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Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso - Io Sono Nato Libero CD (album) cover


Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso

Rock Progressivo Italiano

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Founding Moderator
4 stars Although I surmise that the album title means "I am born free," since I don't speak Italian, I am at something of a disadvantage regarding the lyrics here. Thus, I must assume that these guys write good lyrics about interesting topics. Having said that, this is my first experience with Banco del Mutuo Soccorso, and I am extremely impressed by the music. Indeed, I am finding that the prog-rock coming out of Italy is arguably the most consistently excellent European prog, from this early entry to more recent bands like Deus ex Machina. Interestingly, I am also finding that the influences on Italian prog-rock as a whole tend to be very similar: ELP, Yes (especially Wakeman), and, unexpectedly (and quite happily), Gentle Giant (among others). Banco del Mutuo Soccorso makes excellent use of its influences, weaving light symphonic sections with heavier prog-rock sections. The musicianship is at a very high level (only Deus ex Machina impresses me as much), especially the keyboard work, and the music is mostly very creative - though there are times when it sounds like they took alot of great ideas and simply strung them together somewhat haphazardly. Still, this does not negatively impact the overall effect of the music, which is excellent. I very much look forward to listening to more of their albums.
Report this review (#1305)
Posted Wednesday, February 25, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Now here is a great recording that will please all fans of Italian Prog. Sophisticated yet delicately beautiful tension building prog with a touch of the ol' psycho - bizarre. This is in my opinion BANCO's finest hour with amazing keyboard work. "Non Mi Rompete" is one of my all time favorite progressive rock tracks as it reaches out with a very sweet spirtual element. This is pure classic prog of the highest intelligence which will please all fans of PFM and Le ORME. "Io Sona nato libero" is a complete recording and offers a wide range from the organ drenched materpiece "Canto Nomande Per Un Prigioniero Politico" the acoustic guitar Soliloquy "Non Mi Rompete". Once again all the lyrics are in Italian so be warned for those who are linguistic-centric! For the rest this will be an album of choice. What always stands out for me on this album is the amount of classical piano used and how well it mixes witht eh rest of the instruments. Fabulous music.....It is essential!
Report this review (#1308)
Posted Saturday, March 13, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Italy in the 70' was not quiet with the prog movement and BMS left a golden mark in History with several excellent albums being their first three, classics of the symphonic-progressive scene. Personally my fav-album of BMS, and in my opinion their Masterpiece. Like PFM "Per un Amico" parts of this epic makes me fell goosebumps.There are so much magic in this album that words are not enough... from the magistral operatica voice of Francesco to the magnificent use of synths/piano by the brothers Nocenzi. Now, please be warned, this is not a CD for the casual listener or the novice prog-fan, and if you decided give it a shot (and in my humble opinion, you should) probably will need several spins to grow on you; but is worth the time and effort... one other note of interest lyrics are of course in Italian. Acoustic at times and ELPesque in other passages this magnificent gem can be now available to you (in you are lucky to get it) on a Japanese killer Miniature pack. So make your self a big favor this year and buy it. Essential. Period.
Report this review (#1309)
Posted Sunday, March 28, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars One of the best albums by " BANCO DEL MUTUO SOCCORSO", containing some different styles, perfectly fitted into the politic protest of that period in Italy, but without forgetting also the instrumental grandeur of their glorious past. Even though honestly you don't find any particular example of their virtuosity, as the focus is more on the lyrics than on their instrumental skill, except on some passages reminding me of KING CRIMSON and YES, characterized but the same ability!! Anyway I prefer the personal imprinting of the other songs, much more original...

Highly Recommended!!

Report this review (#1310)
Posted Thursday, April 1, 2004 | Review Permalink
The Prognaut
5 stars I think this album determines quite a formula for most of the basis absorbed by the 70's italian prog bands. I also think BMS unconsciously created a "prog school" for the bands to come in the next two decades, and not only with this album but with "Darwin" and "Di Terra"; and now we can taste BANCO's creation in contemporary italo prog bands like DEUS EX MACHINA and ARTI E MESTIERI just for pointing out a couple. BANCO's "Io Sono Nato Libero" has beautiful drum and percussion preludes as a manner of "red carpet" for Francesco Di GIACOMO's gifted voice all along this recording. Simply "magnífico!"
Report this review (#1312)
Posted Saturday, April 17, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is without a doubt BANCO at the top of their game. The production has greatly improved over their previous two albums. The lyrics, from what I'm able to determine, seem to have political overtones (but since I don't know Italian, I can't be sure what it's all about). The original LP (on Dischi Ricordi), which I happen to own, comes with a gimmick shaped cover and lyrics to all the songs (sadly the most commonly available CD reissue, on BMG/Ricordi, only has the lyrics to the first two songs).

This is without a doubt BANCO's most experimental album, you know that when you hear the opening cut, "Canto Nomade Per Un Prigioniero Politico". There are some strange passages using synthesizer and Eminent (string organ that sounds like a string synth), plus a part where the band goes in percussion overdrive, courtesy of non-members Silvana Aliotta and Bruno Perosa. Francesco "Mr. Chubbs" di Giacomo seems a bit less overbearing compared to previous albums, and this song proves it. "Non Mi Rompete" seems like the oddball piece as it's largely a straightforward, acoustic ballad, done in a rather sentimental style. It's back to being more experimental with "La Cittŕ Sottile". It starts off with piano and di Giacomo's big voice, eventually the band goes off the deep end with synthesizer experiments, while di Giacomo spouts out something or another (in Italian). "Dopo... Niente č Piů Lo Stesso" is another lengthy piece, in which the piece goes through several changes and themes. Then you get "Traccia II" which is a classically-influenced instrumental piece that starts off with piano and ends with synthesizer.

There is no doubt about it, this is one of the finest albums BANCO has ever done, but be aware: I have often heard this referred to as one of the greatest prog albums ever, in my book that's a bit overexaggerated, but it's still a recommended album and must have.

Report this review (#1313)
Posted Thursday, April 29, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars BANCO sound nothing like PFM in my opinion. Perhaps the odd snippet on this album is a little like some of ELP's music, but I really don't see much overlap and I cannot say with certainty "If you like PFM or ELP then you'll like this". Banco are a different kettle of fish.

This album's tracks include some simple musical themes which are not melodic (but that does not make them bad), whilst other parts are more melodic. There are several parts with complex themes using a mix of instruments which reward careful listening. The inclusion of organ, piano, synthesizer and spinet is pleasing: these instruments don't overwhelm the music but are used liberally throughout and are integral to the music. Acoustic guitar also plays an important role in some places, to good effect.

Francesco Di Giamcomo's voice is certainly powerful, but is not raucous. But he does sound more like he should be singing opera than rock.

In my opinion BANCO sometimes sound a little like LE ORME but are often less melodic and have more variation in tempo and themes within tracks. You really need to listen to the album several times to appreciate just how good it is - and it really is very good.

Report this review (#1314)
Posted Thursday, May 6, 2004 | Review Permalink
James Lee
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Io Sono Nato Libero" is many things: impressive musically, emotionally expressive and incredibly well-produced for 1973. The intricate sections are reminiscent of ELP, but more satisfying in that they incorporate every instrument perfectly instead of being synth-heavy. The singer wisely keeps his delivery flat during the more dramatic swells, which helps trim the pompous factor considerably. The range of tones is notable; from beautiful classical piano and guitar to free-jazz craziness to floating ambience, they demonstate exceptional mastery of diverse elements. I even hear some Indian percussion, which many of the prog bands seemed to avoid (maybe after the late 60s everyone was tired of the psychedelic raga influence- who cares, it sounds great here). There's also some proto-industrial synth noise rhythms! "Non mi rompete" has a more lighthearted touch, and thus reminds me of some of the second side of PINK FLOYD's "Atom Heart Mother"...and the synth at the end brings to mind Wakeman's work on "And You and I", high praise indeed. "La Citta' Sottile" adds some Howe-type guitars and Tony Banks piano (including a part that resembles the intro to "The Lamb Lies down on Broadway") which I would mark as derivative if BANCO hadn't been their contemporaries- or maybe even predecessors. "Dopo..." features more impeccable playing, but the vocal (especially the spoken sections) are just a tiny bit too musical- theater. Finally, "Traccia II" has a nice synth-classical feel not unlike Wakeman or Emerson playing a more intricate MOODY BLUES composition. Criticisms? The transitions are occasionally a little clumsy, like they are too aware when they have to wrap something up but aren't sure how to do it. The synth sounds are a bit crude, but it was 1973 after all- they were probably those huge modular synths that took three hours just to coax into making a noise. Is it politically charged? If I understood the language I might be able to say whether that element adds or detracts from the musical statement; this album must have an extra level of meaning for the fluent. I enjoyed it almost without reserve; I would not hesitate to recommend this to any moderate to hardcore prog fan. This is undoubtedly a seminal work, for the remarkable achievements on the album as well as inspiration to the Italian prog community- and beyond.
Report this review (#1315)
Posted Saturday, June 12, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars The first time I listen to this record I hear that this is special, different and Italian! After listen to it 10 times I understand the hype! It is a remarkable record with an excellent noise quality for that time, it is like it is recorded this year! A very good and awasome album wich cannot be compered with anything! I think this music is timeless. Now I have listened to it more then 10 times and however I don't speak a word Italian I can almost sing the lyrics with Francesco Di Giacomo because he sings it from his soul!!! I don't know what he sings but he does mean it seriously! This album is getting better and better after dozens times listening!!!!!!
Report this review (#1317)
Posted Friday, September 17, 2004 | Review Permalink
Cesar Inca
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Here it is, my all-time fave album from my all-time fave Italian prog act. All throughout the repertoire of "Io Sono Nato Libero" the glorious majesty of your standard symphonic prog and the unique magic of Italian prog combine in a perfectly crafted combination. This combination is incarnated via strong performances (both in instrumental interplays and di Giacomo's vocal delivery), heard-to-be-believed compositions and arrangements, all of these ingredients that made BMS's early records so special. "Io Sono Nato Libero" follows in the same vein than its two predecessors, if only enriching the band's sound via the incorporation of more synths and the amplification of contrasts within and between all five tracks; by doing so, the album epitomizes the band's ability to mix overwhelming beauty and bold extravagance into one single sonic source. In turn, the 15-plus minute opening cut 'Canto Nomade per un Prigioniero Politico' epitomizes their most remarkable qualities, regarding their fluid management of ultra-diverse musical resources: delicate keyboard orchestrations, alternating guitar and synth solos, ELP-ish power trio paraphernalia, jazz fusion tinged percussive passages, weird acoustic guitar duets (pastoral, dissonant, bluesy), all of them displayed and reprised in an amazingly coherent amalgam. This is perhaps the best Italian prog tune ever!! After this exquisite extravaganza, there's still more beauty in store for the listener to enjoy. 'Non Mi Rompete' is a delicious acoustic number full of folkish references, driven by a serene melancholy and completed by a sense of joy and celebration in the humming choruses. 'La Citta' Sotile' and 'Dopo. Niente e' Piu' lo Stesso' are both exquisite prog numbers: the former relaying a tendency toward the romantic, the latter resuming some of the extravagant play of contrasts that had been so spectacularly fulfilled in the opening track. 'Traccia II' is a 2:38 minute instrumental that closes down the album with a sense of elegance that allows the listener to breathe after their breath had been taken and their neck broken during the previous 38 minutes. Not one of tracks 2-5 is capable of matching the greatness of track 1. but oh, how great those tracks are, too! As a whole, "Io Sono Nato Libero" is not only amazing; it is also and most of all, an even catalogue of musical wisdom and artistic imagination. Let me quote Tony Banks here: "many, too many have stood where I stand". 5 stars!!! - this is where I stand. I'm sure "many more will stand here, too".

Report this review (#1318)
Posted Monday, September 20, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars A masterpiece. This is the album that introduced me to Italian Symphonic Prog, and what a magnifiicent way to start. the first song, Canto Nomade Per Un Prigi is 15 plus minutes of absolute musical bliss. The rest of the album is just as good. Incredible musicianship, and the vocals of Di Giacomo are fantastic. I slightly prefer this album to Darwin, which is considered to be Banco's best. A definate 5 star release, and no better introduction to Italian Symphonic Prog.
Report this review (#1319)
Posted Tuesday, November 2, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars IL SONO NATO LIBERO is Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso's third album, and one of the finest examples of the virtuosity, diversity, power and beauty of Italian "symphonic" progressive rock that I've had the good fortune to hear. This superb disc ranks up there with the best works by Banco's countrymen/contemporaries PFM, but has a style of its own. Banco reminds me of PFM only inasmuch as their vocals are delivered in Italian (for my money, Banco has the better, more interesting singer in Francesco Di Giacomo), there is great variation in their dynamic music, and generous use of the sort of pretty acoustic guitar work that PFM also excel at. For me, somewhat more obvious musical antecedents/similarities are to be found in piano-heavy bands like ELP and early Renaissance, though BDMS are far from being anyone's mere "sound-alike" imitator. This band stands on their own two (all right, twelve!) feet.

"IL SONO" has almost all of the elements that I most crave from progressive rock: great keyboards and piano, lovely acoustic guitar, precise drumming and percussion, solid bass, grand, heart-pumping musical themes, memorable melodies, and stirring vocals. More overt use of the electric guitar (which is a bit understated here) would have been nice, and lyrics that I could comprehend would further sweeten the deal, but one can't often have it all. Who knows? -- there is always the slight chance that the lyrics, if rendered in English, might not agree with me. As it is, the fact that the vocals are in Italian only serves to make this a more exotic listening experience, and frees me to give my undivided attention to the fabulous music.

Each of the five tracks on this disc is top-shelf stuff: The lengthy opener "Canto Nomade Per un Prigi" is musically varied and never boring, and the by turns pretty, folkish and exciting "No Me Rompete," allows the acoustic guitar of Marcello Todaro, as well as Di Giacomo's vocals, to really shine. "La Citta'sottile" has plenty of primo piano and organ, as well as a majestic synthesized "orchestral" section. "Dopo Niente e piu lo Stesso" is simply top grade, refined classic Italian prog, with more excellent piano (check out the MP3 here), and the final number, "Traccia II," is a classically flavoured, straight-to-the bone shorter piece that ends the CD on a truly exalted note!

I thought about giving this one only four stars, but, upon re-listening and reflection, I feel I must award IL SONO NATO LIBERO full marks. (Okay -- four and a-half stars, rounded up to five!) I like it about as much as I like any prog that is sung in what for me is a foreign tongue, and I truly believe that it deserves a place of prestige in the collections of all fans of fine, complex music -- "progressive" or otherwise. You just can't go wrong with this one!

Report this review (#1320)
Posted Tuesday, November 23, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Banco with "Io Sono Nato Libero" gave us the quintessence of his art. It's a complex music which sounds very easy after some listenings. The band mixed folk, classical, electronic, jazz and rock in a wonderful and unique blend. An italian one. That's very important because doing that way, looking to their own culture, Banco didn't sound as english bands. To give a correct description of this music is very difficult. Banco created his own sound and if I can find some influences ( ELP, King Crimson, Gentle Giant, ... ) it's clear for me than this band is a prog master equal to Genesis, Yes, King Crimson or ELP. I really don't exagerate saying this. Listen to this album, and I'm sure you'll understand what I'm trying to explain.

5 stars. A masterpiece of progressive rock. One of my all times favourites.

Report this review (#1325)
Posted Sunday, April 3, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Banco's true masterpiece, and an album in the same level as PER UN AMICO from PFM and ZARATHUSTRA from Museo Rosenbach. Veeery criative and distinctive sinths from Vittorio Nocenzi (a true keyboard master) and an outstanding emotional vocal performance from Francesco Di Giacomo, as usual. But the opening track sums it all up for me: CANTO NOMADE PER UN PRIGIONIERO POLITICO it's a perfect song, the ultimate italian Prog Rock composition, it got it all! It simply changed my mind when I heard it for the first time, it's a 15 min song that varies melodies and harmonies all the time and never gets boring! Amazing! The whole album worths a listen just because of this marvelous, timeless, divine piece of music! (of course the rest of the album it's also really good!) A classic in all meanings of the word.

- Guilherme Baldin

Report this review (#36352)
Posted Sunday, June 12, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Banco's most inspiring work, for sure, and the best album in the genre, in my opinion. Every track here is atmospheric, emotional and virtuosic.

After the first track you begin to wonder how long can the band after producing an epic track as flawless and incredible as this. Well, they do! There are no flaws here, although I think I would have liked it without any talking in the background on 3rd and 4th tracks.


Report this review (#36501)
Posted Tuesday, June 14, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Through this album Banco has stood out firmly with its existence in progressive arena as the music has demonstrated their maturity in composing highly emotive album. As it has always been with previous albums this one also offers its listeners with beautiful compositions comprising varieties of styles from soft to loud, and from classical outfit to rock. Banco music has its own uniqueness especially this album which I don't think it's easy to identify influences of other bands even though it's too naďve to say so. If there is (are) influence(s) then I would conclude that the band is genius as the music seems to me an original one. The album is not as melodic as early Genesis, however, in some segments there are melodic harmony resulting from the combination of keyboard and vocal melody.

Canto Nomade Per Un Prigi (15:43) is an album opener with variety of styles, melodic vocal line and heavy influence of classic music and some avant-garde. The blend of keyboard work and voice line sounds very nice to vast majority of ears, I think. In terms of structure, it's a track with various music forms whereby each form comprises relatively complex yet beautiful segment. Piano and keyboard sound are used altogether or interchange-ably depending open various moods the band's willing to represent. The complex segments in some part combining excellent guitar work, piano and continued with percussive. It's a song with unique nuance and complex structure. The Italian speaking vocal is really good to my ears, I really love it.

Non Mi Rompete (5:03) explores acoustic guitar and vocal further into a richer composition and offering the listeners the beauty of music harmony created by this song. When the music turns into a faster tempo the acoustic guitar serves as main rhythm in a drum-less music. This is not a kind like ballad song even though acoustic guitar dominates the song. Why do I say so? Because the composition is unlike ballad song which usually flows smoothly on particular music outline / melody.

La Citta'sottile (7:10) is relatively a simple structure song with a nice jazzy touch through the guitar style combined with avant-garde piano / keyboard work in the middle of the track. Dopo Niente E'piu'lo S (9:54) demontrates a nice combination between clavinet-piano-keyboard and vocal line. Even though it's a bit heavy / complex but there are melodic segments that are really nice to enjoy. The keyboard-based concluding track Traccia II (2:39) serves as continuation of the song with the same title from debut album. It has an excellent keyboard drives.

Recommended. Keep on proggin' .!

Progressively yours, GW

Report this review (#38729)
Posted Thursday, July 7, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars The third work released in 1974 "Io Sono Nato Libero". It is a masterpiece of the symphonic rock. It is easy to listen positively. However, it is a tricky performance like GENTLE GIANT. Work that completes exact, classical sound. The balance of violently and beauty is exquisiteness. You can enjoy the interest of the tune and the performance that becomes tense enough. The sharpened ensemble finishes being skilled.
Report this review (#64329)
Posted Thursday, January 12, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars One of the most important albums of the Italian prog scene, albeit not the most consistent one. "Io Sono" contains some of main composer Vittorio Nocenzi's best work, along with great performance from every band member, but there are some considerably weak parts which prevent it from reaching perfection. In any case, two tracks here stand out as the finest examples of progressive rock: "La Citta' Sottile" and "Dopo Niente E'piu'lo Stesso". The former begins with an excellent piano intro, featuring sparse touches of atonality; Gianni Nocenzi proceeds to carry the song forward with tastefully intricate piano work, while brother (and main composer) Vittorio contributes occasional synth washes, and Francesco Di Giacomo's solid performance in his trademark voice ( with frequent ventures into somewhat theatrical territory) completes the picture for seven minutes of exquisite prog. Highlight No. 2, "Dopo Niente E'piu'lo Stesso", is undoubtedly one of the best prog epics - throughout it's duration, it changes many themes and moods, yet the music never looses it's remarkable catchiness, at the same time being intricate and creative in typical Banco fashion.

The rest of the album does feature outstanding moments, but leaves a lot to be desired. For a 15 minute track), the opening number is a bit disappointing: it's certainly varied enough to keep your attention for it's entire duration, and contains some fascinating parts - notably the short but intriguingly complex interlude at 4:24, as well as Marcelo Todaro's acoustic guitar work, which ranges from rapid strumming accompanied by tribal-styled percussion to gentle classical playing (featuring a theme later heard in "Dopo."); however, the opening theme is quite dull, and there is some unnecessary repetition that detracts from the overall listening experience. "Non Mi Rompete" is more or less filler - fans of PFM might enjoy the pleasant acoustic guitar and gentle vocals, but the usual Banco intensity and creativity is missing. Much better is "Traccia Ii", a short instrumental concluding the album - it may not be the best of its' kind, but it serves it's purpose well. Overall, "Io Sono" 's shortcomings don't prevent it from being a classic of progressive rock. Along with the slightly more consistent (albeit more cheesy) Darwin, it represents Banco's creative peak, and shouldn't be overlooked by any prog fan.


Report this review (#65909)
Posted Saturday, January 21, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is my first experience with Italian Progressive Rock, and what a surprise it was! It has everything you could ask for in a classical progressive recording. Lushing melodies, keybords that keep filling all the possible cracks and the voice is really in the tenor side of the spectre. I would likely recommend to you all to get this record and throw away those remarks about this band being a clone band of ELP. They are a good group of their own. The first track is superb and the rest are good compositions too. The message in the lyrics it is so oudated now, but keep your ears fixed on the music.
Report this review (#66076)
Posted Sunday, January 22, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Banco del Mutuo Soccorso was one of the most accomplished of the progressive rock bands that flourished in Italy in the early 1970s. Their distinguishing features: the advanced compositional abilities of Vittorio Nocenzi; the fluid piano of brother Gianni Nocenzi, equally adept at classically styled arpeggios and jazzy punctuations; and the strong, operatic vocals of Francesco di Giacomo. They certainly had an angst to them that made them more than just your typically sunny-smiled, symphonic prog band. I think that the first two songs, "Canto Nomade per un Prigioniero Politico" and "Non Mi Rompete" stand out as easily the best on the album. "Canto Nomade" is a very successful extended suite that deeply broadened the band's sonic palette, liberally incorporating synthesizers (well, it was 1973 - the year that every progressive band seems to have learned to love synths) and diversifying the percussion. In fact, despite having some excellent organ and synthesizer passages, the most memorable parts of this track for me are the beautiful acoustic guitar interludes and the polyrhythmic percussion. "Non Mi Rompete" is largely acoustic and sports the most affecting melody on the album and some great Italian lyrics. These two tracks make up half of the album. The second half "La Cittá Sottile" and "Dopo... Niente č Piú lo Stesso" are nearly at the same level but occasionally succumb to prog-rock clichés. This is one one the greatest Italian prog releases. 5 stars: an absolute masterpiece!
Report this review (#75379)
Posted Tuesday, April 18, 2006 | Review Permalink
Andrea Cortese
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars " not wake me up, let me sleep, quiet like a child, smelling like a drunk..."

There are many reviews and opinions about Banco's their third album. The most part of people think Io Sono Nato Libero closes Banco's more relevant contribution to the world of progressive rock. The long suite opener titled "Cantico Nomade per un Prigioniero Politico" (I think it doesn't need any translation) is their "manifesto": 15,43 minutes of intriguing mix of styles, symphonic parts alternating with soft-rythmic acoustic guitar's interludes. The instrumental part, completely arranged by percussions and acoustic guitar, reminds me of a similar structure in the long suite (above 20 mns) of Alan Sorrenti's second effort named "Come un Vecchio Incensiere all'Alba di un Villaggio Deserto" (1973). Above all, the vocals of Francesco Di Giacomo, considered by many the greatest singer in the whole italian prog scene. And in fact, they aren't far from reality.

"Non Mi Rompete" (Do Not Trouble Me) is truly a piece of art, acoustic for the most part, full of grace for the gentle arrangements and the inspiring vocals. I think it is still the band's most popular and successful song in Italy.

"La Cittŕ Sottile" is a very strange track: with some repetitive piano parts, somehow painting an oneiric reality. The rythm is also slower than the previous tracks, sometimes revealing an unespected jazzy structure.

"Dopo...Niente E' Piů lo Stesso" (After That...Nothing Is the Same Anymore") starts with a very catchy keybaord's riff. The theme continues that of the opener suite about the contrast between war and peace: they remember the Stalingrad's battle. It has to be mentioned that, of the three great prog bands in Italy, Banco are the more politically-left oriented. Lyrics build up a poem and that mandolin/mediterranean part is the icing on the cake.

"Traccia II" is the short instrumental closer of the album. A classical goodbye. The right way to end an album like this. The weaving waves from the keyboards' duo (Nocenzi brothers) are the band trade mark.

There are tons of great albums out there. Many of those came (and come) from Italy.

Report this review (#79216)
Posted Wednesday, May 24, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Another excellent album by Banco, which is not weaker than their fabulous second album called Darwin !. The trademarks(the brilliant musicianship, especially on the keyboards and the beautiful vocals) of the band are present here, too, but we can notice several significant differences with their previous album. The six-piece band features here 3 guest musicians as well, a guitar player and 2 percussionists. Their presence is quite obvious in the opening epic, which is maybe even better than L'Evoluzione. Non mi Rompete is surprisingly an acoustic guitar driven track, the keyboards have a very diminished role here in Banco standards.It's still a suberb song! La Citta Sotile is written by Gianni Nocione(The whole music on Darwin! is written by Vittorio), it's driven by pano and it has a jazzy flavour. Dopo Niente... is a showcase of symphonic prog. extravagancy, it builds up from contrasts.Traccia II is a short, very melodic and uplifing insrumental, a perfect way to conclude this magnificient masterpiece of Italian Symphonic Progresive Rock.
Report this review (#87588)
Posted Friday, August 18, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars "Io sono nato libero", the third album of BMS is an extremely complex and engaged work, so it takes time to get in its "musical architecture". There's more room for the guitars than in "BMS" and "Darwin" and the band here seem to be "grown up" developing a very personal style. This is also the first album featuring the guitarist Rodolfo Maltese in the line up (although in the credits he appeared only as a guest musician) and his touch is very important in BMS' "musical alchemy" along with the piano and keyboards work of the brothers Nocenzi and the peculiar vocals of Francesco Di Giacomo.

"So that you will hear me, my words sometimes grow thin as the tracks of the gulls on the beaches. And I watch my words from a long way off, they are more yours than mine." Well, in this album the poetry of the lyrics is "part of the music" and I think that these words of Pablo Neruda (an excerpt from the love poem "Para que tú me oigas") could help to explain what the first song is about: the desperate singing of a "political inmate"... The song breaks through the walls of the jail and starts wandering in exile around the world with seeds of hope while the prisoner can't escape. Actually, "Canto nomade per un prigioniero politico" (Nomadic song for a political prisoner) is a song of love. Love for freedom and social justice! According to an old interview of Vittorio Nocenzi, it was inspired by the "military golpe" in Chile and I think that watching Costa Grava's film "Missing" (with Jack Lemmon) and reading Isabel Allende's novel "The House of the Spirits" and Antonio Skarmeta's novel "Burning Patience" could be very helpful to catch the spirit of this piece. "In these days it is certainly autumn back home sweet Marta, Marta my dear / I remember the hay and your Normandy's horses, we were free, free / On the wall images dripping wet, stains without freedom / Listens, Marta, in this strange autumn your horses scream, in chains by now / What to say, to choke, prisoner here, why? / Put in jail just because of an ideal, because of my way of thinking, why? / The road I chose for myself is far away / The truth lives on where everything deserves attention because it's alive, because it's true / At least you can break trough, nomadic song, so fly away! / This cell is full of my despair, but at least you, don't let them take you!". So the message of the "runaway song" is a message of hope: you can't kill ideals just throwing common people or political leaders in jail. BMS' music is powerful and full of desperate energy; percussions and acoustic guitar breaks here seem to be a kind of "tribute" to South America, subcontinent where in the seventies dictatorships used to rule. "You condemn to make it easy, but my idea is already assaulting you / You can only torture my flesh, but my brain is still alive, it leaves on / Laments of guitars wrongly suspected, sigh softly / And you, proud-eyed women with mouths like pomegranate, do not cry / Because I am born, born free, free! / Don't waste any requiem masses for me / I am born free!"... The laments of the "wrongly suspected" guitars here are those of the Inti-Illimani, but also those of musicians like Gilberto Gil or Caetano Veloso, persecuted in their homeland because of their social engagement. When listening to this long and complex track try to think about it.

The second track is the dreamy and bittersweet "Non mi rompete" (Do Not Disturb), where the almost operatic vocals of Francesco Di Giacomo float over an amazing acoustic guitar carpet until the joyful closing section. "Do not wake me up, please / But let me have this sleep / Either it's calm like that of a child / Or it stinks of snoozing like that of a drunk / Why do you want to disturb me / While I'm perhaps dreaming a winged travel / Upon a wagon without wheels / Dragged from the horses of the mistral / In the cold wind, in flight / Do not wake me up, please / But let me have this sleep / There's still time for the day / When the eyes get drenched with tears / My eyes, with tears." This is one of the best known BMS' songs and it is still usually performed as "gran finale" on stage.

"If you choose to believe me, good. Now I will tell how is made Octavia, the spider-web city. There is a precipice between two steep mountains: the city is over the void, bound to the two crests with ropes and chains and catwalks." (Italo Calvino, from "Invisible cities"). The Italian writer Italo Calvino in 1972 wrote a novel called "Invisible cities", where he draw incredible and suggestive landscapes of imaginary cities that inspired painters and. musicians? I suggest to read this book if you really want to get into the oneiric mood of "La cittŕ sottile" (The Thin City) and of his strange character, a naked madman living on the last beam, described in this song. "Who are you, city not-city living hanging down from your ropes of static air? / Beams, tubes without dimensions, cold aged quartzes / Your thousand lifts of thin paper go up and down without a rest / Nobody comes down, nobody goes up / Thin not-city that bears everything upon nothing." The music is complex with piano and keyboards in the forefront, vocals are intense and sometimes recitative. The imagination of the listener has to complete the work. "Here the wind doesn't blow away the noises / But anyhow there is a silence that knows how to write in the static air / Thin not-city, among your perennial shades of grey, alone".

"Dopo... niente č piů lo stesso" (After. Nothing is the same) is a long and struggling song about the inhumanity of war. The lyrics describe the feelings of a soldier coming back home from World War Two, after Stalingrad's battle. "Strong train, impatient train, straight on the right way you're just arrived / I recognize you, my land, you kiss my boots at every step / Powerful land, how I've been invoking you in the first days, when the guns were thundering! / Mountains that stop my breath, are you wise like in the old days? / My shoulder let drop my rifle and the glory falls down, the Glory?! / What comes back is a man completely worn out. What have I won, where have I won, when I know that I'm dead inside now, among my ruins? / My god! What did you make to me in Stalingrad!?!..." The structure of this track is complex, with changes of rhythm and mood, vocals are intense and with some recitative parts and I think that you have to understand the lyrics to completely appreciate it because the music underlines and emphasises the meaning of the words. "Swollen tongues, full bellies do not speak to me about freedom / You call right war what I curse! / God called to him the heroes, in Heaven close to Him / But you can't smell the incense in the trenches / My true heroism begins here, from this mud / My beloved woman I used to love you and we'll make love again / But how is weak our embrace in this meeting / What have I won, where have I won, when I see that nothing is same, everything is different? / My god! What did you make to me of so devastating, in Stalingrad!?!". Probably the feelings of the soldier described in this song are not so different from the feelings of every soldier coming back home from every war. The happiness to see home again mixed with feelings of horror and pain as souvenirs of war. disgust for the shrines of glory.

The final track, "Traccia II" is an amazing short instrumental with classical influences blended with rock.

In the whole, I think that "Io sono nato libero" deserves a place in every progressive rock collection

P.S.: Thanks to Raffaella Benvenuto for the translation of "Canto nomade per un prigioniero politico", though I slightly changed some passages. The translations of the lyrics of this song and of "Non mi rompete" are complete, while I translated only partially "La cittŕ sottile" and "Dopo. Niente č piů lo stesso" but my aim was only to let you know what the songs are about.

Report this review (#87743)
Posted Sunday, August 20, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars A wonderfull album, with great music, unfortunatly the lyrics are in Itallian, so I can't make heads of tails of them, but the voice is very good so it doesn't lessen the experience. The music on this album is what set's them apart from other bands, changing fluidic from one style into the other, hints of YES, ELP, VDGG, and GG can be found by the dedicated listener.

The main element in their music is the everpresent keyboards, but guitars on occasion take over with great precision, and the drums are very good also, so all is present for a great album, and that's excactly what this is.

If you don't mind the lyrics being in Itallian, and you like symphonic music with much variety in tempo and style, Io Sono Nato Libero provides for a great listening experience.

Highly recommended.

Peace Out

Report this review (#90572)
Posted Wednesday, September 20, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars First experience impression (1,5 years ago!)

That was one of my first introductions to fantastic world of Italian Prog and BANCO's music itself. I was deep in Prog Metal and Neo Prog and didn't love the previous Italian album I heard - MUSEO ROSENBACH's "Zarathustra" (don't like it much still). But when I heard the opening tune and Francesco's "voce"...good Lord, one of the best intros ever!!! Through the whole first half of the epic I felt myself amazed and astonished.But then an instrumental rumble began and I changed my opinion (but still love these first 7 minutes most). "Non mi Rompete", which is an enjoyable acoustic ballad, returned my insterest - I thought "wow, it's getting listenable!" "La Citta Sottile" impressed me a lot with its kybds parts and I became even more attentive.And there WAS a reason - "Dopo.." seemed to be the best one from the whole album in that time! Closing "Traccia" is a sheer brilliance still...

Later I changed my mind a bit.I still find this album rather disfocused and a bit chaotic for me.Besides I'm not a bombastic-keyboard-driven solos - I prefer lyrical moments more ("Canto Nomande..."'s first 7 minutes as an example). But unquestionable talent and unique melodical feeling are the things which one CAN'T hide.BANCO were great with that one (though I like "Canto di Primavera" most), and it's the most sophisticated and mature work from all their first three albums. Highly recommended.Enjoy!

Report this review (#107885)
Posted Thursday, January 18, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars I discovered Italian prog in 1974. Thanks to my cousin Marco (who is Italian). He introduced me to Premiata Forniera Marconi and their great "The World Became the World". In these remote times, it was not easy to buy any Italian prog album in my country (even if Belgium is not Zulu land), nor to see them live.

The first two Banco albums were good ones, and I was hoping a big deal for "Io Sono Nato Libero".

The opening number and epic song is fantastic during seven minutes. I have already expressed my profund love for Francesco vocals. The music is of course complex, difficult to apprehend. The melody is maybe less obvious than other bands from the genre (I know, I am biased with "La Maschera", the first band of the genre I have reviewed). Still, "Canto" delivers great melodic moments. And that's how I love Banco. But it will turn into an almost jazz improvisation during the second half of the song. As far as I am concerned, it could have stopped after 7'30".

"Non Mi Rompete" is a peaceful acoustic song. Sweet vocals...Aaaaaaah, these vocals. This dual vocals / acoustic guitar is truely such a great combination. This is what Italian prog is all about. In My Humble and Honest Opinion. A jewel of a melody & passion. The closing section still, is not very convincing.

"La Cittŕ Sottile" sounds almost classical. Again this track is not easy to get in to. Structure is hard to grab. It's almost improv again during the last third of the song. I am missing the great emotion featured in most of the vocal parts of their songs. Nothing to take on a desert island, IMO.

This album is definitely not the one to start with if you would like to discover "Banco". Very tough, too few great harmonies, too weird music. "Doppo...Niente" is maybe easier to approach. Vocals are again so sublime. This album is really saved by Francesco. He is the cement of this album. "Doppo..." is one of my favourite song. Acceptable complexity.

Three stars.

Report this review (#138021)
Posted Thursday, September 13, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars One of the greatest Italian Symphonic albums of all time? For me it's a tug of war between this album and PFM's "Per Un Amico". If I'm in the mood for something a bit more agressive and challanging, I'd choose this album. If I'm in a more somber mood and need to reflect, I'd take PFM. What I love about this album is the balance. Nocenzi's keys plays so well with Todaro's underated guitar work mixed with fantastic drumming and bass. I do believe they are the only band that can mix ELP keyboard histrionics with Gentle Giant's poly-rthyms and can do it so tightly. Add the master voice and you have perfection. They do experiment, (check out about 7 minutes into the epic track, "Canto Nomade Per Un Prigionero Polotico" when it gets all spacey) and then they try even jazzy-prog in the same track, plus there's a killer acoustic barrage that I've never heard from another band ever! A classic opener! They do folk- prog, ("Non Mi Rompete") with very nice acoustic guitar and Francesco's delicate singing, a beaut! Nice piano opens "La Citta Sottile", then Nocenzi's Emerson-like keys play along with Francesco's singing. There's even some YES-like guitar plucking towards the middle. A very moody track. Now comes one of the top 10 Italian prog songs ever, "Dopo...Niente E Piu Lo Stesso" The opening pretty much tells you that you're in for something special. A very low in the mix keyboard and flute playing a very Italian melody, but then WHAM! we jump into a cool riff. From there it's pure agressive Italian prog mixed with some more experimenting and for my money the best song Banco has ever done. A must listen! The album ends on a high grandiose note. A keyboard extravaganza! I can't say enough how balanced, well played and sung this album is throughout. It gives all the other Italian's a run for their money, (and a few English bands ;-) 5 stars unquestionably!
Report this review (#139906)
Posted Saturday, September 22, 2007 | Review Permalink
Eclectic Prog Team
5 stars #1 RPI album

Several years ago the only Italian bands I was familiar with were PFM, Le Orme, Osanna and Goblin. All very nice bands, but not top tier in my collection. That changed with BMS.

They had the eclecticism and technical proficiency of other bands in the genre, but something else really stuck out. This band had a singer that could stand on his own. So many acts have vocalists that basically become white noise and dont really add anything to(and sometimes subtract from) the music. Francisco Di Giacamo's voice is an instrument in the purist sense of the word. One does not need to understand Italian to be moved by the emotion in his voice. It is one of, if not the strongest part of the band.

The music holds very much to the conventions of early 70's symphonic rock Without being redundant or rehashing the work of others. But they also incorporate a texture of traditional Mediterainean (sp?) sounds which deepens the accoustics in a very comfortable, homey way. The opener 'Canto Nomade Per un Prigioniero Politico' is a 15:47 adventure of varying musical influence, strong with flowing piano work and grand stanzas. 'Non Mi Rompete' is a folksy accoustic guitar and vocal piece with a fun Moog solo. 'La Citta' Sottile' is another adventure in varying sounds, a bass heavy bridge with warm jazzy guitar activities breaking out into a frantic, spacey mood. 'Dopo... Niente Č Piů Lo Stesso' is almost cinematic in its presentation and probably my favorite in an album that is hard to pick a favorite. It varies from very huge sounds to harpsichord laced interludes that grab the medulla oblongata and tie it in a not. 'Traccia II' rides the album off into the sunset simply, yet dramatically.

This is a moving masterpiece and a top 10 selection in my collection. If you don't have it, don't let another day go by without buying it. 5.9 Stars

Report this review (#141737)
Posted Wednesday, October 3, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Illuminating spells, PARADISO. Full of melodies, rhythms and moods. Progressive cock!

Canto Nomade Per un Prigioniero Politico is a crazy long song, lovely. Non Mi Rompete is stupid retarded song, at least the nonsense vocals parts. La Cittŕ Sottile is a delicate, psychedelic doom song. Dopo... Niente Č Piů Lo Stesso, you can hear it from Flash player above. Traccia II is a nice fanfare.

I also like the originality that some people might think irritating. For example the electronic layers are great and the vocals are very beautiful. But yes sometimes some sounds are quite weird, even cheap, maybe it's the synth and some guitars.

But still... amazing.

Report this review (#144310)
Posted Saturday, October 13, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is THE Banco album, and as far as I'm concerned, THE Italian symphonic album. Of all of the forgettable and/or poorly produced albums from Italy in the 70s, Banco's Io Sono Nato Libero stands out as both a well written and a pretty well produced album. It has all of the good stuff they showed us with their previous two albums, but they really kick it up a notch here. Every piece is memorable. The predecessors had a lot of the right ingredients, but they stumbled sometimes and sounded quite rough. This here is refined Banco. The group is still quirky, but also more sophisticated. From the first few minutes pf the 15-minute opener, "Canto Nomade per un Prigioniero Politico," you can hear the band's maturity expounding. It's still got the bombastic Banco style, but it sounds less pretentious and more crisp & dynamic. The melodies are stronger as well. We also hear a lot of acoustic sections that we didn't hear before. Among a heap of other Italian bands who had a difficult time standing out, Banco was able to do it from album number one, and they really stand out here.
Report this review (#150707)
Posted Wednesday, November 14, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars This 3rd album of Banco also very good indeed ! But I prefer their first 2 ablums more. Well In this album I like Dopo... and treccia more than other songs. I think 'Dopo... Niente Č Piů Lo Stesso as there is no more emptiness after emptiness. But I read Dopo... as After That...Nothing Is the Same Anymore from these Italian reviewer. Huh maybe the two sentence are equal? Well anyway interesting. and great music anyway. good. so good with BANCO DEL MUTUO SOCCORSO ! I like it.
Report this review (#165471)
Posted Tuesday, April 1, 2008 | Review Permalink
Italian Prog Specialist
5 stars A stunning album from beginning to end and an instant favourite.

On the podium shared by Le Orme and Premiata Forneria Marconi stands yet another band with yet another exotic name for us ignorant non-Italians that happen to be fans of RPI. Banco del Mutuo Succorso is the last of the Big Three of Italy's Symphonic Rock Movement and I might as well have saved the best part until now. Where PFM often have very dense, guitar-oriented arrangements and a heavy-rockier touch on some songs and Le Orme shifts between keyboard bombast and delicate poppier tunes, Banco manages to establish some kind of middle-ground between the other two. The e-guitar work is always great, but it's not an extremely big part of the music here. It never takes on a lead role, so to speak, and instead it works together with keys, which instead of being as in-your-face and atmospheric as those of Le Orme intricately builds up the web-like structure of the album. Acoustic guitar is more of an interlude-ish, dynamism-creating addition (except for the song Non Mi Rompete - Italian-style guitar galore). Io Sono Nato Libero is really a very eclectic effort with the band showing great talent in creating a 'classic' symphonic feel. Even the electric instruments, synthesisers included, have a way of sounding traditionally orchestral. And this talent together with an unsurpassed ability to create rising and falling tension and emotional crescendos is, all in all, a killing combination that keeps the attention level on a constant maximum while enjoying the album. I still haven't found a weak spot after countless spins.

A big asset to Banco's sound is the fact that they use not only one keyboardist, but two, the brothers Vittorio and Gianni Nocenzi. To have both piano and the more versatile organs and synthesisers working together makes so much more than a single keyboardists could achieve. Two guest percussionists also adds some spice to the mix. The biggest asset of Banco must still be Francesco Di Giacomo. He's got a wonderful, almost operatic voice capable of the same shifts in tension and emotion as the music itself.

Naturally, it's very difficult to pick a favourite among the five excellent tracks on Io Sono Nato Libero. The first one, Canto Nomade Per Un Prigioniero Politico still stands out, not just because of its length. It's a condensation of all the moods and nuances of this album, with stunning performances from the band. The 'io sono nato libero'-part's classical piano, emotional denseness and Francesco Di Giacomo's vocal performance is a top goose-bump moment.

Essential Rock Progressivo Italiano. 5 stars - masterpiece.


Report this review (#169610)
Posted Friday, May 2, 2008 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
5 stars This their third studio record features more synths then in the past, and it just seems softer over all. This is also my favourite from them followed by the debut. BANCO have a new guitarist on board for this album.

"Canto Nomade Per Un Prigioniero Politico" is an almost 16 minute journey through different moods and styles. It's a real trip. It opens in a mellow way with vocals and then piano, this isn't far from GENESIS territory. A change before 2 minutes as drums and guitar come in followed by some vibes.The tempo picks up before 3 minutes. Great sound. Some organ joins in. It calms down 5 minutes in before kicking back in dramatically after 6 minutes. Spacey is the word a minute later before it kicks back in around 7 1/2 minutes to a powerful section. Love the guitar 9 minutes in followed by strummed guitar and tons of percussion. Check out the percussion 12 1/2 minutes in ! Acoustic guitar 13 minutes in. A collage of sounds 14 minutes in to the end.

"Non Mi Rompete" is a beautiful 5 minute track of acoustic guitar and gentle vocals. Vocal melodies as the tempo picks up 1 1/2 minutes in. The contrast continues. Gorgeous song. "La Citta Sottile" and the opening song are my favourite tracks on here. It opens with piano while vocals arrive a minute in. Spoken words and guitar 1 1/2 minutes in. I really like the drums and organ before 2 minutes. Synths follow.The guitar sounds so pleasant before 3 1/2 minutes as organ and other beautiful sounds can be heard. Spoken words and a spacey soundscape 5 minutes in. Back to main melody after 6 minutes. "Dopo...Niente E Piu Lo Stesso" is light and uptempo early. Vocals a minute in. Synths and drums lead the way with vocals. A change 2 minutes in as the tempo slows down. It kicks back in 4 1/2 minutes. I like the guitar and bass 5 1/2 minutes in. Spoken words 6 minutes in with harpsichord. Some excellent guitar and drumming before 7 1/2 minutes and I love the spacey synths that follow. From 8 1/2 minutes to the end it's pretty mellow. "Traccia II" is a short piano dominated song that builds to a full sound.

In my opinion the first three albums from this band are classics.

Report this review (#178722)
Posted Sunday, August 3, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Banco del Mutuo Soccorso is one of the most well regarded Italian Symphonic Prog bands out there today. With a large discography that spans over 30 years, they are a favorite to prog lovers everywhere. 1973 was the year that the band released it's third album "Io Sono Nato Libero". It was an interesting follow up to their second album, the concept piece "Darwin!". Comprised of only five songs, the longest being fifteen minutes long, it is a shining example of Italian Progressive Rock and a masterpiece of the subgenre.

The opening song "Canto Nomade Per Un Prigioniero Politico" starts with Francesco Di Giacomo's soft operatic vocals and a quiet little piano melody from Gianni Nocenzi before the guitar and synth lines kick in. After tons of synthesizer and guitar interchanges, the song shift to a more primal beat with tribal drumming and devilish guitar playing. This happens to be my favorite moment on the entire album. This leads on with a brief interlude from an acoustic guitar before going back to the chaotic drumming and crazed piano mashing.

Song two is "Non mi Rompete" is a soft dreamy acoustic guitar driven piece with some spacey synth effects at the end. Song three "La Citta Sottile" opens with the some creepy piano parts. There are a few nice synth fill ins here and there on the track and includes a very simple but effective guitar solo that leads into some bizarre synthesizer arrangements before coming back to the opening piano melody we started with.

The fourth song "Dopo...Niente E Piu Lo Stesso" starts with a weird synthesizer line before the creepy pianos we met in the previous track enter once more. The song is pretty much a big showcase for the synthesizer and piano to jump around and dance with one another. The synth melody at the beginning and end is very catchy though. "Traccia II" the final track is an instrumental that starts quietly and climaxing in a very triumphant flourish with keyboards and organ arising together.

Although some fans of the band may point you in the direction of "Darwin!" to start with, I would recommend this one. It has the precise and complex musicianship, lengthy songs, and powerful vocals that make it a progressive rock favorite. It is another must have for fans of Italian Progressive Rock.

Report this review (#180592)
Posted Saturday, August 23, 2008 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
3 stars 3.5 stars really!!!

Banco's third album in their essential trilogy is a eulogy to freedom and has a very political context, frankly left-wing; a discussion on a pop disc about a political prisoner was probably a bit of a provocation; but this left-wing dimension might have been present with the previous album Darwin as well, as in a catholic country... With a double door visual (no jail or prison doors) as artwork, I'm not that sure it's very related to the freedom

While the original quintet is still together, we notice that the sound mostly based on the two keyboards is now definitely taking a more guitar-ey feel with the addition of future guitarist Rodolpho Maltese (here as a guest) so the balance is achieved (2 on each instrument). Also invited are two percussionists.

Opening on the Song For A Political Prisoner (a track getting on the case of Pinochet and other South American 70's mostly fascist dictators), it is clearly meant to be the album's centrepiece and was given the time and care for it. The middle guitar solo from guest and future member Maltese come in a bit as intrusive but certainly impressively enough, the same way that Emerson's piano and Pebble were abruptly changing subjects. The following Rompete (don't break mine >> balls) is their live concert favourite and calls for audience participation. Nothing extraordinary, just an acoustic song without too much sophistication.

The flipside opens on Citta Sottile, probably the most unusual on this album, but still rather "normal/standard" compared to some of the weirder (not a compliment) tracks on the second side of the second album (see my review of Darwin!). But this "spatial" piano difference is much more enjoyable in here, actually it could be the other highlight of "born free". The following Dopo is requiring more than basic understanding, but the mastery of the Italian language to "get it". The second side of the album concludes on the lesser track Traccia, of relation to the closing short but amusing tidbit of the debut album.

The last album of BMS's trilogy, ISNL is not unusually acoustic as some seem to point out, but a fine finale to the Banco trilogy, which showed its best side on Darwin's opening side. Most of the rest of BMS music so far ranges quite highly, and from these three albums, I think it's unfair to talk of ELP alone when describing Banco's music, as I can hear some Crimson-clad

Report this review (#185104)
Posted Thursday, October 9, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars I didn't like this album at first but I think that in time its very rewarding and only some parts of it still hold a challenge to me.

Canto Nomade Per Un Prigioniero Politico - This track is by far the longest and with most ideas in the album, sometimes too many. It begins very softly with a very good piano-playing. After a while the drums start to play and the song gets much more dynamic. This part of the song features some very good vocals, which I love of course, almost accompanied by the piano. The song goes soft again with very atmospheric parts until +- the middle of the song and then begins a jazzy part, and a very nice one I must say. For me the song is excellent until +- 9 minutes but then we have many minutes of rythmic parts or acoustic parts and it becomes a little annoying (one of the acoustic parts will be later developed in Dopo...). Fortunetly we are saved by the bell (well a bit too late) and the band plays again the same jazzy part (also because this jazzy part has a very interesting riff played by the keyboards). This song also features a little awkward ending. Would be 8,5 or even 9 in 10 if the song wouldnt have so many boring parts. 8/10

Non Mi Rompete - Very beautiful acoustic track. The vocals and both the acoustic guitars are excellent here. The verse is perfect but I dont like that much the chorus, especialy the non-spoken vocals, but its not bad. The song also features a keyboard solo with a sound that resembles whistling. Theres not much to be said about this song because it has a simple structure and is very easy to like but I can't really write on paper the quality of this one, check for yourself. 9/10

La Cittŕ Sottile - A more relaxing music. Features some nice piano and of course vocals. Most of the melody here is made by the piano, vocals and open hi-hat. The music never changes much, it always stays within the same tempo, mood and scale. The song has a short and smooth guitar solo (I always wished Banco would use the guitar more heavily, with more power and feeling). There is a short organ-driven part, the music stops and the vocalist describes la cittá sotile the city of glass (although I dont understand what he says), then we go back to the dominant melody of the song. This one was the last track that I got to like but its really a very simple and soft one. 8,5/10

Dopo...Niente E' Piů Lo Stesso - For me this one is the best track of the album. From what I've heard its about a soldier that returns from the battle of STalingrad and arrives to his homeland, and I think the feelings reflect well on the song. Starts with only the keyboards and drums but soon there is a musical explosion the vocals begin and the music gets faster and heavier. We have a softer part vocal and keyboard dominated. And then we have my favourite part, the main verse: theres such emotion on the vocals, the drums are tireless and the keyboard are also fantastic, the stops add such emotion and suspense to the music and we even have some sort of guitar solo (as ever I wish the guitar would be more powerful).The song goes soft again and theres a description and the main verse is repeated. This song also has a rythmic part with excellent drums and the song ends with the initial keyboard melody. 9,5/10

Traccia II - This is an instrumental part where the band shows a more classical side. Very good piano, majestic keyboards and there are so many layers of sound that the music gets very rich and fantastic. Its a short but great song, perhaps it sould be longer and developed some more ideas but its still good. 8,5/10

My rating: 8,7/10 = 4,4/5 rounded up do five stars (can't really give less than 5 stars to this album)

Report this review (#202765)
Posted Saturday, February 14, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Gigantic!

Io Sono Nato Libero like the previous Banco del Mutuo Soccorso's album - Darwin, just blowed away everything on his way... Perfect musicianship, perfect songwriting, perfect tracklisting, perfect art sense as well as perfect production. I truely believe it's one of the best albums in progressive rock of all time. There isn't much to say, about this great album. It can't be described, it has to be heard... A homogeneous blend of psychedelic rock, symphonic rock and strongly classical influence convert the album into pretentious-styled monster of progressive rock. Keyboard-saturated and complex-varied sounds are the main reasons for the greatness of this album. Most of the album contains two different keyboard instrument simultaneously - organ or synthesizer or piano or harpsichord. The vocals by Francesco Di Giacomo are also adorable.


Report this review (#228572)
Posted Monday, July 27, 2009 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Prog Specialist
5 stars I've been a BANCO DEL MUTUO SOCCORSO fan for years, but the only time I bought "Io Sono Nato Libero" didn't reached my house and had to cancel the Internet payment, so when I found the album in my local store last week, it was like a dream come true, and even when it was quite expensive, any price is well paid for this lost treasure.

The album starts with "Canto Nomade Per Un Prigioniero Politico" (Nomadic Chant for a Political Prisoner), and from the start the marvellous voice of Francesco di Giacomo combined with Gianni Nocenzi's delightful piano, almost made me break in tears, but the story is only about to start, during 15 minutes that seem short, the band presents us one of the best examples of what Progressive Rock means, with a very complex structure only compared to King Crimson with Jazzy overtones, but never forgetting the importance of a solid melody as most Italian bands, a perfect way to open an almost perfect album.

"Non Mi Rompete" (My Italian is rusty but I believe it means Don't Break Me) is the only track from this album I heard in the DVD BMS released a few years ago, and is everything you can expect from an Italian Symphonic band, the beautiful acoustic introduction with guitar and vocals is again close to perfection, mainly because Francesco's vocal range is by far one of the best in all the market.

This time don't expect as many changes as in the previous track, just the acoustic passage interrupted by all the band in a vital and fast section, this structure is repeated constantly, but each time the fast passage is slightly different with magnificent chorus and a Moog performance by Vittorio Nocenzi.

"La Cittá Sottile" (The Subtle City) is a radical change after two melodic songs, BANCO DEL MUTUO SOCCORSO plays some sort of Symphonic - Jazz, with elaborate structure, the instruments enter and leave one after the other in a magical dance crossing several genres while Gianni Nocenzi plays his piano in the powerful style of Rachmaninoff, the album keeps surprising me even more.

"Dopo... Niente Č Piů Lo Stesso" (After... Nothing is the Same Anymore) is another complex track that starts with a dissonant section in which the sweet flute enters in conflict with the vocals and the rest of the instruments, specially the impressive piano, after a while the song seems to get more calm, but still the constant flute collisions with the distorted keyboards, guitar and drums, but it's only a link to another frenetic passage in the vein of KING CRIMSON, simply impressive.

The album is closed by "Traccia II" (Trace II), a short and practically Classical instrumental (practically because the Moog and drums bring us back to Prog territory), with a beautiful melody that works as a brilliant epilogue for "Io Sono Nato Libero", all along "Traccia II", the interplay of Gianni Nocenzi in the piano and his brother Vittorio in the organ is out of this world.

I can't say much more, because simple words won't describe with accuracy the impeccable music presented by this legendary Italian band.

Five solid stars.

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Posted Monday, August 17, 2009 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
5 stars Banco del Mutuo Soccorso's Io Sono Noto Libero is hailed in the prog world as one of the legendary albums and certainly in terms of RPI it lives up to this reputation.

They have an uncanny ability to include huge sections of tension and release in their music, shades of light and dark that compete with each other, and all is complimented by the gentle vocals of Giacomo.

Canto Nomade Per Un Prigioniero Politico is the opening epic clocking some 15 minutes in length. It begins with a minimalist keyboard that sounds like woodwind oboe perhaps. The trademark vocals chime in gently. There is a short section that is slow and time signatures are ignored. Then it launches into a fast paced rhythm that capitalises on great fat organ sounds and drums and bass constantly bend the metrical patterns sporadically. It consistently builds in power to the huge instrumental break. This slows again to an improv section with the Nocenzi brothers' piano and synth competing with each other locked in battle where there is no winner. A ghostly whine takes the pace down and acoustic picking over a spacey synth. The next two verses are sung until it detours into an ambient passage where a UFO lands, a spacey sound with synth washes, and then it explodes into the bass and keyboard segment. The piano is out of control and the high pitched sounds fight to keep up. Drumming seems to have settled into a 4/4 4/5 pattern but is inconsistent. A strange melody changes the atmosphere and fortissimo guitar and drums create a majestic feel. There are rototoms or tom tom drums at the end of the piece to add a new experience. A wonderful piece of music.

Non Mi Rompete is a very pop orientated sound with multi layered pleasant melodies. This is a more accessible approach and feels like it could be a successful single in some areas of the world. The simplistic approach breaks up the hyper complex tracks very well and it is a good example of the diversity of Banco.

La Cittŕ Sottile is a 7 minute track with a focus on staccato piano motifs, and gentle vocals. There are synth swishes and very strange sound effects to create the overall atmosphere of imminent fractured sections. The high pitched synth and Hammond of the Nocenzis generate a cool icy atmosphere and the guitar break compliments this. The piano break heralds a new section with majestic symphonic washes. There is a new detour where the vocals are spoken as a narrative and the piano twinkles while spacey synth merges in. There is no time signature for a moment and then another verse is sung with the estranged melody from the opening. Another triumphant piece from Banco. Dopo... Niente Č Piů Lo Stesso is a mini epic at about 10 minutes that features a flute sound that becomes the main motif throughout. The vocals are stronger and darker on this. Of particular note is Todaro's guitar riff that is more aggressive than previous and a welcome change in this respect. I like the almost chanting vocal style of Giacomo and the powerful ambient atmosphere. The piano sounds as though it is being tuned down as Nocenzi plays. The booming bass piano tones are downright chilling. The flute sounds add a pleasantness that is striking but the vocals are estranged and unsettling. The piano is incredible featuring the scales and arpeggios. A narration follows warning of the chaos to ensue. A majestic synth line is struck and the drums begin to add an odd metrical figure. The time sigs are intricate and hard to grasp, but the guitar solo is in 4/4 for a while. The next section is a very fast lead break that is repetitive but intriguing. A medieval harpsichord is heard next in a new section and the vocals are wildly inventive at times like a circus side show host. The bass line becomes very strong at 8 minutes in, and there is a tradeoff of bass and piano. The high pitched flute sound we heard at the beginning returns reminding this we are still on the same track, as it has moved in so many directions we kind of needed this to latch onto it. And then it just fades as a descending sound emanates. A brilliant track on every level.

Traccia II is a short sharp conclusion to this majestic album. The focus is on a piano melody that is easy to remember and almost medieval in style. The instrumental has some beautiful synth passages. It gradually builds to a strong melody that is constant and majestic. The avante garde stately theme is broken by short passages of keyboards played with finesse. It is a grand conclusion to a very impressive influential album.

This is one of the best RPI albums I have had the pleasure to experience.

Report this review (#276796)
Posted Wednesday, April 7, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A masterful RPI trilogy concludes

Banco likely has other great albums, I've not heard them all, but the first three released in just a two-year spread were surely one of prog-rock's greatest accomplishments. Whether weighed against other RPI bands or any country's progressive rock it does not matter-Banco were world class progressive rock. All of the beauty and artistry of the Italian rock tradition is on display, married to impressive musicianship and a wonderful sense of experimentation.

The third album, "io sono nato libero," is actually my least favorite of the three, and yet I still marvel at it. The upside to the album was that by this point, with the self-titled and "Darwin" under their belt, Banco had experience and confidence. Their knowledge of the studio and the craft was now obvious; the album is a large step forward sonically, and in the smoothness of the song assembly. But the music itself has lost just a bit of the adventure and edge of the first two albums, substituting a more "mature" Banco in its place. The centerpiece is the near 16-minute epic "Canto Nomade per un Prigioniero Politico." It features all of the hallmark Banco traits: great vocals, melody, acoustic and electric guitar, fantastic keyboard and piano. The chorus is delivered with great drama over piano, moog, and perfectly designed guitar notes. I miss however the dense murkiness of the Darwin material. Similarly "Non mi Rompete" has a delightful lightness to the melodic, repeating "la la la" section. "La Citta Sottile" is where I really notice the slight change in feel from previous work. They do attempt some avant-garde coolness here but it just comes off more scattered and less fresh than before. It's a bit of a mess at times. "Dopo" is the other long signature piece clocking in at 10 minutes. Pure eclecticism and driving energy are exuded. I marvel at the playing but fail to be moved as on the previous Banco albums. Still, this one deserves an excellent rating despite my preference for the others. I suggest anyone looking to investigate this pillar of the RPI scene begin at the beginning and move forward. Banco is a band for whom the progression of albums is important for maximizing the thrills. Certainly all the ingredients are again here, and based on their opening trilogy, I would say Banco is every bit the force that PFM and Orme are.

Report this review (#277575)
Posted Sunday, April 11, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars Of all the great Italian prog out there, I think I'll have to hand it to lo Sono for the greatest masterpiece. This album is packed with variety, and although some characterize the album as somewhat jumbled because of this, I believe it flows together nicely and keeps my attention throughout.

First off, Banco's set-up is great: dualing keyboards from the Nocenzis, creating extra depth in the music, with tons of organ, piano, and synths. Couple that with multiple guitars hacking away at times, and you get a really full sound. Add tight percussion and capable vocals from Francesco, and they've got a line-up that can realize their every creative impulse. Fortunately they had some very good impulses to indulge with lo Sono!

Part of why lo Sono is a masterpiece is because there isn't a weak track on here (Traccia II may be a bit unnecessary, but who can argue with a rousing finale?). The highlight is the epic, Canto Nomade, which begins with a great upbeat melody before a well-done freakout session that unexpectedly leads to a brilliant acoustic and hand-drum driven piece--who would have seen THAT coming? There are some definite ELP similarities here, but to my ears generally more fulfilling.

Each of the other tracks brings a unique mood to the album--from mysterious and pensive (La Citta), happy and carefree (Nom Mi Rompete), to theatrical and over-the-top (Dopo)--and I would rate each as well-above-average prog.

I'm astounded by how much Banco has matured between this and their previous two albums. Their raw, rocking style has been replaced by more depth and structure. You may prefer their raw style, but it's hard to argue that they haven't progressed with lo Sono.

In my opinion, the greatest in Italian prog, and certainly in the top 20 prog albums of all time.

Report this review (#282477)
Posted Tuesday, May 18, 2010 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
3 stars For the third time in a row, Banco hit gold. It's a slightly less glittering kind, but their continued creative bliss never ceases to amaze me.

The album marks a shift from their rocking extravagance to a smoother sound with lots of synth-polish. It's a change that makes it slightly less appealing to me, especially since they weren't able to compensate for it with better compositions. Admitted, Banco's song writing could hardly get any better then it had been on the first two albums, but while the first half of Io Sono Nato Libero is still as good as the preceding albums, they lose a bit of focus near the end.

The opening Canto Nomade is a wonderful track. It's really fascinating how they made the transgression from the full blown prog attack of the first 10 minutes to the flamenco bit in the second half. It's so smooth that I can't seem to grasp how they got there. The Nocenzi brothers must have taken a lease on some used ELP equipment and managed to forge some excellent melodies and dazzling interaction out of them. But the sound of the used apparatuses makes the track a bit pompous.

Despite the compositional mastery of the opener, I will go with Non Mi Rompete as my favourite pick from this album. It's a gentle acoustic ballad but it's done so subtle and truthful that I completely fall for it. The 'pompadadadum' chorus is simply genius. The nice little keyboard bit at the end links it to ELP again.

Next, Banco tries to incorporate some new experiments. La Citta Sottile is at heart a typical Banco song with touching lyrical vocals and music that is both very intricate and entirely spontaneous and relaxed. A rare combination, at least till halfway in. Then Banco tries out an experiment doing recited poetry with jazzy and avant-garde musical accompaniment. They do it quite well but I can't shake off the thought that Area would be so much more convincing at this.

Dopo ... is the first dip for me. It sounds like Gentle Giant was the driving inspiration behind this, meaning it has technically challenging playing but not much of a soul or emotional impact. Francesco Di Giacomo luckily adds very strong vocals again and saves this song from redundancy. Also the bass guitar and drums have their moments, but it all just doesn't seem to build up into something coherent, so I wouldn't rate it more 3.5 stars, which makes it the first Banco song that scores below the 4.5 mark they had continuously reached in my ears.

Traccia II almost makes me knock off another star. The inclination of progressive rock to include more and more synth-pulp from 1973 onwards is what killed my excitement with the mainstream bands for many many years. The song is acceptable, but as soon as the synths join with that trumpet-y theme, it's time to run for cover. This could have worked with a real brass ensemble, but the synth arrangement is cheesy and has aged very badly.

Overall it's a very strong Banco album again, but the Nocenzi brothers slightly disappoint me with some of their synth arrangements. And since some of the songs fail me a bit, 4 stars will have to do.

Report this review (#283172)
Posted Sunday, May 23, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Another seminal entry into the canon of great Italian progressive rock, Banco's third album continues where the audacious 'Darwin!' left off, with yet more intricate keyboard melodies, haunting synths, classically-influenced guitars and intense instrumentation showcasing this group's phenomenal playing. More melodic than it's predecessor, 'Io Sono Nato Libero' is possibly the album where Banco's many disparate elements segue most coherently, with a noticeable decrease in the bizarre, hyperactive keyboard sections that made 'Darwin!' so impenetrable at times. Indeed, whilst 'Darwin!' takes several listens to truly grasp, 'Io Sono Nato Libero' proves much more immediate, fusing the group's love of Van Der Graaf Generator with their penchant for complex themes and ideas without resorting to self-indulgence. The stand-out track is the lengthy, twisting opener 'Canto Nomade Per Un Prigioniero Politico', which packs enough ideas into it's fifteen-minute running time to fill most other group's albums, but the sombre, ethereal 'La Citta Sottile' also impresses, thanks partly to Francesco Di Giacomo's bizarre vocal style which adds genuine pathos to proceedings whatever language you speak(He sings in Italian). Flitting effortlessly between moods and textures, 'Io Sono Nato Libero' is an uncompromising album from an uncompromising and thoroughly progressive band that once again demonstrates the incredible imagination shown by the Italian prog bands of the 1970's. Alongside PFM, Maxophone, Le Orme and Osanna, Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso make up not only the cream of the Italian end of the genre, but the cream of the progressive rock genre full-stop. Though it may not feature the moments of pure beauty that adorn 'Per Un Amico' of the rocky transcendence of 'Maxophone', 'Io Sono Nato Libero' is still a remarkable musical statement. Complex, avant-garde and occasionally jazzy, this is truly refined music. STEFAN TURNER, LONDON, 2010

Report this review (#304176)
Posted Thursday, October 14, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars "Io sono nato libero" maybe is the best Italian prog rock album ever. Great compositions, excellent lyrics, outstanding musicianship and atmospheres make the third album from Banco del Mutuo Soccorso a masterpiece of the genre and of Italian music in general.

"Canto nomade per un prigioniero politico" is simply wonderful, led by Nocenzi brothers' keyboards and the incredible vocal performance by Francesco Di Giacomo. "Non mi rompete" is one of the best known Italian pop songs. Another highlight of the album is the Gianni Nocenzi's composition "La cittŕ sottile", with its incredible "night atmosphere". An album you MUST have if you like Italian prog.

Report this review (#358448)
Posted Monday, December 20, 2010 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
4 stars 'Io Sono Nato Libero' - Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso (7/10)

Most commonly compared with the defacto kings of Italian prog rock Premiata Forneria Marconi, Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso has established their own footing in both the regional and international scene of prog. Among their more widely acclaimed works is 'Io Sono Nato Libero', an album which draws upon equal measures of classical music and jazz to create something beyond regular rock music. While 'Io Sono Nato Libero' certainly has reason to be regarded highly however, the album's lack of consistency hurts what is otherwise a great record.

It can stand to reason that many Italian progressive rock bands share similar characteristics, and Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso is no exception to this. Essentially, there are the symphonic overtones originating in the British scene, mixed with an added theatrical effect and the very distinctive sound of the Italian language. Banco does somewhat distinguish themselves however by the fact that they have some lengthy jazz sections in their music. The best example of this is during the opening track 'Canto Nomade Per Un Prigioniero Politico', which at sixteen minutes, takes up nearly half of the album's length. Although the heart of Banco's sound is rooted in dramatic symphonic prog rock, there are extended instrumental passages where the musicianship takes the forefront, and the composition becomes much more loose in nature.

Something that Banco has really going for them are the complex arrangements and compositional strength they have. Especially during the keyboard driven sections, Banco truly does sound as if they are playing classical music with rock instruments; multiple harmonies and counterpoints really seek to emulate the feeling of orchestral scope. 'Tracia II' shows the band's penchant for complex orchestrations at its fullest; sounding like a synthesized rendition of Beethoven. Amidst this bombastic nature however, there are warm acoustic moments and even some memorable melodies from the warm voice of Giacomo. It's well established that the band has some great versatility going on with 'Io Sono Nato Libero', but the album starts to show its weaknesses with how the band organizes these elements together. A wide and diverse sound is usually in the best interest of a prog rock band, but Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso's somewhat indulgent nature does not work so well for the rapid, oftimes sudden changes in the sound. A carefully arranged classical moment segueing into a loose jazzy improvisation might look good on paper, but here, the band's ability to transform the music quickly is rough, and leaves the album feeling somewhat inconsistent, and lacking the cohesion I would normally associate with a masterpiece.

Even with the evident flaws in 'Io Sono Nato Libero' included, it is easy to see why Banco has gone on to become one of the most well-regarded bands to emerge from the Italian progressive rock scene in the '70s. Although they would arguably reach much greater heights than here, Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso does not disappoint with this one.

Report this review (#452364)
Posted Thursday, May 26, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Along with the debut from Celeste, Io Sono Nato Libero is my all-time favorite progressive rock album. Banco del Mutuo Socorrso absolutely hit this one out of the park, setting the tone for a multitude of Italian bands to follow, and creating a precedent impossible to top. Along with Yes' Close To The Edge and King Crimson's notorious debut, this is one of three critically essential albums in the genre and a necessity for anyone serious about music and even art in general. Io Sono Nato Libero is that important, and while this is only my opinion, there are many others that share it.

"Canto Nomade Per Un Prigionero Politico" may be the defining moment in all of Rock Progressivo Italiano - a sprawling 16-minute epic, dense and difficult, yet jubilant and spirited. From the dual-keyboard introduction to the bombastic finale, you will be captivated for its entirety. Don't let the Italian lyrics scare you away; if nothing else, the high-level musicianship that unfolds is breathtaking and more than enough to hold your attention even if the vocals don't. Drummer Pier Luigi Calderoni does this thing about halfway through the song that is simply inhuman: Basically, the bass drum is playing off-beat eighth notes while he hits the snare on every downbeat..all while playing straight eighths on the high-hat...did i mention the time signature was 7/8? I am convinced this is either a) two people; or b) a robot. Rodolfo Maltese contributes some significantly more restrained, yet equally impressive, classical guitar throughout. The entire band is firing on all cylinders for what seems like an eternity, yet never outstay their welcome or allow the song to turn into a twenty minute mistake.

If you wonder how Banco could possibly follow such a definitive opening statement, look no further than "Non Mi Rompete." Perhaps taking a cue from Le Orme, Banco gives the drums and bass a break in order to deliver a gorgeous serenade. Quite unlike anything in their entire catalog, "Non Mi Rompete" would be a successful hit for Banco, and still to this day is frequently their encore performance in concert. But how can you top that? Well, unfortunately Banco never quite attains the brilliance of the first side, but the remaining album is still incredibly strong, painstakingly produced, and incredibly rewarding. "La Citta Sottile" is the most accessible song on side two, but not exactly standard pop fare. "Dopo...Niente e Piu Lo Stesso" revisits some of the themes from "Canto Nomade Per Un Prigionero Politico," and its expanse allows Banco to entertain some more avant-garde material. The playing is somewhat reminiscent of Gentle Giant in its wildness, but rooted in the Italian tradition and never deviates too much from what got Banco here. "Dopo...Niente e Piu Lo Stesso" will most please fans of the band's first two albums, as the poly-rhythmic and technically challenging bits are all here.

Another concert favorite, "Traccia II" closes out the disc. A lively instrumental, "Traccia II" is grandiose and stately. It is the perfect conclusion to a perfect album. Sorry guys, but listening to Io Sono Nato Libero on YouTube is not gonna cut need to buy this thing right now, and allow it to completely redefine the way you look at progressive rock. I don't mean to exaggerate, but this album is so indispensable, there's no other way to describe it.

Report this review (#491231)
Posted Wednesday, July 27, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars I've been listening to this for a while, trying to really get to know this 'classic'--as well as a core insight into the whole RPI sub-genre. The study has been immensely rewarding. First of all, I want to point out that "Io son nato libero" is incredibly well engineered, recorded, and mixed for 1973. Except for the vocals and drums. Everyone raves about Banco's keyboards, drums, or Francesco di Giacomo's voice but for me it is the acoustic guitars and hand percussion work that draws me back again and again. I actually find the drum kit and voice the weakest elements of this album--though 'weak' here is still stronger than 95 per cent of the other groups out there--and the 'weakness' I feel may be as much in the recording as in the performances. Francesco's vocals sometimes seem a bit forced--especially the high notes. The laid-back scatting in "Non mi rompete" (9/10) is beauty perfection. (Does anyone else detect the pleasant JOHN DENVER similarity to Francesco's voice and singing style?) The drumming just feels, at times, as if he's struggling to stay with the rest of the group--sometimes ever-so slightly ahead, sometimes slightly behind. The keys--both acoustic and electronic--are as incredible as everyone says. (How cool that it's two brothers who play with and off of each other!)

The opener, "Canto nomade per un prigionierio politico" (9/10) is my favorite song here--though I can see why some have commented that the successive sections of the song seem somehow disjointed or that they lack comprehensible flow. I love the 'Indian' percussion and acoustic guitar parts. My only dislike is the kit drumming.

"La cittŕ Sottile" (10/10) is exquisite: such emotional construction, pacing and soloing; such a tight rhythm section playing the music of this shifting, jazzy, quirky, surreal song, such amazing clarity and definition in its recording.

"Dopo ... niente e piů lo stesso" (7/10), though anthemic, just feels like a twelve cylinder Rolls Royce engine running on eleven; the flaws are almost imperceptible yet somehow, collectively they add up to disappointment--inexplicably lacking some of the magic and awe of the previous four songs.

"Traccia II" (8/10) is a pretty little Wakeman-like keyboard-led instrumental which serves as the album's outro. What fun it would have been to have developed this a little more.

This is without a doubt a masterpiece of recorded music--performance, composition and production. Every bit deserving of its high ranking on PA.

Report this review (#500294)
Posted Monday, August 8, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars One of the better 'prog' albums from Italy.

Francesco Di Giacomo's vocals aren't bad but are a bit on the bland side, sounding like many of his compatriots. Thankfully the rest of the band are right on form throughout. The bongos at the beginning are superb and the acoustic guitars are beautiful. "Io Sono Nato Libero" is quite a light album which is excellently cut, but I find it difficult to listen to at any one time. I'm never in the right mood... Maybe it's all part of being Scottish, being stuck in this damn pouring rain all day? even in August... Baah!

The acoustic guitars are very well played, spewing out great little tunes, especially when put through the 'flanger'. But 'pretty' isn't what I'm after most of the time. This is quite an uplifting and floating album that is a hell of a lot better than most Italian prog I've heard. The absence of electric guitar is a welcome relief in a genre that is jam packed full of them.

One for 'pure' progheads, of whom I'm sure will love this to bits. I can't think of many albums that are more 'proggy than "Io Sono Nato Libero"'. For me however, It's just good... nothing more.... Nothing less.

Report this review (#501559)
Posted Thursday, August 11, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars The third wonderful album from Banco del Mutuo Soccorso isn't quite as fresh and eye- opening as the first two - in particular, the opening epic seems to occasionally get sparse on ideas, with some sections dragging on a little longer than necessary - but it's still an excellent piece of Italian pastoral prog.

That said, with lyrics inspired by the then-recent military coup in Chile and the horrible wave of political repression that it unleashed, Francesco Di Giacomo's vocal performance is more emotionally genuine than on the previous two albums - clearly addressing subject matter dear to him and the band as a whole. So, not quite five stars, but still worth a listen, especially if you are a fan of Francesco's operatic vocal style.

Report this review (#510292)
Posted Saturday, August 27, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars You just know when you're hearing world-class musicians. Not some extremist steroidal athletes trying to outplay their peers or cooler-than-cool avant guarders stirring the sh*t storm (though I dearly love both), but players who'd passed through those stages and came out seasoned, focused but mellowed, and ready to truly compose at a level few even approach. When you add a breathtaking mix and exquisite fidelity, Io Sono Nato Libero is an album that deserves and perhaps even outshines every bit of praise it has gotten. No big surprise, I guess; leave it to the Italians for quality art production. And then there's that year again, 1973, right on schedule.

I don't much buy into Prog influences here-- Banco was more in line with a grand Italian tradition of musical identity and innovation, and don't sound much at all like ELP or Tull or anyone else ascribed to them. The Bros. Nocenzi are also another example of how well two keyboards can be utilized, and the advantages of a pair who turned any sibling rivalries into a perfectly attuned unit. Marcello Todaro's guitars blend when required and shine when needed, Calderoni/D'Angelo sound as if they were joined at birth, and Francesco Di Giacomo finishes the Nocenzi's pieces with pining emotion and sincerity, turning them into proper songs. The material here, as 'Canto Nomade per un Prigioniero Politico', is so carefully conceived and finished that it could be mistaken, I suppose, for something it was never intended to be: like Muzak. Nothing new for Prog of course, the eternally misidentified, misunderstood and misrepresented genre. Jazz abounds everywhere on the record but always quite deliberate and at the service of the music. Stunning Mediterranean sunsets, brief deviations, and flavors of the East permeate regularly. 'Non mi Rompete' takes us on a ride down the Grand Canal past the Palazzo Cavalli-Franchetti, 'La Citta Sottile' is a haunting beauty with droning jazz and a touch of darkness, and 10-minute 'Dopo..Niente e Piu lo Stesso' is a standout, maybe the highlight, and will please most proggies.

In all honesty I probably would not have liked this album even just ten years ago, and there is no denying its polished, pristine surface and Di Giacomo's bleeding-heart singing is not for everyone. Or even for a significant percentage of music listener. Heck I'd be surprised if the average Prog fan likes Banco. But that doesn't mean this isn't one of the finest recordings ever achieved by a rock band. Elegant, clean, and filled with marvelous stuff. What more could one want?

Report this review (#540646)
Posted Sunday, October 2, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars The musicianship on this release, although very tender and sublime is really top notch. For me it comes across as too polished. Having much depth, it seems for me to lack a bit the real heights. It oscillates between its inherent tenderness and some contra points that to me seem to be there for exactly that reason - being contra points, and not in line with the development of the arrangements. And even though it is very original and innovative it lacks at some points a bit the progressive rock feeling. I give it a 3 stars and some crumbles. Definitely worth checking out.
Report this review (#606174)
Posted Monday, January 9, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars After two excellent albums in their debut and Darwin!, Banco come out with perhaps their best yet. Io Sono Nato Libero is dark, light, intense, relaxed; a lot of things could describe this album, as it is truly that eclectic.

The opening song is probably the highlight. It goes through a plethora of twists and turns in its 16-minutes of length. There are upbeat, happier parts with some fun counterpoint melodies that resemble Gentle Giant. Then there are some rather dark parts, especially the one in the middle, which give off a feeling of uneasiness. This is truly a testament to the songwriting ability of these guys.

The remaining songs are fine in their own right. 'Non Mi Rompete' is a song with a strong folk flavor, with wondering acoustic passages and some cheery, melodic vocals. 'La Sittia Sottile' and 'Dopo?' are your average Banco tunes with a mix of great melodies and intricacies, are filled with keyboard, and feature some aggressive, intense vocals.

Traccia is a nice contrast to the more aggressive nature of the previous song with its melodic keyboard parts, and is a great closer to the album with it's almost Anthem like approach. Overall, I believe Io Sono Nato Libero is a truly great album that portrays an effective combination of intense eclecticism, experimentalism and great melodies. This is a must-have for a true taste of Banco and the Italian prog scene in general.


Report this review (#847410)
Posted Tuesday, October 30, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars The best, most inspired and original Banco expression.

The first track, the suite "Canto Nomade per un Prigionero Politico" is the most accomplished of the group, outlining the extraordinary quality instrumental. The lyrics are good and the voice of De Giacomo plays a successful role. The classic and runs great keyboards and piano, we also consider most important protagonism acoustic guitars. And the production is better than previous works.

"Non Mi Rompete" and "Traccia II" provided a respite and are good interludes, appropriate. Regarding the first part of his lyric says: "Why are you bothering me maybe if I'm dreaming of a trip winged a chariot without wheels dragged by horses of the mistral, the mistral ... in flight ".

"La Cittŕ Sottile" (The City Thin) and "Dopo ... Niente Piů I Stesso Č" (After...Nothing is the Same Anymore), contain an excellent mix between complexity and harmony.

4+ stars.

Report this review (#999219)
Posted Tuesday, July 16, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars I did want to submit this review both to echo the general support for this album. Io Sono Nato Libero a classic of the Italian Progressive Rock movement in the 70s. Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso's best album (in my opinion). One of the all-time great Italian prog albums. Impressive music! Io Sono Nato Libero grabs and attract from the first minute. Melodism, perfect arrangements, scent of classical music, the Italian lyrics, theatrical flair; enchanting and varied as well. Truly wonderful stuff! The technical abilities and creativity of the band are exceptional. Even though the album is just forty minutes, there's so much to discover with each new listen.
Report this review (#1819825)
Posted Monday, November 6, 2017 | Review Permalink

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