Lee Speaks About Music… #60

Storie Fuori Dal Tempo Conqueror

C - SFDT

Introduction…

I recently stumbled across a track entitled Morgana on YouTube’s autoplay system last weekend, from this album entitled Storie Fuori Dal Tempo by the Italian band who go by the name of Conqueror. I was that impressed I had to investigate the band more. I then found 4 of the bands 5 albums plus an EP that their record company Ma.Ra.Cash Records had put on Bandcamp.

I spent Sunday morning and afternoon listening to all 4 albums and the EP and was even more impressed by now, that much that I wanted to buy this great bands entire discography including their latest live CD/DVD which was released in 2015.

Though I must confess I certainly do not have the money to buy them all at once, and I already have £220 worth of pre-orders on Amazon to pay for over the next couple of months, including Neal Morse’s latest album that gets released tomorrow on Friday.

So I went in search on Amazon to see if I could find the bands albums, so I could get them when I had the resources to pay for them. I immediately found this album Storie Fuori Dal Tempo which was priced up at £11.59 and it was even on Amazon Prime so I could get it delivered the next day for free, being a Prime member. So I popped it in the basket and ordered it on Monday and got it Tuesday.

The only problem I did however find was that most of the bands other albums was ridiculously overpriced by private sellers. Some of these sellers wanted £80 or more for 1 album. Sorry to say but I am not a fool who’s money is easily departed, and no way would I pay that price either. So I located the bands website and found their albums very reasonably priced at around the 15 Euro mark.

Whilst I was there I ordered their live CD/DVD having watched a couple of the videos from it that was posted on Youtube. It was priced up at 18.50 Euro. Which was a lot more respectable than the price of £35 on Amazon which was way too high.

A Brief History Of The Band Conqueror…

The Italian band the Conqueror was originally formed back in November 1994 by the bands drummer Natale Russo. Though back then they was writing their own material and creating their own unique style with the their keyboard player Salvatore Chillemi and various other musicians up until around 1999, it was not until 2002 when Simona Rigano joined the band that they really started to shape up, and in the following year towards the end of 2003 the band got to release their first album entitled Istinto.

Simona is the keyboard player and bands main vocalist. She is quite a talent and comes with an array of keyboards around her in the same way Rick Wakeman does. Although over the years the band has gone through several line-up changes, and both Natale Russo and Simona Rigano are the only 2 surviving members left in the band today.

Today they are also a 5 piece band instead of a 4 piece band which featured on their debut album. Though they do also use the odd session player here and now on their albums, and there is a couple on this 2nd album of theirs I am reviewing here too.

Today’s line-up of Conqueror are as follows: Simona Rigano – Keyboards & Voice. Tino Nastasi – Guitars. Edoardo Ragunì – Bass. Sofia Ferraro – Sax & Flute. Natale Russo – Drums.

I do believe the band are also working on a new album which will hopefully be released later this year. So let’s now take a look at the packaging this great CD arrived in.

The Packaging & Artwork…

28080752_1603635866382628_1903947312_o

The album comes in a very well made Digipak with a Jewel Case Tray to hold the CD in place, and a pocket to house the booklet that comes with it. I quite like the construction of this type of Digipak simply because it offers way better protection for the disc, and you’re not going to be getting any scratch marks or finger marks on it when retrieving the disc, like you would with those that are made on the cheap and are stored inside a cardboard sleeve only.

The booklets linear notes for the band and credits information is in English, though the lyrics are in Italian as to be expected. The albums cover art was painted by Sergio Pacher. The painting is perhaps on the psychedelic side and he called it “L’occhio relativo” which translates in English to “the relative eye”. So maybe somebody is looking down on us and keeping an eye out :)))))).

The band also have their own logo which was designed by Enzo Puglisi of Kopygraphica.

555057_225349667622924_1199088823_n

Overall it’s a great quality package and a fine piece of artwork. Now let’s see how the album turned out in my review.

The Album In Review…

Storie Fuori Dal Tempo by Conqueror was originally released back in October 2005. The album contained 6 tracks over a playing time of 1 second over 62 minutes. The album was remastered and reissued in March 2017, and now comes with a bonus track making the overall playing time 70 minutes, 29 seconds. I managed to buy the reissue of the album on Amazon for £11.59 and shall be taking on the album and it’s bonus track in my full review here.

Before I take on all the individual tracks on the album, let’s just discuss a bit more about this superb band that come from Italy.

The band Conqueror are very much a band whose music is based around the many influences from the 70’s era of progressive rock. Besides writing their own material for their own albums, they have also appeared on many other progressive rock tribute albums playing the music of those great bands from that great decade. Such as the music of Yes. Steve Hackett of Genesis. Pink Floyd. Santana. The Moody Blues and even the later 80’s prog rock band Marillion.

I do believe they may have even been playing live along with some of these bands on one of those cruise ships that are quite popular with prog rock bands these days. In some respects I suppose they are a bit like the Italian band The Watch. Only that band mainly focus on doing a tribute of the band Genesis. But they also write their own material and I have seen them live myself, and shall hopefully be seeing them live again this year doing another Genesis tribute concert here in England.

Though unlike The Watch the band Conqueror only sing in their own native language as far as I know of. But to be honest this has never presented me with a problem at all, and I have many prog rock albums from many other countries who only sing in their own native language. For example when the Swedish band Kaipa first started back in the 70’s they only ever sang in their own language. So did Eloy from Germany.

For me personally the music as always come first, and words are only really as good as they are expressed with ones voice in a song. One does not need to know the words, but these days I am pretty sure you can always translate the lyrics on the internet and get the main gist of what the song is about, even if it’s not 100% accurate. If the singer expresses the vocals well enough, and they work with the music as they very much do with a band like Conqueror then that’s fine in my book.

Sometimes it does not pay for a lot of singers who come from foreign countries in relation to your own, to sing in the language of your country. It’s far more easier to use their own language to get the best expression from their own voice. Though some do learn English very well too, to be able to do so.

But personally for myself, no matter what country many artists come from and sing in, it’s never spoilt or stopped my enjoyment and pleasure I get out of listening to such great music, and no doubt this bands music not only speaks for itself, but has plenty to say as well.

Musicians & Credits…

Band 2005

The 2005 Line-Up Of The Band

Recorded at Sonoria studios Scordia CT- Italy between April – June 2005. Produced by Conqueror & Ma.Ra.Cash Records. Sound Engineer: Vincenzo Cavalli. Studio Assistant; Daniela Linguanti. Artwork Cover Painting: Sergio Pacher.  Art Direction: Natale Russo. Booklet Paintings: Graziella Russo. Graphic Project: Enzo Puglisi (Kopygraphica). Photography: Alberto Leo & Lenny. Remastered 2016 at Sonoria Studios.

Musicians:
Simona Rigano: Keyboards and Voice.
Tino Nastasi: Guitar.
Fabio Ucchino: Bass and Bass Pedals.
Sabrina Rigano: Flute and Saxophone.
Natale Russo: Drums and Percussion.

Guest Musicians:
Antonella Cernuto: Harp (On Tracks 1 & 6).
Vincenzo Cavalli: Choir (On Track 4).
Sofia Ferraro: Flute and Saxophone (On Track 7).

The Album Tracks In Review…

All of the tracks on the album Storie Fuori Dal Tempo were written and arranged by the band Conqueror with the exception of tracks 1, 5, & 6 to which were written and arranged by Conqueror and the bands previous keyboard player Salvatore Chillemi who was a key part in the earlier line-up of the band between 1995 – 1998.

So without further adieu let’s take a look at what exciting pleasure lies deep within the surface of this great album Storie Fuori Dal Tempo which incidentally means “Stories Out of Time” in English.

Track 1. Ouverture.

No prizes for guessing what the title of this means :))))) It’s actually derived from the French language and not Italian. But no matter how you translate it in English it means either “Overture” or “Opening” it’s very much a “Beginning” that one would find in classical music that is often meant to be the starting point or introduction of a much longer piece of music, that has been made up in sections.

Most albums by the band Conqueror are mainly concept albums, that tell some story in some form or another, and the concept of this particular album is that it’s made up of more than one story in which the band so skilfully portray and put across with both words and music, and is based around the subject matter of “Out Of Time”. In other words coming from one place or another and not in our time.

This opening piece is very much the “Opening” and is a very skilful instrumental piece that features some excellent piano and keyboard work from Simona Rigano along with guitars, and flutes that one would also associate with early prog rock bands such as The Moody Blues, Genesis. Camel and even Jethro Tull to name a few. It even has a bit of harp played by one of the guest musicians Antonella Cernuto.

You can also get to see how good the bands much earlier keyboard player Salvatore Chillemi was in some respects, and he very much contributed to the writing of this piece. It would also be interesting if the band had any earlier recordings with him on them, and see how much the piece has developed over the years with this incarnation of the band.

There is no doubt the band have their very own distinctive style and its very original too, though you will hear some influences even from some of those bands I mentioned above, especially Camel & Jetrho Tull. There is most likely a drop of other band influences here too, such as Focus and Procol Harum. Though there is a lot more too it all than just those bands in the way music presents itself with their own melody lines and not of the others.

It’s a beautiful piece that has both subtleness and an harder edge in the progression department we get here in the piece. There is no doubt this band are excellent musicians to be able to even play, and go down this splendid road in the first place. It’s a very enjoyable and exiting piece and cracking start to the album.

Track 2. Mosaico di Colori.

The first of the vocal tracks on the album and the title translates to “Mosaic of Colors” . It’s quite a colorful ballad of a song too that starts off with a lovely bit of acoustic guitar played by the bands guitarist at the time Tino Nastasi. Tino had just joined the band in the same year they made this album and also featured on the bands 3rd album in 2007 before leaving. He has since returned to the band in 2016 and will hopefully be on the bands new album scheduled for release this year.

Simona‘s voice is very sweet and her vocal line reminds me of a bit like the 1967 song “The Day I Met Marie” that Hank Marvin wrote for Cliff Richard. Though it’s perhaps best not to associate prog rock with old Cliff :))))))) and I did say it was a bit like it, and nothing more, but her voice does have that refined sweetness about it that Cliff also had and there is nothing wrong with that or Cliff for that matter. Unless he’s doing another Christmas song that is :))))))))).

The one thing you will not find on a Cliff Richard record is the gorgeous couple of lead breaks we get here. The first one being a short section featuring Sabrina Rigano on sax and flute. She also contributes the fine instruments in a short section of the longer lead break too at the start, which also features some great bass lines from Fabio Ucchino who quit not long after his work on this album.

The bands founder and longest member Natale Russo holds it all together on the drums with precise timing very well throughout, and once again Simona gets to fly on the keyboards on this lead section and does a superb job as they all do.

Having translated the words to the song myself. The subject matter behind the words can relate to a dream state mind with wonderful visions of silhouettes flying away in between the horizons of heaven and earth, and taking in the many colours. In some ways they could even pertain to one dying and his soul being lifted up into the horizon.

The words are very clever and very much written like a good poem. Ones wonderful thoughts can only be lost in the wake of my tomorrow, just like a dream that’s no longer there and lost.

Though I must say having just found this video the band made of the song. My own interpretation of the song’s lyrics may appear to be a bit on the milder side in relation to the bizarre goings on here :))))).

 

Conqueror – Mosaico di Colori

Track 3. No Photo.

Well once again no prizes for what the songs title is about. Though I will say there is a lot more to the lyrics behind the subject of having no photo so to speak. The words are quite haunting in the way of perhaps knowing somebody, but having no real account of who they are, because no photo exists sort of thing.

I quite like the following words in the song to which are “We lose ourselves in the evening in that ray of light that the moon give us for a while”. There is no doubt that the title of the album which translates to “Stories Out of Time” is very well portrayed in these haunting tales, and the stories reflect to not only being in another time, but also in another place. Perhaps in the spirit world.

Musically there are some influences from both Jethro Tull’s Roots To Branches and Camel’s Rajah albums. In that it comes with a touch of the east or the Arabian desert. As it progresses further along we get a touch of Pink Floyd with the guitar. Though once again there is more of the bands own input here too, and the great progression and melody lines are very much their own. It’s another really excellent track on the album.

Track 4. Pagine di Poesie.

Another excellent song that very much has some influences from the prog rock band Camel. The songs title translates in English to “Pages of Poems” and whoever writes the lyrics certainly knows a thing or two about poetry has I mentioned at the end of the 2nd track on the album earlier.

The song tells a tale about a fisherman on a solitary boat on the sea sailing through storms to deliver a piece of poetry, only to be confused in all the fog he may very well have given the poetry to the wrong person.

The song contains some really excellent chord progression along its path, and in many ways some of the changes and keyboard sounds are very familiar to that of Camel’s great 1976 album Moonmadness. It also has that lovely airy feel and flow about it too.

Track 5. Klaus.

No doubt the title suggests a German name and this very short story that portrays a person meeting his fate by accident in helplessness. The squeals an madness can be heard beyond the grave so to speak, and it’s another ghostly haunting story very well put to words in a very poetic way.

Musically there is a lot more of it than the little tale with the words we get here, and it’s quite melancholic with some lovely piano and flute and all the other great instrumentation the band delivers and drives it along very well. It’s another cracking track on the album.

Track 6. Morgana.

The longest track on the album. It weighs in at some 31 minutes, 14 seconds. Morgana is generally a name given to female used in fictional stories and though it can be related to many other mythical and legendary stories such as Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. King Arthur and those, I am not entirely sure where this mysterious tale come from.

Though the fantasy or fairytale of a story the band Conqueror does portray in this magical story which is in 6 parts, could even be seen as the title track of the album. Because amongst the words in this story, the albums title “Stories Out of Time is mentioned at the end of part one, which takes up 9 minutes, 26 seconds, and is entitled “Dream Revive” or “Dream Revival”.

To be honest having studied the words in this wonderful story that Simona is putting over with her fine voice, the story certainly could be about the days of King Arthur or the Arthurian legend so to speak, and the Morgana in this story could very well be Morgan le Fay who gets portrayed in this story as the lady of the night, rather than the lady of the lake.

The story is certainly set in the days of the knights, kings and queens, vain heroes and magical loves and follies.

Musically the first part opens up a bit like Pink Floyd and then soon settles down into something perhaps a bit more familiar with Camel with the use of flutes, guitars and keyboards. Interestingly Antonella Cernuto’s Harp is utilised better on this track than the opening track on the album. The whole piece contains superb diversity and progression over all 6 parts.

You also get more of a Marillion style as it progresses along. Also the use of the sax can give it a touch of that jazzy flavour that can be found in Steve Hillage and Gongs music and perhaps many other influences as well as the bands own great style.

Parts IV “Morgana Theme” and Part VI “Remote Images” are instrumental sections of the whole 31 minute suite. Whilst Part II “Castle”. Part III “In The Abyss” and Part V “Pure Sapphires” all make up the rest of the story with the first part.

Morgana” is one superb journey over its lengthy distance, and it’s that exciting I wished it could of went on forever instead of the 31 minutes and 14 seconds you get here. It’s what I call “Prog Rock Heaven” and it’s very much my favourite track on the album and merits the top spot award for the best track on the album. It’s very much a masterpiece and ended off the original album in classic style.

Track 7. Altre Storie.

The bonus track that’s included with this remastered and reissued album judging by its title you would think it meant “Alternative Story” in English. It does in fact translate to “More Stories“. Though to be honest this does in fact sound like an alternative version of track 4 on the album “Pagine di Poesie” with it’s opening bass line. But I am pretty sure they are playing segments of all 6 original tracks, and have combined it all into one 8 and half minute track.

It’s a very worthy bonus track to have and the band recorded this song in 2016 with its current line up and it features Sofia Ferraro on flutes and sax instead of Sabrina Rigano who played on the other 6 tracks of the original album.

To be honest I am not sure who is the bass player on this bonus track as it does not state who it is. But it could of been Enzo Carinci who was the bass player at the time they recorded it. Or they could of used the original bass stems or even got their guitarist to play it. Whatever they did, it rounds off this superb album very well indeed.

Summary…

To sum up the album Storie Fuori Dal Tempo by Conqueror. I would say they have managed to craft out a very respectful album that has all the right elements you would find in progressive rock music from the 70’s. They have managed to successfully fuse classical, jazz and rock music very skilfully together and even the lyrics are great poetry in them self.

Regarding the lyrics being only in Italian in the booklet. I do have to confess like with most artists you can find them easily enough on the internet, and use one of the many translator’s they have on the world wide web to translate them yourself and get a fairly good idea of what they are about.

However I was not able to find the bands lyrics posted anywhere, and I had the painstaking job of typing them all out in my word processor, so I could simply copy and paste them into one of the many translators for my review here.

I did ask the bands drummer Natale if he could get them to me, even if they was in Italian, but he was rather busy at the time I was writing out my review here. So I persevered.

But I will get back in touch with him and it may be a good idea for him to post them on the bands website. Meanwhile if you would like the lyrics I translated to English. I would be happy to email them to you. Just message me on my blog site here, or on Facebook. Or even drop down you would like them in a comment.

You may have noticed that I never listed any other tracks as contenders for the top spot on the album throughout my review. This was basically because I felt no matter how good the other tracks on the album were, there was just no way of them competing with that 31 minute epic masterpiece.

The whole album in reality is really superb with the material you have got here, and I cannot even remotely find one bad track upon it. I love them all and it really is a solid album. My personal highlights from the album are as follows: “Ouverture“. “No Photo“. “Pagine di Poesie” and “Morgana“.

Conclusion…

Overall the band Conqueror have come up with a truly magnificent album with their 2nd album that was originally released back in 2005 entitled Storie Fuori Dal Tempo. It contains quite a remarkable solid body of work with the material they wrote for it. The band themselves are highly talented musicians who know how to craft out well good music and songs.

One should never put a language barrier regarding what one listens too and buys. If you do you are truly missing out on an awful lot of incredible music that has been put out in this world I can assure you. This bands music speaks very highly to me and it’s a damn shame they have not got more of a following. Because quite frankly the band have put in the hours and learnt their skills, and are churning out music that certainly needs more appraisal, and are just as good as the many other greats there are in this field of prog rock music.

I believe in giving credit where credit is due, and boy are these guys worthy of it. Very worthy I would say.

The best way to grab hold of the bands music is via their website. Most albums are generally around the 15 Euro mark and are on CD only. Though they are working on re-releasing all their albums on Vinyl at some point this year. Some of their albums are also available as a Digital Download for 8 Euro too @ Bandcamp.

I would also say the best way to get hold the bands music is too simply do it through Paypal. You can simply use this email address nat@conqueror.it and type in a message stating what album you want. You can check out the price of the album on the bands website (I have included further on down) and do not forget to add on 2 Euro for postage & packing.

What I will say regarding the CD I have here is that it is genuine quality and comes with a quality production. Though I got this CD for £11.59 which works at around 13.50 Euro. That is perhaps about the right price point for my own country. Though most new CD’s over here can be found for slightly less, or sometimes the same price.

15 Euro may be a little more expensive, but one has to respect that the band Conqueror are not the type of band who have a mass following and are selling them by the bucket load.

Neither could they afford to have them mass produced by the bucket load either, so they could perhaps get them made up at a cheaper price to be able to sell them cheaper, like a lot more well known artists and bands can.

For my overall price point rating score of this review. I have based it on the 15 Euro mark and not the 13.50 Euro price I got it from Amazon. If I did base it on the price point I got the CD for it would score 10/10 no doubt.

No doubt there are many great influences from some great prog rock bands here on this superb album, and even though all bands pick up these great influences along the lines in some way or another. There is no doubt that the band Conqueror do it their own way, with their own unique style.

This is by far not the last review you will see of this great band, and you can expect more to come over the next month or so. They certainly rock my boat, and I highly recommend them.

Stories Out Of Time They Tell Truth, Men Against Time Look For The Grail…

You can listen to or even buy this album from Bandcamp here: https://maracashrecords.bandcamp.com/album/storie-fuori-dal-tempo

Alternatively you can use the bands website to buy their albums here : http://www.conqueror.it/eng/default.asp

The album track listing is as follows:

01. Ouverture. 6:00.
02. Mosaico di Colori. 5:12.
03. No Photo. 7:06.
04. Pagine di Poesie. 6:46.
05. Klaus. 5:43.
06. Morgana. 31:14.
07. Altre Storie # (Bonus Track 2016). 8:28.

Lee’s Packaging Rating Score. 9/10.

Lee’s Price Point Rating Score. 9/10.

Lee’s Album Rating Score. 10/10.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s