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Il Rovescio Della Medaglia - Contaminazione CD (album) cover


Il Rovescio Della Medaglia


Rock Progressivo Italiano

4.18 | 288 ratings

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4 stars A criticism I have of some Progressive Rock albums that include a classical orchestra is that parts of the music sound like a movie score or a pop orchestration, often due to rather saccharine swathes of strings or simply the composition itself. This is one of my criticisms of the concerti grossi by the NEW TROLLS. I'm glad to say that I have no such problem with "Contaminazione", the 1973 album from IL ROVESCIO DELLA MEDAGLIA, which is based around some of the preludes and fugues in Bach's The Well-Tempered Clavier. Although it's not entirely devoid of saccharine strings, the vast majority of the strings on this album do sound like a classical orchestra rather than a studio orchestra playing Breakfast At Tiffany's, if you catch my drift.

Overall I hear a more sophisticated and adventurous fusion of classical music with rock here than on the two NEW TROLLS albums. Funny in a way, because Argentinean composer of movie scores Luis Enriquez Bacalov was involved on all three albums.

"Contaminazione" sounds more experimental and, to me, more convincing and exciting than the two NEW TROLLS albums. The keyboards occasionally remind me of Keith Emerson. Actually, the line-up of keyboards is quite impressive: Hammond, synthesizers, piano, harpsichord and pipe organ. And Franco Di Sabbatino, the new member of the group on this album, could certainly play them. Mind you, there is also plenty of pleasing guitar and bass on this album, not to mention the drums and orchestral accompaniment.

All thirteen pieces are very short but all segue together, so it is rather misleading to talk of them as tracks. There are some pure classical parts to these 'tracks', some pure Progressive Rock parts, and some experimental parts (unusual sounds, or unusual use of instruments). These are all good and work well together. There are vocals on some of these pieces, but even then not over the entire piece. The lyrics and LP cover tell the fictitious story of a Scottish musician who became obsessed with Bach and his music to the extent of believing he was Bach's son, and went mad.

I find it easy to rate this album: a very solid 4 stars (Excellent addition to any progressive music collection). Actually, if half stars were available I'd raise that to 4.5 stars. There is plenty in here to satisfy fans of symphonic Progressive Rock, fans of Italian Progressive Rock, and also fans that like something a little more unusual. It's a Progressive Rock goody bag: lots to discover and enjoy. Highly recommended.

Although the whole album is, in effect, one long piece of music, I give below a brief rundown of the tracks as they are titled. But I reiterate that they all segue together (which, in itself, results in a pleasing listen).

'Absent For This Consumed World' starts with ethereal, far-off-sounding Eminent (I think) and vocalisations sounding like the Doppler effect on a passing car, followed by a drum roll.

'Ora Non Ricordo Piu' has a calm, tinkling, echoing keyboard backing to singing and harmonies. Some very brittle-sounding synthesiser weaves itself around the track.

'Il Suono Del Silenzio' contains some experimental keyboard and guitar sounds in places. I'm almost reminded of very early PINK FLOYD. There follows some really groovy Hammond with pumping bass and drums, reminding a little of ELP, with the belting out of a repeating lyrical theme. There are all sorts of interesting interruptions: synthesizer, piano, harpsichord, violin and funky bass.

'Mi Sono Svegliato E. Ho Chiuso Gli Occhi' is a calm song over Bach strings and organ. Timpani, cymbals, choir and some serious violins and cello give it gravitas. There's a brief solo of heavy electric guitar, and slow Hammond and singing finish off the track. A melancholic, but effective number.

'Lei Sei Tu: Lei' is a song with a rapid, stabbing repetitive rock theme over harpsichord, but has a very classical-sounding interlude.

'La Mia Musica' starts with a slightly classical barroom piano. Then organ and calm, almost religious-sounding singing come in, followed by ecclesiastical-sounding Hammond and classical strings. This pleasant song is the one part of the album that does remind me slightly of the saccharine string orchestrations I mentioned earlier, and is the most mainstream-sounding track on the album to me, although it has the feel of a chorale and is relaxing.

'Johann' has some echoing and very pleasing quiet guitar accompanied only by singing.

'Scotland Machine' starts with synthesizer sounding, as the title might suggest, rather Scottish. Harpsichord, guitar and other instruments then come in to rock it up. It changes mood again and a very distorted synthesizer theme comes in that initially sounds odd but somehow fits perfectly. The music jumps all over the place and this is one of the more experimental tracks.

'Cella 503' starts with just lovely classical acoustic guitar. Then harpsichord, strings, horns, synthesizer and flute join in but still primarily in a classical style. Heavy guitar, bass and Hammond then kick in briefly, followed by some deep ecclesiastical-sounding pipe organ that is the business.

'Contaminazione 1760' is a one-minute snippet of just flute music, primarily mimicking birdsong: vibrato, trilling, cuckooing. Nice.

The Hammond and initial staccato, distorted guitar and flute on 'Alzo Un Muro Elettrico' is very good. There is a calm, odd intermission with gorgeous piano and a jazzy, Bossa Nova-like snippet with flute, then the piece reverts to the initial theme. I have to say I really like this short piece.

The title of 'Sweet Suite' already amuses me. The calm, echoing keyboards and electric guitar please me even more, and then it rocks up with some vocals.

The instrumental 'La Grande Fuga' is a rollicking, funky end to the album. It's a mix of: violins; a fast, killer synthesizer; Hammond organ; pipe organ, harpsichord; bass and drums. The track pumps along and is a real foot-tapper. Absolutely perfect classical-rock fusion.

Fitzcarraldo | 4/5 |


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