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Leo Nero - Vero CD (album) cover


Leo Nero


Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.80 | 22 ratings

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Rock Progressivo Italiano!
4 stars The heir of "Ys"?

"Vero" is the first and best work of Gianni Leone, keyboardist for Il Balletto di Bronzo. "Vero" was composed in 1974, about a year after the breakup of Balletto. Leone plays all the instruments on the album, recording it for the most part in 1975 in New York City. The album was finally released in 1977. Never reaching the dizzying, swirling heights of Il Balletto di Bronzo's masterpiece "Ys," yet "Vero" offers some wonderful songs and moments.

"Vero" is a concept album, related to Leone's state of mind following the breakup of Il Balletto di Bronzo in 1973. After "Ys" was released in 1972 to much professional satisfaction and critical acclaim, the band decided to indulge in the fruits of their success. They moved into a communal house in Rimini, where they lived a reckless, Bohemian lifestyle. In (roughly--my Italian isn't great) Leone's words, "There were no rules. . . . There were all manner of people coming and going, doing anything and everything. . . . But it must be said that in doing so we were committing suicide. . . . The excesses began to sow seeds of discord between us in every respect. . . . We had no interest in anything that was remotely bureaucratic or organized. We were in great peril. It was a true debacle. 'Ys' was an escape, and we continued playing it always--and playing only these songs. We slowly lost our inspiration. We lost desire to try anything new together. . . . We had to give up. I remember looking back at that house in Rimini was like watching an ancient civilization unravel."

After living in a place where he was literally never alone, Leone suddenly found himself quite alone, abandoned, surveying the remains of his shattered dreams. This trial proved to be an impetus for that lost inspiration, as the major themes of "Vero" revolve around isolation, loneliness, and dealing with these feelings. The entire album is suffused with a deep melancholy, far more quiet and melodic than anything Il Balletto ever did.

The first side of the album consists of a more singer-songwriter style, with emotive ballads and beautiful melodies typically based on vocals and piano, with other instruments gradually joining. The pieces can certainly be considered as multiple parts of a single work, not only lyrically, but also several musical themes are repeated between the songs. It is here that Leone bares his sensitive soul for us. For example, from "Tu te ricorderai de mi" (You'll remember me): "I don't dream any more but I'm still here / My strength at last is gone / I don't laugh anymore." But the best song on the first side is "La bambola rotta" (the broken doll), which is a tragic instrumental with layers upon layers of mood and sound.

The second side is less reflective and more energetic, sounding the echoes of "Ys." These songs are much more progressive in the traditional sense, with keyboard pyrotechnics and complex time signatures. There are several classics here that are played in the Balletto live shows even now: "Tastieri isteriche," "Il castello," "La discesa nel cervello," and "Una gabbia per me." The most "Ys-like" is "La discesa nel cervello" (descent into the mind)--this even contains an excerpt of "Secondo incontro" from "Ys," although the tape is played backwards. Wonderful songs and moments abound.

"Vero" seems to serve as a type of catharsis for Gianni Leone, exorcising the demons of his frustrated hopes and dreams that died with the dissolution of Il Balletto di Bronzo. Somehow through the haze and disappointment, he finds the will and even desire to continue on and make more wonderful music. This is a wonderful discovery, especially for RPI fans. And an absolute must for fans of Il Balletto di Bronzo. Four stars.

Todd | 4/5 |


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