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Il Mucchio - Il Mucchio CD (album) cover

IL MUCCHIO

Il Mucchio

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

2.80 | 14 ratings

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Finnforest
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars A pioneer of the RPI scene

Il Mucchio were not exactly well known but they are historically important as one of the early entries on the Italian progressive scene, their lone album being released in the Spring of 1970. They hailed from Venice and were active from 1970-1974 before returning for a brief reunion in the mid 90s, but this was their only full-length album. It is important because it is a bridge album from the beat and psych-pop sounds of the late 60s to the classic RPI era, incorporating classical influences and the beginnings of progressive experimentation. Sjef Oellers writes "Il Mucchio plays organ-soaked proto-progressive, sounding like a cross between Moody Blues and early Manfred Mann/Spencer Davis Group." And while other sources out there claim the album is nothing special I have to say I found it much more enjoyable than I thought I would. It's probably not quite as good as Panna Fredda but that would be a decent reference point as well.

With material written by composer/singer Dino Donaggio, Il Mucchio forges their unique sound by using dual-keyboards and a strong bass guitar presence, but very little prominent electric guitar. The keys are mostly organ but there is harpsichord, piano and some other odd sound I can't place. The second component of the sound is the distinctive upper-register vocals, both solo and in frequent chorus, that are straight out of the New Trolls playbook. Though to my taste they sound much more authentic to me than do the Trolls glass-cracking hysterics. The vocals are very professionally arranged and on their own are quite a treat to listen to. The compositions are pleasant and of pretty good quality although only sporadically reaching beyond period psych-rock and beat. You hear them go for it in "Qualcuno Ha Ucciso" which features tribal rhythms and wild noises mixed with classical piano, lovely Hammond, and those amazing vocal arrangements. There are still catchy hooks though even on the more avant sections the band is keeping one foot in each universe. And that sums up most of the album: it is simply a pleasant blend of vintage keyboards and wonderful vocals in engaging but not overly complex tracks. The other highlight of this album is an absolutely breathtaking version of Schubert's "Ave Maria" that was worth the price of admission alone. If you took away the rock drumming that eventually gets upbeat, vocally the piece could be used for Sunday service, very respectful and yet interesting. From here the album closes with some bluesy organ workout in "Questi Siamo Noi" that would be fertile ground for Ritchie Blackmore to step in and wail on.but Il Mucchio just brings in another keyboard rather than the expected guitar-blazing. Some will be put off by this but personally I found the approach unique and didn't miss the guitars for a second. It's more evidence to the quality level of RPI when even the 2nd and 3rd tier bands are consistent and quality enough for 3 solid stars. You have to dig even deeper to start finding 2 stars albums. Mellow Records has done a nice job with the sound quality on MMP-166 although the booklet is a scant foldover. Their later singles are included as the four bonus tracks.

Finnforest | 3/5 |

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