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Luciano Cilio - Dialoghi del presente CD (album) cover


Luciano Cilio


Rock Progressivo Italiano

4.47 | 23 ratings

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4 stars Every once in a while, you hear something so different and powerful it forces you to completely re-evaluate popular music; that's how I felt when I first heard Luciano Cilio. His lone album Dialoghi del Presente (later issued as Dell'Universo Assente) is far from Progressive Rock, as the usual trappings of drums, synthesizers and even lyrics are totally absent. Instead, experimental 20th century classical is probably the more appropriate arena; although having collaborated with Alan Sorrenti and others from the Napoli art scene, Cilio had loose ties to Rock Progressivo Italiano in that sense. If you enjoy Pierrot Lunaire (especially Gudrun), you will find a lot to like here. Dell'Universo Assente will also appeal to those with an adventurous spirit, but I cannot recommend it to the faint of heart: The weight of the composition is tremendous, and it creates a nearly overwhelming sense of dread and despair. Luciano Cilio produced a very intense, and very personal, statement in 1977; luckily one that was committed to tape just in time it seems, as the artist would end his life some five years later. Cilio's suicide casts a heavy shadow on Dell'Universo Assente, even more so as its first CD release in 2004 would allow time and distance to create an uncomfortable legacy.

The best movement of the five-part suite is the first - "Primo Quadro Della Conscenza" is a jaw-dropping piece featuring the immaculate classical guitar style of Cilio, with minimal piano accompaniment and operatic female moaning. As the strings enter at the two-minute mark, the song takes a decidedly nasty and discordant turn. This is only temporary, and once the vocals end, a delicate piano and guitar interchange blissfully sees the movement to its end. "Primo Quadro Della Conscenza" is by far the most focused and powerful of the four main tracks, and is matched only by "Interludio" in terms of polish. While the middle three pieces do have their moments, each part tends to concentrate on one or two instruments and no more, and this minimalism inhibits what could have been a brilliant ensemble. That being said, Dell'Universo Assente is an extremely solitary affair, and to tamper with or reconstruct its beauty is self-defeating. "Interludio" is a perfect example of this sparse modus operandi; nylon-stringed guitar is assisted by only oboe and cello, and the timbre of each instrument respectively accentuates one another, rather than competing with each other.

Dell'Universo Assente is not the kind of music you can listen to every day, but it is definitely something all progressive music fans should hear at least once. The opportunity to do so may be running out, however: After the initial CD issue on Die Schachtel in 2004, the album was only reprinted once a few years ago, and limited to 500 copies. Luckily, according to a SoundOhm press release, Dell'Universo Assente is getting the deluxe 2LP treatment soon, and hopefully will reach a new generation of fans. This is not a perfect album, and really not an RPI album, but is highly recommended nonetheless.

coasterzombie | 4/5 |


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