Disorganicorigami (2009, 59.53) ***½/T½Holocaustica
The Dance of the Drastic Navels Part 1
A Saucerful of Secrets
Children of Our Dreams
Var Glad Var Dag
Destruktive Actions Affect Livings (2011, 60.10) ****/TTTRedroom
Noises From an Interlude
The Dance of the Drastic Navels part II
Destruktive Actions Affect Livings
Memories of Old Pictures
Dodecahedron (2012, 70.37) ****/TTT½
The Call of the Witches (2012, 33.13) ***/T½The Call of Cthulhu
I: The Horror in Clay
II: The Tale of Inspector Legrasse
III: The Madness From the Sea
Echoes From the Shore
Dances of the Drastic Navels (2014, 51.25) ****/TTMalleus Maleficarum
Elektra (an Evening With...)
The Dance of the Drastic Navels
Decalogue of Darkness (2018, 70.51) ****/TTTTT
Navels Falling Into a Living Origami (2018, 49.27) ***½/TTNavels Falling Into a Living Origami
Rökstenen: A Tribute to Swedish Progressive Rock of the 70's (2010) ****/TT[Daal contribute]
Var Glad Var Dag
Dante's Paradiso: The Divine Comedy, Part III (2010) ****/TT[Daal contribute]
The Tales of Edgar Allan Poe: A SyNphonic Collection (2010) ****/TT[Daal contribute]
The Fall of the House of Usher
Daal are the brainchild of keys man Alfio Costa (Tilion, Prowlers) and drummer Davide Guidoni (Taproban), whose debut, 2009's near-unpronounceable Disorganicorigami, refreshes ears tired of the same old 'progressive' clichés. No two tracks on the essentially instrumental album sound alike, swerving violently between prog metal (Chimaira), tribal synth experimentation (Mo(o)nso(o)n), lengthy avant-prog (The Dance Of The Drastic Navels Part 1) and even out-there fusion (the title track). Top marks, though, may go to their very psychedelic take on Pink Floyd's A Saucerful Of Secrets, complete with wordless female vocals, the song only really becoming recognisable when the iconic piano part kicks in. Costa plays an assortment of real and virtual synths and vintage 'boards, including his M400 (naturally), with a flute part in Chimaira, full-on strings on Brian Melody and flutes and strings on closer Var Glad Var Dag, though none to any major degree.
2011's Destruktive Actions Affect Livings is, by and large, better all round, although I'm not so sure about the slightly formless, ten-minute title track. Top tracks include Level 6666, the sixteen-minute The Dance Of The Drastic Navels part II (the album's centrepiece and sole vocal track) and gorgeous closer Memories Of Old Pictures, though little here is anything less than thought-provoking. More of Costa's M400 this time round, with string section on AnarChrist, strings on Level 6666, flutes on The Dance Of The Drastic Navels Part II and flutes and strings on Memories Of Old Pictures, generally used to a greater degree than on Disorganicorigami.
I haven't heard 2011's limited-edition Echoes of Falling Stars, but the following year's Dodecahedron (fittingly) is a twelve-part piece, with less obvious diversity than on their previous releases. Largely avant-prog, it also incorporates elements of contemporary and mediaeval folk, early 20th Century classical and, er, King Crimson, a recurring motif owing a debt to that band's 1974 lineup. Unless I'm missing something, Alfio plays Mellotron strings and/or flutes (as against the album's real one) on all parts except IV, VI and XI, although the strings sound slightly muffled; have they been routed through a grimy tape-delay? An EP from later that year, The Call of the Witches, sees the band in Giallo mode, notably on the creepy Nosferatu and the first two minutes of Witches, although my personal preference is for ten-minute opener The Call Of Cthulhu. Just one Mellotron track, with Costa's mixed strings on the first two parts of The Call Of Cthulhu. 2014's Dances of the Drastic Navels (that title again!), another mostly instrumental release (holdout: the female vocals on Inside You), keeps the quality up, top tracks including opener Malleus Maleficarum and the lengthy title track. Not much Mellotron, again: not sure what we're hearing at the beginning of Lilith, but I'm quite sure it's Mellotronic, plus strings about eight minutes into the title track, reiterating throughout.
Daal released two albums on the same day in 2018, Decalogue of Darkness and Navels Falling Into a Living Origami. The former's ten 'chapters' effectively channel Änglagård in their wordless minor-key lamentations and filthy great slabs of Mellotron strings, the album perhaps at its best on Chapters I, IV, VIII and ten-minute closer X. I'm not exaggerating when I tell you that Costa goes fucking mad with the Mellotron this time round; strings (and sometimes choirs or flute) on every track except Chapter IX, where he eschews the strings for the flutes. A rare outing for the much-coveted [by whom? Citation needed] five-T rating, then. In direct contrast, Navels Falling Into a Living Origami (referencing all but one of their previous releases) consists of a single, near-fifty-minute piece. Now, given its title, I'm wondering whether or not it also references the music from previous albums. You mean I can't tell? I hate to have to share this with you, but I frequently (i.e. usually) don't actually get to know the music I'm reviewing very well, if at all. Even the decent stuff, like Daal. I'd love to have that much time, but... Anyway, it's a good listen, if not the equal of its twin release, sections, cross-fading in and out, more in the vein of their earlier eclecticism than Decalogue...'s full-on symphonic madness. Not so sure about the vocals towards the end, but there you go. Reasonable amounts of Mellotron earlier on, but little in the second half.
If you're looking for modern prog albums that don't sound like everyone else (so; are Spock's Beard the new neo-prog? Discuss), Daal may well perk up your jaded taste buds, although be warned: some of you may find their wild genre freestyling a bit much to take. They're definitely admirable albums; only time will tell whether or not they're ones I'll return to with any regularity.
See: Tilion | Prowlers | Colossus Project