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ODISSEA

Odissea

Rock Progressivo Italiano


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Andrea Cortese
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Honorary Collaborator
3 stars An interesting band and an interesting album, both disappeared behind the walls of the past glories. So Odissea is another of the many one-shot bands that enriched the golden years of the italian prog scene.

Their music was not the most complicated around then but certainly had elements of peculiarity and uniqueness that should have guarantee a more wider recognition. Unfortunately this wasn't enough to permit the release of a follow up. So, another excellent source of prog, suddenly, dried up.

The songs' patterns never tend to leave the "commercial" mood. This is the main feature, I think. The amazing mix between the folk-(light)-symphonic prog and the rough, deep and romantic vocals create an unique experience, somehow in a similar vein to the contemporary band Jumbo, even if without the vocal (and lyrical) excesses of mr. Alvaro Fella. In fact, generally, Odissea are more mellow and delicate in each of the eight compositions, thanks to a remarkable use of mellotron, piano and organ and the inspiring interplay of the electric guitar! Just listen to the excellent "Unione" (6,06 mns) or to "Crisalide" (4,45 mns) or to the mellotron's explosions in "Voci" (4,04 mns) or to the fast and furious drumming closer "Conti e Numeri" (4,33 mns).

Other tunes are more "conventional" but still recommendable to any lover of Rock Progressivo Italiano.

All in all, a moderately recommendable album. I like it very much.

3.50, at least.

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Send comments to Andrea Cortese (BETA) | Report this review (#112742)
Posted Monday, February 19, 2007 | Review Permalink
Finnforest
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4 stars A gorgeous album!

How is it possible this band is so overlooked at a site full of RPI fans? This is a wonderful classic period RPI release which belongs in the collection of every RPI fan. Odissea from Biella are one of the many "one-shot" RPI bands who made up the amazingly deep bench of the early 70s Italian scene. There is very little biographical information out there but we do know the band played at the third Naples Festival, had a solid live activity, and even opened for Genesis and Banco. This makes sense as the band would seem to be influenced by those bands and also early Yes. There is also the wonderful Italian essence running through the album and I am reminded of other RPI on the softer side of things, of certain works by Battiato, Blocco Mentale, Franco Giannini, Mario Panseri, and Stefano Testa. Only occasionally are any of these comparisons relevant as Odissea has crafted their own sound, with themes both sad and uplifting, sometimes dramatic and often sentimental.

Unlike many RPI bands who favored a heavily keyboard-dominated sound, Odissea places the guitar work of Luigi Ferrari on at least equal billing. Ferrari sounds like a fan of Yes Album-era Steve Howe and supplies the album with almost equal amounts of excellent acoustic and electric guitar. Meanwhile Ennio Cinguino bathes the album in generous amounts of piano, organ, and mellotron. He shades the work from soft and atmospheric with the tron to occasional Banks-like moments not unlike the Foxtrot era sound. The lead vocal is handled with great vitality by Roberto Zola, whose raspy throat is often compared to Jumbo's Alvaro Fella. Vocally it is a fair comparison although the music is Odissea is not as wild as Jumbo. The rhythm section is also decent with the occasionally jazzy sections finding a driving bass reminiscent of Chris Squire.

I suppose most of the tracks could be called light symphonic with brief bits of folk or fusion incorporated, the songwriting always interesting and melodic. The playing is intelligent and often very beautiful without being overblown. There are many musical highlights but my favorite was the joyous "Domanda." It is not often I find myself compelled to type lyrics into Google Translator to find out what a song is about, but I had to do it here. The reason, a small child named Simona. The song is a dreamy blur of beautiful slide guitar over which Simona and Zola have a priceless exchange. While the translation I got was no doubt a clumsy one, as they always are, I was able to deduce that the child is asking Zola those universal questions little kids often ask, about God, the universe, where we come from. A song like this could be a disaster but here it works so very well. Charming and memorable, it's another of those RPI tracks where the voices of children are put to good use.

For many prog fans this might well be a 3-star "good" album but I have to give this one 4. I disagree with some of the opinions of this album, Scented Gardens in particular is brutal to Odissea. While it is not the most daring or brash of RPI albums, it is warm and lovely music that most RPI fans would really enjoy.

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Send comments to Finnforest (BETA) | Report this review (#412554)
Posted Monday, March 07, 2011 | Review Permalink
apps79
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Neo Prog Team
3 stars A group from Biella in the northern Piemonte part, Odissea emerged in 1972 from the band Pow Pow,when the quartet of Ennio Cinguino (keyboards), Alfredo Garone (bass), Paolo Cerlati (drums) and Roberto Zola (vocals, guitar) was joined by a second guitarist, Luigi Ferrari.They were quite popular at the time, even supporting Genesis and touring along with Banco del Mutuo Soccorso and Rocky's Filj.Their sole self-titled work was released in 1973 on Ri-Fi.

Though comparisons are easy to be found, Odissea's sound was quite personal, like if a Psychedelic/Folk Rock group was joined by two GENESIS-inspired buddies on keyboards and guitars.Almost every track fits with this decsription, offering an alternation between acoustic textures with raw Italian vocals and a good amount of instrumental sections with keyboards in evidence.The folkier parts are characterized by dominant acoustic passages and the hoarse voice of Zola, close to the style of JUMBO, while they give their place to decent instrumental sections led by the great keyboard parts of Cinguino in a TONY BANKS vein, based on his work on organ and moog synthesizer (and less on his piano) and delivering plenty of Classical-inspired themes.The electric guitars have often a distinct HAKETT-ish vibe as well.The result is some pretty good combination of folky themes with Symphonic Rock soundscapes, that mostly work very well.

Shortly after Zola left the band with the rest of the crew supporting singer Michele.Two new members Elio Vergnaghi (vocals) and Aldo Ambrosi (guitar) joined the band in 1976 and the new formation even performed live in Switzerland, before Cerlati quit and the remaining members returned back to supporting Michele for some more years.

Among the very strong releases of the classic period of Italian Prog, featuring a couple of unrelated styles already previously played by other Italian bands like JUMBO, PFM or BANCO DEL MUTUO SOCCORSO, but blended in a unique and original way, and a great addition to any prog collection.The album has seen some re-issues both in LP and CD format and thus it is quite easy to be discovered...3.5 stars.

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Send comments to apps79 (BETA) | Report this review (#606195)
Posted Monday, January 09, 2012 | Review Permalink

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