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Luca Turilli / Dreamquest Reviews

by Dan Upton

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Dreamquest - Lost Horizons

If you're into symphonic or power metal, there's a reasonable chance you're familiar with Rhapsody and founding member/guitarist Luca Turilli. Luca also has a solo side project, but apparently that's not enough to fully unleash his creativity. It seems that despite being known primarily for his guitar work, Luca has a secret passion for piano and keyboard; in addition to being a further compositional outlet, Dreamquest sees Luca tackling the keys and passing guitar off to someone else. 

Beyond the change in instruments, Dreamquest represents further departure from what one might consider Luca's normal territory. The CD liner describes the sound as "symphonic electro-metal," although that shouldn't be taken to imply that the electronic flourishes are a major part of the music. They're noticeable and used tastefully, fitting well within the music, but they're not a overly present. The female vocals range from ethereal to lower pitches, but only ever take on any grit when electronically modified on songs like "Shades of Eternity;" songs like "Sospiro Divino" and "Dolphins Heart" showcase a truly operatic style, and there are plenty of songs with choral backdrops. Instrumental solos are largely absent from this disc--there are a few, but never attaining the level of shred solo I usually expect in power metal. Further, strangely absent are keyboard breaks; it seems that Luca was satisfied to lay in the pocket in his compositions here. 

The bottom line is that while I was surprised by the difference between this material and his work in Rhapsody, Dreamquest has shown itself to be another viable outlet for Luca. I'm disappointed by the lack of solos, but beyond that the music is all well-composed, fun to listen to, catchy--and songs like "Frozen Star" and "Too Late" carry a feeling of majesty without coming off as ridiculous as a lot of power metal does. This won't win any converts to the power metal cause, but if you're into the genre this is something you shouldn't miss. 

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Luca Turilli - The Infinite Wonders of Creation

Luca Turilli's a busy man these days. In addition to commitments with his main group, Italian "film score metal" group Rhapsody, he has a full second band, Dreamquest, with a debut out this summer, and here we also have the final chapter of his solo trilogy. Even though he's a major force in composing music for both of those other acts, perhaps it's unfair to compare his solo work to them; on the other hand, even comparing to 1999's King of the Nordic Twilight and 2002's Prophet of the Last Eclipse, it sounds like he's either trying to get away from the sound he's best known for, or he's spreading his creativity too thin. 

To be fair, Infinite Wonders is still firmly rooted in epic, classically influenced soundscapes, with symphonic flourishes, choral backdrops, and piano lines aplenty. This disc uses the same band and male and female vocalists as the two previous discs, although here Luca has taken on playing keyboards in addition to the guitar for which he is best known. That may be a contributing factor in what is one of the most disappointing things about this disc in comparison to the rest: where are the shredding guitar solos? "Mother Nature" and "Cosmic Revelation" have brief finger exercise excursions, but neither of them jump out as me as anything much more interesting than that. Later, on "The Miracle of Life," he takes a turn at a shred-worthy keyboard solo that is a little better, but generally stripping out the shred removes on of the biggest appeals of this type of music: without crazy, energetic solos, it seems a lot less fun. The material is otherwise a fairly even split between upbeat songs with plenty of double-bass pounding, such as "The Miracle of Life," and ballads such as the following track "Silver Moon." 

Even looking beyond the lack of instrumental pyrotechnics, this disc is lacking. There are a few catchy tunes, such as the aforementioned "Miracle" or "Pyramids and Stargates," but a lot of the material strikes me as been there, done that. Completists interested in the story that has been unfolding across the discs might be interested, but are otherwise likely to be disappointed, as are fans of his other material. If you have to have a fill of Luca this summer, check out Dreamquest instead; otherwise, I'd wait to see if he starts a new solo storyline and can recapture the magic. 

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