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Il Balletto di Bronzo - Ys CD (album) cover

YS

Il Balletto di Bronzo

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

4.19 | 388 ratings

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LinusW
Special Collaborator
Italian Prog Specialist
5 stars Finally, the mighty Ys stand trial. I expected nothing but the best of the best, and I surely got it in this fantastic album.

Holding a place in many RPI lovers' hearts, this is an album that still splits its audience in two. It holds a reputation for being rough, uncompromising and aggressive - and while all that is true, it isn't as frightening as it sounds. It's mostly in comparison to other symphonic prog bands. However, if you're in the mood for the twisted side of PFM's and Le Orme's sometimes pastoral beauty and "classic" classicism - this is where you line up for the ride.

Few records stun you with unfiltered and raw atmosphere of the kind you'll encounter here. Every hint of emotion - emitted from all between a fragile and insecure singe note to relentless battles between keys and guitar - radiates from one single topic: death. And you can feel it. Regardless of the shifting musical sceneries you are still left with the mesmerizing mystery that surrounds the topic. It feels cold, barren and lonely at the same time as it's painfully loaded with intense presence, neurosis and to some extent even fear.

Introduzione's ethereal beginnings (otherworldly female voices, veiled by what can only be described as impending doom) are transformed into a wonderfully suspended background organ. Bleak funeral beauty with a simple phrase repeated over it again and again, introducing some more timbre breadth and frail beauty coming from one of those lovely keys at disposal here. The exposed voice of Gianni Leone will grab you, and with all the other combined effects, it paralyses you in a compressed, boundary-less void. Perfect control of the emotional impact of music.

After that you could say that the album takes off, that the adventure truly begins. Excellent, surprising and visceral drumming, with a feast for keyboard aficionados. Twitchy organ and synth lines, working together or growing out in different directions, ultimately surrounding you. A bass guitar at work deep down in the mix, brooding and unmistakably out-to-get-you. Sudden bizarre breaks, almost like realisations in a soul-searching journey through time and space - the most remarkable one being the return of the female vocals, this time in a distinctly darker way, spiralling down into a place deep down. My favourite part of the song, a slightly dissonant interplay between chaotic piano, organ and later even a blazing guitar solo comes next. Constantly getting louder, faster and more twisted it eventually returns back to the fleeting bonds to reality with a return of the vocals over some distant Mellotron strings. After some nightmarish Gothic ghost story music (spinet included) and pounding, churning bits of drums bass, downright scary guitar howls and other sort of convulsions.it's over. The introduction, that is. However, Primo Incontro's relentless shock effects continue in the vein of the last part of Introduzione, and make sure you understand that meeting this aspect of death isn't nice at all. It's first after the big rock ending and the subsequent spinet melody that the first track really ends.

Erratic is one word that could be used to describe Secondo Incontro, with random and fractured pieces of cataclysmic burst of pure rock mentality, with string-laden Mellotron and vocal aesthetically contrasting in the exposed way known from before. One of the high-points of the album waits in the amazing ending; a hard-hitting explosion of menacing flute, off-beat organ (might even be a horribly mistreated Mellotron) and piano over those action-packed drums and the bass. A collage of swirling, untouchable avant-symphonic attitude if there ever was one. Impressive.

Terzo Incontro marks the biggest shift in the sound up until now. With mutant-jazzy walking bass and a refreshingly abused organ suffering along with a more normal sounding one, which makes up for this evident lack of uniqueness (heh) by wandering aimlessly and rather unmelodious instead. Throw in some out-of-place humming zoning in and out for a while and add the angry instrumental punches and noodling background guitar to get the full picture. A commanding organ guides the listener gently over a section of weird synth effects and slightly contemplative (or perhaps just surprisingly rational) vocals and more of the brain-scrambling intensity of Introduzione.

Epilogo. It's easy to feel that the whole album has been leading up to this. The speedy, rollicking piano/organ and powerful drum salutations oozes of conclusion. But you'll have to wait for another eleven minutes to finally sit back and catch your breath. After some jumpy, confused instrumental dialogue it's a dive right into ELP territory, with a great Emersonian keyboard tour de force providing just as much rhythm as melody. A long-winded interlude follows, bringing everything to a halt. Again a sense of suspended animation; repetitive bass line, taking on the characteristics of a ticking clock - time really is running out. Fractured piano trying to fight its way out of the gloom, weak shunning vocals. Psychedelic swirls and whirls shrouds it all in a bigger and bigger mystery as the volume increases, again with a feeling of conclusion. But it settles down again, becoming more and more stripped of any discernible musical life force, leaving room for echoing spaced-out tranquillity - and then, slashing through the apathy - back to a reprise of the tracks beginning, but with a menacing addition to it at the ending, with the now nothing but scary female voices drifting away into silence. They're twisted, cruel and unavoidable.

Long review, which speaks volumes (ha!) about the album.

5 stars. Masterpiece.

//LinusW

LinusW | 5/5 |

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