Alex Carpani is a very versatile Swiss/Italian musician whose resume comprises a wide variety of musical styles ranging from progressive and symphonic rock to classical music, jazz, electronic and music for commercials. His latest effort Waterline is the result of an injured ankle which rendered him incapable of doing very much except sitting down and, incidentally, writing music, and the ten tracks were composed and recorded (in demo versions) in his own studio in three weeks’ time.
It was originally meant to be an all instrumental concept album telling the tale of a dual world – one part above and below water – but when the demo landed in producer Dan Shapiro’s lap, it was decided that some tracks should have vocals on them, courtesy of Aldo Tagliapietra and Beatrice Casagrande, and a number of competent prog musicians were brought in to complete the tracks.
Carpani’s Waterline is definitely to be considered a progressive album, but it has nothing whatsoever to do with metal – in fact, it is so far from what I believe most visitors to Power of Metal would expect to find reviews of on this site that I almost decided to go for a ‘No rating’. However, after repeated listening (and after switching off my internal metal filter) I have to admit that Waterline definitely has something to offer … although not to everyone.
This album could easily have been a product of the 70s, ripe as they were with symphonic/progressive rock and boldly experimental mixing of genres, and we certainly get a mouthful of that when listening to Carpani switching from calm and atmospheric symphonic rock in the vein of Hubi Meisel and very early Genesis to jazzy parts complete with saxophone and flute reminiscent of Ian Anderson or Thijs van Leer and back to 80s synthesizers and rocking guitar solos over groovy bass lines. All in all this makes for an interesting journey through a musical universe where something unexpected lurks behind every bend, although not everything sounds pleasing to my ear.
Every musician on this album performs really well and contributes to making this otherwise difficult and risky album a very watertight affair. The primary weakness of this album is the singing of Mr Tagliapietra which I find very weak and odd sounding, and I definitely believe that quite a lot of singers would have made a much better impact on the tracks that he performs on. Even the female vocals are quite a letdown. Although it is hard to find fault with the playing, I would like to add (as certain other reviewers have also said) that not all tracks are of an equally high standard and should probably have been given a bit more attention. After all, three weeks is not a very long time to write an entire album. Oh, and I fail to see the point of including a Bach prelude as an appendix – the album would have been better without it.