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    Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography

    ROCK PROGRESSIVO ITALIANO

    A Progressive Rock Sub-genre


    From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

    Rock Progressivo Italiano definition

    aka "RPI"


    "So it's an established fact that in Italy during the period between 1971-1974, a music movement existed where bands would challenge each other to see who could be the most imaginative, who could create the album for the ages. They were all painters and sculptors just as in Renaissance Italy." -Tom Hayes/Gnosis


    1. The background
    As the 60s drew to an end, Italy experienced a wave of new ideas and ideals which coincided with the new musical era being born. It would not be exaggeration to state that the 70s were a watershed period in the history of the country. Even though the 60s are generally remembered as the years of the 'economic boom', it was only in the following decade that Italy made the long, difficult change from a relatively poor, traditional country into a fully developed Western society. A look at any timeline for 70s Italy will show an incredible concentration of events that changed the fabric of Italian society irrevocably: laws and acts were passed which affected worker's rights, family and divorce law, and women's rights and reproductive health. In a country where the physical presence of the Catholic Church has always been impossible to overlook, not least because of its open intervention in the country's political affairs, the introduction of such radical changes was no small feat.

    Most of those changes were made possible by the presence of a strong left-wing component in Italian political life, even if regarded with extreme suspicion by both the Church and Italy's main ally, the United States. Though the existence of a party that openly called itself Communist was not exclusive to Italy, at the time the PCI (Partito Comunista Italiano) was considered more of a danger than, for instance, its French equivalent - mainly due to Italy's strategic position in the Mediterranean area, as well as the party's obvious connection with the Soviet Union. Such a peculiar, potentially explosive situation sadly became a breeding ground for a number of extremist groups, who were responsible for the season of violence and unrest commonly known as the 'Anni di piombo' ('years of lead'), which lasted well into the first half of the Eighties. The number of casualties due to terror acts and rioting was quite high, involving people from all walks of life. However, the defining episode of the decade was the kidnapping and subsequent murder of well-known politician Aldo Moro (a left-leaning Christian Democrat) by the notorious Brigate Rosse ('Red Brigades') in the spring of 1978.


    2. The birth of a movement
    The turbulent times affected countless musicians looking for something new-some way to parallel the political climate through artistic media. Ranging from highly educated conservatory students to local singer-songwriters, this spirit managed to captivate an entire country within a few short years. Young people were restless, bursting with a burning desire to change the staid, suffocating atmosphere of Italian society starting with one of its symbols, its venerable musical tradition. Most musicians had more or less strong left-wing leanings (the prime example being Area), while the few examples of openly right-wing bands never managed to break out of obscurity, or gain more than a strictly cult following.

    Without a strong rock tradition in the 60s Italy had mainly produced beat bands of varying quality, as well as singers well-versed in the long-standing canzone tradition of the country. As the tidal wave of counter-culture swept in, it brought revolution not only in the form of progressive rock, but also differing forms of heavier, continental rock which was establishing itself around the same time. Psychedelic influences and the incorporation of classical music may have been the same stepping stones used by most other progressive scenes around the globe during the same period, but even at this embryonic stage there was a whiff of something else in the air. In the late 60s when the beat scene was already heading towards a decline, a number of bands formed, some of them releasing singles (or even albums) that bridged the gap between beat, conventional Italian easy listening music (musica leggera), and the new ideas coming from Great Britain - among them, New Trolls, Le Orme, Panna Fredda, I Quelli (later to become Premiata Forneria Marconi), Il Mucchio, and Fabio Celi e gli Infermieri.

    "We wanted to put some improvisations between the singing parts and we had to make up our minds about the style to follow... After having been to the Isle of Wight festival, it was clear to all of us that we couldn't keep on playing the usual songs with verses and refrains." -Toni Pagliuca, Le Orme


    3. The golden years
    The beginning of the new decade saw the rise of a countless number of bands and artists, some of whom would go on to become successful acts. PFM, Banco del Mutuo Soccorso, Osanna, Il Balletto di Bronzo, Quella Vecchia Locanda belong to this group, with all but the latter being still active at the time of writing. Some others only managed to release one album (or even just a handful of singles) before they disbanded. The prog-rock bug became so widespread in Italy that some experts say every artist and band in Italy produced at least one progressive album during this time. A number of well-known mainstream artists started their career with a prog album, like singer-songwriters Riccardo Cocciante (with Mu) and Ivano Fossati (with the first Delirium album, Dolce acqua). Or, like Lucio Battisti or Fabrizio De Andr? they released strongly prog-influenced albums when the movement was at its height.

    During the peak years of the RPI movement in the early 70s, countless bands showcased their talent in the many pop festivals organized throughout Italy. The festivals were often free of charge and boasted a level artistic freedom and competition seldom seen in popular music. Fans witnessed bands rise from obscurity to compete on the same stage as the heavy hitters. This musical competition created something of an upward spiral; everyone tried to outdo each other, producing unique sounds and incorporating disparate influences into their music. The variety of the music went through the roof, with every band sharing the same aspirations, though seldom the same sound. It must also be made clear that despite the beliefs of those who write off Italian prog as simply a British counterfeit, many of these bands were creating music that was phenomenally original, experimental, free-spirited, and creatively successful. While bands from abroad helped influence and inspire Italian bands, Italy's young bands quickly took the ball and ran with it. It is ludicrous to suggest the scene a mere imitation. The upward spiral also meant an over saturated market, in which many bands only managed to put out one or two releases with minimal budget and intense recording. Some of the best, most genuine and treasured albums of Rock Progressivo Italiano can be found in this group: Semiramis' "Dedicato a Frazz", Pholas Dactylus' "Concerto delle menti", Raccomandata Ricevuta di Ritorno's "Per un mondo di cristallo", Museo Rosenbach's "Zarathustra", and Balletto di Bronzo's "Ys" to name just a few.

    "We had to tackle this tradition, we had to fight against the conventions and refuse to be integrated. The New Sounds hadn't arrived yet, there was no music for the young people, there was nothing, you had to invent and build up your space. Perhaps this was the mainspring that unchained such a creative strength." -Gianni Leone

    With time some of the biggest bands achieved international success, with PFM as the best-known example. Lyricist Peter Sinfield, known from his work with giants like King Crimson and ELP, even wrote for the band, while Peter Hammill provided English lyrics for Le Orme's "Felona e Sorona". Ironically this success often meant a detour from the roots of the RPI sounds, making these albums more aligned to the British scene than the bulk of the artists and albums in the archives. Look beneath the surface in order to discover hidden (or not so hidden) gems. While the oft-mentioned big 3 of Italian prog (PFM, Banco, and Le Orme) are conveniently considered the peak by those casually mentioning this scene, RPI enthusiasts know the river runs so much deeper, and many of our personal favourites are found outside of these popular groups. Those who search beyond the surface will discover that the most daring and provocative works were often made by more obscure groups who released one fantastic album and then vanished into thin air. This common syndrome of Italian "one-shot" bands became the bane of many RPI fans.

    Since so many different musicians experimented with the progressive format, you will also find a broad musical scope within RPI, something which has kept the subgenre fresh and vital over time. Examples include Franco Battiato (still a very successful artist in Italy), Picchio dal Pozzo, Opus Avantra, Stormy Six and Area, who each in their own individual way, show a more cosmopolitan flavour and range of influences than most other acts.

    After its explosive development in the early 70s, the movement followed the same path as other progressive musical movements around the world as the 80s approached. Some influential artists continued to release new albums though never with the same success as in the halcyon days. Others changed with the times and became highly successful mainstream artists both in Italy and internationally. As elsewhere in the prog universe the quantity and quality of RPI began to dry up a bit in the late 70s and early 80s, although there were some quality releases from that period. These titles tended to be more melodic and less brashly avant-garde than the classic period but were respectable nonetheless. To name but a few there were Locanda Delle Fate, Stefano Testa, Pierpaolo Bibbo, and L'Estate de San Martino. Area, Stormy Six, and PFM had a good title or two left in them as well.


    4. Musical features of RPI
    Italian symphonic prog is notable for the prominence of classical influences, often providing the driving force behind the music. The new listener will discover that this particular branch of RPI feels more like classical music in a rock setting as opposed to occasional classical influences on top of the rock format. Furthermore, the rich, diverse musical traditions of Italy permeate the albums, creating a strong national and even regional character. The "textbook" RPI groups can usually be identified by a pervasive sense of romantic melancholy and earthy flair, sometimes enhanced by baroque elements, sometimes by more ethnic ones. Other distinctive features include overt opera and operetta influences, wild and uncontrolled storytelling, and as a general rule, bold and highly emotional vocals. There is extroverted, operatic gallantry and panache or mellow balladry; exciting use of all sorts of keyboards, with sounds heard nowhere else but in this particular scene; exotic instruments such as aggeggi, ottavino, mandoloncello, clavicembalo- names that tickle the imagination and leave their distinct mark on the music. There is a uniquely magical marriage of the traditional to the modern, of the warm to the wild. The combination of flute, piano and violin is often encountered, and the interplay between the first two instruments in particular supplies the subgenre with a fair share of its identity and flavour.

    Though the symphonic element is indeed the most common in RPI, the genre would be better characterized as eclectic. Jazz-fusion, folk, hard rock riffing ?la Jethro Tull, Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin, intense drama a la Van der Graaf Generator (whose albums were revered in Italy), singer-songwriter, proto-metal, blues, avant tendencies, pop, psych, dark/occult, electronic-the list goes on. Even more amazing, these differences in style can often be found to varying degrees on one album, and still feel natural in the distinct stylistic framework mentioned above.

    No overview of RPI would be complete without mentioning the use of the Italian language, by many considered one of the most musical languages in the world. It could be safely stated that the use of Italian is inherent to the soul of RPI, a critical component to the full appreciation of the subgenre. In fact, even if some key RPI albums were translated into English in an attempt to gain international recognition, most of them fail to impress. They feel as if one of the basic ingredients of what makes RPI such a successful concoction is missing. While most serious RPI fans consider Italian vocals essential to their listening experience, it is fair to say that some believe English lyrics are not so detrimental-even if in most cases the odd phrasing, incorrect emphasis, and heavy Italian accent of the singers detract significantly from an authentic overall effect. While some prog fans can find the gregarious Italian vocal style challenging at first, newbies are encouraged to simply stick with it for a while. With only a modest effort any RPI newbie will soon find they cannot imagine this music without traditional Italian vocals-they truly are the icing on the cake.

    One common misconception that must be addressed is the belief that any prog band from Italy is an RPI band. There are bands from Italy more appropriate for other genres. As an example, a pure and obvious post-rock band who just happen to be from Rome are going to be in the post-rock sub, not RPI. A pure jazz-fusion band with no RPI characteristics to their sound could be easily placed in the Jazz/Fusion subgenre. The RPI team will work hard to evaluate bands that fit the characteristics and the feel of the subgenre, and those whose primary sound is more suited for another sub are recommended to them.

    "Progressive is basically a blending of three elements: the song, the improvisation inspired by jazz and the composition in classical style. This cocktail is interpreted in different ways in every country: in England, for instance, Celtic, rock and blues influences prevail. In Italy we have to cope with our classical tradition: the melodramma, Respighi, Puccini, Mascagni but also all the contemporary classical composers. It's in this legacy, in my opinion, that the specificity of the Italian Progressive Rock is concealed." -Franco Mussida, PFM


    5. RPI in the new century
    As recently as the 90s and early 2000s RPI again proved its longevity to the prog community. Scores of the classic albums were re-pressed in Japan, then specialized independent labels such as BTF, Mellow and Black Widow (the latter responsible for rescuing the likes of Jacula and Antonius Rex from oblivion) started to re-issue many of the classic albums. As a consequence RPI has not only reached a new generation of fans, but the increased interest and appreciation have led to new material being released. Artists whose recordings have never been in circulation, bands that are as new to our ears as they are to many of those who were there when it happened, now have a new-found audience creating an ironic worm-hole effect: brand new music straight from prog's golden years.

    With the revival clearly under way the 90s produced some stellar Italian albums and the beginning of CD reissue fever. In the 2000s the trend has continued to a much more successful degree. RPI is back and fan interest has exploded for both the classic period and the new bands of today like Il Bacio Della Medusa, Pandora, Lagartija, Conqueror, Il Ruscello, Senza Nome, Coral Caves, J'Accuse, Ubi Maior, and the projects of Fabio Zuffanti to name just a few. Italian progressive rock today covers a wide range of styles and influences, but many of the bands ground a portion of their sound in the RPI tradition. Moreover, this first decade of the 21st century has seen a new round of publications (both in print and in electronic format) covering various aspects of Italian prog, as well as the creation of a number of excellent websites dedicated to the subgenre, which are extremely influential as regards the promotion of new bands and artists.

    The commercial success of RPI has always been modest compared to the big bands from other countries. However, the quality of the music past and present, from its unique compositions to fiercely independent spirit, has earned the RPI subgenre some of prog's most loyal followers.

    By:
    Raffaella Berry
    Michael Berry
    Ryan Olsen
    Jim Russell
    Linus Wikstr鰉
    Todd Dudley

    For the Mick.
    29 July 2009



    Current RPI Team
    Todd
    Aussie-Byrd-Brother (Michael)
    rdtprog (Louis)




    Additional information:
    Italian Prog - A dedicated RPI site
    http://www.italianprog.com

    Italian Prog Map - A superb blog by RPI writer Andrea Parentin
    http://italianprogmap.blogspot.com/

    Andrea Parentin's history of RPI (essential reading)
    http://www.x1ypb9gu.top/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=33377&PID=2345095#2345095

    Andrea Parentin's contemporary Italian prog (newer bands)
    http://www.x1ypb9gu.top/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=62150&FID=58

    Movimenti Prog
    http://www.movimentiprog.net

    Centro Studi per il Progressive Italiano
    http://www.centrostudiprogitaliano.it

    John's Classic RPI blog - Another good blog on the "classic" era
    http://classikrock.blogspot.com/

    Arlequins - A prog rock webzine with much RPI content
    http://www.arlequins.it/gb/index.asp


    Where to buy Italian prog
    Syn-phonic (USA) - http://www.synphonicmusic.com
    Doug Larson (USA) - http://www.douglarsonimports.com
    Kinesis (USA) - http://www.kinesiscd.com/index.html
    Wayside (USA) - http://www.waysidemusic.com/
    Mellow Records (Italy) - http://www.mellowrecords.com
    BTF (Italy) - http://www.btf.it
    Black Widow Records (Italy) - http://www.blackwidow.it
    Camelot Music Store (Italy) - http://www.semanticweb.it/camelotstore/
    Discogs - www.discogs.com

    Rock Progressivo Italiano Top Albums


    Showing only studios | Based on members ratings & PA algorithm* | Show Top 100 Rock Progressivo Italiano | More Top Prog lists and filters

    4.40 | 1682 ratings
    PER UN AMICO
    Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM)
    4.37 | 1147 ratings
    DARWIN!
    Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso
    4.37 | 1057 ratings
    IO SONO NATO LIBERO
    Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso
    4.34 | 1335 ratings
    STORIA DI UN MINUTO
    Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM)
    4.31 | 870 ratings
    ZARATHUSTRA
    Museo Rosenbach
    4.28 | 873 ratings
    BANCO DEL MUTUO SOCCORSO
    Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso
    4.28 | 655 ratings
    ARBEIT MACHT FREI
    Area
    4.24 | 937 ratings
    FELONA E SORONA
    Orme, Le
    4.28 | 476 ratings
    MAXOPHONE
    Maxophone
    4.23 | 851 ratings
    L'ISOLA DI NIENTE
    Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM)
    4.23 | 578 ratings
    YS
    Balletto Di Bronzo, Il
    4.21 | 676 ratings
    UOMO DI PEZZA
    Orme, Le
    4.25 | 401 ratings
    PALEPOLI
    Osanna
    4.25 | 364 ratings
    CRAC !
    Area
    4.23 | 319 ratings
    DISCESA AGL'INFERI D'UN GIOVANE AMANTE
    Bacio Della Medusa, Il
    4.18 | 327 ratings
    L' ENIGMA DELLA VITA
    Logos
    4.17 | 313 ratings
    CONTAMINAZIONE
    Rovescio Della Medaglia, Il
    4.18 | 299 ratings
    CELESTE [AKA: PRINCIPE DI UN GIORNO]
    Celeste
    4.14 | 367 ratings
    LA CRUDELT?DI APRILE
    Unreal City
    4.14 | 338 ratings
    QUELLA VECCHIA LOCANDA
    Quella Vecchia Locanda

    Rock Progressivo Italiano overlooked and obscure gems albums new


    Random 4 (reload page for new list) | As selected by the Rock Progressivo Italiano experts team

    INFERNO
    Metamorfosi
    VIETATO AI MINORI DI 18 ANNI ?
    Jumbo
    IL PAESE DEI BALOCCHI
    Paese Dei Balocchi, Il
    POA
    Blocco Mentale

    Latest Rock Progressivo Italiano Music Reviews


     L Anno del Contatto by MODIUM, I album cover Studio Album, 2019
    3.00 | 2 ratings

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    L Anno del Contatto
    I Modium Rock Progressivo Italiano

    Review by b_olariu
    Prog Reviewer

    3 stars I Modium from Italy is a young band who love the sound of italian old school prog, being influenced by bands such as PFM, Le Orme, Banco, etc. In 2019 was born their first baby L'anno del contatto. A perfect album for italian prog sound in our time, being highly melodic and romantic in aproach but aswell has plenty of complicated twists for such music. With pieces like PFM (Per Favore Musica) or Sorona dove sei are clearly with direction towards PFM and Le Orme musical past and present. The band has excellent guitar player Elvio Tavian from Quasar Lux Symphoniae who done a grerat job here, like the rest of the musicians aof course.

    All in all a fairly strong debut, nothing special or never heared before music, but well played and pleasent from start to finish.

    I Modium is another good RPI band that brings the spirit of the ;70s in today progressive rock realm. Well worth to be heared and a far better recognition then has here.

    From me , easy 3.5 stars

     Destinazioni by MELTING CLOCK album cover Studio Album, 2019
    4.33 | 8 ratings

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    Destinazioni
    Melting Clock Rock Progressivo Italiano

    Review by Agnenrecords

    5 stars Melting Clock guitarist Stefano Amadei explained the band's moniker, commencing the tale in the Department of Physics at university in Genoa in 2001: the original objectives of a small group of friends was to have fun making music, describing the attempts of the fledgling group to play covers from the bands they loved as being 'so bad that we were off beat on the various section of the songs'. This prompted bassist Alessandro Bosca to apply the Italian slang 'ci sciogliamo il tempo' ('we are melting our time'), meaning 'we are forgetting/loosing the rhythm/beat' and sparking the connection with the melting clocks in Salvador Dali's 1931 masterpiece The Persistence of Memory that some have suggested was inspired by Einstein's theory of General Relativity. According to Stefano they adopted the band name Melting Clock as a private joke: a comment on their musical skills and a pretentious link to their academic background.

    Four of the original line-up remain: brothers Sandro and Stefano Amadei (keyboards and voice, and guitars respectively); Alessandro Bosca (bass); and Francesco Fiorito (drums), while the current sextet is completed by Simone Caff?(guitars) and Emanuela Vedana (vocals.). It surprised me that their coherent, largely symphonic style should result from a wide range of influences because Francesco and Stefano are metal-heads, Simone is a David Gilmour fan, and Sandro listens to Scandinavian jazz, though he has played with Daedalus, a Genoese prog-metal band alongside Fabio Gremo of Il Tempio delle Clessidre, and was a huge fan of Jordan Rudess, lending Rudess his Kurzweil K2600 when the Dream Theater keyboard player was on holiday in Italy and agreed to perform for the Italian Dreamers. The influence of contemporary acts like Porcupine Tree, Riverside, Opeth and Ayreon that the band say have shaped the direction of their sound is tempered by a critical understanding of the cultural significance of the music that came out of Italy in the 70s along with an appreciation of classic UK progressive rock; accompanying them to a gig reveals the depth of their knowledge of Italian prog, and each time they play live, they've included a classic prog cover in the set.

    An indication that their music has the potential for broad appeal was the decision of Black Widow Records to allow the band to produce a limited 2LP edition of their debut album DESTINAZIONI. Black Widow co-owner Massimo Gasperini may have thought long and hard about the vinyl release when the band had enough material for three sides of an LP but a cover medley of King Crimson tracks 21ST CENTURY SCHIZOID MAN, IN THE COURT OF THE CRIMSON KING and STARLESS, first aired to great response during a gig at Genoa's L'Angelo Azzurro club in March 2019, would provide the material for side four, renamed ALLA CORTE DEL RE CRIMISI for the album, artfully segued together and enhanced by violin from Hanako Tsushima.

    There's a huge debate about the merits of singing in your own language or writing lyrics in English to broaden your appeal and though some might think it a brave choice for a band producing their first album, the band were adamant that the right choice for them was to sing in Italian. As a compromise they include English translations of the Italian lyrics on both CD and vinyl editions of DESTINAZIONI, provided by Emanuela and Stefano as an interpretation for non-Italian speakers. The singing is expressive, poetic and at times almost operatic; the translations reveal an impressionistic flair that reminds me of Peter Sinfield's best work ? much of it for PFM. There can't be many better voices than Emanuela's in any form of rock.

    The album artwork was painted by their friend Matteo Anselmo, depicting a young woman at a bus stop waiting for a boat. This is a conceptual link to Genoa, especially the tracks ANTARES and title track DESTINAZIONI to Genoa. The compositions are thematically linked by the representation of different aspects of a journey. Though the music is largely credited to Simone and Sandro, with a good proportion of the lyrics provided by Emanuela, the process of structuring each piece is dependent on rhythmic arrangement by Francesco and Alessandro and colour and mood supplied by Stefano. Having originally begun recording the album in November 2018, the time spent in Studio MAIA under the direction of Andrea Torretta was used wisely, settling on the most satisfying arrangements that capture the drama of each individual story. Stefano explains that he wasn't interested in music that he found unchallenging, describing their style as being characterised by evocative and engaging sounds which belie the compositional complexity, drawing in the listener.

    Album opener CALEIDOSCOPIO was an excellent choice as a first single because it's archetypal, condensing Melting Clock into a shade less than eight and a half minutes. It's incredibly well-structured, built up from short phrases emphasised with distorted guitar yet despite its intricacy, the multiple instrumental layers are all clear and distinct and floating above is Emanuela's gorgeous vocal melody. There are tempo and metrical changes and a fast organ solo but generally the lyrics express reflection, representing an inner journey. BANALMENTE is a political song, played in a recognisable Melting Clock idiom attacking those who don't question, preferring not to know or hold any responsibility for any atrocity carried out on the orders of others, along the lines of John Stuart Mill's 'Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.' The references to 'sand covered in blood where corpses are lying in the sun' followed by 'digging our trench to defend the high season party' bring to mind the fate of refugees who have risked their lives crossing the Mediterranean and landed on Italian territory, a journey of desperation and hope that sadly too often ends in tragedy. There's poignancy in Sandro's particularly effective baritone during this piece.

    Like a number of rock progressivo bands celebrating their Mediterranean roots before them, Melting Clock employ Middle Eastern scales and rhythm patterns on a couple of sections of VETRO which enhance the feeling of imprisonment and suffocation spelled out by the lyrics inspired by Yevgeny Zamyatin's dystopian classic We. A song of different moods, the brief cinematic opening is followed by bright acoustic guitar which gives way to the eastern Mediterranean flavour and the start of the vocals. During the singing, which has a story-telling quality Emanuela holds the melody while the instrumental backing is largely rhythmical (guest percussion is provided by Fabrizio Salvini) though there's quite a lot going on with guitar and keyboards adding splashes of colour in the background. Following the last verse there's a bright synthesizer line before a reprise of the acoustic guitar and eastern theme which precedes a piano flourish ending. I was present when this was first aired at a gig ? it was one of the last compositions written for the album - where Sandro said he had been concerned about both the technical requirements of performing the piece (the verse is in 19/16 time) and its reception. I can report that not only did the music flow well but that it was really appreciated by the audience.

    STRADE AFFOLLATE was brought to the band by Simone. The acoustic guitar takes something of a lead but it's obviously gone through the Melting Clock arranging machine. The understated piano that enters during the second verse and the Hammond-like organ arising during the middle eight enhance the melody as the layers build up, with restrained distorted guitar appearing in the third verse. This is a song of hope after the confinement of VETRO and partly because of its message and partly from the way it's structured, it's probably the most accessible track on the album, capable of bridging into more mainstream genres. L'OCCHIO DELLO SCIACALLO is another political song written by Sandro. Lasting less than three minutes and translating as The Jackal's Eye it's a short exhortation decrying corporate culture. The abrasive guitar introduction actually gives away to a pleasant melody where Emanuela and Sandro sing call-and response vocals. The drudgery is represented by drumming on the lower kit (though Francesco does use a limited amount of cymbal) and there's an excellently executed cello solo provided by Stefano Cabrera. The band is particularly proud of ANTARES, the first song they wrote for Melting Clock. It also happens to be a personal favourite of mine because it's structured like a classic early Camel song, with amazing melodies and contrapuntal keyboard and guitar lines. This is another track that links to Genoa and the sea, so it's not surprising that it begins with sea sound effects. Another composition that relies on building upon short phrases (c.f. LUNAR SEA by Camel), it's enhanced by Mellotron-like washes and contrapuntal synthesizer lines and some excellent twin lead guitar work, plus flute played by Fabrizio Salvini and cello played by Stefano Cabrera. Sandro shares some of the vocal duties but its Emanuela's wordless vocals leading up to the dramatic denouement that steal the show, generating the physical signs of frisson, the pilomotor reflex and goosebumps.

    SONO LUCE has a lengthy instrumental introduction, arranged differently from the first time I heard it though the bass work still catches my attention. Even though there's a Gilmour inspired guitar solo (it was written by Simone) the overall sound is less classic prog and more neo-prog with a delicacy to the piano and brightness to the guitars, giving a feeling of hope. The title (Made of Light) and lyrics are suggestive of a journey towards enlightenment but they still reference the sea and the shore.

    The title track is something of a departure from the other melodic-symphonic tracks and it's cleverly presaged by the short late-Floydian or early Marillion-sounding instrumental QUELLO CHE RIMANE. It's here that we get a better feel for individual influences in what is a notch or two up on the challenging stakes, both for the performers and the listener on the longest track on the album. DESTINAZIONI is substantially heavier than anything else the band has done and begins with a nod to King Crimson and Dream Theater prog-metal while managing to stay adventurous throughout. Less reliant on stand-out melodies, it involves a lot of changes of style without breaks or segues, from fast and heavy to stately, from reflective to angular and aggressive, providing a metaphor for the cyclical nature of time. It conforms more to a classic prog template with accurate patches of analogue keyboards sitting well with the updated sound, exemplified by another fast organ run from Sandro but perhaps best illustrated with a few bars of guitar and keyboards that sound like Gabriel-era Genesis which appear toward the conclusion of the song, the most obvious incorporation of a classic prog influence.

    The medley ALLA CORTE DEL RE CRIMISI utilises pretty faithful recreations of the original King Crimson material, down to the Wetton bass trills on STARLESS and with the role of David Cross covered brilliantly by Hanako on 21ST CENTURY SCHIZOID MAN. Massimo Gasperini has overseen some of the brightest names in contemporary Italian prog and hints at great things for Melting Clock, saying that he enjoys seeing the band's excitement about their own music. I also think they have a bright future, provided what is really a quite stunning debut gets attention beyond Genoa and Croydon.

    I can't imagine too many debuts are worth five stars ? but DESTINAZIONI is

     Symphony N.1 - Cupid & Psyche by H諷TSONATEN album cover Studio Album, 2016
    3.88 | 133 ratings

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    Symphony N.1 - Cupid & Psyche
    H鰏tsonaten Rock Progressivo Italiano

    Review by Agnenrecords

    4 stars My first foray into Italian record shops was on a trip to the Veneto in 2005 when there were two stores in Venice and another a short train ride away in Treviso. In those days I was aided by Jerry Lucky's Progressive Rock Files (Collector's Guide Publishing, 2000) when I'd scour entries for remarks like "if you're a fan of PFM then you'll like this" and, following up a reference to Celeste that described them as "influenced by early King Crimson but their sound is very original. You'll hear elements of Genesis circa Trespass and even bits of PFM's Per un Amico. A very beautiful, symphonic pastoral result. Lots of Mellotron. One of the genre's highly rated bands" I began to seek out their 1976 release Principe di un giorno and looked for references to Celeste in the listings. One of these was Finisterre, described as "Symphonic progressive rock with long tracks containing restrained hints of bands like Celeste or Banco. They've chosen to create a moody and atmospheric sound that relies more on the classical style than neo-prog. Long passages of dissonant harmonies and jazzy chord voicings". It wasn't until I updated to Lucky's The Progressive Rock Handbook (Collector's Guide Publishing, 2008), that I heard of H鰏tsonaten and La Maschera di Cera and was able to fathom out the relationship between them. I began to collect La Maschera di Cera CDs in 2009 and Finisterre CDs some time later but it wasn't until 2014 that I bought my first H鰏tsonaten release, the 2012 CD and DVD of the live performance of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.

    Unable to play the CD, bought at 2014's Prog R閟iste festival where Fabio Zuffanti and the Z Band were playing, it was experiencing a live version of Rainsuite (from Winterthrough, 2008) at that gig that really turned me on to H鰏tsonaten, revealing a very symphonic progressive rock style that Zuffanti himself equated with The Enid. Zuffanti's projects are all essential listening for fans of the original progressivo Italiano movement and though I really enjoy Maschera di Cera's albums for their modern take on the original genre, remaining true to the spirit of the work of bands like PFM and Banco, the instrumental work by H鰏tsonaten comes closest to symphonic rock and the Enid comparison is well founded.

    I pre-ordered a vinyl copy of Symphony N. 1 Cupid & Psyche and followed the story as it was released chapter by chapter, raising my expectations. When I finally got hold of the LP I was not disappointed. The music was conceived by Zuffanti but he stepped away from the limelight and his only instrumental credits are for bass pedals, 'treatments and devices', leaving Zuffanti collaborator Luca Scherani (La Coscienza di Zeno, La Curva di Lesmo) to handle the arrangements and orchestrations in addition to playing keyboards; guitar, bass and drums are provided by long-term Zuffanti associates Laura Marano, Daniele Sollo and Paolo Tixi respectively. There are many precedents of full orchestration in progressive rock and progressivo Italiano has some very notable examples including the New Trolls' Concerto Grosso (1971, 1976, 2007) and Contaminazione by Il Rovescio della Medaglia (1973) but enhancing the symphonic scope of H鰏tsonaten seemed like a logical step, one true to the principles of progressive rock as it attempted to bridge the gap between high and popular culture. The melange of influences that inform their output, their RPI predecessors, jazz and Mediterranean folk are enhanced with inspiration from Stravinsky and Tchaikovsky.

    I've thought quite hard about other orchestrated prog albums and there aren't many that genuinely seamlessly blend the rock and the orchestral moments; the pieces by Keith Emerson with the Nice were predominantly divided into distinct sections, band then orchestra then band. There are times when Yes' Magnification (2001) works well but this mostly comes across as orchestra instead of keyboards and has hints of Tony Cox's arrangements on Time and a Word (1970). I find the most satisfying orchestrated pieces of progressive rock to be Camel's Music Inspired by the Snow Goose (1975) and, stretching the point a little, Mike Oldfield's Hergest Ridge (1974). In terms of orchestration in progressivo Italiano, Passio Secondum Mattheum by Latte e Miele (1972) works well, but I think that H鰏tsonaten have come up with one of the most balanced mixes of rock and orchestra that at times reminds me of Pink Floyd's Atom Heart Mother (1970) and the eponymous 1972 release by Il Paese dei Balocchi. Laura Marano provides some epic, melodic Gilmour-like guitar lines but it's the inclusion of classic prog keyboards, Moog, Mellotron, organ and piano which fit in so neatly with the strings and brass that bestow a sense of harmonious union between the classical and the rock instrumentation. Not surprisingly, there are refrains that hint of H鰏tsonaten's previous output and it goes without saying that the execution is consummate.

    Another important link with the foundation of the genre is the appropriation of myth as subject matter (c.f. Genesis and The Fountain of Salmacis) with Zuffanti utilising the Apuleius story Metamorphoses. A translation by author, columnist and philosopher Pee Gee Daniel, providing a synopsis of the chapters that make up the ten tracks, is included in the gatefold sleeve.

    La Maschera di Cera produced one of my all time favourite albums Lux Ade (2006) based on the Orpheus story, but that was an entirely rock affair; H鰏tsonaten ventured into composing for a theatrical performance with The Rime of the Ancient Mariner; Cupid & Psyche is a realisation of Zuffanti's dream to create a symphonic suite with group and orchestra that is also able to serve as the soundtrack for a ballet, in the manner of Stravinsky or Tchaikovsky. Beginning with an array of musical ideas suitable for the project and enlisting Luca Scherani to create a score for string, wind and brass instruments, the album easily succeeds in presenting a coherent piece of symphonic progressive rock which also fulfils the criterion of a ballet score; the piece was given its live premier on October 22nd 2016 at the Teatro Rina e Gilberto Govi, Genoa, with the ballet under the direction of choreographer Paola Grazzis.

    A highly anticipated return four years after the previous studio record and a further confirmation of the robust state of health of the Italian prog scene, the amazing creativity of Fabio Zuffanti and Luca Scherani shines through in H鰏tsonaten's Cupid & Psyche. Four and a half stars

     Ys by BALLETTO DI BRONZO, IL album cover Studio Album, 1972
    4.23 | 578 ratings

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    Ys
    Il Balletto Di Bronzo Rock Progressivo Italiano

    Review by Mark-P

    4 stars This album is considered by many as one of the best in RPI genre. Released in 1972 by second line-up of Il Balletto di Bronzo, introduced Gianni Leone in keyboard section and vocal and Vito Manzari in bass.

    There are 5 tracks (with one or two bonus tracks, depend on the version of release), all of them have strong progressive elements with a blend of jazz (extensive use of snare drums and cymbals, and dynamic bassline). The complexity of the tracks is challenging, and may take several spins before one can digest them. Too bad I could not find the English translation of the lyrics (would be more entertaining way to enjoy a concept album). There was an English version of this album, with only 2 tracks (and most reviewers say that it consists of demo version of the song).

    Introduzione is the 15-minute first track. Complex time signatures and mood changes. Good guitar work in this part, with elaborated sound effects, mellotron / moog galore, and fast pace drums.

    The next three tracks : the first, second and third encounter each lasts between 3 to 5 minutes. Many of good progressive moments in those tracks.

    The last track Epilogo lasts 11 minutes. This is my favourite track. Very dark and aggressive composition, showing their high level of musicianship. The high-pitch human voice, vibrating sounds of guitar and keyboards (including dissonant sound of background piano) in the middle of the track is really a thrilling moment (a bit of metal prog atmosphere here).

    While I appreciate much this work, I could not find themes or structured flow. To me the band seems like a bit too far in improvising in some tracks. But above all, I admire this work and their level of musicianship, and would agree to see it as one of the best in RPI scene.

     Christadoro by CHRISTADORO album cover Studio Album, 2017
    3.64 | 17 ratings

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    Christadoro
    Christadoro Rock Progressivo Italiano

    Review by Agnenrecords

    3 stars Christadoro is a project which brings together a bunch of highly proficient musicians from varied backgrounds, united by their love of progressive rock. Joining Mox Christadoro (drums and percussion) and bassist Fabio Zuffanti who was at least partly responsible for the idea, are Pier Panzeri from the reformed Biglietto per l'Inferno (guitars), Paul 'Ske' Botta who I'd seen with Not a Good Sign on the first day of the Riviera Prog festival in Genova in 2014 (keyboards), and vocalist Andrea 'Mitzi' Dal Santo. The core band is augmented with some renowned guests including Franco Mussida, formerly of PFM.

    The concept, hinted at in a quotation from Richie Havens printed on the inner sleeve: I really sing songs that move me / I'm not in show business / I'm in the communications business is a presentation of seven popular Italian songs written by some of the biggest names in Italy during the 70s, largely in the Italian 'canzone d'autore' singer-songwriter movement given a progressive rock makeover in the same way that Yes performed Simon and Garfunkel's America. Another track Ricercare nel mare dell'Inequitudine della paura (Searching the sea of anxiety and fear) is a Franco Mussida solo acoustic guitar prelude to L'ombra della luce (The shadow of the light) by Franco Battiato and uses some unexpected musical intervals. This pair of tracks (I couldn't detect the transition between the two) are my favourites from the album, though I'm impressed with each of the interpretations and how neatly they have been turned prog.

    There may not be the complexity associated with progressivo Italiano but there's some great playing; when the needle hit the groove on the first playing I was struck by the excellent-sounding organ of L'operaio Gerolamo and the driving guitar riff. The great organ work continues on Il sosia (The Lookalike) but we're also treated to an archetypal Zuffanti trope, the reading of text, in this instance the recital of lines from a 1971 TV series Il Segno del Comando, followed by a brief jazz-rock workout before getting a little heavy-psyche.

    L'ultimo spettacolo calls to mind Pink Floyd's Fat Old Sun with its slide guitar and laid-back tempo, and despite an interesting instrumental break in the middle of the song and a more rocking ending, I feel this is the weakest track on the album.

    Figli di... is guitar-driven heavy rock but the vocals are clear and good. There's more dynamic range and a healthy dose of drama in the side two opener Lo stambecco ferito which verges on Van der Graaf Generator territory. Solo begins with a cello section provided by Zeno Gabaglio, electric piano features heavily but there's also some good Mellotron work.

    Overall it's a rewarding LP, though not straightforward prog - the band are playing songs that move them. Three and a half stars (7/10)

     Il-Lūdĕre by TEMPIO DELLE CLESSIDRE, IL album cover Studio Album, 2017
    3.75 | 59 ratings

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    Il-Lūdĕre
    Il Tempio Delle Clessidre Rock Progressivo Italiano

    Review by Agnenrecords

    4 stars Genovese band Il Tempio Delle Clessidre released their third studio album four years on from AlieNatura. Il Ludere is another excellent piece of music that fits nicely in the progressivo Italiano canon. I've followed them since 2014 but their journey began in 2006, when keyboard player Elisa Montaldo met former Museo Rosenbach vocalist Stefano 'Lupo' Galifi in the Black Widow record store in the heart of Genoa. They assembled the group Il Tempio delle Clessidre, named after a subsection of the 1973 Museo Rosenbach classic Zarathustra with the notion to perform that album live ? with the inclusion of Giulio Canepa on guitar, Fabio Gremo on bass, and the 19-year old Paolo Tixi on drums. There's a DVD of a 2011 performance in Seoul with extras including footage of their 2009 debut performance from Genoa's Teatro della Gioventu, which acts as a documentary of the Galifi era (Black Widow Records BWR168). Part of the Seoul gig was the modern recreation of Zarathustra in its entirety which, though technically challenging was hailed as a resounding success.

    My introduction to the band was at the Fiera Internazionale della Musica in Genoa in May 2014. I'd specifically gone to see La Maschera di Cera but was struck by the stellar range of the line-up, a testament to the healthy state of Italian progressive rock in general and the importance of the host city in particular. Il Tempio delle Clessidre played on the first day and, because I had seen drummer Paolo Tixi play with Fabio Zuffanti's Z-Band a few weeks before, I was intrigued by their inclusion on the bill. I'd looked up references to them before seeing them and was delighted to hear their style of melodic symphonic prog. Afterwards, I could fully appreciate their tag as a successor to Museo Rosenbach. Vocalist Francesco Ciapica replaced Galifi for the second album, AlieNatura (2013) and his voice has a similar quality to Galifi, full and rich with a good range. The entire performance was very assured and impressed me sufficiently to visit the Black Widow stand and buy a copy of their first CD. I bought my copy of AlieNatura in Black Widow in 2015 and it has proved difficult to decide which of these first two albums I like better; both are of an amazing quality, best exemplified by Il Centro Sottile from the first album and the multi-part suite Il Cacciatore from AlieNatura.

    Il Ludere includes another change of personnel, with former 膎glag錼d drummer Mattias Olsson replacing Tixi. As with the preceding album, the title Il Ludere is a pun combining the Latin verb ludere (to play) with the article il to generate a double meaning: the act of playing and, from the verb illudere, deception or illusion. The cover illustration continues this theme and the first track Le Regole del Gioco (The rules of the game) spells it out. What is immediately striking is that this is more conventional rock-sounding than the full-on symphonic prog of its two predecessors, although it remains firmly in the prog camp thanks to great playing, intelligent writing and, to a greater extent, a rejection of straightforward form.

    Le Regole del Gioco owes something to musique concr鑤e: an instruction to the listener how best to enjoy the stereo effect before segueing into the upbeat, jazzy La Parola Magica (The Magic Word) where the first hints at a different sound can be detected. The organ tends to follow the vocal melody, the guitar is distorted and the concluding electric piano seems to be influenced by the Canterbury scene. If that isn't hint enough, Come Nella Favole (As in the Fables) begins like a heavy rock track and Ciapica even pulls off a high register vocal. What separates this track from a multitude of early 80s metal bands is a fiendishly tricky break, though I can imagine this being a new live favourite. There may be a hint of guitar hero about the soloing on next track Dentro la Mia Mente (Inside My Mind) but this is a fairly lengthy, more complex piece which reminds me of some of Finisterre's experimentation featuring tape effects. After that the rest of the album is undeniably proggy.

    Spettro del Palco (Stage of the Spectrum), which was selected as a single, is the tale of an unrequited love with a tragic ending. It's set in a theatre and comes across as suitably dramatic, with themes picked out first by delicate acoustic and ending with a crescendo of passionate electric guitar. The coda provides a prelude to the theme running through the penultimate track La Spirale del Vento (The Wind Spiral.) Prospettive (Perspectives) opens with an acoustic guitar figure and builds slowly with piano and synthesizer before a Mellotron like break and some striking electric guitar. The vocals are full of feeling and most effective, producing some high quality prog. One of the most achingly beautiful moments on the whole release is the Gilmour-like guitar on Manitou where the percussion, similar to the recording of Peter Gabriel IV, is played out on the bottom kit, without cymbals. This provides an earthy, world music feel which is fitting for a song about a fundamental life force. Nuova Alchimia (New Alchemy) flows on almost seamlessly, initially with sparse percussion, though it's very riff-driven. There's an interlude with a sort of carnival atmosphere before Montaldo plays a fast synthesizer solo in classic RPI style; the vocals form an important part of the song, adding immediacy, but unfortunately it doesn't really develop.

    Perhaps it was the influence of their new drummer, but there are some distinctly angular lines that call to mind Olsson's former band 膎glag錼d or even Fragile-era Yes on La Spirale del Vento which, at 8'43 is the longest track on the album and closest to the material from the first two albums. This is my favourite track; there is plenty of space between the vocal passages to allow Montaldo to shine with some excellent lead synthesizer and the whole piece is well-constructed. One of the biggest surprises is Gnaffe, included as a bonus track on the CD. Based on the 14th Century Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio, a collection of stories ranging from the tragic to the erotic, it includes tales of wit and practical jokes. The song, at times medieval and at others what I would regard as traditional Italian popular music (during the duet between Ciapica and Montaldo), offers the contrast between almost scholarly classical guitar and outright playfulness during the storytelling.

    Despite being a little uncharacteristic of progressivo Italiano, this album has grown on me the more I've listened to it. To be fair to Il Tempio delle Clessidre, they have produced a more homogeneous work because they've widened the pool of creative input. This may seem counterintuitive but it's the distorted, riffing guitar that has pulled them towards rock. On the other hand, there's still a huge variety of textures that would never get represented in the mainstream and the inclusion of Olsson has provided the impetus for utilising a variety of effects. It's unfortunate that my grasp of the Italian language is so poor, because I'm sure that there are more musical and lyrical puns at play throughout the release.

    Despite my inability to pick up nuances in the language I think that though it may be a little atypical of the genre, from the atmospheric to the dramatic, this is an excellent addition to any prog collection.

     Il Fuoco Sotto La Cenere by CERCHIO D'ORO, IL album cover Studio Album, 2017
    4.08 | 45 ratings

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    Il Fuoco Sotto La Cenere
    Il Cerchio D'Oro Rock Progressivo Italiano

    Review by Agnenrecords

    4 stars The Italian Riviera, stretching from the border with France to the west, down to through the Cinque Terre to La Spezia is a beautiful and often dramatic coast packed full of interesting places with well-preserved medieval quarters and fascinating histories. Genova may be the Ligurian capital at the heart of the progressivo Italiano movement (having been responsible for a good number of the original 70s acts and also, since the early 90s, producing a quite amazing crop of the current standard bearers) but Savona, west of Genova, also boasts historic RPI links in Delirium, one of the first Italian acts to adopt progressive traits, who I managed to get to see at the 2017 Porto Antico Prog Fest, organised by Genoa's Black Widow Records. Preceding Delirium were another group from Savona, Il Cerchio d'Oro, who formed in the 70s but never released an album of original material until reforming in the 00s with the well-regarded Il Viaggio di Colombo from 2008 (3.78 stars on Progarchives) and 2013's Dedalo e Icaro (3.94 stars.) The version of the band that day included original members Gino (drums) and Giuseppe Terribile (bass) and Franco Piccolini (keyboards), along with Massimo Spica (guitar), Piuccio Pradal (acoustic guitar, vocals) and Franco's son Simone Piccolini (keyboards), and there were special appearances from vocalist Pino Ballarini (ex-Il Rovescio della Medaglia) and drummer Paolo Siani (ex-Nuovo Idea), two guest musicians warmly appreciated by the crowd; the set list included pieces from which hadn't been released at that time.

    I recall thinking at the time that the compositions were well structured but there wasn't the degree of complexity I was expecting, however when I got my hands on the Il Fuoco sotto la Cenere CD I thought it was equally as good as Colombo and Dedalo e Icaro, if not better. I was reminded of Alphataurus despite detecting a subtle shift towards a more conventional rock format, and where the concept is presented as a series of snapshots, rather than the linear narrative of the two preceding albums. In a move reminiscent of their 70's performances, the final track on the album Fuoco sulla collina (Fire on the mountain) is a cover version of an Ivan Graziani song, which fits the overall concept, the idea that we live in a world where feelings smoulder under the ashes and from time-to-time, fire erupts, often violently.

    Title track Il Fuoco sotto la cenere (Fire under the ashes) is a really good piece of prog which commences with a melodic figure and goes through multiple changes (including a section with a heavy, distorted guitar riff and some excellent organ which reminds me of Il Biglietto per l'Inferno.) It's about the state of mind of a person who becomes unable to deal with everyday problems and suppress the rage which has been building up as their inner strength gets worn away, the fire that bursts from the smouldering ashes.

    Thomas uses the Great Fire of London as an analogy for our ability to turn a bad situation into an opportunity; fire destroys but it clears the path for new opportunities and life can emerge phoenix-like from the ashes. The organ and guitar work really well together and the vocal melody is nicely underlined with synthesizer. The solo vocals aren't particularly strong but there are some memorable melodies on the longest track of the album. Per sempre qui (Forever here) relates the story of a character who spent much of his life away from his homeland in exchange for prosperity but in the end, the desire to return to his origins, the 'fire under the ashes' prevails over the materialistic urges. This is a relatively short number, sung with great emotion by special guest Pino Ballarini on the recommendation of Black Widow Records and who, it transpires was perfectly placed to narrate the song because the sentiment coincides with his personal story.

    I due poli (The two poles) is about the conflict between two mental states, including the suppression of either one of the aspects. There are obviously different degrees of this bipolar phenomenon which affect individuals to different extents. At its most extreme, there is perpetual conflict between the two sides with one dominant and one suppressed (under the ashes), instantaneously switched and transformed into 'fire' when the conflict switches. It begins with some almost Hackett-like acoustic guitar which resolves to melodic piano and Mellotron cello before commencing a short riff and getting a bit Floyd-y. It's in this track where I find the greatest similarity to Alphataurus, in the vocals where they work as a chorus (and this is where the vocals are at their strongest.) There's nice expressive guitar and some great organ work and even a trippy synth solo.

    Il Fuoco nel bicchiere (Fire in the glass) is a story of alcohol addiction, where the protagonist never fully overcomes the need for drink though he's fully aware of the consequences of his failure to do so. The melancholy which besets the character is reflected in the slow melody; the song was written by keyboard player Simone Piccolini who has been described by his father as possessing the appropriate DNA for penning Il Cerchio d'Oro songs. This is dominated by moderately heavy guitar riffs but has some nice piano and an interesting section which includes a theremin sound.

    Il Rock e l'inferno (Rock and hell) plays on the idea that rock music is frequently though inappropriately associated with the devil, when it's actually a means of communication, just transmitting a mood. It's altogether heavier and the beat more simple than most of their other material, with the band stamping their melodies over distorted guitar riffs and classic Hammond sounding organ and wordless vocals which recall some classic early 70's RPI moments.

    Some critics have pointed out the weakness of some of the vocals and there are times where I'd agree, though I think the music more than makes up for these moments. The band acknowledged the difficulty producing a suitable follow-up to the critically acclaimed Dedalo e Icaro and the time spent attaining their trademark 'vintage' sound without compromising cleanliness and quality was obviously worthwhile; it's a very good album. Though I'm not a great fan of the artwork on the cover, I do understand the links between the painting and the songs and I'm impressed that artist Pino Paolino, a former vocalist with the band, has used images set partly in a 17th century fortress located in Capo Vado, not far from Savona. By strange chance the area was devastated by one of the fires which raged in the hills along the Riviera in 2016, clearing the way for new possibilities.

    For those interested, apart from a rich maritime history (Christopher Columbus lived in both Genova and Savona), striking architecture (from medieval to brutalist) and its RPI connections, Savona has a pretty good record store, Jocks Team (Via Pia 82/R, 17100 Savona SV, Italy) where I bought my copy of Il Viaggio di Colombo and where I would have bought a vinyl copy of Il Fuoco sotto la cenere but they only had the cover ' the record itself was along the coast in Black Widow Records!

     Zarathustra by MUSEO ROSENBACH album cover Studio Album, 1973
    4.31 | 870 ratings

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    Zarathustra
    Museo Rosenbach Rock Progressivo Italiano

    Review by softandwet

    5 stars "Vivo el superalbum!", Friedrich Nietzsche, 1889 (at least, if he had listened to it, I'm pretty sure that he would have said that)

    Museo Rosenbach's Zarathustra is indeed a concept album taking the great ideas of Nietzsche's Also Sprach Zarathustra and its construction is, de facto a reference to it : the long eponymous epic suite, Zarathustra, is composed of several movement and each recalls a notion of Nietzsche's philosophy :

    a. L'Ultimo Uomo (3:57) : the last man, for Nietzsche, the man who does not evolve and remain static all his life, the man who has no will to power (another Nietzsche's concept)

    b. Il Re Di Ieri (3:12) : another very complicated Nietzsche's idea and I won't spread it here because it might misunderstood.

    c. Al Di La Del Bene E Del Male (4:09) : this one is the nihilistic part of Nietzsche's philosophy and is about morality and the State.

    d. Superuomo (1:22) : the superman, the most infamous and disliked Nietzsche's notion and this is partly why Museo Rosenbach got boycotted, but we'll talk about it later.

    e. Il Tempio Delle Clessidre (8:02) : a totally instrumental part without any lyrics but by the title, I would connect it to the Nietzsche's concept of the "most quiet hour", when the man tries to choose between good and evil, but doesn't achieve it.

    Aside from this piece on the B-Face, we get these 3 songs that, again, recall for Nietzsche's philosophy:

    2. Degli Uomini (4:01) : "Of the Humanity" : the "of the" construction is a reference to the way that Nietzsche organise his aphorisms on his books and especially on Zarathustra.

    3. Della Natura (8:24) : "Of the Nature"

    4. Dell'Eterno Ritorno (6:15) : "Of The Eternal Return" The eternal return is a very complicated idea set up by Nietzsche which could be interpreted as the eternal evolution and the cycle of life.

    After explaining this part we can now move on what is the most important on this forum, the music! The music of Museo Rosenbach is very influenced by all that was happening at the time in Italy : multiple English and German- speaking bands coming there and a lot of young men (and girls, who know?) being interested in this new rock current : something more complex, more fetched, more intelligent! Indeed, it generated a lot of bands that, at the time, were releasing one album enthusiastically and were then leaved suddenly by their labels wanting to create the Italian GENESIS or ELP, because most of the time, sadly, their music was not very commercial nor easy-listening and independent labels could be counted on the fingers of a hand. All this cocktail, exciting and cruel at the same time, ended up having TONS of bands releasing one LP and disappearing in nature. Museo Rosenbach is, in fact, one of these bands, but, alongside with ALPHATAURUS, MAXOPHONE, LOCANDA DELLE FATE, IL BALETTO DE BRONZO and a lot of others, their only album was a magnificent one still praised today in a lot of places in the world by a lot of prog lovers. Inspired by KING CRIMSON, VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR, YES and their local OSANNA they made a very signature prog with a heavy use of the Mellotron, The Moog and the Hammond C-3 accompanied by an heavy distorted guitar that recalls OSANNA's one. Their ELP influence is no longer needing to be proven and if you want one, just listen to Al Di La Del Bene E Del Male, the third movement of Zarathustra, you will understand what i mean. Musically as lyrically, you could often hear me compare YES' Close To The Edge and Museo Rosenbach's Zarathustra because of their philosophical dimension and the fact that both album uses almost the same instruments and this is why i think that Zarathustra is in the end a RPI's Close To The Edge. KING CRIMSON also has to be considered as a notable influence, the heavy use of the Mellotron in Zarathustra reminds the KING CRIMSON's song In The Court Of The Crimson King for its great Mellotron overture, same as Zarathustra.

    Other than that, this album is definitely mastered, nothing more to say other than it is nothing but a masterwork that cruelly needs more recognition among Symph' prog fans. 5/5, a f-ing BOMB!

     Il Velo Dei Riflessi by QUEL CHE DISSE IL TUONO album cover Studio Album, 2020
    3.83 | 41 ratings

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    Il Velo Dei Riflessi
    Quel Che Disse Il Tuono Rock Progressivo Italiano

    Review by nick_h_nz

    5 stars [Originally published at The Progressive Aspect]

    There is always a danger when one has been anticipating a release for a long time, and it felt like a long time waiting for the debut release from Quel Che Disse Il Tuono. Actually, the album was put together in a very short space of time, as the band was founded only a year ago. However, the enormously talented Francesca Zanetta (a founder of Unreal City) was a founder of Quel Che Disse Il Tuono, and that alone had me impatient to hear what the band could muster. As she and the band teased their progress on a regular basis, it was hard not to be impatient to hear the end result. And, at the same time, a little worrying. Would the end product live up to the hype?

    The short answer, if you don't wish to read the rest of the review, is yes. Go out and buy Il Velo Dei Riflessi. You won't be disappointed. This is a truly magnificent album, taking all that was great about the classic years of Rock Progressivo Italiano, and propelling it forward into today. It has all the retro charm you could wish for, with the production values classic RPI usually lacked. Now, I'm biased, because I've long been a lover of RPI. But for those less enthused, let me add that this album is also extremely reminiscent of vintage keyboard led Scandinavian bands such as Anekdoten, Nordagust and Mater Thallium (to name but three).

    I'm reminded of so many of the RPI bands of the '70s that I love, but this sounds so much better. A lot of this is down to the production, which is just wonderful. But there's no getting away from the talent the band displays, and the use of so many gorgeous vintage keyboards. Having three talented keyboard players surely helps, with Francesca Zanetta and Alessio Del Ben adding additional keyboard flourishes to main keys player, Niccol' Gallani. Gallani himself shows his multi-instrumental prowess too, with some absolutely beautiful flute playing. And the vocals! Oh, the vocals! Roberto Berna Bernasconi could not be more perfect, belting out the style of vocals (stereo)typical of RPI. Bold, highly emotional, almost operatic, and sung in Italian. Does that last matter? Well, personally I'd say yes. Whether it is Banco, PFM, Maxophone, or any other RPI band who released English language versions of their songs, these were always inferior to the Italian sung versions. The Italian language is one of the most musical in the world, and much of the magic in RPI is in the vocals. Bernasconi scores highly in this regard.

    But let's be honest, every member of Quel Che Disse Il Tuono scores highly. After listening through the album the first time, I wondered if this might be my most favourite RPI release ever. Such hyperbole is not uncommon when I first hear something new that I instantly am enamoured with, so I ignored this feeling. And yet? And yet, after having listened to the album dozens of times now, I can't help but still feel this way. This is a simply magnificent album, which encapsulates all that I love from the classic years of RPI, and makes it greater!

    The album begins with the thunder implied by the band's name, before taking us through a metaphorical storm of the mind. A mind split, and viewed through four mirrors (the first four tracks), as the individual suffering this mental disorder works to accept these deviations are who he is, this final catharsis worked out through the final track. Would I have known that if I did not have the electronic press kit that came with the album? Probably not, but nor does it really matter. I don't understand the lyrics, but I could use Google to translate them if I felt the need - and I do not. I'll be honest, I don't pay a great attention to the lyrics when they are sung in English, so I'm not going to go out of my way when they're not. For me, the voice is merely another instrument, and a wonderful one in this band. It is possible, however, to hear the resolution of the final song in the music. And equally, the conflict within the first four. (The heavy melancholy of second mirror, Figlio Dell'Uomo, for example, is palpable, and depressingly beautiful.)

    A feature of RPI is that the music often sounds like classical music within a rock setting, rather than rock music utilising classical elements. From the first track forward, this is immediately the impression one gets, and it sweeps me away from the beginning. The interplay of the instruments, along with the textures and timbres the varying vintage keyboards provide, is more symphonic than most symphonic prog bands. And yet, Francesca Zanetta's guitar adds an edge that was often lacking in classic RPI. If you loved her playing in Unreal City, you will here, too. It doesn't sound at all the same (although, as Zanetta herself proclaims, it is recognisably played by the same fingers), but it sounds just as good. While most classic symphonic RPI bands, especially given how keyboard- centric they were, tended to take after ELP, Quel Che Disse Il Tuono seem to take more from King Crimson - which is perhaps why I hear the resemblance to the aforementioned Scandinavian bands, who are also influenced by King Crimson.

    But, as I've tried to stress, no matter their roots and influences, Quel Che Disse Il Tuono sound entirely modern. The band themselves have said, 'We are fully aware of resting on the shoulders of giants, we know our background and we are aware of the great influences that derive from it. Nonetheless, it is our firm intention not to be a derivative group: we work constantly to outline a distinctive and modern character.' I certainly believe that the band have managed just that, and it is a harder won victory than you might think. There are many bands that become so entrenched in their attempts to recreate the sound and feel of the classic period of prog that they are plain boring. In fact, I dislike far more retro prog bands than I like. But this, I love.

    And like that, the album ends as it began, with the sound of thunder. It's been just under an hour, but it feels no longer than quarter of that - the approximate length of the final song, in fact. There are some albums that feel far too long, but this one is over far too soon. The only thing to do is put it straight back on, and listen again. This could easily have been a disappointment, especially for someone like me who has such a love for classic RPI. Instead, it's a contender for my favourite album of the year. And it's only a debut! Let's hope Quel Che Disse Il Tuono don't go the way of so many great RPI bands of the '70s and be one and done.

     Il Velo Dei Riflessi by QUEL CHE DISSE IL TUONO album cover Studio Album, 2020
    3.83 | 41 ratings

    BUY
    Il Velo Dei Riflessi
    Quel Che Disse Il Tuono Rock Progressivo Italiano

    Review by memowakeman
    Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

    3 stars Review originally posted at www.therocktologist.com

    Since I was a young prog rock neophyte, I have crossed with statements such as 'prog rock is dead' 'there is no good 00's prog' and other strange thoughts from people who got stuck in the 70's. Of course, we all know and love old school prog and will always thank them for seeding the roots, however, there is a huge amount of new projects that incorporate that history to brand new compositions and concepts, such as new Italian outfit Quel Che Disse Il Tuono.

    I have always been a big RPI lover, its symphonic driven music, its pastoral sounds, its theatrical compositions, its cultural inspirations, and a long etc. Fortunately, in this 21st century I have witnessed the born of new talented bands that clearly deserve attention, such as Unreal City or Cellar Noise, which I mention on purpose because members from those bands are featured in this new project.

    Well, last March the band released its first baby entitled 'Il Velo dei Riflessi', just after one year the band formed. It is a concept album in which themes like schizophrenia and acceptances are pointed out. It comprises 5 tracks, the first four are mirrors and the last one is a catharsis. It opens with 'Il paradigma dello specchio (primo specchio)' -if you know RPI, then you are aware of the importance of track number 1 in its history- a great track that has that vintage feeling produced by keyboards and that typical Italian voice. Lush keyboards, mellotron, a dynamic guitar, instrumental passages that change from minute to minute creating a diversity of emotions, from chaos to tranquility.

    Impossible not to move the head with 'Figlio de'll Uomo (secondo specchio)', its rhythm got stuck on my head and since the first listen it entered deep in my veins. It is like one minute and a half until it stops and becomes a ballad- like track for a minute, just before it explodes with a guitar solo first and then a moog solo that could be featured in any 70's RPI record or even in a 00'S Ayreon record. I like the mood changes on the song, the band knows how squeeze their capacities, which is why it sounds so natural and creative. Just before reaching the 7th minute, I thought the band would make a kind of tribute to Le Orme (maybe the did, I don't know) but it was probably just my mind's association.

    'Chi ti cammina accanto (terzo specchio)' is a beautiful song, the shortest of the album and why not, the catchiest. The mood is so soft, relaxing and even introspective. I love the sound of the flute at minute two, just before Bernasconi's voice enters. Later Zanetta's vocals join and the two of them create a brief but heartfelt passage. The las minute is incredible deep, Gallani's colorful keyboards produce countless emotions, while Del Ben's drums create nice figures that complement the music.

    'Il bastone e il serpente (quarto specchio)' starts with a bass slap and then guitar and drums join. Honestly, I didn't like the start of this track, it sounds a bit raw and dirty, maybe it was a matter of the production. After one minute the passage get more interesting, with a wonderful moog solo first and then Hammond, mellotron and piano creating countless textures. When vocals enter a theatrical mood appears, working as a fishhook for the listeners. There are several cool passages on this track, to be honest, but this time I tended to enjoy the most the one at minute 7, so soft and emotional, beautifully crafted by piano and vocals, and then amazingly complemented by mellotron and guitar. But wait, that's not the end, later there is an explosive ending.

    The album finishes with its most ambitious track: 'Loro sono me (Catarsi)', a 14-minute rollercoaster of sounds and emotions. Here we will be taken to a trip to different points of the 70s, the names of King Crimson, PFM, or Museo Rosenbach might spring on your mind. It is in fact a cathartic track full of nuances, an immersion of the senses. The band did a great job in this particular track, an example that they started with the right foot and are on the right direction. Seems they get along so positively, and since their first child was a challenging album, I am sure they will give us more news in the future.

    Is prog rock dead? Never!

    Data cached

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