“ Artist: Alex Argento / Release Year: 2007 „
Thankfully, 'Ego' isn't an entirely appropriate name for this first solo release of Italian keyboard virtuoso Alex Argento, as although these semi-improvisational pieces are all composed to demonstrate his considerable talent, it never feels like he's merely showing off. Shifting between various tones of organ, jazz piano, unconvincing seventies spacey keyboards and cheesy eighties ridiculous keyboards, this sounds more like a promotional tool to be sent out to progressive bands seeking a new keyboard player, but it's surprisingly nice to listen to as well.
Joined by drummer Stefano Ruscica and guitarist Marco Sfogli of James LaBrie's own "solo" band, Argento takes a significant jazz fusion approach to the near-prog-metal throughout this recording, but demonstrates that he knows when minimalism is best. While this obviously won't be of any interest to those who despise jazzy jams, there's a commendable range of styles on display which are all easily discerned through the titles, with a few songs bordering on Dream Theater-style progressive metal (the more violent sounding 'Brainsick,' 'Metal Detector' and 'Time Warning'), others following a deliberately stripped and atmospheric style ('Embrace To The World,' 'Vibrations' and 'Groovus in Fabula') and some of the others really lending themselves to the smoky atmosphere of a jazz club. Nice.
Argento himself never seeks attention above the other instruments, and is absent for lengthy sections at a time before returning in a different style later on, but most impressive of all is how he consistently relies on melodies rather than mere twiddling and random key pressing. His co-stars are similarly enjoyable, if a little less stellar, with songs like 'Genius' dominated by guitar solos (Argento's keyboards are particularly laughably cheesy in this one), and Ruscica's drums mainly providing a steady rhythm. An album to avoid by everyone except instrumental or modern jazz fans, but one that must have a slightly wider appeal to encompass even me.
1. Moving Around "E"
3. Synchronal Steps
4. Mr. Shuffle's Land
5. Metal Detector
6. Embrace To The World
8. Time Warning
10. Groovus in Fabula