Album review: Il Cerchio d'Oro - Pangea e le Tre Lune (2023)
Rock progressivo italiano
PANGEA E LE TRE LUNE is the fourth and last in a sequence of albums representing each of the basic elements water (IL VIAGGIO DI COLOMBO), air (DEDALO E ICARO), fire (IL FUOCO SOTTO LA CENERE) and earth and whereas its immediate predecessor was a collection of disparate songs which all concerned a different meaning of 'fire', PANGEA E LE TRE LUNE is a return to the linear narrative style of the first two albums in the sequence, following an imaginary creation story written by the band's long-term lyricist Pino Paolino where Earth (Pangea ) is transformed from a flaming ball of gas to a green planet full of life. Pangea originally had three moons, each with different aspects and characteristics. Mirroring human foibles, a disastrous quarrel between two of the moons results in their mutual destruction, leaving nothing but 'a million stars'. The remaining moon is destined to become the satellite we know, imbued with the qualities of comfort and romance.
As with their previous three albums the music is predominantly in the style of 70's symphonic progressivo italiano, though there are moments of bright synthesizer and guitar which adds a hint of neo-prog but the overwhelming feel is an album of melodic prog with effortless changes of time signature. Il Cerchio d'Oro are known for their attention to sonic detail and once again great care has been taken over the selection of analogue keyboard sounds, for example Franco Piccolini's Hammond solo on third track DIALOGO. Another key component of the definitive Cerchio d'Oro sound is the use of Rickenbacker bass, an instrument that's surprisingly uncommon in Italian prog, but which is used to great effect by Giuseppe Terribile.
I've previously been a little critical of some of the vocals but I'm unable to fault Piuccio Pradal or the Terribile brothers, who on this release are particularly effective singing in harmony.
There's a nice link between past and present through Armando Mancini who provided the cover illustration. Mancini has designed a lot of album sleeves including the first LP by Quella Vecchia Locanda where American violinist Donal Lax was featured in the line-up; Lax was invited to play on PANGEA E LE TRE LUNE as a guest along with other well-known characters from the local prog scene, Ricky Belloni (Nuova Idea, New Trolls) and Tolo Marton (Le Orme).
The LP contains three tracks per side but the CD has a bonus track, CRISI, a single dating from 1981 when the band had reinvented themselves as a heavy rock outfit called Black Out. The beauty of the LP is that CRISI doesn't really fit the Il Cerchio d'Oro template or the album concept (they played it at the gig with a guest appearance from former Black Out guitarist Valerio Piccioli which was warmly appreciated by the audience) so its absence from the vinyl format is quite appropriate.
PANGEA E LE TRE LUNE's production is gorgeous with crystal clarity and good separation of instruments; the song writing and playing are faultless, making it an enjoyable listen from beginning to end.
Pangea e le Tre Lune - Black Widow Records BWR 255