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Stormy Six


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Stormy Six L'Apprendista album cover
4.03 | 71 ratings | 5 reviews | 28% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1977

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Buon Lavoro! (5:12)
2. L'Apprendista (5:39)
3. Carmine (5:53)
4. Il Barbiere (7:39)
5. Cuore (5:51)
6. Il Labirinto (8:25)
7. Rosso (3:02)
8. L'Orchestra dei Fischietti (6:29)

Total Time: 48:10

Line-up / Musicians

- Franco Fabbri / vocals, acoustic & electric guitars, vibraphone, xylophone
- Umberto Fiori / vocals, acoustic guitar
- Carlo de Martini / violin, viola, mandolin, acoustic guitar, vocals
- Tommaso Leddi / mandolin, violin, acoustic & electric guitars, piano
- Luca Piscicelli / bass, vocals
- Salvatore Garau / drums

- Gianfranco Gagliardi / keyboards
- Renato Rivolta / saxophone
- Leo Dosso / bassoon
- Pino Martini / bass (3,4)
- Bruno Fraimini / percussion (5)
- Cristina Pederiva / viola (7)
- Andrea Vicario / cello

Releases information

ArtWork: Franco Capra (photo)

LP l'Orchestra - OLP 10012 (1977, Italy)

CD Fonit Cetra - CDM 2125 (1997, Italy)
CD Vinyl Magic - VM 107 (2005, Italy)

Thanks to avestin for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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STORMY SIX L'Apprendista ratings distribution

(71 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(28%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(34%)
Good, but non-essential (30%)
Collectors/fans only (7%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

STORMY SIX L'Apprendista reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by laplace
5 stars Stormy Six were the italian wing of the original RIO movement with a tendency to noticeably change style between records. Before one even scratches the surface of this album there is an obvious sense of pastoral folk about it, yet this belies the true depth of composition and thought put into each of these songs.

There is no obvious "lead" musician here and the songs lend themselves towards ensemble play, like a certain more popular english band this reviewer won't mention or make comparisons to - this music makes good account of itself and as this is a five-star review, Stormy Six are the only band allowed on the stage. ;)

L'Apprendista is recorded in such a way as to make it sound entirely acoustic - the bass guitar sounds more like a plucked double-bass and electric guitar is used sparingly throughout. The vocals are clear and not overpowering and the balance of the music is impressive with much the same clarity of a live record, although perhaps that is only because the music is so energetic - one can imagine oneself witnessing this in person. (if one were prone to flights of fancy, in a rustic kind of situation - although Stormy Six's music would make for very psychedelic barn dances.)

Each of these compositions is slightly longer than your average pop song but none feel extended - solos last appropriate lengths of time and repetition is not too evident; besides, there are so many configurations of instruments within this band that verses can be varied creatively and endlessly.

There are awkward moments to be found on "L'Apprendista" - there are prolonged moments of calmness (not to be confused with periods of inactivity) and progressions rarely follow the path of least resistance. All this demands a little suspense of musical rationality from the listener (the band aren't listed under avant-garde for no reason) but these efforts are rewarded each time. In summation, listen to this album before you die, for it is exquisite.

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars STORMY SIX were one of the first Rio-Pro bands. I'm not sure why they aren't mentioned more, especially after enjoying this remastered cd all this week. They originally started out very much as a Pop(Beat) band in the mid sixties, even opening for the ROLLING STONES on their first ever tour of Italy. When it came to recording their first record though, they had changed to a folk band singing political songs. So their first 5 albums are very much in the Folk genre. Most feel that this album "L'Apprendista" is their most progressive record, with the next one "Machinna Maccheronica" being the most Rio-ish and Avant Gard. So yes, this is a good place to start with this band. In the liner notes it says the band was listening to a lot of KING CRIMSON, HENRY COW and especially GENTLE GIANT during this period. They were in particular playing "Interview" a lot, and the GENTLE GIANT flavour comes out at different times during this recording. I have to say the sound quality is perfect, crystal clear.

"Buon Lavero!" opens with these cool, intricate sounds before vocals arrive a minute in. The tempo picks up a notch and it sounds great. It goes back to the original melody and the contrast continues. Some nice violin 3 minutes in, and check out the drumming a minute and a half after that. The drumming and violin play are definite highlights throughout this album. "L'Apprendista" is led by the violin and vocals and it sounds amazing. Actually, as the violin plays the cello also plays a different part. Nice. The vocals stop 2 1/2 minutes in and the drums come to the fore. You have to hear this ! Vocals return 5 minutes in. "Carmine" opens with vocals,acoustic guitar and violin before some xylophone arrives. Marching style drums follow with some good bass lines. Sax after 3 minutes, as the intricate and beautiful sounds continue. "Il Barbiere" opens with a collage of sounds that come and go quickly, like GENTLE GIANT does it. Vocals arrive a minute in with more of a melody as well. Violin, drums and vibraphone lead the way as the vocals have stopped. They return 6 minutes in and check out the drumming towards the end of this the longest track on here.

"Cuore" is a restrained song with violin and cello interplay, although a much fuller sound comes in after 2 1/2 minutes. "Il Labirinto" is my favourite song on here. This one sounds a little different than the others as there is more bass and bottom end,even the vocals are deeper. It's slower paced with some terrific organ followed by some tasty sax 3 minutes in. I like the way these themes are repeated later in the song. The sax goes from being very smooth to almost dissonant at one point. More fantastic drumming. Fabulous tune. "Rosso" is my least favourite song and fortunately the shortest at 3 minutes.The vocals are so serious and the violin is mournful. "L'Orchesra Dei Fischietti" takes a while to get going as different sounds come and go. It sounds like there is a party going on in the background. It finally gets going 2 minutes in. This is catchy with some sax solos followed later by some GENTLE GIANT-like vocal harmonies 5 1/2 minutes in. Violin and drums follow as the bass throbs.

A must have for Rio-Prog fans out there. Even fans of Italian music will find plenty to like on this amazing recording.

Review by Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The best way I can describe this album? It does to folk music what Area does to jazz.

It reinvents with its own rules. It is original, the playing is tight and accomplished, and the songs combine strangeness with some melody. It is a fine album and a must to anyone who wants to hear one of the RIO movement's true originals. Stormy Six came from Milan Italy in the 1960s and released quite a few albums in the 70s. This is the first of theirs I've heard but it likely will not be the last. For a RIO/Avant selection it is reasonably accessible, employing mainly acoustic instruments in songs that are more musical than dissonant. Yes there are odd time signatures, weird chord progressions, strange non-melodic sections, and a few things that may irritate the melodic-rock progster in you, but I think Stormy is approachable enough for anyone to "get" after 3 or 4 spins. This is a quirky album that insists on having fun but is not extreme or harsh enough to scare anyone away. For that reason it might actually be too tame for hard-core RIO fans, but I don't think so. It may be the album to score on both fronts.

Alex Temple from Progweed has a nice paragraph describing the SS sound: "It tends to get compared to Gentle Giant, and while that's not entirely inaccurate, it's also somewhat misleading. What we do get is occasional tinges of Renaissance and Baroque music (the flourishes at the beginning of the title track could be right out of Telemann), and detailed counterpoint, including some wonderful three-part a capella polyphony in L'Orchestra dei Fischiettei. What we don't get is keyboard synths, vocals that sound remotely like Kerry Minnear and Derek Shulman, or anything approaching a rock-out. Picture the instrumental opening of Schooldays or the middle section of Black Cat instead of Experience or Proclamation and you'll start to have a better idea." [Alex Temple, Progweed 2002]

My thoughts on the tracks are as follows: "Buon Lavoroi" starts with xylophone I think, with good bass and violin. It builds adding more sounds until the rather odd vocal chorus that reminds me of cowboys around a fire or something. Very cool violin/bass interplay in this upbeat track. The title track continues the upbeat mood at first with violin though the vocal versus seem a bit sad. Half way through the song stops and what follows is a delightful strings solo, the drums and bass eventually coming back in. The odd vocal returns at the end. "Carmine" starts with acoustic and xylophone lightly conversing, then bass, vocals, and violin gently join. Then comes a jazzy section that proves how great the drums and bass are, I could listen to these guys mix it up all day. Bassoon, violin, and acoustics trade off some flash. "Il Barbiere" sounds like regular violin playing against plucked violin notes and bass to a light drum beat. With the static vocal delivery it creates kind of a hypnotic effect. This stops about half-way through and there is a guitar solo. Then the bass comes in and there is some nice violin jousting. The vocals return as the bass, violin, and drumming just literally dance.breathtaking. "Cuore" features violin, cello and light woodwinds to hand percussion. Vocals and drums come in and there is a bit of piano. The stereo separation is excellent. "Il Labirinto" actually starts like a normal song! A slow beat with excellent bass playing backs a repeating melody that occurs first on electric guitar, then on strings, and then on sax. Very cool how they tie that together. More piano thrown in behind the vocals. There is a wild freak-out sax section and then it comes back to the repeating melodic theme and this track is very nearly symphonic in nature. "Rosso" starts with strange vocals over acoustic and almost psych orchestral arrangements. The song has a very uneasy mood, very unsettling. "L'orchestra Dei Fischietti" has a chaotic opening with some rock blasts intermixed with studio goofing off noises. Soon that stops and an acoustic ushers in the band and the track develops into a somewhat straight folk rocker but with plenty of spice to be sure. Great sax and bass playing. A bit more electric guitar in this track. Late in the song is a Gentle Giant-like vocal section followed by a nice violin finale, and then a punchy guitar goodbye. Holy cow, what a ride!

Another comment on the album from Kai Karmanheimo of GEPR: "L'Apprendista is surprisingly lyrical and accessible. That doesn't mean that it isn't challenging, it is just that the band show their colour in their openly political lyrics (or liner notes at least) and the riotous innovation and hybridization that subtly subverts many of the diverse styles they draw from. The sound is predominantly acoustic and open, with acoustic and clean electric guitars, mandolins, tuned percussion and especially a nimble string quartet and an occasional woodwind supporting the restrained male vocals, which are prominent on every track. The first couple of songs are pretty melodic and straight-forward in the verse-chorus format, yet accentual and rhythmic irregularities, touches of dissonance and sudden interjections, like the contrapuntal string intermezzo on the title track, keep things slightly out of kilter; the mock-stately vocal style on the title track also suggests the influence of contemporaneous agit-prop songs." [Kai Karmanheimo, GEPR]

So why not 5 stars? Well, most of my 5 star albums capture my heart first and stimulate my brain second. Stormy Six definitely stimulates the intellect but I'm not sure my heart is totally captured...yet, at least. But who knows, I've only had the album for one year and it's rumored to be a grower! Highly recommended to anyone who loves adventurous, acoustic flavored music with lots of violin, which wholeheartedly captures the true spirit of what it means to be "progressive." Fans of groups as diverse as Area, Conventum, and yes, Gentle Giant, will all find something to appreciate from this Stormy Six classic. The VM/BTF reissue is an especially tasty gatefold mini-lp sleeve of very high quality, and a booklet with lyrics, photos, and bio.

Review by Sean Trane
3 stars 3.75 stars really!!

This is the transitional album from a polit-folk group into a RIO group. With L'Apprendista (the apprentice), you can still hear the Biglietto Del Tram's very talkative folk (the opening Buon Lavoro) and you're already into a solid form of RIO with its free-form improvs and some chamber rock not far from what Univers Zero did, while still having some accessible, if slightly weird, tunes ala Gentle Giant (the closing Orchestra Dei Fischietti).

As much as this album is usually seen as their best (I agree under certain conditions), I can always feel their influences plastered a little too thickly. They admit themselves to listening to a Giant Crimson Cow at the time,, and it sure sounds like it. Might I suggest that they hadn't taken enough time to digest these influences and they're all too obvious. Their following MM album will be a much more personal affair, although I wouldn't call it their best work either. Another example of this album's multiple borrowings, is the use of the bassoon, already heard in Gryphon, Cow's Lindsey Cooper and Univers Zero (even though their first album would see the light of day after this one), is all too indicative of what they heard, not what they are.

L'Apprendista IS a good album, it might even deserve itsessential 4 star status, but I find that its influences are way too apparent to diSrve it so. In either case, Apprendista is with MM, SS's better album and certainly the reason why SS was a founding member of the RIO movement, even though Area could've filled that slot as well;

Review by octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
5 stars After the instrumental very avant-garde parenthesis of "Cliche" the Stormy Six return to the "song" format, but the songs are very different from the political pop-folk of the first albums, maybe also a sign of the times changing.

This album is released during one of the worst periods of the post-war history of Italy, in the years that will bring to the 80s: a dramatic change in every sectors of life and arts, not only in music. It's no longer time for political anthems so even though the lyrics are still strongly politically oriented the songs are now about persons instead of movements. This is exactly the same change that was happening in the actual Italian society.

The music is an unusual mixture of folk elements, mainly acoustic, but retains the experimental elements of the previous instrumental album. The difference with today's Avant bands is that once the structure of the song has been identified, the listener is still able to anticipate what's coming (not always of course), so the result is something very close to the music of bands like Gentle Giant, or a sort of non-jazz Canterbury if this makes any sense.

The good is that even being experimental it's still approachable by everybody and unlike the previous albums the music is so good that can be appreciated even without taking care of the lyrics. Songs like "Il Barbiere" (The Barber) and "Il Labirinto" (The Labyrinth) are highlights but all the songs are excellent, above the average, specially from a musical point of view.

Of course the lyrics, too, have to match the new mood to fit better within the music. The result is technically perfect, and the musicianship of all the bandmates is finally evident. A milestone for this band just one year before the first RIO event.

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