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Maury e i Pronomi / Aquael - (Ec)citazioni Neoclassische CD (album) cover

(EC)CITAZIONI NEOCLASSISCHE

Maury e i Pronomi / Aquael

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.40 | 10 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

seventhsojourn
Special Collaborator
RPI
4 stars '(Ec)citazioni Neoclassische' (2004) is an album that I bought a while back but didn't pay much attention to until I read torodd's recent interview with Maurizio Galia. I'm glad I decided to re-visit this album as a result because this is another of those sadly overlooked little gems, although fans of the wackier stuff might want to look elsewhere. Maury E I Pronomi originally formed in 1979 but didn't release any material until 1997; they have subsequently released three albums although this seems to be the only one that's widely available. Some of the material on the album dates back to the band's early days so the result is an interesting marriage of traditional and modern RPI.

The legacy of ancient Greece and Rome is one of many influences on progressive rock and it seems to have captured the imagination of Italian bands in particular. Many RPI bands value their rich heritage and each has its own attitude to the classics. In Maury's case they reinterpret the myths by adapting them with a modern twist. The classical symbolism is laced with humour and contemporary references (computers, internet, nightclubs) that describe the old gods walking among modern men. This review is intended to offer a modicum of help with the Italian text and thereby to hopefully increase appreciation of the music.

The first track 'Il Racconto deli Dei' (The Tale of the Gods) is actually a 7-part suite that's built around a dialogue between a young child and Hermes, the messenger of the gods to humans in Greek mythology. This is an ironic and well-constructed saga where each track segues into the next. It seems to be based on the amorality of the gods; perhaps it's an allegory for the demise of religion in Western Europe, but that's just my personal take on the story.

The first part 'Hermes e il Bambino' (Hermes and the Child) introduces the titular child who finds an old book atop a cupboard and begins leafing through its pages. As he does so, the sound of interference comes from the radio and a stranger appears. The child questions the stranger (Hermes) who reassures him that he need not worry as he has a story to tell: 'And a true story... no, you're not dreaming, this is reality... I come from heaven, I am sent by the gods, do not be afraid.' The song itself is based on a piano-led melody with some metal guitar licks weighing in every so often. The song ends with the child telling Hermes to leave but the divinity persuades him to let him stay until he tells his story.

The central part of the suite seems to be concerned with the most light-hearted part of the story. Leaving aside the two instrumental pieces we have the twin Dionysian festival of 'Affari di Famiglia' (Family Affairs) and 'Apollo, Minerva e l'Etrusco' (Apollo, Minerva and the Etruscan).

In 'Affari di Famiglia' Hermes explains to the child how his story begins two thousand years ago in ancient Greece where the great Jupiter played poker with Neptune, and Vulcan was arrested in the street for stealing gold and silver and for frequenting whores: 'Why, all over the world, are they no longer masters? They are mere fools without divinity.' The child responds: 'What kind of gods are they?' This song moves the story along at a fairly brisk tempo and the jocular lyrics are accompanied by a synthesizer quacking away good style in the background.

During 'Apollo, Minerva e l'Etrusco' Hermes continues to lambaste the gods for now hanging out at a fashionable nightclub, calling on Apollo to come down from the throne because he is 'no good' and telling Minerva to eat less because she looks like a maid with a fat belly: 'And all together dance... consume lots of beer and lambrusco, and then belch with happiness.' I can't hope to capture the humour of the original Italian lyrics but what I can tell you is that this song is based around a riff that sounds remarkably similar to King Crimson's 'Starless'.

The mood darkens with 'Le Porte dell'Averno' (The Gate to the Underworld), a song that's tinged with sadness through its wonderfully plaintive guitar riff. The messenger Hermes is also guide and escort to both men and gods, and as the 'conductor of souls' he leads the souls of the dead down to the Underworld. Hermes tells how even the gods have their own pain, one of eternal grief. When destiny calls each man, old man or child must enter a new dimension and he warns the child not to look 'At the end of the path where stands the gate to the Underworld.'

The story finishes with 'La Caduta degli Dei' (The Fall of the Gods), basically a reprise of the opening track, as Hermes tells the child he is returning to the shadows. The child pleads with him to remain but Hermes bids his final farewell: 'It's late and the Underworld waits for me, my time has come.'

'Lei e Venezia' (Her and Venice) is a love song set in Venice that contains allusions to the famous Venetian adventurer and womaniser: 'A hundred tricks of Casanova, a treasury to those who find them.' The protagonist reflects on days that he has never forgotten and wonders if one day he were to meet his old hard-hearted lover would she greet him and talk of love: 'Do you strive to remember? A memory of love always returns, but memories are never enough.' My judgement may be a little clouded by my own love for romantic Italian progressive music but for me this song bears the stamp of genius. It's a truly gorgeous piece of Baroque-tinged rock with rippling piano, choral effects, stunning guitar and synthesizer. And the novel use of African percussion during the closing section adds to the depth of the piece. Absolutely sublime.

The bluesy rocker 'Voglio Cambiare' (I Want to Change) really just offers a bit of variety although it features some frantic Hammond and a neat tempo shift. Next we have the swaggering rhythm, chopping guitar and swirling Hammond of 'Oceano' (Ocean). This track features a marvellous instrumental section where tin whistle, flute and percussion conjure up the image of a lilting ship while the guitar mimics the call of a whale. The rough seas of the music are matched by the lyrics about a stormy relationship: 'Me and you... divided by an ocean...all the lies, so many misunderstandings... and now we are fighting and neither wants to give in.'

'L'Assenza' (Absence) is concerned with the Bologna railway bombing of August 2nd 1980 that killed 85 people and injured more than 200: 'Bologna was rocked by a bomb at the station, a distant echo of despair'. This terrorist attack took place during the socio-political turmoil of the 'Anni di piombo' (Years of Lead, so-called because of the vast number of bullets fired). The song tells of one of the victims, the good times she shared with friends on the beach and how they still miss her twenty years later: 'The bad news came abruptly that evening, and when we all met, without you, the magic was gone.'

'(Ec)citazioni Neoclassische' is a fine blend of modern and seventies-style RPI with some additional elements of Neo-Progressive. My one minor criticism is that the sound isn't fantastic but that shouldn't put RPI fans off, and for fans of the melodic side of Italian progressive music this is a must have album.

seventhsojourn | 4/5 |

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