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Cervello - Melos CD (album) cover

MELOS

Cervello

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

4.14 | 139 ratings

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seventhsojourn
Special Collaborator
RPI
3 stars I have to admit that this album confounds me. It has the reputation of being one of the essentials of the RPI canon, but try as I might I just can't get into it. I can appreciate that Melos is a bold and challenging work; it's certainly brimming with complex musical strands, but it's just a bit too ''difficult'' for my taste. I'm not saying that I only like simple song structures, but the music here is constantly changing which makes it quite confusing; or should that be confused? It's like musical sleepwalking; there is certainly variety, but themes appear then disappear with little thematic development and variation. The band appears to have used a cut and paste approach, with no apparent link to different parts within songs.

The other side to this argument is that Melos is a genuinely singular work. Paragraphs of sound are built from short phrases and it all seems very spontaneous, as if the band were in stream-of-consciousness mode. As I alluded to above, song structures are very loose and the music is characterized by a marked volatility of mood. Broadly speaking, most of the tracks move from mellow and acoustic to harsh and aggressive. For example, the opening section of Euterpe has recorders and acoustic guitar, while the closing part features the electric commotion of squeaking sax and piercing guitar. Instruments are used imaginatively to create a unique sound world, with winds and vibes employed to compensate for the absence of keyboards. Galassia features what sounds like a Mellotron but is in fact an electric saxophone, whereas Scinsione (T.R.M.) features some odd guitar that sound like sci-fi effects. Variety of timbre and texture are important components of the album's sound-scape as vibes and pure toned flutes and recorders alternate with the electric instruments. Vocals range from ritual incantation and treated voice on the otherworldly sounding Canto Del Capro to light and lyrical on Trittico, which in my opinion has the most aesthetically pleasing melody on the album.

For anyone building a comprehensive RPI collection, this is an essential addition to that collection. However I would personally only rate this album as, at best, good i.e. 3 stars. Benchmark albums are Osanna's Palepoli and Il Balletto Di Bronzo's Ys; I would place Melos between these two in terms of both quality and accessibility, with my recommendation going to Palepoli. Another album that I would recommend is Biglietto Per l'inferno, which has a stronger sense of melody than Melos. One final thought on the album sleeve of Melos. The album is seemingly a concept album based on Greek mythology, although the front cover features a picture of a tin of tomatoes being opened. Stranger yet are the peas on the back cover photo. Can anyone explain that please?

seventhsojourn | 3/5 |

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