
06. Finale (3:11)

Lineup

Marco Bernard / Rickenbacker and Shuker basses
– Kimmo Pörsti / drums and percussion

With:
Andrea Pavoni / keyboards
Kari Riihimäki / guitars
Marek Arnold / sax
Oliviero Lacagnina / keyboards
Marco Vincini / vocals
Ruben Álvarez / electric guitar
Rafael Pacha / acoustic and classical guitars, recorders
Marc Papeghin / French horn and trumpet
Olli Jaakkola / flute and piccolo
Tsuboy Akihisa / violin
Mimmo Ferri / keyboards
Carmine Capasso / guitars
Alessandro Di Benedetti / keyboards
Daniel Fäldt / vocals
Federico Tetti / guitars
Massimo Sposaro / guitars
Luca Scherani / keyboards
Stefano Galifi / vocals
Steve Unruh / vocals, violin
Marcella Arganese / guitars
Alessandro Lamuraglia / keyboards

Author: Jacopo Vigezzi

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