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Latte E Miele - Passio Secundum Mattheum CD (album) cover


Latte E Miele

Rock Progressivo Italiano

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5 stars So who ever called these guys an "ELP wanna be" should go play on the highway! LATTE E MIELE offer only subtle reminders of the great ELP, but certainly take us here down a journey into the unknown. This is one of the all time classic Italian prog releases. Here dream-like passages and inter-winded with the narrative of the story giving the listener a full concept feeling. LATTE E MIELE offer here some very dynamic mood swings and go from pastel pastures to heavy jazz-like passages. This album contains some of the greatest progressive rock moments ever recorded. This recording is multi-layered and has many operatic influences giving a full and intelligent feel to the recording throughout... it is one of my all time favs and is essential in anyone's collections.
Report this review (#4377)
Posted Sunday, March 14, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars First released in the early 1990s here in South Korea by Siwan record (visit , one of the world's largest progressive music web site) in the domestic market, this album has been a myth to many progressive music fans here along with another Italian maestro New Trolls's grand opus, "Concherto Grosso Pert 1". I especially love its first, third, fifth, eighth and tenth track, but you can fully appreciate its rich taste when you listen through from track one to track twelve. They are seaminglessly connected to be a great picture painted by some Renaissance maestros like Michelangelo and Reonardo da Vinci. Holy, celesial, groovy, this concept album gives us an deep impression of the Italian progressive rock (dubbed as 'art rock' in Korea) band.

You can find much influences carried from this album to many other artists in all genres of music. For example, in an image music video "The gold-colored time flows" of the anime work "Please Save My Earth", you can find its composer Yoko Kanno (who is one of the most creative artist in the world now) absorbed choir-style and soundscape from Passio Secundum Mattheum. Another accepter is Rhapsody, Italian progressive metal band. Their serial concept albums resembles (little or much) those of Latte e Miele. (Am I going too far?)

Report this review (#4378)
Posted Monday, April 5, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Everytime I play this album on my stereo I have to prepare myself for happy and emotive tears because they will apper only in a few seconds... It´s one of the best album in prog history and deserve a masterpiece title. Only four, five, maybe six others albuns will bring to a fan many great music moments... A history for the last moments of Jesus, played for three great artists with incredible quality and precision... Like a mass, like a symphony, like a concert, like a voice of God...
Report this review (#4379)
Posted Sunday, June 13, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is amazing music! What totally blows me away is the fact that LATTE E MIELE was just a trio. This magnificently reproduced 180-gram vinyl LP on Akarma Records keeps the original artwork presentation and sound intact on the Italian prog-rockers first effort ''Passio Secundum Mattheum''. In 1972, YES had released their masterwork ''Fragile'', so surely bands such as this were considered obscure in comparison. They fell into the cracks never reaching the audience they should have, as many other worthy bands did. I think it is time to take a harder look at the importance of groups like this that contributed to the development of the definition "progressive" in rock music, even though their status was not as elevated as legendary bands from the U.K. and U.S.

I was not discouraged at all listening to the vocals in Italian, so it had to be very good, which it most definitely was. The vocal workouts are simply gorgeous by the entire group so understanding what they were singing about really did not matter to me. Their music was sublime, with sounds ranging from neo-classical prog-rock, industrial-metal-rock (although non-existent at that time, it was an indication of how advanced they were) and full-blown prog-rock workouts with the vocal parts opera. I found their sound very engaging without fail throughout the run of this entire album. It was always in evolution sounding different on every track. I found the cover art quite thought provoking and colorful as well. It served as another component to their musical endeavors, and actually complimented the ambiance created on this recording. Possibly Picasso could have inspired them? Whatever it was that drove them to make such original music, it worked.

Rating: 4.5/5

Report this review (#4380)
Posted Wednesday, January 26, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is excellent addition to any prog music collection because is the masterpiece and repeat the masterpiece of J.S Bach in a very good rock interpretation. Good album to any fan of italyan rock (or J.S Bach fan).
Report this review (#36631)
Posted Thursday, June 16, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Latte e Miele were another one of those insanely precocious teenaged bands from Italy. Clearly the folks that signed them to Polydor had an amazing amount of faith in these young mens' abilities, as they lavished a lot of expensive production (notably pipe organ and a choir) on this, their debut album.

Of the three albums that came out in their lifetime, this is the most "serious" sounding. With a concept inspired by Bach and liturgical music in general, this is an appropriately somber affair, with churchy organs, Mellotron strings and choirs galore. Probably their most impressive release.

Report this review (#46465)
Posted Monday, September 12, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars The first work released in 1972 "Passo Secundum Mattheum". Work that makes Christ's suffering play motif. This work includes a modern, free interpretation following Bach's style. Music is grand and sentimental. It is an album of the first class. Especially, the performance that rises aiming at the ending of the album is a masterpiece. It is a single- mindedly hot great board. The charm of Italian rock in 1970's is full loading. I recommends it for the person who likes "Concerto Grosso" of NEW TROLLS. However, is it true to have performed the presence in the pope agency?
Report this review (#69117)
Posted Sunday, February 12, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars I wouldn't call this a masterpiece, but it is one of the best early Italian prog albums I've heard (and I've heard A LOT). I've seen mixed reviews of this (though not on this site, where the reviews here are mostly positive), but I think it can not be denied that this is a great album for 1972. When you also consider this was the bands debut, it is even more impressive. Quite ambitious for a first album I would say. This has everything I like in classic Italian prog: operatic, emotional vocals, great keyboards, mellotron, ambitious concept and arrangements, and a good deal of variety within each song. The album works as one nearly continuous piece of music. I tend to prefer their next album to this one, but this was certainly a great achievement for a first album. 4 solid stars.
Report this review (#73438)
Posted Wednesday, March 29, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars In 1971 guitarist and Latte e Miele's founder member Marcello Dellacasa took part, with other guest musicians, to the sessions of I Giganti's album "Terra in bocca". This experience seem to have influenced also Latte e Miele's debut album, "Passio Secundum Mattheum", a concept album where clear classical influences are blended with rock and beautiful melodies.

"Passio secundum Mattheum" is also the title of a work of classical music by J.S. Bach, but this album is not its "rock version". You can find many influences here, from the shy echoes of Ravel's Bolero melting in an electric guitar solo of the opener "Introduzione" to Bach ("Il calvario"), from operatic vocals and choirs ("Il giorno degli azzimi", "Ultima cena" and "Il processo") to reminiscences of latin rock "à la Carlos Santana" ("I testimoni"), from light melodic vocals ("Getzemani", "Il pianto") to hard rock and swing ("Giuda"). The music streams fluently with excellent moments (for instance the instrumental "Introduzione") and without boredom. The bonus track "Mese di maggio" is just a melodic pop song that contrast with the rest of the album and doesn't add anything.

The lyrics have been inspired by the Gospel according to St. Matthew and they are absolutely "politically correct". You can't find here the boldness and the poetical inventions of "Terra in bocca" (an album completely "built upon lyrics") or of Fabrizio De Andrè's album "La buona novella" (a work inspired by the apocryphal Gospels released more than 30 years before the "Da Vinci Code"). Here the lyrics seem to be only a feeble thread that try to bind together a good musical patchwork, but the result is not convincing. The recitative parts seem just to come out from an "Italian Catholic mass" and don't fit the music at all. So, in my opinion, they are the most relevant weak point of this work. Anyway the weak lyrics do not completely waste an album that could be an excellent addition to any Italian Progressive rock collection.

Report this review (#89856)
Posted Sunday, September 17, 2006 | Review Permalink
Andrea Cortese
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I always have been uncertain on what it should have been the right evaluation of this ambitious album. I think the starting consideration/remark has to be that this is a debut album. The italian trio Latte e Miele are not what you could easily define an ELP inspired band. It was 1972 and they thought, wrote and played one of the most memorable concept albums in the whole italian prog scene of the seventies. The power and fascination of their record is based, as the title in latin language easily tells, on Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ through the Gospel of Mattheus. I think the band was impressed by a famous movie shot in 1964 by famous italian writer and director Pierpaolo Pasolini. That film was just on the same subject and had the same title, in italian.

The main question that Latte e Miele seem to let un-answered is what the musical structure of an opus like that had to be. Symphonic? Jazz-rock? or what?

When I began to listen to the album for the first time, I presumed that the general mood of it would have been based on a strong both theatrical and symphonic vein. Vocal richness: recitative parts, church-choirs and charming singing by the band's members. All the ingredients for an impressive symphonic record: pianos, hammond pipe organ (!!!), harpsichord, mellotron, moog and celesta.

What an upset, though, from the sixth song on! The band wisely and rapidly change their style moving to a warm jazz-rock long interlude based on piano and powerful drums. Also a jazzy electric guitar appears and, wow, it's so well played! All this change was so unespected...what I could say? It's the demonstration of the high capabilities of these three guys (Marcello, Oliver and Alfio) who were able to play and build up a so varied opus!

Could the surprises end at this point? Of course, not!

The epicenter is touched at the nineth track titled "Giuda"... an explosive duo between distorted electric guitar and drums alternating with the previous jazzy vein and then... suddenly the symphonic majesty returns in all its splendour and pompousness. We are entering the longest (and most important for the concept) section titled "Calvario". Ah, the hammond pipe organ is here and does its wonderful job, creating a mystical atmosphere...marching drums and choirs open to the scene of Golgotha, there lies Jesus on his Cross... the Gift He gave us is now revealed: His Own Life!

The final track on the CD format was not really part of the original release but was a sigle issued in 1974. Very different from it, mainstream melodic pop of that era...

Ok, the sound's quality is not the best I've heard from an italian classic prog record. In some parts the album even seems to has grown older ... but ... this musical concept remains a must have in any good collection of Rock Progresivo Italiano (as in the recent months it's named in this site...).

Report this review (#94539)
Posted Saturday, October 14, 2006 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars This record features lyrics from the Gospel of Matthew that are sung in Italian. There is a lot of variety on this album and the mellotron is great ! Quite a bit of solina on this record as well.There is narration in Italian of course. I'm not a big fan of the opera-like female vocals that remind me of why i detest opera so much. Fortunately they are found on only two songs "Ultima Cena" and "Il Processo" both of which are under 2 minutes in length.

The first song "Introduzione" is a highlight with the mellotron and vocal melodies as well as the amazing drumming that really stands out through the whole album. This guy can play ! "Getzemani" opens with atmosphere as spoken words come in. It does pick up some as vocals join in. More fantastic drumming late. "I Testimon I (Part 1)" opens with acoustic guitar followed by spoken words then vocals. The mellotron flows in beautifully, then we get some good guitar with those great drum fills.The melody sounds beautiful as piano is added. Part 2 of this song is pretty much the same except for maybe the percussion.

"Guida" opens with a heavy soundscape that comes and goes. Mellotron is added to create atmosphere. "Il Re Dei Guidei" features some amazing guitar and drumming, a highlight indeed. "Il Calvario" opens in a similar way to the first song on the record, although this song has church organ all over it. The vocal melodies are great ! The final song "Messe De Maggio" was not on the original release but was added later, and was a released single from 2 years after this. And this you can tell.

There is so much to like here yet it is not without it's flaws. A definite 4 stars for this album which is apparently Greg Walker's favourite album.

Report this review (#106935)
Posted Tuesday, January 9, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars I wouldn't call this a masterpiece, but it is one of the best early Italian prog albums I've heard (and I've heard A LOT). I've seen mixed reviews of this (though not on this site, where the reviews here are mostly positive), but I think it can not be denied that this is a great album for 1972. When you also consider this was the bands debut, it is even more impressive. Quite ambitious for a first album I would say. This has everything I like in classic Italian prog: operatic, emotional vocals, great keyboards, mellotron, ambitious concept and arrangements, and a good deal of variety within each song. The album works as one nearly continuous piece of music. I tend to prefer their next album to this one, but this was certainly a great achievement for a first album. 4 solid stars.
Report this review (#123091)
Posted Tuesday, May 22, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Latte e Miele (Milk and Honey) was a 3 piece from Genova formed in 1971. Another typical Italian band story here with very young guys making a name for themselves in the big Italian festivals and opening for bands from other countries. They differ from the storyline by being a band that managed 3 proper albums in their prime instead of "one-shot" syndrome that many others were relegated to. Passio Secundum Mattheum is a true Italian classic, a heavily Bach inspired concept album based on the Passion of Christ. The album is a feast of sound experiences. You will get some soft and lovely passages that sound like Reale Accademia di Musica, but you will also get hard and heavier moments that recall De De Lind's harder sections. In fact, for the prog metalheads this album may be interesting because you have an example of the Therion "choirs vocals" with rock guitar sound a full generation before Therion. There were big ambitions here by this young band, a concept album on the Gospel with choirs, church organs, many different keys and guitars, and carefully planned arrangements. They tried to make a real splash here and I think they succeeded largely in that they created a memorable Italian classic that is still a joy to listen to. The vocals are in Italian, so those not favoring the religious element needn't worry about being exposed to Christian dogma. Many people compare the group to ELP. I would recommend them to fans of Semiramis, De De Lind, Campo di Marte, Jet, Reale, because while the arrangements are sophisticated and ambitious, Latte Miele still retains a bit of that "rough edge" to the other words it is less polished and shiny than PFM or QVL. But as debut albums go this is a fine one with more little victories than unfortunate naiveties.

"Introduzione" begins with choirs slowly building in volume until soon the band kicks in with some grandiose start and stop playing, accented by piano. Right away it is obvious we are in for dramatic themes, bold playing and painstaking arrangements which are the usual trademarks of classic Italian prog. "Il Giorno" features some spoken narration as do several tracks. There is acoustic guitar and soft singing, joined by operatic choruses. "Ultima Cena" sees the band again rocking as the choir kicks it up a notch and we get our first tasty electric lead. The rock instruments on this album sound amazingly warm and present, like you're right in the room with them. They sound marvelous, alive, and immediate unlike so much nowadays that is so heavily processed. Some will therefore call the sound "dated" but if so, I'll take dated! Sounds great to me. "Getzemani" begins with beautiful classical guitar and piano. They stop and the drummer begins a mid paced beat alone. Some airy keys and upbeat vocals join in this very positive sounding song. A dirty sounding electric solo precedes a workout on the tom-toms before the keys return and stop abruptly. "Il Processo" is more of the same heavy keyboard workout. "I Testimoni part 1" starts with classical guitar and stacked vocal harmonies, with the tron in the background. Out of nowhere comes some jazzy piano dancing on the tron with some fancy drum work behind. These drums are heavily miked and will give your speakers a good workout! Another feisty guitar solo invades the piano/drum section. "I Testimoni part 2" is similar with heavy drums, piano and guitar. "Il Pianto" is a relaxing change with acoustic, piano, flute and pleasant vocal. Like an open window on a spring day but too short. "Giuda" breaks the spell with what sounds like an early incarnation of thrash metal.unreal! "Il Re Dei Giudei" features another acidy reverb drenched electric solo. "Il Calvario" is the longest track at over 7 minutes and starts dramatic with operatic male vocals before a church organ kicks in for an extended workout. At 3 minutes an ominous slow heavy drum beat begins with equally heavy operatic vocals. The electric guitar begins to wail and in the last minute the acoustic replaces the drums for a nice ending. "Il Dono Della Vita" is a soothing closer with acoustics, flutes, and soft effects laden vocals for a dreamy feel. A brief reprise of the band and choirs before it ends.

I can't quite award a fifth star though because I do feel that they repeat themselves in a few different places. But this is without question an album that every Italian fan needs to hear and most should own. Try to find the Japanese mini-lp edition which will give you great sound as well as a gorgeous and particularly high quality replication of the original gatefold lp art, assuming that stuff matters to you. If not there is a jewel case edition although I have not heard the sound on that one, hopefully it is good as well.

Report this review (#148693)
Posted Saturday, November 3, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars This is a concept album about the life and death of "Jesus Christ". I am not at all into religion (but I respect it as long as I am respected in my atheism as well). Still, this work holds some marvelous ingredients of the beautiful Italian prog genre I praise so much.

As most of the concept albums, this one gains in being listened from start to finish. No outstanding tracks but a high quality standard all the way through. Very short pieces are too many IMO (five clocking at less than two minutes). They do not really leave the time to develop an idea.

Music is very attractive : ranging from pure symphonic prog ("Introduzionze", "Getzemani") to jazzy ("I Testimoni-Second Part") with even some opera-like parts ("Il Pïanto"). "Ultima Cena" has a definite "ELP" savour, would you exclude the guitar sound of course.

If you would master the beautiful Italian language, it would be a plus of course to understand the story. But since it is now well known for about two thousand years, I guess that you shouldn't be too much lost if you don't. "Ultima Cena" and "Il Calvario" speak for themselves (at least I can grab these titles). The latter being a very emotional song of course. A highlight full of passion (not willing to do a play on words here).

The theme of this album can be very inspiring of course. Such a story .Any Italian prog fan should listen to this work. Very few would regret it. Seven out of ten would be suitable, but I wouldn't go up to four stars to rate this good album. Three stars.

Report this review (#162564)
Posted Sunday, February 24, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars When I am asked what a typical symphonic album can sound like, I am always tempted to suggest this famous work from Italian trio Latte e Miele (Milk & Honey). This is as operatic as a prog album will get, using the biblical martyrdom of J. Christ according to the gospel of Matthew. Interesting that religion was still expressed reverently even by the avant-garde youthful artists of the early 1970s (the majority of whom in Italy where strongly in the Social/Communist political camp, technically at least atheist). What makes this lush recording such a whopper is that beyond the obvious ELP references with lead massed keyboards, bass and drums, there are also tectonic doses of choir work (both male and female), inspired use of various textural keys such as celeste and clavicemballo, countless stops and starts, huge slabs of mighty symphonics and a more aggressive use of electric guitars in leading a main theme or bursting out in a brief yet scorching solo. As the story of Easter and the Last Supper take on epic proportions with a strong Renaissance feel (pastoral harpsichord and fluid acoustic guitars), when the organ suddenly kicks in ferociously and the axe bleeds betrayal. On "Getzimani", a simple repetitive beat ushers in the soft rippling sounds of that harpsichord again, weaving in a lush orchestral theme, echoed lead vocals and some incredible drum fills, insistent organ and ragingly brash electric guitar, bringing the story to a further boil. "Il Processo" tosses in megalithic swaths of operatic vocals, underpinning further the "passion" and the despair. The 2 part "Testimonies" are the main sections of the work where classical, rock and jazz coalesce with impressive cohesion, a bit like an Italian version of Procol Harum , featuring groovy piano work from Oliviero Lacagnia, with Marcello DellaCasa showing off his fuzzy and bluesy guitar tone , all held together by the jungle polyrhythmic fills of master drummer Alfio Vitanza, who can easily challenge LeOrme's Miki Dei Rossi for sheer brute force. This is absolute genius music that must not be missed. The second part even offers a variation on the same improv theme, the conga drums still beating and the axe continuing to be aglow. "Il Pianto" is delicacy incarnate, a slick variation on the very beautiful Soviet National anthem (ironic, no?) with supremely effective piano work. "Giuda" is aggressive, loud, highlighted by almost dirty guitar blast smearing Judas' treachery. The next track features a tortured guitar solo that is near painful to listen to, incredibly deft and complex but searing with pain. "Il Calvario" infuses that grand daddy of all prog instruments, the breathtaking church organ, a mixture of power and subtlety that is hard to beat, giving an obvious holy, ritualesque feel to this the longest track, Wakeman was probably envious listening to this! The dramatics are tightened further with some inspired choir work, somber drum beat recalling JC's struggle up the Golgotha, cross digging into his flesh. A surreal guitar solo recalls the pain, the sweat, the torture, the blood and the final agony. Only a brief acoustic guitar lament can increase the drama and it is done with utter sadness and morose serenity. "Il Dono della Vita" is the brief gentle finale, sung with reverence and compassion, bringing this masterpiece to a grandiose close. While I dislike short albums in general (and early ISP has many of those, unfortunately), this is one heaven of classic prog album that needs to be in any serious collection. 5 crucified stars.
Report this review (#197288)
Posted Monday, January 5, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars LATTE E MIELE's Passio Secundum Mattheum is one of the great Italian progressive rock classics. Not much to add here since everyone has said it all. On their album _Papillon_, Latte E Miele were chaneling ELP big time. Not here on PASSIO SECUNDUM MATTHEUM, though. A young trio pulling out all the stops accompanied by a small orchestra in parts. This album stands tall beside PFM's Per Un Amico, Le Orme's Uomo De Pezza and the very first Celeste LP. Would appeal to fans of Genesis, ELP, Deep Purple, Gentle Giant, Camel and PFM. The guitarist is a cross between Ritchie Blackmore on electric and Steve Hackett n acoustic. Highly recommended and a great concept album. A masterpiece of Italian Progressive Rock. High marks go out to the LP cover art as well.
Report this review (#198250)
Posted Friday, January 9, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars This album is very uneven and feels somehow unfinished. Half of the music borders on the divine, while the other half is quite forgettable. Still, the good parts are awe-inspiring and outweigh the weaker moments.

'Introduzione' starts things off with a heavenly operatic choir projecting over a marching beat. Heavy drums come in later along with some nice guitar work.

Alfio Vitanza's drumming is one the best aspects of the band's sound. His style is a combination of Carl Palmer and Keith Moon, and i'd dare to say he is as talented as either of them. I think this album would have been better if it was built more around his playing.

'Ultima Cena' is an interesting song consisting of a somewhat bizarre mixture of operatic vocals and frenzied ELP-ish drum and organ work. It ends with an excellent guitar solo.

'Getzemani' starts as a mushy romantic ballad which doesn't do too much for me. The following sections are more interesting; filled with golden celestial synthesizers and heavy (but all too sporadic) rolling percussion, and sweet twin guitar solos. It all moves by in a very peaceful and tranquil way, almost in slow motion.

'Il Processo' brings in more operatic vocals and features an excellent Moog solo. This is one of the greatest moments on the album.

The first part of 'I Testimoni' is very Jazz Fusion influenced and another highlight of the album. Driven by fluid jazz piano and excellent bongo-heavy percussion underneath an excellent fusion-style lead from the guitarist.

'Giuda' leading into 'Il Re Dei Giudei' is the best part of the album in my opinion... but i do find it very annoying that the best moments on this album are also the shortest. That is my main problem with Passio Secundum Mattheum: the best songs are too short and not allowed to develop while the weaker moments are tedious and too drawn out.

This album is certainly worth hearing and one of the best albums from the very early days of Italian Symphonic Prog... it's just not absolutely essential unless you're a hardcore Rock Progressivo Italiano aficionado.

Report this review (#202017)
Posted Saturday, February 7, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars 3.5 stars actually...

Significant band from Italy's golden prog era,LATTE E MIELE were formed in Genova by former ''I Giganti'' guitarist Marcello Giancarlo Dellacasa,featuring also the 16 years old (!) drummer Alfio Vitanza and keyboardist Oliviero Lacagnina.In 1972 LATTE E MIELE debuted with ''Passio Secumdum Mattheum'',an album with heavy classical influences.The band was actually following the vein of LE ORME and E.L.P.,though this work contains a strong amount of electric guitars.The atmosphere is quite dreamy,characterized by intense piano parts,beautiful organ work and obscure vocals,sometimes following a gospel-like model,other ones they appear in a ''background version''.There are also plenty of jazzy instrumental parts,featuring great percussion work by Vitanza and nice guitars by Dellacasa,but the main ingredient here is the Bach-like passages,based on guitar melodiers,ethereal vocals and classical keyboards with a succesful result.For anyone interested in the classical side of prog rock this is a must have,as LATTE E MIELE prooved to be a talented and challenging trio from their first ever release.

Report this review (#217011)
Posted Thursday, May 21, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars Latte e Miele's debut, Passio Secundum Mattheum, is a dramatic, somewhat ostentatious, religiously-themed concept album. The music is stylistically diverse, with strong influences from many fronts, including classical, opera, hard (and harder) rock, jazz, and symphonic rock. Unfortunately, this diversity works to the album's disadvantage by planting too many seeds in too small a pot. Quite a few styles are presented in short bursts, but none are given the opportunity to develop (except in the singular case of the arguably uninspired "Testimoni"). At just beyond 34 minutes, with its sudden stops and frequent changes, Passio Secundum Mattheum is a disjointed crowd of potential ideas.

More to my personal tastes, though, I do enjoy the symphonic Getzemani, despite a desire to hear it continue beyond its abrupt ending. And I find the surprisingly jarring and thrashy Giuda to be the perfect counterpoint to what I despise most about this album, the operatic and choral singing. Granted, I am not a fan of either vocal style, nor is the religious theme up (or anywhere near) my alley.

Passio Secundum Mattheum is a very ambitious album, of that there is no question. The performances are, for the most part, powerful and passionate, and while there are some great (albeit brief) moments of brilliance, I just cannot get past the operatic stabs and underdevelopment of too many ideas. A curious but not terribly cohesive work; a recommended listen for the progressive Italian enthusiast but hardly essential.

Report this review (#290678)
Posted Saturday, July 17, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars This is a very interesting listen. It is difficult to instantly love this album even for a veteran prog fan. Musically this record is great but the factors that let it down come in the sound quality and mixing of the record. First of all the mixing - There is some very peculiar use of panning all through the album but the most distracting is that of the Kick drum being in the right channel all through the album making some moments almost unlistenable. The way the narrative part of the album is mixed also breaks the atmosphere at times, especially during Il Giornio Degli Azzimi when the acoustic guitar is building atmosphere the voice totally overwhelms it which destroys a great moment. A narrater on an album can be a make or break thing if used incorrectly. I do find it to be used at some inappropriate moments in the music sometimes but only very occasionally. The music itself contains very strong Classical and Jazz influences which remain prominent all through. The first half of the album is pure symphonic prog in the style of a real orchestra with operatic vocals and virtuoso playing and great use of the mellotron. The second half is avant/garde jazz for the most part with fantastic piano and guitar playing leading up to a finale of pure symphonic bliss with mellotron guitar and vocals bringing real emotion out.

This album could be a 5 star but the poor sound and youthful inexperience of the clearly talented band members leaves you thinking of the potential they have which could have brought so much more to this album.

Report this review (#368372)
Posted Thursday, December 30, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars The Soundtrack of the Passions

In the enticing sphere of Italian Progressive Rock, almost every single subject sees its chance to shine, but like in all realistic establishments, some manage to shine brighter than the others. Latte e Miele saw serendipity strike in prog year of glory - 1972, when they produced a Bach and New Testament inspired Passio Secundum Mattheum. This Genova based band's debut album's magnetism lies primarily in its concept which, as the title suggests, is pertaining to Christ's dramatic last days but only according to a singular source ' the gospel of Saint Matthew, often referred to as the Passions. The beauty behind this concept is that it tells a story in a simple yet heart rending manner, without it being homiletic.

Musically speaking the record explores symphonic dimensions reached not only by ELP, but also by Genesis in tracks like Ultima Cena (the intriguing supper coincidence) or Getzemani which oozes an abundance of influences in terms of keys treatment not only from the above mentioned giants, but also from Deep Purple, Yes and even Eloy for that twist of spaceyness. The jazz influence is another chief constituent of the whole, although at first they may seem slightly disconnected from the main theme. Present in both parts of I Testimoni (the witnesses) via piano and drums, it raises a fairly compelling question regarding its presence: why are there emotionless straight-forward jazz sections in a crucial moment of the plot, where the false witnesses accuse Jesus of having declared that he would destroy the temple and then rebuild it in three days? The answer is that the senselessness of the jazz bits overlaps the duplicate attitude of nonchalance and lack of emotion emitted by the witnesses.

As seen above, the soundscape manages to intertwine effortlessly with the visual thread, emerging into a burst of sentiments. Thus the emotions grow more and more till they reach an overwhelming apex: from the uplifting choir on Introduzione and the rather mellow acoustic guitar and harpsichord driven Il Giorno Degli Azzimi accompanied by the elegant narration of the Passover preparations, to the dynamic operatic choir from The Trial; from the witnesses false statements rendered in a counter-tenor vox, in a very similar vein to some of Annas' bits from Jesus Christ Superstar to the yet again mellow and sweet but at the same time excruciating Il Pianto which displays an absolutely beautiful blend of keys, acoustic guitar and flute; from the surprising Giuda where harsh guitars and drums alternate with a jazz section denoting insolence to Il Calvario featuring dramatic operatic choir, morbid church organ keys, and drums reminiscent of ancient ships where they would set the rowing rhythm of the slaves; all this only to paint one of history's most tragic paintings. But because the Providence had other plans, the end fulminates in a reiterated theme of the heavenly choir present at the very beginning of the record accompanied by the now regulars ' guitar, piano and drums.

All told, Latte e Miele's first effort is a gorgeous journey whether it is on a musical, visual, religious for some, educational for others, or merely a rudimentary emotional level, in which every music lover should engage at least once in a lifetime.

4.5 stars

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Posted Tuesday, February 15, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars It would be easy to write Latte E Miele as an ELP clone at this stage of their career based on their guitarist-keyboardist-percussionist lineup and their quoting from Bach (at points they even borrow the exact same bits from Bach that ELP do!), but there's a bit more to them than that. Drummer Alfio also whips out a mean flute from time to time, and guitarist Marcello is a bit more diverse than Greg Lake, branching out into the violin on occasion. Musically, the group also draw on inspiration from Genesis for their quieter, more acoustic and pastoral sections, and also include some properly operatic vocals here and there. The result is a synthesis which is entirely unlike anything ELP ever did, and makes their adaptation of Christ's Passion (as told in the Gospel of Matthew) one of the better early concept albums from the RPI scene - though not quite on the divine tier occupied by Banco, PFM and Le Orme's works from 1972.
Report this review (#500244)
Posted Monday, August 8, 2011 | Review Permalink

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