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

DARWIN!

Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

4.37 | 725 ratings

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andrea
Prog Reviewer
5 stars If I had to give someone an advice about the best starting point to explore Italian progressive rock it would be 'Darwin!'! It is one of the best known concept albums of the Italian progressive scene of the early seventies. It wasn't conceived as a scientific treatise but as a poetical parable to explain our evolution as men, the upright man is a metaphor for dignity, for the overcoming of stupidity... The album was released in 1972, a few months after the excellent eponymous debut one with a line up featuring Vittorio Nocenzi (organ, harpsichord, synthesizer), Gianni Nocenzi (piano), Marcello Todaro (electric and acoustic guitar), Renato D'Angelo (bass, contrabass), Pier Luigi Calderoni (drums, cymbals) and Francesco Di Giacomo (vocals). On account of the recording techniques of that period the sound quality wasn't flawless and almost thirty years after, in 1991, the band felt the need to re-record both their first two albums with up to date technologies and slightly different arrangements. The result was impeccable but I have to say that I still prefer the freshness and emotional intensity of the original album.

The opener 'L'evoluzione' (The evolution) is a long and complex track that sets the right atmosphere. It begins softly, the music is evocative and dreamy while soaring vocals seem to invite you to close your eyes and to try, try hard to think to the genesis of the universe in a different way... No great Gods but just cellules, fibres, heat and energy blended together to give birth to the Creation. Mother Earth is spinning inside a cloud, she wants a baby and she's going to have him, son of Earth and Electricity! 'Grey layers of lava and coral / Wet and colourless skies / Here the World is breathing...'. Then rhythm goes up while primordial life blossoms in an unexpected way... 'The sea vomits shapeless creatures pushed out in clots on putrid shores / The land hosts the muddy herds that pass crawling on their likes / And the time will change the flabby bodies into forms that are able to survive...'. The music flows away like lava from a volcano, there's room for drum solos and organ rides while 'free sounds stir acoustic spirals of virgin air...'. When rhythm calms down it's time for reflection and for a new awareness. Observing an ancient skull you realize that Adam can't exist and that just seven days are not enough to create. Adam is dead by now and with him the genesis as told in the Bible... The new awareness leads to a delicate classical inspired piano and organ passage and to the poetical image of a new light... 'High, a halcyon squeaks making arabesques over the gorses and the sea / Now the sun knows whom to warm...'.

'La conquista della posizione eretta' (The conquest of the upright position) is another long track featuring many changes of rhythm and atmosphere. It begins with a wild ride on a frenzy rhythm... Try to imagine a wild ape-like man running among rocks and rushes following the smells of other beasts, the footsteps of his preys, roaring and screaming. Then suddenly music calms down. The apeman realizes that he can see nothing but his path and in him rises the wish to see more and far beyond the trees. He tries to stand up... 'I try and fall and then I try again / I can stand upright just for a while / The scream resounds all along the vault / It goes up to the volcanoes and then I stand watching / My eyes drink flights and jumps, my forests and my likes... Now I can look straight, far over there where the air touches the sea...'.

'Danza dei grandi rettili' (Dance of the big reptiles) is a wonderful instrumental where classical influences are perfectly blended with jazzier passages. Bass lines underline the slow and heavy paces of dinosaurs walking on earth, surrounded by a wild nature. Well, after Steven Spielberg's film 'Jurassic Park' it shouldn't be so difficult to get a picture of what music is about!

'Cento mani e cento occhi' (A hundred hands and a hundred eyes) is about the need to socialize and join forces to fight for a common goal. It starts in a frenzy way while lyrics depict some hunters running after their preys. A solitary ape-like man observes the hunters wondering whether he should to get closer or to run away. Suddenly rhythm calms down and after a new rise of tension the solitary ape-like man get in touch with the hunters. One of them gives him his pray and he's surprised... 'On your spear you offer me some meat that I didn't obtain with my strength / What kind of action is this!'. For him this behaviour doesn't fit a strong being but the hunter backed by his companions answers: 'Our strength is in a hundred hands / And a hundred eyes watch out for us / You are alone! / If you want you can go now, or stay here and join us...'. Here Francesco Di Giacomo's vocals contrast with Vittorio Nocenzi's then backed by a powerful choir. The contrast underlines the clash between the instinct of freedom and the need of socialization. 'From a herd to a moving tribe, from a village to a city / People breathing at the same rhythm / Men closed inside boxes of stone where you can't hear the wind...'. Well, even if the need of socialization prevails the instinct to run away looking for freedom will remain...

'750.000 anni fa... l'amore?' (750,000 years ago... love?) is an amazing piano driven ballad about the discovery of feelings. Love is far more than instinct to breed, it can stir powerful emotions. Lyrics describe a shy ape-like man observing a beautiful woman with her tribe. Emotions and desires rise... 'I hold my breath / If you see me you will run away... If you really were mine / I would dress your breast in water drops / Then under your feet I would spread veils of wind and leaves / Bright body with large flanks / I'd take you in the green fields and I would dance / I would dance with you under the moon...'. But the ape-like man can't move and can't speak, he's aware of his ugly look and fears that the woman could refuse him running away...

'Miserere alla storia' (Miserere to the History) is a complex track featuring a mysterious atmosphere and an Oriental flavour leading you to the roots of history, to Babel and to ancient Egypt... 'Glory to Babel, let the sphinx keep on laughing for millennia / Let's build in the sky up to Syrius / Let horses frothing on the Milky Way...'. Recitative vocals seem to draw a mocking and disquieting prophecy about the destiny of Man... 'How long will live your intellect, if behind you the human race is disappearing?'.

Last track 'Ed ora io domando tempo al tempo ed egli mi risponde... non ne ho!' (And now I ask time to the Time and he answers me... I haven't got it!) is about time passing by. Men are like puppets hanging on the eternal and heavy wheel of time that keeps on spinning... You can hear the wheel creaking and squeaking, munching lives and smashing bones, breaking wills and desires, slow and inexorable like an old and gloomy Waltz... 'Oh, gigantic wheel why do you make me think / If later in your spinning you will restrain my mind... It goes, it keeps on going / The wheel never miss a beat and goes on and on...'.

Well, a great album...

andrea | 5/5 |

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