It’s a shame Accordo Dei Contrari won’t make it to NEARFest this year, but it’s a shame a lot of good bands won’t make it to NEARFest this year. At least we are lucky enough to be graced with their new album, Kublai, after a four year delay from their last one. Just from listening to the music I can deduce that a lot of the time was taken redefining the band’s sound and otherwise improving the songwriting and musicianship. These aspects of Accordo Dei Contrari have progressed leaps and bounds ahead of their previous album, Kinesis.
While their last album was mostly an interesting 45 minute bit of prog-jazz-fusion, and not much more, Kublai is mature, self-aware, and wonderfully coherent. I liked Kinesis for it’s complex musicianship, and this aspect remains in Kublai. Thankfully it’s much more musically interesting too.
One of the interesting features of Kublai is how much Accordo Dei Contrari seek to show their roots in traditional jazz of the 60’s. This is done quite easily: the first track is a reimagining of Thelonious Monk’s jazz standard Evidence. It isn’t simply a new version, as it’s completely unrecognizable compared to the old one. I would know, Thelonious Monk is one of my favorite composers. Instead, they have taken the complexity and beauty of Thelonious Monk and made his music into their own brand of heavy prog fusion. I would also imagine the track “Dark Magus” is named after the Miles Davis live album of the same name, but don’t quote me on this.
Perhaps the most interesting and surprising thing about Kublai is the addition of a guest vocalist in the form of Richard Sinclair, the quintessentially English vocalist of Canterbury bands Hatfield and the North, Caravan, and many more. This inclusion for the track “L’Ombra di un Sogno” (shadow of a dream) is a clear indication of their musical progression. Though the fusion complexity remains, the track is actually a ballad to Sinclair’s beloved dog, who remains nameless. There’s actually picture of Richard with the dog in the album notes, and he looks a lot like my dog, Fudge!
Musically I would say my favorite track is the longest, the twelve minute Arabesque. This piece is an excellent indication of the band’s musical progression – the rhythms and themes present are leaps and bounds ahead of anything on Kinesis.
While Accordo Dei Contrari are clearly a jazz fusion band at heart, there is very little to them that is overtly jazzy. I would recommend them to any average prog rock fan. A track from their previous album was included on our fourth Progstravaganza compilation, so I would recommend you check that track out and imagine music that’s much grander, more complex, more interesting. Having done so, ignore everything you’d just listened to and buy Kublai anyway. It’s worth it.
1. G.B. Evidence
3. Dark Magus
4. L’Ombra di un Sogno*
5. Più Limpida e Chiara di Ogni Impressione Vissuta, part I
6. Battery Park