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


Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso


Rock Progressivo Italiano

4.37 | 1140 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars There are many bands and artists on ProgArchives painted with prog sensibilities. Proggish pop, experimental, retro, whatever. I have room in my heart for all of them, whatever their percentage progness might be. But if you want a single record to represent the true, vital heart of prog rock, BANCO DEL MUTUO SOCCORSO's 'Darwin!' is the prime candidate.

It was while listening to this record that I was finally able to dismiss my prejudice against RPI. This is not some copy of the English progressive scene of the early 70s. In fact this is a perfect amalgam of rock and its antecedents with the grand tradition of operatic Italian music to create a sound never rivalled in the English scene. Dramatic, challenging, uplifting, certainly not easy listening, humorous and insightful, 'Darwin!' has everything a prog rock record should have.

If one can forgive the primitive-sounding synths, and the less-than-ideal vocal mix, the opener 'L'evoluzione' is as emphatic a statement as one could wish for. Apart from the rather buzzy synths the keyboards are superb, not just played but performed on, the musicians exploiting their full dynamic range. Francesco DiGiacomo's vocals are magnificent - a little too operatic for my taste, but this 5-star review is not about my taste but about the quality of the music. My recording finds the vocals sitting a little too far forward in the mix, making DiGiacomo sound emasculated compared to the fullness of their debut album - but this may be an artefact of digital conversion. My goodness he can sing! The vocals at the end of 'La Conquista Della Posizione Eretta' send chills up and down my spine: we are truly blessed that such a fine vocalist should have been a part of prog rock. And I do not have words to adequately encompass the vocals in '750,000 Anni Fa ... L'Amore.' Perhaps the premier vocal performance in all of progressive rock. Sorry for focusing on the singing but that's what I used to do, and I know just how good this man is. Rock music usually demands raw power rather than such a superb tone, but DiGiacomo makes the absolute purity of his voice into the essence of the band's sound.

The praise for vocalist and keyboard players is not to belittle the guitarists and rhythm section, who are a highlight on their own, the drummer laying down some outstanding patterns upon which the others build. I'd have liked the bassist a little higher in the mix, but alas, that's often true in recordings from the 70s (Squire aside). Refreshingly there's not a single testosterone-filled guitar moment, distinguishing it from most of its less thoughtful contemporaries. I suppose one could concede the fact that Side Two is not quite as heavyweight as Side One - but what could be? A selection of ballads and rockers, interpreted in the band's unique style, each track a superior example of its kind.

'Darwin!' defines the meaning of 'essential', a majestic recording that to me is the pinnacle of this genre.

russellk | 5/5 |


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