Italian composer and instrumentalist Alberto RIGONI is perhaps best known for his decade long tenure in Italian progressive metal act Twinspirits, while his side project Lady & the Bass is the one that have given him most attention outside of progressive rock circles. Besides these projects he has also found the time to kick off a solo career. “Three Wise Monkeys” is his third solo album, and was released in the fall of 2012 through US label Nightmare Records.
And it is an interesting ride Rigoni has prepared for his listeners. Kicking of with the sparse, brief instrumental Toshogu Shrine, a perfect piece of atmospheric music that showcase the very best of Rigoni’s talents as a creator of captivating moods. From then on this disc is more of an uneven ride however, with versatility and variety as key elements.
It’s in the following quartet of compositions I find this disc to be least interesting. A matter of personal taste more than anything else I guess, but the energetic runs through a melodic progressive metal environment we’re treated to on Mizaru, Three Wise Monkeys and Blackened Tornado, as well made and performed as they are, doesn’t manage to captivate anything that hasn’t been done just as good by others previously. Well conceived and performed by all means, with a strong mix and production, but perhaps lacking in the subtler details department ever so slightly, perhaps a tad too repetitive to my personal taste. Songs that will find favour amongst existing fans of this kind of music but that won’t convert anyone not enjoying this style already I suspect. And while the gentle, plucked guitar and bass details on Kikazaru is a welcome addition in the variety department, this more careful and reflective piece isn’t of the kind that sends shivers down my spine.
Iwazaru on the other hand, now that’s more like it to my mind. A stripped down arrangement that provides plenty of space for a bass and layered keyboards workout that opens in a careful, subtly jazzrock flavoured expression and gradually develops into a richly arranged, majestic creation with a distinct symphonic expression. An unexpected treat on a number of levels, and arguably the most accomplished piece on this CD too. Depending, obviously, on personal taste.
Free Falling and Between Space and Time are less intriguing compositions again to my mind and ears, the former a diverse number that moves between harder edged funky rock, melodic progressive metal and dampened elegant jazzrock in expression, the latter a tranquil bass and acoustic guitar workout that should please those with a taste for calm instrumental music with a foot wedged into the doorway of the jazz universe.
Coming Home and Believe heads into different and more intriguing directions again however, the former again a sparingly arranged effort that slowly intensifies, with bass and acoustic guitar providing a fairly nuanced foundation for the lead vocals and the electric guitar added in later on. And as far as Believe goes, we’re closer to the likes of Spock’s Beard or Neal Morse on this ebb and flow symphonic oriented affair, a fitting piece to conclude this album on a high and majestic note.
There’s a lot to like about “Three Wise Monkeys”. The 10 compositions cover a broad and diversified stylistic palette while instrumental performances, mix and production all are high quality throughout. The songs themselves are a bit more of a hit and miss affair however, some of them strong creations that will have a broad general appeal, others come across as less engaging in general, my main impression that these pieces at least to some extent have been tailor made to suit a specific audience. If your taste in music tends to be somewhat eclectic it’s a disc you might want to inspect closer, at least as long as you have a particular soft spot for the most melodic varieties of progressive metal.
My rating: 76/100