Look up any list of “best drummers of all time” and there’s always a glaring omission: Furio Chirico. Never heard of him? Listen to this:
What Chirico lacks in subtlety, he makes up for in pure speed and dexterity. Elsewhere in his painfully limited ’70s discography, you can be astounded by his ability to increase his drumming velocity to an almost superhuman level within the same fill, seemingly trying to fit in just about as many notes as he can. Listening to him play is utterly exhilarating and I never get tired of it.
If his ’70s bands The Trip and Arti e Mestieri had made it to the big time, there’s no doubt that he would be considered one of the best drummers ever, alongside John Bonham, Neil Peart and Keith Moon. But since the niche appeal of prog has held this man’s music from too many ears, I fear he may never receive the recognition he deserves.
With all the power and finesse of Bill Bruford and Phil Collins, I would have thought Furio would have been a hot item in the 1970s and beyond, but his work is sadly limited to just the two bands, with only a few minor works in the 1980s and beyond. Though I have seen videos of him in recent years, maintaining an impressive physique into his 60s and 70s and still just as limber as he ever was, I truly thought his recording days were over.
So I was gobsmacked when I saw Furio’s name on a brand new album in the BTF store, and knew I had to listen to it. Strangely, he’s gone with the mouthful band title Furio Chirico’s The Trip, which suggests that he either wants to make music in the same vein as his original group or that he doesn’t think the album will sell as well if it was only in his name.
The album starts in earnest with what is probably the best track. As introductory to the album as it is to the man himself, I’m Fury kicks things off with a dizzying instrumental full of twists and turns and, of course, many moments for Chirico to shine. It’s so good that it tricks you into thinking the rest of the album is going to be brilliant too. (Spoiler alert: it isn’t.)
After the excellent opening track, I was hoping the whole album was going to be instrumental, but that turns out to be wishful thinking. Mother Earth acts as more of an ‘accessible single’ track, despite having a lengthy instrumental outro. Lead vocalist Giuseppe Lanari sings in English throughout the album; it’s a woeful mistake, in my opinion, as the nasal timbre and odd pronunciation of certain English words ends up being rather distracting.
A further highlight comes with the next track, A Suite for Everyone, the longest track at eight minutes. Appropriately, the song has multiple proggy sections, including a satisfyingly complex instrumental part, culminating in a symphonic finale, somewhat reminiscent of Dream Theater’s Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence.
Unfortunately, the album only goes downhill from here. The next track, Catch the Dreamin’ is the last bastion of quality, a heady blend of prog rock and jazz sensibilities, all held together by Chirico’s typically furious percussion. Afterwards, Downward Onward features a very grating main riff that is only mildly offset by Chirico’s drum solo in the centre.
I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect when I put this album on at first. When speaking to Martin Foye of Fruupp, he told me that he had never been a prog fan, but just happened to play in a prog rock group. This was really the first chance I had to assess Chirico as a solo artist, even if he was playing in a group, and I wasn’t sure what to expect.
I have to say, dear reader, that I wasn’t expecting the thoroughly cheesy prog that is typified by retro instruments and shorter, more conventional songs played in a slightly proggy way. This saccharine style reaches its excruciating apex on The Reason Inside Playing, which is surely a translation error.
it’s just another way of living
the reason inside playing
it’s just another way for dreams.”
I shudder at how insipid that statement is, and it’s only made worse when heard screeched by Lanari in his most nasal voice, some three or four times throughout the song. It’s a definite nadir of Equinox.
Almost as if the band has had enough of Lanari’s voice as well, Summer Solstice provides some respite, as it’s another instrumental, although much more straightforward and less fiery than I’m Fury. Remember Joe seems to most encapsulate the spirit of the original band, as it sounds just like a rock take of a mournful classical piece. Quite a remarkable skill to make your own song sound like a cover. There’s only time for one last short instrumental, Story of a Friend, which gives Marco Rostagno a last chance to woo the audience with a sweeping guitar solo before the album’s close.
It would have been too much to expect the brilliance of the ’70s incarnations of The Trip (or even Arti e Mestieri) to be on display here, unless Chirico had a composition he had been sitting on since then – as Christian Vander so often seems to. Although Equinox occasionally contains artery-clogging levels of cheese, the fact that it has any good moments at all is still a remarkable achievement. Chirico’s drumming prowess is ever-present, and while he’s not quite as speedy as he used to be, it’s incredible to hear him sounding so good a full half-century beyond his heyday. With all that said, however, I’m not sure I’ll be returning to Equinox all that often, as the level of cheese is just too great for me, despite some decent moments near the top of the album.
01. I’m Fury (4:16)
02. Mother Earth (6:13)
03. A Suite For Everyone (8:10)
04. Catch The Dreamin’ (5:03)
05. Downward Onward (4:20)
06. The Reason Inside Playing (5:18)
07. Summer Solstice (4:17)
08. Remember Joe (3:42)
09. Story of A Friend (2:10)
Total Time – 43:29
Furio Chirico – Drums
Paolo “Silver” Silvestri – Hammond, Synthesisers, Vocals
Giuseppe “Gius” Lanari – Lead Vocal, Bass
Marco Rostagno – Guitars, Vocals
Record Label: ZdB
Country of Origin: Italy
Date of Release: 22nd November 2022