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Raccomandata Ricevuta Ritorno - Il Pittore Volante CD (album) cover


Raccomandata Ricevuta Ritorno


Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.84 | 105 ratings

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Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A triumphant comeback

Not only did Italian bands makes some of the most creative and emotionally inspiring albums of the 1971-1974 period, they have also birthed some of the best modern prog projects like Il Bacio Della Medusa, DFA, and Garamond among countless others. Yet another way Italy has excelled, besting many other places, is in the quality of their "comeback" albums. There is a reason for this. While some of these other "popular" classic progressive bands have had to struggle to marry commercial approaches into comeback attempts, many of the Italian comebacks have been all about the art, making music from the heart without boardroom considerations. Making the kind of music which inspired their fans in the first place while embracing advances in sound and technique. Understanding why there has been such an explosion of interest in the original RPI scene. This is evident in recent comebacks albums from PFM, but even moreso in the amazing triumphs of Delirium, Latte Miele, and now RRR. Often these modern albums sound more diverse as the influences of Italian artists naturally range outside of their country, and yet the style and sound of many of them are unmistakably rich in the unique Italian touch RPI fans crave.

RRR circa 2010 unfortunately finds only two members from their first album's recording lineup still on board, Luciano Regoli and Nanni Civitenga. For whatever reason this is a bit disappointing to me as I prefer band names to honor line-ups. Here RRR have filled the gap with quality musicians from the RPI scene, including members of Goblin, Libra, and Osanna (Lino Vairetti). The album is also notable for showcasing the equally impressive talent of Regoli the painter. The lovely BTF/AMS/VM issue is a gatefold mini-lp sleeve. Both it and the booklet are filled with reprints of Regoli's paintings which are as striking as the music. Also included in my standard CD pressing was a limited, numbered edition drawing on heavy paper. Special editions with even more goodies were also made available.

This joyful and enthusiastic celebration of both musical and visual art begins in the most clever way. You here this distant, fading, eerie music with fidelity indicating an old vinyl album as it ends, and if you listen close you will realize the music is the end of the last track from RRR's debut some 38 years prior. So they truly are beginning from where they left off! Really nice touch. But from there most associations to the past fall away as this album is a different animal. The songs display updated rendition of "Italian prog" with dramatic operatic vocals, which are often the high-pitched wails associated with Ian Gillan or the New Trolls, punctuated by the lovely use of flute, violin, piano, sax, and Hammond. The other side of the equation sounds almost like an influence of 1980s Pink Floyd and Gilmour/Waters solo, with songs boasting the blues-rock bravado Gilmour would grab in his heavier moments, along with the soulful female backing chorus you've heard on 80s Waters tracks, or like the backing vox of "Not Now John." But along the way they will venture through hard prog, bluesy prog, occasionally classical, jazz, and avant, showing skill in multiple waters. Not surprising considering the backgrounds of RRR and Samadhi. Also notable are the exceptional arrangements of the performers, with each piece of the sonic puzzle very clear and easily heard---no mud, nothing lost in any "soup of sound."

There are interesting real life sound interludes, such as one sequence when we are placed in the middle of a party, with laughing and conversation all around us as violins play festively in the background. In moments like these you can feel the joy of the composers as they indulge their heart and let their hair down. My favorite track "Il fuoco" features amazing angelic vocals by Christina Cioni, in a classy and elegant piece reminiscent of the recent Delirium album. Her beautiful singing is accompanied by superb melodic acoustic guitar leads, which continue with a classical feel in the opening of the next track. We have some of that fun Italian prog madness at the end of "La Mente" with outrageous wailing saxes doing battle with barking dogs. There is another section with a very Tullish sounding flute solo, while other parts range from the very mellow and introspective to the fiery and funky. A well rounded album which perhaps could be accused of trying to put too many ingredients in one dish, but I'm sure that some of these ideas have been percolating for years and restraint/minimalist considerations were not among the goals of the project. Thank goodness for that, as musical extroversion is usually put to great effect by RPI bands!

"Il Pittore Volante" offers great variety, superb musicianship, and gorgeous packaging/artwork. This is one of the most interesting releases of 2010 and should make some end of year lists.

Finnforest | 4/5 |


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