Suite for The Last Prophet is a prog rock opera by Rome-based band Via Modesta Valenti, an overarching narrative in the vein of Pink Floyd’s ‘Echoes’ or  ‘Shine on You Crazy Diamond’. Written in 12 acts that last around 23 minutes, I approached this composition with great curiosity and was met with immense musical value.

Via Modesta Valenti chose to present themselves as a “Frog” Rock project created with the sole intention of breaking up and planning a reunion tour in Japan sometime around 2050. Clearly, a 5-piece with a fresh sense of humor, Via Modesta Valenti is not a band that aims to complicate themselves and take things too seriously, and that shows in their songwriting approach on Suite for The Last Prophet, a progressive epic that remains breezy, mystical, and light throughout.

The Suite is one cohesive listen divided up into 12 parts that vary in their length and significance, remaining thoroughly entertaining throughout. Fantastically written and performed, ‘Suite for The Last Prophet’ is at once dramatic and effervescent, perhaps due -in part- to the nature of the sound of the mix, with the drums sounding open and roomy, and the vocals bright and in-your-face, but also due to the composition that benefits greatly from major keys and songwriting cues that could be described as gleeful and optimistic.

The performances are also terrific. With the vocals and drums being instrumental parts in defining the pace and feel of whichever part of the sweet we are in, the 5-piece tend to also drift toward lush pads, tight pianos, and inventive guitar parts of different tones to further define the feel of the particular act they’re on. From exotic and cinematic parts dotted by unusual compositional cues like ‘Desert Trip’ & ‘Bazar Blues’, to more triumphant and emotive ones such as ‘Pristine Soul’ & ‘Silk and Mohair’, to driving rock grooves such as ‘Barbara’, the band find no hardship is keeping the pace going regardless of style, leaning on a blend of the easily accessible vocals, warm and rich arrangements, and beautifully calculated mixes.

Guided by the voice and lyrics of Matteo Zanuzzi, and the fantastic musical input by his bandmates Adriano Sabatucci’s guitars, Francesco Mongatti’s keyboards, Gianmarco Palma’s bass, and Luca Santi’s drums, and finally by the vision and direction of production Stefano Ferracin, the band took 6 years to write, record, and release this entirely fascinating release. Whimsical and fantastical lyrics full of color and life, a gorgeous composition that’s genuinely enjoyable in its unpredictability, somewhere before the halfway point of Suite for The Last Prophet I started easing into the sound, feeling more and more confident that Via Modesta Valenti are fully aware of what they’re doing, and that they will positively not mess things up. From that point on I listened with pure admiration to go with my curiosity and a newfound excitement.

My only gripe would be with some of the musical ideas being so good that they deserve fuller and more dedicated songs built around them, like the joyous, spacy atmospheres that define ‘Desert Trip’, or the wonderful piano start to the suite that suddenly shifts into the off-kilter guitar riff that is the intro-proper, even if it is reexplored in ‘Pristine Soul’ for a while before getting interrupted again, in a less abrupt fashion. Perhaps I’m asking for too much. The gorgeous atmosphere built on ‘Origins’ too, deserves a more dedicated song.

Being wholly aware of the nature of the acts on Suite of The Last Prophet, being smaller parts of a bigger, more important whole, I’m not even slightly complaining. The music offered here is truly gorgeous. Calculated, balanced, and professionally restrained, Via Modesta Valenti are piloting us on a truly unique trip through deserts, bazaars, jazz bars, outer space, and our own minds. I truly hope they don’t break up as intended, but maybe go on planning that Japan 2050 tour. With this level of quality and musicianship, I have no doubt it would easily sell out.