The dotage of a dotard
Luca Turilli - The Infinite Wonders Of Creation (2006)
The final entry in Luca’s time-traveling solo trilogy returns from the future to the present, this time focusing on the beauty of nature. While Olaf Hayer returns as a supporting vocalist, he is superseded by Bridget Fogle as the female lead, who provides both operatic and standard vocals throughout the album, apparently representing Gaia (Mother Nature) herself.
- Secrets Of Forgotten Ages - Bird calls, synth strings, and opera vocals build into a full choral fanfare with occasional respites. Good stuff, 7/10.
- Mother Nature - Synths like raindrops break into a punchy riff. Bridget Fogle’s clearly enunciated vocals unfortunately lay bare the cheese and grammatical issues with the lyrics that weren’t as prevalent with Olaf’s delivery. The verse melody is catchy and the chorus is grand and supremely cheesy. Nice interlude and a brief but interesting solo. More nice chorus rounds before an abrupt ending. Good, but thick on the cheese. 7/10.
- Angels Of The Winter Dawn - A plaintive flute intro is joined by electric guitar, harp, piano, and synth for an extended interlude. Olaf appears for the first time on a decent verse, then he and Bridget trade off vocals before breaking into a stellar duet chorus. The cheese factor is palpable as the verse returns. More awesome chorus, an intro interlude reprise, and another round of choruses finish things off. If the rest of the song had lived up to that chorus, this would have been something really special. As it stands, it’s still great overall. 8/10.
- Altitudes - A choral intro leads into a solo operatic verse, then a pre-chorus that erupts through the clouds into a soaring, cheesy chorus. A nice operatic and choral interlude then becomes a sudden outro to the song. Good stuff, if a bit underdeveloped. 7/10.
- The Miracle Of Life - Flowing water and animal calls are joined by male operatic vocals and plaintive synths before breaking into a driving synth and guitar groove. Olaf delivers a rote verse and a strong pre-chorus before breaking into a great duet chorus. The lyrics about dolphins and whales are super cheesy, but it’s musically successful. Sweet neoclassical synth solo, and Bridget takes off in the final chorus for some awesome vocal harmonies before a reprise of the plaintive synth intro. The cheese here is real, but there are some really tasty nachos underneath. 8/10.
- Silver Moon - A melancholy piano and guitar intro leads into a soft and appealing verse. The chorus takes on a surprising Evanescence-like feel at first, eventually going fully operatic with choral accompaniment. The final chorus round deconstructs things with male choral tradeoffs before a soft denouement. Very good, a robust 7/10.
- Cosmic Revelation - Raindrop synths are joined by spacier sounds reminiscent of Prophet Of The Last Eclipse. The verse plods with bad phrasing and cheesy lyrics, then the chorus takes a hard left turn into opera and grand choral singing. The interludes are nice, and the busy neoclassical guitar solo is pretty good, but kind of directionless. There are some nice ideas here, but they don’t come together well. 6/10.
- Pyramids And Stargates - Swelling synth orchestration supports a middle eastern melody. Olaf returns for a punchy trade-off verse that cuts into a lackadaisical, meandering chorus that’s obsessed with the 1.68 ratio between the base and height of the pyramids. (WTF?) Subsequent choruses have a little more life to them, but these lyrics are cheesy as fuck. Cool neoclassical synth solo, though. I think the music salvages a 5/10 here.
- Mystic And Divine - A melancholy piano intro leads into a strong trade-off verse and a great duet chorus. Cool piano interlude. The final chorus deconstructs the duet in a neat way, too. And hey, the lyrics are actually pretty good for a change! Great song, a robust 8/10.
- The Infinite Wonders Of Creation - The album’s obligatory epic title track, though this one falls short of the 9-minute mark. Choirs and sparse synths eventually meander their way to a guitar and synth groove and an OK verse that’s echoed by a coed choir before breaking into an opera and choir chorus and a nice little guitar solo. The lyrics have fallen back into cheese again, unfortunately. A nice choral bridge with some cool crescendos stumbles its way to an uninspired end. Hmm. There were a few nice ideas in here, but the attempt to assemble them into a coherent song was a complete failure. 4/10.
After a promising start and an excellent middle chapter, Luca’s solo trilogy stumbles to a somewhat disappointing end. The first half of the album is good to great, but things come off the rails in the second half, ending with a failed train wreck of an epic that’s the weakest song in the entire trilogy.
The switch to predominantly female vocals is a mixed bag, with some sections working brilliantly (especially the duets) and others exposing the cheesy weakness of the lyrics. And after having such a strong presence on the previous albums, it’s weird to have Olaf Hayer shoved off into a supporting role.
All of that said, the high points of the record (“Angels Of The Winter Dawn”, “The Miracle Of Life”, and “Mystic And Divine”) are all great, and there’s enough other good material on here to justify the album’s existence. It’s just unfortunate that things had to end on a bit of a sour note.
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