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Il Balletto Di Bronzo - Ys CD (album) cover


Il Balletto Di Bronzo

Rock Progressivo Italiano

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2 stars Very complex, yes, but for me is an overrated album. Too much noisy for my taste. It's always hard to me when I try to make a review about "Ys", because -positively- isn't my cup of tea. It's a heavy and crazy album with harsh vocals, much more than others in the '70s Italian hard prog scene. I just like some excellent keyboard's sounds and the musicians' quality, but nothing else.
Report this review (#1255)
Posted Saturday, December 20, 2003 | Review Permalink
Founding Moderator
3 stars After a great deal of angst, I am adding one star to this album. And though I do so somewhat reluctantly, I do so in good conscience, for two specific reasons: its very early entry into the prog "catalogue," and the sheer amount of creativity being attempted (if not always successfully). Re "early entry," it is important to keep in mind that an album is actually written about a year before it appears. Thus, the 1972 appearance of this album (contemporaneous with Foxtrot, Three Friends, Fragile, Thick as a Brick and Trilogy, among others) means it was actually written prior to those albums - i.e., around the same time as Trespass, Acquiring the Taste, The Yes Album, Atom Heart Mother and ELP. Given this - and although the band "wears its influences on its sleeve" much of the time (i.e., it does not always successfully filter those influences into something new or compelling) - there is no question that the band is reaching for something, and very nearly achieves it. [N.B. Those influences primarily include ELP, Gentle Giant and a little bit of Yes. Given this, one could take the position that the very fact that it was those three groups that influenced IBDB is a positive sign - and I would agree.] / "Bronze Ballet" is the name of the group, but it might just as well serve as the title of this album, since the compositional quality is mildly theatrical, in the sense of a ballet or musical. The Introduzione, like the prelude of a theatrical musical, is lengthy, and states a number of "themes" which are then exposited more "fully" (at least, that seems to have been the intention...) in the three "incontros" (songs). The "Epilogo" (ending) then ties things together. I was particularly impressed with the musicianship, which is remarkable for that time. I also liked the vocals, which is not always the case with Italian (or other non-english European) prog. / As noted, the album as a whole has a lot of good ideas, but, also as noted, too few are expressed as well as they might be. The album would also have benefitted from more "incontros," since it seems somewhat "sparse" with only three - especially given that one of them does little but repeat part of the Introduzione. Still, as noted, they are clearly trying very hard, and the album is extremely listenable. Thus, although I cannot in good conscience give the album four stars, the band deserves an additional "E" for effort.
Report this review (#1250)
Posted Tuesday, February 10, 2004 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
2 stars I must say I don't understand what the big deal about this album. The singer has a strange and unmelodious voice and the music fails to captivate me. The fact that this is some sort of concept album from the lost city of Ys does not make it anymore interesting to me especially if told by non-celtic people.
Report this review (#1254)
Posted Wednesday, February 11, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is a mellotron lovers garden of eden! Lots of great keyboard work here and some incredible musicanship. Like so many great Italian recordings, "YS" demands the listeners full attention throughout. Although this recording has a true '70's reproduced feel to it, it remains very enjoyable with its underground sound. The guitar work is superb and what really stands out is the use of vocals and harmonies throughout. Lyrics are in Italian and are excellent.
Report this review (#1257)
Posted Saturday, March 13, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars one of my favorite italian prog albums ! great musicianship, very good ideas and a vintage production that doesn't ruin the whole thing ! yes, Il Balletto di Bronzo's Ys should be in every prog lovers collection !
Report this review (#1242)
Posted Saturday, March 20, 2004 | Review Permalink
Steve Hegede
4 stars Progressive rock's most controversial album. Many claim that YS is the "masterpiece of all masterpieces", while others claim that it is just an average album not worthy of all the hype. In my opinion, "Ys" is a great album(not a masterpiece, but certainly one of the best from the Italian prog scene). My main problem with the album, though, is that some of the sections drag on for too long, especially the last 7 minutes. The intensity of the music sort of makes-up for the repetition, but you really have to be in the mood for it. For example, the bassist tends to repeat a bass pattern, while the keyboardist adds tons of keyboards(sometimes all counterpoint), and the guitarist wails all over the madness. The keyboardist is indeed awesome. His style mixes Keith Emerson's style with dark, and haunting, baroque influences. When the singer starts to sing, I'm reminded of some of the average heavy metal singers from the 80's. He isn't that bad, but it does take a while to get familiar with his style. You should definitely check out YS if you're into Italian progressive rock, but don't expect a masterpiece because you might be disappointed.
Report this review (#1249)
Posted Sunday, March 21, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Well Gianni Leone is an histrionic keyboardist, one of the most famous and skillful musicians within the Italian Progressive scene of the seventies. It's a mix between ELP and GOBLIN, with a dark touch of their own and some bombastic solos at his customized organ as well. The importance of this issue is enormous and for this reason probably it's righter score for its importance alone, is worth "5 stars" (even though actually this opinion has taken shape recently after listening to a re-mastered version; otherwise the original version has been rated like a "3 stars" work within ""). Nevertheless the repetitive dark atmosphere and the lack of a true "team work" let me be a bit perplex!! This is the output of the efforts by Gianni Leone alone, because the other musicians don't participate at his music project!

Recommended, even though you find some defects!!

Report this review (#1251)
Posted Thursday, April 1, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars I can see why this album appeals to many Italian prog fans out there. This has got to be some of the most insanely intense prog I have ever heard. It seems that the music just doesn't let up, or so it seems. The keyboard work just blows me away (lots of organ and piano, some Mellotron and Moog, a little spinet), and the guitarist spends a lot of his time catching up with the keyboardist. I hadn't heard "Sirio 2222", but it doesn't seem very regarded in prog circles the way "YS" does. Hearing me give such high praise to this album, you'd wonder why I give it less than five stars.

Here's the reason for that: the last part of the album starts sounding a bit tedious to my ears, as if the band ran out of steam after the last few minutes. But I still highly recommend this, but don't get this if you're expecting another soft, gentle Romantic prog album in the vein of PFM or CELESTE. If you like MUSEO ROSENBACH, BIGLIETTO PER L'INFERNO, SEMIRAMIS, OSANNA, and the likes, you're certain to enjoy this (except this is even more heavy and aggressive).

Report this review (#1252)
Posted Wednesday, April 28, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is really absolutely masterpiece. One of the best albums which I know. Pure progrock for most ambitious collectors nad fans. Close to the best moments of Emerson Lake & Palmer, with influences of italian melody and harmony traditions. Important note - not easy to sympathy for one hearing. Patience and concentration on their music is essential.
Report this review (#1263)
Posted Wednesday, June 2, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars To make a good listening of the album, think about the Italian Operas, Think about the european good music, not that mainstream music that even great bands like ELP or YES or even PINK FLOYD fell into it. Ys is the most powerfull music you can heard, not just from1972 (best year ever in music productions) but from all times, it hasn't been a better album yet in his totallity, Wish you were here was very close.
Report this review (#1264)
Posted Wednesday, June 9, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Without a doubt, my all time Italian prog favorite. The singer might sound too heavy from time to time, but the overall atmosphere is dark and tense and the musicianship is absolutely devastating. At times, i regard "Ys", the album, as a gigantic italian version of King Crimson's "21st Century Schizoid Man". Both leaves me breathless at each listen.
Report this review (#1265)
Posted Tuesday, June 29, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars One of the few masterpieces lost in time. This band is a hit and a very professional group. From the oppening act, the "vintage" sounds evoke better times and beatiful ambient stylings. The Re-issue of the record is a must. I never thouhgt i could ever hear this perfectly craft "old sound" again. Along with fellows PFM and BANCO... this band reminds us that the prog scene in Italy is highly awarded. A perfect record in any single music collection. Check out "Epilogo", amazing.
Report this review (#1266)
Posted Thursday, August 12, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "Ys" is together with Locanda della Fattes "Forse.."one of the most contoversary records. Either you like them or you don't like them at all.I for myself can't find access to "Ys" even after several tries. I like a lot the melodic side of prog and for my taste there anot enough melodies on this one.But I love the Cover and there is one Bonus Track on the Japonese CD edition which I reaally like (because it's very melodic and got a really nice keyboard arrangement and the singer sings really nice and mellow)
Report this review (#1267)
Posted Sunday, September 12, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Wow!

This album is just beautiful, a true masterpiece of progressive rock history, also it was one of my first Italian albums ever, maybe because of this my love for that country and it`s music started to grow, since then i have listened to it so many times, and it`s always the same feeling, great!

An obscure syphonic album which could be a bit annoying for some people because of the vocals and of some dark piano passages, even there`s a part in the last song which has repetitive bass notes, you could get desperated when you listen to it, for me, is simple fantastic, nothing annoying for me, i love the vocals, Gianni Leone is one of my fav singers in the Italian scene, the music is always great, each song has it`s moments, the language is beautiful and the dark mood and music makes it yet more special.

Maybe the highest or best point of this album is the use of piano and synths during the album, it has 5 songs with names of Introduzione , Primo, Secondo and Terzo incontro, then to finish with Epilogo which is the greatest of them all because of its blend of piano ,voices and great drumming. But it also has an extra track called La Una Casa Comoda which is a nice end of the album.

I really love this album, i could say that im a fan of it, not of Il Balleto di Bronzo, i think it was their only masterpiece.

Report this review (#1270)
Posted Saturday, February 12, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Surely a masterpiece of '70ies italian prog, "Ys" is a prog album born adult, after a first work by the Balletto di Bronzo, more beat than rock or gothic-dark prog. The becoming of mister Leone on keyboards and other hundred devices, the magical, even simple, guitar of mister Ajello, the power of basses by mister Manzari and the carpet of plots by the drum of mister Stringa creates an album really good under all the points of view. The work is a concept album, the titles of the song in italian makes you understand the sequence of the story told. I reccomend this album to all the real prog evaluators. In Italy you can find the CD at the low price of 5?. Is the time for you all to buy it.
Report this review (#1274)
Posted Tuesday, March 22, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars What can i say , i love this album for a few reason's: 1. This is a very complete piece devided in to section's with an introduction and a epilog. all pieces were put together with absolutly no signs of struggle between them,you just dont find that a lot. 2. A lot of reviewers like to mention gianni leone ,the keyboardist. i would like to mention the drummer who simply cant play in a normal way (no 4/4 here), i think he is one of the greatest and i even dare to compare him to the beloved bill bruford from king crimson (and Yes). 3. The music moves between twisted barock and renessance with touches of modern classical music with a little jazz and all the way to guitar solo's a la hendrix. could you ask for more.

Finally i would like to say why i took one star off. The music here is very good yet quite intense which means that it is quite heavy and not easy to swallow. Although i am not one to break away because of such stuff it can ,from time to time, get quite tiering and for that reason ,although i do love this album,i never listen to it twice in a row. So it's four stars from me with a warning of not for everyone,not for the faint hearted.

Report this review (#1275)
Posted Tuesday, April 5, 2005 | Review Permalink
erik neuteboom
5 stars If you surf on the Internet or you read the mail-order catalogues, you often will read about this band that their album "Ys" is excellent, highly recommended, not to be missed or a must! In my opinion it's one of the most original Italian progrock albums from the Seventies but I'm sure that the music will not be everybody's cup of tea because of the complexity and variety of styles: a bombastic intro featuring a choir, psychedelic organ, ominous vocals, raw guitarplay, celestial Mellotron, propulsive drums, lots of surprising musical ideas, many accellarations and shifting moods and the style varies from jazzrock or avant-garde to symphonic or classical. If you are up to a stunning musical progrock adventure, this one is yours!
Report this review (#35896)
Posted Thursday, June 9, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars when I first heard YS, a friend of mine said it was absolutely outrageous especially handling a joint....It's true, but I don't wanna talk about it: I prefer focusing on the perfect mixing effect among voices, organ, synth and drums. I'd like to depict the mysterious echoes of this sound, surrounding my own. I'm interesting, in the end, in narrating this musical path in which you can lost and find yourself at the same time. Few bands are capable to move me like "il Balletto", few bands can fill a room with hypnotizing music, poetical lyrics, charming rhythm like them. The concept album is quite perfect in alternating powerful and tender sections, with that 15 minutes prologue that makes you understand how the things will work, and excellent epilogue starting with a fantastic simultaneous duet of piano scale and drum rolling. I don't rate it 5 because of the presence of the last track "La tua casa comoda", which is not bad in itself, but symbolises their need to have a "single" in their record, releasable on radios and elsewhere, without whom an Italian band had (and has) few chances to do it.
Report this review (#40055)
Posted Saturday, July 23, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars First of all I must make the statement that making a review of anything, especially of music, is a question of being the most objectively as posible. It`s not a question of tastes. If a review would be only a matter of taste, how could you posibily say to a Britney fan that VDDG`s "Refugees" is better than Britney`s "Toxic"? I think that statement was necesary before saying a word about Balleto`s album YS, wich is of course, not for everybody. But dont let that stop us. YS is really a great album. Nice dark lyrics although Leone`s voice may not be the best. Complex compostions though with total sense, its not making complex music just for fun, its really an artistic need. There is also a lack in production but it doesn`t spoil the album. Its also a quite somber album but even more are the English versions of the album. Maybe I even like the english versions more, but again, thats just me. YS is a great album(English or Italian version), that I guarantee, but I can`t be sure that you like it...
Report this review (#40820)
Posted Friday, July 29, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars A mind blowing album. If you're not familiar with this album, let me go out on a limb and compare them to the modern day schizophrenic band The Mars Volta. The opening song, "Introduzione" and it's little brother, "Primo incontro" are what The Mars Volta would sound like if they came from the 70's. Frantic, eerie, nightmarish, non-stop, over-the-top with a female voice that kicks off the album as if she was calling out to sailors like a dangerous mermaid. You can't get any faster paced then the first track. How the drummer can keep up with the pace for the length of the song, close to 18 minutes, is amazing. Fantastic keyboard work with unrelenting guitar and that drumming make the first two tracks monumental. Only the singing by Gianni Leone slows down the pace, but just a tad. One of the greatest Italian prog songs of all time. Fantastic singing on track three/four (they blend together), and some freakout guitar, ELP-like keyboard and great drumming changes the tempo a tiny bit, but its a super song with a definate early King Crimson sound. Track five, "Epilogo" starts out frantically, sorta like the first track but turns into a sinister hellborne song, something the devil himself would enjoy with some of the creepiest percussion ever. It's devil music I tell ya! A bonus track rounds out the album, kinda poppy sounding but nevertheless a decent track. So, if you're looking for what could possibly be the only album that compares to the sound of The Mars Volta, (at least track 1/2), try this album out. It's arguably the greatest Italian prog album, which could easily stand tall next to the best of PFM, Banco, Le Orme, Area and all the wonderful one-shot Italian classics. a bonefide classic of the highest order, and one album you'll never tire of.
Report this review (#46063)
Posted Friday, September 9, 2005 | Review Permalink
Andrea Cortese
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This fine italian prog-rock album is a conceptual-based opus with some awesome theatrical development.

The music (impressive!) is keyboards-oriented, through the master hands of Gianni Leone (organ, piano, mellotron, moog, spinet, celesta) and the result is an intricate and sinister atmosphere "drenched with blood" because of that dark and exciting (shifting moods) frenetic playing. Electric guitar (by Lino Aiello) has not a dominant part here, but many times it's the icing on the cake, being so aggressive and apocalyptical! Many soft and sinister female choirs that seem to be the crying of the Angels' Chorus!

The lyrics are really obscure (already english translated on the forum!), telling the story of a man who starts a journey, all alone, and, during it, he has 3 meeting: a dead man ivy covered and with ripped ears; a dead old man with thorns infixed in his eyes; finally he meets The Death in person, but he doesn't be able to tell its true name because of his mouth is tired and motionless.and because light isn't anymore!

Three chilling scenes, three meeting.Three is a mystical seems to me that the poem is about someone who, listening to the Wrong Voice, follows something which is the negation/contrary of the positive triad of the good (Trinity). Perhaps the album is about suicide but.who could tell it? Its lyrics are dark and with a not directly understandable message!

On the 1994 remastered edition there's also a GREAT bonus track titled "La Tua Casa Comoda" (Your Own Comfortable Home).

This is a great symphonic prog-rock-orientated album, great keyboards, lots of imagination.

Report this review (#47061)
Posted Sunday, September 18, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Classic symphonic prog from Italy! A musical fusion between structured melodic "romantic" songs and long keyboards "baroque" improvisations. The result is an energic sound with lot of grooves. A distinctive note from PFM, Banco and other basic symphonic bands are the weird, sometimes "avant garde" harmonies used in many tunes. "Introduzione" starts as a mellow, peaceful "classical" ballad then comes a furious driving rock section. "Primo incontro" has a discreet hard rock feel with strange voices, heavy guitar solos and piano arrangements, a rather dark, mysterious tune. The boring elements come from this unbearable voice in Italian. I'm on my rest with these vocal melodies. The other inconvenient is the grotesque "symphonic" sound; I mean the imitation of classical rapid scales keyboards parts which sounds a bit laughable today. As for the most part of the Italian "symphonic" rock scene, this album didn't pass the test of time.
Report this review (#59975)
Posted Saturday, December 10, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is : Simply the best Italian album ever.... I am really shocked because the beauty and darkness at the same time of this album, The introduction, all the Incontros and the Epilogue, the whole album is a masterpiece, neither of the songs is less than the other... i bought this album two weeks ago, and since that glorious day im listening to it every day ,sometimes i listen to it twice or three times in a row, because i like to enjoy it, to feel it, and learn all about it, it has a great depth, and maybe the quality sound of that era is not the best, but it passed to second term... I would like to suggest this album to all the prog fans around the globe, listen to it carefully and then , you will get impressed !!
Report this review (#65526)
Posted Thursday, January 19, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars The BALLETTO DI BRONZO is essential: a masterpiece of progressive music! The texts is very beautiful, it tells the story of YS. the told story transforms the album in a optimal musical experience... It's perhaps the best international album of progressive music! Gianni Leone had 16 years when the album is exited... He's fantastic musician and the BALLETTO DI BRONZO is very big group... Thank you and bye!
Report this review (#71364)
Posted Tuesday, March 7, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Il Balletto Di Bronzo- Ys... oh jesus where to start on reviewing this album. Let me start with some personal thoughts on the album before I touch on the album itself. I've used this analogy in the forums so this is a good place for it. Surely you prog fans have that particular album that upon the first listen was the physical equivalent of taking a 2x4 to the jaw. This album was that to me. So far I have reviewed mainly albums that were favorites since I was a young pup. This one I have had less than a year, being a very late comer to the world of prog outside of the english speaking sphere of prog. I have recommended this album to many people who like me were unaware of the serious serious quality of Italian progressive rock, and have left many people muttering... oh my god. If by chance you haven't heard this album do yourself a favor and get this album. I'll stake what is left of my good name, now that I have mentioned that I have seen the New Kids on the Block in concert hahahah, that you will appreciate the shear terror and darkness that this album's music represents when the language differences cannot.

Now to the album. This album is a keyboardists dream. Fabulous organ, mellotron, and accoustic piano abound. For those who like some heavy guitar work.. have a seat at the table.. heavier than some of those poseurs parading around in leather with styled hair were. As far as the lyrical nature of the album. Andrea has posted a translation of the lyrics in the forums. Interesting tale about meeting 3 faces of death on a journey or something like that hahahha. Can't say much for the lyrics but Gianni Leone in addition to his stellar keyboard work has a great voice.

Ys kicks off with the masterpiece of Introduzione. The highlight .. the incredible (for lack of a better word) use of heightening tension during the frenzied guitar and organ duel with the ...orgasmic release into an out of this world mellotron section, I feel like firing up a Winston everytime I hear it. Amoung my top 5 prog muscial 'moment's of alltime. It's that intense everyone.

Next up are the 3 encounters with death... the primo, secondo, and terzo incontros. The Primo is a reprise of the ending of introduzioine and is available as a sample here. The Secondo incontro has some really sweet mellotron underneath the main vocal sections and seques right into the bass intro to the terzo incontro which is my favorite of the three. A great walking bass line with brutal machine gun burst of the organ following by a guitar solo that to rolls right out of the left channel. Today's guitar soloist's could learn a thing or two from how to make a guitar solo.....sound. A dirty and nasty sounding guitar tone pervades this album. I've often thought that this album recorded today would not have the same sound or effect. It's a nasty brutish subject and the sound matches it.. no overproducing on this. Finally we end with Epilogo. More of the same great singing by Leone, great organ work, and unlike some I love the exteneded outro to the song... and the original album. Very atmospheric.

The CD release does a a bonus track, La Tua casa comoda, which was recorded after the album was released. It has nothing in commen with the album musically or lyrically but in a way... it was nice to have a reprise from taking 2x4's to jaw.

In summation. If you do not like albums that are heavily keyboard orientated, stay away from this one. If you do, and like being musically bludgeoned for 40 minutes, you will love this album almost as much as I do. As far as rating it... for me.. the best prog album I've heard in a very long time. I haven't been 'grabbed' by a prog album like this since I was a kid sitting in front of my parents 8-track player, and led directly to me being an Italian prog fanatic. 5 stars both personally and a complete masterpiece of progressive rock. It may not be everyone's cup of tea but an album of this caliber is deserving of at least a chance and a listen.


Report this review (#74513)
Posted Sunday, April 9, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars The second work released in 1972 "YS". The sound is violence and symphonic rock to have made good use of a kooky rhythm and the noise. They splendidly drew the fantastic world by the estheticism. The main of this album is keyboard play of Gianni Leone. It is heavy and keyboard play is romantic like EL&P+KING CRIMSON. The guitar and the high tone vocal are one of the highest peaks of Italian rock. It is a balanced entertainment though is avan- gard. Tone quality is also good. It is a masterpiece handed down long with "Palepoli" of OSANNA and MUSEO ROSENBACH as dark, symphonic rock.

This is an unexpected total album. It is exactly frenzy. It is musical violence. The play of the keyboard is splendid though influences by "Tarkus" of EL&P of having added an original idea of Gianni Leone. This work is one of the progressive rock works that represent Italian rock. This heavy, dynamic style has been succeeded to ANGLAGARD. It is a miraculous masterpiece.

Report this review (#76120)
Posted Monday, April 24, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Recently I've attended a live performance of Il Balletto di Bronzo . During the concert Gianni Leone (the only original member of the band in the present line up) told that nowadays he find progressive rock boring and that probably he wouldn't release another album like "Ys" . Nevertheless they played the whole album. I didn't find the performance completely convincing (I missed the guitar since now Il Balletto di Bronzo is a trio with only bass, drums and keyboard), but "Ys" is the best known work of the band and I realized that almost all the public was there only to listen to it. Why?

Actually, on the first listening you could find "Ys" a little bit boring. Foggy lyrics that draw dreadful images, gloomy vocals, anguish and fear dropping out every now and again. "A man is there with his face down / The ivy already covers his body / Black is the blood / On the wounds of his torn ears". Definitely a hunting and dark mood hanging over the whole album. If you're looking for something relaxing probably it's better avoid it. But if you're more patient I'm sure that you'll find that the music is rather good. Gianni Leone is a very skilled musician with a solid classical background. Lyrics are not the strength of this album, but here vocals are more like an instrument interacting with the band to stir emotions. There are many changes of rhythm, wonderful keyboards and guitar solos, powerful bass lines and drumming. You can find here many influences blended together in a very interesting and personal way. From classical to jazz, from avant-garde to hard rock. After all no wonder if many people love this work! And no wonder if Gianni Leone do not love this album anymore: he seems like a prisoner of "Ys" since after this album his inspiration almost run over. "And the darkness around him / Then was inside him.".

Well, I have to say that "Ys" is not my favourite "Italianprog" album but in my opinion it is an excellent addition to any prog collection.

Report this review (#76594)
Posted Friday, April 28, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars A pattern emerges in my mind. It seems the greatest European prog bands are always the most mysterious. Take a look at the German progressive scene of the 70s? The greatest band around at that time was Can, without a doubt. Can were conceived under strange circumstances; with a vocalist who could speak in a prehistoric language, and the musicians themselves being largely of the classical variety, playing music they were unfamiliar with. And over in Italy, we had the great Il Balletto Di Bronzo. All you have to do is listen to a section of this great album to realise that this is the work of the devil. And I mean that in an entirely good way. Ys is the most terrifying, dark, haunting album you will ever hear. The distressing Italian lead vocals, the creepy and haunting backing vocals and the just plain terrifying spinet playing by Gianni Leone throughout are what make the music rivetingly, monumentally fascinating. And yet, Il Balletto Di Bronzo barely made a name for themselves; it's almost as if they sold their souls to the devil just so they could create this one great masterpiece. If I were to attempt to describe it, I would compare it to Emerson, Lake & Palmer's darker moments (think Toccata) and the darkest prog matter of King Crimson and Van Der Graaf Generator. Add in some insanely distorted, weird guitar sounds and a trapped soul of a singer, perhaps buried from the waist down in molten lava, playing a spinet (form of harpsichord) and you are listening to Il Balletto Di Bronzo. Just don't listen late at night.

Actually, do just that.

Report this review (#80949)
Posted Sunday, June 11, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Ys is a highly energetic album with complex vitruosity and good song structure! ive always found that italian prog bands have their own unique style and Il Balletto di Bronzo is definetly one of them! Slightly off-key vocals wich is not necessarily a bad thing on the contary in this situation it sounds great! very keyboard oriented and twisted in a Evil, Dark kind of way. Definetly worth a listen! Italian prog at its finest hour...
Report this review (#82521)
Posted Monday, July 3, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars I am no expert on Italian prog rock, but I like almost everything from what I've heard. This album is very good in terms of musicianship. The keyboard are near to Emerson and are accompanied with raw heavy guitar. That's good. The bass and drums are also excellent. What I don't like is vocal. Nothing special.

As for songs, I am unable to choose a favourite one, the whole album is good, but I lack exceptional passages or melodies in it. And that's the main problem. Not easy listening complex music is usually my favourite, but here the "human" kind of music is slightly missing.

A very complex album without heart.

Report this review (#104930)
Posted Saturday, December 30, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars "YS" is complete musical lunacy at it's finest. Theres no controversy in my opinion on this album because it is what it is. Dark, Theatrical, very unperfect, but extremely complex, spastic and a lot of dynamics. I feel the ELP or Gentle Giant influence from the record maybe even Van Der Graff though I think that it's apparent that this band made a move that was more over the top then anything made up until that time. The keyboardists certainly had the creativity to back up his chops which may or may not be beyond Emerson, Monkman, or Minnear at that time, but i'm confident in saying that Balletto Di Bronzo's keyboard player was more interesting as is this album for 1972. But it's not for everybody even applying to some of the prog fans. It's an intimidating noisy album and the songs are spastic and all over the place and the singing is crazy too. Itallians in their prime musical strangeness and brilliance.
Report this review (#107760)
Posted Wednesday, January 17, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars I am amazed at how great this sounds! If you like early 70's King Crimson or ELP,but with a more agressive edge,you may like this. The singer sings in Italian and sounds a bit heavy metalish at times. Well, onto the songs...Introduzione starts off with an almost 3 minute vocal solo,with some female vocal work. Then, the music kicks in and does not seem to let up much,with swirling keyboards,intense playing(it kind of reminds me of the "Trilogy'' song by ELP). Introduzione segues into Primo Incontro,which is another great song,and ends with some zither-like playing. In my opinion, I think they should have made this just one 18.5 minute song. "Secondo Incontro'' is next,which starts off with a 20 second heavy metal -like vocal solo,then the music comes in,segueing into ''Terzo Incontro'',which starts off with a 10 second bass solo,then the music comes in. Again, they should have made secondo and terzo incontro just one whole song and given it one song title, as one song seems to segue into another, as with the introduzione and primo incontro songs. But,as I said ,that is just my opinion. "Epilogo'' is next, clocking in at about 11.5 minutes,and kind of reminds me of ''Starless/Red''-era KING CRIMSON,with it's feel. "Epilogo'' ends with a 30 or 40 second female vocal solo. The cd bonus track ''La Tua Casa Comoda'' is not as intense sounding as the other songs, but still good. On a scale of 1 to 5, I would give this a 4.25. I recommend buying this! Hopefully, you will not be dissapointed. I was not!
Report this review (#109244)
Posted Sunday, January 28, 2007 | Review Permalink

My story of my encounter with this album is some kind of funny and tragic at the same time. My father bought this album and listened to it lots of times a week when I was an eleven year-old boy. This strange music that sounded as pure noise for me at that point will turn into one of my favorite Progressive Rock Albums of All Time.

The originality and creativity of this Italian quartet is amazing to the point of incredible. Escaping from the Rock Progressivo Italiano format and they go for the innovation of the genre and the creation of a unique style instrumentally and vocally.

This is a keyboard oriented album, the instrumental passages and the exploration of odd time signatures makes it a little hard listening, but once I get it you never let it go. The cohesion of each instrument makes of this album a magical experience.

The addition of "La Tua Casa Comoda" was great, this is one of the best moments of the album along with "Introduzione" and "Primo Incontro".

Report this review (#113514)
Posted Sunday, February 25, 2007 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
5 stars This is a complex and intense album with a story line that accounts for the darkness that can be felt throughout this work. The lyrics are in Italian and you should read Andrea Cortese's review to learn about the chilling concept of this album.The keyboard work is flat out amazing as he offers up piano, organ, mellotron and more.

"Introduzione" opens with haunting female vocal melodies as organ then male vocals come in.Then it picks up 3 minutes in with some great organ play accompanied by piano and drums.There is a long instrumental workout that is quite incredible and enjoyable, that is broken by the returning vocals as guitar, mellotron and organ create an intense soundscape. This continues into "Primo Incontro" as it blends right into this track with no break. Nice guitar after a minute as he starts to rip it up. It changes before 3 minutes as we get what sounds like spinet to end the song. The next tune is called "Secondo Incontro" and some fine drumming is heard right away as mellotron and vocals come in. The passionate vocals seem to echo here as powerful instrumental outbursts come and go. It settles with mellotron a minute in which is contrasted with the outbursts. Check out the organ and mellotron ! We are then treated to a guitar, drum and piano melody that is fantastic.

"Terzo Incontro" opens with some nice bass as other sounds join in. Vocals 1 1/2 minutes in. Some nice guitar work after 2 minutes followed by organ and vocals. It's cool when Gianni sings a line and to hear it answered by the instrumental equivalent. This occurs several times. "Epilogo" is where things get very atmospheric and sinister sounding with lots of mellotron and bass. Great song ! Drums and keyboards stand out early. Vocals after 1 1/2 minutes. It settles with mellotron, keys and light drums before 3 minutes. It starts to get powerful and intense before 5 minutes. Love the piano. It changes to an uptempo melody after 9 minutes. It's haunting 11 minutes in to end it with vocal melodies just like the opening of the album.

As with most complex albums this one will take some time to get into, but it's well worth the effort as there is some mind-blowing stuff here.

Report this review (#114136)
Posted Saturday, March 3, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars IMO thebest Italian progressive album of all the times. There is not something like this album. A style much staff and very hard... I can say that this is perhaps the more HardProgr Italian album. Beautifull beginning with "Introduzione" with the characteristic voice of Gianni Lione and its many keyboards always in evidence. Musical high tension in the rest of the disc and in my favorite "Primo Incontro". Large it detaches also in "Terzo Incontro". To emphasize also the great srhythmic ection with on bass Vito Manzari and on drums Gianchi Stringa, they are perfect in all the song. There is few space for the guitar of Lino Ajello surelly becouse the lead part is of Gianni Leone that plays piano, organ, Moog, Mellotron, spinet, celeste.

In CD version there's "La tua casa comoda" like bonus track , more soft but always much beautiful.

Report this review (#114573)
Posted Thursday, March 8, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars While not for everyone, this is a classic for lovers of Italian prog. It inhabits the "darker" side of the Italian spectrum as something like Arachnoid would for the French scene.

Ys has it all covered and then some. Primarily this is a keyboard lovers album, but the guitar/bass work, the Italian vocals, and the percussion are all of the highest order as well. Because of the language barrier I can't speak of the lyrics but with music this interesting it hardly matters. Sound is what it's all about anyway.

Complex, challenging, definately progressive. This is probably not where I would start a newbie to classic Italian prog as it takes many spins to "get" but it is one that all must get to eventually. The Japanese mini-LP cd is especially nice with a high quality gatefold, two bonus tracks, and a classy lyric booklet. Someone said this is a "complex album without heart." I respectfully disagree. You just need to check your inhibitions at the door because this ride can get pretty crazy at times.

4 stars for the overall rating, but I would say 5 stars for Italian fans.

Report this review (#117947)
Posted Tuesday, April 10, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars Like heavy vintage keyboards and challenging symphonic progc? Prepare for the worst.

First of all. If you like Keyboard oriented prog such as ELP or Genesis, Ys in in all probability an album you will want to look out for. Personally, however, it leaves a lot to wish for. "YS" is a complex and chaotic recording. There is usually a lot going on, and there is a lot of good musicianship throughout. There is also a definitive aura of progressiveness and ambition about the album, and when it gets going, it really gets going, like a huge panzer armadillo crossed with sonic the hedgehog.

Still, despite the high velocity and various interesting instruments, "YS" rarely gets really rocking, and you have to keep attention on it constantly to keep some sort of track. I reckon that if i had listened to "YS" a year ago, i would have loved it, but since then my tastes have sort of regressed into the more classic rock-area, and i would choose any album by the Who or The Beatles before this to listen to for my own personal enjoyment. Another reason why i'm not as fond of "YS" as i whould be could be because the lyrics are in italian and, while i don't really mind that, there is a certain element of the music which is lost for me by not hearing what the singer is singing about. Even lyrics which are so and so can contribute a lot to the overall atmosphere of an album, so albums in italian certainly have a certain disadvantage that way.

Still, i can see that it is a very interesting record, and one that many will love, especially since ELP has such a huge fanbase on the archives, but, unfortunately, it doesn't do as much for me as i believe it should. Recommended for anyone, but expect something very technical and rather cold.

Report this review (#132648)
Posted Saturday, August 11, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Extraordinary piece of symphonic rock with a reputation well-deserved, 'Ys' is a statement of modern music that went beyond prog rock, even beyond the concept album, and showed a living, breathing world and a chillingly good example of what a small rock ensemble had become capable of. And all by 1972.

The five tracks are a moody but ingeniously put-together continuum that stretches between hard-core group playing, rushing keyboards, dainty parlor antics, inspired spontaneity, wailing winged death-spirits and plain old good composition... this is Italian drama at its finest-- a mad, grand operone with plenty of rock grit and little of the schooled polish of Banco. And considering it was '72, the amount of avant garde elements are impressive, carefully worked into the heavy symph approach taken by drummer Stringa, bassist Manzari, guitarist Lino Aiello and the gifted organ, synths and piano of Gianni Leone. We're lured by the call of a Siren to Leone's slow fugue and clear voice, the band coming alive, jazz riffs and blazing synths side by side, a crystal piano above it, lock-in-step jams from Manzari and Stringa and huge energy from all on the fifteen minute 'Introduzione'. More carefully planned chaos in 'Primo Incontro' tailed by Leone's creepy harpsichord, and heavy psych of 'Secondo Incontro' which features a perfect use of the mellotron as an orchestral substitute instead of mere scenery. Unstoppable prog wonderlands 'Terzo Incontro' and 'Epiloga' race forward and throw it all in there; high complexity, contrasting passages and angled assaults.

Il Balletto di Bronzo is not unlike ELP if that band had been bolder and less concerned with having a career, and 'Ys' earns every bit of its praise. An experience not to be missed. The 1994 remaster contains negligible but decent 'La Tua Casa Comoda'.

Report this review (#158112)
Posted Tuesday, January 8, 2008 | Review Permalink
2 stars There are some Italian Prog Rock bands which are more accessible for my taste, like PREMIATA FORNERIA MARCONI and in some cases BANCO DEL MUTUO SOCCORSO. In my opinion, this band, IL BALETTO DI BRONZO, had good musicians, but this album is not very accessible for my taste, so I listen to this album rarely. The sound of this album sounds a bit dated in comparison to other Prog Rock albums from 1972, which in my opinion was a very good year for Prog Rock.

This album has very good keyboards and drums, but the music is not very interesting in my opinion. It also has at the beginning of the album an almost "phantasmagorical" female voice which made me think that this band also had some Psychedelic influences. The lead vocals which are sung by keyboard player Gianni Leone are not bad but also not very good. The interactions between the keyboards and drums are the most interesting things in this album, but not enough interesting to keep me playing the album very often.

Report this review (#159561)
Posted Wednesday, January 23, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars I love when Progressive rock rocks. This is my second favorite Italian Symphonic album behind PFM's Per Un Amico, which by the way is another album that rocks. A lot of people really give this album a hard time, much like they do VDGG, and perhaps, there are similarities. Ys reminds me of the dark, moody, and dramatic element of VDGG circa H-to-He and Pawn Hearts. Sometimes you get the sense that things are falling apart as the complicated keyboard and drum interplay falls into a deconstructed dissonant rampage.
Report this review (#163186)
Posted Tuesday, March 4, 2008 | Review Permalink
The Prognaut
5 stars And the time for me to review this masterpiece has come. It took me almost a couple of years to finally put my feelings into words regarding this record and mostly because I wanted to share with you the experience of beholding Gianni LEONE perform live on stage. Just amazing. He's undoubtedly one of the best front men that irradiates this kind of energy, passion and power through his gifted voice and refined skills on keyboards. A true character indeed and a very unique human being.

Listening to almost of the "YS" tracks live (except for "Epilogo" and "La Tua Casa Comoda" included as a bonus track on the 1994 remaster), was quite indescribable since the band sounded off exactly the same as on the original album. But the performance carried away by Gianni on stage as he impersonated Dorian GREY behind the crimson red of a lipstick walking around on high-heels with a wig and shades on, simply gave the chords of "YS" a whole new meaning.

The dark instrumentation of the album is completely devouring. The rareness can be breathed from beginning to end along the unstoppable key striking of the Mellotron, organ and piano. Although most of lyrics in Italian are clear to me, grammar doesn't allow me to put together more than two or three sentences continuously but even so, I can feel the anguish, the emotion and the eeriness.

Devoted as I am of concept albums, "YS" fulfills perfectly all of my demands and expectations every time I make the record spin inside my mind. The album follows up this vertiginous depicted line on a very straightforward lane that turns the constant flowing of the music into a circular, almost minimalist moment, just like the record never stops whirling on the player.

Also, I find Gianchi STRINGA's display on drums wonderful. Indeed there are skillful moves that could barely be compared to the work of some other gifted drummers. The sound is well-educated, precise and very, very astonishing. And what to say about the strings team in here; they're elapsed suitably to LEONE's voice on every single episode and movement.

Not only a determinant part to entirely appreciate Italian Symphonic Prog but also a jewel lost in time. Even when the band never produced yet another work of art like this again, IL BALLETO DI BRONZO will always be remembered for "YS" and for the bright and genius it's got. I cannot think of this album without the highest rate over the Archives and in the world of music altogether. Not recommended to listeners who suffer of heart and stomach conditions, that's for sure.

Report this review (#175439)
Posted Friday, June 27, 2008 | Review Permalink
TGM: Orb
5 stars Review 60, Ys, Il Balletto Di Bronzo, 1972


Something different. That's really the best way I can describe this unique 1972 RPI album. Apart from the exquisitely cryptic and interesting concept, a range and dominance of keys that feels a bit like Keith Emerson and Rick Wakeman's love child, and superbly dissonant playing throughout, Ys is a full-bodied trip in Charon's boat, from a moment of perfect and clear understanding to a cold sleep on the far side of the black-watered Styx. The overwhelmingly well-handled musical representation of death is the main reason that I love this album so much, but also of note are the force and aggression of the Introduzione (especially) and the unrelenting grip of the album as a whole. Entirely essential, in case you love it half as much as I do. Progressive, powerful, and unique.

The Introduzione begins with female voices (I believe they represent la voce, the powerful and knowing voice that informs the 'last one' before abandoning him to his fate), a feature that repeats in different contexts and different styles throughout the album. The odd straining of the instrument (voice, in this case), and sumptuous layering will be another recurring feature. A stunning, bare organ solo, making good use of the instrument's range is used to lay the path for the organ-backed narration of the album's nebulous theme.

After this, the eclectic drumming, starkly juxtaposing sharper cymbally sounds with a distinctly rounded, annoyingly indescrible sort of drumming, comes in to take the album onto its formidable rock aspect. Apart from sharp organ twists and riffs, and almost-shouting female vocals, Gianni Leone's keys are exploding everywhere, with healthy doses of harpsichord, dissonant Hammill-like piano and spiralling moogs. Lino Ajello's guitar also takes on a life of its own, screeching with dissonant glee and weaving its ideas together with the organ. The sheer intensity of his soloing is formidable to behold, and the individual tone, aggressive, individual and sometimes slipping between left and right production (if I hear correctly).

A third vocal section follows his most intense work, with shimmering mellotron providing a base for the gorgeous female vocal backing to move off. A section guitar-dominated section, this time abrupt with individual bursts, with a tremendously thick bass and more curtailed drum-sounds, constitutes the opening of the First Encounter. Leone's vocals in this section gradually reel off the deathly theme, with a great amount of anticipation created by the slow speed of delivery without the typical softness to accompany that. Detailed keyboard and guitar solos again mark the piece with creativity and mind-cracking force, while the rest of the band moves on carefully. A classic pseudo-blues crescendo with superb drum work and my beloved high bass from Vito Manzari relaxes to a harpsichord solo. A rare moment of complete quiet stops us.

And suddenly, with incredible force and power, and great vocal effects, bass, shouting, echoing vocals. Demanding sight in the Second Encounter. An incredible rhythm section forcing involuntary air-drumming on my part hammers in periodically. Oscillating mellotron backs some sections with a softness to juxtapose the sheer force of others, and we get a jewel of flute-mellotron and some hellishly avant-garde stabs on the string 'tron. Off-beat piano also breaks through.

A wandering, confident bass solo and recalcitrant drums introduce the third encounter (or more of the second. It depends on whether you believe the lyrics sheet or CD), which features some more, this time very strained, guitar work, as well as a range of organ and harpsichord features. The bass is the most obvious feature to me, leading the part's wanderings. Of especial notice is a brief piano solo (standard definition, not completely solo) with a calculated edgy style.

Bursts of mellotron and a swelling motion from piano, bass and drums, begin the epilogue (or Third Encounter. Believe whichever of the sources you want), the album's most brilliant section. Aside from a feeling of gradual winding down handled flawlessly with a range of incredible keys, the growly twisting bass I love so much and a great drum solo from Gianchi Stringa, the vocals really take off, feeling much more full.

The definite move towards a conclusion is established by the dum-dudududu-du-dum bass riff, backed by gorgeous, edgy, high piano and a throbbing guitar, resigning the former flashiness of soloing for a careful, slow style. The end of our protagonist, his descent into darkness, is evoked both by the stark lyrics (here distinctly Homeric in style) and the gradual yet forceful and very sharp drumming and piano. Screeching vocal sounds, perhaps made by a mellotron, riddle the piece. Eventually, out of this realm of darkness, La Voce again meets us in bursts. Sobbing breaths punctuate the chaos. Careful, reverent hums on the bass and organ lead us down to a virtual standstill before the organ takes up a high-paced and forceful burst of energy. A vocal twist on the introductory Voce leads us out, dazed and almost crushed by these death throes.

However, after drinking from this masterful fount of progressive rock, there is one more delight in store (should you have the remaster): the group's superb radio single: Tua Casa Commoda. Hidden within Orb's outwardly odd musical interest is a great love for short, concise songs, and this is just one such song. Incredibly catchy riffs, superb playing from Leone and Manzari (this wonderfully fluid and whirling bass) in particular. Eclectic twists on guitar strumming, a range of percussion in the instrumental section, and constant movement mark the song as very much progressive, even if the length may seem anathema to some of our more progression-minded members. The piano-work on the piece's conclusion is wonderful, and no less impressive is the contribution of the other three members. Highly creative and incredibly good. On my 'most played' list, and among my all-time favourite songs.

So, given such a sycophantic review, I can only award the highest grade to this album. Essential progressive rock. A masterpiece. Five stars. Fans of psychedelia must hear the epilogo, fans of hard rock the introduzione. Really, there is no person or type of listener to whom I would not recommend this album. Only by trying it, it seems, can those who love the album less be discovered. Vital, and the ultimate disproof (you can, of course, say this about almost any Italian symphonic band apart from PFM) of all Italian prog sounding like PFM.

Rating: Five stars Favourite Track: Tua Casa Commoda. From the album proper, Epilogo.

Report this review (#177426)
Posted Sunday, July 20, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars 9,5/10

This is one of these albums that could make you dystopist even in a happy mood. The first shout tells us how the rest will be, very dark and intense. The opening track, Introduzione, is a masterpiece, perfect coordination while there are great differences between the distorted guitar, the shouts of desperation, piano, singer's voice. Rapidly the tracks put you in period full of breaks followed by a great cacophony leaded by the guitar and synth. Last 3 minutes are quite VDGG on his Italians I personaly finds, the dark synth then replaced by a lighter acoustic but similar breaks and feeling.

Primo incontro is the missing end of the Introduction, Secondo and Tertio are really unique in their own way, i can't think of something in the same genre and that's disapointing. Very remarquable are the cacophony and then again only voices part.

The introduction of Epilogo is exciting and the following parts with the guitars makes me think of persons who are talking to each other, i don't really know is that was the point but it gave me this feeling. The instrumental part a bit later makes me think of someone thinking but thats maybe my strange mind ;P. Well that hole jamming on the bass beat is very weird but then again very highly appreciated, oh and didn't the end makes you think of Atom Heart mother ? Same magik combination.

I recommend it highly to anyone interested in progressive rock and experimental rock, it's very more intensive than casual italien symphonic, that i really appreciate. Even the bonus-track from the 1994 release is a masterpiece, short but so heavy...


Report this review (#188249)
Posted Friday, November 7, 2008 | Review Permalink
Cesar Inca
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The heavy prog trend of 70s Italian symphonic rock was full of Genius and enthusiasm, and solid proofs of that are the recordings by Museo Rosenbach, Biglietto per l'Inferno and others, of course the "others" including the Il Balletto di Bronzo line-up that recorded "Ys". I'm not among those who regard this album as vastly overrated or among those who consider it a masterpiece, but I certainly appreciate it as a cornerstone of Italy's prog rock old school. When keyboardist extraordinaire Gianni Leone entered the band, it became a powerful art-rock ensemble that benefitted greatly from his inventive writing and charismatic frontman deliveries (strong chanting with an extra dose of affected neurosis). 'Introduzione' kicks off with mysterious female vocals that seem to emulate sirens of Doom, after which elegantly dissonant organ chord progressions elaborate a mood, which eventually leads to a synth-dominated section that is mostly eerie, yet a bit creepy as well. After a slightly neurotic organ-led interlude, an instrumental section is built on a 7/8 jazzy basis, featuring a fabulous guitar solo that leans closer to McLaughlin than to Gilmour or Howe. The prior synth-dominated section is reprised, only this time with featured mellotron, which makes it a bit spacier. 'Primo Incontro' is, in my opinion, the highlight of this album's first half. Consistently based on a 5/4 tempo delivered in alternating ELP and Crimson-inspired trends, this piece comprises some of the most explosive playing in the album: Hendrix-like psychedelic guitar fills and heavy Blackmore-like solos, intertwined organ and spinet chords, an abrasive rhythm duo, magical female backing vocals, Leone testing his pitch to the limits. Everything works greatly here all the way toward the chaotic ending plus the genius spinet coda (very Manierist, indeed). 'Secondo Incontro' is, to my ears, the second half's highlight. All the qualities I enjoy of 'Primo Encontro' are prolonged in this Second Encounter, only this time with a bigger presence of jazzy cadences in the rhythmic development. There is also a frantic section that serves as a framework for a polyphonic orgy of strings, flutes and chorale mellotrons. The intro section is also a powerful impact provider, with Leone's demented singing reaching for pure musical hysteria while the chaos persists. 'Terzo Incontro ed Epilogo' is the last track, starting with the most constructed rocking section in the album. The main body of the piece's epilogue is a mid-slow psychedelic jam that creates a mood of mystery and solitude in a cleverly sustained fashion. The opening motif's reprise and the following female chanting provide a full circle ending to this track and the album as a whole. The bonus track 'La Tua Casa Comoda' is a gentle mid-tempo song that sounds a bit like early 70s Cat Stevens with a featured RMI electric piano. As commercially driven as it is, it is actually a very good song, having elegantly constrained arrangements and a confident rhythm section in the underflow. Well, "Ys" is an excellent item that should grace any good prog collection.
Report this review (#191117)
Posted Sunday, November 30, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars A trailblazing piece of work, Ys must have been one of the heaviest and noises prog albums ever at the time of its release; there's simply very little that can possibly compare to it. Maybe if Jimi Hendrix had survived to become a founder member of ELP (as, rumour has it, the plans went) the results would be comparable; as it is, while I'm occasionally reminded of some of the more frenetic parts of the Tarkus suite while listening to this album, I don't think ELP managed to pull off the sort of sustained - but never monotonous - sonic attack that this album presents.

Opening and closing with soothing, angelic voices, Ys plunges us into the sort of chaos that King Crimson would eventually explore in its Red period - two years later. Completely unhinged keyboard work and rabid, raving lead guitar, coupled with a tight rhythm section and foreboding vocals, combine to make Ys a vital foundational album for the Heavy Prog subgenre. It's certainly not a relaxing listen, but if you're not allergic to raw power, aggression, and heavy, thumping organ and electric guitar, Ys is an excellent listen. An album that combines great quality with such incredible originality, taking prog rock further than (at that point in time) it had ever previously been taken, can only be awarded five stars. Bottom line: if you dig heavy prog, you *need* Ys!

EDIT: Having come back and given another careful listen to this album, I feel I have to downgrade the rating by a star. It's still exceptionally good, but some of the compositions are dragged out a little too long - in particular, the midsection of Epilogo spools out the same repetitive motif for about four minutes longer than it really needs to, and whilst it does pull itself together for the conclusion it's still tiresome.

Report this review (#191917)
Posted Friday, December 5, 2008 | Review Permalink
2 stars Do not listen it with a pillow underneath your head! Even there are pretensions of being highly complex and innovating, the sleep will conquer why very fast. The predominant feeling on this album, except sleep, is strangeness. Nothing is normal, and I'm thinking about something which do not satisfy the medium level. What is YS, if not an experiment which had failed? The long introduction is pretty boring, I don't find nothing interesting in it. The passages are poor qualitative and the only good thing view YS are the keyboards. They are in contrast with everything else. Somehow I think I'm listening two different albums in the same time. Texturally the album is particularly rich, as it features Moog synthesizers, mellotrons, spinet, female voices and numerous stereo and tape effects. But all this, in fact, is the form, not the product. The jazz/rock touch is also a failure. The drums have their limited space, resulting in a limited disc. After this 38 minutes I'm bored, and even if it is a classic I could affirm that YS is overrated and a major loss of time if you're searching something real original and unique.
Report this review (#192625)
Posted Thursday, December 11, 2008 | Review Permalink

Several things have been writen about this album ( you may check other reviews such as Micky's and TGM Orb's that were exellent in my opinion). I remember seeing this record on a web page by a local record store and it was so cheap! Without hesitation , I took the bus to downtown and bought it. Previously I haven't heard this record or even a single track of it before so I started reading PA's reviews to see if Ys was worth spending.

Sure it was! Not only the positive reviews encouraged me on getting it , but the negative ones since this album is criticized of being really loud and bombastic , that was exactly what I was looking for. One thing about Ys is that I don't think it can be hear twice in a row or more since this album is really intense and complex. All four musicians are superb but the first one you may notice is Keyboard virtuoso Gianni Leone: If il Balleto di bronzo had released another record as good as Ys , then he would be placed among Emerson & Wakeman as regards virtuosity. He uses different keyboards like Hammond , Moog , Mellotron , organ... name it , it's on Ys. Moreover his voice really goes well with the ambiences created by the musicians . Lyrics, once you find a proper traduction, are really obscure. They talk about a man facing death on different situations. If you haven't noticed , musically and lyrically Ys is a concept album.

Of course , this album won't be to everyone's tastes. If you are looking for tranquil melodies you may go for Celeste or PFM since Ys sounds like friggin' apocalypse being captured on a LP.

Highly recomended... If you have the guts.

Report this review (#200179)
Posted Thursday, January 22, 2009 | Review Permalink
Italian Prog Specialist
5 stars Finally, the mighty Ys stand trial. I expected nothing but the best of the best, and I surely got it in this fantastic album.

Holding a place in many RPI lovers' hearts, this is an album that still splits its audience in two. It holds a reputation for being rough, uncompromising and aggressive - and while all that is true, it isn't as frightening as it sounds. It's mostly in comparison to other symphonic prog bands. However, if you're in the mood for the twisted side of PFM's and Le Orme's sometimes pastoral beauty and "classic" classicism - this is where you line up for the ride.

Few records stun you with unfiltered and raw atmosphere of the kind you'll encounter here. Every hint of emotion - emitted from all between a fragile and insecure singe note to relentless battles between keys and guitar - radiates from one single topic: death. And you can feel it. Regardless of the shifting musical sceneries you are still left with the mesmerizing mystery that surrounds the topic. It feels cold, barren and lonely at the same time as it's painfully loaded with intense presence, neurosis and to some extent even fear.

Introduzione's ethereal beginnings (otherworldly female voices, veiled by what can only be described as impending doom) are transformed into a wonderfully suspended background organ. Bleak funeral beauty with a simple phrase repeated over it again and again, introducing some more timbre breadth and frail beauty coming from one of those lovely keys at disposal here. The exposed voice of Gianni Leone will grab you, and with all the other combined effects, it paralyses you in a compressed, boundary-less void. Perfect control of the emotional impact of music.

After that you could say that the album takes off, that the adventure truly begins. Excellent, surprising and visceral drumming, with a feast for keyboard aficionados. Twitchy organ and synth lines, working together or growing out in different directions, ultimately surrounding you. A bass guitar at work deep down in the mix, brooding and unmistakably out-to-get-you. Sudden bizarre breaks, almost like realisations in a soul-searching journey through time and space - the most remarkable one being the return of the female vocals, this time in a distinctly darker way, spiralling down into a place deep down. My favourite part of the song, a slightly dissonant interplay between chaotic piano, organ and later even a blazing guitar solo comes next. Constantly getting louder, faster and more twisted it eventually returns back to the fleeting bonds to reality with a return of the vocals over some distant Mellotron strings. After some nightmarish Gothic ghost story music (spinet included) and pounding, churning bits of drums bass, downright scary guitar howls and other sort of's over. The introduction, that is. However, Primo Incontro's relentless shock effects continue in the vein of the last part of Introduzione, and make sure you understand that meeting this aspect of death isn't nice at all. It's first after the big rock ending and the subsequent spinet melody that the first track really ends.

Erratic is one word that could be used to describe Secondo Incontro, with random and fractured pieces of cataclysmic burst of pure rock mentality, with string-laden Mellotron and vocal aesthetically contrasting in the exposed way known from before. One of the high-points of the album waits in the amazing ending; a hard-hitting explosion of menacing flute, off-beat organ (might even be a horribly mistreated Mellotron) and piano over those action-packed drums and the bass. A collage of swirling, untouchable avant-symphonic attitude if there ever was one. Impressive.

Terzo Incontro marks the biggest shift in the sound up until now. With mutant-jazzy walking bass and a refreshingly abused organ suffering along with a more normal sounding one, which makes up for this evident lack of uniqueness (heh) by wandering aimlessly and rather unmelodious instead. Throw in some out-of-place humming zoning in and out for a while and add the angry instrumental punches and noodling background guitar to get the full picture. A commanding organ guides the listener gently over a section of weird synth effects and slightly contemplative (or perhaps just surprisingly rational) vocals and more of the brain-scrambling intensity of Introduzione.

Epilogo. It's easy to feel that the whole album has been leading up to this. The speedy, rollicking piano/organ and powerful drum salutations oozes of conclusion. But you'll have to wait for another eleven minutes to finally sit back and catch your breath. After some jumpy, confused instrumental dialogue it's a dive right into ELP territory, with a great Emersonian keyboard tour de force providing just as much rhythm as melody. A long-winded interlude follows, bringing everything to a halt. Again a sense of suspended animation; repetitive bass line, taking on the characteristics of a ticking clock - time really is running out. Fractured piano trying to fight its way out of the gloom, weak shunning vocals. Psychedelic swirls and whirls shrouds it all in a bigger and bigger mystery as the volume increases, again with a feeling of conclusion. But it settles down again, becoming more and more stripped of any discernible musical life force, leaving room for echoing spaced-out tranquillity - and then, slashing through the apathy - back to a reprise of the tracks beginning, but with a menacing addition to it at the ending, with the now nothing but scary female voices drifting away into silence. They're twisted, cruel and unavoidable.

Long review, which speaks volumes (ha!) about the album.

5 stars. Masterpiece.


Report this review (#200182)
Posted Thursday, January 22, 2009 | Review Permalink
Avant, Crossover & Neo Teams
5 stars My first impression for this product is...scattered but strict story.

IL BALLETTO DI BRONZO had got to be very famous and brilliant star of Italian progressive rock by this album. Regretfully I've not heard their first album Sirio 2222 and can't say more but if they would not release YS...

In any case, from the beginning the impression is very hard and strong. Very calm but eccentric scat singing is spread out and lyrical sound of keyboard and vocal (by GIANNI LEONE) follows. This part should inspire us listeners...every time we listen. After that, jazzy drumming and bass play, and noisy guitar sound are all exploded. Almost all of YS fans say the work's constructed by GIANNI's keyboard and voice, and cembalo, guitar noise. Beg your pardon but I wanna say the most important source of this work is rhythm section by VITO MANZARI's bass and GIANCARIO STINGA's drum & percussion. I suggest the static and dynamic states of this album should be well-controled by their rhythm section. My first impression was mentioned as above but this album would not get great without skill and thought to the music by each member. Before and after Primo Incontro the fighting of cembalo and erosive guitar is beyond words. The highlight of this album I consider. Against the fight GIANNI's lyrical voice hits and attacks. Immediately heavy sound' gone away and cembalo sound twinkles like candlelight.

Secondo - Terzo Incontro is more unrefined and full of heavy, jazzy sound. Completely all instrumentals together should attack and break our brain out. I feel GIANNI's shout is so pretty...

Epilogo has eccentric but strict rhythm and sound, and dark and depressive tune. May I say this song has two faces and minds of human?

If they could release such an excellent masterpiece, it's perhaps natural they should be broken and split out. What a NON-theoretical work this is!

Report this review (#200508)
Posted Saturday, January 24, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars The "Introduzione" to this album is fifteen minutes of some of the best prog I've ever heard in my life. A deliciously eerie vocal intro leads to a brooding declamation over organ, which gives way to a steadily building tension that explodes into a frenetic 7/8 jam which you won't ever want to end. Keyboards are front and center, harmonies are crunchy and inventive, and the sound is oh so Italian. The album is worth way more than the price of admission for this track alone. It's on the top 10 list of "tracks I'd cover if I could."

The rest of the album is well worth listening to, but at some point I found myself listening to it less and less--the brooding anxiety and weirdness of the music has gotten to me as the years pass. But there's tons of interesting experimentation and creativity to dig into from beginning to end. And who wouldn't like the way they end with the introduction in retrograde?

Report this review (#226768)
Posted Wednesday, July 15, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Rock Progressivo Italiano typically falls into one of two categories: the more romantic, melodic strain heard in early PFM, or the heavier hardcore rock of bands like OSANNA and MUSEO ROSENBACH. One look at the mock-antique sepia portraits on the back sleeve of their best album should tell you which side of the symphonic fence Il Balletto di Bronzo belongs: these guys look like the ultimate '70s stoners, ready to mug unsuspecting tourists in the back alleys of urban Napoli.

Which is pretty much what this acclaimed 1972 album does to likewise unwary listeners. The band's entire reputation rests on this one effort, often identified (in the sort of unscientific poll any Prog Archives forum regular should recognize) as the best Progressive Rock album ever. That's a hyperbolic claim to be sure: it probably wasn't even the best album from its own country that year (Italy in the 1970s was a Prog hotspot second only to Greater Britain). But it was an impressive achievement nevertheless, and one that has aged well after so many years.

The arrangement of tracks (introduction, three movements, epilogue) suggests a quasi- classical attitude at work, but don't be fooled: there's some harsh and uncompromising modern music here. The closest contemporary equivalent might be the gothic excess of early VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR (with only a little mental arithmetic it can almost be heard as a primitive cousin to 'Pawn Hearts'). An echo of the album's often outrageous energy can even be distinguished today in the music of (among others) THE MARS VOLTA, a chip off the same anything-goes psychedelic block, thirty years removed.

The typically thin early '70s production needs to be forgiven, but with so much happening at any given moment it's easy to be (happily) distracted. Keyboard maestro Gianni Leone probably earns the most attention, with his burning organ chords, icy Mellotron, and delicate touch at the spinet (he also provides the distinctively strident lead vocals). But it's a true band effort, and the balance of the quartet (bass, drums, electric guitar) contributes plenty of muscle.

The bonus track, a radio-friendly single from the following year, is more conventional and thus less interesting. But it provides a nice contrast to the upended anthill of music elsewhere on the album, and closes the expanded CD on a note of welcome grace and efficiency.

Report this review (#231962)
Posted Sunday, August 16, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Wow, this album is freaking good! Think dark and eerie King Crimson but with powerful Emerson like keyboards as well. There is also fast fast guitar in places. This is what Progressive rock should be for me. I have had it playing for the last couple of hours on repeat and I can't find any weak spots. This album sounds much better with a good set of headphones. Some reviewers have mentioned that they don't like the singing, but it sounds good to me. I have no hesitations in calling this a masterpiece. I just wish they had put out more albums like this one!
Report this review (#244633)
Posted Wednesday, October 14, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars Hailed as one of the best Italian Prog Rock albums in Classic Rock present Prog Rock # 3, I thought it was a good idea to finally purchase this album. I was not let down, although I do not agree with their assessment of this album.

This album can best be described as something between ELP, Yes and Soft Machine anno Bundles. Add some Italian scene flavour to it too and you get this album. The opening fifteen minutes long track Introduzione is very intense and includes all the bands mentioned above. It is a brilliant track in it's jazzy epic symphonic prog style. More jazz than prog, I have to add. The rest of this album does not live up to this track in quality. The album fizzles out in an avant-garde territory with little purpose and aim. Actually; it feels like left over stuff from an ELP recording session. I like ELP, but not this kind of stuff. Thankfully, I got the CD and the bonus track La Tua Casa Comoda is a very good typical Italian symphonic prog song with a lyrical theme.

Quality wise, this is a very good album and fans of this scene probably allready have it in their record collection. I am not overwhelmed of joy, but I admit this is a unique and perhaps genre defining album. Maybe it will grow on me in the years to come because I will keep this album close to my heart (Read: My CD player which doubles up as my heart). But it is not an essential prog rock album. But I still like it.

3.75 stars

Report this review (#245390)
Posted Tuesday, October 20, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Looking for a (mental) challenge?

Some love it, some hate it, some really hate it. It's a real step in your progressive development when you finally enjoy this record; it means you grew to a point where you can appreciate bizarre and incoherent material. It's a point I believe not many people aspire to reach because of the ton of chaos you have to digest to seize the goal. And Ys is about chaos at 90%, the rest is probably accidental melody. I don't believe that the keyboardist has the genie some claim to give him, but the drummer deserves a huge round of applause. This man has arms of iron and a back that can take damage beyond any metal bands I've heard. What a machine.

Creepy, eerie and dark, this album has the headache potential of the supreme Italian albums, that soooo many get discouraged just by looking at the cover.

If you get beyond this critic and enjoy it at last, you have what we call a real open mind.

Wherever you are Gianchi Stringa, we salute you.

Report this review (#245527)
Posted Wednesday, October 21, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Critics in Japan put various adjectives for their music characters at time when this album was announced in Japan where I lived. To introduce this album, critics put out and were describing the name of EL&P and King Crimson.

The performance with the band originally ..doing.. will not be able to describe other musicians' names. The opinion of the critic in Japan has extracted only making and the atmosphere of the sound of this band. The point that the album was announced in 1972. And, this album is an overwhelming might, is performance power, and is composed. Those elements might be one of the masterpieces that involve overwhelming composition power, expression of feelings, and aggressiveness compared with the music character of the band in other Italy.

The group that was called "Battitori Selvaggi" in the latter half of the 60's existed in Naples. This group was taking an active part by the organization of four people including the singer of working full-time. And, it changes into the name that is called this group "Il Balletto Di Bronzo" and it has developed. Men who contracted to RCA announced "Neve Calda/Comincio Per Gioco" of the single in 1969. And, "Si,Mama Mama/Meditazione" and "Sirio 2222" were announced in 1970.

It is said that they were temporarily in the state of dissolution after announcing 1st Album. However, guitar player's Lino Ajello and drum player's Gianchi Stringa receive keyboard player's Gianni Leone in the band. The composition power of ensemble and the tune of the band might have advanced greatly because the keyboard player had joined the band. The power of the overwhelming performance and album might be splendid. And, they add Vito Manzari from Rome to the band. "YS" appeared by this fact.

It was said that "YS" had quoted the name of the island that appeared in the book that Gianni Leone had read at that time. And, Gianni Leone made remarks on an appearance at that time recollecting it. 「Time when this album had been announced was good time. And, the tour in Italy was dared. Spectators who had the education evaluated the music of the band. However, spectators who liked easy sweet sound might have thought the music of the band to be difficult. 」It is partial of the sorrow of the album. And, the element of the baroque. Might it flow in an aggressive sound and the flow that unites the consideration of beauty flow to this album consistently.

"Introduzione" twines with the song the keyboard with the sound of the solemnity and starts. The sound of a keyboard advanced attended with the dash feeling has originality. A composition advanced attended with the rhythm of seven continues the tension and aggressiveness. The tune becomes intenser on the way. A guitar, a keyboard, and a complete chorus reach the peak. Solo of organ developed attended with rhythm of fast seven. Exploding guitar. The tune progresses showing various respects. The composition might be overwhelming. The fast and slow of the rhythm of the part of the rhythm of five that continues the tension and 6 is also splendid.

"Primo Incontro" continues the rhythm of five of "Introduzione" and the line of Bass. The element of the baroque and the offensive power of the guitar develop further and advance. The tune is concluded attended with the sound of a beautiful baroque while repeating the explosion before long intermittently.

The start of "Second Incontro" might be perfect. The listener can continue getting excited. Beauty and the attack intermittently done from the part of a cappella attended with the progress of complete Chord are overwhelming. The flow that shifts from the part of a complex rhythm to the rhythm of six is overwhelming.

"Terzo Incontro" advances while having shifted from the part of Coda of "Second Incontro" to the line of Bass. Flow of distorted sound. Appointment of the complete chorus. Aggressiveness and the beauty intermittently done are kept. The sound with the song and diversity pulls a part advanced as an intense face is produced.

"Epilogo" starts by the rhythm and the arrangement that develops intensely. An aggressive part and the arrangement of the piano are also splendid. Line of Bass that continues anacatesthesia. Arrangement of Mellotron. Complete offensive power. The composition that flows through the whole volume including the chorus might be splendid.

The expression of feelings of "La Tua Casa Comoda" might be an approach from another angle of the band. The melody of the song put on the progress of Chord has succeeded. A composition advanced as their senses are drawn out enough might have good atmosphere.

The melody of "Donna Vittoria" with fast Passage and expression of feelings is impressive. The progress of good Chord twines while adding elements of a few baroques. Their good atmosphere is expressed well though the song doesn't appear.

Energy into which "YS" was involved will have been a content with originality exactly in the band in Italy at that time.

Report this review (#259670)
Posted Wednesday, January 6, 2010 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Prog Specialist
4 stars When somebody mentions any Italian Progressive band from the 70's, the first image we make in our minds consists of strong musicianship, melodic Symphonic, probably some GENESIS or ELP influence, pastoral atmospheres and traditional vocals in their beautiful language...Well, except for the musicianship "Ys" by "Il Balletto di Bronzo" has very little in common with this stereotype.

Their sound is absolutely dissonant and aggressive, hardly any Symphonic characteristic and no GENESIS or ELP influence, most surely because "Il Balletto di Bronzo" released their first album ("Sirio 2222") in 1970 when both British Symphonic icons were in diapers, and what's even stranger, unlike any of the most complex Italian ensembles, we can't even find KING CRIMSON reminiscences, "Il Balletto di Bronzo" sounds exclusively as "Il Balletto di Bronzo".

Before I started writing this review, and because it's almost impossible to describe this insanity, I did something I rarely do....Checked some reviews, and it's absolutely mind blowing to find that some intelligent members describe this band as Symphonic

For God's sake, "Ys" is an incredibly complex fusion of Psychedelia a la Hendrix, Hard Rock, some Jazzy elements and the most original form of Progressive Rock that came out from Italy, it's so brutal, that each time I listen the whole album, I feel as if had finished a 10 round fight with the CMB heavyweight champion.

I won't even attempt the epic task of describing the album song by song, because it's almost an impossible, being that from the mermaid like chants on "Introduzione" until the last dissonant instant of insane vocals and breathtaking guitar - keyboard interplay break my schemes.

And that's only the tip of the iceberg, as the album advances it gets more schizophrenic and unexpected, even for a Prog listener who is used to the radical and abrupt changes plus unusual timing, this guys are a step ahead, the only thing you can expect is the unexpected.

But despite I'm a melodic Prog fan over all the other genres, I enjoyed "Ys" from start to end, if you want to take the risk, do it, it's rewarding, but please don't expect beautiful melodies as in PFM or almost lyrical passages as in BANCO DEL MUTUO SOCCORSO.......Even better expect nothing at all, the most unnatural sound you can imagine will be less surprising than this fantastic release.

My rating is 4 stars, maybe when I completely understand it I will add the extra star, but still and after several years, I'm trying to completely decipher this magnificent example of adventurous Progressive Rock.

Report this review (#273061)
Posted Saturday, March 20, 2010 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
4 stars If there's one album for which I'll boldly confirm the 5 star warning notice for the 80th time out of 800 reviews in 8 months, it's sure Il Balleto Di Bronzo's Ys. This album is the perfect choice for celebrating a passion for music being turned into a manic obsession!

It's the band's second album and as with most RPI bands, the artistic vision and maturity reached so early in the career is stunning. It's as if the whole country was caught in a blizzard of youthful energy and creativity.

Il Balleto Di Bronzo crafted a jewel of an album here. Split into 5 separate tracks, the album makes for one continuous listen. Only the CD bonustrack La Tua Casa Comoda stands apart from the remainder of the album. The music is very eclectic and hard to describe as they don't have a dominating influence from one particular band or style. There are traces of 60's acid rock, there's experimental jazz-rock in the vein of Soft Machine, there are organ parts and time signatures reminiscent of ELP, there a classical (baroque) influences and of course, as on so many early RPI albums, there's a looming presence of Van Der Graaf Generator lunacy. The sound is energetic, frantic and rocking.

The vocals especially are very special, Gianni Leone doesn't sing in conventional melodic ways but uses his voice almost like a horn, jabbing and punching anxiously like Miles Davis' trumpet. It's a bit off-putting at first but it's very original and it fits very well in the overall sound. Looking at the band pictures, these guys also really look the part. Most metal bands could only dream to look so spontaneously scary and cool as them.

In a genre renowned for its difficult band and album names, the title Ys is a relief. Finally an album title I can pronounce without biting my tongue. Be careful though as it's the only thing that is readily accessible about this album. The music is so unique and bewildering that it needs many repeated listens before it might starts making sense. Dazzling and absolutely essential.

Report this review (#279970)
Posted Friday, April 30, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Before anyone checks out Il Balletto Di Bronzo's Ys for the first time I'd recommend that they be in full control of their senses because this album crosses the line between neurosis and psychosis. I recently saw a message in the ProgArchives forums that described the RPI genre as ''wishy washy''. I wouldn't want to lambaste anyone for saying that, but I think it's fair to say the person that posted that message maybe hasn't heard this album.

Ys is definitely not on the romantic, melodic side of RPI. The overall atmosphere is dark, oppressive and menacing; it hardly represents the pastoral idyll that some may associate with the genre. I know from other reviews that Ys concerns three encounters with representations of Death; while I don't understand the Italian lyrics, the florid storytelling and highly-strung, declamatory style of vocalist Gianni Leone help to create a suitably intense mood. Add to that the turbulent nature of the music, which at times seems out of control, and Ys can seem like musical bedlam. There are a few moments of relative calm spread thinly throughout the album but these moments do little to really lessen the agitated, unnerving atmosphere.

Ys is an eclectic mix of styles. It's very heavy with some robust bass and drums, it's symphonic at times though full of dissonance, and it incorporates elements of Baroque and Avant-garde. In addition to singing, Leone plays a variety of keyboards, and Ys is a very keyboards-orientated album. There are swathes of sinister-sounding Mellotron, but Moog, piano and organ all feature heavily. Leone even adds some celeste and spinet; the spinet is actually quite prominent and provides much of the album's nervous tension. Guitarist Lino Ajello is no slouch either but basically he's relegated to a fairly auxiliary role, and in fact the guitar is absent on recent live performances of the suite.

Ys is dramatic, intense, and chaotic, and pretty much like nothing else I know. Recommended, but with the one caveat that this album is not for the faint-hearted.

Report this review (#290601)
Posted Saturday, July 17, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars On Ys, the second album from Il Balletto Di Bronzo, the progression and maturity shown since Sirio 2222 is quite staggering and as a result has become regarded as a highly important album of the Italian prog scene, though admittedly it won't be to everyone's taste.

Gone is the psychedelic tinged blues rock with the beat group overtones to be replaced by something far more satisfying. The biggest factor in allowing this progression is the introduction of keyboards into their sound and not only does Gianni Leone supply these, but he has also taken over the vocal duties, marking another improvement. The sound is more complex with some particularly fine keyboard work but equally so the rest of the band has come on leaps and bounds as players, though bassist Vito Manzari is a new arrival also. They produce a diverse sound combining elements of symphonic prog with jazzy flourishes and even the occasional Avant moment. It all goes to create on the five compositions a busy and complex sound, often fairly aggressive, that on first impressions is a lot to take in and may even come across as a bit on the messy side. Nevertheless perseverance will reveal an excellent album of maturity and exciting music.

If you've already explored the more obvious choices in the RPI genre and are now looking to explore some new ground and are up for a challenge then Ys could be the album for you. Give it a go, it's well worth the effort.

Report this review (#294127)
Posted Wednesday, August 11, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars A bit of a freaky release this one. It's ultimately ruined by Gianni Leone's weak and untuneful vocals. The rest of it is excellent and highly unpredictable, but having a poor vocalist is a hammer blow for any band.

Two years after their first stinker of a recording that had a horrible 'Hendrix' feel to it , this appears. 'YS' is a completely different album, reminding me in parts of the more discordant side of King Crimson. The music is often chaotic and continually jumping off at tangents. The appearance of a few female vocal parts is a welcome addition contributing to the slightly sinister feel to proceedings.

Honestly, from one second to the next, it's impossible to tell where this is going. They're a bit like the 'Cardiacs' in that way. The highlight is 'Epilogo'. One of those tracks that sounds like impending doom hanging over your shoulders.

One things for sure - it's certainly original and is frequently bonkers - which is probably why it appears on the 'Nurse With Wound' list. Powerful stuff.

Report this review (#298314)
Posted Friday, September 10, 2010 | Review Permalink
Post/Math Rock Team
5 stars What an album! This stuff is just great. I wish all RPI sounded like this. I guess a lot of the people who rate this album low like they're Italian prog all nice and predictable. This ain't no PFM! I've heard a lot of people claim that Osanna's Palepoli or Museo Rosenbach's Zarathustra sounds similar to this album. Not to my ears. Neither of those two albums sound as exciting or original as the music found on Ys. Bronzo's first album doesn't sound anything like this either. It's too bad a lot of these Italian bands only released one or two albums. I would have liked to see what this group in particular would have done between 1973-75. It boggles the mind.

Even though the music here is divided into seperate tracks, it is one whole piece(like Thick As A Brick). There is nothing here that makes me want to skip anything. What you get here is a mix of hard rock/psychedelic rock, jazz and classical along with some emotive Italian- style singing. Oh, and there's some female vocals. Those female, they're crazy, I love 'em! They sound like the cousins of Hatfield's Northettes who just escaped from a mental institution. Seriously, you can just picture these girls in straight-jackets when they recorded their vocals. I love the part in "Introduzione" where they sing all fast and crazy; they sound like turkeys going "gobble, gobble, gobble, gobble, gobble". This album brings tears to my ears, because that part makes me laugh so hard! Did I mention how great this album is yet?

I don't understand any of the lyrics, but I'm the kind of person who thinks of vocals as just another instrument, so it doesn't matter to me. Apparently this tells the story of some dude who dies and goes to hell and meets his dead relatives. Or something like that. Apart from the guitar, bass, drums and vocals you get a nice mix of keyboards: piano, harpsichord, Hammond, Mellotron and Moog. I hear a bit of vibraphone or something similar as well. I don't think the Italians get enough credit for their pioneering use of synthesizers. Everybody talks about the Berlin school, and the British bands, and the fusion guys. But in 1972 almost none of them were yet using synths. Italian artists like Bronzo, Banco and Battiato had mastered synthesizers before people like Tony Banks, Chick Corea, Klaus Schulze or Kraftwerk ever started to use them. In fact, at this point the only ones in the prog world really using synths were Emerson, Wakeman, Zappa, Popol Vuh and Gentle Giant(on their studio albums anyway).

This is such a fantastic album. The music is all over the place and when you listen to this for the first time, you don't know what's coming next. Some copies have the bonus song "La Tua Casa Comoda". It's more 'normal' sounding then anything on the album, but it's just a throwaway to me. It's hard to describe the music here, but it reminds me of ELP(at their craziest) crossed with VDGG(at their craziest). What a great album. Seriously, sell your kids and buy this album. You won't regret it. 5 stars.

Report this review (#305736)
Posted Wednesday, October 20, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars "YS" is the darkest, wildest, weirdest and maybe most genial album of the Italian prog of the '70s. Written, sung and mostly played by Gianni Leone, a then-18 enfant prodige of the keyboards, "YS" a claustrophobic and apocalyptic rock opera about the last man on Earth. Not an easy album and definitively an album that needs several listenings to appreciate fully this masterpiece of Italian darkest and heaviest prog. Maybe we can complain the slightly irritant vocals by Leone or the not fully convincing lyrics (but I repeat that Leone was just 18 when wrote them), but "YS" is still a wonderful piece of work with an incredible set of complex keyboards part. Definitively a 5-stars album!
Report this review (#358449)
Posted Monday, December 20, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars There are many other reviews of "YS" so I really can't add very much. I give it 5 stars because this album is the most claustrophobic and extreme effort of the Italian production from the 70s'? and it's all by a boy who was under 20 when he recorded this! Gianni Leone is an amazing talented keyboard hero and author (I'm less into his vocals) and dominated the band's sound all over. There are many incredible moments in this long compositions, as long as Leone deal with all kind of keyboards and many genres, from hard rock (we're in the early 70s'...) to jazz, to classical, to atmosphere. It's a pity that these (this?) artist(s) never succeeded in repeating such an intense and extreme work. 5 stars!
Report this review (#382409)
Posted Tuesday, January 18, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Powerful, in-your-face, confrontational, emotional, and compelling music. Very thoughtful, intentional song construction and performances telling the story of an individual's encounters with darkness and Death. Rarely is music so well fit to the theme of its story content as it has been rendered here. Though many give credit to singer-keyboard whiz Gianni Leone for this project, I must here give proper recognition and adulation to the other three band members as well as the female choir: all are integral--even essential--to the overall effect of this music! I cannot begin to imagine the chilling effect of desperation and fear to be so well rendered without the wild, powerful and often jarring contributions of lead guitarist Lino Ajello, without the eery and unsettling gifts of the background "angel" vocalists, and certainly not without the incredibly tight, subtly virtuosic, and unfailingly steady groundwork supplied by bass player Vito Manzari and drummer Giancarlo Stringa. Gianni may have been in the driver seat but his vision would never be so successfully realized were it not for his highly skilled crew members (who must have fed off of Gianni's vision in order to have performed at such a laser-focused level).

1. "Introduzione" (15:11) opens with female voices followed by long, sustained organ chords before singer Gianni Leone begins to tell the story. At the three minute mark the music shifts into fourth gear. Four almost tow minutes, while Gianni sings, the band cruises along very tightly. Then everything shifts to a kind of long bridge of stops and stars, female choir singing "da-da-da-das" before the band breaks into a new NEKTAR-like groove with keyboards and then guitars taking the foreground for soloing. This goes on for over minutes with some searing organ and guitar work over the rock-solid bass and drum foundation. Then, at 9:38, everything shifts to a new spacey, almost Kosmisches section with dreamy, floating drums and bass through which Mellotron and Gianni's voice Then at 11:35 things shift back into the fourth gear for a bit before settling into a new middle-paced but menacing groove over which Gianni sings. The non-singing sections ramp up into a harpsichord-propelled higher gear, alternating over the final four minutes with the mid-paced vocal sections. This back-and-forth style is carried forward into the next "song." (I can see that the album is really intended to be one "song" as the songs all flow one into the other without breaks or gaps.) One distinctly gripping aspect of Side One of this album is the vocal pitch and style chosen by Gianni in his delivery of these lyrics about this individual "Voice" and his descent and travels into the depths of internal and/or spiritual darkness. Brilliant! And showing such fortitude and commitment. (9.5/10)

2. "Primo Incontro" (3:27) is a continuation of the last section of the "Introduzione" with new inputs from the lead guitar (power strums, fuzz, piercingly clear) and different variations and contributions from the chorus voices. Gianni's lead vocal melody and styling remains rock steady, consistent. (9.5/10)

3. "Secondo Incontro" (3:06) opens side two with a single full band hit which is then followed by a section of heavily echoed a cappella vocal "cries" which transitions into a kind of power bridge before Gianni sings in a more fatigued, plaintive voice styling over Mellotron. The alternating powerful instrumental sections with these sparsely backed vocal sections continues over the course of the song. (9.5/10)

4. "Terzo Incontro" (4:33) shows an immediate shift into more uptempo jazz lines--especially from bass and drums. The electric guitar is in continuous solo mode though all of its notes are being trapped in a heavily-oscillating squealing electronic effect while piano and organs and "boom-boom" vocals coming from the angel choir. It's not until 90 seconds into the song that things thin out and Gianni begins to sing. The walking bass and jazzy drum lines remain constant and fixed throughout the first three minutes but then there is a sudden drop off and a squirrelly synth-backed vocal bridge occurs which is then alternated with a couple of full-on ELP-like bursts to the song's end. (9.5/10)

5. "Epilogo" (11:30) opens at breakneck pace with bass and drums admirably keeping up every step of the way with Gianni's classically-trained piano and organ play. electric guitar and other electric keyboard and organ sounds are introduced with a new funked up, almost military-style rhythm foundation. Very cool! Then, at 2:35, everything quiets down for some Mellotron, creepy intermittent bass and piano riffs with Daevid -like glissando guitar floating around. The intermittent and syncopated instrumental interjections continue as the vocalist seems to be acting stressed. When he does finally start singing, he sounds so tired, perhaps defeated--while the music sounds perhaps its bleakest, most horrific yet. Is this insanity? Or the state of mind just before one gives up? Panned, flanged drums! cool effect. Heavily flanged bass, screeching guitars sounding like screaming banshees and distonal female voices singing so creepily over the insane piano playing. This continues for about five minutes before things finally . . . die(!?) A Bar-do-like stillness with occasional ripples of activity settles in for a few seconds before an energized "resurrection" ensues at the 9:40 mark. Piano and drums arpeggiating madly, angelic voices singing in unison bursts of encouragement and . . . life? And then an end of floating, heavily treated female voices giving the feeling of noncommitment, nonresolution, mysterious as if the resolution is thrown back at you, the individual, the Voice--as if we are being told that it's all up to you, it all results are fully dependent on personal choice--on self-reliance, self-sufficiency, self-empowerment. (10/10) What a shocking, surprising end! Was he saved or entering Purgatory/the Afterlife? I guess only Gianni Leone and Il Balletto di Bronzo know.

While I consider this a masterpiece of both rendering and performance, as well as of conception, start to finish--the style of music and dated period-entrapped sound are not nor have they ever been my favorites. The creative delivery of this material using all kinds of incredibly inventive effects and techniques is worthy of high, high praise, for Gianni Leone and Il Balletto di Bronzo have left behind this, a stellar masterpiece fully displaying the true and ultimate potential of music, progressive or otherwise.

A full five stars; a true masterpiece of human artistry.

Report this review (#459473)
Posted Sunday, June 12, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars I can think of no other band making such an enormous jump from one album to the next than Il Balletto di Bronzo. Their 1970 debut Sirio 2222 was a heavy psych/proto metal release - solid, but not exactly Prog. Enter Gianni Leone: The keyboardist and singer brought with him an arsenal of sound-shaping instruments, a challenging and frenetic energy, and an ostentatious concept with accompanying lyrics. Ys was the result...a rock band playing opera music...not a rock opera, mind you, but a full-fledged opera in five movements or "encounters," all designed to paint a bleak, apocalyptic vision. Often described as a masterpiece of the Italian movement, I can think of no better word to describe it; Ys is unquestionably a masterpiece of RPI, though each listener will approach and leave it a bit differently. But each one is undoubtedly changed, at first unsure why such brashness and violently terrifying arrangement and instrumentation is necessary to achieve its purpose, but eventually reaching the realization that they have experienced something special and different. It is that singular experience that makes Ys a work of art.

The chilling, siren-like voice that announces "Introduzione" is a now iconic moment in prog, but it's easy to see why upon release Ys was largely misunderstood or even avoided. This is not a lullaby. "Introduzione" is a 15-minute nightmare, taking the listener on a startling musical journey. Leone sings competently enough but it's his keyboard work that takes front and center - a battery of organ, piano, Moog, Mellotron and plucked keys generously drive the group, while the remaining band plays more of a support role. This is particularly true of guitar, which typically takes a back seat to drums and bass. The apropos accompaniment perfectly showcases Leone's grand scheme, and allows his brand of calculated insanity to roam and soar. The end of "Introduzione" prefaces "Primo Incontro," the first of three short movements. The combination of twisted tremolo guitar and unexpected spinet is an enticing combination, with plenty of explosive drum work and tasteful bass playing that only adds to the complex track.

"Secondo Incontro" is the closest Ys ever gets to traditional rock music, as Leone sings a bluesy introduction that quickly transforms into a brilliant vocal melody, frighteningly supported by Mellotron. The snare drum pops and bounces like a ping pong ball while bass slyly segues to "Terzo Incontro." This third encounter features organ and choir, as drums bubble under the surface, only coming up for air at the end of each phrase in a tense fashion. This suspenseful tension is fully heightened in "Epilogo," which begins with a repeating sextuplet figure before establishing something far more sinister. If you want to sleep tonight, I would strongly recommend skipping the middle of "Epilogo." Get up, grab a drink, check the mail, whatever. Don't come back for five minutes. The morbidly curious will likely be scared beyond imagination. Those that survive are generously rewarded with one of the most haunting moments in all of Italian Prog. You should already own Ys, but if you don't, get it now.

Report this review (#491256)
Posted Wednesday, July 27, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Absolutely brilliant, those guys. They do not resemble to anyone in terms of music.They are a sort of Leonardo da Vinci when we think about what's possible to do with creative minds. Precursors. People opening new doors. Odd times and signatures, suspended atmospheres, sustained pace and precise interactions (interplay). Voices coming up from elsewhere and nowhere (erewhon?). Schizophrenia and sweetness. Astounding musicianship. These italian comediants do not belong to anyone, maybe to their selves. Leone's voice is a strange thought coming from beyond the sky and heart and Earth. There's a precision and some hallucination in the way they play all togheter. Miracle is the outcome.
Report this review (#581361)
Posted Saturday, December 3, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Wonderfully Horrific Keyboard Dominated Prog

I have a strange appetite for dark, somewhat gothic music. I've acquired my share of vampiric albums over the years and alongside Comus' First Utterance, Univers Zero's Heresie, and Arachnoid's self titled album, I would put YS on the list of the best 70's horror prog. Il Balletto Di Bronzo's magnum opus, while still certainly still RPI, transcends the genre and really is one of the jewels of the dark music realm.

Singer and keyboardist Gianni Leone clearly runs the show here, with warbly synth sounds alternating time with harpsichord, nasty church organs, celeste, and even a little piano. The pace varies widely from wide open plodding sections to frenetic racing interludes. Always though is the dark mood, a sense of looming danger, of moonlight and cold. Guitarist Lino Ajello's tone is icy and sharp, and often quite chaotic. The bass tone is big and round (just the way I like mine) and occupies a big share of the mix. Drums are organic and lively.

While the tone and mood really demand attention, the compositional elements are quite strong on this album. The intertwining lines that open the Epilogo are especially tasty to this prog lovers ears. The band also clearly has some strong jazz roots with the rhythm section using walking bass over swing beats on the wonderfully deranged "Terzo." Where else could you get a baroque harpsichord simultaneous with a smoky bass line straight out of some beat poet's accompaniment?

While the whole album is good, the last two songs are easily my favorite. I exclude the throwaway bonus track which adds nothing but time to the disc. This is probably my third favorite of my 10-15 RPI albums, very very good but still not quite a masterpiece. But if you like really dark prog, this may be a must get.

Report this review (#650987)
Posted Thursday, March 8, 2012 | Review Permalink
Retired Admin
5 stars The joyful sensation of being shot out of a canon

Some albums fortunately escape categorisation - quite simply because they are impossible to pin down. They bask in the sunlight of their own unnatural ways and give to you something unique and at times bonkers as cats. I've read a couple of reviews that relegated Ys as the album you never remember anything from. I don't feel that way though. Every inch of this record is deeply ingrained in my cerebral cortex, even if the moods change at the drop of the hat, only not in a Gentle Giant way, but far more monstrous and psychedelic.

With Arthur Brown on Italian vocals teaming up with ELP, Amon Düül ll, Gong, Area, Van Damme Generator, King Crimson and a 70s version of The Mars Volta, Il Balletto di Bronzo jump through hoops and burning buildings like the best of them. This is flexible music right here people - it bends and writhes - transforms evolves, takes nosedives on purpose only to jump back on it's feet - sprint, galloping furiously across the plains. If you want an album with loads of surprises, complex sections and a groove that'll frighten pacemaker patients, then Ys is your go to album from now on. It's just about the most successful attempt at creating a true Frankenstein monster out of sound.

You get insanely jittery classical pianos, gooey spacey guitars see-sawing back and forth in the music, and rides that scoop up everything fabulous and shiny from the spacey jazz rock of Canterbury. This last trade really comes to the fore in the tune Epilogo that starts out wonderfully erratic and symphonic, recalling a strangely confused Emerson composing freeform in the shed following a rather large tonic of vodka and coke. Eventually the temper jolts back into a slow groove, and the bass and drums commence a wild and beautiful duet taking you places only known to hawks and mountain climbing giraffes. It almost feels like Gong, but then again it's something completely different.

Melody wise you'll be reaching for your spare brain though...... It's not totally bereft of melody, but remarkably so they often only exist in some 30 seconds, and then the course shifts, gives you a wet Willy and embarks on an entirely new heading. Still with that good old piano and the additional leads you get from keyboards, harpsichord, Hammond organ, Mellotron and Moog - you often find yourself able to whistle small fractions of this album during awkward bus rides and occasionally while you're listening to the album itself. You gotta be quick about it though, or else you'll miss it!

Il Balletto di Bronzo's main course is obviously not for people with sensitive stomachs, but if you've got a thing for grooves - like in an infinitely funky, earth moving music that'll rustle up your kidneys, then you are looking at the mother load right here. As strange as it seems, I tend to think of Ys as a masterpiece of fusion sage rated RPI and symphonic Krautrock - one that relies heavily on grooves, and moreover a superhuman focus on establishing concord with only those - make them work and zing - funnelling them maniacally into the machine and see what comes out on the other side.

34985 stars and a free sightseeing tour to the loony bin.

Report this review (#997891)
Posted Sunday, July 14, 2013 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars One of the legendary and darker Italian Prog bands of all-time, Il Balletto di Bronzo came from Napoli and were formed as Battitori Selvaggi inl ate-70's.Marco Cecioni on guitars/vocals, Lino Ajello on guitars, Michele Cupaiuolo on bass and Giancarlo Stinga were the original line-up, that put up the ''Sirio 2222'' album in 1971 on RCA, actually a good Heavy/Psychedelic Rock album.Afterwards Cupaiuolo and Cecione left the band to be replaced by keyboardist Gianni Leone and bassist Vito Manzari.The entrance of Leone brough a significant change to style as presented on the second album ''Ys'', released in 1972 on Polydor.

Considered by many prog listeners as a masterpiece of Progressive Rock, ''Ys'' kicks off with the long ''Introduzione'', a mix of complex Symphonic Rock ala E.L.P. and typical Italian Hard Prog of the OSAGE TRIBE/JUMBO school.With absolutely angular guitar riffs and solos and a Gianni Leone spreading out all his keyboard talent, the composition is characterized by its mournful Mellotron interludes, the sudden synth breaks and the powrerful organ washes, as ''Introduzione'' changes tempos and moods in a blink of an eye, making it at the same time a rather inconsistent but strangely attractive listening at the same time.The irritating vocals of Leone, already present from the start, continue on ''Primo incontro'' with its bizzare rhythms supported by sharp, psychedelic guitars and the dreamy harsichord of Leone in another schizophenic arrangement.''Secondo Incontro'' is closer to MUSEO ROSENBACH, a passionate track where alternating Mellotron, flute strings and organs complete a frenetic trip into Il Balletto di Bronzo's adventurous skills.''Terzo Incontro'' combines the very complex Prog of the band with another poetic performance by Leone, based on loose individual performances, like Leone and Ajello work for a different direction.Another complete madness by the group.''Epilogo'' is propably the most consistent of all tracks.Incredible dual keyboard/piano parts with a pounding rhythm section meet a more theatrical and softer side of the group, although a mad atmosphere remains definitely present with over-the-top vocals and abstract jams at moments.However the magnificent piano lines next to the bombastic Mellotron notes offer one of the most unique moments of the album.

The following year Il Balletto di Bronzo split up because of personal arguments and the last single ''La tua casa comoda'' was only played by Leone and Stinga.A rather accesible track, included in many CD reissues of ''Ys'', presenting the more melodic, easy-going still proggy side of the group.Leone released a couple of albums as Leo Nero in late-70's, while the rest of the group moved to Sweden without any further traces.During the 90's Leone fronted the revival of Il Balletto di Bronzo with Romolo Amici on bass and Ugo Vantini on drums, both of Divae fame (whom he helped in their sole release ''Determinazione''), a comeback which lasted till late-00's alongside bass player Marco Capozi and drummer Adolfo Ramundo.

''Ys'' is a strange album indeed.Magnificent and masterful at moments, but maybe a bit too loose and slightly abstract, although the band could produce some really personal atmospheres.Anyway this album is highly recommended for any lover of Classic Italian Prog and strongly recommended to the rest, especially those deep into haunting, doomy and bombastic Progressive Rock...3.5 stars.

Report this review (#999271)
Posted Tuesday, July 16, 2013 | Review Permalink
3 stars Il Balletto di Bronzo is to me an over rated band, I mean Ys album released in 1972 is a good one but fail to impress me big time. It is considered one of the most well known prog albums from italian school and aswell one of the best. Ok, the music is very much ok , but the vocal arrangements distract, I really don't like it, is odd and unintrsting. There are some powerful hammond here, and some lenghty instrumental sections, that a quite like, but always the vocal parts are quite irriating. Anyway I do considered overall a good album, but no more then that, to me is not among the greates italian records ever. The opening track Introduzione is the best by far. 3 stars to this odd album.
Report this review (#1027663)
Posted Tuesday, September 3, 2013 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
5 stars Some albums just make your freak flag fly full staff. YS by the Rock Progressivo Italiano band IL BALLETTO DI BRONZO (the bronze ballet) makes mine fly more than an erection of a horny pony off of Prince's "Lovesexy" album. This album is in a world of its own which incorporates the best of the best as its stomping grounds and for that I am quite enamored since I can't seem to get enough of this eclectic concoction that is a progressive rock version of a wet dream. This album simply satisfies my musical needs on every level and has thus become one of those rare "desert isle" must-haves because of the simple fact it incorporates so much in a single album that it is a near panooptic view of everything prog in the most exciting year of 1972.

Lyrically speaking, non-Italian speakers will not understand that this is a concept album about a man who is the sole survivor left on planet Earth who makes a journey and mysteriously disappears. The mythical city YS is not Italian at all and is actually a Celtic creation that supposedly existed off the coast of Brittany in modern day France. The city represents a magnificent and outstandingly beautiful city in Europe and how it went to hell in a hand basket because of the way it was governed. Hmmm...

Although IL BALLETTO DI BRONZO started out as a hard rock band with their debut album "Sirio 222" they caught the prog bug and went for the jugular in their approach of no holding back on this 2nd album. They simply incorporated every musical trick in the musical universe and deftly honed every possible development to create one of the most satisfying progressive rock albums there is to be had . Upon first listen you may deem this to be the centerpiece of the musical demented and the sonically insane and for that conclusion I cannot rightfully disagree. The fact is that this is extremely complex music that requires a multitude of listens to be able to even come close to "getting" what is going on here. I pride myself on being on the extreme edge of musical "eclecticness" and I must wholeheartedly admit that this release has taken me countless listens to appreciate in its entirety to the level that I appreciate it as I currently do.

This album will test your patience. All I can say is don't let it dissuade you. There are melodies to had. There are progressive fits of wanktitude as well. There is basically everything musically under the sun that makes its way into this recording. Simply don't have any expectations except for the most unorthodox and semi-accessibly bizarre outputs of any musical entity and you just might be able to appreciate this high point in progressive music. It really does reward but not upon first listen. It demands your dedicated attention but in the end won't disappoint. Masterpiece!!!

If you're disappointed by the fact the band broke up after this simply listen to the very well performed pop rock bonus track "La Tua Casa Comoda" that adorns my remastered CD and you would realize how they would have to go down the same path as many progressive bands of the day and realize that releasing an album or two and disbanding may have been the best strategy for musical integrity. Let your freak fly high and embrace this most dizzifying and monstrous concoctions of progressive rock in its full fury. YS is mysterious. YS is energetic. YS is a freakin' full-fledged all encompassing progressive rock experience. I can think of few recordings as progressive as this one and as deserving as the fullest of 5 stars that shine as brightly as this in the vast darkened skies.

Report this review (#1226642)
Posted Wednesday, July 30, 2014 | Review Permalink
4 stars Il Balletto di Bronzo - Ys (1972)

Heavy jazzy basslines, up-tempo drumming, pinchy distorted guitar, loads of keyboard fanaticism and hellish vibes garantue for a lot of excitement - perhaps a bit too much for the avarage Italian prog listener. 'Ys' is among the rare Italian progressive rock records that is both professional and well-recorded.

The album consists of longer tracks in which mostly up-tempo themes are explored, with some symphonic moments the avarage RPI listener will surely enjoy. During the more intense parts Il Balletto di Bronzo sounds like an Italian marriage between early Keith Emerson and Pawn Hearts era Van der Graaf Generator. I expect a majority of listeners will find this album a bit too psychedelic and heavy on the stomach, but I myself can find moments where I can really enjoy such an intense experience. After a few spins the listener finds that there aren't actually that much different part & themes on this album, which makes it easier to digest. I myself like the high pitched Italian vocals with a sweet tone of voice but an almost spooked out performence at times. All instruments in the band are played very well, but the bass-player stands out for me because of the groovy yet melodic lines.

Conclusion. If you like your symphonic prog intense and doomish this is a great pick! Four stars.

Report this review (#1392540)
Posted Friday, April 3, 2015 | Review Permalink
5 stars Ys is about worshipping and love. Its subject is you, the listener. Diving into it feels like being honoured, as if it was written and performed just for you.

What more can I say? Raw Italian beauty, as only the Italians could make at the time.

Because of the magic, the craftmanship, the outstanding performance - I could rattle on for ages - it deserves nothing less than the full five stars.

It needs some time to fully get into it, but that is not uncommon for any true great piece of progressive musical art. In fact it more or less guarantees large amounts of listening joy seeming to be fresh for ever and never able to start to bore.

Report this review (#1543537)
Posted Wednesday, March 23, 2016 | Review Permalink


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