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Il Ruscello - Paesaggio Solare (Estate 1972) CD (album) cover


Il Ruscello

Rock Progressivo Italiano

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Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A possible contender for best Italian prog album 2009

Il Ruscello is one of the most exciting RPI debuts in some time as it comes from a band aiming squarely to produce an album of equal beauty to the greatest Italian albums. That's right, this is not the usual bit of retro flavor being used by guys wanting to capture the modern prog/prog-metal fans. These guys sound to me like they are literally trying to recreate the Summer of 1972 for you---as in, let's go back in time and give the music fan the chance to hear a classic RPI album hot off the press. The band, originally from Milan and now relocated to London, consists of brothers Silvio and Giampaolo Cavallo and longtime friend Luca Harb. After gigging in another band around Milan for some years the band formed, inspired by the resurgent RPI of recent years and by incredible gems from Silvio's 1970s Italian prog collection (something we understand on the RPI team!) The band began writing songs and one of the first tracks caught the ear of Matthias Scheller of AMS/Vinyl Magic, who liked what he heard enough to get the project going. September 2009 saw the release of this project in the gorgeous gatefold mini-lp sleeve design that AMS is now famous for.

"The return of true Italian Progressive Rock"

Those are the words that adorn the promotional banner of Il Ruscello's debut, proving the trio have no problem with their self-confidence. But can they deliver the goods? Can this album, lovingly conceived to pay homage to the great Italian albums of the early 1970s, be added to those albums as an equal? Time will tell---this is an early review to help get some buzz going for the band, but it will take time to know the full impact of Il Ruscello. What I can say is that the ingredients are all there. They possess the talent and the love of the classic composition to have a real shot at it. The tendency of many recent Italian retro bands has been to embrace the very heavy edge, throw in some metal riffing, or some angular Crimson/Deus Ex Machina edge on top of a classic Italian symphonic influence. Il Ruscello is not looking for that. They are trying to capture the sunshine of the pure, overblown Italian symphonic gem without reservation. They seem much more inspired by the likes of Banco and Orme than anything extremely weird, and again, no metallic riffs or lightning-flash solos ala VIII Strada or even some Pandora sections. Another comparison I can offer is Alphataurus: the overall feel of Il Ruscello reminded me instantly of the very good Alphataurus album

I agree with the BTF promo on one thing....when you first play "paesaggio solare" you do feel as if you are hearing a lost RPI album from 1972, albeit one with much better sound. Vintage sounding keys and guitars (acoustic and electric) are skillfully arranged with warm Italian vocals and a good, though not showboating rhythm section. BTF claims Silvio sounds like Gianni Leone but I think he sounds much more like Aldo Tagliapietra of Orme. The album has 6 tracks and is bookended by the two long pieces at 10 and 12 minutes in length. Here we feel the potential of Il Ruscello, with "Il Cielo in un Ruscello's" closing moments oozing dreamy, laid back Orme warmth, lovely keyboard atmospheres, and gentle vocals. It all sounds like a late summer day. The other epic tracks like the two-part "La Grande Citta" and "Orizzonti" features much more boisterous, full-throttle playing blended with lovely eccentricities: occasional pop keyboard runs, keys that mimic the harpsichord sound, delightful pastoral acoustic interludes, and tasteful electric guitar leads. Play by play descriptions are relatively useless because we all know the manic nature of great RPI with everything changing by the second. "La Quiete" is a short acoustic interlude with sweet piano. And there is the title track: beautifully constructed vocals and guitar parts with great keys and my favorite, matching opening and closing piano with that nostalgic, slightly melancholic feel. Mmmm.

The rating is only a preliminary one which could be adjusted after spending some months with Il Ruscello, but my very initial impression is that this is an excellent debut across the board. Fans of the warmer classic period RPI and fans of the "big 3" are going to eat up Il Ruscello. Will certainly challenge Delirium and a few others for the mantle of best Italian recording of 2009 and might make my end of year Collab poll list. Again, more time needed for those considerations, this is an early review.

Report this review (#242204)
Posted Wednesday, September 30, 2009 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars What a cool story about these three Italians (who were living in living in London, England at the time) re-discovering the classic RPI music of the seventies. Inspiration was born. Thanks to Jim (Finnforest) for his review which inspired me to purchase this amazing album. This trio consists of a drummer / singer, lead guitarist / keyboardist and bass player, although they all are multi-instrumentalists.

"Il Cielo In Un Ruscello" is the almost 10 minute opener. Psychedelic-like guitar and spaced out vocals to open before the song kicks in. Vocals follow and the guitar sounds so good as the synth-like sounds wash in the background. A spacey calm 2 1/2 minutes in is blown away quickly by synths and bass. The guitar takes the synths place in this uptempo section. It settles around 5 minutes as reserved vocals join in. A change before 7 minutes as it turns spacey. It kicks back in before 8 1/2 minutes. "La Grande Citta" is divided into two parts. First up is "La Notte Di Una Citta" which opens with keyboards. Drums and a full sound before a minute. Vocals join in. Lots of energy here. "Il Risveglio Di Una Citta" is an amazing track. How good does this sound ! Keyboards, cymbals and bass to open before the guitar arrives. It settles 3 minutes in. Beautiful. The keyboards are like at the beginning of the song. Vocals after 3 1/2 minutes. My God ! This is so good.Guitar 5 minutes in.

"La Quiete" is a short pastoral tune with what sounds like flute and piano. Thought I heard a bird singing too. "Paesaggio Solare (Estate 1972)" opens with piano. Dual vocals a minute in singing different parts. The music builds. Guitar after 2 minutes as the tempo picks up. Themes are repeated at this point. Great sound 4 minutes in. It ends with piano just as it began. "Orizzonti" is the almost 12 minute closer. It kicks in quickly to an uptempo melody. It settles with synths after 1 1/2 minutes. Piano comes in as well as spacey synths. It then changes to a gorgeous soundscape. Vocals 2 1/2 minutes in followed by guitar. It turns spacey 4 minutes in with whispered psychedelic vocals then kicks back in before 5 minutes. Incredible ! Love the bass. It's spacey after 6 1/2 minutes with acoustic guitar. Vocals join in. It kicks back in with guitar before 8 minutes. Nice. Spacey synths end it.

I think it's great that they've kept this at around 40 minutes just like the old classics. The pictures in the liner notes are really meaningful as well. I'm so impressed with this album. Don't think twice, just get this Italian beauty.

Report this review (#254394)
Posted Saturday, December 5, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars Il Ruscello are an Italian prog band based in London and formed by three musicians from Milan, Silvio Cavallo (vocals, acoustic guitar, drums), his brother Giampaolo Cavallo (bass) and Luca Herb (guitars, synthesizers, piano). After some experiences in previous pop rock bands they decided to focus on a project inspired by the halcyon days of Italian progressive rock. Trying to blend the influences of bands like PFM and Le Orme they managed record something new but with the same sound and spirit of the early seventies. Their debut album, "Paesaggio solare (estate 1972)" was conceived as if it was directly coming from past, featuring vintage atmospheres and sounds. The album was recorded in London between January 2008 and March 2009 and was released by the Italian independent label BTF in September 2009 with a beautiful artwork and a booklet that reminds of the early days of the RPI scene. Well, in my opinion the result is not completely convincing...

On the long opener "Il cielo in un ruscello" (The sky in a stream) the blending of the different "sources of inspiration" is a little bit clumsy, especially when they skip from a passage in "PFM style" to what to my ears sounds like an appalling parody of Le Orme's "Frutto acerbo" from "Contrappunti". Lyrics are naives, to say the least. A gaze towards to horizon permits to discover a strange landscape featuring walking flowers, boars biting the grass and whispering butterflies while concrete buildings reflect themselves in a quiet stream... Bah!

"La grande cittą" (The big city) is a little bit better. It's a suite in two parts - "La notte di una cittą" (The night of a city) and "Il risveglio di una cittą" (The awakening of a city) - that tries to describe in music and words the nightlife of a metropolis, from dusk till dawn. Vocals and lyrics are not the strength of this band but at least here you can find some really well crafted instrumental passages.

"La quiete" is a beautiful short and dreamy instrumental track featuring piano and acoustic guitar that leads to the title track, "Paesaggio solare (estate 1972)" (Solar landscape ? summer 1972). Well, in my opinion more than the summer of 1972 what seems to have inspired this track is 1974, the release year of Le Orme's album "Contrappunti". In fact here you can find some melodic lines that seem to be picked out from "Maggio", while some keyboards patterns remind me of "La fabbricante d'angeli". Lyrics describe a pastoral landscape featuring two shining fireflies, a screaming heart of carnation flower and other amenities...

The long and complex final track "Orizzonti" (Horizons) is by far my favourite one on this work. Almost twelve minutes of good vintage prog rock featuring well balanced changes of rhythm and atmosphere. Lyrics here just suggest images and words are more like touches of colour than linguistic tools used trying to tell something...

On the whole this album is not completely bad and its purchase it's not a waste of money but it's very far from essential in a prog collection. I think that Il Ruscello are a band with a good potential but in my opinion their qualities are still unexpressed.

Report this review (#254699)
Posted Monday, December 7, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars At some point during 2009, I noticed several Italian prog rock groups releasing new albums, be it new or older bands. One of them was Il Ruscello (the stream). Curious, after seeing some glowing reviews of their album, Paesaggio solare (estate 1972), I decided to get hold of it.

The band consists of three musicians from Milan who now reside in London: the two brothers Silvio Cavallo (vocals, acoustic guitar, drums), Giampaolo Cavallo (bass) and Luca Herb (guitars, synthesizers, piano). This album was said to be in the vein of early 70s Rock Progressivo Italiano albums such as Le Orme and Premiata Forneria Marconi. Indeed they do have this vintage sound and approach (as well as art work and design) that characterizes albums from these older days, this album manages to sound fresh (and appealing), but with some flaws. The whole album is less than 40 minutes, and has 6 tracks on it.

The bass is pretty dominant in this release, a powerful driving force and rhythmic source. The second most noticeable characteristic is the keyboards. They give the color and flashiness to the music, giving it character, appeal and beauty. They define the mood and then counteract it. The third element that is crucial here are the vocals. And here I have a problem. For the most part they are fine, but when going to higher registers or at time when a softly spoken or sung section is done, I hear them going slightly out of tune and becoming too nasally, which is a shame, as this would have amplified the effect the music has, had a better vocalist been used in these sections. The title track is the weakest song in terms of vocals, as it clearly sounds as if he can't reach that high a note. But don't let it scare you away, as I can for the most part get over it and enjoy listening to the songs even at those moments where I find fault in the singing.

The music, however, is another matter. The first track can give an example of the range of dynamics at play here. With its various sections, it travels from a soft and unsure start to a decisive and structured rock part, with a very "exposed" bass line (it's at the front of the mix); the song is further developed with a keyboards and guitar solo and the ever present bass, which has a propelling rhythm. The song goes from high points with thrilling peaks to calmer grounds; it recapitulates previous sections and ties it all together and then goes on a new journey, further developing the main theme. The title song and the last song Orizzonti both deliver the same level of song-writing and musicianship found in the opening track and are as enjoyable.

My favourite track is La grande Citta, which is divided into two songs: La Notte di una Citta and Il Risveglio di una Citta. These two together form a stellar musical experience, with high emotional peaks and superb instrumental segments (here's an example where the vocals can diminish the experience). The second part, starts with an earworm keyboards line, backed up by percussion and then the bass joining it, followed by the guitar. The build up is well done as more layering, ornamentation and development is done to the original basic melody. The music becomes more powerful, more aggressive, fuller and richer until the peak. Which in turn gives way to a side-development of that tune. This is classic progressive rock that isn't too complicated or pretentious, but rather relies and relishes in the fun form of rock and simply adds some little sophistication to it, but the raw energy and power are there to enjoy. Too bad they end the song in a clear-cut manner; I'd have preferred a subtler ending that would better fit the spirit of the song.

Despite the flaws I've mentioned, I find this a compelling album; the music is too good to not listen to, despite the issues I mentioned above. They take simple melodies and make them more interesting and special and build up on them to create an appealing piece with their craftsmanship. Worth getting!

Report this review (#265236)
Posted Wednesday, February 10, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Amazing. This is not a clone of a 1972 RPI album; it IS a 1972 RPI album! I'm talking about the cultural context, not just merely the technical facts. The sound, the words, OK; but also the feelings it arises, the visions it evokes. Only, you can argue, self-conscious, as it's been done 40 years later. Yesterday I heard it for the first time on a night flight watching out the window in the dark, and it's been an amazing listening experience. Imagine something between Le Orme, Quella Vecchia Locanda, Saint Just, Blocco Mentale, with some early PFM sensibility, and you get it. But the some is something different, and more distinctive, than the parts. I'm not going to be discussing it track-by-track. For me it's a 4,5 stars guide. The fiftth star, about which I tend to be parsimonious, will certainly come under these premises. Prog on!
Report this review (#277684)
Posted Monday, April 12, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars A nice retro- RPI album.

This band got together in the distinctive un-italian metropol London (yes, that's in England) to write and record this album. Hence, the story behind this album is untraditional to say at least. But the end product is a very Italian product.

I don't think I need to list the influences found on this album. Le Orme, Banco, PFM & Biglietto... they are all here. The music is a mix of lyrical, pastoral RPI and bombastic hard rocking RPI. The music is driven by both vintage organs and by guitars. Add bass, drums and some very vintage sounding vocals too and you get my drift. This is Rock Progressivo Italiano as we knows it.

The songs are very good and probably require more time than I have. That means more than ten listening sessions. I have therefore made a note in my diary to pick this album up again in six months time for a re-evaluation. But as it stands now; their sound and approach to this music is far better than the quality of the songs. What is missing here is some really killer tracks. The album ticks over nicely, but nothing more. So three stars would have to suffice now.

3.5 stars

Report this review (#435153)
Posted Monday, April 18, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Il Ruscello is a RPI band of the first order. I am a huge RPI fan and this is the best of the recent albums in this genre. The songs are dynamic and engaging. There is not a single weak track on this release. These are very skilled musicians playing superbly composed music. It has a real '70's era sound to it but with modern production. As a matter of fact, imho this rates very high in the RPI of ANY era.

There have been quite a few decent RPI releases in the last few years, but for my money this it the most emotionally compelling and involving of them all. If you like the RPI genre of prog rock or the symphonic genre as well, do yourself a favor and check this out, I think you'll be really glad you did. 4.75 stars!

Report this review (#514263)
Posted Sunday, September 4, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars A group formed at the fall of 2007 by a trio of Italians in London.Silvio Cavallo (voice, guitar, drums) has been a long-time Italian Prog collector, while his brother Giampaolo (bass) and Luca Harb (guitar, keyboards) have been playing together since 1999 in a band called Unyou, more in a Radiohead vein.In 2005 they moved to London and formed Zen State along with Jon Anderson's son Damion.Zen State didn't last long and the next logical step was Il Ruscello.Inspired by the classic Italian bands of the 70's, they entered the Room 16 Studios in London, following also Silvio's arrival in the town, and eventually ''Paesaggio solare (estate 1972)'' was recorded and released in 2009 on BTF.

The main inspirations of Il Ruscello seem to be IL BALLETO DI BRONZO and LE ORME with ALPHATAURUS nods to a lesser extent, in a work that can be both complex and romantic at the same time.Mainly keyboard-driven sound with old-fashioned guitars in a retro aesthetic, full of nostalgic vibes and interesting instrumental and vocal deliveries.The lyrics are pretty poetic with Gianni Leone vibes in the more theatrical performances and an Aldo Tagliapietra color in the more sensitive ones.Instrumentally the delivery is top notch, based on vintage keyboard moves, with Moog synthesizers all over the place and lovely organ, piano, Mellotron and harsichord notes, creating adventurous and deeply symphonic musicianship with dual and triple attacks.There are plenty of breaks that lead to acoustic forms (just when ALPHATAURUS come to mind) and the guitar parts are also great and recorded with a very vintauge aura.At moments Il Ruscello remind me of LA TORRE DELL'ALCHIMISTA, especially on this balanced waves of romantic vocal lines with complicated keyboard fanfares.And, of course, there are some beautiful and grandiose orchestral preludes and interludes added, strengthening even more the classic-styled Italian type of Progressive Rock.

The trio didn't move on with a second album and hopefully someday this will come true, because they play some great and intense Symphonic Rock in this album.Strongly recommended to all Italian Prog and Sympho-Rock maniacs...3.5 stars.

Report this review (#1047330)
Posted Sunday, September 29, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars Another very promising, but unfortunately one-shot-band from Italy.

The story of this Italian trio started in the late Nineties when Luca Harb (guitars, synthesizers and piano) and Giampaolo Cavallo (electric bass and orchestrations) founded the formation Unyou. Between 1999 to 2004 this band gigged extensively in and around Milan and released two demos and an E.P. that were highly praised and critically acclaimed by the national musical press. They later moved to London, initially founding the band Zen State (active from 2005 to 2006). Giampaolo his brother Silvio played guitar and drums in several local bands. He developed a deep interest and passion for Italian Progressive Rock and collected a considerable number of albums released in the golden years between 1970 and 1977. In January 2008 these three musicians gathered in Room 16 Studios, in London, listening to the all-time classics from Silvio's collection and getting the right inspiration to write and record Il Cielo In Un Ruscello, this turned out to be Il Ruscello's very first song, it aroused the interest of Matthias Scheller, head of the AMS-Vinyl Magic record label and 'progressive rock connoisseur extraordinaire'. In the autumn of that year Silvio moved to London and the band rapidly wrote and recorded tracks that became Il Ruscello's first album, entitled Paesaggio Ssolare (Estate 1972. The album was released in September 2009 by the Italian progrock label AMS-Vinyl Magic Records.

Il Ruscello their debut album sounds very melodic and harmonic, the interplay between the guitars, keyboards (very varied and subtle colouring) and rhythm-section is wonderful. And it creates many pleasant atmospheres:

swinging and mid-tempo rhythms with powerful electric guitar runs and fluent synthesizer flights

dreamy with tender Grand piano, twanging acoustic guitar and the distinctive sound of the string-ensemble (like in Il Cielo In Un Ruscello and Il Risveglio Di Una Citta)

soaring Hammond waves, topped by fine Italian vocals (between Le Orme and Il Balletto Di Bronzo but not that level).

Bands that come to my mind are often Le Orme but also PFM, Il Balletto Di Bronzo and I Dik Dik. Remarkably is the difference between the first five tracks and the final composition Orizzonti that sounds way more adventurous and elaborate than the rest. First a swinging rhythm with catchy interplay between a rocky guitar, fat Emersonian synthesizer runs and a propulsive rhythm-section. Then fiery guitar work and inspired Italian vocals, followed by twanging acoustic guitar and delicate string-ensemble layers. Halfway a part with a fluent rhythm and strong solos on guitar and synthesizer. And in the end an avant-garde-like organ solo, pretty experimental in comparison with most of the material on this captivating tribute to the Classic Italian Prog.

Report this review (#1919705)
Posted Saturday, May 5, 2018 | Review Permalink

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