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Biglietto Per L'Inferno - Tra L'assurdo E La Ragione CD (album) cover

TRA L'ASSURDO E LA RAGIONE

Biglietto Per L'Inferno

Rock Progressivo Italiano


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Nightfly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars Being one of my favourite, possibly even favourite band in the RPI genre, it was with considerable excitement that I heard the news late last year that Italian legends Biglietto Per L'inferno were reforming; not only reforming but releasing a new album as well. Truth be told, this is not entirely new in terms of the compositions as there is only one track that didn't appear on their other albums. The rest are reworked and re-recorded versions of songs that appeared on their eponymous 1974 debut and it's follow up, recorded not long after, but not seeing the light of day until 1992, Il Tempo Della Semina.

The suffix Folk has been added to the end of the bands name as although a folk element could be heard in the earlier incarnation the new Biglietto is a much expanded band with a more diverse range of acoustic instruments being used than before. As well as the obligatory flute which was always a key element of the bands sound we also have Accordion, Bagpipes, Ocarina, Mandolin, Violin, acoustic guitar, stand up bass, fife and recorder. Don't get the idea that this is an acoustic album through and through though as there's still plenty of heavy electric guitar work, another key element and the keyboards though now playing a less important role and now down to one player as opposed to two originally. Giuseppe Cossa is here, one of the original keyboard players, the other was Giuseppe "Baffo" Banfi who is present in a production capacity. Also present from the original band is drummer Mauro Gnecchi and vocalist/flautist Claudio Canali, who retired to a monastery, makes a small guest appearance.

The most noticeable difference to fans of the band will undoubtedly be Canali's replacement, female vocalist Mariolina Sala. She's certainly got a good dramatic voice and it puts an interesting slant things but may be a bit of an aquired taste for some people. Personally I'm very happy with her performance here. The rest of the new members all fill their rolls with admirable aplomb with guitarist Franco Giaffreda playing with a more modern metal style when in his heavier moments than the heavy and raw style of Marco Mainetti.

Moving onto the compositions; as mentioned earlier the album consists in the main of reworked versions of their two seventies studio albums. While some don't stray too far from the original arrangements, the most obvious being Confessionne which retains it's hard rocking status, others sound considerably different. The diverse range of folk musicians/instruments brought in not surprisingly has had considerable impact. Il Nevare now starts with a jazz inflected double bass and vocal led start before accordion leads in the rest of the band and turns it into much more of a folk tune. It has also increased by a couple of minutes in length to make room for more instrumental interplay with a suitably powerful yet tasteful electric guitar solo. The same however can't be said for the epic L'amico Suicida. When I say epic I refer to the original version which has now been reduced from the symphonic behemoth that it was into less than three minutes. Now it's a short accordion and bagpipes dominated instrumental and a shadow of its former self.

Where they don't stray too far from the original arrangement, the most obvious difference between these versions and the originals, apart from the change to female vocals of course is the songs now have a more refined feel, played with more finesse and do sound great but I do have a preference for the rawness and fire of the originals which was an important part of their charm. The large use of acoustic instrumentation has also reduced the important role the keyboards played originally too. Fans of the highly regarded Il Tempo Della Semina (the song, not the album), depending on your point of view, may be relieved to know it hasn't been tampered with too much. Perhaps though, that misses the point as if you're going to revamp material that was pretty much spot on the first time around then it's worth going all out to do something different. Fortunately I think they've got it just about right here; there's enough difference to make it worthwhile without cries of sacrilege coming from the Biglietto faithful.

Before closing I must mention the new composition, title track Tra L'assurdo E La Ragione which has a folk/jig feel. Suitably upbeat it's played with gusto and quite enjoyable, though not an album highlight.

The return of Biglietto per L'inferno, or should I say Biglietto Per L'inferno.folk is most welcome and despite the lack of new material they've turned out an excellent album. I hope we can expect more from this great band in the future with an album of totally new material. Welcome back!

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Send comments to Nightfly (BETA) | Report this review (#260719)
Posted Wednesday, January 13, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars A collection of old songs which is in essence brand new songs.

Nightfly has already done a thorough review of this album and I refer to his review for more info. My review is more my own opinion of this radical album.

Don't be fooled about this "a collection of old songs" tag on this album. This album is essential a brand new album. The old songs has been stripped bare and an acoustic folk rock sound has replaced the old songs. It is what Bruce Springsteen did with his classic song Born To Run when he stripped the song bare and did it acoustic. The result was a brand new song which still retained the majestic greatness of the old Born To Run.

That's too is exactly the case with Tra L'assurdo E La Ragione too. Great songs like Una Strana Regina and Confessione from their first two albums has been stripped bare and acoustic instruments and some excellent female vocals has been added. Which proves that great songs never dies. In particular Una Strana Regina is excellent in it's new version. It was also an excellent song in it's electric version from 1974.

Throughout this album, Biglietto Per L'Inferno's identity is never in doubt. You can hear their DNA throughout their very radical adaptations of their old material. I am not the biggest fan of this band. But their sound is not possible to mistake for another band. Electric or acoustic. With or without a .folk appendix at the end of their name; Biglietto Per L'Inferno makes a lot of noise with their album. Accordion, female vocals, flute, bagpipes and violin has replaced the electric guitars. But this is still the same noisy band.

I was not the greatest ever fan of their first two albums, I have to admit. I am not the biggest fan of Tra L'assurdo E La Ragione either. But I really admire Biglietto Per L'Inferno's guts and willingness to take their great old songs, rip them to pieces and then put them together again with acoustic instruments. Biglietto Per L'Inferno has rightfully earned both my attention and admiration for Tra L'assurdo E La Ragione.

All those who liked their first two albums is really in for a big treat with this album. Don't regard it as a cheap re-recording of their old stuff. Tra L'assurdo E La Ragione is indeed a brand new album which will make your jaw drop to the floor. Just like my experience when I was listening to it for the first time.

I am not able to decide which version of this band I like best. Biglietto Per L'Inferno from the 1970s or Biglietto Per L'Inferno.folk. I have decided to enjoy their music and that's all.

Three or four stars ? Three and a half stars for the music and one star for their bravery. I also suspect this is an album I will listen to a lot during the next forty years of my life. Goodness me, this is a radical album !

4 stars

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Send comments to toroddfuglesteg (BETA) | Report this review (#264265)
Posted Thursday, February 04, 2010 | Review Permalink
andrea
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Biglietto per l'Inferno started their activity in 1972 and, until their split up at the end of 1975, they were a terrific band on stage. Their shows were full of energy and musical talent but they had the chance to record only one album, the excellent eponymous one. A second work was recorded, "Il tempo della semina", but, because of the bankrupt of their label Trident Records, it wasn't released until 1992, thanks to Mellow Records. In 2007 on the initiative of original members Giuseppe "Pilly" Cossa (piano, accordion) and Mauro Gnecchi (drums, percussion) a new project called Biglietto per l'Inferno.folk was formed for some live performances featuring the old repertoire of the band and in 2009 was released a new album on the independent label BTF featuring new arrangements of the historic pieces, "Tra l'assurdo e la ragione" (Between absurd and reason). The present line up features also Enrico Fagnoni (bass), Ranieri "Ragno" Fumagalli (flutes, ocarinas, hornpipes), Carlo Redi (mandolin, violin) Renata Tomasella (flutes, ocarinas) and Franco Giaffreda (electric and acoustic guitar). Original vocalist Claudio Canali retired from mundane life and today he's a monk of the Order of Saint Benedict, so lead vocals are now provided by a female singer, Mariolina Sala. Anyway the old singer gave his blessing to the new project and "Fra'" Claudio appears as a special guest on two tracks of the album. Another original member of the band, Giuseppe "Baffo" Banfi, features as producer and helped the band in studio.

The new project is absolutely good. The new arrangements feature folk influences but respect the spirit of the old compositions. Mazurkas and tarantellas, jigs and reels are in some way blended with hard rock and the result is a well crafted and balanced mix of fresh sounds and vintage suggestions. As in the past, the concerts are still the strength of the band and their performances attract many people, so old and young enthusiastic fans are pushing the band to go on and on since the new project is not a boring unplugged version of the old band but a lively act still able to stir emotions. The title track of the new album, an old piece that was never recorded before, is a funny kind of nursery rhyme full of energy and joyful madness that in some way depict the good vibration of the new line up, especially on stage... "Between absurd and reason there's just a soap-bubble / Your shadow and desire are going to clash..."

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Send comments to andrea (BETA) | Report this review (#300786)
Posted Tuesday, September 28, 2010 | Review Permalink

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