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Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso - Darwin! CD (album) cover

DARWIN!

Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

4.37 | 758 ratings

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Fitzcarraldo
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This concept album is my favourite of the first three BANCO albums, but it is also the oddest (mind you, all BANCO's music is a bit odd in my opinion). Pity I understand very little Italian, because I think the lyrics for such an ambitious theme (evolution) would be interesting.

The long 'L'Evoluzione' (evolution) is obviously the vehicle to introduce the album's concept. It starts off as a fairly sedate song (I even hear a little PINK FLOYD in there somewhere) but then comes some synth which makes me think of erupting volcanoes, and the song heats up, not very melodically, with BANCO's characteristic repetitive note sequences, with a piccolo mib playing over the top in places. Keeping one's mind on the theme stops the track getting tedious.

'La Conquista Della Posizione Eretta' (the conquest of the upright position) is really atmospheric, with synth used to produce animal-like sounds, and some dynamic 'echoey' synth that, given the theme and track title, make me think of apes swinging through the forest treetops at great speed (honestly!, although the band probably intended nothing of the kind). I really, really like this track.

'Danza Dei Grandi Rettili' (dance of the large reptiles) is also the business. It has a very laid-back jazzy barroom feel, starting with some piano and bass, and then adding synth. Again, bearing in mind the theme, it's not hard to picture a T. Rex clomping around looking for prey. Great synth on this one.

'Cento Mani E Cento Occhi' (a hundred hands and a hundred eyes) is the reason I bought the album in the first place. It is a frenetic track with a fair amount of unmelodic keyboard with what sounds like repetitive two-finger key bashing and 'wailing' by Francesco Di Giacomo (well, that's how it sounds to me!). When I first heard this track I thought, "What on Earth is this?" but had to listen to it again, and again and finally had to buy the album. This is probably the track to play if you want to clear a room! Knowing the title, the music makes me think of a giant millipede scuttling at high speed along the jungle floor, but I'm probably way off: wish I could understand the lyrics. Then, right at the end of the song, there is what sounds like a tribal ritual chant over some foot-tapping progressive rock. A bizarre track, but strangely compelling.

'750,000 Anni Fa...L'Amore?' (750,000 Years Ago...Love?) is ballad-like, Francesco Di Giacomo singing with great feeling with the piano as the principal backing instrument, interrupted for a short while by some very electronic synth. It's pleasant enough.

'Miserere Alla Storia' starts off with staccato, repeated note sequences on the organ, then changes to a classical-sounding theme with piccolo mib and acoustic guitar, then transmogrifies into a mad-sounding Francesco Di Giacomo half speaking, half singing, then back to the staccato repeated note sequences on the organ. It becomes more interesting towards the end when piano kicks in with synth and other instruments, but in places reminds me a bit of a slightly out of tune village band.

'Ed Ora Io Domando Tempo Al Tempo Ed Egli Mi Risponde...Non Ne Ho!' (and now I ask the time to Time and he replies...I haven't got it!) is yet another bizarre track. It starts with a sound like a donkey braying, which sounds to me like the very slow dragging of a violin bow or perhaps the rocking of a very creaky rocking chair. Then the clavicembalo and piccolo mib add some background as Francisco Di Giacomo sings to backing music that sounds a bit like an umpapa umpapa village band.

I hope the above whets your curiosity rather than putting you off getting this album. If you're used to melodic Progressive Rock then this is a very different beast, but should grow on you. The composition and use of instruments to convey the theme are clever, and there is so much variety and oddity in the tracks - and within tracks - that it keeps you listening intently and enjoying immensely. Get it, listen to it on headphones, imagine and enjoy. If you don't like it at first, stick with it, it's worth it.

I'd like to give this 4.5 stars if such a thing were possible, but will go with 4.

Fitzcarraldo | 4/5 |

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