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


Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso


Rock Progressivo Italiano

4.31 | 952 ratings

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Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
5 stars As I've immersed myself in the RPI progressive genre over the years, I've snapped up several of the landmark albums that have a high status among the Italian progressive ranks, as well as actively seeking out the more obscure and unappreciated lost gems. Then once in a while I catch up on a well known and defining Italian prog album that makes such an impression on me I wonder how I've avoided it for so long and regret not having had it all this time! Case in point - Banco's self titled album 1972 album that, for a 41 minute album, crams in so many wildly original and inventive musical ideas that this one album leaves more of an impression than some bands do in their entire discographies.

`Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso' is a daringly original blend of acoustic and electric playing full of sinister snaps, delicate reflective movements and trademark Italian prog sophistication. A mix of dark classical, jazz, progressive rock, operatic bombast and even psychedelic touches. It jumps back and forth between frantic aggressive playing and restrained subtlety over and over, with long inventive instrumental sections that race in endless directions. The unpredictable nature of the album is one of it's most exciting characteristics.

The uptempo `R.I.P' has some maddening repetitive dizzying bass, aggressive jazzy guitar licks backed up with piano attacks and a truly bent, slightly off organ solo that is quite sickening and totally addictive! The emotive and passionate near-operatic vocals of Francesco DiGiacomo fall between mournful and hostile throughout this piece. `Passigio' is a brief eerie harpsichord lullaby with sighing vocals.

`Metamorfosi' is a mostly instrumental hurricane of forceful piano, dominating drumming, loopy keyboard solos and wild swirling tuneless guitar string-scrapping like early 70's Pink Floyd. Organ bounces back and forth between booming gothic menace and twinkling mystery. Some of the bass sections have a very interesting murky recording quality, while the electric solos and themes have an uplifting and powerful sound.

The 4 part 18 minute epic `Il Giardino...' moves constantly between down-tempo and upbeat passages, and is quite schizophrenic in nature! It opens with lovely menacing organ and piano, nasty guitar riffs with rattling drums marching around sighed group harmonies. It creates quite a dizzying nightmare atmosphere. Francesco's vocals leap from weary, then forceful to downright manic as the music becomes panicked with blinding fast violent keyboard runs and rapid-fire drumming. The middle section is a psychedelic wash of early 70's David Gilmour fragile shimmering guitar emotion, gentle piano and calling clarinet with a pleading vocal and stunning plucked acoustic guitar playing. The piece wraps on a tornado of crazy instrumental explosions, full of dirty slow hard-rock riffs, drifting sax, cracking drum-work and loopy organ runs racing to the finish line.

Although the album has many frequent angry and noisy sections, it's the haunting and dark classical somber piano moments that leave a real and lasting impression. Listen to the spectral creeping tip-toeing piano footsteps after the intro of `Metamorfosi', or the middle section of `Il Giardino...' for some beautifully delicate playing.

The album also has an odd sense of humour in little moments throughout, like the brief finale `Traccia' containing quirky vocals and a hazy hallucinogenic mood, which ends the album on a slightly uneasy note. I love the varied production which gives some patches of the album an effectively dramatic suffocating sound that is quite maddening! It's probably accidental, but it gives the album an occasional rough charm all the same.

`Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso' is exactly the sort of album that comes out of nowhere and really kicks you up the backside, reminding you of the time you first heard one of your favourite and most beloved Progressive classics. When you discover a stunning piece of progressive work like this, it reaffirms just how exciting and imaginative the genre is. An essential album.

Five stars.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 5/5 |


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