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Acqua Fragile - Mass Media Stars CD (album) cover

MASS MEDIA STARS

Acqua Fragile

Rock Progressivo Italiano


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emokid3000@ao
4 stars better than the first one but playing the same formula : lead vocals ŕ la Gabriel, vocal harmonies ŕ la Yes sang on a folk rock prog... good songs, regular production... this was Acqua Fragile last album and it's a shame since the progression from the first one had been pretty good... so, for fans of the 70's Yes/Genesis sound this could be of some interest the others may try it to see a good promising band that never made it to a third album wich could have been a masterpiece...

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#506)
Posted Monday, March 22, 2004 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
2 stars I have not heard their other albums , but Acqua Fragile is on the podium for the category of Earliest Examples of Clones in Prog Music. Not a single ounce of originality (if this is understandable in 2004 , it is not for 1973) , this album reeks of Genesis and Yes. This is so obvious in the singer's voice who most of the times sounds like Gabriel and Surkamp (Pavlov's Dog) and the the backing vocals that sounds like Squire backing up Jon Anderson. The music is almost entirely cloned out of Genesis. If you don't mind everything I have just denounced , than this should be a four star album for you. The fact that this sort of work does ask for some talent though , stops me from rating it lower.

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#509)
Posted Tuesday, December 07, 2004 | Review Permalink
soundsweird
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars I've owned both of their proper albums since they came out, although I certainly wouldn't put them alongside PFM or Banco. What you have here is a pretty cheesy album, with the exception of the first and last tracks. The first track is PRETTY good, although there's still plenty of cheese inhabiting it. The synth riff that finally gets the track going near the end is the saving grace. The last track, "Coffee Song", is what makes having the album worthwhile. The cynical (though awkward) lyrics and the instrumental "outro" make this a song I can appreciate time and again. Listen to the way the whole track is slowly "eaten" by severe phase-shifting! Vocalist Bernardo Lanzetti's finest moment, whether in this band or with PFM.

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Send comments to soundsweird (BETA) | Report this review (#510)
Posted Friday, December 24, 2004 | Review Permalink
Progbear
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars A definite improvement over their self-titled debut, and a decided turn into a more progressive direction. The PFM parallel still applies, though even more pronounced this time, with a greater role for Maurizio Mori's keys. On their previous outing, he was pretty much limited to organ and piano. This time, he adds synthesizers and Mellotron to proceedings, adding much symphonic depth.

The chief standout is the opening track, "Cosmic Mind Affair", full of bright harmonies, winsome melodies and memorable keyboard riffs. In fact, the whole album is packed with the sumptuous, CSN-derived vocal harmonies which were the saving grace of their first album. Bernardo Lanzetti still sounds unnervingly like Roger Chapman. If you're a Family fan (as I am), this won't be a problem. If not, at least console yourself with the knowledge that he does indeed sound better in harmony than solo.

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Send comments to Progbear (BETA) | Report this review (#43765)
Posted Monday, August 22, 2005 | Review Permalink
patrick.depai
4 stars Yes, Bernardo Lanzetti's voice seems annoying sometimes (perhaps most of times...). Yes, Acqua Fragile's songs have nothing original. But... They sound different to me some moments. "Cosmic mind affair" is fantastic! Both Acqua Fragile albuns are great: in the first one Lanzetti is less annoying, but the songs aren't so good like in the second album Mass Media Stars. This is their finest hour, and in my opinion Acqua Fragile is too much underrated. Forget Lanzetti's voice at first hearings, pay attention to the instrumental part. Then you'll note that the songs are good and so is his voice (well, it's a clone of Peter Gabriel), at least when he doesn't force it.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#45966)
Posted Wednesday, September 07, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars album non essential for the progressive mondial, but essential for the Italian Progressive, 3,5 is not possible for the note ... The music of ACQUA FRAGILE is is a middle of deception singer Cat Stevens, the Angel Peter Gabriel (Genesis) and also the rock sophisticed, Rock Symphonique Italian Prog, for a beautiful meldoy ands songs. Great !

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Send comments to Discographia (BETA) | Report this review (#133508)
Posted Friday, August 17, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Honestly, I this band who plays a really inspired by yes genesis prog rock are underrated. The music is rich and complex, all instrumentist are outstanding. The voice of Bernardo Lanzetti is one of the most original in progressive rock (He went with Pfm on Chocolate Kings and Jet Lag). Everything is wonderfull, poetic, strong and full of emotion here.

This can't be compared with clone bands has Starcastle or now the commercial insipids Flower Kings and Tangeant. This album can be regarded as a classic.

Each old prog fan would find here quality music! Yes and Genesis fans especially.

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Send comments to pwawrzyn (BETA) | Report this review (#179134)
Posted Thursday, August 07, 2008 | Review Permalink
Kazuhiro
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars "Mass-Media Stars" that makes to their second albums and became the last work is a work where the feeling of a composition of a light tune and a straight tune drifts. The atmosphere of feeling and Italy where the transparent feeling exists is splendidly expressed.

They are formed in 1971 and are Bernardo Lanzetti. Gino Campanini。The activity starts around Piero Canavera. After having supported the stage of PFM, both parties exchanged it. It took an active part of the support of live of Softs and GG, etc. of the home country etc.

The song of Lanzetti with the experience of growing up in the United States splendidly expresses English lyrics. The first album that had been announced in 1973 felt the influence of Genesis and Yes and played a straight sound with wonderful Harmony. Their performances have evolved further and the element and Harmony of POP have been digested in this album. I think that it is very high-quality music as a work in the home country though it did not screw up so much as sales.

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Send comments to Kazuhiro (BETA) | Report this review (#226771)
Posted Wednesday, July 15, 2009 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Although the band didn't released any work after this one, there is a tentative for a come back (some demo were recorded in 2004 and 2006) with a new line up around Franz Dondi.

This "Genesis" oriented band released two efforts in early / middle seventies. But their influences also include PFM for instance. This is mostly heard while the opening song "Cosmic Mind Affair". Vocal harmonies are well arranged and the use of keyboards adds a good feel to this quite good song actually ("Professor" also has the same patterns but with a more "Yes" flavour attached to it).

Most songs are of medium length (between five and seven or so) which is fine since it enables to propose decent developed tracks, with theme changes and vocal/instrumental interplay. "Bar Gazing" is a more pastoral song fully in line with the Trespass period. Sweet passages (mellotron) mixed with some rockier ones. You might know that I am quite found of this album ("Trespass"), I mean, and I'm generally not too harsh with bands emulating this period of my youth.

The title track is less catchy: more jazz-oriented, loose, weak melody and weird vocals. Not my cup of tea. The next song is also quite average: a mix of "Yes" and "Gabriel" vocals (!) on a jazzy background. The closing number is sowehow a kaleidoscope of the whole album: acoustic guitar to start, weird vocals but crafted instrumental.

In all, this is not a bad album (just above average). I upgrade it to three stars mainly for the "Cosmic Affair", "Bar Gazing", and "Professor".

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#243879)
Posted Saturday, October 10, 2009 | Review Permalink
progpositivity
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Musically speaking, this is a beautiful album featuring medium-length songs ranging from the pastoral to the powerful. At their best, Acqua Fragile achieves an exquisitely elusive magic that is usually only found on classic Genesis, Gentle Giant or PFM albums.

2 "words of warning" however.

Warning #1 - Vocals: If you have heard PFM's Jet Lag or Chocolate Kings, then there is little doubt you have already formed a strong opinion on the vocal styling of Bernardo Lanzetti. On the one hand, he has a certain classic-era Peter Gabriel timbre to his voice that is almost irresistible. On the other hand, the pitch warbles incessantly. Is he gargling or is he singing? In the end, I've decided that it is a distinctly unique sound, a 'trademark' type sound. You just don't hear it duplicated almost anywhere, so I take it as a plus. Not all feel the same way. Lanzetti is a very polarizing vocalist. Some simply cannot stand abide it, so be forewarned.

Warning #2 ? Lyrics: These lyrics were obviously written in another language and then translated (or should I say transliterated?) into English. The end-result is cringe-worthy. i can only hope that these lyrics were nowhere near as awkward and insipidly shallow in the original language. That said, I've discovered that these lyrics provide a great source of amusement for family and friends. Certainly this comedic accomplishment should count for something!

And so, if you can tolerate a most unusual warbling vocal style, and you don't demand much in the lyrics department, you will be richly rewarded with some very high quality 1970's Italian and Symphonic prog on this disc. This band often gets compared favorably to bands as diverse as Genesis, Gentle Giant and Yes, and not without reason. This is good stuff. Check it out!

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Send comments to progpositivity (BETA) | Report this review (#280447)
Posted Monday, May 03, 2010 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars This is such a catchy and melodic album that is played at a very high level and includes vocals in English from Bernardo Lanzetti. I don't even detect an accent which might be because at 14 years of age he spent a year living in Texas, then a few years later he would go back for another 6 months. He knows the English language well. I'm surprised he doesn't have a Southern drawl though (haha). He does kind of warble when he sings which I find amusing. It reminds me of the vocalist on the SPLIT ENZ debut. Mellotron on 4 of the 6 tracks doesn't hurt.

"Cosmic Mind Affair" sounds good when it kicks in before 1 1/2 minutes. The keyboards sound amazing 2 minutes in and check out the vocals that follow. Guitar after 2 1/2 minutes. A calm before 5 minutes then it kicks back in one more time. I must admit I tired of this song very quickly. "Bar Gazing" has acoustic guitar and vocals reminding me of GENESIS. It kicks in after 2 minutes. Some nice intricate electric guitar around 3 minutes. Harmonies follow. I like it !

"Mass-Media Stars" has so much going on here early on. Vocals 1 1/2 minutes in and i'm really reminded of YES on this one including the guitar. "Opening Act" opens with vocals only then the music and vocal melodies follow. Harmonies and vocals are next and themes are repeated on this one. "Professor" opens with the guitar and drums standing out. Vocals a minute in and it's uptempo.Tempo changes will continue to be contrasted. "Coffee Song" ends it in a great way after two so-so tunes. Intricate guitar to start then the vocals take over as the guitar is strummed. Mellotron joins in. The bass and drums become prominant. Beautiful stuff. Love how he warbles here.

I'm glad I took a chance on this one but I do prefer the debut. 3.5 stars.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#584818)
Posted Thursday, December 08, 2011 | Review Permalink
historian9
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Jazz Rock/Fusion Team
4 stars I might just repeat myself from the review of ACQUA FRAGILE's first album; they are to GENESIS (with bits of YES and GENTLE GIANT but mainly PETER GABRIEL era GENESIS) what THINK FLOYD is to PINK FLOYD basically. That said, this is still a very good melodic album and as long there isn't actual plagiarizing of notes and riffs going on I couldn't care less if a band is regarded as a clone of a more famous one. Definitely worth checking out at least to make judgement for yourselves; recommended to fans of British symphonic rock scene, it's weird this kind of band came from Italy.

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Send comments to historian9 (BETA) | Report this review (#630089)
Posted Saturday, February 11, 2012 | Review Permalink
apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Neo Prog Team
3 stars ''Acqua Fragile'' was actually heading for an export release, something that eventually never happened, and the album went rather unnoticed within the Italian borders.For the second album Acqua Fragile insisted on writing English lyrics, but this time the new album ''Mass media stars'' was released on the Ricordi label and succeeded a US release as well by Import Records.

By the time of the release of ''Mass media stars'', PREMIATA FORNERIA MARCONI had already started writing albums in English for a possible abroad success and Acqua Fragile followed exactly the same receipt both lyrically and musically.With a talented and highly expressive singer in the line-up, Acqua Fragile sounded like a poor man's P.F.M., having little personality, but musically the band played a rich and passionate Symphonic/Art Rock with intense interplays and plenty of dramatic moments.Organs and mellotrons along with the alternating acoustic and electric guitars remain the band's driving forces, offering nice symphonic arrangements with some great ideas popping out and a pretty solid songwriting, combining vocal- and instrumental moments with comfort.The resemblance to P.F.M's and GENESIS' style sounds often a bit annoying, as the album is dominated by the multi-vocal harmonies, the numerous piano paces and the folky acoustic textures, sometimes with a slight Mediterrenean feel, but again the virtuosic instrumental battles and the first-class harmonies are not an easy thing to achieve, thus Acqua Fragile overcome the lack of originality with passionate and very tight musicianship all the way.

At the fall of 1974 Mori left the band and was replaced by The Trip's keyboardist Joe Vescovi.The live album ''Live in Emilia - Spring 75'', issued in CD format in 1994, gives a good idea of the sound with the new line-up.The same year though Bernardo Lanzetti quit to join Premiata Forneria Marconi, he was replaced for a short time by future-I Dik Dik Roby Facini, but Acqua Fragile disbanded for good shortly after.

Another nice album along the lines of P.F.M.'s English versions of Classic Italian Prog.Top notch Symphonic Rock, where the word ''originality'' is totally absent, still strongly recommended...3.5 stars.

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Send comments to apps79 (BETA) | Report this review (#944118)
Posted Monday, April 15, 2013 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars 'Mass Media Stars' - Acqua Fragile (6/10)

Italy's Acqua Fragile delivered a fairly unassuming facsimile of the British symphonic prog sound over the course of two albums. Although their vocalist Bernardo Lanzetti's future participation on Premiata Forneria Marconi's English-language albums might make for a greater claim to fame than the music itself, Acqua Fragile demonstrated some excellent musicianship and an ability to capture some of the same pastoral magic as the giants they hoped to emulate. The band's second album "Mass Media Stars" does nothing to avert or disprove the common criticism of Acqua Fragile as a 'Genesis clone', but lively musicianship and fairly memorable songwriting makes the record worth checking out for proggers outside the RPI inner circle.

Although the same could be said for many lesser-known prog acts, Acqua Fragile's sound seems split between the likes of Yes and Genesis. It's a comparison that should spark groans from many who have heard the same comparisons made for every 'typical' prog rock act, but there are few I've heard that follow the footsteps so accurately. "Cosmic Mind Affair" truly sounds like Yes and Genesis met up to collaborate sometime around the recording of "The Yes Album". The guitars are filled with a bright electric twang you might hear delivered by Yes guitarist Steve Howe. On the flipside, the acoustic guitars here are evidently influenced by Genesis' Steve Hackett. Although such an explicit lack of originality would normally be a death sentence, Acqua Fragile's replication of the 'British sound' is surprisingly convincing. The musicianship is lively and organic, and though the songwriting isn't quite up to the par of the bands they try to emulate, there's clearly been some sincerity and thought put into these pieces. "Cosmic Mind Affair" and the rich title track stand out as highlights.

Bernardo Lanzetti's vocal contribution to Acqua Fragile is no doubt a reason why many listeners found the band in the first place. Later singing on some of PFM's late-70's albums including "Chocolate Kings" and "Jet Lag", Lanzetti is best known for his similarity to Peter Gabriel. While some might enjoy the comfort and familiarity Lanzetti's resemblance to Gabriel provides, I never found his performance to be particularly effective with PFM, and the same applies to his work with Acqua Fragile. Although Peter Gabriel is one of my favourite classic prog vocalists, Lanzetti's voice has a strain and warble to it that wears on the ears. Although the band's instrumental performance is remarkably solid throughout, there are many times here where it feels like Lanzetti's voice feels like more of a distraction than a compliment to the rest of the performance. The lilting acoustic piece "Bar Gazing" is especially guilty of this; although there is some very warm acoustic playing that recalls the work of Steve Hackett, the vocals come across as a little annoying, helped no bit by poor lyrics that sound like they were roughly translated from Italian- the 'dictionary fails' indeed!

Like Acqua Fragile's self-titled debut, "Mass Media Stars" shows tact and potential, but it lacks any sort of unique personality or identity. First impressions are certainly brighter than the album's lasting impact, as some of the album's weaker aspects- Lanzetti's vocals especially- tend to wear down the enjoyment before too long. They may be little more than a Genesis clone, but they do manage to recreate the style faithfully.

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Send comments to Conor Fynes (BETA) | Report this review (#1069607)
Posted Thursday, October 31, 2013 | Review Permalink

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