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Marco De Francesco - 'The Wizard' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     September 03, 2015    
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If you're a lover of instrumental concept albums, then I rather think you will find this a treat.

Italy has been producing some cracking Melodic Rock for a while now and along with that has also come a prevalence of instrumental solo albums. This offering from Marco De Francesco makes its way into a crowded arena but has some high points with which to recommend it. For those who are unaware, De Francesco is the guitarist with Neurosphere and 'The Wizard' is his solo project.

Instrumental albums are frequently at risk of being overly self-indulgent, which I guess by their nature that's exactly what they are; either the opportunity for a musician to record all the music that doesn't make it through the band filter or going out of the genre they are known for. 'The Wizard' is soothing confection of melody with occasional Prog undertones which makes for an hour or so of very slick listening, possibly a little too slick at times; that is not to deride it, the production is exceptional and it sounds stunning.

'El Dorado' is probably the heaviest track; although primarily a track to show guitar, there are some nice keyboards and drums going on which fattens out the overall sound. 'Supernova' is possibly the most self-indulgent of the songs, and for me lost its way a little, along with the title track which is another rather self-indulgent fret-board noodle. The acoustic 'Secrets' is flawless and possibly my favourite track on the album.

'Nibiru' is one of the most interesting tracks with its constant change of pace, 'Golden Silence' also ebbs and flows like a tide in an estuary and 'Moonsong' is glorious and uplifting with guitar work that is just sublime. 'Memories' is smooch, smooth and has a touch of Steve Hackett's 'Spectral Mornings' about it whilst the closer 'Two Days After Disaster' also has a "concept" vibe but this time more in turn with Rick Wakeman or Jeff Wayne.

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In truth, on first listen, this didn't really grab me by the throat and personally it felt was like an album of two parts. The first four tracks were skilled but not stand out, however the second set of songs were infinitely more interesting as though he'd found his stride.

I have to say that it grew on me the more I listened to it. There is real maturity in the writing and the production really is superb; it's an album where the more you listen, the more you hear. 'The Wizard' is the sort of album you sit around and listen to over and over with friends until you know every nuance and guitar lick like the back of your hand. If you're a lover of instrumental concept albums, then I rather think you will find this a treat.

Helen Bradley Owers

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