Whatever your take on progressive rock, one can hardly deny that the genre has produced some of the greatest musicians of all time. More debate could be had over how many genuinely great accessible songwriters prog-rock has produced. Especially when it comes to instrumental music. And even more so, if that instrumental music is dominated by the all-worshiped electric guitar hero. The risk of running into opulent, extravagant and egocentrically-induced pieces of musical masturbation is extremely high. Yet every once in a while, comes along a talented progressive thinking musician, who is able to practice restraint in his compositions, as well as branch out into varying styles which are extremely accessible, even to the uninitiated.
One name that does deserves a place on that list, is Fabrizio Abrate and his solo, The Kaleido Sound Project. Born in Turin, Italy, Fabrizio learned to play the flute at the tender age of 5. He subsequently moved on to classical guitar and music theory studies, before his passion exploded on hearing the Piece of Mind album by Iron Maiden. Fabrizio went on to play with The Masquerade, which culminated in 2013 with the “Redemption” album, mixed and mastered by the legendary, and sadly departed Grammy-nominated producer, Chris Tsangarides.
Fabrizio Abrate under The Kaleido Sound Project moniker, now unveils his first EP, entitled “Retune”, which he explains as – a sort of ‘retuning’ process he had as a musician, since he started to work seriously again, in a new dimension, and as a solo project.
Over the course of this brief, but intense 4-track listening experience, Fabrizio has proved himself consistently flexible. “Retune” veers between classic prog, art rock, fusion, metal, and even rare traces of pop melodism. All these strands began to fuse together from the opening track “NeoFunky”, which starts on a slow-building guitar motif and a symphonically inclined backdrop.
The track is full of technical guitar mastery that is counterbalanced by a sense of simplicity, as Fabrizio Abrate makes sure there is a dominant melody central to the song’s theme. This makes it so much easier for non-technical listeners to appreciate his work.
“Rising Hope” uses a lot of clean guitars and washes of richly layered strings. The pop tangents here are significantly captivating to the ear. “No Breath” delivers incisive attacks, biting tones and sharp riffs on a fractured musical journey full of intricate pulses, tension builds and magical resolutions. This is The Kaleido Sound Project at its best.
Above all, this EP has an essential crossover appeal to discerning rock fans, guitar freaks and fusion fans alike, with its deep grooves, melodic phrasing, soaring solos and intense, but judiciously spare shredding. Fabrizio’s playing is an objective lesson in taste. He builds his solos like a painter applies the most delicate of brushstrokes, only bringing pressure to bear when the mood or feeling requires it.
In short, he is one of the few contemporary guitarists who still serves the song. Every note is significant, every melodic phrase illuminates another aspect of the song, and each tonal inflection brings new possibilities. This all comes to bear on the final, and title track – “Retune”. Fabrizio’s unbridled melodically-inclined imagination, and the fluency of his harmonic playing, makes you forget that this is an instrumental guitar album.
Fabrizio Abrate aka The Kaleido Sound Project, always searches for new possibilities with his solos which have a freshness and spirit so often lacking in contemporary rock guitarists, but then again Fabrizio has so much more to his artistic armory than simply speed and a relentless barrage of masturbating notes.