The Pilgrim Premiere “Dragonfly” from Walking into the Forest

the pilgrim

Available to preorder since January, the debut album from The Pilgrim will be released April 26 through Heavy Psych Sounds. The 10-song/38-minute Walking into the Forest is a new venture for Gabriele Fiori, who’s already well known for being the head of the Heavy Psych Sounds label and booking agency as well as the frontman of Black Rainbows and Killer Boogie. Hey, some people like to stay busy.

Before the album was being announced, I was fortunate enough to be asked to write the bio for The Pilgrim, and of course I jumped at the opportunity as I tend to do. My motivation was pretty simple, and I think listening to Walking into the Forest makes the argument perhaps best of all, which was why I was so keen to host the premiere of “Peace of Mind,” the album’s opening track, when the time came for the announcement to go out. With The PilgrimFiori and his cohort drummer Filippo Ragazzoni don’t just take on new textures, but as songs like the Hawkwind cover “Brainstorm” show, there’s a definite tie-in with the work Fiori has done in the past. It comes in a more peaceful form throughout “The Time You Wait” and the finger-picked beginning of “Pendulum,” perhaps, but that sense of collective psychedelic trip is still there, and it feels all the more resonant for its foundation in earthy acoustic guitar, to which quiet-but-welcome drums/percussion are added along with keys and vocals. “Peace of Mind” begins the record at a hippie ramble, and soon enough after, “Sailor” seems to speak to the exploration that’s getting underway in this material, with a broader melodic scope and an affecting, bigger finish.

Because that’s what Walking into the Forest is: the beginning of a new exploration. It’s right The-pilgrim-walking-into-the-forestthere in the title in the word “into,” which implies you’re starting from somewhere else and entering the forest, and it’s right there in the prominent front foot of the Maarten Donders cover art. These songs may have been years in the making, but the recording unites them in the purpose of feeling out and establishing this unfamiliar sonic terrain, where it’s not about the effects wash or the space rock thrust, or about the classic ’70s shuffle, but about creating a not entirely dissimilar atmosphere through the most natural of folkish elements — a guitar and a voice. That’s the core of what The Pilgrim does, but of course Fiori and Ragazzoni expand the sound with drums and keyboards, echo on the vocals and so on. It’s all part of conjuring an acid folk vibe, and they do it well from “Peace of Mind” through the relatively subdued guitar/keys finish of “Suite #2.” Not every song is trying to manifest the same idea — that would invariably lead to a monotonous listening experience, which the album isn’t, but they all work together in order to create the sense of journeying along with the duo in the creative process.

When asked for the bio, Fiori described the song “Dragonfly” as a “mind-dream,” which I like a lot, as well as his favorite on the album. Indeed, the track traffics well in the ethereal, and makes its presence felt through early intertwining of soft vocals and guitar with spaced-out keys before the strumming and drumming picks up before the two-minute mark. Those keyboard droplets stay consistent throughout, and late in the track a sweeping solo comes forward in the mix and ends up gently leading the way out just past the song’s fifth minute — it’s the only inclusion on Walking into the Forest to cross that line.

Fiori, as noted, or at least implied, has a fairly manic (and admirable) work ethic, so it’s easy to imagine that, should he choose to focus on it, a second The Pilgrim record could arrive sooner than the years it took to put together Walking into the Forest. Between Black RainbowsKiller Boogie, putting out other bands’ albums and booking events like the Obelisk-co-presented Heavy Psych Sounds Fest tour in the US (info here), he’s not exactly short on current projects, but sometimes once you start on a path through the forest, the best thing to do is just keep going and see where it leads you.

I’ve included that bio I wrote for the album here, in case you’re interested. It’s under the player with the premiere of “Dragonfly” and a quick comment from Fiori about the track specifically.

Please enjoy:

Gabriele Fiori on “Dragonfly”:

Dragonfly is the fourth track of the album and the one I personally like the most because its different phases; one is heavenly and choral, but then suddenly starts with rhythm parts and nice vocals, to end with a guitar solo that intertwines with the other instruments to create something truly magic.

The Pilgrim’ debut album Walking Into The Forest will be released on April 26th via Heavy Psych Sounds. Cover art by Maarten Donders.

Preorder available now: https://www.heavypsychsounds.com/shop.htm?#HPS092

Bio:

Gabriele Fiori — already frontman of Rome-based outfits Black Rainbows and Killer Boogie and a key figure in Europe’s heavy underground as the head of the Heavy Psych Sounds label and booking agency — was not exactly lacking for things to do. And yet, a couple years back, The Pilgrim started to nebulously take shape as an idea for a solo-project, something different than the hard-driving psychedelia and garage heavy rock for which he’d already been so revered.

It wasn’t until Jan. 2018 that he really got to putting songs together, but the end result on Walking into the Forest is a space-folk release with a personality unto itself. Songs like opener “Peace of Mind” evoke some of Fiori’s more rocking side, while “Sunset in the Desert” feels like an ode to the acoustic album Kyuss never made, and side B, which starts with the Hawkwind cover “Brainstorm” and ends with the moody strum of “Suite #2” — originally from Void Generator’s 2004 debut EP; when Fiori was in the band — hones a cosmic drift and textures that nonetheless remain accessible and organic thanks to their acoustic foundation.

“The main point in common with Black Rainbows is the diversity of the songs,” Fiori explains. “You have mind-dreams like ‘Dragonfly’ or ‘Sailor,’ or the more folk rock ‘Peace of Mind,’ passing through space with ‘The Time You Wait’ and the melodic-melancholic ‘When I Call Your Name.’”

In completing the arrangements, Fiori turned to Black Rainbows drummer Filippo Ragazzoni, and as he says, “Songs came out so spontaneously and easy. I always played acoustic guitar and wanted to push further on this path. The songwriting, rehearsing and recording approach was so different from usual Rainbows or Boogie style, both to me and Filippo for drums, because all the instruments needed to be played smoothly, softly.”

With Walking into the Forest, Fiori evokes a sound that is both classic and fresh, melodically rich and creatively constructed. It is a new outlet for Fiori that demands spiritual as well as auditory engagement, and an all-things-permissible sonic context that one can only hope The Pilgrim continues to explore.

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