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Latte e Miele - Passio Secundum Mattheum  CD (album) cover

PASSIO SECUNDUM MATTHEUM

Latte e Miele

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.90 | 109 ratings

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tszirmay
Special Collaborator
Crossover Team
5 stars When I am asked what a typical symphonic album can sound like, I am always tempted to suggest this famous work from Italian trio Latte e Miele (Milk & Honey). This is as operatic as a prog album will get, using the biblical martyrdom of J. Christ according to the gospel of Matthew. Interesting that religion was still expressed reverently even by the avant-garde youthful artists of the early 1970s (the majority of whom in Italy where strongly in the Social/Communist political camp, technically at least atheist). What makes this lush recording such a whopper is that beyond the obvious ELP references with lead massed keyboards, bass and drums, there are also tectonic doses of choir work (both male and female), inspired use of various textural keys such as celeste and clavicemballo, countless stops and starts, huge slabs of mighty symphonics and a more aggressive use of electric guitars in leading a main theme or bursting out in a brief yet scorching solo. As the story of Easter and the Last Supper take on epic proportions with a strong Renaissance feel (pastoral harpsichord and fluid acoustic guitars), when the organ suddenly kicks in ferociously and the axe bleeds betrayal. On "Getzimani", a simple repetitive beat ushers in the soft rippling sounds of that harpsichord again, weaving in a lush orchestral theme, echoed lead vocals and some incredible drum fills, insistent organ and ragingly brash electric guitar, bringing the story to a further boil. "Il Processo" tosses in megalithic swaths of operatic vocals, underpinning further the "passion" and the despair. The 2 part "Testimonies" are the main sections of the work where classical, rock and jazz coalesce with impressive cohesion, a bit like an Italian version of Procol Harum , featuring groovy piano work from Oliviero Lacagnia, with Marcello DellaCasa showing off his fuzzy and bluesy guitar tone , all held together by the jungle polyrhythmic fills of master drummer Alfio Vitanza, who can easily challenge LeOrme's Miki Dei Rossi for sheer brute force. This is absolute genius music that must not be missed. The second part even offers a variation on the same improv theme, the conga drums still beating and the axe continuing to be aglow. "Il Pianto" is delicacy incarnate, a slick variation on the very beautiful Soviet National anthem (ironic, no?) with supremely effective piano work. "Giuda" is aggressive, loud, highlighted by almost dirty guitar blast smearing Judas' treachery. The next track features a tortured guitar solo that is near painful to listen to, incredibly deft and complex but searing with pain. "Il Calvario" infuses that grand daddy of all prog instruments, the breathtaking church organ, a mixture of power and subtlety that is hard to beat, giving an obvious holy, ritualesque feel to this the longest track, Wakeman was probably envious listening to this! The dramatics are tightened further with some inspired choir work, somber drum beat recalling JC's struggle up the Golgotha, cross digging into his flesh. A surreal guitar solo recalls the pain, the sweat, the torture, the blood and the final agony. Only a brief acoustic guitar lament can increase the drama and it is done with utter sadness and morose serenity. "Il Dono della Vita" is the brief gentle finale, sung with reverence and compassion, bringing this masterpiece to a grandiose close. While I dislike short albums in general (and early ISP has many of those, unfortunately), this is one heaven of classic prog album that needs to be in any serious collection. 5 crucified stars.
tszirmay | 5/5 |

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