Folk N Rock
Spotlight Album: “Override’ Mirko Pirozzi

As a lifelong fan of progressive rock, I’ve always been drawn to its boundless creativity and willingness to experiment. It’s a genre that, much like jazz, embraces improvisation and allows musicians to take a simple idea and explore it in countless directions. The best progressive rock albums are like sonic journeys, filled with unexpected twists and turns, and Italian composer Mirko Pirozzi’s latest offering, “Override,” is no exception.

Pirozzi, a seasoned veteran of the progressive rock scene, has delivered an album that pushes boundaries and really grabs the senses. From his work as a session musician to his numerous solo projects, Pirozzi has consistently demonstrated a mastery of the his arrangements, and “Override” is just one small showcase to his talent and passion.

Now, let’s take a look into the heart of “Override” and see what this record has in store for us.

“The Great Tome of Defunct Balls” kicks off the album with a percussive rattle, like a ticking clock, hinting at the adventure ahead. A Hammond organ-esque countdown builds before an almost ethereal guitar melody emerges. This was a really cool change up. But in this dreamy sound —the song quickly shifts gears, driven by the intro’s rhythm, now with what feels like a touch of Flamenco flair that caught me off guard.

This kitchen sink approach, a hallmark of progressive rock, is on full display here, and it’s done so, so well. Which again, that’s always something I needed from my progressive rock.

As the one-minute-and-thirty-second (or is it one-minute-and-forty-second?) mark approaches, another surprise: a pulsating electronic beat drops, transporting us to a 70s dance floor. A funky bassline grooves through the mix, soon joined by a cool melody that sounds almost celebratory. The track careens through styles and eras, from wailing guitars songs to disco balls, yet somehow it all works.

Got to love how he mixes together these disparate elements, creating a cohesive and utterly wonderful opening statement on this track. It’s a wild ride, a bending rollercoaster that throws everything at you—driving rock, ethereal soundscapes, funky grooves, and triumphant melodies. It’s a nice opening statement on his willingness to experiment, a perfect encapsulation of what progressive rock is all about: pushing boundaries and defying expectations. This was the first track I’ve heard from him, and it left an amazing impression.

“Azimuth Below” completely blew me away. It starts with this classy, smooth, almost cool jazz vibe. Gentle keys, a subtle clashing of hi-hats, and deep, thunderous percussion create a fascinating contrast of light and dark. Then, the guitar work enters the scene with a tone and sound that I absolutely love.

The keys take a back seat for a while, leaving the guitar and those booming drums to create an intense atmosphere. But then, like a beacon of light, the flute comes in. As a huge Jethro Tull fan, I was thrilled. It’s charming, elegant, and adds a touch of whimsy to the track.

Around the 1:35 mark, an actual siren sound blares—a warning of the musical chaos to come. Whimsical tones, playful drums, keys, and chimes take center stage, creating a surreal soundscape. Then the song explodes into hard rock guitar riffs, contrasting with otherworldly tones that feel like they were beamed in from another dimension. There’s so much going on here, so much to discover, and I loved every minute of it.

“Obsolete Devices (For Kangaroo Mind)” kicks off with a gentle organ melody in the backdrop, accompanied by some keys that create a warm, and a nice little atmosphere. It’s a lovely sound, but then, without warning, the song veers sharply into a completely different territory. A Middle Eastern-inspired melody emerges, with what sounds like a harpsichord taking center stage. It’s a beautiful, unexpected turn, unlike anything else on the album so far.

Just when I thought the song couldn’t surprise me anymore, it does. Out of nowhere, a digital beat drops, and we’re suddenly on an 8-bit detour. This is, without a doubt, my favorite transition on the record. The digital drum sound is infectious, and it leads us right back to the very cool melody we heard earlier, only this time, it’s even more powerful.

The percussion intensifies, hitting hard and it comes back with a vengeance, it’s even more powerful. There are a few more twists and turns, with more rock-infused sections and unexpected shifts in instrumentation. As the track winds down, it feels like the organ that opened it is now the main event, while a humming, buzzing sound fades into the background. It’s a brilliantly crafted ending to a song that takes you on a wild and wonderful tour of the normal, and digital world.

“Override,” the title track hits the ground running right away with pounding drums and a catchy, upbeat melody that immediately transports me back to the late 80s. The guitar work, coming in and out of the mix, gives the track a distinctive feel. Now, this might be a deep cut, but the way the guitar strums in and out reminds me a lot of country singer Steve Earle’s arrangements—there’s a hint of twang that adds a unique flavor to the song. He would often make use of a technique similar to this, which I thought was very cool.

In the midst of all the chaos, the saxophone is a grounding force. It steadies the ship, adding a touch of soul and flair to the track. I love how the saxophone can transform any genre, from somber ballads to heavy metal anthems. It’s a versatile instrument, and I wish more musicians would embrace its potential. I mean, we have bands like Ghost using it in metal after all.

This being a progressive rock album, “Override” is full of twists and turns. One section even feels almost folky, which really shows to his ability to seamlessly blend different styles. The way the elements are picked and layered is just pure perfection.

“Average Man” closes out the album as its longest and, arguably, most ambitious track. It opens with a sinister piano melody, setting a dark and ominous tone before going into an absolute onslaught of sound. Once again, the percussion steals the show, driving the song into a chaotic frenzy that leaves you breathless. There’s an epic, cinematic quality to it all, heightened by the operatic feel of the harpsichord-like instrument that comes in and out.

Just when you think you’ve got a handle on the song’s direction, it shifts again, settling into a steady, thumping beat punctuated by flutes and a solid bassline. A wah-wah guitar effect adds another layer of texture before the song erupts into a full-fledged guitar anthem. I can’t get enough of the guitar work on this track – it has a distinct 70s rock vibe that I absolutely adore.

The song takes a breather with a beautiful melody and slowed-down guitars, but the ever-present percussion keeps the energy high. And then, another one of those glorious 8-bit detours! As someone who grew up with classic Nintendo soundtracks, I’m always thrilled to hear this style incorporated into modern music, and The Notes nail it perfectly.

After a brief pause, the song kicks back into gear with a White Stripes-esque thumping beat, accompanied by chimes and wind instruments. It’s a beautiful, layered soundscape. Then comes a stunning piano moment, followed by the otherworldly rock guitar that carries us to the end of the track.

“Average Man” is a phenomenal closer, a microcosm of the entire album. It’s chaotic, beautiful, epic, and unpredictable—a fitting end to a record that pushes boundaries and celebrates the sheer joy of experimentation. Mirko Pirozzi have crafted something truly special here, and this is without question the best progressive rock album I’ve came across in a long time.

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Scott