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Angelo Branduardi - Cercando l'oro CD (album) cover


Angelo Branduardi

Rock Progressivo Italiano

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Prog-Folk Team
4 stars While we can argue the merits and pitfalls of free trade from a political perspective, few would dispute that, musically speaking, open borders are the way to go. I admit to a certain bias, as foreign crooners make me swoon. But I'm late to the table, and, until recently, I had not heard of ANGELO BRANDUARDI. It took a couple of mentions here on PA (thanks Raff) and a sample tune sent by a friend (thanks Paco) to awaken my interest, so I set about to acquire a first Branduardi album, which led me to "Cercando l'oro".

It didn't hurt that my perennial favourite ALAN STIVELL guests on a couple of tracks, the better being "La giostra", where the verdant fields of Brittany and Wales are evoked even before the pipes burst in. In general, this is a soft classical folk album with more than a few soft rock colours and a progressive foundation. Within that seemingly narrow range, Branduardi fans out in all directions like a modest peacock, from the infectious opener "Il Lobro" to the quasi Caribbean title cut to pastoral "Natale" to the Irish Italian marriage of "Profumo D'Arancio". My personal choice is "La Volpe", thanks partly to its sultry rhythms and brass. This is thinking person's music that gently imposes itself. Don't expect an initial outburst of "wow", just a quiet "mmm".

Whether "Cernando L'Oro" is the most representative of Branduardi's work, or the best place to start, I have no idea, but I think it will satisfy those of you with a penchant for mellow Italian soundscapes in search of a heart of gold.

Report this review (#222567)
Posted Monday, June 22, 2009 | Review Permalink
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
4 stars As I have written in my review of "81" I have missed Branduardi in the 80s, but the label has reprinted the whole collection in a nice price series so at least in Italy you can find all his 70s and 80s production at 5euro each.

"Il Libro" (The Book) has a strong medieval flavor as many of Angelo's songs. The chorus says "Turn the page and tell me what you see". It's a sort of madrigal. The book is a book of fairytales and the one who turns the page is a child.

"La Giostra" (The Carousel) is a soft dreamy song just whispered over a classical guitar base.

"L'Acrobata" (The Acrobat) has a south-american arrangement. Also the melodic line seems coming from Chile or Peru. Chilean folk had a strong influence on Italian music staring from the 70s when musicians escaped from Pinochet's putsch, the Inti-Illimani were exiled to Italy.

"Piano Piano" (Slowly) sounds a bit recycled. It features the Alan Stivell's celtic harp but the main melody is very similar to "La Lepre Nella Luna".

"Natale" (Xmas) has a Russian classical influence. Pizzicato violin and contrabass for a tune reminding of Prokovief.

The title track "Cercando L'oro" (Searching for Gold) has a calypso rhythm given by acoustic guitar and tambourine with a pan pipe adding a touch of Andes. Nice and solar.

"L'Isola" (The Island) is a typical Branduardi's minstrel ballad. Very melodic, so melodic that's quite trivial in some parts. Not my favorite song in this album but not bad at all.

"Profumo D'Arancio" (Smell of Orange) restores the medieval dreamy ambient that's what Angelo does better. If you like this song you'll likely like all his early production.

"La Volpe" (The Fox) is one of the Angelo's fables about animals. Very medieval, specially in the lyrics, including the darkness. The fox is symbolic of a nightly predator like the medieval personification of Death. Surely the best album's track.

"Ora Che Il Giorno E' Finito" (Now that the day is gone) starts as a piece of classic contemporary music. It's a pity that Angelo doesn't indulge enough with this kind of music as he has all the skill to sound like Ligety or Stockhausen". It's a very interesting song from the musical perspective. When it developes it turns into melodic but with a hypnotic rhythm. I would define it "magnetic".

I have really missed something good in the 80s.

Report this review (#509164)
Posted Friday, August 26, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars "Cercando L'oro" was, like "Cogli la prima mela", an attempt at a big and manifold production, but this time Branduardi and his team finally succeeded - though all in all becoming a slicker affair than the other "classic albums", not a hastened or over-produced moment was to be found. Thanks to Maurizio Fabrizo being back ( and, from the predecessors, Franco di Sabatino - keyboards as well as Andi Surdi - drums being still in the team, for one last time, while Gigi Cappellotto was the first who had disappeared ) it reconciled some fans who thought of "Branduardi 81" as being too bland and immature. Here the familiar band drew on plentiful forces once more - and it's a sheer pleasure to hear them and all their wonderful guests ( including Alan Stivell ).

The quality of the material was, once more, first rate from start to finish, comprising all the facets that Branduardi was known for, and so this album ( not the best but one of the best still ) may be the perfect one to introduce you to the artist. Medieval dances, folky tunes, melodic fairy-tales and ballads crossing the border to pop ( with the title track ) making a very entertaining mix, and slight experiments with rhythmic counterpoints gave the whole thing something extra - this album sounded as old-fashioned ( "La Giostra", "Profumo d'Arancio", "Natale" ) as it sounded up to date ( "L'Acrobata", "La Volpe" ) even in classical/baroque moments ( "Il Libro" ). And it sounded familiar - in a positive way ( "Piano, Piano" surely quoted the melody of "La Lepre nella Luna", and... dare I say it... "Cercando L'Oro" has a flavour of Germany's first winning song in the "Eurovision Song Contest" formely "Grand Prix"... "Ein bisschen Frieden"/"A little peace" by Nicole. This may embarrass severe haters of "German Schlager" but here it's somehow part of an irresistibly joyous and uplifting tune - you'll find yourself chanting along to it sooner than you think ).

The piano-intro to "L'Isola" is hauntingly beautiful while the dreamy song itself belongs to the "lesser" ones - not because it's bad, it's simply overshadowed by many of the others, with "La Volpe" delivering the sensitive and clever climax to them all. Great rhythm-work throughout meeting enchanting melody meeting magical oboe. The arrangement and performance is extraordinary, a breathtakingly beautiful 4'21'' - journey through the wonderful world of Branduardi's music. And it's growing with every listen, to be followed only by a beautiful slow-waltz to close a wonderful album in a perfectly fitting way. My personal faves, beside "La Volpe", are "La Giostra", "Natale" and "Il Libro" - but the whole Album shows Branduardi at his best.

This album's got "everything". But, in many ways, the result is feeling like pop-music with a higher approach - so, once more, not really progressive music. It was the basis of a final "big" tour before Branduardi started looking for a more direct and intimate approach in order to develop further. I don't think - like others have said - that he was "tired of being himself". I believe he simply wanted to escape the formula in order to stay creative, so that's what he did. With Soundtracks and, after delivering one more "classic" with the sparsely arranged and greatly acclaimed "Canta Yeats"-album ( that featured mainly himself and Fabrizio with lots of great classical guitar-work while there's not so much of it to be found of this on "Cercando L'Oro"... but with "La Giostra" you get at least one track showing the two of them in perfect unison for most of the song ), Albums that bewildered many of the fans and record-buyers. I think he was not wrong to do so. He developed further and therefore chose a rather uncomfortable way... with albums less cohesive but of no less artistic merit. Later he got used to tell to his audience that, on his long journey, he has been "everywhere", he's been "to heaven" and, several times, "to hell". In search of the ( immaterial ) "gold" ? I do believe so. That's the genuine way of a genuine artist striving for the merit of his work.

You may stop buying here already, but I would not do so. No matter how good or bad especially "Pane e Rose" and "Il Ladro" ( me I don't like "Si puo Fare" very much, in spite of its title-track and Jorma Kaukonen ) may sound to you - it's an interesting journey worth to be part of. He somehow broke the string of highly successful albums after this one, left behind the forumla in order to explore new ground and come closer to the soul of the music itself and therefore to himself. Then commercial pressures forced him to return to poppier productions - while he found himself another playground and vehicle for different things with the "Futuro Antico" project. I have noticed that it was not until "L'infanamente Piccolo" that his "regular albums" seemed to be of any interest to the prog-lover. And he's living on that project and its success ever since. We all get older, so does he... things aren't so easy in music-bizz.

This album marked the end of the "good" old days. Highly recommended still.

Report this review (#634870)
Posted Thursday, February 16, 2012 | Review Permalink

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