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Il Bacio Della Medusa - Discesa Agl'Inferi D'Un Giovane Amante CD (album) cover

DISCESA AGL'INFERI D'UN GIOVANE AMANTE

Il Bacio Della Medusa

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

4.23 | 330 ratings

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MELNIBONÉ
3 stars This may not be Il Bacio della Medusa's latest release, but nevertheless it remains their best yet as far as I'm concerned. Granted, "Discesa Agl'Inferi D'Un Giovane Amante" isn't the RPI album I've been playing extensively lately (that privilege being awarded for now to Faveravola, Unreal City, Logos and Il Cerchio d'Oro albums), but that doesn't undermine in no way its qualities. On this particular album, IBDM is S. Cecchini (vocals & choirs, 6 & 12 strings acoustic guitars, classical guitar, tenor sax), S. Brozzetti (electric guitar), F. Caprai (bass), D. Petrini (drums, organ, keys, piano, vibraphone, percussion), E. Morelli (flute, piccolo) and D. Rinchi (violin, viola). My understanding of Italian being quite limited to say the least, I can only suggest that the title of the album could be translated as "A Young Lover's Descent Into Hell" (but then, I wouldn't bet that this translation is foolproof). That said, as the liner notes and the booklet are written solely in Italian, it would be most risky on my part to even hint at the translation of the lyrics and titles of the pieces. And I regret not being able to read Italian, since the centerfold of the booklet presents a long article penned by a certain M. Sannella, in which some famous names pop out, such as Keith Tippett, David Sinclair, Caravan, Egg, Soft Machine, (Robert) Wyatt and (Daevid) Allen, (Ian) Anderson and Bill MacCormick ; I presume it was written to deliver a (favorable and extensive) description from the outside of the musical influences and works of Il Bacio della Medusa.

The album is divided into 12 pieces (about 56 min total time), half of them being instrumental and amounting to almost 25 min. I'm pointing that out to emphasize the fact that even if there are six songs on the album, some with extensive lyrics, the music always takes the lion's share. So, whatever the story or whether you understand Italian or not, this album focuses mainly on the music. Which is good news by any standards. Also, since every piece is meshed seamlessly into the next one (if there's a gap, it's so minute that it's hardly noticeable), the album sounds more like a unique 56 min long track. Now, the funny thing about some tracks, especially the instrumental ones, is that their titles are about has long as their respective length, the ex æquo winners being "E fu allora che aalle Fiamme mi sorprese una calda Brezza Celeste" and "Epilogo : Conclusione della Discesa agl'Inferi d'un Giovane Amante", with three runner-ups following close behind. In the late '60s and early '70s, some bands did the same thing, among them Banco, Caravan, Pink Floyd, Soft Machine, Yes, etc. Influences work their way through in quite mysterious fashions !

"Preludio : Il Trapasso" (3:44) is an almost pastoral or medieval evocation of death, with a certain lushness underlined by emotional vocals given depth and grandeur, when a brief choir- like stint kicks in. One might wish (or fancy) that death was as serene a thing as this track seems to suggest it is...

"Confessione d'un Amante" (3:04) creates a very classical chamber music-like atmosphere at first, then the singer comes in, sounding quite dramatic or pathetic, while again choir-like synths rise in the background.

"La Bestia ed il Delirio" (5:09) is faster-paced than the preceding tracks, but don't expect it to propoel you to the moon. It kicks in, but mildly, the organ beginning its swirling while drums follow staccato. Then, as is often the case in RPI, comes the unmistakable « circus-like » phase (it will be back a bit later on) mixing traditional melody and rythm with a Fellini-esque trait that is quite appealing, complete with sardonic laughter, always on the keys, before the tempo picks up speed. But the accelerating impression is somewhat muffled by the organ lead. Which is something that will come up in other pieces, as if IBDM couldn't let go for once and reach for the stars (why would descending into hell preclude aiming for the highest achievable goal, whatever that goal may be ?...).

"Recitativo : È nel buio che risplendono le stelle" (3:59) Martial intro with marching drums, but also sinuous keys as if some Dark Lord was making its entry. The narration is a bit nasal, but without much theatrics, or declamatory tones, except towards the end. Heavy pounding beat, but still with that martial tone, bringing forward a sense of menace, if not inescapable doom.

"Ricordi del Supplizio" (6:27) rocks from the start : Camel mixed-up with some Jethro Tull from the "Benefit"-era. The singer is much more high-pitched on this one (he will be harsher, raspier later on). There is a duet/duel between flute and keys, which is quite a feat/feast. This track really sounds like some rock piece of the '70s. There are even some jazz-rock tones reminiscent of Brian Auger's Oblivion Express days.

"Nostalgia pentimento e Rabbia" (6:58) Very medieval sounding start, then the band moves in with flute as leader. But there's no frenzy here, it's rather mid-tempo (accelerating in the latter part of the song) with a light touch of drama before vocals pitch in. Again, there's a definite Tull-like atmosphere prevailing throughout.

"Sudorazione a Fredda sotto il Chiaro di Luna" (6:03) starts like a rocking piece with swirling keys, fuzzy guitars, coming suddenly to a stop for a complete serene soundscape, that evolves into a melody driven by keys and bass and guitar. Then there's another lull with spacey sound and sound samplings à la Pink Floyd, until the bass and guitar fire all things up again. Keys pick up and lead the way, but the climax seems out of reach and we're back to a slower and heavier tempo.

"Melencolia" (5:40) starts slowly, in very evocative way, with a delicate Mid-Eastern touch, before the voice gets in, which is joined later on by a choir-like background. The singer is at his best here. There is an overall mood, nurtured by a slow but articulate folk beat, that brings to mind Magna Carta's "Lord Of The Ages".

"E fu allora che dalle Fiamme mi sorprese una calda Brezza Celeste" (3:21) starts with guitar and sax over a slow drum beat, before the keys move in. It's a slow crescendo that takes its time to build up, the sax providing the incentive to go on, but to no avail, because the tempo decreases before having reached the end of the ramp.

"Nosce Te Ipsum : la Bestia ringhia in noi" (5:28) Violin and piano at first, before speeding up with keys leading the way. Most up-beat track of the album. Powerful, yet reined in somewhat. It's as if IBDM were not confident they could pull it out anyways if they were to loosen a bit their (too ?) tight grip on the musical structure. Lots of different time signatures in this one.

"Corale per 'Messa da Requiem" (3:54) More like a suave nostalgic gypsy waltz of sort, with strings and keys, and choir. The crescendo at the end is quite dramatic, offering an Italian finale that's quite post-Romantic in flavor.

"Epilogo : Conclusione della Discesa agl'Inferi d'un Giovane Amante" (1:48) is a concise mix of medieval, folk, gypsy and traditional ballad, with violin and piano? ending with a sort of spacey whisper.

All in all, "Discesa Agl'Inferi D'Un Giovane Amante" is pure RPI. But, in this particulat case, purity isn't synonymous with excellence. To be a masterpiece, the vocals would have needed someone with a better voice throughout ; and the production would have gotten rid of some muffled tones ; and the music would have benefited from a more rigorous structure that would have led the tracks to a definite "breaking point", instead of backtracking without reaching any significant musical "level" within most of the pieces, whether songs or instrumentals. In other words, this is no masterpiece (and not even close to being one). Now, don't let me be misunderstood, as the song goes, this album is good and worthy of any Prog collection, but its merits do not excede that of a good RPI album. Period.

3.5 kisses? rounded down to 3, in view of what it is vs what it could have been (easily or not).

MELNIBONÉ | 3/5 |

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