[Review] Bernard & Pörsti – Robinson Crusoe

It is always a pleasure to be able to listen to and review the record releases of Marco Bernard and Kimmo Pörsti and of The Samurai Of Prog world in general. The new album “Robinson Crusoe” was released on December 2021 via Seacrest Oy and contains 7 tracks with the participation, as always, of distinguished guests from the Progressive scene. To be precise, the title would be “The Life and Strange, Surprising Adventures of Robinson Crusoe of York, Mariner” a novel published by the English writer Daniel Defoe in 1719. The album is accompanied by a nice booklet with a preface by Marco Piva, the photos of the guests and splendid drawings by Ed Unitsky with accompanying descriptions of the tracks. The album opens with “Overture” an instrumental of over 6 minutes that blends the pomposity of classical music with its orchestrations and Rock. Rich in tempo changes, with a solid and pressing drumming and splendid keyboard solos that alternate with more classic symphonic openings. This journey begins in the best possible way when a passionate guitar solo is inserted, and between continuous tempo changes and keyboard interventions this intro ends with the sweet notes of the piano and the orchestrations. The following track “Like an Endless Sea” which tells us about the story of the pivotal character Robinson, whose family wanted to become a lawyer but he chose the sea. With an intricate rhythm session and guitar and keyboard textures that intertwine on the violin, tempo changes border on Jazzy overtones. After a series of intertwining with the violin protagonist, embellished with continuous tempo changes in pure Prog style, Wilkinson‘s dynamic and expressive voice enters, with a very particular and emotional timbre. After the sung stanzas, which also alternate very engaging choral parts, there is space in the final minutes for an instrumental development of fine workmanship. The violin dialogues with the keyboards and everyone expresses their individual technique at the service of the band, we are faced with the masters of Prog music. In his 3 minutes and a little more “The Voyage Begins” Myers gives us a piece of rare beauty on the piano, and Robinson’s journey begins on these splendid notes. Robinson joined an expedition of slave traders who was shipwrecked on a remote island off the coast of Venezuela together with a dog and two cats, and “The Island of Despair” opens with a dreamy violin. 10 minutes of pure Prog, solid and with fine mixes of guitars and keyboards that duet perfectly. Delicate and symphonic moments alternate with others more full of energy with the masterful interpretations of Hackett and Pacha on guitars, Bingham‘s sweet violin and Schwertmann‘s dynamic vocal. A very intense track, 10 minutes of pure pleasure for music lovers where everything is in the right place thanks to Di Benedetti’s composition and lyrics. With a sweet acoustic guitar arpeggio opens “Friday” which tells the well-known story, where Robinson manages to save what will become his companion from sad fate. The complex and very well elaborated composition is curated by Marco Grieco, who also plays keyboards, acoustic guitar and percussion with technique and quality. Vocals are by Vincini while Pacha is on electric guitar this time. An energetic and complex piece, full of tempo changes and with intricate textures and rich instrumental sections with solos of the highest level. Rich in contents, details and melodies with valuable performances, which continues the musical discourse undertaken in the previous tracks while maintaining the very high level. “The Rescue” features other well-known names especially on the Italian scene, a track composed by Luca Scherani who also plays keyboards. On vocals “Lupo” Galifi, with Marcella Arganese on electric guitar and Adam Diderrich on violin. A beginning with drum rolls, to then intertwine melodies of keyboards and violin with the intense vocal in Italian, a certainty. A winning blend of RPI sounds with international Prog, with thrilling solo interventions alternating violin and keyboards. The refrain is one of those that remain in the lead for a long time, while certain instrumental passages are really exciting. We have reached the end of the story with “New Life” which ends with an instrumental track, composed by Andrea Pavoni. John Hackett‘s flute opens the piece, which represents a rebirth, with melodies and passages that instill hope. The solo inserts by Marcel Signor on guitar are also intense, for a track that concludes leaving us a positive feeling and making us reflect on our existences. The choral ending is excellent with all the instruments that close with dreamy melodies. This group of artists gives us again indescribable emotions, perceptible only by listening to the record, a real masterpiece of the Progressive. The story is told in great detail and the music is very intense and elaborate, where each artist involved adds their own personal touch while increasing the quality. Albums like these are new oxygen for our beloved genre, which thanks to projects like this one keeps itself alive and qualitatively at a high level. A must listen for all lovers of Prog sounds, in my opinion a real masterpiece, thanks to Bernard and Pörsti who always manage to forge lineups of absolute value.

Tracklist

1. Overture (6:18)
2. Like an Endless Sea (9:38)
3. The Voyage Begins (3:08)
4. The Island of Despair (10:00)
5. Friday (10:08)
6. The Rescue (7:23)
7. New Life (5:16)

Lineup

Marco Bernard / Shuker Basses
Kimmo Pörsti / Drums & Percussion

With:
Octavio Stampàlia
/ Keyboards
Rubén Álvarez / Electric Guitar
Steve Bingham / Violin
Marc Papeghin / French Horn, Trumpet
Oliviero Lacagnina / Keyboards
John Wilkinson / Vocals
Sara Traficante / Flute
Marcel Singor / Electric Guitar
Rafael Pacha / Electric & Acoustic Guitars, Recorder, Viola Da Gamba
David Myers / Grand Piano
Alessandro Di Benedetti / Keyboards
Bart Schwertmann / Vocals
Steve Hackett / Electric Guitar
John Hackett / Flute
Marco Grieco / Keyboards, Acoustic Guitars, Percussion
Marco Vincini / Vocals
Luca Scherani / Keyboards
Stefano Galifi / Vocals
Adam Diderrich / Violin
Marcella Arganese / Guitar
Andrea Pavoni / Keyboards

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Author: Jacopo Vigezzi

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