“Sonic Landscape” is a peerless expression of what music can achieve when it stretches far beyond itself.
Lisa LaRue, keyboardist extraordinaire and leading member of the progressive rock group 2KX, joined forces with Federico Fantacone, an Italian progressive rock keyboardist and composer best known as “Orchestre Celesti”. The two combined their talents to record the CD “Sonic Landscape” (“Paesaggi di Suono” in Italian). The Fantacone /LaRue project is a culmination of over three years of trading ideas, files, tracks, and inspirations across the Atlantic Ocean. The collection features 10 tracks.
Fantacone and LaRue will each release their own version of the material through different outlets, with a different cover image and title for each – Fantacone’s release will be titled “Paesaggi di Suono” and LaRue’s release will be titled “Sonic Landscape”. There is a special guest appearance on 2 tracks by singer/guitarist John Baker (Mars Hollow, The Little Girls).
What is so strong about this album is that each piece is archetypal. Each is the definitive version of itself. From the virtuosic “Taste of Expectation” to the introspective “Pretty Harp Parker” to the theatrical “Moon in a Chinese Sky” and the epic, fairy-tale-like “Aspiration”, all the music is strange, new and familiar at the same time. You may think you’d heard it before and elsewhere, but until this recording came along, you hadn’t.
From the booming moog-like bass that kicks off “The Intro” through the final string and synth squiggle of the “Hurtful Words” outro “Sonic Landscape” is the powerful mixture of classical and progressive rock themes, but being composed and performed by two ivory wizards, expect very little rocking guitar and plenty of rocking keyboards.
The peculiarity of this album is that it almost ignores the bombastic power aspect usually associated with progressive rock, tending to expand more on fascinating sound colors and textures, aided by thoughtful and circumspect percussion. All throughout I couldn’t help but think of the album as a movie soundtrack, with its ever-changing moods, tempos and phases
“Sonic Landscape” is a peerless expression of what music can achieve when it stretches far beyond itself. Two people are not supposed to be doing what a 50-piece orchestra does – it’s insane. But the thing about insanity is that it works on a logic all of its own – and in this case, the result is inspirational beauty.
“Sonic Landscape” is an anomaly in progressive rock music. That’s because it’s not really a progressive rock epic as such, it is more of a modern classical music suite, orchestrated by progressive rock minds; one which any classical music fan would certainly want to claim ownership to. But the effusive explosion of technology and talent that Fantacone and LaRue deliver is too avant-garde – in the most sublime sense; the raw virtuosity and evocation of the works on “Sonic Landscape” moves through new vistas and to different loci of creativity- thus inevitably lurking into progressive territory.
All-round I really enjoyed listening to the expanded ideas and the aural landscapes Fantacone and LaRue have created here. If you’re only slightly intrigued by the keyboard, both electronic and acoustic, these two artists will surely satisfy your curiosity.
“Sonic Landscape” is about as classical as rock can get without losing its essence of being. Truly a magnificent feat!
Federico Fantacone currently lives in Samone, Piemonte, Italy. . He has recorded four albums under the moniker “Orchestre Celesti”, the fifth “ The Court Of Miracles Vol.1” is expected on December 2014. Fantacone’s cover of the Flower Kings’ instrumental “The Rain Maker” appears on the box set “A Flower Full of Stars,” a tribute to the Flower Kings compiled by Marco Bernard (“The Samurai of Prog”) for Musea Records. He has also recently contributed a cover of Steve Hackett’s “Transylvanian Express” included in the STEVE HACKETT tribute “Steppes Beyond The Colossus” by Mellow Records (November 2013). He is collaborating with Marco Croci (bass player for Maxophone), and Paolo Dolfini (former Jumbo keyboardist).
Lisa LaRue, who has released 7 albums, is a progressive rock keyboardist who has worked extensively with John Payne (Asia featuring John Payne) with her band 2KX, and collaborated and worked with many others including Nikki Squire (Esquire), Michael Sadler (Saga), Ryo Okumoto (Spock’s Beard), David Mark Pearce, and her husband, singer-songwriter John Baker (Mars Hollow, The Little Girls). She is a two-time Oklahoma Music Awards’ Native American Artist of the Year, and her band 2KX has been nominated as Best Instrumental Band at the Los Angeles Music Awards as well as other nominations. 2KX is currently a nominee for the Artists in Music Awards in Los Angeles.