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Claudio Rocchi - Volo Magico N. 1 CD (album) cover


Claudio Rocchi

Rock Progressivo Italiano

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Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Rocchi takes flight as RPI's "psych/folk minstrel"

Claudio Rocchi is another of the artistically fruitful Italian solo artists whose career spanned multiple genres over the decades, making him difficult to categorize like his contemporaries Alan Sorrenti, Lucio Battisti, and Franco Battiato. Rocchi started as part of the legendary band Stormy Six and participated in their debut before quickly moving to solo work. After his very mellow and beautiful acoustic debut album "Viaggio" Rocchi quickly began a period of musical experimentation covering a range of moods and sounds in a relatively short period. He is a part of the Italian progressive rock scene of the 1970s but not in the mold of the symphonic giants.

"Volo Magico #1" is one of his most popular titles and it came early in the RPI movement. The album consisted of only four tracks, one being an 18-minute suite. I can only guess to Rocchi's influences but there is a component of west-coast hippie rock, improvisational toned-down jamming like Traffic's quieter moments, and of course Italian music flavor. The hard-to-box Rocchi mixes prog-folk with psych and stoner rock elements not unlike what the Dead might have done in the US, but we also get the lovely Italian touch to the music from the piano and vocal choices.

The title suite (Magic Flight #1) truly seeks to be a flight, a mystical journey, as Rocchi was getting very into the spiritual/love/Eastern themes of the day. It begins with acoustic guitar and tablas/hand percussions which establish a very laid-back vibe. The piece has then been described as "one long crescendo." Soon it is joined by piano and trippy sounding guitars, but most importantly these very strange and celestial vocals which bathe much of the track in a mystical light. At one point in the middle and again at the end the "rock band" sound will creep in with big drums and this is where the combination of piano, drums, and the lead guitar sounded a bit like a smoky Traffic groove. "Volo Magico" will bore some by being too "out there" and long-winded, but if you love long jams aimed at taking you to higher places in an acid-folkie package you could be thrilled by this album.

"An acknowledged classic, it emerged as not dissimilar to Roy Harper's landmark song cycle of progressive/psych folk, "Stormcock." -Die Schachtel

The other long piece on this short album is the 11-minute "Guisto Amore" which I understand came largely from improvisation. Here the folk yields more to psych-rock and even blues-rock feel. Sounding something like an extra from the bonus disc of George Harrison's "All Things Must Pass" sessions it is really only the persistent piano that interests me, especially the way it sort of reverses itself later in the track and comes back over the top with a counter part. Otherwise this track overstays its usefulness and drags down the album's overall quality. The two remaining short tracks are wonderful Italian gems in the traditional sense, heartfelt vocals with beautiful, sentimental piano and a bit of strings/flute. They are brief but wonderful, intimate moments, which help make the album more personable to me.

The album is hard to rate for me. The best moments are excellent indeed, but "Giusto Amore" is one-third of the album and pretty forgettable fare. I guess for now I'm on the north side of three stars but less than four overall. Still, if you are a fan of trippy/spacey prog-folk of the laid-back variety, you won't want to miss the side-long suite.

Report this review (#369619)
Posted Saturday, January 1, 2011 | Review Permalink
Andrea Cortese
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The second record of Claudio Rocchi is made of only four tracks where the title track fills the whole A-side. This is the first of many similarities with another famous album by an italian singer-songwriter of the early seventies: ALAN SORRENTI's Aria (1972).

Probably Volo Magico n. 1 is the musical pattern upon which Aria was built. Not only. The folk-side of Aria is also an analogy with Volo Magico. On the other hand, the results of the two artists are very different: Rocchi at the time was (still) not interested in (vocal) experimentation or avant-garde music. He was only an italian-psychedelic troubadour who tried to spread the audience with eastern and tibetan philosphy. Probably time was too late for doing such things. They even that this interest of him was the reason of the end of his collaboration with STORMY SIX, a band whose members were mainly lined up for politics ready to enter the seventies.

So, what makes this record interesting for an RPI lover is the 18 minutes title track which is a somptuous acoustic crescendo evolving in wonderful psychedelic tour de force, majestic electric guitar solos, piano, mellotron and mighty rythm section, all dressed in tibetan spiritualism.

On the B-side the one that really stands out is "La Realtà Non Esiste": a short and vibrant acoustic gem with very deep and mystical lyrics. The other two numbers are generally regarded as of lower interest even if not in quality. I'd say the last two tracks don't add anything to the wonderful previous numbers.

Report this review (#564328)
Posted Tuesday, November 8, 2011 | Review Permalink
Retired Admin
4 stars East meets West.

Going back to the mid 60s bands like The Beatles and The Stones were already exploring the strange and wondrous sonic thematics of the far east. The altogether different tonalities of the instruments - let alone the feel of the music, had these western teenagers mystified and deeply enthralled. There was a good deal of soul searching going on, mental boundaries broken down with the help of drugs and meditative processes, but slightly boiled down, the fact of the matter was, that many people who ventured out beyond the confines of western societies and that way of thinking - musicians and travellers combined, - were searching for something different than what their old world was teaching them. A way of inter webbing all these new ideas emerging from the new pop culture - into something old and wise. Buddhism and guru teachings and everything that was suddenly becoming popular in the western world, had been practised in the east for centuries. Most people were going straight to the horses mouth so to speak, - and Claudio Rocchi was indeed one of these searching individuals. While he may have ended up in the ranks of Hare Krishna - leaving his musical carreer behind towards the end of the 70s, we as the listeners were truly pampered by another trade of his that he brought back from the lands of Buddha, and that was his love of the music.

Straddling a high flying bird - Rocchi´s music is a mixture of folk rock with an eastern tinge. The feel of the acoustic guitars is somewhere between Ganges and Venice, and these are a real treat on Volo Magico N. 1. They sound crisp and earthy, and with these small eastern phrasings incorporated into the mix, the album gets a certain idiosyncratic layer to it. You can certainly pick up that Italian vibe from the guitars as well, but what really shines through is the perfect interplay happening here between east and west. When these rather droning raga aspiring sections have played themselves out, you´ll often get ethereal multi layered choirs - sung in a way that really makes you feel a part of the over atmosphere. They´re delicate and beautifully eerie, like some strange vocalizations coming out of the mist.

Most of all, Volo Magico N. 1 is a terrific psychedelic album. Yes it´s packed full of classically ebullient piano playing, massive loads of mellotrons and gorgeously sung Italian vocals, which by all means should be pointing towards an early symphonic RPI album, but Rocchi is ever more focused on the trip and the alluring bewilderment of the psych pastures - leading you on a musical journey through Asiatic forests with towering golden Buddhas looking down on you.

Another thing sprucing this album up, and setting it apart from many psychedelic albums of the time, is the diversity of the instruments. We have small snippets of harmonica taking you back to those old western movies. The pianos of this record is highly reminiscent of what you´l find in bands like Le Orme and Il Volo, and that classic serene touch of these notes spread out on the different tracks here works much like a refreshingly icy shower after a serious bender. All these differentiating ingredients alter the all too conventional road of what just might´ve been a run of the mill psychedelic album, and takes it to another level.

Rocchi´s voice is an original one to boot, and while he may sport the same sort of fragility of several other artists inside the Italian domain, he has an altogether different sounding crackling in his vocals. He sounds coarse - almost raspy at some point during Volo Magico, and I guess it has something to do with his deep immersion into the lyrical aspects, but again the deeper meanings of the Italian language is sadly lost on me - except for when he passionately sings: Amore!! Luna!! and I´ll tell you straight away, he does so with a fantastic intonation and feel, that you´ll feel transported back in time instantly, back when such things meant the world, and people could talk for days on end about amore and luna without turning fire-engine red in their faces.

My favourite parts of this album along with the charismatic singing, are the sudden outbursts of electric guitars ornamenting these long accumulating eastern psychedelic pieces - helping the music - transforming the track and setting it free with a pair of brand new wings. Another thing is the sound of the percussion on the title track. Man this bongo drum, or whatever it is, is just amazing! Sounds like an inverted wooden bathtub with a natural embedded echo effect - just to add that reverberating feel to the rhythm section. Sweet!

So come on you guys - come ride with me on this Italian elephant travelling all the way beyond the red eastern sunrise - to a place where pasta once originated, and Zen is something you aspire for - not something you can buy at the local Yoga centre for a quick buck.

Report this review (#604638)
Posted Saturday, January 7, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars In 1970 Claudio Rocchi started his particular journey through experimental music. He started in the legendary band Stormy Six. The album features only 4 songs and a total time of 36 minutes of beautiful, elaborated italian progressive rock with a different flavor, there are 2 long songs and 2 shorter ones.

The instrumentation are in the minimalist vein. Rather than being bludgeoned with scores instruments or excessive and pointless complexity. We have an album that is truly progressive.

The first trek is very long and has distinct parts with different tempos and feel. Volo Magico N. 1 very good, with by percussion, competent piano playing, and beautiful vocals.

So, a 4 star rating from my side.

Report this review (#2110038)
Posted Friday, December 21, 2018 | Review Permalink

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