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Le Orme - Smogmagica CD (album) cover

SMOGMAGICA

Le Orme

Rock Progressivo Italiano


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Alucard
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Getting sentimental, this was the first italian prog record I bought in Italy way back in the 70's. It is not my favourite Le Orme record but it is still good and it has this beautiful Paul Whitehead cover, which makes you wish back the good old Vynil Record Covers. Well, the main change on this record, after Contrappunti is the addition of a guitar player. the record was produced in L.A. and has a more americain sound in a positive way, it is broader and richer compared to some earlier records.My favourit track is Laserium Floyd an instrumental with a very nice bass/ guitar interplay.Amico d'ieri an italian sung ballad is very nice too and more in the mood of the earlier records. It is a rather melancolic record apart from one catchy pop tune (aimed for the F.M market?) and TMHO their last good record of the 70's.

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Send comments to Alucard (BETA) | Report this review (#17932)
Posted Wednesday, September 29, 2004 | Review Permalink
2 stars No good. Even considering Le Orme one of the best prog groups in the world, and trying to appreciate the attempt of giving a chance to a good guitar player (and Tolo Marton is very clever, and recently has played in some live show with Tony Pagliuca), this is definitly not a good album: only some good passages, such as L.A., Laserium Floyd, and Laurel canyon. Better forget all other pieces. In general, it is like Le Orme lost their way: Pagliuca doesn't get a good interplay with Marton, Tagliapietra and Dei Rossi are simple extras, not surely at their usual levels. Also, in general Le Orme are melancholic enough (exp with Tagliapietra voice and lyrics)... but here you are led to cut your veins... Very very far from their past and far from their future.

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Send comments to NIC* (BETA) | Report this review (#37982)
Posted Wednesday, June 29, 2005 | Review Permalink
Andrea Cortese
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "I felt a void inside myself and a sensation of fear while the darkness of the clouds was still around me." (from Los Angeles).

At first cover's look (nice Paul Whitehead's album cover), Smogmagica seems to be a great follow up of the previous symphonic works Contrappunti and Felona and Sorona. At first listen, things change! A strong electric guitar appears from behind those traditional organs, moogs and keyboards.how is it possible? The band was then in search of a new and fresher sound and enroled a fourth member, great guitarist Tolo Marton. The band also flew to Los Angeles the recording sessions, leaving behind their shoulders that classic predominant keyboard's trade mark. Reviewers can be disconcerted in listening to Smogmagica. That electric guitar, even if so damn-good played seems to be something extraneous and absurd for Le Orme! I think this 1975 work is a good surprise, yet! It's not so simple to shock the audience! This shock is not only caused by the different arrangements and line-up, but also by the lyrics' subject of the second side of the album, rich of humour and far from their traditional seriousness. From an eye-bird's point of view we seem to fly over that famous Californian city.over a strange isolated place which, differently from others is distinctly enriched by the amazing green of nature! Ike other reviewers have noticed, Smogmagica is a mixture of rock, pop, blues and boogie all dressed up in a commercial outfit. Prog trend is not completely disappeared, yet. You can recognize it on the first side of the album.

Los Angeles is a great 7,13 mns song with only some words sung in its first part with amazing instrumental playing. Surely the best of the album with that its proggy interludes and synths from the 4th minute, in particular. Great drums by Michi de Rossi, great electric guitar provided by Tolo Marton, great non-dominant keyboards and bass by, respectively Toni Pagliuca and Aldo Tagliapietra. ".an ocean of lights, so many at the same time I had never seen before.", the description of the feelings of whom's visiting that famous city for the first time.

Amico di Ieri (Yesterday's Friend) is the most famous song of the album. I remember my father playing it with his M1 keyboard.what a great melody and sad atmosphere! ". autumn wind, sodden with sand.desert is your cradle.you carries the memory of ancient pioneers.".

Ora o Mai Pi¨ (Now or Nevermore) is the first real commercial one of the album, sung also by Tolo Marton. Pagliuca's synthesizer cannot distract from the pop reality! The end of the song has some humouresque vein, with noises of a car crash and the sirens of police cars and ambulance.

Laserium Floyd is a great and soft instrumental track, the third highlight of the album, but with some repetitive guitar riff.

Primi Passi (First Steps) follows, in Ora o Mai Pi¨'s similar commercial vein, while Immensa Distesa (Huge Expanse) is a nice mellow short ballad with good acoustic guitar and ambient keyboard' playing.

Amanti di CittÓ (City's Lovers) is the proof of this new trend of Le Orme. Rocky well conducted, with humour lyrics about the discussion between two lovers (two male voices.one with strange elium-like effect!!): ".it's me who brings you always flowers! - yes, you are. But you forgets always my allergy!!!!

L'Uomo del Pianino (Little Piano's Man) is another (boogie) funny commercial track, while Laurel Canyon is a good instrumental piece with good contribution from all the Orme's members. Not a real progressive effort, but more serious than the previous song.

What can I say? You wouldn't say this is a Le Orme's album.but the demonstration of the great vitality of this wonderful Italian band, able to critisize theirself! Not at the symphonic level of Contrappunti, but good for the fresh imagination and, at least, three very good tracks!

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Send comments to Andrea Cortese (BETA) | Report this review (#52925)
Posted Sunday, October 23, 2005 | Review Permalink
andrea
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Smogmagica is Le Orme's seventh studio album. It was recorded in Los Angeles in 1975 with a line up featuring, along with the historical members Aldo Tagliapietra (bass, vocals, acoustic guitar), Tony Pagliuca (keyboards) and Michi Dei Rossi (drums), a young, skilled musician with a solid rock-blues background, Tolo Marton (electric guitar, harmonica, vocals). With this album Le Orme tried to change slightly their sound following a more straightforward musical direction. The result might not be completely satisfying for old prog fans but, even if it represents a step back when compared to the band's previous masterpieces, this is still a good album with some magnificent tracks. Anyway, the wonderful album cover painted by Paul Whitehead and inspired by the music is a special asset and makes of this work a very special item in any progressive rock collection.

The opener "Los Angeles" begins by a frenzied guitar solo flying on a cloudy rhythmical carpet that melts in a quiet piano section with a short vocal part. The lyrics describe the feelings of a passenger on a plane landing in L.A., the "magical polluted" city of the title (it's very difficult to translate the word "Smogmagica" indeed!)... "I felt a void in me and a sensation of fear / While the darkness of the clouds was still around me / Then, suddenly, below me an ocean of lights / I had never seen before so many lights at the same time...". Then the rhythm sets off again in a instrumental "crescendo" with some changes in rhythm and mood and a good interaction between the guitar and the other instruments. A great track!

"Amico di ieri" (Yesterday's friend) is one of the most famous songs by Le Orme. It's a melancholic acoustic ballad where a delicate melody sets a dreamy atmosphere. The lyrics tell about the autumn wind that blows to Los Angeles from his cradle in the desert, bringing with him the memories of the ancient pioneers who were driven to the sea and to a new reality by their dreams of freedom... "Autumn wind / Yesterday's friend / Today nobody cares of you / Your rising voice / Takes away the sleep from resting people / It just soils the city...". Well, in this case the lyrics represent also a way to tell about the contrast between past and present, dream and reality in a poetical way... This song has always been one of my favourites.

Unfortunately, the following "Ora o mai pi¨" (Now or nevermore) is not as good as the previous tracks. It is a kind of prog'n'roll featuring lyrics about a man who drives like hell "collecting red lights" just to get in time to a meeting with his girlfriend. The song ends with the noise of a car crash! Good idea, but the result is not completely convincing...

Then comes "Laserium Floyd", a good instrumental with a slow pace and a nocturnal atmosphere that could recall Pink Floyd's echoes. It leads to "Primi passi" (First steps), a nice pop rock song about the need to look for new experiences that makes you jump on the first train running to seek your fortune far away, without waiting for useless promises... "Hello, new day that moves on by uncertain steps...".

The following delicate, acoustic ballad "Immensa distesa" (Immense plain) is definitely better with Aldo Tagliapietra's soaring vocals that conjure up a dreamy mood... "You would like to follow me and move far away / But eventually you prefer the shelter of dreams...". Remarkable the particular coda with a fine drum work running under the melody played by the acoustic guitar.

"Amanti di cittÓ" (City lovers), despite the good guitar work, in my opinion is the worst track of the lot, especially on account of the strange, unpleasant vocals. The lyrics are absolutely nothing special, just an ironic dialogue between two lovers in the city.

"L'uomo del pianino" (The street organ man) is an interesting experimental track, a kind of "country-prog" song with a beautiful short ragtime section... "Distant fogs of my home town / Make safer the old way... How many strange things I keep inside me...". A good effort to cross the styles.

The instrumental "Laurel Canyon" is another good effort to blend the rock-blues influences of the guitarist with the prog vein of the other members of the band. This track was named after Laurel Canyon Boulevard in L.A., the place where the band set their headquarters during the recording sessions, and concludes an album with some ups and downs but that is really worth listening to.

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Send comments to andrea (BETA) | Report this review (#75515)
Posted Wednesday, April 19, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars This is the first album by Le Orme I listened to, and hadn't I listened to other songs by this band on a local radio, I would have dismissed it completely. The good numbers here are few, and even these few ones are not that special. If you find the way to, just try and fetch these titles: Laserium Floyd, Primi Passi, Immensa Distesa. The first track is a good, spacey instrumental, obviously influenced by the Pink Floyd, with a good use of very simple bass lines and simple tunes. "Primi Passi" is quite a good song; that's not progressive rock, but it could be a laid-back version of the early Rush. "Immensa Distesa" is the classical ballad by Le Orme, reminescent of Italian folk, dreamy and melancholic (ok, here the band finds back its usual standards). The rest of the album is a total mess. "Los Angeles" is patchy and you could even laugh at some keyboard passages; "Amico di Ieri" used to be one of my favourite tunes, it's got good lyrics, but nowadays I can realize how boring it is... "Ora o mai pi¨" and "Amanti di cittÓ" may be forerunners of demential rock, while "L'uomo del pianino" is a melodic pop effort worth any album by I Cugini di Campagna (Italian readers will surely understand). Finally, Laurel Canyon simply doesn't fit the band attitude: classical/folk freaks forced to play blues, maybe by their omnipresent guitar player (then: his successor, Germano Serafin, would do a much better job). Luckily enough, after this I discovered "Felona e Sorona", and I really got in touch with what would become one of my favourite bands ever.

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Send comments to paolo.beenees (BETA) | Report this review (#116882)
Posted Friday, March 30, 2007 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars I remembered that I wrote in one of my Le Orme review, that I was lacking some guitar work, well this wish has been fulfilled since there is now a full-time guitarist on board.

I really like the opening track "Los Angeles". It combines a magnificent vocal part full of passion and the most rocking instrumental parts. For sure that this sound is quite new for "Le Orme" but so well performed.

The band is still producing a sweet and so harmonious "Amico Di Ieri". Full of poetry. This is one of the best track available on "Smogmagica". This album starts really well. But, unfortunately, the same quality level cannot be seen throughout this work.

What comes next is hard to describe. Fully in line with some "Banco" or "PFM" production from the eighties if you see what I mean. Electro pop music, synthetic beats. This is for "Ora O Mai Pi˙". Press next. You will then reach another good number, although a bit repetitive IMO. "Laserium Floyd" is a soft rock instrumental. Of course, after a song as "Ora" almost any song would sound great.

The band is investigating into a more easy listening music, shortly formatted. It is not as bad as their ealier work (which you can found on their compilation "L'Aurora Delle Orme") but "Primi Passi" can't be considered as a jewel. Just average Italian pop music.

The band reverts into more genuine "Le Orme" music with the beautiful ballad "Immensa Distesa". Vocals again are the highlight. So emotional, so passionate, so.Italian. The contrary of the disastrous "Amanti Di CittÓ". An upbeat rock song with commercial flavour and weak.vocals. What a contrast! From heaven to hell in a few seconds. This shouldn't be allowed!

The problem is now that from this number onwards, there won't be anything good any longer. Another one of the worst moment of this musical "experience" is a punishment for the listener. Press next while you listen to the first seconds of "L'Uomo del Pianino".

And the closing instrumental is just another second-rate rock piece of music.

This album is not poor, but one could have expected more after the first two songs which are really good ones. But as a whole this album is a disappointment. Two stars.

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#160013)
Posted Sunday, January 27, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars It was the year of 1975 and Le Orme makes delivery of a new disc called Smogmagica, in which, they for the first time, include a guitarist as full member in the formation of the group, Tolo Marton, electric guitar, harmonic, voice, and our already known: Toni Pagliuca, keyboards, Aldo Tagliapietra, bass, acoustic guitar, voice and Michi Dei Rossi drums, percussions.

I consider that to this one of the controversial records, and different of all the artistic carrer of Le Orme, if not that is controversial, also a very steep change of Progressive musical direction notices, happening of classic the Felona and Sorona and Contrappunti, to a sound infected by a guitar that obviously has its roots in the blues rock, Tolo Marton is one an excellent guitarist and with very fast licks, but... I feel that in this work they wanted to amalgamate of way very forced that bluesrock root, with progressive the classic elements of Le Orme, result: a disc very different, strange, and enigmatic sometimes.

Sure without doubt is no absolutely bad, since there are excellent songs, and others not very good, but with justice it is necessary to say that it contains an "Americanization" element, since the disc was recorded in Los Angeles, and really note in some songs (e.g. Or or mai Pi¨ in its beginning, that seems intro of any song of the Doors), although most of the songs they were composed in the old continent.

Really a very different and inconsistent disc, by the minus Verita Nacoste (1976), and Storia or Leggenda (1977), discs that followed this, inside have a uniformity of the own work, gives the impression, that they wanted to include so many musical styles and to combine them, but to stick them with their previous classic structure of previous albums as well, and to being honest, in some songs it seems that here Tolo Marton, are playing in another group and the others in Le Orme. I feel who the integration of Marton did not work (unlike Germano SerafÝn, very fine guitarist, and that him fit perfect, in following 4 discs of the group), and for that reason left the group after they release this album.

Nevertheless making justice to this recording, also it contains some of the best songs and melodies of Le Orme of its history, (e.g. Laserium Floyd, Amico di Ieri, Los Angeles) and that will not become to repeat. It was the this first attempt to incorporate poppier elements, within its Progressive repertoire, shorter songs and with one more a simpler line, hard rock tones, pastoral elements and even passages boggie rock in all an amalgam, and Tolo Marton sharing the voice with Tagliapietra, as well as most of the compositions of the group they are signed by Marton/Pagliuca/Taglapietra, which is clear that Tolo Marton entered by the great one in this its first one and only one disc, granting to him the facilities that could have been given, and sometimes, dominating the musical phantom of the work and relegating to Pagliuca, mainly, to mere support.

It has to emphasize that the production of the disc is good and that, clearing the rapid guitar solos of Marton, not has individualities of other members of group, also could to affirm that this disc is very martinian, since the guitar is the element that outshadows the others, unlike others albums of Le Orme, is the oriented disc more to the guitar of all its discography, including the 4 later, in aim this recording is really what it is known like a landmark in the trajectory of Le Orme. The rescue thing of this disc, in addition to some songs, is the cover ironically that was designed by Paul Whitehead, who in the successive thing would decorate futures albums of Le Orme, and reflects the metamorphosis that was happening in the group, that imagines the inner garden, and that, this first attempt to extend its musical view, on which serious the rest of the cover, that is to say, the city that is observed outside the garden. In any case this one is a work that is important, to listen to include/understand destiny of Le Orme in the future, but he is not essential in a progressive collection.

Then derivative of the previous thing, we go to the songs: 1. - Los Angeles. - Song with that they open Smogmagica, and that is totally, different in the musical conception, in where one realizes change provoked in the music of Le Orme, this is the guitar like dominant and catalytic element, a single length of guitar, the keyboard of Pagliuca, relegated to some sounds and melodies within this, and far from the spectacular playing of long ago, the voice of Tagliapietra, as always it magnifies and the only song with letters in english of this disc, of which volume this excellent passage:

I felt to void inside myself and to sensation of to fear while the darkness of the clouds was still around me...

Very good passages of guitar, in this work are where better the guitar of Marton arranges, with old Le Orme. Around minute 4:40, sound begins interlude very good with of keyboard of Pagliuca and guitar of Marton, recreating a little as the dusk in Los Angeles would be seen (according to my analysis and the sensation that produces me when listening to it), the drumming of Michi, as always reliable and this is a very good song of this disc. Very Good.

2. - Amico di Ieri. - Definitively one of masterpieces of all the times of the Progressive Rock, the song basic of the disc and most closest to its previous works, with an extreme melancholy on the part of Taglapietra and one excellent guitar on the part of Tolo Marton, the only thing that I create does not go "ad hoc" with the song, is the solo of harmonic in half of the song, the lyrics, about the friends of yesterday, one of the best ones written by Le Orme and I transcribe a delicious example:

"Vento d'autunno intriso di sabbia Posi il tuo vento sulla cittÓ, iI deserto Ŕ tua culla Non conosco la tua etÓ".

These divine 3:18 minutes of duration of the song, are worth all one the album. Excellent.

3.- Ora o mai Pi¨. - Here is a perfect example which it is known like Americanization of the leormenian sound, in its totality, sung by Tolo Marton, that definitively does not have a great voice and with a sound very boggie rock, the song in its beginning makes me feel as if it was listening to L.A. Woman of the Doors, by intro of the guitar, and this is of the most loose pieces of all the disc (single surpassed by L'uomo del Pianino), and fatal its end, with a recreation of an automobile shock, I feel here that in the eagerness to obtain acceptance and a greater market for the commercial turn which they treated to do, result in badly an experiment, definitively nothing that to see with unrecognizable previous works of plane. Bad.

4. - Laserium Floyd. - Instrumental song with obvious dedication... here Tolo Marton perfectly recreates that guitar sound of David Gilmour, in Dark Side of The Moon and Wish You Were Here and hints of Genesis' Squonk, and it gives the impression to me that this sound was fashionable, between several groups of rock, aside from the Floyd, for example the Fly By Night and 2112 of Rush listen and will see what it said to them, this melodie makes me feel as if it embarked in a length and quiet way to me, through a series of natural landscapes, that make think me about the decisions or the one that had happened if... of the life of any person, including the own one. One definitively very good melody on the part of the group. Very Good.

5. - Primi Passi. - It means in Spanish First Step... but towards the precipice! One of the songs that or could remain for a compilation of outtakes or peculiarities, here unlike Verita nacoste, the poppier elements is not integrated for anything and suddenly the vocal treatment to me remembers to Ritchie and Poweri!!... incredible no? Mainly being those who are. The influence of Tolo Marton here goes of badly in worse, making sound to Le Orme like a species of Western Spaghetti and very flat, balancing risky, almost on the verge of falling, in the absolute disaster, luckyly last 3:29 minutes. Avoid if you can.

6. - Immensa Distesa. - Fortunately for the group and the disc, Aldo Taglapietra tapeworm very in clear what meant Le Orme in the international plane, so it composes this small jewel of song, one of the best ones of the disc in comment, and those that save to this work, of the commercialization and more absurd mediocrity, than I has listened in Le Orme, a very pastoral song almost magician in its purer conception and with good acoustic guitar of Tagliapietra and Marton, the drums of Michi that was been very dull, it stands out with certain touches poli rythmical that makes to the bottom of the acoustic harmonies competes with Amico di Ieri but it does not equal it. Very Good.

7. - Amanti di Cittß. - Very peculiar song and could affirm that the strangest song of all the leormenaian discography, very good work of Tolo Marton in the guitar, relegated Pagliuca to mere support (if it felt to taste or it were taking a rest from the previous recordings, single therefore I do not explain its participation poor man in the disc), only in the end emphasizes mini keyboard solo, but nothing else. The peculiar thing is the voices that they establish I engage in a dialog between two lovers, and who I believe that for this song they had obtained a true woman for the voice that assumes represents the lover (the one of Circus 2000 it had been perfect), and not to try it so that the first impression whom it gave me is that it was of a boy! The lyrics not at all memorable and outside the guitar and the drumming, it could be a serious excellent pop song, strange really, but I do not get tired to listen ha!; structured, the truth well I confess that it is of my like, but in general they do not hope to listen to in this song something very Progressive. Regular.

8. - L'uomo del Pianino. - Definitively the worse song of the disc. This is a perfect sample of which it happens when the elements and the influence of different musical conceptions (Tolo marton versus Le Orme), hits off plane; between own rates of the scene of the clowns in any circus, and the sensation to be in pianobar., the truth gives the impression that they did not have another thing whereupon to fill the remaining minutes and improvise letters and music and volia! leaves this complete disaster. For that reason by songs as this the album is considered a reject in the discography of Le Orme. Very Bad.

9. - Canyon Laurel. - Last melody of the album and the one that returns to save the disc, after listening by far, the worse song of Le Orme, (L'uomo del Pianino), do jam more serious when playing this instruments where all have a homogenous participation but and with a rhythmic rate, either could be confused with a song of Bad Company of the Straight Shooter era, or structured and with null Progressive influence, this the more is oriented to the North American rock that was playing in that then (which it is much of my affability), that to the Progressive one per. Good to droughts.

Well, because as above indicates, this it is a nonessential disc of the discography of this great group of the Italian Progressive rock and that are good 50% and 50% of regular to bad, so once read this, if you want to go further in and drawing your own conclusions, go ahead.

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Send comments to Alberto Mu˝oz (BETA) | Report this review (#169917)
Posted Monday, May 05, 2008 | Review Permalink
kenethlevine
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog-Folk Team
3 stars A second major departure for LE ORME in as many albums, "Smogmagica" sees the addition of a full time, if temporary, guitarist Tolo Marton, who not only provides the group with its first guitar oriented album, but also with vocals here and there to offset those of Mr Tagliapietra. For many, merely introducing guitar as a major instrument to the Le Orme sound constituted blasphemy of the highest order, but add in the clear influence of America and the Los Angeles recoding environs and you can pretty much write this one off in the eyes of the prog public both then and now.

Yet this is a vast improvement over the vapid "Contrappunti". It is true that some vestiges of the dead end compositions of that album remain, particularly in the dreary "Laserium Floyd", possibly engendered by the popular laser light shows that made planetariums the cool places for teenagers during the mid 70s. And the closer "Laurel Canyon" is an ersatz mid 70s blues-rock instrumental reminiscent of FLEETWOOD MAC in all the wrong ways. But "Los Angeles" breathes a firestorm of new life into a group seeking a credible new sound, a workable mix of Marton's licks and the old Le Orme sound circa Uomo. "Amico di Ieri" and "Immensa distesa" are both gorgeous wistful ballads also very much in the prior style.

A decidedly pop prog vein is mined in two quirky songs, "Ora o mai pi¨" and "Amanti Di CittÓ", which sound ahead of their time, reminding me of some of FRANCO BATTIATO's 80s work. Granted, this might not be the fodder for progarchives listeners, but they nonetheless exhibit a good deal more imagination than most of their English progenitors at this stage, not to mention rather catchy melodies.

For those who enjoy successful transitions to a more accessible style by prog bands, "Smogmagica" remains a breath of fresh air to this day.

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Send comments to kenethlevine (BETA) | Report this review (#251473)
Posted Wednesday, November 18, 2009 | Review Permalink
apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Neo Prog Team
2 stars Around mid-70's Le Orme have established themsleves as one of the best Italian prog bands with releases ranging from very good to excellent quality.In 1975 it was time for a new Le Orme LP,this time the band travels to Los Angles for the recordings,while in the line-up the one-shot guitarist Tolo Marton was added.Reasonably anyone was prepared for some change in the usual process...but it was'nt for good.

''Smogmagica'' is simply a very uneven album with an excellent track,a few good ones but lots of plain moments as well.The ''Los Angeles'' opener is absolutely amazing and among the best Le Orme compositions ever despite its average starting gears,especially the vocals and the keyboard-based middle section is amazing,close to early ELOY.A few soft prog tracks like ''Amico di ieri'',''Laserium Floyd'' or ''Immensa distesa'' hold some interesting moments with nice synth work and good vocals,but unfortunately the rest of the album is very boring,just straightforward rock with Marton given a basic role,but without any sufficient or memorable playing,while listening to Le Orme performing that kind of music is like a fish out of the water...it doesn't match at all.

The album is not a total waste of time,about just a bit less half of it is worth the band's legendary name but compared to their earlier works it loses the battle by a mile.If you ever run through this band's 70's era,''Smogmagica'' should rather stand as last in line.

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Send comments to apps79 (BETA) | Report this review (#480591)
Posted Tuesday, July 12, 2011 | Review Permalink
2 stars What a disappointment. After an amazing four-album run between 1971 and 1974, Le Orme adds a guitarist and travels to California for the recording of their next album. The result was Smogmagica, a radical departure for the band and a failure in terms of consistency and lasting appeal. There are a few flashes of brilliance here and there, but they are so fleeting I can't get to three stars. The album is also terribly front-loaded; the first two songs are the best on Smogmagica and everything else pales in comparison. I hate to say the best thing about Smogmagica is its length...the short album doesn't outstay it's welcome. All Le Orme fans will want to acquire this at some point but the typical prog fan and even most RPI collectors will find Smogmagica largely non-essential.

Some would argue that Orme had lost their way by 1974 on Contrappunti; I personally love that album, and don't see Smogmagica as a logical extension of it. If only judging a book by its cover, you immediately know something is different here just from looking at the splendid Paul Whitehead sleeve. Unfortunately the contents don't quite live up to these expectations, and within lies second-rate rock music. Don't be misled by the excellent "Los Angeles" - it's all downhill from here, though the canonical "Amico di Ieri" has become a Le Orme staple over the years and deservedly so. The only other highlight is the listenable "Immensa Distesa." I can't figure out what "Ora o Mai Pui" is supposed to be...it sounds like the Beach Boys playing theme music for a TV sitcom. The intentionally trippy "Laserium Floyd" is an obvious ode to its namesake; "Primi Passi" and "L'Uomo del Pianino" are poorly-executed commercial attempts; "Amanti di Citta'" and "Laurel Canyon" are decent but nothing extraordinary. 2.5 stars is generous for this lackluster Le Orme release.

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Posted Saturday, March 09, 2013 | Review Permalink

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