Gifted pianist does it all on new moody EP.

The French-Italian musician with a long history of touring Europe with various progressive metal outfits (Spheric Universe Experience, Artefact and Ghostfather) has released his fourth solo release, The Road. Moody synths and emotional strings underscore expertly crafted piano on this late-night, trip-hop ride.

After opening with the standard ethereal prelude, Colombo chimes in on the first beat of the single 'Kill Me' with the conventional monotone rapping that defined nineties trip-hop. Colombo's aim seems to be to emulate Tricky but the result comes off more like The Lonely Island. The verses stumble with excess syllables and the lyrics are not particularly eloquent, like pages out of a teenage diary. The chorus imploring “Kill me, kill me now” doesn't help in that regard. This is unfortunate because the underlying music is striking and the flourishing piano solo ranks up there with the work of Mike Garson (David Bowie, NIN, Smashing Pumpkins).

Swelling tubular bells a la Tangerine Dream set the stage for 'Within'. Colombo deals out self-assuring philosophical musings. Airy staccatos bring to mind the delivery of Opeth's Mikail Ackerman in his lighter works. The piano in 'Within' finds itself in the space between jazz and classical with a trip-hop beat that leans forward in to the future.

The atmospheric 'Out There' has an after closing time glimmer. The late night ivories evoke neon lights reflecting off wet cobble-stone streets. Strings segue the listener out of the narrow downtown streets and in to the country under the stars. 'The Road' takes that imagery one step further with a starting car sample and pumping drums. This time Colombo's vocals find a comfortable place to sit, steering casually through the gradual asphalt bends. Lofty guitars accompany the driver down the road, in to the night. The Road's final act 'Night Falls On the Kingdom of You and Me' shows Colombo again playing to his strengths using his fusion piano style to paint a nocturnal vision with strings and swaying piano chords.

The Road is one step away from being a great album. The music is all there, the mood is all there but the single is the weak link. I'd like to give it 4 or 5 stars but since 'Kill Me' takes much of the focus of the EP, I've gotta give it 3. Perhaps enlisting some help in the future might crystallize the project in to a stronger entity. I'm looking forward to hearing the next offering.

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