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L' Estate Di San Martino - Alder CD (album) cover


L' Estate Di San Martino

Rock Progressivo Italiano

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Honorary Collaborator
3 stars L'Estate di San Martino (ESM) was born in a garage in an isolated, beautiful part of Italy called Umbria in 1975. The band formed to give musical support to a theatrical piece called "Alete." There were numerous line-up changes over the next several years with a single released in 1978. Work on the conceptual material for "Alder" began in the spring of 1982. Being mostly a live working band it is appropriate that the Alder project ended up as a live album, recorded in December 1983 at the Zenith Theatre in Perugia over two consecutive nights. After this the band folded for 10 years before beginning another project called Febo. Alder was finally released on CD in 2006 and Febo in 2007.

The music of ESM during the Alder period is a softer prog rock which merges early mellower Genesis tendencies to the origins of the neo-prog sound, but in the Italian rather than English sound. You will hear some PFM and maybe a little Celeste influence although guitar seems more prevalent than keys. Nearly ever-present acoustic guitars are given significant punch via strong bass guitar and good electric leads. Occasional flute adds some nice touches and keyboards as well. "Alder" is a concept album about a fisherman on something of a quest for knowledge and enlightenment. Wisely, they have written the narrative for each piece (song) of the story and translated to English in the booklet so that more people can follow along. This is something I wish more bands would do. I personally prefer bands stay in their first language because the music invariably sounds more natural, but it's a very nice touch and much appreciated when they take the time to provide some notes or summary in English for others. "A Fisherman" begins with nice acoustic guitar and flute, the chords very dreamy. "that night, when the moon spread out along the water, Alder felt really alone and it was then that the star of many mirrors reflected his dreams." Such is the beginning of the narrative which lyrically sounds a bit like the concept of a Cat Stevens project. Male vocals soon join and the bass/drums and keys will kick in as it rocks a bit and features a nice electric solo before ending with the acoustic. Most tracks are in the 6-7 minute range and allow time for nice instrumental explorations as they unfold. The typical sound is a middle speed light rock that is kind of foggy and atmospheric. Sometimes a bit Floydish, other times like a less rocking Marillion minus drama-boy singing, other times reminding me of Finistere. There are sections where it's just acoustic guitar and light keyboards, and other times when the punchy drum/bass sound rock out with electric leads. It's hard to define them by other bands as their style is just a bit different than the others, more laid back. The last half of the finale "On Tanana Brook" features a fiery (by ESM standards) guitar solo for the big ending. The bonus track is a pleasant memorial to a fallen friend and colleague.

Alder is a good album but I do have a bit of a problem with the sound. I think were it a studio album with much better sound/production I could add another star but much of the nuance is lost in the live mix. Parts are very quiet which make me turn it up to hear them, then it gets loud and murky in other places and you have to babysit the volume. There are parts that would be better if the sound were clearer. It is certainly not horrible and definitely is listenable, but it is not optimal. All in all it is something I enjoy from time to time because of the thoughtful and tasteful playing. Considering this was '83 when most of prog was on life-support the album really was good for the moment. I give it a reserved thumbs up for Italian fans and pastoral-prog fans.

Report this review (#160205)
Posted Tuesday, January 29, 2008 | Review Permalink
erik neuteboom
3 stars This is an Italian formation (from the wonderful city Perugia) that was founded in 1975. Early The Eighties they started to work out a concept story about a fisherman who makes an imaginary journey to Knowledge. In 1983 the band made recordings during two nights, it took 23 years before the prolific Italian progrock label Btf. released it on CD, it has been issued in a beautiful mini gatefold package.

The ten compositions on the album Alder sound quite mellow with lots of twanging acoustic guitars and some flute, it reminds me of the folky side of early Genesis. The keyboards are a bit on the background featuring some synthesizer flights, a bit of Grand piano, at those moments I like Alder their in general 'pastoral prog', embellished with beautiful Italian vocals and some moving electric guitarwork. A nice album, no more or less in my opinoin, it will please the more romantic progheads.

Report this review (#172373)
Posted Wednesday, May 28, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars 3.5 stars to be accurate...

After Il Castello di Atlante,Consorzio Acqua Potabile and Il Cerchio d'Oro,here is another case of a band,who performed in 70's Italy without releasing an official album.L'ESTATE DI SAN MARTINO came from Perugia and started as an acoustic/theatrical band under the name ''Alete''.In summer 1978 they represented the region of Umbria at a national music contest,held in Capri,and managed to release a promo single on RCA with the track ''Il bimbo e l'eroe'' (the second side belonged to another group called ''Gli Urbevetus'').From this time their sound became richer with the addition of keys and electric instruments,leading to a great concept work around a ffisherman,named Alder,performed live in 15 and 16 of December 1983 in Perugia.These recordings were collected and released in 2006 by BTF.

...and definitely they represent the band's most mature phase.The sound quality is great without any weaknesses.Despite the year of the recordings,this concept is heavily rooted in the Italian Symphonic Prog tradition.Mellow,pastoral and melodic progressive rock with light interplays and romantic vocals,a sound which I can't get enough of.Most of the tracks open with warm,gentle flute work in the vein of PFM or early-GENESIS,before developing into melodic Symphonic Rock with splendid acoustic guitars and nice synth/piano work.Mauro Formica,the bass player,seems to be a very important piece of the puzzle,as his bass lines lead the way in a heavy amount of instrumental passages in here.L'ESTATE DI SAN MARTINO offer also a good dose of dramatic instrumental work with a tight rhythm section battling with atmospheric synths and the flutes and this is what Italian Prog is all about.Vocals are great most of the time,without being too lyrical or expressive.Obvious comparisons are CELESTE,ERRATA CORRIGE,REALE ACADEMIA DI MUSICA or any other Italian soft Symph/folk-tinged prog band comes to your mind.

Without being a bit excessive or too complicated,''Alder'' manages to hold the listener's interest from the start to the very end and this is something difficult for a 70 min. album nowadays.Anyone into good,well-crafted progressive rock should purchase...not to mention that this is almost a must-have for Italian Classic Prog fans!

Report this review (#271083)
Posted Wednesday, March 10, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars A live album of some theatrical music from this band who originates from the 1970s.

I love the story behind this album and I love the artwork. The music on the other hand falls frustratingly short of what I hoped for. Not by a long distance, but still short.

The music here is pretty mellow symphonic prog. Genesis is a good reference point. Genesis without the adventure you always found in their songs. Based on acoustic guitars as this music is, the keyboards adds some texture, but not as much as I had hoped for. My main gripe is the lack of some great songs and the pretty bad sound. Even being a live album, this album does not have a great sound. The details is lost in the mix somewhere. I believe the songs here was performed with a lot of finesse and details. They are lost here. The end result is frustration over a good album which could had been a lot more than a good album. The positives is that this is after all a good album and which may interest the RPI fan. I am a happy owner of this album. But........

3 stars

Report this review (#297012)
Posted Wednesday, September 1, 2010 | Review Permalink

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