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

BANCO DEL MUTUO SOCCORSO

Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

4.28 | 558 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

jimmy_row
5 stars Banco's debut-what Italian prog is all ABOUT.

In progressive music we always find cases of aspiring young musicians leaving the conservatory to play some rock 'n roll. Or something like that. Banco, led by the Nocenzi brothers, (twins, and both keyboard players!) perfectly fall into the stereotype of ambitious, classically trained snoots cum prog- rockers. The trademark BdMS sound came from those two Bach-loving keyboard players in tow with operatic singer Francesco Di Giacomo. If you need a reference point, just imagine the compositional format of traditional symphonic progressive bands beefed up with more instrumental fireworks. Think Genesis with a shot of fettuccini and testosterone or ELP with good songs. If you're into classically-inspired bands but find some of them a bit stuffy or inhibited, then Banco might be just your trip.

Since it's a debut album, I might as well introduce the band: as I mentioned, the Nocenzi's, Vittorio in particular, and Francesco were the backbone of the group through the '70s and drummer Pier Luigi Calderoni was an experimental force and one of the underrated drummers in progressive rock (and he hadn't even peaked yet on this album - just wait until "Darwin!" and "Io Sono."). Renato D'Angelo does a good job of adding gravy to the band's classical leanings although he doesn't often play a prominent role, buried behind piano solos and organ pedals. And on guitar (goodness.a rock band and the last guy we introduce is the guitarist! Must be prog.), Marcello Todaro does basically what he is asked to do: play precise, meaty riffs that don't overshadow the Nocenzi's aerial assault. Todaro's Les Paul tone sometimes brings to mind Robert Fripp and Martin Barre, but he also has a nice jazzy side that comes out when he gets the chance to solo.

Despite this being their rookie album, Banco already display a towering sense of assertiveness and direction. The first track, "Il Volo," takes a bold, experimental step from the start, with its primordial recorders and spoken word narration (alternating between Vittorio and Francesco). They're searching for something even though they know they have some of the answers; they're determined to keep looking for more. The attitude in this music just bleeds rebellion against the Italian establishment and against the church; and Banco's style in itself is a conflict between traditional Italian influences, from Verdi to cantatore to opera, and contemporary ones such as edgy jazz and ballsy rock. There's just something about an operatic singer flying over top of power chords and an insane organ- grinder.

The album itself is comprised of a spooky intro, two "mini-epics," and interlude, an 18 minute show- stopper, and the grand finale. I just realized that I haven't instructed you to buy the album yet, so I'll take a break to do so right now - go find it, trust me. The three longer tracks will bring you in and the other three will fill in the spaces. Out of those three big ones, none stand out as stronger or weaker - they are different enough to avoid comparison and the whole is definitely stronger than the sum. "Metamorfosi" is the aural equivalent of the World Pyro Olympics; "R.I.P." is war, complete with a eulogy on the end; and "Il Giardino di Mago" is a David Blaine show.and one of the best "epics" I've ever heard (wait 'til you hear Francesco take over on this one!).

Recommendation: If you are new to Banco or Italian prog, this is a fine place to start, especially if you like the raw, energetic take on classically-driven music (see also: the rest of the RPI movement). I would actually recommend exploring Banco in chronological order, because the directions they take are interesting to follow, even if they do not always succeed. This album and at least one of the next two, are essential.

9.5/10 on the Jimmy Row Factor T, for an easy A.

jimmy_row | 5/5 |

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