Neal Morse, ©2003 Studio M
Neal Morse, ©2003 Studio M
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Cinque Deus Ex Machina
"Cinque" (2002)
[Cuneiform Records]

Here we have it…the fifth studio offering from Deus Ex Machina entitled appropriately Cinque. This powerful Italian band formed in 1985 in Bologna have gained quite a reputation in progressive rock circles for their challenging and adventurous brand of musical composition. Their reputation hit the mainstream prog circles in 1995 with the release of their third studio offering De Republica, which was followed with a hugely successful live appearance at Progfest 95. With this new offering, Cinque they pick up where they left off and throw in a quite a few new tasty licks.

Cinque features eight new compositions most clocking in at over six-minutes, three of them over eight, so there’s lots of room for the music to move around. All the “sound-marks” are here, unusual starts and stops, tricky tempo changes, lots of cascading minor notes or chord structures all framed with the ever present violin and outstanding vocal work of Alberto Piras. By my ear these songs rock a lot harder than their previous efforts. Like in a jazz sense they start to cook with some infectious and intense rhythms. In fact INTENSE is a word that could describe the material of Deus Ex Machina in an overall sense.

You get the impression these guys are beyond having fun…their serious; the performances are complicated with lots of music happening up front and in the background. The compositions are layered with hints of jazz, RIO, jazz-fusion and of course progressive rock. Their music has always incorporated a strong jazz influence and nowhere is this more apparent than on cut-two with the chunky Hammond sound layered overtop of the percolating rhythm section which then turns rocky featuring a wah-wah pedal guitar solo before the vocals slide into play. And then there’s the really psychedelic-blues guitar intro of cut-three which then evolves into some moving solos from the violin and electric piano. Things really mellow out on cut-four which features just and acoustic guitar. Cut-eight is essentially a chamber orchestra featuring bass and multi-tracked strings, which then slides into a surprise bonus ending. Each of the eight compositions provides room for soloing from guitar, keyboards or violin.

Deus Ex Machina give us a lot of great music to absorb on Cinque. If you are new to the band make a point of listening to this new CD a number of times with open ears, only then, when considered in context will you fully come to appreciate the depth of music offered by Deus Ex Machina. It worked for me. For those of you who are fans, don’t hesitate to pick up this latest offering. Not only does it touch the extremes of progressive music, it rocks-out as well. Not to overstate it but Cinque is destined to be one of the top albums of the year.

Review by Jerry Lucky
August 28, 2002