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Mario Cottarelli - Prodigiosa Macchina CD (album) cover

PRODIGIOSA MACCHINA

Mario Cottarelli

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.88 | 5 ratings

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Finnforest
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Keyboard ecstasy born 30 years later!

Some good things are worth waiting for....even decades for! Mario Cottarelli is a composer and multi-instrumentalist born in Cremona Italy in 1956. A professional keyboardist, guitarist, and drummer, Cottarelli created several progressive compositions in the mid 1970s but was unable to get an album recorded in that period. After finishing his studies he went on to other endeavors but always longed to get back to the siren of progressive rock, and finally in 2005 he went for it. Using some of his original compositions from the mid '70s, Mario rearranged the tracks and recorded them all on his own. The result is the Cd "Prodigiosa macchina", published by New Lm Records in November 2007.

This is a truly wonderful album that is sure to please aficionados of RPI, symphonic, and all keyboard fanatics of any stripe. Mario is a keyboards whiz. I just envision banks of different keys in his jamming room, but I'm no expert on hardware, maybe they all emanate from one machine. He is a master of atmospheres and weaves three long, whirlwind tracks which breeze from one melodious meadow to the next. The first track is a 22 minute monster with no filler! While his influences are noted as the Italian and English prog masters (Jethro Tull, Genesis, Gentle Giant, Pfm, Banco del mutuo soccorso, Le Orme, Mike Oldfield) I also believe I can discern just a hint of Yes in a couple of places where the driving percussion and strong keys reminded me of some of the more fusioney era Yes tracks (ie sections of Relayer and Topographic). But I think mostly this is an album for modern keyboard lovers, for those who love Toto Torquati, Rustichelli Bordini, Beppe Crovella's Tower, but with a more updated sound than the classic works. He just runs passionately through long sweeping instrumental sections with total freedom of sound and pace, augmenting some sections with warm, personal Italian language vocals. Mario plays everything on the album but unlike some solo instrumentalist projects this one sounds full and satisfying: he's a quite capable drummer and guitarist, although the guitar is dwarfed by the keyboard presence here, it's a second fiddle mostly but you won't mind. Occasional electric leads double behind the melodies. The drumming is varied and interesting to my ear, always moving the music briskly. But most important is the quality of what he plays on the keys and I found myself reveling in his choices of notes, chords, progression. I didn't expect to enjoy it initially because I typically like albums with at least some dark vibe whereas this one is almost completely upbeat and sunny. But win me over it did. While I don't understand the lyrics the music's mood is majestic, soaring, very open in terms of space. For being mostly digital it is not cold, nor lifeless. There are one or two sections where a bit of world music feel a la Oldfield will creep in, but for me it never strays too far from glorious Italian prog sensibility. The beginning of track 3 even offers a bit of psych/space flavor, a very cool intro. My only criticism is that it could have used some of those surefire RPI charms for more variety of sound, like more strings, operatic chorus, maybe more piano or flute. But it's a very minor quibble---Mario's debut is a fantastic project and I'm so happy these songs from the 70s have found life in the 2000s. I hope we hear from Mario again with another RPI project. I think about what it must have been like for him to hear these songs from his youth coming to life all these years later, for him to be breathing life into them. He must be proud and yes, I'm gushing a bit. I love this classy album.

This is an excellent disc I recommend with ease to anyone who loves grand music soaked in synthesizers through and through, for keyboard lovers of all ages. The accompanying booklet is only a foldover but does include the lyrics, in Italian. You can download the album on iTunes and other digital stores or you can find the CD on New Lm Record's website www.crotalo.com.

Finnforest | 4/5 |

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