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New Trolls Atomic System - N.T. Atomic System [Aka: Una Notte Sul Monte Calvo] CD (album) cover


New Trolls Atomic System


Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.59 | 79 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars - Emiliano, Luca & Parmalat - Are You Finito Benito? -

Did a tripping armadillo with a massively swollen bladder relieve itself into the Italian public water supply circa 1971? How else can we explain the glut of RPI albums that clearly overlay a template borrowed from ELP's ground breaking Tarkus? And while we're at it, why are there so many Italian prog albums with eggs on the cover eh? Was this omelette fetish some sort of sinister Mediterranean hippy cult?

Although the New Trolls acknowledge the ELP homage mainly by textural and instrumental means, there are during La Nuova Predica Di Padre O'Brien several instances where they regurgitate whole and undigested, entire portions from both Bitches Crystal and Infinite Space. Check out the bludgeoning 3/4 groove from the former and the hybrid 7/4 syncopation from the latter if evidence is required. Mercifully however, the whole is way more than the sum of its parts on this capricious opening number and although never approaching the ferocious kicking meted out to a girly waltz rhythm administered by ELP, these Italians do actually deliver a far superior melody and broader compass for their more ambitious creation. Although the instrumentation is familiar (Hammond, Piano, Bass and Drums being the cake with some percussive breathy flute, guitar and analogue synth as some welcome icing) there is a real surprise in store when the guitar solo kicks in. It's almost as though Wes Montgomery was sitting in as a hired session hand with the clean bassy tone and authentic octave soloing technique lending a very innovative texture to some otherwise common garden prog. Forza Azzurri!

Not being an Italian speaker I haven't the foggiest whether Father O'Brien's new sermon is any more cop than the old one but I love the passion and emotion dripping from Vittorio De Scalzi's exquisite vocals. Some very inventive and classically derived vocal counterpoint is provided by way of a chorale section via Anna & Giulietta, who sound either like multi tracked young un's or two signorinas with three heads each?

As your reviewer is once again too gormless to read the sleeve notes beforehand, I was wondering why the guitar is absent for long stretches on this record until it finally dawned on me that even the multi tasking Di Scalzi cannot be expected to spank that plank, parp that ARP, tickle that spinet and sing like an angel all at the same time.

I am a complete sucker for cartoon tacky 50's sci-fi ambience and the intro for Ho Vista Poi has me drooling like a rural Arkansas UFO spotter. There is no Theremin listed on the cover so I can only guess this to be an expert replication of same via an analogue synth beastie.If you cannot conjure up celluloid images of 70 foot tall raygun toting Zucchini invading Planet Earth here, you are either deaf, dead or even Zucchini I suspect. By way of contrast, the remainder of the song completely contradicts this opening mood by being a linear design of alternating heavy guitar riff and gentle pastoral verse that somehow confounds my habitual reservations about this type of writing. Giorgio Baiocco appears to have left his apartment in a hurry that morning, so imitates his favoured tenor sax with a baritone kazoo? on an incongruous and unnerving solo that would even pass muster with the likes of John Zorn

Tornere a credere - A very moving and stately ballad supported by the bitter-sweet piano of Renato Rossert before launching into a magnificent and impassioned chorus reinforced by spine tingling organ and choral swathes from the aforementioned six headed creature that is Anna & Giulietta. The instrumental interlude that follows does betray one of the New Trolls weaknesses i.e. they have a habit of affecting classical ornamentation that comes across as bluff pastiche and not the intended nod to influences from the conservatory. (Beggars Opera are similarly blighted by this failing).

There is also a rather heavy lidded wink to Abaddon's Bolero in places but we can forgive them drawing inspiration from the best can't we? as this would still be a damn great song relieved of the instrumental baggage.

Put the eardrops in the fridge people as it's now time for the classical adaptation...Night on Bald Mountain (by longhairs) I'm a little surprised this Mussorgsky concert staple hasn't been tackled/red carded/hospitalised/butchered by offensive formations from the prog league more often as apart from Fireballet's version I can't recall another one? You can all relax though as this does not bowdlerise the original in any way and is a very robust and truncated interpretation of a rousing piece that was always begging to be bombasticised.(fresh coinage?)

Ibernazione - Do Armadillos with machine guns need to hibernate? (Or Trolls for that matter?) Early 70's analogue synth obsessives are in for a treat here but as for the rest of us, we would harbour suspicions that the lads are beginning to stock up for a long winter at this point. The song itself reeks of being a tangential instrumental with a rather superfluous melody tacked over the top. Incredibilmente ! there's a bass solo from Giorgio D'Adamo as if to confirm our worst fears. Not entirely redundant as the playing, textures and variety on offer is perhaps in inverse proportion to the quality of the thematic writing.

Quando l'erbe vestiva la terra - What was delightfully capricious hitherto is uncloaked here as clumsily episodic. The individual thematic ideas are decent enough but they seem to have been sloppily glued together in the creation of a faux mini suite of tenuously related materials. The New Trolls do have a fondness for waltz rhythms and this number is redolent of a more hot blooded and volatile Procul Harum. Despite all that, there is in mitigation, a wonderful sax solo from Baiocco that hints that the laddie could have carved himself a considerable reputation in the jazz sphere methinks? De Scalzi contributes his lengthiest and most eloquent guitar solo on the album hereabouts but not even this can mask some yawning gaps in the floorboards.

Butterfly - Oh dear, this sounds like an ill advised cover version of Lapland's doomed Boong Bagga Bingy entry for the 1967 Eurovision Song Contest. The lyrics are in English but if they were mine, such an unequivocal death warrant should be encrypted post haste. The cack handed deployment of that normally infectious beat from Not Fade Away is more Bo Derek than Bo Diddley alas.

All things considered these are very enjoyable and diverse slices of Rock Progressivo Italiano and although NT Atomic System doesn't quite have the class of Maxophone, PFM or Banco, it should serve as a suitable introduction to this genre. For those who are puzzled by this separate category on Progressive Archives rest assured that such music from this part of the world has a unique flavour, feel and texture thoroughly deserving of its demarcated status.

Fancy a Zucchini omelette hun?

Yeah okay, pass me the hammer

ExittheLemming | 3/5 |


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