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Il Rovescio Della Medaglia - Contaminazione CD (album) cover


Il Rovescio Della Medaglia


Rock Progressivo Italiano

4.17 | 303 ratings

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4 stars Forget the Concerto Grosso, this is the real deal.

Rovescio Delle Medaglia (RDM) were formed in late 1970 in Rome and became a very popular live act in the early '70s Italian scene. After two albums more in the rock realm than prog they added keyboardist Franco Di Sabbatino in 1973. This move, along with the collaboration of Argentinean composer Luis Bacalov was the double spark they needed to fuel one of Italian prog's most beloved titles, "Contamination," I believe a reference to the melding of classical music with rock. Bacalov should ring a bell for Italian fans as he helped New Trolls with their "Concerto Grosso" prior. But with RDM he would create an album that would blow that previous work out of the water. In fact, beyond just Italian prog, Contamination is sometimes cited as one of the best, perhaps *the* best example of classical music with progressive rock. The stunning baroque arrangements are seamlessly tied to the RDM sound and are amazingly natural and unforced. Even an English version was floated in an attempt to break the band wider. The well received work in the magic year of Italian prog ('73) should have lent a brighter future but their impressive live stage sound system was ripped off that year and apparently this development took the wind from their sails. The core group folded soon thereafter as yet another of Italy's promising acts faded too soon.

"Contaminazione" is apparently a story of a man's obsession with the music of Bach. It begins with light strings panning back and forth in your speaks with spectacular choral voices. "Ora Non Ricordo Piu" starts with trippy synth effects and warm, pleasant vocals. There are more of those choral waves of sound before the band comes out of the gate with a heavy guitar riff. As they bound along there are wild synth digs spicing it up. The bass is awesome, lively and easily heard. "Il Suono del Silenzio" reprises the heavy main riff as the vocals flow. I know things are getting nuts when I have to pause the CD to keep up typing. The first real strings hit at this point and they sound just incredible. Totally alive, vibrant, well-recorded. As soon as they appear there is a blast of synth, then piano, then harpsichord all at once signaling this will not be a laid back affair. The band comes back with organ to the fore in their rock section. The track winds down with the main riff and vocal reprise. "Mi Sono." starts with gorgeous violin as soft as a feathered bed over easy vocals. Suddenly the mood gets darker with tom-toms and building operatic choir, then it eases for more strings. Then all subsides for a Malmsteenish classical-tinged electric solo, very cool but too short. The tracks drifts to fading keyboards at close. "Lei Sei Tu" starts with a fast harpsichord (I think) run to lightly backing guitar bends and attentive drumming. Majestic strings break in pulling the mood straight up! Then the harpsichord/drums return with vocals. "La Mia Musica" begins with gorgeous classical piano and then floats lovely, delicate vocals over you. Halfway through organ and strings commence and you feel like you're in the middle of some great cathedral in Europe 200 years ago. A great vocal tops off this standout song. "Johann" is a short trippy montage with vocal and distant guitar. "Scotland Machine" begins with a band and some synth freakouts followed by organ, harpsichord and mellotron. The band jumps in with spirited well conceived rock parts. It's all so much more sophisticated and satisfying than the Concerto Grosso. "Cella 503" is a foray of delicious classical acoustic guitar soon joined by electric and then horns and strings in response. Just fabulous! (Ladies and Gentlemen, put on your gush-protection suit at this time.thank you.) The rock picks back leading to some great gothic BLASTS of organ that will rattle the walls. The title track is a short sojourn of flutes and woodwinds whippering away. "Alzo un Muro Elettrico" goes a bit Purple/Tull with the main riff but stops half-way through for a brief break. "Sweet Suite" is next, ouch, the name is a bit corny! A very quiet, moody keyboard for the first half. The second half is a reprise of the heavy rock in the previous track with a nice strings ending. Finally we reach "La Grande Fuga" with the strings from the previous track descending into muscular electric guitar leads and organ flashes. From that point the band charges forward towards a fitting grandiose ending to this super album.

An essential title for fans of classical music and Italian prog fans. I award 4 solid stars because of the incredible marriage of the two main styles rock and classical. I've never heard it done so well. Perhaps I should have lit up the fifth star but it kills me when I have to do that. Often the attempt to mix classical and rock can be disastrously cheesy or annoying, here is it joyous and musically satisfying. This is one of many titans that makes the Italian scene competitive with the UK/German/French scenes in a creative sense, if not in the commercial sense.

Finnforest | 4/5 |


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