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Alberto Rigoni - "Three Wise Monkeys" (CD)

Alberto Rigoni  - "Three Wise Monkeys" CD cover image

"Three Wise Monkeys" track listing:

1. Toshogu Shrine (1:11)
2. Mizaru (6:53)
3. Three Wise Monkeys (5:17)
4. Kikazaru (3:58)
5. Blackened Tornado (7:16)
6. Iwazaru (4:23)
7. Free Falling (4:46)
8. Between Space And Time (4:22)
9. Coming Home (3:47)
10. Believe (4:41)

Reviewed by on October 5, 2012

"Rigoni’s bass work is brilliant, dispelling the non-musician notion that it is an instrument that should 'shut up and keep rhythm.' This is pure bad ass groove."

As a non-musician, I have found it hard to truly grasp the amount of skill it takes to create masterpieces of progressive music. For years, I found most progressive music, as wonderfully played as it is, merely lulled me into deep slumbers, especially instrumental pieces. It wasn’t until the late 80's when I was introduced to Marillion, a band that single handedly expanded my musical tastes. I was taught that true beauty lies not in how “heavy” an album can be. In as much as Fish spoke in wonderful “tongues” directly with his voice, guitarist Steve Rothery and keyboardist Mark Kelly “spoke” with just as much spellbinding clarity. At that point, I realized: musical instruments, when played the right way, can actually speak. So over the years, I learned to appreciate the instruments as more than mere background rhythm to a soaring vocalist. So, you can imagine how flattered I was when Italian master musician, top notch lawyer and Twinspirits bassist Alberto Rigoni contacted me directly to get my opinion on his latest solo record “Three Wise Monkeys” (little did he know that I have been a fan of Twinspirits for some time now). The album showcases just how talented Rigoni is, in his play and in his choices of mega-talented musicians that guest on the record.

“Three Wise Monkeys” is half instrumental/half vocal and the parts are equally as entertaining. The title of the album, as illustrated by the cover art, is a reference to the primates of wisdom from Japanese proverb: Mizaru (“see no evil”), Kikazaru (“hear no evil”), and Iwazaru (“speak no evil”). Musically, the album is a masterful work of experimental/progressive rock-fusion with oft brazen synthesizers (courtesy of Federico Solazzo, Mistheria, Alessandro Bertoni and Ex-Dream Theater keyboardist Kevin Moore), driving and jazz-centric guitar work (courtesy of Twinspirits guitarist Tommy Ermolli and DGM/Empyrios guitarist Simone Mularoni) and fantastic vocal work from Alicate vocalist Jonas Erixon and Vindictiv frontman Göran Edman. Of course, Rigoni flashes his brilliant bass work, doing more with the somewhat “forgotten instrument,” than most guitarists do with the more glamorous apparatus.

Pure beauty can be found on “Mizaru,” where Rigoni masterfully interleaves a near impossible oriental style into his bass work just before the “Mr. Roboto” meets Deep Purple key work of Kevin Moore kicks in. The bass takes center stage, acting as vocalist before breaking out in a “Ytse Jam” at precisely 2:30. It’s hard to not engage in a rhythmic chicken head bob and simply admire the groove. This is one song that would actually be ruined by vocals.

Title track “Three Wise Monkeys” is the first to feature vocals, courtesy of the great Göran Edman. The song starts with a near Beach Boys harmony before breaking down into an exhilarating, upbeat progressive blend of rock, sounding like a fusion of modern Marillion and the great King’s X. Edman shows incredible versatility, drawing from so many aspects with great clarity.

The album highlight for me is “Blackened Tornado,” which is aptly named. The song is a barrage of styles, anchored by the Matrix style synths (Alexia keyboardist Federico Solazzo) that blaze across the heavy guitar work of Ermoli. Jonas Erixon puts a little grit on his otherwise smooth and silky Joel Lynn Turner style vocal work, which is extra special when shrouded by Ermoli’s outstanding lead work.

“Three Wise Monkeys” is a progressive rock paradise. The album has all the trademarks of the greats in the business, without ever once boring me to sleep. It is perfectly balanced with alternating instrumental and vocal tracks. The production is crisp and perfect. Rigoni’s bass work is brilliant, dispelling the non-musician notion that it is an instrument that should “shut up and keep rhythm.” This is pure bad ass groove.

Highs: Progressive rock bursting with pure energy. A progressive fan's dream.

Lows: If you are looking for heaviness, it isn't here. Instrumental work might be a turn off to the average fan.

Bottom line: Alberto Rigoni applies the wisdom of Iwazaru and speaks no evil.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)