Sprazzi Di Luce (EP) – Conqueror
The EP Sprazzi Di Luce is perhaps quite a different bit of output from the Conqueror in that it’s got more of a contemporary classical popular approach to the music they present here. But the one thing that does remain is the bands distinctive style. It’s nothing unusual for many bands to come out with something a bit different from time to time, and many prog rock bands have done so on a good few occasions.
One of the more modern prog rock bands that came about a couple of years before the Conqueror that springs to mind are the Welsh prog rock band Magenta.
They themselves churned out a couple of really good prog rock albums with Revolutions & Seven. Then they started churning out a bit of pop music with the release of their EP I’m Alive and even their 3rd studio album Home was not entirely prog rock and contained quite a few pop songs on it. But even some of those pop songs are very well written songs and can still speak in leaps and bounds.
I myself am pretty versatile with my own record collection, and even though progressive rock is perhaps my favourite of all genres of music. I also have a stack of other genres in my record collection including pop music. For me personally I like a vast variety of music and the most important thing to me is that the song is very well written and played well by real musicians.
The composition of any song is the most important factor. The best musicians in the world do not always write great songs, and without a great song you have nothing I am afraid. For me the music has to speak to me, and it has to say something. If it doesn’t, it does not necessary mean it’s bad at all. It’s more of a case of it not suiting my own particular taste, and every one of us have individual tastes on that score.
The one thing you will always find in any of my reviews is honesty. I have very much always spoke my mind regarding how music comes across to myself, and all my reviews are based on how the music comes across to me and nobody else. Just because there are certain things I may not like about a particular piece of music, does not mean that it will not appeal, or even speak more to other people.
Having said all that and gone off the subject matter of my review for this EP. You may very well think that this EP is gonna get one of my bad reviews :)))))). Well let’s find out. But as always, let’s first take a look at the packaging.
The Packaging & Artwork…
Just like most EP’s they come in a slimline Jewel Case. Though I am mainly an albums man myself, I do have a few of these type of EP’s that come packaged this way. The one thing I can always praise about any Jewel Case is that they protect the CD very well, and even if they break, they are easy to obtain and cheap enough to replace.
As is the case with most EP’s as well, they do not come with a booklet. But it does contain all the linear notes of the credits for each song and the production. But unfortunately it comes minus the lyrics. So for all intense purposes of my review here, I am going to have to do the best I can without them I am afraid.
The artwork on the front cover is an edited photograph taken and edited by Mario Pollino. To be honest I am not sure what it is, but it looks like either a photo taken of a cathedral’s stained glass windows lit up at night time, or some form of tapestry. The artwork was supervised by the bands drummer Natale Russo.
The title of the EP and song Sprazzi Di Luce translates to Flashes Of Light. So that is perhaps what the front cover is supposed to represent. Though personally I would of felt either a streak of lightening or even a camera with a flash light flashing may have been a bit more appropriate.
The EP In Review…
The EP Sprazzi Di Luce was released sometime in June 2009. It contains 4 tracks which are all songs with words, and has a total playing of time of 20 minutes and 49 seconds. Oddly enough each song also features a different line up of the band, and the EP was recorded and produced between January 2008 and May 2009.
The EP contains 2 new songs, 1 cover song, plus a live version of one of their older songs entitled “Pensieri Fragili” to which the studio version can be found on the bands 2003 debut album Istinto to which I have only just reviewed in my last post.
This particular EP came off the back of the extensive live shows Conqueror had been playing over the last couple of years promoting their 3rd album 74 Giorni that was released in 2007. The EP may have came about from the two sisters Simona and Sabrina collaborating together, and the 2 new Conqueror compositions we have here were mainly written by those two.
Apart from the last live track on the EP. The other 3 songs are very much on the short side of things, just like one would get with most pop songs, which generally have more of a chance of getting some radio play with them being over the shorter distance. So did Conqueror intend to make a mini pop album here one might ask?.
Let’s find out as I take you through the individual tracks on the EP.
Track 1. Sprazzi Di Luce.
The EP kicks off with its self titled track “Sprazzi Di Luce” or in English “Flashes Of Light“. This is the first of the 2 new written songs and is credited to Simona Rigano. Natale Russo and Sabrina Rigano. The line-up of the band is as follows:
Simona Rigano: Vocals & Keyboards.
Natale Russo: Drums.
Sabrina Rigano: Flute.
Daniele Bambino: Bass.
Ottavio Leo: (Special Guest) Guitar.
The special guest Ottavio Leo is actually the bands sound engineer and as appeared with the band for the odd song now and then at some of their live concerts. This was the bass player Daniele Bambino’s last contribution to the band, having spent a year with them from 2007 – 2008. He also played bass on Conqueror’s 3rd album 74 Giorni.
Musically the song was written around the piano and the flute and is constructed around those instruments. To be honest the only way I can actually see the bands drummer Natale contributing to the writing is if he actually wrote the lyrics, or contributed some ideas to the direction of the music we have here.
If Natale is the bands lyric writer, all I can say that he has quite a gift with words, especially with all the great poetry that can be found on the bands first 2 albums I have reviewed so far. Though I do suspect that these lyrics are very much different, and are written in the form of a love song, more so than the mythical fantasies we got on their earlier albums.
But without having the lyrics to this song I am only using my own judgement from the expression of Simona’s voice, and how the music presents itself in the way of a fine ballad of a song.
The musical intro with the piano and flute gives it a bit of the prog rock band Camel feel about it. It’s got quite a contemporary classical feel about the music and the combination of the instrumentation works really well throughout the song. To be honest it’s perhaps only the vocal line that gives this song more of a pop ballad approach in reality.
The song does have an uplifting feel about its chorus and it’s quite catchy and bright with its presentation. The song also features some great flute and keyboard interplay with the solos, though the solos are played over the same chord progression we get in the verse sections of the song, so this is perhaps not what I would call prog rock even though some of the other reviews I have read tend to think that it is.
No doubt the song does contain some fine chord progression, but personally for me the music needs to go in more directions than the progression we have here to call it progressive rock.
No doubt others will disagree with my own viewpoint of progressive rock music and see things different to myself. For example many people would say that The Moody Blues were prog rock, yet 90% of their material is nothing more than pop and folk songs I am afraid.
But just as much as I like The Moody Blues I also like what we have here with this song. The song is still a really great composition and is very well structured in the way it’s been put together. It’s actually my favourite out of the 3 studio tracks we get on this EP.
Track 2. E Mi Manchi Tanto.
The 2nd track on the EP happens to be a cover of a 1973 song written by Paolo Morelli who was in the Italian pop band Alunni Del Sole. It’s title translates to “And I Miss You A Lot“. The band Alunni Del Sole were quite popular in Italy back in the 70’s especially around the years of 1973 – 1978 in which they had a few hit records in their own country back in those days.
Unlike the band Conqueror, whose lyrics are impossible to find on the internet :)))))) it’s a doddle to find the lyrics for the band Alunni Del Sole. So I have the lyrics for this one and can you tell straight away that this is a simple love song.
I can also tell you that the lyrics are simple like most love songs, and nothing genuinely to write home about at all. These lyrics are far from clever and have nowhere near the potential of the lyrics that was written for the Conquerors first 2 albums I am afraid.
Although the Conqueror have used Morelli’s lyrics, the one thing they have done is arrange the music to fit their own unique style. To be honest having heard both versions of the song, the Conquerors version is quite different with how they have approached the song. It’s most likely down to them using a faster tempo and slightly rearranging the piano melody lines in the verse sections.
To show exactly what I mean here is the original song by Alunni Del Sole.
And here is Conquerors version of the song you can listen to by clicking on the following link: https://maracashrecords.bandcamp.com/track/e-mi-manchi-tanto
Both versions are very good, and doing a cover of any song is perhaps the hardest thing in the world to do it better than the original song in the first place. And I am certainly not going to say that the Conqueror’s version is better on that score. But it does have its moments, and for me personally the best thing I love about the Conqueror’s version is actually the solo at the end with Sabrina’s sax.
To be perfectly honest Sabrina’s contribution of the flute and sax on this song is to die for, and her job on both those instruments is far more precise than what the original version had. The arrangement is excellent.
The line-up of the band for this song is as follows:
Simona Rigano: Vocals & Keyboards.
Natale Russo: Drums.
Sabrina Rigano: Flute & Saxaphone.
Andrea Trimarchi: Bass.
Mario Pollino: Guitar & Vocals.
This was the bass player Andrea Trimarchi’s first and last contribution to the band as he only joined the band at the beginning of 2009 and left not long after.
There is no doubt that the song “E Mi Manchi Tanto” will appeal perhaps to a lot of Italian’s and over here in England it was something rather very new to me. I do like the way the Conqueror have presented the song in their own style with their own arrangement though, and there is even some magical moments here.
Track 3. Semplice.
The 2nd of the new Conqueror songs on the EP is entitled “Simple” in English. The song was penned by the band vocalist and keyboard player Simona Rigano. It’s the shortest song out of the 4 on the EP and besides Simona herself, the only other musicians who contribute to it are Sabrina on flute and Natale on percussion.
Once again I am afraid I do not have the lyrics to know what it’s all about, but it’s another fine ballad of a song and I would expect that the songs title says just exactly what it is. Pure and simple is perhaps the best way I can describe it. It’s perhaps not one of those songs that is gonna exactly set the world on fire. But is pleasant enough to listen too is another way of looking at it.
Track 4. Pensieri Fragili (Live Bonus Track).
The finale track on the EP translates to “Fragile Thoughts”. It’s a song from the bands 2003 debut album Istinto only this is a live version of the song played by the same band line-up that featured on their 2nd 2005 studio album Storie Fuori Dal Tempo. It was Recorded live in Riposto. Italy on the 19 august 2006.
The band handle the song with ease live, and I like the addition of the flute and sax in the song which was not on the studio version, because Sabrina never joined the band till after their debut album was released. This live version I feel gives it that extra element with her contribution and I prefer this live version to the studio version.
Here is an armature video shot in the audience of the band performing it at a different venue in the same year. It features the same band line-up that’s on this live version and it was played at the Andria Prog-Fest a month earlier on the 14th of July.
“Pensieri Fragili” is perhaps one of the bands firm favourites from their debut album Istinto that tends to get played live more times than the other great songs on that album. It’s perhaps not my firm favourite on that album, but it is a great song, and their debut album is full of great songs.
The real bonus of having this live release on the EP is that’s it’s the only official live release of the song that features the band playing it as a 5 piece rather than a 4 piece. The song is also played live on the bands live album Un’altra verità but once again as a 4 piece band. This is also marked down as a bonus track on this EP and for me it’s my personal favourite track on this EP too.
There is no doubt the material written for the EP Sprazzi Di Luce could be seen as a more commercial approach, and the band may have been trying to attract more attention to attain and draw in a wider following. But there is also no doubt that the band have also maintained their true style and originality and even their skills to craft out the music we have here also.
To be honest even though I have not got the Conqueror’s 3rd album 74 Giorni yet. I have listened to the album a couple of times on Bandcamp and that album does have a bit of a pop feel to some of the songs on that album too. So this is perhaps not so much of a change of style from that album in some respects.
There is no doubt that Conqueror have their own uniqueness to the music they present and for me the highlights from this EP are the opening track “Sprazzi Di Luce” and the live version of “Pensieri Fragili“.
To conclude my review of the Conqueror’s 4 track EP Sprazzi Di Luce. I would say in answer to my original question of did the band intend to release a mini pop album. I very much do not think so at all, even if the studio material on EP does lean more to towards the popular side of that pop genre.
I think it’s more of a case of the band playing and recording a few songs that they perhaps felt would not be suited to an album, and so they decided to put them out on an EP instead, rather than just leave them on a shelf and not put them out at all.
But overall personally I cannot fault the material on this EP at all. Its very well written and arranged, and I quite like it. Though I will say it is different to the prog rock style that is on the bands first couple of albums, and even though I got this EP as a gift and never had to pay for it. I would of still brought it because it does provide great listening pleasure and it does have its moments.
The EP Sprazzi Di Luce is available as a digital download of your choice of audio format on Bandcamp for 4 Euro. The physical CD is priced up at 10 Euro on Bandcamp which for me is way overpriced for a 20 minute EP. You can get it from the bands own website for 6 Euro which is more reasonable.
Dreams That Never Die, Remain Immortal…
You can listen to, or even buy the EP from Bandcamp here: https://maracashrecords.bandcamp.com/album/sprazzi-di-luce
Alternatively you can use the bands website to buy the EP here : http://www.conqueror.it/eng/default.asp
The EP track listing is as follows:
01. Sprazzi Di Luce. 4:40.
02. E Mi Manchi Tanto. 4:33.
03. Semplice. 3:45.
04. Pensieri Fragili (Live Bonus Track). 7:51.