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Il Balletto Di Bronzo - Ys CD (album) cover


Il Balletto Di Bronzo


Rock Progressivo Italiano

4.23 | 543 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Rock Progressivo Italiano typically falls into one of two categories: the more romantic, melodic strain heard in early PFM, or the heavier hardcore rock of bands like OSANNA and MUSEO ROSENBACH. One look at the mock-antique sepia portraits on the back sleeve of their best album should tell you which side of the symphonic fence Il Balletto di Bronzo belongs: these guys look like the ultimate '70s stoners, ready to mug unsuspecting tourists in the back alleys of urban Napoli.

Which is pretty much what this acclaimed 1972 album does to likewise unwary listeners. The band's entire reputation rests on this one effort, often identified (in the sort of unscientific poll any Prog Archives forum regular should recognize) as the best Progressive Rock album ever. That's a hyperbolic claim to be sure: it probably wasn't even the best album from its own country that year (Italy in the 1970s was a Prog hotspot second only to Greater Britain). But it was an impressive achievement nevertheless, and one that has aged well after so many years.

The arrangement of tracks (introduction, three movements, epilogue) suggests a quasi- classical attitude at work, but don't be fooled: there's some harsh and uncompromising modern music here. The closest contemporary equivalent might be the gothic excess of early VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR (with only a little mental arithmetic it can almost be heard as a primitive cousin to 'Pawn Hearts'). An echo of the album's often outrageous energy can even be distinguished today in the music of (among others) THE MARS VOLTA, a chip off the same anything-goes psychedelic block, thirty years removed.

The typically thin early '70s production needs to be forgiven, but with so much happening at any given moment it's easy to be (happily) distracted. Keyboard maestro Gianni Leone probably earns the most attention, with his burning organ chords, icy Mellotron, and delicate touch at the spinet (he also provides the distinctively strident lead vocals). But it's a true band effort, and the balance of the quartet (bass, drums, electric guitar) contributes plenty of muscle.

The bonus track, a radio-friendly single from the following year, is more conventional and thus less interesting. But it provides a nice contrast to the upended anthill of music elsewhere on the album, and closes the expanded CD on a note of welcome grace and efficiency.

Neu!mann | 4/5 |


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