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Latte E Miele - Passio Secundum Mattheum - The Complete Work CD (album) cover

PASSIO SECUNDUM MATTHEUM - THE COMPLETE WORK

Latte E Miele

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

4.13 | 185 ratings

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tszirmay
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Honorary Collaborator
5 stars History can be an integral part of subject matter in the world of progressive music, a look back at past events and how they shaped music and how music shaped events, a symbiotic relationship that has often been the source of sonic masterpieces. Thankfully, or perhaps even more mercifully, the list is endless and would take an eternity to name all 800 or so. In the early 70s, Italy was witnessing and relishing in the great gentrification of rock, now staffed by schooled musicians who are unafraid to show their mettle. Some old history first: Latte e Miele released a thrilling album in 1973 which did some serious damage back then and remains a classic RPI monument to this day, with heaps of written praise around the globe. The band has sort of followed in the footsteps of La Maschera di Cera who dared to record their version of Le Orme's legendary "Felona e Sorona", except that the creators were entirely a different band. The exact same Latte e Miele trio that recorded the Passio Secundum is back (Dellacasa, Lacagnina and Vitanza) and re-recorded as well as edited a newer version that is simply stupendous, in fact slinging the thing into the upper echelons of bliss. The stellar melodies have been polished up, in some cases reinvigorated, especially the orchestral and choral parts which are now focused and grandiose. New compositions have been added as well as shifting the flow into a more concise, complete piece of work, as well as including a vast cast of guests that are well listed in other reviews. In terms of historical perspective, the subject matter was, is and will be forever attached to the Italian fascination for Christ, as established by a state called the Vatican (and its considerable power and money) not only within Italy but even within its proud capital city, the once mighty Rome.

Time Log: Jesus Christ is crucified. Place: Jerusalem. The preparatory "Introduzione" sets the tone with typical Middle Eastern serenity and empirical Roman bombast , setting a time and place for the story to unfold , as the annual Jewish Passover holiday is set to begin, amid great tumult between the local populace and the invader legions. The glorious melody on harpsichord settles as the freshly baked matzah emerges from the oven, and the last supper has finally arrived (Supper's Ready), the sound alternating between historic narrations, massive choir arrangements and titillating keyboard flourishes. The melody on "Ultima Cena" is achingly poignant, revealing a glimpse of the upcoming tragedy. The bread and blood of the alliance refers to the benedict sharing of wine and sustenance, forged by a gentle acoustic guitar phrasing that elevates the soaring vocal, escorted by a gliding lead guitar that weeps and cries with splendor. Sweeping mellotron ushers in colossal choir work that veers closer to opera, another Italian 'trouvaille' that has lived on. Celestial synths adorn the arrangement as the story unfolds.

As with the original, "Getzemani" remains that thunderous melody with a masterful arrangement that elevates the sound to heavenly heights, generally marshaled by a sublime synth foray, this continues to be a highlight that can only surpass the loftiest hopes. Stirringly emotional and densely spiritual, the pure sounds blur the line between musical genres, with that blasted harpsichord seducing the soul once again. Alfio Vitanza's drums are crisp, bold and riveting, providing the foundation for the intense choir section, fueled by both the blissful mellotron and the parping synthesizers. "I Falsi Testimoni" only enhances the flow, with roiling organ, narration and huge choir interventions. The ELP-like instrumental section gets a guitar impulsion that only temporarily hides the moog solo, straight out of Emerson's Lucky Man.

"Il Pianto" is a direct lift from the former USSR anthem (same as the current Russian anthem with different lyrics) written by Alexander Alexandrov, a drop-dead gorgeous melody that is too short for my tastes and segues into the more somber dramatics that edge closer and closer to the intolerable finale. "Il Prezzo del Sangre" slings a sizzling guitar into a maelstrom of orchestral strings as the price of blood becomes self- evident and the fate of a precocious Christ is sealed by both the occupiers and the occupied, another young prophet brought down for daring to shake the tree. A brief nod to "Giuda"'s weakness dwells only briefly, the voice being the main focus here, swelled by Lacagnina's slippery synth and a regal guitar solo from Dellacasa. The option of Barrabas or Jesus comes up as a collision of choirs entangled, the spectral church organ finding its place in the score with cavernous appeal ("Toccata per Organo"), all leading up to the painful Calvary where the Romans had prepared the cross.

"Il Calvario" is a hurricane of emotions, imagine if you will dark choral clouds that loom above the Mount of Olives, distant thunder and occasional lightning crawling the flesh, as the massed voices exult in pained distress. Agonizing guitar bursts and distraught mellotron rule the stage, as the point of no return arrives. The tears of blood stain the cross of Roman punishment, the future consequences impossibly divine for future billions of souls. The "Aria della Croce" remains strangely upbeat for those reasons. Things get tumultuous with dense orchestrations that flirt with wild dissonance a la Orff, with hard guitars and raging chorale, a reprise of the Il Pianto" anthem, gentle as the warm wind is meant to provide hope and perhaps even salvation.

The deed is done, the moment when history has been forever altered for better or worse, the music highlighting the importance of his being still venerated by many worshipers. The work does not come across as a religious artifact but a rather well-crafted re-working of a classic story that no one can deny. Latte e Miele is another fine example of the 'resurrection' of progressive rock music, a genre gaudily crucified in the late 70s as pompous and elitist by primitive music scribes who somehow seized power of the journalism world and prepared the nails that slammed through prog's arms and legs. Needless to say, the entire package is first class, artwork, booklet, production and sound.

5 revivifications

tszirmay | 5/5 |

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