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

DARWIN!

Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

4.37 | 737 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
3 stars 3.5 stars really!!

As I'd written in the band's debut album review, it (the debut) was imperfect and came with the ugliest artwork ever and seemed to aim at a concept. Released the same year as the debut and with the same line-up, Darwin is a stunning follow-up too. Well certainly two these flaws are mended, with a really cool gatefold album depicting the Darwin concept: indeed the pocket watch symbolising time is being mishandled by the group and the artiste and the front drawings could fit a whitehead at a quarter after eleven (the position of the arms), when our modern life evolution time frame entered in our planet's life. Whether the group chose this concept and its title as a provocation or left-wing militancy is not evident, but most likely yes in view of the contents of their next album and the heavily politicized concert organization of the country back then.

It's difficult to imagine an Italian album starting on such a stronger number than Evoluzione, even if it begins in a very minor mode with gentle mood that does let the promise of not-so-quiet developments in a few minutes. Indeed the double KB attack chooses to step back a bit on what they'd done on their debut, the "slack" being picked by Todaro's Hackettian guitar. As the sung unravels on each side of your ears, the middle section has both the organ and piano (each still riding their own channel) battling it out, before the Nocenzi twins engages in a moog battle that makes Emerson run for cover. After a cool out, the organ picks up again but battles the clarinet, before big bang occurs through a series of drum explosions. The same kind of aural feast goes on in the following Conquista, where the perfection is approached, through the incredible mainly instrumental songwriting with fantastic interplay showing the full dramatics of survival and its costs and consequences. Indeed with these two tracks, BMS have the perfect album side,

Following this near-perfection would prove arduous and almost impossible to match, so most obviously they didn't try: the flipside is made 5 shorter tracks. The first of which Danza, which unfortunately after so many years remains out of the musical scope of the album, no matter how I've tried to like it. Its clumsy jazz with near dissonance and fake humour is just a plain flaw. In some ways, the following Cento Mani e Occhi is also a bit intrusive with its barbarian ELP opening, but the Hackett-like guitar and the almost tribal chants help smooth out a lot of the rougher more primitive edges. One could think that the next 750 000 Anni is a cheap shot at a slow dance and radio hit, if it had not been for the middle moog section. It would be easy to imagine a single version editing the intrusive moog bit and linking the front and closing section and have a huge hit. It's implacable and irresistible. Just as you thought BMS had returned to the A-side's near perfection Miserere comes in with its weird and flawed madness after an arduous and uncertain start with this near-ridiculous monstrous and near laughable monologue. One thing is for sure: Banco did not have the necessary tools to go this mad, be it in the pure songwriting expertise, the recording skill and proper production techniques. The second part of the song is of course better, especially the duet between Todaro's guitar and Niocenzi's clarinet, but it cannot mend the irreparable damages done earlier on. The closing track has the particularity to be longer time-wastage to type than its duration actually lasts. A strange and obtuse piece of madness involving merry-go-round music and local folklore including donkey raping. No thank you, thanks for asking, though!!

How can such a superb opening side so close to perfection be possibly followed by such flawed second side, starting by the awkward opener and finishing by the awful closer. Danza Tempo are two atrocious "faute de gout", an accusation aggravated by the presence of Miserere. These two (three?) tracks simply ruin the album both its musical continuity, but fail to convince me the concept story was valid, right from the start. Elsewhere you get a feeling the conceptual story they'd build was probably binding the group too tightly and forcing them to outstretch their talents, and this is certainly no more apparent than with Di Giaccomo, who finds way too little space to express his talent freely. So with a perfect half album, and just two good songs out of five on the flipside, it's hard to call Darwin an improvement on the debut album. Yet through its trials and errors, the group has persevered and progressed.

Sean Trane | 3/5 |

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