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Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso - Darwin! CD (album) cover

DARWIN!

Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

4.38 | 753 ratings

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Finnforest
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars A second Banco masterpiece, an RPI monster

One of the most important RPI bands of all time managed to follow their incredible self-titled debut with another masterpiece. And of their ridiculously strong opening trilogy of albums, "Darwin" in my book is their most challenging, and perhaps their strongest, most rewarding title. "Darwin" is a true "masterpiece of progressive rock" as far as I'm concerned, a concept album which given its birthdate of 1972 proved the Italian scene was every bit as dynamic and adventurous as what the English heavy hitters were offering in the period. Banco is perhaps their most challenging on "Darwin", pushing limits more than they did on the debut. Here things feel more complex, baroque, intense, perhaps losing a bit of the warmth and sentimental aspects I noted in the melodies of the debut. But the consistency and excitment for the listener are at least equal if not a bit ramped up here. "Darwin" offers beginning to end chills, with a slightly darker feel, and a heavy dose of what I would call the "spirit of RPI."

They waste no time, the 14-opener "L'Evoluzione" is a stunner in the RPI arsenal, perhaps one of the greatest tracks of the subgenre. Again I mention the creeping baroque feel here presented with dramatic, bold vocals, thunderous keyboard crashes, and a very unique electric lead guitar style. Marcello Todaro plays without obvious influence, completely original in the way he bathes the compositions in an expressive, nimble, "flittering" note picking style. Sometimes he reminds me of the punchy leads Howe gave us in the wilder sections of Topographic Oceans and Relayer. The band is fantastically energetic, brash, and tight---this band features superb playing with little sloppiness that I can detect. The tracks consistently deliver a high level of composition with grand keyboard experimentation and thick gutsy bass playing. There are wandering, playful meditations on piano that veer into the jazzy realms. Later in the album another standout track is "750,000 Anni Fa....L'Amore." This track features a truly legendary vocal by Francesco Di Giacomo that is full of life, passion, and sad longing. He can literally break your heart singing about an unfulfilled love. The piano melodies behind him are just drop-dead gorgeous, the epitome of a beautiful Italian musical vibe, and likely the album's calmest, most directly emotional moment. I wouldn't call the album instantly accessible for every progger, it has depths to it that require several listens to fully appreciate---but the rewards are there for the willing.

"Darwin" is as essential to an RPI collection as Relayer or Selling England are to your English prog collection. It rounds out my personal "suggested sampler" of the Italian "big 3" along with "Felona e Sorona" and "Storia di un Minuto." There are so many lesser-known RPI titles that occupy the special shelf in my prog collection, and I generally prefer some of these lesser-known groups for some reason. But if you wish to start with the more widely known bands, you can't go wrong with Banco's masterpiece "Darwin."

Finnforest | 5/5 |

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