Sunscape - "Sunscape" (Mellow Records 1999, MMP363)

From Aural Innovations #10 (June 2000)

In their promo material, Sunscape cite a variety of influences from the spacerock of Hawkwind and Gong, to German Krautrock á la Ash Ra Tempel and Amon Düül, and on to British progressive bands like King Crimson. The music has a strong classic Italian progressive feel, but also brings to mind the accessible psychedelia of Porcupine Tree. In this way they remind me of their fellow Italians, Mary Newsletter, who also incorporate psychedelic influences into the Italian progressive sound. The band consists of Marco Da Rold on guitars and vocals, Carlo Soppelsa on flute, trumpet, synths, accordion, and vocals, Matteo Curcio on bass, programming, and vocals, and Tony Fucci on drums and percussion. Prior to this new release on Mellow Records the band had been self-releasing tapes and CD's since 1994.

Tracks like "Nove" and "Ewok" have that wonderful classic Italian prog feel, with flute and gentle guitars, but also harsher psych guitars. "Ewok" showed tremendous promise, but just as it started to evolve into a cool trippy tune... it ended. I would have like to have heard the song take off from there. "2CB" and "Simbiosi" continue along these lines, sounding somewhat like Porcupine Tree and even Pink Floyd at times, but Sunscape carve a niche for themselves by blending this sound with their Italian prog stylings. "Agibilitá Enpals" is also somewhat like Porcupine Tree but has hints of Gong as well. I keep using Porcupine Tree as an analogy, but I should be clear that with the exception of "Via Di Qui", which starts off sounding very much like Sky Moves Sideways, Sunscape does not actually sound like Porcupine Tree.

But these are fairly short tracks and it isn't until "Prospettiva" that the band starts to stretch out a bit. The tune starts off lightly, but soon launches into an intense instrumental segment with dual guitars that play non-flashy but searing licks. It's cool hearing a delicate instrument like the flute being included during these harsher moments. And Sunscape isn't without variety. "Consorzio Nettuno" begins as a dancable sequenced electronic tune with a bit of a Dub feel. Percussion is eventually introduced and the piece becomes more floating spacey than danceable. The synth work is well done and varied. There's even some didgeridoo to add a cosmic drone to the mix. Not unlike some of the Ozric Tentacles' less aggressive moments. After about 10 minutes the full band starts to assemble and we get the guitar trading soaring licks with the flute until its meltdown finish. A change of direction and certainly one of the albums stronger tracks. "Schüswassen" is another one of the albums stronger tunes with its ethereal trippy guitars that develop into a melodic psychedelic journey. The music will lull you into a trance, though I would have liked to have seen it take a few more twists and turns over its 12 minute length.

In summary, a very solid set of songs from a band who has successfully blended numerous influences. Sunscape will surely appeal to spacerock fans who also dig Italian progressive rock.

You can visit Sunscape at their web site.
They also have several sound files available at their web site.

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

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