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Mario Barbaja - Megh CD (album) cover

MEGH

Mario Barbaja

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.04 | 6 ratings

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Finnforest
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Delightful soft-progressive, multi-styled obscurity.

Mario Barbaja from Milan is another rather obscure artist from the 70s Italian scene, who made this little-known gem in 1972. "Megh" contained very unique singer-songwriter material and pumped it full of proggy ingredients while employing a small army of superb Italian musicians of the day. The result is indeed an album with attitude, with a variety of styles and influences, and a solid, engaging dynamic. It featured some measures of rock, folk, melodic pop, jazzy moments, and even avant music, in a work perhaps not obviously and overtly progressive, but enough so to be of great interest to RPI fans. Following "Megh" Barbaja took to more commercial avenues but RPI fans would do well to hunt down this album at the least.

The album begins (and ends) with the sounds of childhood toys and haunting music box, giving the album a bit of an artsy touch, though I'm not sure if there is a lyrical concept to the songs. The music begins with some acoustic bluesy guitar work with a bit of a psych feel to it, then into clearly Italian folk territory on "Sono Stato" with its bouncy sing-along chorus. "Una Promessa" is an improvement with some lovely piano melody. "Tan" begins to show more progressive promise with some strange avant sound effects. "Non Dire Mai" is lovely soft-prog with mellotron behind it and romantic vocals. The two part "In Quella Citta" is the artistic RPI highpoint and centerpiece. The first part features warm acoustic rock with male and female vocals. The 2nd part is fantastic: an ambient, distant, longing piano begins, quickly changing to avant chaos. Flute and disjointed, trippy vocals join in. This changes back to the peaceful piano which is then joined by crying guitar leads and a thick, solid bass line. The song builds with alternating saxophone, violin, hand percussion, and assorted vocal weirdness. By the end of the song we are almost in Opus Avantra territory, but with a harder edge to the rhythm section. Then the prog edge gives way back to Italian melodic pop not so different from Battisti or Cat Stevens in "Sereno Qui."

In the end the album reminds me a bit of the recently reviewed Mario Panseri, along with artists like Claudio Fucci, even Giannini. It has a good mix of soft and rocking, mostly soft, with plenty of melody and measured doses of period weirdness. It is not here to compete with giants like Orme or Osanna in the hall of legends, but rather reside with the many lesser-known, less groundbreaking, but equally charming niches that prove what a well rounded experience RPI offers her fans. There are many, many interesting artists from the period who offered more modest variations to the grand sounds of the Bancos and Ballettos. They are not the place to start your RPI journey, but once you've heard the more obvious stuff, they still offer plenty of musical enjoyment.

Finnforest | 3/5 |

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