"EGO" - Review from Proggnosis
My first exposure to Alex Argento the keyboardist was by virtue of hearing his playing on a couple tracks from the impressive 2004 hard-edged fusion release by guitarist Joop Wolters called - Speed Traffics and Guitar Accidents, while the songs Alex guested on left an impression, I wondered if Alex Argento would be just another fantastic session musician that would not get his proper recognition, I was also aware that he would be involved in the long awaited Shadrane release by Vivian Lalu. I was able to chat with him and a few other musicians at Joops online cd release party and there I was led to Alex' website, and many chats long after, yet it was at his website where I was able to read more about him, and his work in progress on a cd he would be releasing, thus began a long wait to hear the finished project that he had so diligently put together over the last couple years.
Finally I am proud to be reviewing the new Ego cd by keyboardist extraordinaire - Alex Argento, and what an excellent piece of musical work he has created for his first recording as a solo artist. I knew it was going to be a good one, just because of the few teases I had heard along the way. He mentioned at one point that he had plans to enlist some big names for the drumming duties, yet at one point he met up with a sensational Italian protege named - Stefano Ruscica who would be tracking all of the drums on the cd. Now having heard Stefano, I see why Alex was excited to have his talents behind the kit for his compositions, incredible! This cd is an absolute must for fans of over the top, technically challenging progfusion music with the highest degree of musicianship, writing, and production standards, in other words, it is as good as it gets. Very few recordings have put together all the goods on one effort, and Ego ranks with some of my personal favorites from this growing genre.
Alex takes something from every inspirational angle that he has been influenced by, and graces it with his own imagination, hearing certain songs will echo moments of Virgil Donati's On the Virg - Serious Young Insects or even his earlier Loose Change stuff. There are also some hints of the better fusion artists all over this cd, Tribal Tech, Chick Corea's Elektric Band, Return to Forever, Planet X to name a few. And though I dread comparing Alex Argento to any one band, he does fit well in the company of these artists. Alex's keyboard playing is deft and nimble, his creation of melody over such intricately weaved technical progressions art that of sheer genius. He also is a master of beautiful tones, where he has taken a personal approach to defining 'his' sound, only a few keyboardist have done this, I can't help but to think of players like Chick Corea, George Duke, David Sancious, Jan Hammer, Scott Kinsey, or Derek Sherinian and how they all have a distinctive sound, when I listen to Alex all over this cd, his tone is perfectly intertwined with his writing style, and he has a lot of sound banks with which he draws from, all the while maintaining his unique sound.
As I have mentioned thus far, the keyboards and drumming are first rate fusion excellence on this cd, but I would be only providing half of the equation as to why this is such a great fusion recording, the other half being the guitarists and bassist that compliment each song, Alex has enlisted the efforts of quite a list of great guitarists on this cd, and they are not at all just occasional soloists here, Marco Sfogli, who did some phenomenal work on James LaBries - Elements of Persuasion cd, helps out as both a structure accompanist, as well as providing some searingly freakish solos, there are also some spot solos by fellow Italians - Fabrizio Leo (Bicio), Alessandro Benvenuti, and Vittorio Falanga guesting on one song, handling bass duties is up and coming bassist - Jon Reshard and Andrea Casali. I am not sure if these names jump out at too many people, but hopefully fusion fans around the world will hear this cd and be as stunned as I was, even at the first passing!
Aside of everything positive I have mentioned about Alex Argento's Ego release, I have to say there is one glaring problem I have with the disc is this.........It's over with all too soon! That is not to say that it's a short cd, as it clocks in at nearly an hour of music, but every song is so good, that when I hear the last note on Groovus In Fabula, I an left wanting for more. This is by far at the top of my list of favorites for 2007, and this is a great year musically for my personal tastes. I know that there are fusion fans around the world that are going to be as amazed by this cd as I am, they just need to hear it, my advice, go to Alex's website, or myspace page, both linked here on Alex' artist page, listen to a few, and then just simply purchase a copy, as this is a must have recording for those that are at home with the company of artists and bands listed in this review.