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Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso - Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso CD (album) cover


Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso

Rock Progressivo Italiano

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5 stars BANCO's first album would clearly be in my opinion one of the finest releases from the 70's. BANCO play a highly expressive and soulful classical progressive rock with great sophistication and romanticism. I would have to say that the opening track "R.I.P (Requiescant In Pace)" would be one of the most brilliant tracks in my collection. What always stands out for me on this album is the clearly accentuated piano/keyboards which seems to bring so much to the album. Although the album does have its more laid back sections, in classic BANCO style they still do break out into some pretty wild progressive rock moments. One of the other small things which I have always loved about this album is their rare but clever use of sound effects. For those who may be unfamiliar with the Italian progressive rock scene may want to consider starting here.
Report this review (#12513)
Posted Sunday, March 21, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Another classic, containing their most popular track "R.I.P", but above all the fantastic "Il Giardino del Mago" and "Metamorfosi", which are regarded as classic "prog-gems" within the 70's Progressive scene in Italy.


Report this review (#12515)
Posted Thursday, April 1, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars A very good debut album from an Italian band with an unusual, slightly avant-garde, sound. The album introduces the extremely competent keyboard skills of the two Nocenzi brothers.

The most melodic and exciting track is 'RIP', a real foot-tapper at the beginning and then turning into a rich wave of sound, with Francesco Di Giacomo belting out the vocals. He does sound like he should be singing opera instead of rock though.

'Passaggio' is a short dabble on what sounds like a harpsichord or spinet (instruments not mentioned on the CD liner notes).

'Metamorfosi' is also very good, with electric organ 'metamorphosing' into some very competent piano playing, and back into some great Progressive Rock.

'Il Giardino Del Mago' (the wizard's garden) is very long and has distinct parts with different tempos and feel, some of it very frenetic keyboard playing of staccato, repetitive note sequences that are not particularly musically sophisticated in my opinion (somewhat of a BANCO trait).

The final track 'Traccia' is very good: starting off with fast, repetitive piano but picking up percussion and other instruments along the way and turning into bombastic medieval-sounding music to which I can picture a big public procession marching.

Possibly less interesting than later BANCO albums, this is nonetheless very good and, although I'm being hard in giving it 3 stars (Good, but non-essential), I wouldn't dream of not having it in my collection. But if you want only one or two examples of BANCO, you could do better than this.

Report this review (#12514)
Posted Friday, May 7, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Debut by one of the great Italian prog rock bands. Unfortunately I find this debut a bit overrated. For one thing the production is pretty lousy, and Franco di Giacomo's singing seems a bit overbearing, but the album isn't bad, although some of the material here was greatly improved when re-recorded for their 1975 album just called "Banco" (which was their first international release). "In Volo" is a nice, medieval-influenced piece dominated by recorders and some strange sound effects. "R.I.P. (Requiescant in Pace)" is regarded as one of the album's high points. Lots of piano and even some synthesizer (the synths here are nothing to write home about, compared to their next releases). "Passagio" is a short harpsichord interlude before coming to "Metamorfosi", which is largely instrumental, dominated by the organ of Vittorio Nocenzi and piano of his brother Gianni. Then you have the 18 minute "Il Giardino del Mago" which has some really intense moments, although there are some slow parts that needed to be thrown out. Then the album ends with "Traccia" complete with "la la" choruses. In my opinion, this album has excellent material, but their next two albums, "Darwin!" and "Io Sono Nato Libero" are the albums to get first.
Report this review (#12519)
Posted Saturday, July 17, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars 4.3/5.0

This album is rather strange... and beautiful. Somehow harmonious and fluid, somehow just too weird and exploded to understand even after many listening. Banco's first album is definitely an Italian progressive classic. This album is complicated, but any prog fan must have it cause it's simply good!

Report this review (#12524)
Posted Sunday, February 6, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars This first album of Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso ( what a wonderful band's name ) contains all that will make the importance to come from this Italian group : generous melodies, dazzling keyboards, a way of singing close to the opera, a taste for the experimentation, an unquestionable talent to create varied and original climates. However, it seems to me, that at this stage, the group did not find a perfect cohesion yet and the overall sound suffers from it. Moreover, the parts of guitar are rather low in comparison of the extreme richness of the keyboards, and the singing is sometimes forced too much. In short: a good LP, but the best of Banco is to come...
Report this review (#12526)
Posted Sunday, April 3, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Absolutely brilliant debut album from one of the best italian progressive bands of the 70's. This is powerful declaration of further masterpieces to come. Rich melodies, complex song structures, amazing vocals (best in prog to my taste). The production could be slightly better, but nevertheless this is definitely masterpiece in the whole true meaning of this word.
Report this review (#37226)
Posted Wednesday, June 22, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars If you ask me the best singing language that fit prog music despite English, it's probably Italian and the second one is Spain. And Banco has blended the Italian speaking lyrics with classical music, jazz and rock in perfect way through this excellent debut album which I consider one of the seventies prog icons. No one would argue about this, I think. This album delivers beautiful compositions with varieties of styles from soft to loud, and from classical outfit to rock with some nuance of opera especially through the album opener "In Volo" (2:13) which involves monologues and orchestration. It moves into more uplifting mood with guitar rhythm accompanying excellent vocal delivery under "R.I.P. (Requiescant in Pace)" (6:40). This second track offers jazzy style keyboard work augmented with nice insertions of guitar fills. I really enjoy the electric piano exploration in the middle of the track - it's stunning. Structure-wise it's relatively simple and the beauty of this track on the arrangement with instrument solos combined with good singing style. The combination of piano and vocal right after the middle of the track is also another point of attraction about this track - especially when piccolo inserts its sound beautifully. An excellent track.

The bridge "Passaggio" (1:19) that contains a very nice keyboard / organ work with non-lyrical singing brings us to the fourth track 4 "Metamorfosi" (10:52) in elegant way: a combination of guitar, drum, and piano work in upbeat tempo. The organ fills the transition to nice piano solo. It's a memorable segment, I would say. For me, this classic music influenced piano solo has created an excellent enjoyment pleasure. Brilliant. Drums enter the music combined with nice organ fills as the track builds into a crescendo. Suddenly the track goes through a silent break continued wonderfully with organ solo. What an excellent break man! What follow is a fabulous exploration of organ work augmented in alternate with simple guitar fills as the music moves into various forms in smooth way. At the ending part the track offers great guitar solo followed with floating voice line in Italian accent. Awesome composition.

The album offers an epic "Il Giardino del Mago" (18:26) that comprises four parts: a) ...passo dopo passo... b) ...chi ride e chi geme... c) ...coi capelli sciolti al vento... d) Compenetrazione . The epic starts of with a soft piano opening with nice melody augmented with some drum work especially at every end of the bars. The music flows with organ that brings all instruments work together to form a cohesive epic. The combination of vocal and keyboard / organ has created beautiful harmony. The epic moves to relatively complex arrangement in a faster tempo demonstrating excellent keyboard work in high energy. There are also excellent mellotron sounds. The epic concludes with an uplifting mood with complex arrangement and dynamic delivery that reminds me to ELP kind of music. It's an excellent epic. The concluding track of the album "Traccia" (2:10) serves like an epilogue with ELP like music augmented with non- lyrics singing, guitar and dynamic drumming.

It's an excellent addition to any prog music collection that you should not miss. Keep on proggin' ..!

Progressively yours,


Report this review (#38720)
Posted Wednesday, July 6, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars A strong debut from the great Italian band, not far behind "Darwin!" or "Io Sono..." and a great introduction to Banco, establishing their classic sound and musical tendencies . The music , though slightly less impressive than that on the aforementioned classics, nevertheless balances beauty and complexity quite well, making this record as interesting as it is enjoyable.

IN VOLO is a short introduction and not really a musical statement on it's own,although it's oddly compelling, with weird background noises , spoken lines and other quirkiness.

R.I.P. Starts off as an uptemto rock track with catchy melodies, memorable vocals, and jazzy guitar soloing , then turns into a nice piano ballad halfway through. Tastefully arranged and very enjoyable.

PASSAGIO is a short, classical harpsichord interlude, and quite likeable for that matter.

METAMORFOSI begins with full-band major-key theme, but quite soon we are treated to a nice piano passage ( something the Nocenzi brothers are more than competent at in both writing and execution) . The mostly-instrumental composition continues to develop , alternating between classic prog and mellow interludes, and concluding with a memorable fast-paced outro. Though weak points are present and in parts the music could've been more intricate, the track still works remarkably well.

IL GIARDINO DEL MAGO ,at over 18 minutes long, is somewhat overextended with unnecessary repetition and could've been trimmed to about 10 minutes, although it's still reasonably good.A slightly sinister (and not very remarkable) organ line begins the track, and proceeds to serve as the songs main theme , recurring in many variations throughout the piece. Thankfully , there are other musical segments that help make this an enjoyable listen , such as the one introduced around the 8:30 , and overall, this is one of the better examples of lengthy epics of this nature (many of which fail to take flight completely).

TRACCIA starts with a piano, which is soon joined by the other instruments, and works quite well as an album closer ,the fast organ at the very end being my favourite part.

To sum it up, this album , though inconsistent in places, is quite enjoyable shouldn't be overlooked once you've checked out Banco's best works.

Report this review (#55771)
Posted Thursday, November 10, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars The first work released in 1972 "Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso". The content is a classical hard rock. There is a rich poetic sentiment, too and an ideal lock though it is heavy. It is a work that has already entered the region of classics. A passionate, avant-garde performance shines still. I feel a hot soul of Italy at that time. The unearthly music is energetically invented. It is as magnificent as the opera and dramatic. The album composition in addition to powerful performance power is also splendid. Timeless masterpiece.
Report this review (#64165)
Posted Wednesday, January 11, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Ok, this is for all prog fans out there, but especially for the italians: this album deserves a place on the top ten, because it is a MASTERPIECE! Everything you'll find here is top quality: the songs, the playing, the singer voice, just listen and believe to your ears! Come on, give it 5 STARS, "Banco del Mutuo Soccorso" is simply one of the best prog (or whatever) albums ever!

Report this review (#67171)
Posted Saturday, January 28, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars "Present and yet remote, a living vision of that which has already been left far behind by the flowing streams of Time". Well, Tolkien wrote these words to describe Lady Galadriel in "The Lord Of The Rings", but I think that the same words could be used to describe the debut album of BMS. This work is a melting pot of classical influences and progressive sounds where the musicians try to find a personal way to express their ideas with music and suggestive lyrics hanging above past and present, fantasy and reality.

"Loose your hippogriff's bridles, Astolfo / And fly wildly where man's work is more brisk / But don't deceive me with false images / And let me see the truth / So that I can touch what's fair". The short opener "In volo" features sounds effects, choirs and flute giving it a kind of "Middle-age flavour" while the melody and the recitative vocals seem to come out from the "streams of time". Well, actually the lyrics are vaguely inspired by the work of the Italian poet Lodovico Ariosto and not by Tolkien, but in my opinion it doesn't matter very much whether they come from the "Middle-age" or from the "Middle- earth". "From here, sir, we overlook the valley / What you can see is real / But if the picture is thin to your eyes / Let's go down to look at it from a lower point / And we'll glide down in a winged gallop / Into the crater where time gurgles". An amazing prelude for the following track!

With "R.I.P. (Requiescant In Pace)" rhythm goes up bringing echoes of war, while the lyrics and the peculiar vocals of Francesco Di Giacomo draw the gloomy landscape of a battle field. "Horses, bodies and broken spears are getting red / Laments of dying people without a Christ nearby / Huge pupils turned up to the sun / Dust and thirst / In every moment you can feel the death's breath on you / But you'll never know why. Rest in peace!". The music is powerful with keyboards and piano in the forefront. "On heaps of dead corpses you built up your glory / But the blood you spilt has felt back on you / Your war has came to an end, old soldier". Then the storm calm down giving way to a delicate piano part that leads to a struggling and melodic elegy. "Now the wind sit down / Your glance is still hanging from the sky / Your eyes lay in the sun / In your chest there's still a dagger / And you'll never shoot your spear anymore, trying to wound the horizon / To push yourself further / To discover what God only knows / Nothing will be left of you but the pain and the cry that you gave / To push yourself further / To discover what God only knows". "A living vision", a bitter reflection about the inhumanity and uselessness of war and glory, "present and yet remote".

A sound of steps, a man approaching an old harpsichord, the sound of the instrument and the voice of the man drawing a melody. This is "Passaggio", just a short bridge that leads to "Metamorfosi", a long track, almost completely instrumental, with many changes of rhythm and mood melting in the short conclusive singing part where "opera like" vocals seem to claim the need of a never ending change. "Man, I don't know if I resemble to you / I don't know, nevertheless I feel that I wouldn't like / To mark my days with yours".

"Il giardino del mago" (The wizard's garden) is a long and complex suite, dark and dreamy. "When I was a child I used to ride the horse with the head bent down / I used to gallop without a noise / The wooden hoofs that flew over the flowers didn't waste the colours". Lyrics are about the contrast between dreams and reality and the music seems to underline this contrast. Who is the wizard? Well, maybe the wizard is Atlante, another Ariosto's character but that doesn't really matter; here the wizard's garden is just a place in your mind where reality has no room and where you can find a shelter. "With my hair blowing in the wind / I rule the time, my time / There, in the spaces where death has no power / Where love crosses the borders / And the servant dances with the king / Crown without vanity / The road that goes is never-ending". The final track "Traccia" is clearly classical inspired. Hints of Bach and Beethoven blended with progressive rock with an astounding result.

"Present and yet remote, a living vision of that which has already been left far behind by the flowing streams of Time". One of the milestones of Italian-prog and a must- have for every prog collector.

Report this review (#83885)
Posted Sunday, July 16, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Usually ¨Darwin¨ is considered the best BMS album followed by ¨Io sono nato libero¨ but for me their debut is the best. It starts with¨In Volo¨, a beatiful narration about something uyou will have no idea unless you speech italian, the second track is ¨R.I.P¨ a classic BMS track. Metamorfosi is an awesome almost intrumental track but the star of the album is the epic ¨Il Giardino del Mago¨ one of the best progressive rock tracks ever. Essential
Report this review (#107960)
Posted Friday, January 19, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars Brimming with emotion, energy and passion, Banco del Mutuo Soccorso's debut album makes them one of the top players in Italian prog music. Much like other "symphonic progressive" bands, beautiful melodies and interesting arrangements abound. And the singer is really, really good!

Anyway, the album begins with the slightly eerie "In volo", which sounds like some sort of introduction/monologue backed by some sparse instrumentation and childish choirs in the back (I don't speak Italian, so I don't what he's saying). The album then gets started with the rousing "R.I.P.". Driven by a powerful guitar riff, it's the closest thing I've heard to a symphonic rock song. There is some great guitar and piano interplay in this energetic song. Thing slow down in the second half of the song (sounding like a ballad), but picks up right at the end. "Passaggio" is a short interlude piece with a medieval sounding harpsichord and word-less singing in the background. "Metamorphosi" starts out with a beautiful piano but after a few minutes really picks up before launching into the main melody. The organ and guitar lead the way through most of this song before slowing down and vocals come in towards the end of the song. The ending so sooo epic! It's great. "Il giardino del mago" is an epic journey of winding, dynamic passages. There are some great ideas in this song, but it's a little too drawn out for it's own good. "Traccia" is a powerful closer with powerful drums and organ, backed by piano and a choir (think classical music).

Overall, for what it's worth, Banco's debut album succeeds in showing what the band is made of. It's bold, epic and stays true to the Italian prog style. My only problem with it is that it's a little too repetitive in the two longer songs. Given that, it's beautifully constructed, even if the band is playing it safe. If you are a fan of this stuff, go for it, but if not, there's better Italian prog albums out there.

Standout songs: "R.I.P.", "Il giardino del mago"

Report this review (#126952)
Posted Wednesday, June 27, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars I look at Banco and PFM as companions of Yes and Genesis. PFM have a pastoral side similair to Genesis and Banco has a more aggressive side ala Yes. With Banco's first album they almost hit a home run right out of the gate. The album starts with some choral work with female singers and the legend talk singing something, (sorry, I don't know Italian). Then BAM! Track two is one of their alltime classics, "R.I.P. (Requiescant In Pace)" is a fast paced, scorching Itailian prog song as good as any made on any continenent, plus it has one of the world's greatest singers belting it out keeping up the pace of the song. Excellent guitar work, fast drum play and keyboards that punctuate the song perfectly. "Passaggio" slows it down with some pretty harpsicord. Then BAM #2! "Metamorphosi" is another alltime classic, mostly instrumental it has an unforgettable melody with Francesco singing towards the tail end of the song. Bravissimo! <--(did I spell it correctly?). Side two begins with their very first epic, "Il Giardino Del Mago". You have to have guts to have an 18 minute song on your very first album. Not as memorable as the two classics on side one, nevertheless it has fantastic instrumentation with Fransesco's best singing but a lull 3/4's of the way through drags it down. The album ends with a sorta recap type song. I believe for a first time album it is remarkable. Banco right from the start are tight as a unit with great melodies and a legendary singer. Other then the lull inside the epic it would garner a 5 star rating easily. I rate it 4.5 nudging it to 5.
Report this review (#129331)
Posted Thursday, July 19, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars First opus of this legendary Italian band.

"Requiescant In Pace" is a very catchy song : it combines Italian prog, with jazz and classical music. It is a "Banco" standard. Vocals are extremely emotive and the last portion of this song is just brilliant. It truely holds all the ingredients that a symph fan could be looking for. A highlight of course.

Middle ages mood for the short "Passagio". Just a passage, a transition track to get to "Metamorphosi". This is of course another story. Again, we will be touched by the grandeur of this song. Nice Emerson-like piano work to start ("Take A Pebble" oriented to give you the picture) it will evolve into some frenetic keyboards sounds and finally emerge to a vibrant guitar part which is turely emotional. Extraordinary vocals and crazy finale. Another highlight.

Now, "Il Giardino...". The epic track of this debut album. Its atmosphere is pretty strange. It takes quite a while to effectively start (five minutes). We'll be transported into ELP again, but more on the powerful side this time. Strong and bombastic keyboard part. A sort of distraction from their traditional sound which will come back pretty soon. Delicate acoustic guitar as a backup for beautiful vocals again.

There will several movements or parts in this song. Not really related which makes it complex to apprehend.

I like how the vocals sound in this album. This is an interesting entry point in Italian prog although I prefer more modern bands of this genre ("La Maschera" for instance). This is a good debut one. Three stars.

Report this review (#137291)
Posted Saturday, September 8, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Lovely.

In Volo is like western, small story, though i have no idea what are they talking about. Psychedelic, dark. Weird backround, medieval flute, dramatic choirs here and there. Very sophisticated and musical yet narrative.

R.I.P. (Requiescant in Pace) is a rocker, but it has many good things. After half there's very delicate piano and the style changes after that, singing is powerful, it's like ballad. The end is powerful irrational psychedelic and heavy followed by piano with temperament. PS I always get a smile when he sings lance rotte, I always think it as Lanzarote (combined with R.I.P. - quirky enough to get you laugh)

Passagio is just a break, maybe man coming to play some hapsicord and to sing (there's walking sounds at the baginning and the end), interlude, nice but very short and I don't really care it.

Metamorfosi is very symphonic, dark, floating flooding flowing piece, still having heavy guitars and crazy psychedelic moments. With another long track, Il Giardino del Mago, it gives this album five stars (although they aren't maybe the most perfect songs... they're still MUST and very very good)

Il Giardino del Mago - it is just amazing how you can add so many different styles into a song. Again, this is a crying song, like many Italian Symphonic Prog songs are. Sometimes it's Zeuhl, Magma, bursting, psychedelic, heavy, happy, sad, angry, and delicate in one packet (or two, or fourteen ;) )

Traccia is a fanfare (with no brass... you know what i mean with "fanfare"), but more like battle song, evolving from In Volo (and continuing in Traccia II - well they are quite different..).

Report this review (#144328)
Posted Saturday, October 13, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Formed in 1969 in Rome,Italy, BANCO DEL MUTUO SOCCORSO are one of the top examples of the 70's Italian prog rock wave's bands.Founding members were brother/keyboardists Gianni and Vittorio Nocenzi.After some early line-up changes,the band had finally a 6-member secure column to fully develop their ideas on a LP.This would be released in 1972 carrying the band's name as a title.The magnificance,brilliance and majesty of this album goes beyond simple words.''Banco del mutuo soccorso'' is built around the double keyboard interplays of Nocenzi brothers and the crystalline operatic voice of singer Francesco Di Giacomo,featuring unbelievable grandiose organ-dominated parts and classical/crying piano themes accompanied by the expressive/emotional vocal lines of Di Giacomo.But there are also some really amazing rockin' parts,led by aggresive guitars and pounding bass with slight jazzy influences.Balanced between emotions/sensitivity and complexity/aggresiveness this work is an absolute killer of the legendary Italian symphonic rock scene of the 70's,that should appeal to all lovers of demanding musicianship and deep expressions!
Report this review (#145049)
Posted Tuesday, October 16, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars What a great debut album it is !! What a fabulous name it is. What a musicality. Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso they totally got me to have a feeling that music is .. such kind of music is in this world. good enough to have a mind that I couldn't do anything when the music was ended. I remenber doing nothing as seated myself when I first hear the last song Treccia . such a feeling rarely comes as I have heard many albums up to now. Il Giardino Del Mago is very good whereas Metamorfosi is varying very much. In Volo starts with narration as I recognize that this album starts. And I didn't recognized each songs at a few times of hearing. similar melody refrains I felt all over the album. but as I hear and hear then I seek to recognize each songs are different in a little bit different way. And now I think Banco del Mutuo Soccorso is just begining to second album Darwin! as someone says. I just regreat I don't understand the lyrics cause Italian. But maybe my heart is touching more for the reason. This album needs a short time when the music is ended to relaxing my mind. Great album, great band, no regreat to buy it.
Report this review (#154247)
Posted Wednesday, December 5, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars I only have listened to three albums released by BANCO: "Di Terra", "Darwin!" and this, their first album. After listening to "Di Terra", which I consider a very good album, I expected more of the same very good music. Unfortunately, in my case, after "Di Terra" the other albums that I have listened from this band, which is a very good band, are not in the list of my favourite albums. But I recognize that this band has talented musicians and they also make good music with good arrangements. It is, in my opinion, a band very influenced by Classical Music, and I think that most of their members are trained musicians in Classical Music schools. As I wrote in my review for "Darwin!", I think that lead singer Francesco DiGiacomo has a good voice. Maybe he was trained as an Opera singer, so his voice is not very common to be found in Prog Rock bands. I think that liking his voice takes time, several listenings. Also the music from this band is complex, and it also takes several listenings to really like it. In comparison to "Di Terra" and "Darwin!", I think that "Di Terra" is the best I have listened from this band, but this first album is more accessible than "Darwin!" but not as accessible as "Di Terra". Anyway, this album has more interesting things than "Darwin!" so I prefer it more than "Darwin!". One of the highlights in this album is the very long song called "Il Giardino Del Mago". Di Giacomo`s vocals are very expressive and dramatic in some places. It was until recently that I was listening to some Italian Opera Arias (sung by Giusepe Di Stefano; I`m not a Fan of Operas, but now I`m trying to learn how to appreciate them) that I really appreciated how good Di Giacomo is as a singer. So, despite this band is not one of my favourites, I think that this album has some interesting things to be listened by every Fan of Prog Rock music.
Report this review (#159739)
Posted Friday, January 25, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Everything has already been said about this great album. So I just want to say that some passages of this work are real poetry in my opinion. The finest example is the second part of R.I.P.:

"Ora si č seduto il vento il tuo sguardo č rimasto appeso al cielo sugli occhi c'č il sole nel petto ti resta un pugnale e tu no, non scaglierai mai piů la tua lancia per ferire l'orizzonte per spingerti al di lŕ per scoprire ciň che solo Iddio sa ma di te resterŕ soltanto il dolore, il pianto che tu hai regalato"

These lyrics, or better these verses, really impressed me when I first listened to them, and they thrill me everytime.

Report this review (#160762)
Posted Monday, February 4, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars If an Italian group exists that very is known at international level, after Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM), is Banco del Mutuo Soccorso (BMS) one of the fundamental groups of the Progressive Italian rock. This originating group of the city of Rome is of the best examples of the development of the Italian Progressive rock and also one of the best groups than has arisen from world-wide the Progressive rock. Their music is stirring and of delicate and fresh mysticism, as well as of a exacerbated chromatist. There is a deep doubt that the music of Banco has a very classic development, subjects and with extraordinary shades, and extreme professionalism in the musicians who integrate this great group and which they are: Gianni Nocenzi -clarinet, piano, Keyboards, Flute Piccolo, Vocals, Pier Luigi Calderoni. - Drums, Renato D'Angelo. - Bass and Guitar, Francesco Di Giacomo. - Vocals, Vittorio Nocenzi. - Organ, Clarinet, Keyboards, Vocals and Marcello Todaro. - Guitar, Vocals, guitarrón.

Banco has been always a pilar of the Progressive rock in Italy, It practically was present in all the festivals of Progressive rock that organized in principles of 70's like Villa Pamplihi or the Caraccalla and next to the great Italian groups of those years like PFM, Osanna, New Trolls, Le Orme and IL Balleto di Bronzo, to name those. The sound of the group is very characteristic by the use of double keyboard, courtesy of the Nocenzi brothers, who studied classic music and is to notice since they perfectly dominate to the contrapuntist technique and the long harmonic developments, are musical of fertile spontaneity and encyclopedic knowledge and without a doubt of the best keyboard players than has given modern music.

Before do the analysis of the recording that occupies to us, I want to mention the vocalist of this group Francesco Di Giacomo to who I consider one of the voices most characteristic of the Italian rock, his style to sing is of the best ones than it has listened in all my life, powerful vocalist, with a privileged voice and that knows to transmit the feeling that contains melody, with heart rendering rates and at the same time melancholic, an artist in constant evolution and that do not sacrifice the melodic architecture and he affirms to a stormy temperament and a virtuous teacher in the art of the vocalizations.

It is this first titled album in the same way that the group (BMS) and that is one of Progressive jewels of the rock done in Italy in beginning of the 70's years, and that before the first disc of PFM, I consider that are of both more powerful discs debuts than they have left in that year by (great year by the way for the Italian rock), and fundamental if it is wanted to know the development of progressive rock in this country. The multiplicity of rates, the color that they print to them to the compositions, the difficult and laborious harmonies, the strange and dissonant rates, are finished poems that are worth by their ample breath, their noble emotion their flat, or movable lines either their expression generous and contained here there, their nostalgic and sometimes aggressive atmosphere, created by the part of the instrumentation, rich in musicality and powerfully evocative. The Bass playing of Renato is powerful and it sublimates, discreet and taciturn, but effective and simultaneously sober at moments of great musical tension, there is no doubt that is one of the underrated bass players, but if most skilful and with a great sense of the support and improvisation (please listen to the passage of Metamorfosi song in minute 4:20 in ahead). About Calderoni I consider it of the best drummers than it has given the Progressive Italian rock, with an extraordinary instinct in applying the most dissonant rates than one had imagined and it applies them with the grace of the teacher and it affirms like a great one in making meticulous but effective percutives tonalities, with great redouble and with registries of until rates of 6/8 and with surprising changes, colossal rates and handling of one melody expresses.

The guitar of Marcello is of the best ones than i had listened and here in this album made an extraordinary work like in Darwin (second disc of BMS) and a part of the Io Sono Nato Libero. Precise musician, tiles great agreed and melodic lines in their guitar, electrical or acoustic, harmonist as much completed, (they listen to the delicious and delicate passage of guitar in Il Giardino di Mago minute 10:30) with a great sense by the tonality and avoiding the generic use of riffs used in rock, choose to touch to the way of the great madrigals and English lute, he have the harmonic but sophisticated intonation and with a Mediterranean touch that offers to freshness and grace, non free of aggressive passages where it demonstrates his potential.

Before analyzes the songs, I want to emphasize the point about the production of the disc, to my seems to me a very acceptable production as far as sound, (similar to those discs of the seal Vertigo) if it were possible to be done more good but the Integral loudness of the disc is quite enjoyable, is certain also that the keyboards of the Nocenzi brothers are heard very to the front, and sometimes the voice of Francesco is heard very low in the mixture. But I believe that these minimum problems are solved making a good equalization in the stereo where being this listened to, truly to enjoy this wonderful work of art that is this first disc, capital in the Italian discography of any Progressive music lover.

1. - In Volo. - The subject that opens this splendid disc of BMS consists of an accompanied polyphonic exercise of effects of sound similar to which I suppose would sound or like a metallic firefly or to a UFO, and I engage in a dialog between Francesco and Vittorio, accompanied by flute, bass and one very but very discreet drumming of Calderoni, and with a little medieval feeling, by the use of the aforementioned flute and this I engage in a dialog this inspired by a poet little known called Italy Ludovico Ariosto (little known here in Mexico, clear) is a strange song and the voice of Di Giacomo would seem of a narrative speaker or of some program or fantastic book, and more well-known it is that effect of choir that is similar children, but that is an effect also of the keyboards of Nocenzi, a song that it pretends not to have a rate and that would sound for many like an introduction of which comes. Good (if you are pleased of the dialogues in Italian).

2. - R.I.P. (Requiescant in Pace). - One of the iconic songs of the group and that contains all the elements by which BMS is recognized, the long subjects, the multiplicity of musical notes, the changes of rates, the virtuous phrasing, the power compass, the powerful voice and the fertile and extremely imaginative keyboard, Gianni delights to us with those emanated of his piano and executed notes and that does not fear the hard harmonies combined with passages of uncalculated beauty; the tempo of Calderoni is maintained of an agile way, (6/4) but without being protagonist, with redoubles flexible but exact, the guitar of Todaro is simply brilliant, jazziest outlines, painter of the guitar, altering it with an effect of its guitar causing that is listened to with a species of melancholic urgency with good structured, the keyboard of Vittorio is unique combining the sound of its Hammond organ, with moog discreet and that in parts is listened to mysterious and militant, u Renato's Bass is rich in a melodic intonation, maintaining the rate and speaking a slowed down language, the voice of Francesco is simply extraordinary! Nostalgic and dreaming. And with a whole of matchless perfection. Transmitting all the feelings possible, and that it reveals the audacities and the beauties of Progressive music, mainly at the end of the song, transmits a discouragement feeling that in truth puts the end hairs and crosses until the hardest heart, accompanied by a suggestive piano and one flute with scattered sounds, to happen immediately to a sequence of touched organ in a very sudden form and to a piano that the song of phenomenal form finishes. There is no doubt that this is truly one of the most representative songs of Banco and of the best thing in the album. Excellent.

3. - Passaggio. - A species of entreat touched by Vittorio with a subject basically taken root in the classic Italian tradition, very evocative and bucolic and of step demonstrating the genius that it has in the keyboard on the part of Nocenzi. Touching what it seems a spinets or harpsichord and pretending to enter and to leave a quarter. It is a small work of masters in the art of pure melody and there is no doubt that the melodic line seduces the spirit, and if these notes pay attention are similar to the feeling in the rest of the album, not reproduced of equal form, but if with certain similar elements. It is an afflicted investigation of a lost sound. Very Good.

4. - Metamorfosi. - The musical piece which I consider basic, is a work of matchless musicality and that with a solid architecture, with a rich instrumentation, hides, of surprising imagination, feeling very inspired and with melodies intensely poetic, until now it continues being one of the most perfect constructions of I call Progressive, with amplest sonorous trowels and wealth of surprising style, there is no doubt that Banco are musicians of a really prodigious creativity, and reveals to Vittorio as wise contrapuntist and always careful of the plan of the musical work, is architect and believes in primacy of the form and the bottom and even demands a logic of the fantasy. Brilliant musician the piano of Gianni embellishes all the song of a very elegant way and defined, it is a sharp drama where the Nocenzi affirms its masters, and its greatness. the voice and DiGiacomo is powerful and dramatic to the operatic point and that shines as the crispy flame.

Renato's bass is revealed to the listener like an inspired bear and who knows to take the reins from the rate when he is exact, musical audacious and seeking of new sonority and combined with the instinct of the form and the relief. The drumming of Calderoni shines by its freedom of rate and that animates with new breath music, tremendous and colossal percussionist. The guitar of Todaro is powerful and sublimates, contra punting to the keyboard and the piano of the Nocenzi, and excelling to elaborate powerful and fresh notes with the prudent use of the "overdrive" effect , is no doubt that is a master of the guitar.

With his almost 11 minutes in length this song begins with a contra punting between the guitar of Marcello and the piano of Gianni, accompanied by the bass playing of Renato, the keyboard of Vittorio and the drums of Calderoni, with a syncopated rate (6/5) but very energetic, to be one of the best of solo of piano and on the part of Gianni the most stirring ones than I have listened, very idyllic and solitary, possessor of an implicit melancholy in the execution makes me remember to classic composers like Beethoven or Chopin, deep poem, intimae in which perhaps put the best thing of its heart by means of a form always in renovation. One of my favorite passages in a favorite song! A series of notes syncopates of melodies mysterious of moog of Vittorio bursts in and a series of sounds that sound chaotic on the part of the guitar of Todaro, while Vittorio and Gianni frenetically touch to the keyboard and the piano respectively, whereas Calderoni takes the fastest rate, giving a vertigo sensation to listening, suddenly returns to the calm in minute 3:23, with discreet a single one of keyboard of Nocenzi, rhythmically, there is no doubt that is a painter of the music that applies an aesthetic one refined and single they listen to that beautiful passage of minute 3:30 the 3:57, incredible and oniric simultaneously. Later to one more a power part, Renato touching in dark his mysterious notes of the keyboard, whereas Calderoni surprises to us with an unusual rate and they are created on the part of Todaro and Vittorio engages in a dialog of surprising melodic wealth. As of minute 5:09 they return to engaged in a dialog initial (and main) on the part of Marcello and Vittorio, is not doubt that the music of Banco del Mutuo Soccorso animates a mystical feeling sometimes and one dramatic one. Later it returns a change from rate that prevails with under Renato and single ones scattered of the piano of Gianni and the keyboard of Vittorio, creating a species of transition towards a slower and smoother rate, the guitar of Marcello it shines by his tonality, its sentimental and Mediterranean grace, and gives to passage to great voice of Giacomo that returns to us to shake with its low and high registries. Affirming once again that it is a great vocalist, that sings the musical pieces with freshness and an animated and stirring style. The song finalizes with a hurried rate, similar to the one of RIP, with an excellent rate of Calderoni, and Vittorio prescribes elaborated harmonies to us and that is listened to extremely Progressive, agreed excellent and heavy ones of the guitar of Todaro, and finalize the work with vertiginous melodies to the piano of Gianni, in aim one of the best ones and but finished examples of a Progressive rock combined with much classicism and too many rhythmical changes I consider that it is the best song of the disc. Excellent.

5. - Il Giardino of Magician a)... passo I dopo passo... b)... chi ride and chi geme... c)... hammock capelli sciolti to vento... d) Compenetrazione. - The longest song of the disc and that is divided in four parts, a very abstract work in short whiles, with long works of keyboard and piano on the part of the Nocenzi brothers, excellent guitar of Marcello and a firm one, with notes founded on the chromatic scale on the part of Renato' s bass playing and the drumming on the part of Calderoni, that to my ears is of the best thing than I have listened in my life, the voice of Giacomo flows from a furious form to a melancholic or trepid form in a matter of minutes, demonstrating that it is an amazing genius of the form, the rate and melody. The work that I consider epic, by its length and its concept, is divided in 4 parts, the first a)... passo I doppo passo... It begins with a mysterious organ touched by Vittorio and that is as if outside keeping awake a place of dream and in penumbra, accompanied by an ascending and descendent piano to the bottom and a rhythmic rate of Calderoni and a low one that is limited to accompany the tone by melodía. And appearing choirs on the part of the Nocenzi. In minute 2:09 it appears the guitar of Todaro touching main the musical notes of a furious way, with an effect overdrive and in minute 2:52 one becomes to repeat the musical cycle, but already with the vocal presence of Giacomo accompanying melody with a vocal treatment that simulates, in the beginning, a moan but that later is taking vocal force and with very good musical invoice. Also harpsichord to the bottom shines and that I suppose it is touched by Gianni. . passo doppo passo with him as much spine ormai nei piedi stanco stanco.

it takes us part to the second. b)... chi ride and chi geme... It begins this part with a dynamic rate on the part of the group, Todaro uses of very intelligent way the guitar, avoiding to use generic riffs, replacing them with agreed catchiness and melodic, the drumming of Calderoni takes a rate founded on 18/8 that this great teacher of the percussions dominates without problems, and stands out I engage in a dialog that it becomes between Giacomo and the Nocenzi brothers, and where these demonstrate their vocal capabilities, nevertheless they wane before the power and firmness of the impressive voice of Giacomo, the good thing is that they compensate it with its speed, pushes and felt contrapuntist in the pianos and keyboards, the bass of Renato it is constructing melodies pleasant and maintaining the primary structure of the song. After the part of the engage in a dialog, Vittorio and Gianni show the capacity to us and speed that they have in both together hands and is weaving individual single of keyboard of way, almost orgiastic, as if they wanted to finish the keyboard, improvisators notables and to that its creative imagination seems not to have you limit and after a small passage of type Floydian, they happen to the third part.

c)... coi capelli sciolti al vento... It initiates finishing the passage Floydian with notes of Gianni, who has an inspiration in the great composers of the piano and that is constructing the main lines of this part, it appears the voice of Francesco of elegant form, and it is slid gradually in melody of the song and clarinet of Vittorio accompanying with random notes. A musical passage of much suggestive beauty and I listen to music similar to the Italian madrigals of XVI century. The acoustic guitar does presence of Todaro touching elegant arpeggios, which still gives a greater Mediterranean connotation him, I believe that they are musical extraordinary and of great polyphonic masters and emphasize that I engage in a dialog between the guitar of Marcello and the voice of Giacomo that is really very melancholic and recreates a twisted and mysterious atmosphere, own of high and sublime spirits. As of minute 11:14 the bass of Renato accelerates the rate of the song of vertiginous way and followed by the drumming of Calderoni and the guitar (electrical) of Marcello, it begins brief a single one of clarinet executed by Gianni, and immediately it begins a single trepidant of Hammond keyboard on the part of Vittorio that demonstrates its accurate, audacious and improvisator technique, and that the Clarinet of Gianni is chasing through the song. Possibly the group is elevating music to pathos of sublime form and refinement, while Calderoni is maintaining hurried and constant a rate very, alternated percussions and finishing with a hard redoubling of a timbal. d) Compenetrazione. - Italian group completes part of this great Homeric work of this excellent ,and begins to recreate the passage touched with madrigal inspiration, in the third part, seems to me like a species of exhibition of the opposed ones, the great guitar of Todaro shines by its form its refinement and its sonorous inspiration, the keyboards of the Nocenzi brothers locate itself in the peak of the melodies and the voice of Giacomo sails by waters of the poetic inspiration, affirming that he is a musician who is able to affect and who this equipped with a rare intuition of the timbre and majestic sensitivity. In minute 15:37, it changes musical dynamics, appearing the solid guitar of Marcello and under Renato, recreating the thematic one of the first part of this epic, builds, with very precise interventions of Vittorio in the keyboards and that it gives him good alternative to the musical subject, as of minute 16:55 returns to the 18/8 rate, where the group firmly demonstrates that to its musical concept this taken root in the entrails of the Progressive rock and that the classic development and their constant search of the subtlest sonoric created this masterpiece that is worth by its harmonic development, its thematic complex one and their passages of timeless beauty.

6. - Traccia. - It completes musical piece of the first disc of Bank del Mutuo Soccorso and also of the most known by the fans the group. It is a contrapuntist development of very complex level, mainly if special attention between the work of the keyboard and the piano of the Nocenzi is put, and as the complex drumming of Calderoni is constructing poli rates through furious redouble and between the fastest ones you pass of the piano and the keyboards, Renato's bass is the anchor of this song in rate of 6/8 and that it gives to the work, solidity and ample structure. The guitar of Marcello appears delayed, but it does with a brilliant phrasing of guitar and immediately it is placed next to the bass, giving an additional power to the rate that is marking Renato. Adorned with choirs, courtesy of the Nocenzi, and that gives a noticeable accent of his Italian medievalism, the combined with a very power progressive rock, finalizing with an organ to but pure style of J. S. Bach.

This is one of the most complete works and complex than it has listened of the world-wide rock Progressive, truly it is impressive what the group made in this disc and that they demonstrate a freedom of rate, a character and a dramatic quality that animated with a new breath to the Progressive rock. Its great emotions, its lines, its strong evocation, and where one affirms to a powerful temperament and absolute masters in music which they leave like testimony, this great album.

Report this review (#163275)
Posted Wednesday, March 5, 2008 | Review Permalink
Italian Prog Specialist
4 stars Not at all as immediately pleasuring as Io Sono Nato Libero, this first album from Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso is a big time grower. Like many other debuts, this album has an unmistakable hunger, almost naďve at times, but ultimately a rewarding asset according to me. Passion has a way of making rough edges seem smooth again and a reviewer turn soft and forgiving.

So. After being a little put off by the lack of structure and direction in the beginning, some clear advantages rise from the mist of Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso. First, it feels less polished and more experimental than any RPI I've heard to this date. Second, the shorter 'narrative' bits here (In Volo, Passagio and Traccia) adds an extra dimension to the album with their foreboding words (no idea what anything means though, and thus just based on the feelings they evoke), choirs and instrumentation. And third, that touch of early Deep Purple influence I for some strange reason found on PFM's Storia Di Un Minuto as well. A trace of harder, edgier rock and a pleasant surprise amongst the generally smoother Italian stylings. Both Hammond-wise and guitar-wise.

The three really real songs are all very good. R.I.P is a dense rocker, slightly repetitive at times, but never in a disturbing way. Piano, bass and guitar forms the heavy backbone with nuances provided by keys in the background. Nice laid-back and warm solo part by the guitar after a couple of minutes. As a twist, R.I.P turns soft and easy after a while, with nothing but tasteful piano, flute and the impressive operatic vocals of Francesco DiGiacomo. It then gradually builds up, adding more and more instruments (including a soaring organ) right to the abrupt end. Piano parts are really one of Banco's strengths, or rather the use of different sorts of keyboards. Metamorfosi is full of them, often alone and very gracious, and the song feels more like a classical work on some occasions during the eleven minutes it's got to its disposal. Being the highlight of the album, transforming back and forth between the lonely ringing piano and rich, more orchestrated parts where the rest of the band gets some time in the spotlight, this is where Banco does what Banco does best, in adding drama to their music. Epic in proportions, Il Giardino Del Mago isn't really as magic as the title suggests. It's one of the main reasons for this album not being the masterpiece I wish it was. This is the band's first album after all, and generally it suffers from a little underdeveloped composition. Part after part, often very different from one another in structure and style, interchange in sometimes very hopeful ways. Ideas are thrown around, sometimes developed, sometimes dropped, and leaving a lasting impression that perhaps this one had made a better impression as a bunch of shorter songs instead. The outstanding musicianship nevertheless keeps it interesting.

Intense and short, the dark and compulsive Traccia ends this strange album with a boom. Literally.

Bancos self-titled album has some flaws, perhaps inevitably, and it's not as immediate as the following two either. A great start it is, however, even with negative points considered.

3.5 stars, but going for a weak 4.


Report this review (#170268)
Posted Thursday, May 8, 2008 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars 4.5 stars. This debut from BANCO is maybe not as polished or complex as "Darwin !" yet it is a must for RPI fans.

"In Volo" is haunting to begin with until spoken words come in with flute. This contrast continues. "R.I.P. (Requiescant In Pace)" is uptempo right out of the gate. Vocals join in quickly, and they are amazing as usual. It gets jazzy 1 1/2 minutes in. Excellent piano after 2 minutes. Vocals are back before 3 1/2 minutes. A calm before 4 minutes as piano plays on. Great sound when drums and vocals join in. The most emotional part of the record is 6 minutes in. An uptempo melody ends it. "Passaggio" opens with the sound of someone walking along, then he sits down and starts to play the harsichord and sing. He then stops, gets up and walks away. Cool.

"Metamorfosi" opens with pounding drums and guitar.This rocks ! Piano joins in. Great sound. It then calms down as organ comes in powerfully. Piano then takes over. So beautifully played. Drums and a full sound before 3 minutes. Organ is back 4 minutes in. The guitar and organ trade solos and check out the drumming ! It settles down again before some passionate guitar and drumming come in around 8 1/2 minutes. Vocals follow. Nice. Piano and organ create some magic as the drums pound. Some filthy organ joins in as well.

"Il Giardino Del Mago" opens with a dark mood. Drums and organ join in briefly and then vocal melodies. Guitar, organ and drums lead the way 2 1/2 minutes in. It stops as that dark mood returns with piano and vocals quietly playing. It's 5 1/2 minutes in when the tempo picks up with vocals. This is such a great melody that stops 7 1/2 minutes in as it gets dark again with piano. Vocals return 10 minutes in. It's uptempo again before 11 1/2 minutes. Amazing sound. A calm 13 minutes in. It's sinister sounding 16 minutes in.The tempo picks up again to end it. "Traccia" opens with some incredible piano as drums join in then vocal melodies. A fuller and faster melody 1 1/2 minutes in.

The Nocenzi brothers on the dual keyboards are the stars of this album. "Metamorfosi" is my favourite track.

Report this review (#178500)
Posted Wednesday, July 30, 2008 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
3 stars 3.5 stars really!!

I'm wondering if it's not pointless to review such a widely known album this late in the creation of the site, as there must be between 50 and 150 reviews of all kinds, which means that almost everything to be said and its exact opposite have been said at least a few times. I must say that I avoided these Italian bands (especially the big three) early on, because I was not a major fan, and thought I'd better wait some day, where I'll have time to... And it never came until.. now. So I'll start with a few generalities, like BMS is the one I respect most of the big 3 Italian band, even if PFM hits higher chords in my brains. And from what I gather among the big three, BMS remained the most constant, avoiding constant line-up changes, which might be salutary for some, but destructive for others.

BMS's debut album comes in one of the ugliest gimmick artwork ever, an ugly orange tit-piggybank complete with cut-outs to make it fragile and hard to store in its vinyl form. But this side issue shouldn't distract us from taking a look at the keyboard-driven quintet with the Nocenzi brothers acting like twin barrels carburetors each one keyboards and sometimes on wind instruments. This piano-organ attack is nothing new in prog and was pioneered by Procol Harum in 67, so 5 years later BMS uses it flawlessly in their 72 debut album. This twin kb is not overpowering either, even allowing their Todaro guitarist some very large moments to Shine On Brightly, even if he's no Robin. Of course let's not forget Di Giacomo's unusual vocals, often called operatic, which I find a bit abusive as this was also said of Freddy Mercury, but next to Montserat Cabale in Barcelona in 92, the latter was nowhere.

The album consist of two short tracks bookending the album, the narrative and cosmic In Volo and the Bach-inspired Traccia and the un-announced (on the cover antyway) Renaissance harpsichord Passagio provide some sort of glue between and around the three "pičces de résistance". Whether these three interludes are meant to encapsulate the album into a "concept", there is no clear evidence for or against, but probably that BMS needed more time and mastery to achieve it. This concept mastery would come to them soon. The opening piece is an okay prologue, while Traccia is a fitting epilogue, while the baroque Passagio seems a useless transition piece, serving like a shot of grappa between the courses.

The with the "In Volo" zakouskis (that is amuse-gueule in Russian) gone, the antipasti of RIP come out firing on all cylinders with the guitar and organ and vocals up front, while the piano comes in when the flute is resting. RIP is the textbook case of an overblown Italian rock track with all of the usual Italian excesses that goes down well (if not extremely well) with progheads, but would sound completely cheesy if done by any other non-Italian group. Onto the primi piatti, the almost instrumental Metamorphosi, a very keyboard-dominated track where the organ and the piano duel each on their own channel of the stereo. This track depends maybe a bit too much on XVIIIth century classical music for my tastes, often borderline Emersonian fonduesque (I'm up on cheese humour here), but again it's fairly successful, only because it's Italian-styled overblown. A rather weaker course, leaving us a bit hungry, really! The secundi piatti Giardino is not as magic as it would lead you to believe (while it doesn't pretend to be sliced raw-milk Mozzarella Di Buffala either), but it quenches whatever hunger you might still have with its four ingredients. However the succession of all four ingredients is not quite a fine-tuned recipe, as the sauce lacks the necessary binds to make smooth transitions between the ingredients, although you can hear the opening theme brought back later once or twice after its overlong development early on in Passo dopo. From far the most interesting movement is the very vocal second and uptempoed Chi Ride e Chi Geme.

Hardly perfect, yet quite impressive debut album, BMS is one of those albums setting the Italian legend and certainly a healthy base to set your second effort upon its foundations. Hopefully I've brought in my review something slightly different than my fellow reviewer's, and hopefully its digestion will go down mascarpone in a tiramisu, should you ever venture down the page so far as to reach it.

Report this review (#184539)
Posted Friday, October 3, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars One of the best debuts I know belongs to Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso! The album begins with something like intro - In volo,followed by excellent song called - R.I.P. (Requiescant in pace),which contains hard rock,rock&roll and some pop moments. The structure of the composition of the album is teared into pieces again with the third song in classical style with renaissance organ style - Passaggio,before the epic compositions - Metamorfosi and Il giardino del mago - begin... They are the creative peak of the album that makes it true masterpiece of progressive music. They hint at what a giant album of music is going to come later (Darwin)!!! Surely solid 5 stars masterpiece and a must debut release by Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso!!!
Report this review (#185020)
Posted Wednesday, October 8, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Banco's debut-what Italian prog is all ABOUT.

In progressive music we always find cases of aspiring young musicians leaving the conservatory to play some rock 'n roll. Or something like that. Banco, led by the Nocenzi brothers, (twins, and both keyboard players!) perfectly fall into the stereotype of ambitious, classically trained snoots cum prog- rockers. The trademark BdMS sound came from those two Bach-loving keyboard players in tow with operatic singer Francesco Di Giacomo. If you need a reference point, just imagine the compositional format of traditional symphonic progressive bands beefed up with more instrumental fireworks. Think Genesis with a shot of fettuccini and testosterone or ELP with good songs. If you're into classically-inspired bands but find some of them a bit stuffy or inhibited, then Banco might be just your trip.

Since it's a debut album, I might as well introduce the band: as I mentioned, the Nocenzi's, Vittorio in particular, and Francesco were the backbone of the group through the '70s and drummer Pier Luigi Calderoni was an experimental force and one of the underrated drummers in progressive rock (and he hadn't even peaked yet on this album - just wait until "Darwin!" and "Io Sono."). Renato D'Angelo does a good job of adding gravy to the band's classical leanings although he doesn't often play a prominent role, buried behind piano solos and organ pedals. And on guitar (goodness.a rock band and the last guy we introduce is the guitarist! Must be prog.), Marcello Todaro does basically what he is asked to do: play precise, meaty riffs that don't overshadow the Nocenzi's aerial assault. Todaro's Les Paul tone sometimes brings to mind Robert Fripp and Martin Barre, but he also has a nice jazzy side that comes out when he gets the chance to solo.

Despite this being their rookie album, Banco already display a towering sense of assertiveness and direction. The first track, "Il Volo," takes a bold, experimental step from the start, with its primordial recorders and spoken word narration (alternating between Vittorio and Francesco). They're searching for something even though they know they have some of the answers; they're determined to keep looking for more. The attitude in this music just bleeds rebellion against the Italian establishment and against the church; and Banco's style in itself is a conflict between traditional Italian influences, from Verdi to cantatore to opera, and contemporary ones such as edgy jazz and ballsy rock. There's just something about an operatic singer flying over top of power chords and an insane organ- grinder.

The album itself is comprised of a spooky intro, two "mini-epics," and interlude, an 18 minute show- stopper, and the grand finale. I just realized that I haven't instructed you to buy the album yet, so I'll take a break to do so right now - go find it, trust me. The three longer tracks will bring you in and the other three will fill in the spaces. Out of those three big ones, none stand out as stronger or weaker - they are different enough to avoid comparison and the whole is definitely stronger than the sum. "Metamorfosi" is the aural equivalent of the World Pyro Olympics; "R.I.P." is war, complete with a eulogy on the end; and "Il Giardino di Mago" is a David Blaine show.and one of the best "epics" I've ever heard (wait 'til you hear Francesco take over on this one!).

Recommendation: If you are new to Banco or Italian prog, this is a fine place to start, especially if you like the raw, energetic take on classically-driven music (see also: the rest of the RPI movement). I would actually recommend exploring Banco in chronological order, because the directions they take are interesting to follow, even if they do not always succeed. This album and at least one of the next two, are essential.

9.5/10 on the Jimmy Row Factor T, for an easy A.

Report this review (#201459)
Posted Monday, February 2, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Wonderful, bellissimo!!

One of my personal musical mutations happened when i discovered prog rock, but not just that, but when i discovered Italian prog rock, i was amazed by their different and beautiful style and one of the finest examples of what Rock Progressivo Italiano is, has to be this legendary band that created several masterpieces, called Banco del Mutuo Soccorso.

And what a band, that appeared in the early 70s and in 1972 let the world know about their music, a giant was born with this debut and self-titled album that every time I listen to it, I feel the same excitement I felt the time I discovered it, and believe me it does not happen that often, so I think you understand why my enthusiasm with these bands or albums, it's a love at first sight, it is a complete crush with their music.

The album features only 6 songs and a total time of 41 minutes of beautiful, elaborated and complex progressive rock with a different flavor, there are 3 long songs and 3 shorter ones.

It opens with "In Volo" which is a kind of introduction to their music, it is a short song with spoken word, the use of a flute that puts the folkish side of prog to their music, and some female chorus over there, besides some synth as background.

Then in a fast and sudden change we will find the second song entitled "R.I.P. (Reqcuiesant in Pace) where you will listen for the first time the extraordinary, unique and amazing voice of Francesco di Giacomo, I am sure that one of the main features of their music has to be the voice, with his voice he can provoke several things on you, no matter if you speak or not Italian. This is a longer song, with almost 7 minutes and a jazzy mood due to the piano sound, some kind of funky guitar and of course an obvious symphonic element, after some 3 minutes the song slows down and becomes like the music of a beautiful fairytale, it is so peaceful and beautiful, the piano is simply outstanding.

Next one is another shorter track, the prelude of the next 2 longer ones, "Passagio" contains just a piano sound for one minute. Then the next one is "Metamorfosi" that is one of their finest compositions and the second longer track of the album, the introduction is awesome with guitar and keyboards along with excellent drumming that calms down after one minute, then it is a noticeable change where just the piano stays making some classical music, then the next minutes are totally crazy, instrumental music that will make you think in what is next, I mean, there is not a musical standard on this song, you don't really know how the next few seconds will sound, what is sure that the keyboards predominate here, there is a constant drumming a also constant bass lines, at the middle of the song, you will listen again to the beginning of it, and then it changes again and again, the mood is in a moment darker and at the same time beautiful, strange isn't it? The last minutes are very melodic, cool guitar tunes and also the piano over there, and also the vocals appear as well, but wait, there is one moment left, which is the very end with a powerful sound like if you were in a maze and don't know what to do, the music gives you the feeling of a desperate moment, awesome.

Next we have the mighty "Il Giardino del Mago" which is my personal favourite, my most loved Banco del Mutuo Soccorso song, and the longest track of this album with almost 20 minutes. Since the first minute you will feel hypnotized by it's sound, some soft piano and drums, then it is developing and progressing of course, there are some backing vocals over there and then a powerful guitar sound which makes the song louder, the music is complete outstanding, the different changes over the song will make you consider this as one of the best epics ever. The complexity and development of it is incredible, the son is building up a masterpiece minute by minute, from slow time with soft vocals and piano, to a fast tempo keyboard based song, quite impressive, at minute 8, there is a mood of complete calm with only some piano notes, but the beauty of it is how the same piano begins to develop into a complex and challenging composition, in order to change the song's mood some moments later, this is a true masterpiece of progressive rock.

And finishing the album, after that superb previous song, we have another short track, "Traccia" which is like the outro, but again, a wonderful theme whose sound isbecoming louder through the seconds, it is basically a piano based song which has some choral vocals making again a kind of folkish tune, it is a bombastic outro after all.

So as you noticed, I love this album and I really consider it as one of the masterpieces of Rock Progressivo Italiano, and of prog rock in general, so I personally recommend it to all of you, who love this wonderful realm of progressive rock.

Masterpiece, 5 stars! Enjoy it!!

Report this review (#211892)
Posted Monday, April 20, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars A bit of a hard nut to crack, this one.

I am not particular experienced in Italian prog rock. It soon dawned on me that this album is not easy listening. It has some hidden depts and is multi-layered. The main impression though is that this majestic, grand symphonic prog. It is keyboards (Moog) driven with a lot of intricate [&*!#]s of tempo and themes. The eighteen minutes long Il Giardino Del Mago has a lot of King Crimson and VDGG references. Peter Hammill & co is the nearest reference I can come up with. The music is pretty dark too. The darkness is pretty much due to the excellent vocals.

Quality wise, I am not falling over in joy. I think the band tries too many things at the same time. But it is still a great album though. I would almost give it four stars. I do not find any tracks that really make an imprint in my head and that is my main gripe with this album. But this band is a band I am very eager to check out. This is a very good debut album.

3.75 stars

Report this review (#243064)
Posted Monday, October 5, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso's first album may not be perfect, but surely it's one of the most fascinating albums in progressive music, not just because of the great atmospheric music, but also thanks to Francesco di Giacomo's incredibly beautiful voice and singing.

The album consists basically of 3 long epics and 3 atmospheric pieces. Now, you may be shocked to learn that the flawed parts (well, it sounds bad, but they are great as well, just less well constructed) are the short pieces. I mean, "In Volo" is pretty atmospheric and a great way to start the album, but the background falsetto vocals are not exactly good. "Passaggio" is very cute, but the sound effects on it are too long for an already short track and "Traccia" is a lot better when played live. This said, these three pieces are pure gold.

The long epics are something totally unique. You may like Premiata Forneria Marconi more than Banco (I don't), but you have to admit that Banco is way more original and unique. For example "RIP (Requiescant In Pace)", which alternates a fast section to a slow one, sounds dramatic all the way through. The 16 minute long "Il Giardino del Mago" is also a great suite, composed by 4 distinct movements, my favourite of them is the fast "c'č chi ride e chi geme" because it sounds a bit like what they will do in the next album "Darwin", which in my opinion is even better!

My favourite one is, however, "Metamorfosi" (or "Metamorphosi" as it is written in some edictions). It's a 11 minutes composition which sounds a bit psychotic and disturbing but it's delightful even for this reason. I expecially love the main theme, the slow section near the end and the dramatic fast ending.

So 4 stars (it is really 4 and half stars. Not 5 because it's not 100% perfect. But let's say it is 97%), and a slap with a large trout to all of you prog lovers who hasn't got this yet. Go and get it! Now!!

Report this review (#253273)
Posted Saturday, November 28, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars 700. An RPI giant.

Several times during the play of this album, there are haunting melodies that emerge like a spirit coming down from the hills and walking into town at dusk. Yes indeed. Banco need no introduction. They blow away the nonsense argument that RPI is some pure derivative of English rock. They are the king of the "big 3", slightly edging Orme for the crown and blowing away PFM in this writer's opinion. And this is their amazing, unforgettable debut. The album consists of three long epic tracks supported by three short but important supporting pieces. What really makes the album is its adventurous progressive spirit mixed with a few heavenly, calming melodies noted above, creating great contrast and intrigue. Formidable musicianship, good arrangements, decent production(for 1972 Italy), and the commanding vocals of Francesco Di Giacomo only seal the deal. Flutes, brilliantly plucked acoustic guitars, violin, lovely choruses, experimental noise, heavy grooves, tight merciless drumming, orgasmic but controlled guitar playing, pure Italian passion, and oh my, the keyboards and especially my dear love the piano, are all over this thing. Within the prog-manic jams and movements of the main three songs, eventually are birthed the loveliest melodies as only the Italians can do it....sentimental, warm, homey, like a summer evening on the Villa. These moments of pure emotional warmth often contrast with the sometimes edgy rock occurring around them, but they never sound contrived or ill conceived. It all flows so well. For possibly the first time in my 700 reviews I find that Wiki perhaps sums it up better than anyone: "A careful balance of electronic and acoustic instruments, plus the use of reeds, made the sound of Banco increasingly original and innovative, with a blend of rock, jazz and classical music which did not however forsake the Italian melodic tradition." The first three Banco albums are essential for RPI fans and I recommend getting them in chronological order to chart the progression. There is no consensus on which of the three are the finest, each has its own personality and each its own devotees.

Report this review (#269607)
Posted Thursday, March 4, 2010 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
5 stars Banco del Mutuo Soccorso produces one of the best debut albums in history.

Banco del Mutuo Soccorso is the debut from one of the most influential Italian prog bands in history. The iconic cover is familiar to prog fans and signifies how important this album has become. Its main power stems from an unprecedented conviction to producing some of the most inventive and complex music, pure innovation on every track and some incredible virtuoso musicianship. The album spawned a plethora of other Italian prog artists hoping to do as well as Banco but succumbing to their sheer progressive spirit. PFM (Photos of Ghosts and Per Un Amico) and Le Orme (Felona E Serona and Uomo Di Pezza) were as influential among others but Banco del Mutuo Soccorso is one of the pioneering Italian Prog bands and their 1972 debut is an incredible triumph. The band perform astounding unified music but one of the main drawcards to Banco is the accomplished vocal prowess of Francesco Di Giacomo. When he sings in Italian it transcends barriers of language as the tone is always upbeat and hopeful. Another drawcard is the astounding keyboard wizardry of Vitorio Nocenzi and Giani Nocenzi who seem to trade off one another on every track to produce a refined beauty that soars and dives across the musicscape.

The opening track is "In Volo" that announces their arrival with flute, spoken word and female choral sections with synthesizer. It is only a taster of what is to come.

"R.I.P. (Reqcuiesant in Pace) is a huge change in direction as the pace quickens and the band go into full flight. Francesco di Giacomo has an incredible vocal range and really shines on this track. There is funked up guitar and some piano fortissimo in this jazz fusion triumph. The symphonic influence is prevalent and the track grinds to a halt and creates an ambience of beauty and serenity. At times the sound is similar to Mahavishnu Orchestra.

"Passagio" features a prelude of piano and is really a transition to the next track.

"Metamorfosi" is next on the menu and is a lengthy progressive masterpiece. The guitar and keyboards are accompanied with some sporadic drumming and there is a frenetic section of electrifying jazz. It soon peters out to a slow droning classical piece that focuses on piano. The peace does not last long as a huge wall of sound is created with chaotic iambic pentameter, arhythmical structures that elicit an alternative anti music sound. All boundaries are broken and the band go into extreme time signature changes. The bass lines and drumming metrical patterns are off the scale. This passage is the band at their best. Then it is bookended by another slow low key ambient section with strong melodies and tonal phrases. This is an incredible track and one of the best you will hear.

Can it get better? It does.... "Il Giardino del Mago" is the opus, and this track has a stamp of authority sending out a signal to all others, declaring the sheer power of Banco del Soccorso Mutuo. The track almost has a running time of 20 minutes. But you will not notice this. It begins with gentle piano that transfixes you and the drums are a constant companion. It takes a series of rapid detours that will astound. It is difficult to know which direction the band will take next on this prog journey. There is an intricacy to the music that is compelling and the song tends to build to a crescendo with a freak out section of keyboards and crazy drumming. This track is worth a listen to the album alone, but there is more to come.

The final hurrah is the outstanding "Traccia" which builds in depth and volume from slow beginnings to prog blasts of staccato piano. The vocals are more choral on this and it kind of says farewell to the album and ends the journey in style.

I think the only thing I can add is that this is the best I have heard from the big three of the band; their first three albums. It is a definitive masterpiece hands down and Rock Progressivo Italiano would be all the poorer without it. Banco became RPI giants after these albums. Their debut is an important album, a quintessential album, a masterpiece.

Report this review (#278392)
Posted Sunday, April 18, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars 8/10

"Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso" is an essential Italian Prog album.

I live in Italy, so I'm very proud to know that this country had many many bands that completely revolutionized prog. One of the most important ones is Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso, one of the most significant examples is this album, Banco's debut. A supreme masterpiece of prog, one of the best works made in Italy. Musically the album has many eclectic prog influences, such as King Crimson and Gentle Giant, but they have an evidently huge personality in their music.

After the Great intro, "In Volo", "R.I.P" kicks in. Di Giacomo's vocals are sublime, and also the general technical preparation of the band. It's a very catchy song, very rockish, unlike some other songs in the album.

"Metamorfosi", followed by the brief interlude, is, like the title itself says, a huge metamorphosis of themes, so many moments are connected to each other, always in an extremely elegant way.

"Il Giardino del Mago" is an amazing 18 minute piece, so original and creative, with a fantastic main riff that comes up a lot during the whole song. One of the best Italian songs ever.

An absolute masterpiece of progressive, and essential for those who love it.

Report this review (#279383)
Posted Sunday, April 25, 2010 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
5 stars In 1972 Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso released no less then 2 albums. And both are masterpieces. The debut is such a fascinating album, sounding like an Italian sunshine mixed with the kind of dramatic dynamics that are only topped by VDGG and keyboard acrobatics that must have perplexed Keith Emerson. He sure must have asked himself why this Italian band was blessed with such a generous muse, one sharing all her best tunes with them and not with ELP. I guess muses prefer the Mediterranean over the North Sea!

I've been quite lengthy in my 5 star review for Banco's second album Darwin!, so I'll keep this one down to the bare essence. This album is a dazzling display of musical creativity, passion and adventure. This is what I want to hear in prog! Even with a slight preference for Darwin!, there is no other option for me but to hand out another 5 stars. Besides, I don't feel like analyzing what's going on here. Or should I say I've found myself incapable of it. I've tried many times but each time that I put this album on and sit down to review it, the words seem to fail me. This music simply absorbs me and makes it impossible to do anything else but sit still, listen and enjoy.

Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso is a classic album that should satisfy everybody that regrets VDGG called it quits in 1971 and didn't follow up H to He or Pawn Hearts with another album of such lyrical power and imagination. Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso is where you'll find the logical continuation. In my book, BDMS are one of the best of the classic Prog generation. Too bad it took me so long to discover them.

Report this review (#279661)
Posted Wednesday, April 28, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars A classic at its finnest! Banco del Mutuo Soccorso it's one of my favourite band and for me they have been a great inspiration for my musical experience! The line up it's the classic one, we have F.Di Giacomo and and Nocenzi Brothers which composed the best songs of Banco, and then we have Marcello Todaro which is only in this LP and Darwin. This guitarist it's a bit boring but it's a good one. I always prefer Rodolfo Maltese anyway!... So now let's start with the album.

First we have a solemn introduction of the LP named "in volo". What we have here it's a recited part interpreted by Vittorio Nocenzi and then by di Giacomo. The word are just immense, this words will be repeted and repeted by many of their fans around the world! As you play this album on your player you'll be sure to have bought a masterpice, and the album it's not started yet!...

Track two it's R.I.P. (Requiescant In Pace), a classic Banco song, every fan around the world knows it! It's a song that talk about how the war it's pointless and the only thing it do it's to bring sadness, pain and taking lives of men who will not see their future. This song it's divided by two principal blocks: The first one it made by a catchy rhythm with some great musical arrangements and a great singing. The solos in this first part are very weird, the guitar solo it's a bit unispired and the keyboard one have a strange sound but is kinda enjoyable. Next part it's more quiet and it have a more melodic piano playing and singing, in more typical italian "canzone" style. This part it's fantastic, the lyrics are some of the best which i've ever heard! An unforgettable song with also a fast and beautifull ending! This song usually it's played in A minor but here it's played in B minor. That's very strange, even in the oldest videos or live recording it's played in A... it's a minor fact anyway, this song it's a masterpiece anyway!!!

Than whe have "Passaggio" (passage) which is a short song, just the time to recatch some breath! What we have here it's a smoth song only played by clavinet surely by Gianni Nocenzi. The harmonies are just beautifull, you can clearly see the classical on Gianni's style, a principal quality that has distinguished Banco by many italian groups, specially Gianni by other keyboardist, or pianist in his case for the fact he only play piano and clavinet and sometimes synths inside the group. It a song which flows away without boring you, just close your eyes and relax. That's why it's called passage!

Than we have metamorfosi (metamorfosis... italian it's easy isn't it?), another trademark of banco's music. The song start heavily but not for long, infact then we have another great piano played by Gianni, fluent and classically inspired! The songs continue and Vittorio and the hammond comes in and slowly al the rest of the band. We will have some great moments in this part, all of the member give the best of their abilities. Than there is some slow parts and then di Giacomo comes in and the lyrics as always are immense. The song then close with a very very beutifull and heavy part! The hammond and the guitar will catch you and won't let you go til the song it's end!!! A great ending!!!

Now it's the time of Il giardino del Mago (the wizard s'garden), the longest song here and one of the most epic songs of Banco! It's a song which talk about a guy that searched this place for long time and than he remains trapped in this garden where everything it's different from reality. First we have a good instrumental parts with good hammond and guitar riffs. Arrangements are always great! Than a slowly part with some sad singing by di Giacomo and the lyrics are poetics and delicate completed with an atmospere cold and dark. Than the song change completly and the music will catch you and take you inside the wizard s'garden! The rhythm are brilliant and the instruments are amazing! Just wow!!! Than the song stops again and we have a slow reprise with guitar passages and a beautifull piano solo. The song as the second part of R.I.P. become more melodic and lighter, every listener will love this part. Di Giacomo it's always great, as always it's singed perfectly and the lyrics are immense. The song continue this some parts including a magnificent Hammond solo and other singed parts which talk about how there it's a place where the reality it's different, far away from cruelty of men, a dream place were everyone want to go. Than the song will close recalling the first parts, and this adventure it's end too!

The last track it's Traccia (track). It's an instrumental song, a bit short, which reminds me a lot the traditional popular italian song. There is no much to say couse it's a bit repetitive, there is some good riffs and It's a very happy song that's close this album for the best!!

This album it a must to have if you love the RPI, Banco has been one of the greatest band of all time and this was just the begining of their carreer! This it's a magic that every progressive fan have to hear, a masterpiece from the beginning to the end!! Raccomended to every progressive fan exepecially those who want to hear every RPI masterpiece!... And this could be also a good album to begin if you're new of the genere!

Report this review (#284382)
Posted Monday, May 31, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Musically I might be inclined to view this album as a 3-star, but given the year (1972) and the fact that it's a debut, I'll slide the scale up a bit. This album is much more raw than later releases and certainly not overly produced, but I think this adds a different dimension to the band and really helps things to rock hard in places. I love the creative lineup, starting with the Nocenzis on dueling keyboards--they really do compliment each other quite nicely.

Unsurprisingly, the longer tracks (Metamorfosi and Il Giardino del Mago) generally contain most of the album highlights for me, though Traccia and RIP are anything but throwaway songs. Metamorphosi goes through many moods, but not in a way that seems too jarring or distracting. I love the dueling keyboard section toward the beginning with the Nocenzis battling in triplets and the band kicking in some staccato punches.

If I start to think I'm listening to a quasi-traditional rock band, Il Giardino quickly sets me straight, with an absolutely classic Italian prog flair. It's certainly not a great epic, with its stops and starts and general rawness, but always enjoy it nonetheless--probably mostly because of the interesting contrasts between the delicate clarinet bits and the harder rocking sections.

It's always fun to listen a great band's early attempts (assuming there is some good raw musical material to work with, of course) to determine their identity. Banco's would become more symphonic, peaking with Lo Sono in my opinion, but the roots of that album are certainly evident here, just with more punch and less subtlety.

Report this review (#285910)
Posted Thursday, June 10, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Time to review the few RPI standards in my collection. I've hesitated over this, as it's a difficult genre for me: the shape of the compositions aren't easy for my Anglophilic ear to follow, but this debut album from one of the most respected of Italian prog bands, BANCO DEL MUTUO SOCCORSO, is tremendous stuff in anyone's language.

What makes it noteworthy, as other reviewers have pointed out, are the outstanding keyboards from the Nocenzi brothers. And, paradoxically, the over-reliance on this instrument means for me this excellent album falls short of true greatness. A bit like EMERSON, LAKE AND PALMER who, for me, suffer from the same problem: the pianos get all the best bits, though this band is better by far than what ELP became after their debut. Despite this the blend of classical, piano-driven melodies and rock rhythms works well, especially in 'R.I.P' and the end of 'Metamorphosi'. There's the odd misstep, such as the drawn-out beginning to the epic 'Il Giardino del Mago', but otherwise listening to this album is a delight. Moreover, despite what I have read, I have no complaints about the sound quality of the recording I procured through iTunes. The instruments are nicely separated, with vocals, subtle bass, splendid rhythm guitar and keyboards all occupying a separate part of the sound spectrum. This may owe more to the excellence of the compositions than to the mixing.

Special mention must be made of the vocalist. DiGiacomi's singing is a little overwrought for my taste but I can recognise his excellence, marvel at his control and the opera-like discipline in his voice. Underpinning this discipline is an often playful, sometimes edgy set of compositions owing much more to classical sensibilities than to anything from the UK (though the influences can be heard). The very best thing about this music is that it has its own distinct voice, one which is gradually winning me over. I hear the brilliance, but I have yet to fully experience the emotion, curse my narrow-minded ears.

Heartland prog, this. And if it wasn't for the brilliant follow-up album, this album would be essential. As it is, this is merely excellent.

Report this review (#428570)
Posted Wednesday, April 6, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Another famous Italian prog band's debut. Possibly more Italian sounding than PFM due to frontman Di Giacomo's amazing vocals. He's definitely the star player here, he has a massive, wide and smooth voice, almost like an opera singer (being large and profoundly bearded probably helps here) Banco really come into their own when he lets rip over the lush keyboards, or when he's crooning over a solitary piano (see 'R.I.P.' For an example of both) The two keyboard players (the Nocenzi brothers) handle things admirably, swapping solos and riffs on a variety of instruments.

The drummer, Calderoni (that sounds like some kind of gigantic orchestra drum) makes himself heard with some playing that was pretty brutal for 1972, he's no Carl Palmer but he's not afraid to give it some, smacking the hell out of his snare on each beat in places and executing grand rolls when he needs to. The guitar sounds a little out of place, however as he plays pentatonic against the more complex keys, only really shining with some acoustic playing in 'Il Giardino del Mago' and some muted jazzy soloing on 'R.I.P.'

There's two long songs ('RIP' & 'Metamorfosi') one epic ('Il Giardino del Mago') the latter takes a while to get going, but takes off when DiGiacomo comes in, backed by some crazy complex vocal harmonies (which are then played by the Nocenzis on piano and organ) This is the highlight of the album and also features such delights as a saxophone solo (always welcomed in prog) and a weird fairground organ not to mention the most beautiful vocal melody at about the ten minute mark.

Another highlight for me (although it is really filler) is 'Passaggio' in which you hear a man open a door, walk up to a harpsichord and dick around for a bit whilst mumbling a tune, then get up and leave. It's silly but I can visualise a bizarre old man in a secret chamber in a castle or abandoned church.

To sum up, a great debut, distinguished by excellent vocals and playing from most, the sound quality is a little rough perhaps, but then it was 1972 (and Italy)

Review taken from [URL]http://[/URL]

Report this review (#447755)
Posted Saturday, May 14, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso released three amazing albums in two years, their first being my least favorite of them. But their debut album does establish them as a force to be reckoned with, and only rivaled by PFM in terms of success and musicianship. 3.5 stars for a slightly overrated album.

You can't help but take notice of Francesco DiGiacomo's voice in "R.I.P." as it is probably quite unlike any traditional "rock" singer you've ever heard. The twin keyboard attack of the brothers Nocenzi is the band's other trademark. Both are on full display here, and the song is a good representation of the album as a whole. Actually "R.I.P." is probably the best song on Banco's debut, and the remaining songs never quite match the energy sadly. "Passagio" is a mere transition piece to the long "Metamorfosi," a veritable roller-coaster ride of classical-infused rock marked by multiple time signature and tempo changes. This too would come to identify the group, almost to a fault - definitely not music to tap your foot to. I feel the mostly instrumental "Metamorfosi" would have benefited from actual vocals as it ends up feeling unstructured and rambling without them.

"Il Giardino Del Mago" draws a line in the sand: If you can make it through this sucker, you've earned your prog stripes. It's hard enough to devote attention to side-long suites, but when you add in the language barrier it presents a unique challenge to the neophyte listener. Again we are treated to a frantic variety of operatic material, always interesting but not so engaging to perk up your ears and say "what was THAT?" We have a band establishing their identity, and keeping that in mind it is easy to be forgiving and allow them to take chances and do something truly progressive in music. It is a good problem to have, but a problem nonetheless, and ultimately keeps it from becoming four-star material. Still very good, but I would start with Darwin first and work your way backward.

Report this review (#491244)
Posted Wednesday, July 27, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars 1972 was truly the year the RPI scene launched into the stratosphere, with the debut of PFM, Le Orme's excellent Uomo di Pezza, and this first opus by Banco all being fantastic releases. But my favourite of the three is this one by Banco, simply because whilst all three albums show the hallmarks of the bands' influences, Banco's debut does the best job of creating a unique sound. Simply put, every moment on this album - from the frenetic keyboard work, to the gentle piano interludes, to the operatic vocals, to the delicate guitar - is steeped in the band's unique personality.

Yes, there's a bit of ELP in the keyboards and synths and a touch of Martin Barre or Steve Hackett in some of the guitar playing, but these influences are subsumed so totally into Banco's sound that they should be regarded as one of the true originals of the progressive rock scene, with a sound that is simply... Banco. If this doesn't deserve five stars, nothing does.

Report this review (#497258)
Posted Thursday, August 4, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars 11/15P.: an acquired taste: spectacular, unique, exhausting, but sadly under-produced

This album's quite difficult to digest in my book. Usually, when you think of Italian prog music you are reminded of pastoral folk sounds, of "Trespass" and "In The Court of the Crimson King" revisited in a more Mediterranean manner. But when you think it over, the Italian music scene is more radical and more avant-garde than many of their English fellows; for instance, listen to Area's Arbeit macht frei, Osanna's Palepoli and Il Balletto di Bronzo's Ys in succession. The only popular Italian bands I know on the softer side of progressive rock are actually PFM (partially) and Celeste - even the works of the two famous Italian songwriters Angelo Branduardi and Fabrizio de Andre (with his awesome record Rimini) are not as simple as they might seem to be!

Banco, in their best years, have been one of the more eclectic groups from Italy, fusioning Italian folk, free jazz (listen to the live album "Seguendo le Tracce"), neo-classical music and avant-garde soundscapes with rapid and unpredictable rock rhythms, led by Francesco di Giacomo's plaintive voice, the frequent shrieking clarinet interludes and the dueling of the piano and the Hammond organ.

On this record the band is still searching their definitive style - and their definitive sound. And this is the big criticism which this recording draws: the drums and the electric guitar are mixed awfully. I mean, really awfully. I think they didn't record the guitar by playing it through an amp and recording the amp with microphones, but by directly inserting the amp signal into the soundboard. The guitar covers pretty much everything, but sounds much too flat. The drums sound hollow and boring as well, which makes the parts of the album where Hammond organ, piano or acoustic guitar are in the spotlight become most spine-tingling and enjoyable.

Ironically, the three short pieces (ranging from one to two minutes) leave the listener more perplexed than the three longtracks. The album starts off with In Volo, in which a deep Italian voice recites a poem or something like that to the backing of swirling Hammond organs (full V3 vibrato) mixed with acoustic guitars and flutes, sounding like a Medieval Italian madrigal revisited in the psychedelic age of the 1970s. Passagio, the second of the three short songs on this album, is similar in its nostalgic feeling, but is played on a Renaissance-like sounding harpsichord accompanying sombre wordless scatting. Strangely, more than one half of this piece consists of the sounds of the harpsichord player going to the instrument and leaving the room afterwards. Traccia is the most frantic piece on this recording as it dashes through a high-speed 6/8 with complex harmony vocals and unisono piano-organ-runs which leave your finger muscles aching. Think of the 2:38 part of Focus' Questions Answers Questions which sounds completely different, but which is as manic and which has the same instrumentation (organ, bass, guitar, drums).

When Deep Purple used their classical influences rather sparingly in favor of more blues soloing, Banco recorded their own Highway Star with Requiescant in Pace. Don't worry, Banco maintain their 100% individual sound on this piece, but the rapid drum rhythm and the roaring Hammond organ share the energy and strength with Deep Purple's work. Again, there is a great mixture of different genres here. The stanzas, for example, sung forcefully by Francesco di Giacomo, sound vaguely like church music (with towering Hammond organs in the second stanza) while the middle of the song features outstanding jazz improvisation on Hammond organ and electric guitar, accompanied by Bartok-like percussive piano riffs. After 3 1/2 minutes stuffed to the gills with great ideas the song continues, but in quite a different manner. The speed slows down, and the electric instrumentation makes way for a ballad which can only be composed by Italians: sparkling piano runs, lamenting vocals, a restrained flute setting counterpoints and well-dosed bombast which gradually enters the piece until the end when Hammond organ and harmony vocals join in.

Metamorfosi is the piece which would in its structure be later rearranged as La Conquista della posizione eretta. It is, indeed, a rather unorthodox structure which in spite of this works out very well: eight minutes of instrumental tour de force with several more or less distinct parts leading into a 2 minute vocal finale. It's in this track where some of the most beautiful solos appear. Gianni Nocenzi, the band's pianist brings in a gorgeous neo-classical composition at 0:50 after an intense, swinging tutti beginning. This part offers enough substance to be varied in the next minutes, in different metres, with different instruments and different phrasings. Inventive work which is a sheer pleasure to listen to, especially the part at 4:20 where the motif is taken over by Hammond organ and guitar which echo each other's melodies on a really mean bass ostinato. A film-music-like part with creeping Hammond organs leads into the big finale, in a way a sequel to RIP Pt.2, but more on the majestic than on the balladesque side.

Il Giardino del Mago is Banco's longest studio track they have ever recorded and the time is used very economically. It's impossible to sum this piece up because so much happens here, but the big advantage of it is that the different themes that enter, i.e. the creepy opening theme, the melody of the first stanzas (in part one, ...passo dopo passo...) or the emotional melodies around 7:30 are related with each other or are combined with other themes during the track. The really emotive parts are especially the moments in which Marcello Todaro uses the acoustic guitar. Here, the Italian flavour appears again in a stark contrast to the heavy moments of the piece where the electric guitar cuts through the riffs like a saw.

All in all, this album is hard to rate. On the plus side there are the great compositions, the beautiful melodies, the raw vigour and strength which dominates this album (and also the fine sound of acoustic guitar, vocals and piano) and the independent, distinctly Italian sound. However, the minus side weighs quite heavily since the nonprofessional production of the electric guitar and the drums, instruments which sound bad although they are performed with virtuosity and are omnipresent on this record. I must admit that by now I prefer listening to Darwin!, but Banco's debut album has always inspired me as a keyboarder and the material is top-notch.

So, a weak 4 star rating from my side, which could well be a good 4 star rating if the production was better.

Report this review (#504782)
Posted Wednesday, August 17, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars While RIP is definitely a great track, I see the album as more of a preview of Banco del Mutuo Soccorso's later success. The production is a bit muddy, and is kind of a distraction - the album feels considerably more dated as a result. It isn't bad, by any means, but this debut album is clearly a beginning effort by a talented band that would prove on their next album to be one of the greats as far as RPI is concerned. I would recommend this album for the same reason that I'd recommend Yes' debut album: it's interesting to hear what bands were doing before they were making masterpieces. Worth a listen, but not to be chosen over the band's next two albums.
Report this review (#810825)
Posted Sunday, August 26, 2012 | Review Permalink
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
5 stars As I've immersed myself in the RPI progressive genre over the years, I've snapped up several of the landmark albums that have a high status among the Italian progressive ranks, as well as actively seeking out the more obscure and unappreciated lost gems. Then once in a while I catch up on a well known and defining Italian prog album that makes such an impression on me I wonder how I've avoided it for so long and regret not having had it all this time! Case in point - Banco's self titled album 1972 album that, for a 41 minute album, crams in so many wildly original and inventive musical ideas that this one album leaves more of an impression than some bands do in their entire discographies.

`Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso' is a daringly original blend of acoustic and electric playing full of sinister snaps, delicate reflective movements and trademark Italian prog sophistication. A mix of dark classical, jazz, progressive rock, operatic bombast and even psychedelic touches. It jumps back and forth between frantic aggressive playing and restrained subtlety over and over, with long inventive instrumental sections that race in endless directions. The unpredictable nature of the album is one of it's most exciting characteristics.

The uptempo `R.I.P' has some maddening repetitive dizzying bass, aggressive jazzy guitar licks backed up with piano attacks and a truly bent, slightly off organ solo that is quite sickening and totally addictive! The emotive and passionate near-operatic vocals of Francesco DiGiacomo fall between mournful and hostile throughout this piece. `Passigio' is a brief eerie harpsichord lullaby with sighing vocals.

`Metamorfosi' is a mostly instrumental hurricane of forceful piano, dominating drumming, loopy keyboard solos and wild swirling tuneless guitar string-scrapping like early 70's Pink Floyd. Organ bounces back and forth between booming gothic menace and twinkling mystery. Some of the bass sections have a very interesting murky recording quality, while the electric solos and themes have an uplifting and powerful sound.

The 4 part 18 minute epic `Il Giardino...' moves constantly between down-tempo and upbeat passages, and is quite schizophrenic in nature! It opens with lovely menacing organ and piano, nasty guitar riffs with rattling drums marching around sighed group harmonies. It creates quite a dizzying nightmare atmosphere. Francesco's vocals leap from weary, then forceful to downright manic as the music becomes panicked with blinding fast violent keyboard runs and rapid-fire drumming. The middle section is a psychedelic wash of early 70's David Gilmour fragile shimmering guitar emotion, gentle piano and calling clarinet with a pleading vocal and stunning plucked acoustic guitar playing. The piece wraps on a tornado of crazy instrumental explosions, full of dirty slow hard-rock riffs, drifting sax, cracking drum-work and loopy organ runs racing to the finish line.

Although the album has many frequent angry and noisy sections, it's the haunting and dark classical somber piano moments that leave a real and lasting impression. Listen to the spectral creeping tip-toeing piano footsteps after the intro of `Metamorfosi', or the middle section of `Il Giardino...' for some beautifully delicate playing.

The album also has an odd sense of humour in little moments throughout, like the brief finale `Traccia' containing quirky vocals and a hazy hallucinogenic mood, which ends the album on a slightly uneasy note. I love the varied production which gives some patches of the album an effectively dramatic suffocating sound that is quite maddening! It's probably accidental, but it gives the album an occasional rough charm all the same.

`Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso' is exactly the sort of album that comes out of nowhere and really kicks you up the backside, reminding you of the time you first heard one of your favourite and most beloved Progressive classics. When you discover a stunning piece of progressive work like this, it reaffirms just how exciting and imaginative the genre is. An essential album.

Five stars.

Report this review (#864771)
Posted Thursday, November 22, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars Classic example of progressive rock from the 1970's, and this isn't an English band. The RPI movement is a special niche in prog rock for taking what the English bands like Genesis and Gentle Giant were doing and throwing in more classical understanding to the mix, or at least that's my limited understanding of the genre. I've been slow at acquiring and appreciating this specific sub- genre, and I feel that Banco del Mutuo Soccorso can help change my mind.

First off, there are only three ''full-length tracks'' as ''In Volo'', ''Passaggio'' and ''Traccia'' are all no more than 2 and a half minutes long. So you're probably thinking that these are fillers, and they could be to an extent, but they all try to achieve something musically whether to set up the next epic, or, in the case of ''Traccia'', be great in their own right. I find them similar to the short pieces of Caravan's IF I COULD DO IT' album or Yes's FRAGILE in that the short tracks aren't that distracting.

With that out of the way, most viewers probably want to know how the three longer pieces function, and I think taking the big pieces track by track is the best way to look at this album.

''R.I.P'' is really the reason why this album first caught my attention. It's divided into two distinct sections, the first being very in-your-face aggressive and high-energy. The pianos are probably the heaviest you will ever hear in music, period. But then halfway in, the song smoothly segues into a poignant ballad emphasizing DiGiacomo's vocal talents as well as the delicate piano lines.

''Metamorfosi'' is pretty much what you're thinking of; even if you don't speak a lick of Italian (as is my case), you can expect a wild ride. The opening theme (that's reprised halfway in) continues the neckbreak pace of ''R.I.P.'', but swirls around the dynamic levels with the theme immediately thereafter. The band does a fantastic job of toying with the dynamic levels in the first five minutes to keep the listener on the edge of their seat the whole time. BdMS pulls about the same trick they did for ''R.I.P'' in completely pulling the mood down into ballad mode (and the lone vocal spot on the song despite the 11 minute roller coaster), but here, the group goes hard rock at the end for a thrilling climax.

The big epic ''Il Giardino del Mago'' opts to start on a more gentle note with a crawling ballad that can crescendo at the right time. The moments of intensity that BdMS had been babying the listener with throughout the album are still here with Hammond organs that sound like if Keith Emerson was a member of Magma (there's an interesting visual image for the progsters out there). The themes switch off fluidly for the most part, but what makes the epic special is the smart placements of any recapitulation. BdMS does this here whenever you feel like you've forgotten about that softer point halfway through the song because there was another dramatic theme that sucked you in before, or at the very end in getting a summary of what was played in about a 40 second span.

A quick comment on the Nocenzi keyboard brothers. It's simply amazing how front-and-center the two are in the scope of the band, and yet they build a unique sound for BdMS nevertheless. They both are like the Italian Kerry Minnear in that they can really make their keyboards sound perfect for the song. And like I've stated earlier, they can make a grand piano in hard rock music sound plausible. That alone should give them a medal.

Banco del Mutuo Soccorso's debut album is probably that album that the symphonic progster fantasizes about being that epic masterpiece album they've always dreamed of. There's no fantasy here; it's a real deal masterwork.

Report this review (#918782)
Posted Sunday, February 24, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars Along with PFM's debut album, the self-entitled debut album from Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso represents the cornerstone of Italian Prog. But the comparison really stops there, as this is an entirely different brand of music. Firstly, it's much darker, heavier, with more eclectic atmosphere, not completely relying on the symphonic edge of PFM and a few other Italian bands. In fact, I would say this is a better representation of the Italian sound as a whole. The most standout features of the album and the band are the dramatic vocal delivery in Italian, the dark and extravagant atmosphere, and an overall sound and style similar to Genesis, Gentle Giant, and ELP.

The album is segregated into some shorter two-minute songs with two longer epics lasting over ten minutes.

'In Volo,' 'Passaggio,' and 'Traccia' are sort of interludes, and give the album a bit of variety. But the real centerpieces here are the three longer tracks. 'R.I.P' is a fun, upbeat song with a hard rocking drive and constant pounding drums. Besides that there is some loose guitar and intense keyboard playing throughout.

The remaining two epics are a bit harder to follow, if only for their more elaborate structure. Both the songs go through an elaborate change in mood and intensity, often changing between softer organ/synth leads to more dramatic and heavier piano or guitar.

Overall, while it may be overly ambitious in some places (especially the lengthy 'Il Giardino Del Mago.'), think this is a solid debut album from an iconic Italian Prog band.


Report this review (#986611)
Posted Wednesday, June 26, 2013 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
5 stars Much like Gentle Giant who were an inspiration, the Italian group BANCO DEL MUTUO SOCCORSO (Bank Of Mutual Rescue) was founded by musical brothers, in this case Vittorio and Gianni Nocenzi. In the early 70s at the peak of the first golden age of progressive rock but unlike many contemporaries who needed an album or two to get their feet wet, these guys hit a major home run on their eponymous debut album in 1972, which has become one of the most revered albums in all of progressive rock and for good reason. This album is absolutely BRILLIANT!!!

Although they had already formed in 1969 they found no reason to revisit the psychedelic 60s and instead channeled their energies into a highly artful form of symphonic prog that not only borrowed some of the lightness from Genesis, but also included energetic keyboard outbursts like ELP as well as the folk inspired sounds from their homeland inspired by Jethro Tull as heard on clarinet and a kind of trumpet called the clarino. BANCO adeptly blended acoustic and electric instruments with daring vocals in Italian and mastered the art of lulling you into an addictive melody that simultaneously hooked you in while stunning with sophisticated musical wizardry. This album delivers the absolute perfect ratchet effect and never lets me drift away for a second.

This is a highly complex album delivering classically derived compositions put entirely into a rock context. Massive sprawling tracks like "Metamorfosi" and "Il Giardino Del Mago" are so stuffed with musical ideas that they never let the listener's attention stray from their path. While BANCO does let loose on occasion and really rock out, they are much more adept at spending long periods of time with subtleties and delicate passages that take their time to make the journey an interesting one before coming to a conclusion.

This era of Italian prog is notorious for poor production and i highly advise getting one of the newer remastered versions of this release, for even on these it is not perfect but a huge improvement over some of the weaknesses of the original, however it is the music that overpowers any production complaints. This is one of those few touched-by-God albums where unearthly energies conspired to make something magnanimous beyond the sum of the parts. I have tried and failed to find any flaws in this music. It is a timeless as a Mozart symphony, as daring as "Dark Side Of The Moon" in a totally different way and although many a prog band would borrow from this style, BANCO DEL MUTUO SOCCORSO was revolutionary when it was released easily separating itself from contemporaries like PFM.

Wending from sophisticated piano runs to complex guitar runs, BANCO delivered an outstanding debut album that is one of those albums i can really put on replay and never tire of. If you're new to this band, this is the perfect place to start but don't expect to be able to take this in quickly because the true beauty of this album is how it unfolds slowly and demands that you put it on again and again. Don't waste your time on all those fraudulent derivatives and mortgage scams, put your money in an investment of greatness that delivers musical satisfaction time and time again.

Report this review (#1383521)
Posted Monday, March 16, 2015 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Ever since re-entering the music scene in 2008 after an absence of nearly twenty years I was overwhelmed by many international music scenes of which I had previously been relatively unaware. Rock progressivo Italiano is one of these. And with my enthusiastic interest drawn to the amazing number of modern artists contributing to what has proved to be quite an exciting revival of my once-beloved progressive rock music, I have not always given older albums the time and attention necessary to truly familiarize myself with them much less appreciate them. Still, I have slowly acquired the much revered "classics." (This one has 663 ratings/reviews on PA alone!) Banco has impressed me from my initial listens. The maturity and sophistication of songmaking is astounding. And to put into the formula the fact that this album and Darwin! (both 1972 releases) predate many of the most cherished masterpieces of the Golden Age only increases my appreciation and awe. The dynamic range, confidence to be quiet and subtle and then be bold and loud, all the while using thoughtful not-whimsical constructs and virtuosic command of all instruments is a wonder to behold. While the sound of lead vocalist Francesco Di Giacomo's voice is one that has still not grown comfortable or favorable to me, I find nothing but musical excellence throughout Banco's first album. It's display of musical and instrumental mastery is undeniable. Where it may lack slightly is in memorability. After several years of owning this and occasionally spinning it through my brain I still find little or no connection with the music--it has not penetrated my soul in the way that many of the 'less sophisticated' masterpieces of the era have. Not the way Darwin! and especially Io sono nato libero have done. Hence, a rating is very difficult for me to render as I do not rate this one on the same par as the two aforementioned classics, yet it is such an amazing collection of constructs it is difficult for me to give it anything less than the five stars it truly deserves. To me, it is an excellent addition to any prog rock music collection but in terms of its contribution to music history I cannot deny that it is probably essential and is definitely a masterpiece of progressive rock music . . . just not as great as either Darwin! or Io sono nato libero.
Report this review (#1533514)
Posted Saturday, February 27, 2016 | Review Permalink
3 stars Rock Progressivo e Classico

3.5 stars

First album of BANCO DEL MUTUO SUCCURSO, this self-titled opus combines the majesty of classical music and the power of early 70's hard rock, with a touching proper Italian sensibility. The disc is strangely structured, as it features three long songs with different durations and three short passages.

Beginning in a mysterious atmosphere, "In Volo" is in fact a pleasant medieval theme played at the flute, introducing the best song of the record, "R.I.P.". Lifely and catchy, the track presents a good balance nervous guitar and piano, with a beautiful melancholic interlude. One of the best compositions from the RPI genre! "Passaggio" is a short transition simply consisting in keyboardist Vittorio Nocenzi entering the room, playing harpsichord, and leaving the room by slamming the door!

The mini-epic "Metamorfosi" is quite interesting. Its first half is instrumental and features a powerful combination of seventies' hard rock and classical keyboards. This part surely shares similitudes with ELP. The second half is softer and more delicate, and the finale is haunting. This song has some weaknesses, but is overall pretty cool. Unfortunately, although it mixes the same musical elements, the same cannot be said for the 18 minutes uneven "Il Giardino Del Mago". Not as convincing, the longest track of the disc contains a few nice moments, however these can get a bit repetitive at times. "Traccia" concludes the record with a baroque hard rock theme.

At first sight, by looking at the instruments, "Banco del Mutuo Succurso" may look similar to symphonic prog acts. Nevertheless, the approach is very different from English bands such as ELP or GENESIS, and the sensibility is typically Italian. Some passages are powerful whereas others are touching. Despite lengthy moments on "Il Giardino Del Mago", this debut album remains my favorite from the band, maybe because this is their rock-iest effort from their "classical" prog period.

Recommended if you want to discover the Rock Progressivo Italiano, and a good entry point to the genre for 70's hard rock fans.

Report this review (#1572603)
Posted Monday, May 30, 2016 | Review Permalink
5 stars Banco del Mutuo Soccorso is the eponymous debut album by Italian Progressive rock band "Banco del Mutuo Soccorso".

The album was recorded for "Dischi Ricordi" in 1972.

The beautiful and original cover of the original vinyl was shaped like a piggy bank; a slit was extracted from a strip of cardboard with the faces of the members of the group.

The image on the cover is by illustrator "Mimmo Mellino".

The album "Banco del Mutuo Soccorso" also called (il salvadanaio) "Money Box" contains six songs, that start with a medieval epic dreamy intro "In Volo", which ends with an obvious what announcement is coming;"Entro il cratere ove gorgoglia, il tempo".

"The time" (Il Tempo), of course, is to "RIP", which comes with all its power Prog and the famous start of timing/tempo on 5/4, which supports a well the tenor voice clear and decisive, which clearly enhances every refinement of musical arrangements and of the lyrics set in a medieval battle and that focuses on the horrors of war.

Each instrument takes place in the solid sound without any prevalence and this, despite the potential timbre of the virtuoso dual keyboards work by the Piano, Hammond organ and Moog of the Brothers "Nocenzi" "Vittorio and Gianni" plus the use of flute reeds (played by some of the members of the band,in addition to their usual instrument), made the sound of "Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso" increasingly.

The personal solos are relatively limited and give the work a solid and consistent groove.

The voice of "Big" Francesco Di Giacomo arrives and retracts like a wave alternating moments of calibrated power to more subtle dynamics.

Follows a short interval Baroque "Passaggio" where "Vittorio Nocenzi" enters an empty room, he plays the harpsichord and singing the melody softly and after comes out the other side of the room, slamming the door.

Closes the first side the album "Metamorfosis" masterful demonstration of balance and skill in which the "Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso" attests to both its complete independence from preconceived Anglo-Saxon and creating an Italian Progressive rock with its ability to make the most its characteristic high skill of "first Mediterranean group in two complementary keyboards."

Only after 8 minutes of articulated Progressive rock of classical and medieval references with baroquisms never extremes that blend in a immovable nucleus where the guitar with counterpoints and original arrangements it leans on an always powerful rhythm section; It appears in the sound the poignant voice of "Francesco Di Giacomo", which is the premise, with a powerful final, to the second side of the album.

The second side of the album is occupied almost entirely (over 18 minutes), from "Il Giardino Del Mago" song in which the band experiments with all its musical narrative potential by developing a balanced symphonic different variants of the theme.

Very tense and romantic moments alternate with break atmospheres of symphonic rock, epic, classical or even space.

The end of the song, pure epic Progressive rock which flows into the closing track "Traccia", synthesis of Baroque rock with radical hard sound and Italian Mediterranean character.

A classic great epic debut album, a load-bearing column of the genre Progressive that keeps the future.

In the same year 1972 "Il Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso" publishes their second album "Darwin!" an evolution of Progressive rock.

Report this review (#1574944)
Posted Saturday, June 4, 2016 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
4 stars While I haven't listened to much RPI at this point in time, mainly only listening to some of the big bands such as Le Orme and PFM, the debut album of Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso easily stands out to me, having a more energetic, experimental sound to it, making it stand out from the others I've hears which stuck to a more beautiful approach. That's not to say I necessarily like it more than those others, it's just that this one is quite interesting to me, further due to the odd album structure, only having 3 real songs, 2 over 10 minutes, and then a few interludes. The album most reminds me of Emerson, Lake and Palmer but with a strong Italian identity and a vocalist more suited to opera.

The first proper song on the album is also the one I consider far and away the best here, as it still impresses me just how much harder this song rocks compared to the rest of the Italian prog I've heard, being wonderfully energetic with the guitar and piano playing off each other excellently, while Pier Luigi Calderoni bashes away at the drums. This song is so incredibly catchy, with a superb vocal melody from Francesco Di Giacomo, who I think has an excellent voice all around. Further adding to this song's greatness are the solos in the first half, which are a perfect mix of bombastic and enjoyable. The final nail in the coffin that secures this song as being absolutely brilliant is its complete change at the halfway mark, leaning much harder on classical influences as it slows down considerably, making way for lush, breathtaking piano lines and flutes, the vocal absolutely stealing the show. This all culminates with the drumming becoming progressivly becoming faster until everything bursts into a much more grandiose sound produced by the organ. Metamorfosi is a far more experimental, wild piece, being predominantly instrumental, with hints of frenetic jamming amongst sometimes jazzy, melodic lines and solos. The song never really sits still, as even during the quieter sections, there's always some sort of instrument playing very energetically until just past the halfway mark, where just like the previous song, it shifts considerably into much slower, more emotive sounding music. The song picks up again near the end, being much darker sounding. I find this track quite good in general, but definitely feel like it could have been shortened by a couple of minutes. Il Giardano Del Mago is definitely the most free flowing of the songs, being an 18 minute multipart suite that has a fairly consistent tone to it, but definitely goes from dark and isolated, especially when the vocals are backed up by some unsettling harmonies, which transitions excellently into what almost sounds like chanting as the song picks up considerably into an instrumental breakdown that sounds quite similar to certain sections of Tarkus. The song continues progressing, with a really pleasant, softer section further accentuating the vocal talent present here, before picking right back up again, complete with an excellent section with the clarinet. Overall, I find this to be another excellent song, despite once again feeling as if it could have been cut by a couple of minutes. The short interludes on the album are all quite nice sounding, but are just interludes, so I really don't pay too much attention to them in all honesty.

While occasionally carrying on for too long during certain sections of the 2 longer songs, this album nonetheless is one that I find highly enjoyable, perfectly balancing between energy and beauty in a highly appealing way. In terms of quality, I'd recommend this album to newcomers of the genre, as it both contains the accessible, fun song of R.I.P, while also having some more challenging, ambitious stuff on here in the form of the two epics, providing depth while also being all around fun.

Best songs: R.I.P, Metamorfosi

Weakest songs: none

Verdict: A fun album filled with bursts of energy and sweeping sections of beauty making it quite nicely balanced. The longer tracks probably each could have been cut down a bit, but it doesn't really hurt the album's quality all that much.

Report this review (#2168379)
Posted Sunday, March 24, 2019 | Review Permalink
4 stars Impressive debut by the band and an original one. The album starts on a pastoral note with flute, acoustic guitar and creepy moog. Then we have a classic BDMS track with speedy RPI execution but also romantic piano part. Vocals are not interchangeable with any other singer in prog-rock. "Metamorfosi" is the highlight of the album and a very progressive one with solemn organ, piano classical lines, dynamic rhythm section with rocking guitar. Vocals are not missing but do appear towards the end. "Il giardino del maggio" is equally impressive, clocking at 18 minutes, it has jazz leanings accentuated by use of clarinet. The last track is only noteworthy because of the use of organ in the end,
Report this review (#2271373)
Posted Saturday, October 19, 2019 | Review Permalink
5 stars Here's to you the Banco's debut. One of the most important record in history of Italian prog.

Side A:

There are four songs but in the reality just two true songs and two fragments of songs. These fragments are the introduction to a mini-suite.

The first fragment, "In Volo" is a recited song, with a Renaissance style, worthy of Genesis, or Gentle Giant as a mood, but overall today it is dated. It serves to create the atmosphere, it is understood immediately that Banco wanted to be prog. Their debut, in fact, is among the most prog Italian record: more prog than Storia di un Minuto by Pfm or Collage by Le Orme.

In volo opens to "RIP", which is one of the absolute masterpieces of all Italian prog. Here we meet, summarized in 7 minutes without frills, all the art of Banco: an excellent melody created by the keyboards of the Nocenzi brothers accompanied by the tenor operatic voice of Francesco Di Giacomo, aggressive instrumental progressions led by drums (Calderoni) and electric guitar (Todaro), Baroque instrumental solos alternating with pauses. We are in full symphonic rock, but what makes this music unique is the beauty of the melodies, punctuated by Di Giacomo's vocals. Masterpiece. Vote 9.

After the second fragment, a ballad on the harpsichord, comes the second song, "Metamorfofi", which starts with a rhythmic progression, moves on to a classical piano piece, returns to the rhythmic progression, and only in the end comes the vocals, preceded by phrases on the guitar that trace its melody. Daring theatrical finale. It looks like a minisuite but in reality it is a melodic verse/chorus song, like all the other two songs, reworked, dilated to make it sound like a suite, which obsessively fights over some piano phrases. It is an excellent song always thanks to the beautiful melody and the excellent arrangements that are able to deepen a musical motif, to create variations around it without tiring. It's not love at first sight like the first song but it's a remarkable piece without flaws. Rating 8,5.


And on the second side the same goes for the suite "Il giardino del mago" which .... is not a suite! Again the group insists spasmodically, almost paranoidly on a banal piano phrase but manages to create rock music, alternating with classical and jazz, reworking that little musical content, then the rhythmic progressions and the voice of Di Giacomo, protagonist here, arrive to do the rest, that is to make listening always interesting, only at times close to the cacophony and anguish of the Van der Graafs. And in all this the piano composition prevails, not the virtuosity a la Keith Emerson. It's another perfect song, 8.5 rating.

The final fragment takes up the frenzied rhythm with which the suite (which is not a suite) had closed, adding Mediterranean choirs to make the ending even more pompous.

In my opinion this album would have been slightly better without the three fragments. It remains a masterpiece, however thanks to three wonderful melodic songs that many bands would not be able to write even in 20 years.

Rating album: 9+. Masterpiece. Five stars.

Report this review (#2485899)
Posted Friday, December 18, 2020 | Review Permalink

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