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Locanda Delle Fate - Forse Le Lucciole Non Si Amano Piu

Click on the album cover to hear a RealAudio sample.


Comments:
This is my favorite Italian progressive rock album. 1977's Forse Le Lucciole Non Si Amano Piu is a beautiful masterpiece that few other albums can match. Locanda Delle Fate were a 7-piece band consisting of two keyboardists, two guitarists, a bassist, a drummer, and a singer. Unfortunately, they began their careers as a band just as prog was starting to die in Italy. After the album was released, the band found little to no demand for live performances and little interest for their music. So after a short tour, and a couple of failed singles, they quit. The music here is colorful in a symphonic way, and emphasizes intensely melodic interaction from the various instruments. What really impresses me about this recording is the attention that went into detail. I'm still discovering new melodies, countermelodies, and harmonies every time the CD gets played. Themes are stated, developed, go through variations, and resolved in such a majestic manner that it's tough to compare LDF to other bands. Leonardo Sasso, the singer, reminds me a bit of Ian Anderson. His voice is warm, and at times close to operatic. Overall, music doesn't get much better than this!

Compositions: 10/10
Vocals(in Italian): 10/10
Recording Quality: 10/10


Webpage:
Locanda Delle Fate's Official Website

MO.DO. - La scimmia sulla schiena del Re


Comments:
I bought this CD many years ago around the same time that I was discovering classic Italian prog bands like Banco, Locanda Delle Fate, and PFM. At the time, I thought that MO.DO. were okay, but placed the CD aside in favor of the major Italian classics. Well, the years went by, and I recently gave MO.DO. a few spins thinking that my opinion of them would probably remain unchanged. My opinion changed. "La scimmia sulla schiena del Re" was recorded around 1980. I'm not sure if it was released as an LP around that time, or if it was rescued by Mellow Records 15 years later. The band's music is influenced by the classic Italian prog era, and sounds rather modern even today. By "modern" I mean that the instruments, and recording equipment, sound post-1970s without sounding dated today. What struck me about the music is that melodies have everything in common with groups like PFM, Banco, QVL. The band seemed to want to continue the legacy of Italian progressive rock without repeating it(although a section here and there might remind you of some of the classic bands). Each track features rather long instrumental sections driven by electric guitar, and keyboards(which include Piano, Moog Opus 3, and Moog synth). Their drummer also plays in the typical energetic Italian prog-drummer style. Overall, MO.DO. sadly remains an underrated band. I guess compared to bands from the classic Italian era they are okay. But, compared to prog that was released between 1979-1992, MO.DO. are certainly one of the best.

Compositions: 8/10
Vocals(in Italian): 8/10
Recording Quality: 9/10



Murple - Murple




Comments:
Murple were another one-shot band from the Italian 70's prog explosion. It is truely incredible when you think about the amount of high-quality music released in Italy between 1972-1977. The music on this CD, while having all of the elements needed to produce classic "Italian prog", can't be compared to any other band from the Italian scene(sure, I could spit out the names PFM, RDM, and Banco but that wouldn't do justice to the music). The tracks are all connected to produce 2 side-long epics. Sections range from aggressive prog workouts consisting of heavy guitar, hammond organ, and pounding bass, to soft/melodic interludes, to early techno-sounding experiments(you really have to hear it to make up your mind). My only complaint is that while the CD cover states that both sides are 18-minutes each, in reality they are 16-minutes each(well, one side is almost 17-minutes). I don't know if this was an error in the printing process, or if it was done to hide the fact that the album is only 33-minutes long, but if you don't mind paying for a 33-minute album of high-quality prog then you're in for a classic.

Compositions: 8/10
Vocals(in Italian): 8/10
Recording Quality: 7.5/10

Museo Rosenbach - Zarathustra

Click on the album cover to hear a RealAudio sample.

Comments:
Zarathustra is another controversial progressive rock album. Many claim that it is best prog album album to come out of Italy during the 70's, while others claim that it's just basic hard rock with mellotron thrown in. I was quite moved after listening to Zarathustra for the first time because the themes, melodies, and mood-changes are really high-quality. The four awesome compositions(one is 20-minutes long) alternate from soft and delicate, to 70's heavy rock. In my opinion, Zarathustra is one of the best progressive rock albums out there.

Compositions: 10/10
Vocals(in Italian): 10/10
Recording Quality: 9/10

Nuova Idea - Clowns


Comments:
Here is a great Italian prog album that many would enjoy. Nuova Idea's music tends to alternate between heavy prog, where guitar and hammond compete for domination, and mellow prog typical of the period. Their keyboardist reminds me of Rick Wakeman, at times, when he plays Hammond. He also plays Moogs, piano, and clavinet. I must warn that some of vocal-parts take getting use to. They are sometimes harsh, overly emotional, and typical of French bands like Mona Lisa, and some Ange. Fortunately, the majority of vocals on this album are done in a typically, softer, Italian style(PFM-like). I also bought their second album Mr E. Jones, and really enjoy that one. It has a completely different style from Clowns, and tends to emphasize jamming(at least on side B).

Compositions: 7/10
Vocals(in Italian): 7/10
Recording Quality: 8/10

Osanna - Palepoli

Click on the album cover to hear a RealAudio sample.


Comments:
The structure of Palepoli is very similar to albums like A Passion Play and Thick As A Brick from Jethro Tull. Each side of the album contains 20-minutes of an album-length epic. However, the music, rather than being Jethro Tull-like, is influenced by early King Crimson(jazzy sax-driven parts), and the Italian prog-rock of the time. So, the music alternates between heavy guitar/sax-led sections, and softer flute/mellotron interludes. Ideas come and go rather quickly, and most sections last no more than 2-minutes or so. It also appears that Osanna basically connected shorter songs to build a larger epic. I really like the vocalist(who sings in Italian). His voice is almost like a warmer version of Klaus Meine from The Scorpions. Palepoli is a very unique album that has never been duplicated.

Compositions: 10/10
Vocals(in Italian): 10/10
Recording Quality: 7.5/10


Il Paese Dei Balocchi - Il Paese Dei Balocchi


Comments:
This has got to be one of the most inoffensive album ever made. The music here is so quiet, that sometimes I forget the album is evne on. Once in a while, the band breaks out of its sleepy mood and bursts into symphonic energy(with passages that sound similar to RDM's Contaminazione), but for the most part the playing is slow and quiet. I got this album back when Mellow Record's had their $10 sale, so I think that it's worth $10. But, if your planning on spending more, be warned that Il Paese Dei Balocchi's debut is sleepy. The music is high-quality, but one wishes that the band had written more aggressive parts to balance out the slow passages.

Compositions: 8/10
Vocals(in Italian): 8/10
Recording Quality: 8/10

Picchio Dal Pozzo - Abiamo Tutti I Suoi Problemi


Comments:
Picchio Dal Pozzo's second album seems to have been influenced by Henry Cow's Western Culture, Stormy Six from Italy, and Frank Zappa's jazz compositions. Combining these influences(along with Italian prog rock), the music is complex in a RIO style, yet accessible.

Compositions: 10/10
Vocals(in Italian): 10/10
Recording Quality: 10/10


Quella Vecchia Locanda - Tempo Della Gioia

Click on the album cover to hear a RealAudio sample.


Comments:
Tempo Della Gioia is a prog album with stronger classical influences than what is usually expected. In fact, instruments like violin, flute, classical guitar, piano, and harpsichord dominate over electric guitar, bass, and drums(which do appear sometimes). Quella Vecchia Locanda were also influenced by early jazz, and tend to mix it with classical on some of the later pieces(very unique I must say). The vocals are excellent, and typical of most 70's Italian prog bands. They are never harsh or overbearing, but rather soft, warm, and melodic. Anyway, this album is a classic!

Compositions: 9.5/10
Vocals(in Italian): 9.5/10
Recording Quality: 9/10

RDM - Contaminazione

Comments:
Contaminazione is a concept album, based on themes from Bach's "Well-Tempered Clavier". 13 sections alternate from straight-forward prog rock to aggressive, Bach-influenced, instrumental passages where harpsichords, trumpets, and strings compete with electric guitars, bass, and an energetic drummer. A couple of the sections are mellow, and only serve to balance the more intense passages. RDM are worth adding to your collection.

Compositions: 9/10
Vocals(in Italian): 9/10
Recording Quality: 9/10

Saint Just - Saint Just


Comments:
Saint Just's debut album did not appeal to me at first, but I soon fell in love with its music. The group released two albums around 1973-74 that featured progressive music that had nothing in common with the other Italian prog groups of the time. Rather this band's music mixed psychedelic influences with an electro-acoustic progressive folk sound that sounded rather dated for a 1973 release. On top of that, the group had a female singer with one of the strangest voices around. And, that unique voice took me a few years to appreciate. If you can imagine an Italian female singer(influenced by the Jefferson Airplane) who sings in a style that has a bit more in common with the high-pitched female vocals found in Chinese and Vietnamese classical/folk music then you might have an idea of her style. Yes, this style isn't for everyone, but give it time and you'll be rewarded by both the music and Jane's singing. The music, as I mentioned, seems influenced a bit by psychedelic music and progressive-folk. The recording tends to sound home-made and reminds me a bit of recordings by early Amon Duul II(Phallus Dei-era). The tracks feature laid-back jamming from acoustic guitars, bass, and piano. Once in a while you also hear an electric guitar solo and drums. The cool thing about the band is that they knew exactly when to throw enough dark dissonance to throw the music off in another direction. Overall, if you're looking for something different yet progressive Saint Just might be what you're looking for.

Compositions: 8/10
Vocals(in Italian): 8/10
Recording Quality: 8/10

Semiramis - Semiramis

Click on the album cover to hear a RealAudio sample.


Comments:
How could I go about describing Semiramis? They have one of the most unique sounds from the Italian prog scene. Well, the music tends to emphasize fast, dynamic, yet quirky playing that is unique compared to most other prog albums. Most of the compositions feature dozens of instruments which include everything from guitar, bass, and drums to vibes, synths, and mandolins. There is a cartoonish element to the band's sound that indicates that they didn't take themselves seriously. But, several sections, especially towards the end of the album, are emotional and serious. For a 1973 release, the guitar work is sometimes quite heavy thanks to great guitar work by a futuristic 16 year-old. This guy was playing heavy metal guitar years before the genre became popular. Their vocalist shouldn't bother most people, but his style is rather eccentric. Dedicato A Frazz is an unusual album that should be in every prog fan's collection.

Compositions: 10/10
Vocals(in Italian): 9/10
Recording Quality: 9/10

La Torre dell'Alchimista - La Torre dell'Alchimista


Comments:
After reading the hype surrounding this new release, I decided to buy a copy. La Torre dell'Alchimista have received alot of favorable reviews from the underground press, and they just recently played an East Coast Prog festival in 2002. But after the first spin, the music didn't really sound that impressive. My first impression was that although the musicians were top-notch, the themes and vocals were average compared to the classic Italian prog bands that they were being compared to. After repeated plays, though, something strange started to occur. The album quickly started to reveal its beauty, and after a good half-dozen plays I was hooked. All of the tracks here average 6 minutes each, and feature a group of musicians who are determined to keep the 1970s Italian prog movement alive. Although the music here rarely apes groups like Banco, Locanda Delle Fate, PFM, MO.DO., and Festa Mobile their influence is noticeable. I also hear hints of Änglagård, Bubu, and even Bacamarte during some of the instrumental sections. TDA's music is in the symphonic prog style. Most tracks feature playfully melodic interaction between hammond organ, Moog synth, flutes, acoustic guitar, bass, and drums. Vocals are present on 8 of the 9 tracks. And as unimpressive as the vocalist sounds at first, I quickly grew to like his voice and melodic style, although there is a 6-minute track entitled "Il Volo" which still sunk in. TDA managed to live up, somewhat, to the hype. If you do decide to check out TDA, keep in mind that they are not that impressive at first, though Italian progressive rock fans will find the music impressive.

Webpage:
La Torre dell'Alchimista

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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