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Osanna - Landscape Of Life CD (album) cover




Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.52 | 90 ratings

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3 stars Want to mention a group that gets me going...really revved up. Honestly... if I had to pick a favorite band from Italian prog. Battiato aside.. it would have to be this formidable group from the hotbed of music that is Naples. Their previous album Palepoli was a masterpiece not just of Italian prog.. but all of prog. All groups are thus vexed.. how do you follow a masterpiece up. Landscapes of Life was their attempt two years later.

One thing you can be sure of, that album was not going to be a Palepoli pt 2. Osanna as has been mentioned around the forums is a very hard group to stick into a nice tidy box. Each album has been quite different from each of the previous albums. Can you call them symphonic.. of course not... heavy prog?... no they were much more eclectic than that. Much as Raffaella mentioned with Sicily in her wonderful 'Sulle corde di aries' review. Naples was a crossroads of many cultures and musical styles. Previous albums were building blocks to Palepoi What they did masterfully on Palepoli was to fuse that in an avant-guard/quasi-symphonic/heavy as HELL cauldron that reflected exactly what I saw on a trip to Naples last year. A city so vibrant .. so alive.. a mass of kinetic energy unparalleled to none. Unfortunately this album did not catch the band at the best of time.. in the best of moods. The group was hit with strife coming from differences in direction which of course led to temporary break-up of the group for the next couple of years after this album. So after an album that defined them.. their city... their countries contribution to the world of prog, they tried to make an album to top their masterpiece. Sadly they failed, but still left a damn good album for us to chew on.

Landscapes of Life opens with 'Il castello dell'es' which hit you right SQUARE in the chest out of the gate. A song that easily could have been on Palepoli. both in sound and in fury of sumptuous mellotron, blaring saxophone, and fast and furious charges with the stellar rhythm section. It would be no surprise to say that this is my favorite on the album. Simply rocks and progs with a passion few groups approach. Especially the wimpy stuff so popular with many proggers. Imagine my surprise though, the first time I listened to this album, when I hit the second track. The title track, Landscapes of Life, yep.. big spoiler alert. Vocals in English. Repeat after me.. English is as musical a language as the dog across the street barking at the mailman. Big thumbs down from me on that. Musically.. the song is the first thing you have heard from them literally.. in years on record that is mellow and laid back. You know.. if the term AOR had existed in Italy at that time. Some wag would have thrown that tag at this song. Is it a bad song?.. no it's not. If anything it is a nice stylistic shift. It is nice anthem like song. I could see the kids flicking their zippos at the chorus of this song haha. Next please....

As if knowing their audience would want something more meaty. We get Two Boys up next. More English lyrics again which are so low in the mix, and really unintelligle due to the heavily Italian-accented English we are listening to here. The great thing again though... is we are listening to prog.. not pop. The music is what is boss here... Two Boys is an uptempo driving song with Elio D'Anna giving us swirling flute and dissonant saxophone blaring. Rustici let's it rip with a great guitar solo as well. Rather typical.. thus great example of Osanna's avant sounding bone crushing prog, minus any symphonic trappings. Again.. not the greatest thing they did, but good stuff. Fog in my Mind is up next. A stately organ introduces the song with Varietti singing...again in english. Lyrics that ...damn.. I have to say it would have been much better in Italian hahah. After two minutes akin to slow torture.. the band kicks in and all hell breaks loose.. YES.. someone has returned the Osanna I love hahha. A stuttering rhythm with powerful drumming by Massimo Guarino. All the elements that make them great are on display here. Including the wild and crazy. The complete divergence into a avant sort of percussion section was totally unexpected and yet I think really worked. We are brought back to sound and fury by the saxophone and Rustici's guitar and we crash headlong into anything in our way on the road till the whole thing breaks down at the end in a mass of twisted steel and broken bodies. If that isn't prog... what is.

I guess the band, and the audience needed a break after that high-speed car crash so what do we get. Yep.. break out the zippos and fire up a smoke. We get a minute and a half throwaway called Promise Land. Here though.. the album fails. Having set the mood to have the listener ready to be taken away we get a mid tempo number featuring acoustic guitar, slide guitar and flute called Fiume. Actually a very nice song. A good one, but as a listener to this group. I wanted to hear crunching metal and screams of fright and be taken on a wild ride. Oh well. Like I said, they probably didn't want to deliver a Palepoli pt.2 and they did not. They wanted to showcase another side of the group, don't get me wrong, it is very good. It simply is not what I wanted to hear. Somehow, Somewhere, Sometime brings the album to a close and really is an interesting track. More laid back, but musically rather interesting with some nice synth work along with some crackling guitar playing by Rustici. It moves along a nice pace till we get the cherry on top .. a fabulous mellotron section which true to the way they used it on Palepoli is out of this world. Many groups use the mellotron. Osanna is one of my favorites in the WAY they use it. The spots and places they decide to whip it out are always for maximum emotional effect. Who here doesn't have the hair on their arms stand up during an effective mellotron section. A great album closer.

Rating the album..ooohhh.. that is tough. I do love this group. However this was the weakest I think of their first 4 albums. Yes.. the english vocals do have a large part to do with it. You can not seperate the music from the singing. In so many cases the vocals can add to the overall experience of the album. Some times though.. it can detract. I do really like this album but for one checking out Osanna. This one ranks 4th of the 5 ones they issued in the 70's. For the site. 3 stars. For me somewhere in between 3 and 4... like that matters hahha.

Micky (aka Michael)

micky | 3/5 |


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