Review – Saro Cosentino – The Road To Now

Music has an uncanny ability to change your perception, let me explain what I mean by that. It’s a well known fact that I struggle with VDGG frontman Peter Hammill’s vocals, his voice has always seemed to grate on me, whether with the venerable progressive rock legends or singing with Isulders Bane, etc. I just haven’t been able to appreciate a voice that is, to some, one of the best out there. So, when I got sent a promo for the long awaited third solo album from Italian composer and producer Saro Cosentino, ‘The Road To Now’, with a tag line that said, “Featuring Peter Hammill.”, It didn’t immediately draw me in.

I will, however, always listen to any new music that is sent to me as how can you judge anything if you have not experienced it? To my surprise, I was completely seduced by the album and Peter Hammill’s contributions so let me tell you more about the album and why I found it to be one of the surprises of this musical year.

First, some background…

The third solo album by Italian composer and producer Saro Cosentino, ‘The Road To Now’ features singers Peter Hammill (on four songs), Tim Bowness (of No-Man) and Karen Eden, plus instrumental contributions from the likes of Gavin Harrison, David Rhodes, John Giblin and Trey Gunn. Available on heavyweight colour vinyl, CD and digital formats, it is the long-awaited follow-up to 1997’s acclaimed ‘Ones And Zeros’.

The Road To Now’ was recorded in the UK and US as well as at Cosentino’s own studio in Prague, with final mixing taking place at Real World in Bath. The opening ‘You’re The Story’ is followed by ‘The Joke’, the first of four songs featuring the unmistakable tones of legendary prog singer Peter Hammill. ‘November’ (on which Bowness provides a backing vocal) is a tale of long lost love, the outstanding ‘Time To Go’ contemplates the very end of the road (hopefully a long time from now), while the closing ‘When Your Parents Danced’ considers the first central figures in one’s life in their younger days, ‘before life’s stories made them what they’ve become’.

Having contributed to ‘Ones and Zeros’, as well as records by the likes of William Orbit and Chris Rea, the versatile Australian singer Karen Eden returns to perform on two contrasting tracks; the portentous sounding ‘Pray’ and (by way of contrast to everything else on the record), the pop song ‘Us (Scars on Skin)’. The album also contains the instrumental ‘Howl’, which switches from strident to atmospheric midway through and showcases the skills of the musicians involved.

Saro Cosentino creates music imbued with a timeless grace and elegance, whether it’s jazz infused progressive rock, mature, well crafted pop/rock or elegantly constructed instrumentals. You can tell from the way the music opens out in front of you that it is not just ‘written’ but also ‘composed’, like a soundtrack for an arty, perceptive film. There’s a precise nature to the composition of the tracks where every note and every word is placed carefully to create an attractive and creative whole.

Wistful, dreamy opener You’re The Story has a wonderfully nostalgic feel to it, given a contemplative purity by Tim Bowness’ restrained and sophisticated vocals. It’s a stunning, if low key, opening to the album but I’ve long been a fan of Tim’s voice anyway. The big surprise is the dark magnificence of The Joke where Peter Hammill’s voice is the main component of the track and is what makes it stand out so much. This is a moody, malevolent song and a thing of sombre magnificence, consider me hooked. This album also marks the first time I have ever heard Karen Eden’s voice and, on Pray, it has a theatrical drama and dynamism that bleeds through into the whole track. The coruscating saxophone of Nicola Alesini and cello of Dorota Barova are pure genius and add a whole extra dimension to what is a rather impressive piece of music.

This unanticipated wonder of an album showcases Saro’s brilliance as both composer and musician and continues with the melancholy grandeur of November where Hammill’s heartfelt, sorrowful vocal leaves an aura of remorse and regret that is only emphasised by the strident trumpet of Radim Knapp, a truly emotive song that hits you hard. At first US (Scars on Skin) seemed a bit out of place, an uptempo pop song among a collection of much more serious pieces but, taken in isolation, it is a fine showcase for the exquisite vocals of Karen Eden. A delightfully impish four minutes plus of uplifting music that just cleanses your template. The gravitas returns with the sparse, melancholy tones of Time To Go, Peter Hammill imbuing the track with sincere honesty and languid grace.

The one instrumental on the album, Howl, gives the talented musicians involved in the creation of this record a platform on which to demonstrate their accomplished talents. A dramatic piece of music that ebbs and flows and allows you to lose yourself momentarily in its notable wonders. The album closes with the measured and restrained spectacle of When Your Parents Danced, a sublime and criminally short song where myself and Peter Hammill finally click for good.

Saro Cosentino is nothing short of a musical genius, he has collected a hugely talented group of musicians together and created the biggest musical surprise of the year for me. A composer of not inconsiderable talent and a gifted songwriter, his choice of guest vocalists makes this an album that really should be on your wish list.

Released 7th October, 2022.

Order from bandcamp here:

The Road To Now | Saro Cosentino (

Review – N.y.X – The News – by Shawn Dudley


“and now for something completely different….” 

One of the primary criticisms of the modern “Prog” movement is how few bands are truly experimenting and pushing boundaries and moving the music into uncharted waters. While I don’t personally subscribe to that (very subjective) viewpoint, I can understand how listeners that lean more toward experimental and avant-garde musical forms could be disappointed by the tendency to reverentially look backward instead of boldly reaching forward…and outward.

Those listeners should do themselves a favor and experience ‘The News’, the sophomore album from Italian prog/art rock collective N.y.X..  It’s a daring and inventive journey that takes a plethora of influences and combines them into a unique sonic experience that will surely delight (or utterly confound) depending on the listener.

Walter F. Nyx (vocals, guitar, bass, electronica), Danilo A. Pannico (drums, percussion, piano, organ, marimba, electronica) and Klod (guitar, vocals) have crafted a group that is unafraid to experiment, to push outward, to challenge perceptions. Assigning a genre label to their music seems counterintuitive; let’s just say it’s progressive in the literal definition.

Nyx 7

‘The News’ begins with the instrumental Restless Slumber (At The Break Of Dawn), sounds of a city filtering thru the early morning, stirring the restless sleeper awake to face the day. The piece is built off an electronic foundation of loops and synth washes with Cuban jazz pianist Ivan Napoles Bridon adding some McCoy Tyner-influenced improvisation over the top. It has a dreamlike quality with the clear ringing sound of the acoustic piano creating a natural juxtaposition with the electronic underpinning, the piece builds to a crescendo and then tapers off before the sound of an alarm clock shatters that early morning calm and thrusts you headlong into the insanity of….

Groundhog Day (Wakening, Dressing, Starting Up…). This piece captures that near-manic state of being where you’ve gotten up too late and are forced to rush around the apartment in a frenzy, amped on adrenaline but not fully awake enough to focus it effectively. Basically, every morning for me. The arrangement is just as chaotic as that experience implies, a near-cacophony of instrumental elements and stylistic influences layered together into a massive wall of sound with the vocal line more spoken than sung providing narration. If you’re looking for calm and soothing…look elsewhere. Musically there’s a discernable influence from the Discipline-era King Crimson band, which makes perfect sense considering the guest appearance on our next chapter….

A Sarcastic Portrait (Editorial, Home and Foreign) continues the busy intensity; a driving and chaotic electronic drum track provides the underpinning for guest Adrian Belew (King Crimson) to paint his distinctive and playfully gonzo guitar over the top.  The vocal line on this track simultaneously reminds me of the chaotic Indiscipline (from ‘Discipline’) and Devo.  Yes, Devo.  About the midway point a calm enters the proceedings, the arrangement slowly winds itself down and from the quiet the sounds of marimba, fingerpicked acoustic guitar and synth emerge.  This ebb and flow is indicative of the entire album, the moments of intensity cooled down by more pastoral passages and then using that false sense of security to jolt the listener into the next movement.   There’s an almost playful quality to it all.


Discord (Domestic Policies) is the most straight-ahead composition on the album. Primarily acoustic-guitar driven, it’s a charming art-rock number that gives a nod to the psychedelic while still retaining modernism thru the underlying rhythmic pulse. The guitar solo is a particular highlight, including a gorgeous harmony section that really caught my attention.

The Paper (Titles & Subtitles) is a minimalist instrumental piece in two movements. A simple single-note piano figure and orchestral pad provide the foundation for the first section and then a multitude of instrumental colorations are layered on top. The second section is sparser, the piano figure here replaced by a bass guitar line with washes of synth and barely audible narration bubbling just below the surface. There is a cinematic quality to this piece and it kept conjuring up images of a nighttime urban cityscape in my mind.

Keeping the soundtrack vibe going, Oscillations Du Chaos – Part III mixes in the sounds of an analog typewriter into the arrangement along with piano, tuned tympani, loops, snippets of dialogue and a variety of other elements to create the soundtrack for a virtual newspaper office. It also functions as the instrumental intro to the album-closing epic of…

The Daily Dark Delerium. This nearly 13-minute piece is the summation of everything that has come before, a chaotic, turbulent storm of an arrangement that leaves you drained yet satiated at its conclusion. Guest Trey Gunn adds his distinctive Warr Guitar to the instrumental stew.


This album isn’t for everyone, it’s not easy-listening, it does require some patience and some effort to fully appreciate.  I myself listened to the album for a month before I felt I had grasped it sufficiently to write about.  It was worth the effort.

There’s a joyous feeling that comes from finding music that’s nearly impossible to describe, especially in a musical landscape that often seems more concerned with cataloging artists into neat little stylistic boxes instead of just listening and experiencing them. I applaud N.y.X for being difficult, for being challenging, for being unafraid to experiment…for being progressive.

Released 26th Feb 2016 via Bad Elephant Music

Pre-order digital from BEM’s bandcamp page

Pre-order the CD from Burning Shed