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Pholas Dactylus - Concerto Delle Menti CD (album) cover

CONCERTO DELLE MENTI

Pholas Dactylus

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.76 | 43 ratings

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zravkapt
Special Collaborator
Post/Math Rock Team
4 stars Pholas Dactylus were one of those Italian bands in the 1970s who only released one album, and like a lot of those bands it would have been nice to have heard a follow-up. This album is one long track split in two. The first part is 29 minutes(!) and the whole album is much longer than your average Italian release from the decade. Generally speaking, there is almost no actual singing but vocalist Paolo Carelli does narration. This doesn't bother me since it's not in English; in general I don't like narration and it has dated all those otherwise influential Moody Blues albums from the 1960s, for example. There are two keyboardists in the band like Banco, but unlike Banco the music is more siimilar to the Il Balleto di Bronzo album YS (minus the crazy singing).

This is generally darker and more avant-garde than most 70s Italian prog. I can hear influences from both Gentle Giant and Van Der Graaf Generator here. But this is still a very Italian sounding album. Soundwise this is one of those rough around the edges recordings that you would find in a lot of German and Italian rock music from this period. Like some albums from this era this actually adds to the music and helps create its atmosphere. This concert of the mind begins with just narration for a minute before tympani (?) appears. This first part is actually the most boring and least interesting part of the album; I can understand how some might be turned off this album the first time they heard it.

It then proceeds to go into what could be called 'prog folk' then into some kind of jazzy Gentle Giant vibe. Some nice guitar arpeggios lead to more narration with piano and cymbals. Up next is some 'heavy prog' with more narration. Some odd and weird guitar playing for awhile before the band goes into ELP territory. Later more jazzy GG style. This part is very hypnotic and grows atmospheric and symphonic for a bit. Then some 'heavy prog' with vocals (not narration but not singing either). Nice playing during this section. Gets dissonant with random playing before the guitar reprises an earlier melody and the rest of the band goes into some of VDGG/GG hybrid thing.

Some more avant and dissonant sounds follow. I like how the guitar sort of sounds like a rooster at one point. Funny. This weirdo avant section continues until some lovely organ removes the clouds. Then some guitar and more narration. The rest of the band eventually joins in and it switches to a very folky Italian style. Then hard rocking guitars. Later turns into Genesis style symph prog. Some VDGG style organ and a phased drum fill to finish the first part. The second part is shorter but I think it's the stronger and more consistent of the two. It opens in a Nice/ELP fashion: fast-paced and bombastic classical rock. The music stops and a VDGG style riff briefly. Goes into more VDGG style with narration. Guitar soloing during this section; I have to admit I'm not a big fan of the guitar players tone on this album in general.

Afterwards some great piano soloing. Later gets 'heavy prog' sounding with narration. The music stops and you hear what sounds like a busy restaurant (or ristorante if you will). Then the band goes all GG on us, except there is harmony chanting in Italian. Later more narration. Some ELP style hard prog with yelling/quasi-singing. After 13 minutes into this part it gets very dissonant and avant with some rockin' guitar soloing. Mellows out with some nice piano playing and eventually leads to my favourite part of the album: the a cappella section.

This begins with the melody being played on bass with great organ backing. The melody is then divided between multi-tracked vocals (think a more primitive version of what Freddie Mercury does on "Prophet's Song"). More narration during this part. Ends with some great 'heavy prog' featuring aggressive narrating, almost yelling. The last word uttered gets echoed/delayed. What a trip this album is although it takes a few listens for it to sink in. Recommended to fans of the more adventurous side of RPI. 4 stars.

zravkapt | 4/5 |

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