Stefano Panunzi – Beyond The Illusion: Album Review

Stefano Panunzi blends ambience with art rock while visiting several stop offs on the way.

Release date: 26th March 2021

Label: distributed by Burning Shed

Format: DL / CD / vinyl

Italian musician and composer Stefano Panunzi is a well-connected man. On Beyond The Illusion, he can boast a guest list that inevitably piques the interest.

His new record sees him teaming up with a shedload of internationally renowned artists. Some may be more familiar than others with their leanings towards music of the progressive type. Others maybe less so as you check out the teamsheet: GRICE, Tim Bowness (No-Man), Gavin Harrison (Porcupine Tree, King Crimson, The Pineapple Thief), Monica Canfora, Nicola Lori (Fijeri), Cristiano Capobianco, Lorenzo Feliciati (Tiromancino, Niccolò Fabi, Pat Mastelotto, Roy Powell, Colin Edwin), Fabio Fraschini (Novembre, Zero Assoluto, Il Volo, Marina Rei), Ivan Ricchiuto, Luca Calabrese (Isildurs Bane, GRICE, Richard Barbieri), Mike Applebaum (Ennio Morricone, Jovanotti, Zucchero, Tiromancino), Mike Bearpark (Tim Bowness, No-Man), Yuri Croscenko, Davide Alivernini, and Dario Vero (orchestrator, conductor and soundtrack composer).

For the uninitiated, expect a grandly atmospheric work that draws on elements of art-rock, progressive, ambient and jazz influences. It’s not surprising, given the collaborators, that he should deliver echoes of the music of Jansen, Barbieri & Karn, Porcupine Tree, No-Man, and King Crimson’s ProjeKCts series.

Seven minutes spent with When Even Love Cannot should be enough to convince that there’s going to be plenty to gorge on in the following eleven pieces. A composition that defines cinematic as the winding travelogue evolves across seven classy minutes.

The Bench is dedicated to the late bass colossus, Mick Karn of Japan, who played on Panunzi’s first two solo albums. Again, it’s not hard to detect the nod in a suitably subtle and fluid bassline that’s a nice touch. The use of what almost seems like a talking bassline crops up at regular intervals, standing out particularly in The Doubt. A track that skips through the influences from heavy and forceful (dig those power chords) to the jerky eighties Crimson signature.

We get a version of I Go Deeper, written with Tim Bowness, originally included in another version on the latter’s solo album, Flowers At The Scene. This version feels lighter and airier with an electronic pulse. One that carries the into the opening of Mystical Tree and shouldn’t be surprising, but as soon as you’ve become absorbed by the duelling rhythms, they give way to a calmer flow and the lull of an easy trumpet.

Very much an album to get lost in. Don those headphones As I’m sure that will provide the perfect listening experience, and wallow in some indulgent textures with a band of classy and quality musicians doing justice to some clever arrangements.

Listen to The Portrait from the album:

Stefano Panunzi online: Soundcloud

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