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Officina Meccanica

Rock Progressivo Italiano

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Officina Meccanica La Follia Del Mimo Di Fuoco album cover
3.73 | 31 ratings | 9 reviews | 10% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Boxset/Compilation, released in 2007

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Suite bambini innocenti (6:50)
2. Primo turno (6:23)
3. Via non esiste (10:33)
4. Insieme al sole (3:11)
5. Nel grattacielo delle idée il pensiero piu alto e la pazzia (10:51)
6. Amanti di ieri (5:06)
7. Il viaggio di un uomo non piu uomo nella valle del tempo (13:22)

Bonus track:
8. Angelo (3:12)

Total time 59:31

Line-up / Musicians

Luciano Maiozzi: lead vocals & mime
Gianni Barbati: guitars, moog, harpsichord, chorus
Randolfo Canini: bass, backing vocals
Luigi Canini: trumpet
Bruno Dionisi: drums and percussion, chorus
Vincenzo Bentivegna: saxes

Gaio Chiocchio (of Pierrot Lunaire): mellotron and moog in "Bambini Innocenti"

Releases information

BTF AMS116CD gatefold mini-lp sleeve edition

Thanks to finnforest for the addition
and to finnforest for the last updates
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OFFICINA MECCANICA La Follia Del Mimo Di Fuoco ratings distribution

(31 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(10%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(42%)
Good, but non-essential (32%)
Collectors/fans only (16%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

OFFICINA MECCANICA La Follia Del Mimo Di Fuoco reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Even though I have heard a substantial amount of Italian progressive rock this album was a revelation to me and such a pleasant surprise. I confess that I knew very little about Officina Meccanica prior to receiving their newly issued album but the album is now on my "favorites" list without question. Being firmly in the "challenging" camp of Italian bands they may take a while to fully appreciate. They can be abrasive and edgy but always in a good way and one that I found extremely satisfying as a progressive fan. They will appeal to those whose tastes veer more towards the strangely beautiful and the provocative. And I am always drawn more to bands where I sense the music conveying vigor for life, a zest that goes beyond the simple churning out of a collection of songs. OM is one such band where that passion could not be more apparent.

OM came together near Rome in the early 1970s and were a successful touring outfit in Italy over the next several years playing both solo and with other bands like PFM and Banco. They released several quality singles but because they chose to concentrate on the live touring aspect and their theatrical stage shows, they never got around to finishing a full length LP at the time. By the time they returned from a Tunisian tour in '74 the tide was turning and they lost their chance at the full length release. But that didn't stop the band and they continued to write and perform until 1978. Those early singles along with four outstanding compositions recorded live on their 1976 dates make up the new Italian prog Godsend that is "La Follia del Mimo di Fuoco" (The Madness of the Fire Mime.)

Describing the sound of OM will not be particularly easy. There is one component of VDGG where they employ horns and a sometimes "jerky" song structure into the rock band approach, in an effort I imagine to keep the listener "on guard" or maybe off-balance just a little. True progressive music never wants one to get too comfortable or complacent. Several styles are present on the album. Rock of course, but also there are sections that get pretty jazzy, funky, and in one or two spots I almost detect a hint of "surf" in the guitar sound. Makes me wonder if Barbati was ever into surf music ala Dick Dale. The second component is the classic Italian progressive factor and while OM does not embrace much of the Orme/PFM smooth classicism there is still some of it present, in the passionate vocals and distinct character of the music. In the softer and quieter moments you can hear the voice and acoustic guitar in gorgeous romantic tradition. The third important component of this band is the full embrace of the over-the-top theatrical atmosphere a la Ange. In their live shows the band would employ make-up, dress, mime, and a certain mystery to get the atmosphere across. But even listening to the album without the band in front of you, you can clearly understand the reference to Ange. Everything is done big and bigger, with a gregarious attitude and larger than life, boisterous vocals. Every so often Maiozzi lets out these wails, muted screams, or maniacal laughs. The band is the same way, never just falling into their rut and coasting but seemingly always looking for a way to push your buttons with what they choose to play. Since the album is part "live" this effect is even stronger. Another view of the OM sound from Outer Music Diary states "If you ever wondered what a classic Italian herky-jerky prog band (Osanna or Cervello for example) would've sounded like mixed with Chicago or Brainchild, well now's your chance. This has all those great elements of the 70's prog rock scene in Italy: Dramatic Italian vocals, superb instrumental chops, radical changes in meter and dynamics. Somehow this great archival find is flying far under the radar, and it deserves better than that. Maybe the best archival release since Kollektiv's SWF Sessions." [portion in italics by Outer Music Diary]

Let's take a look at the various tracks: "Suite bambini innocenti" is proclaimed by Matthias Scheller's liner notes to be easily ranked as one of the 10 best tracks from Italy's '70s progressive scene. It's easy to see why. Beginning from silence comes a mysterious harmonized wordless vocal growing slowly louder and louder, evoking the traditional feeling of beautiful Italian prog. But then your cocoon of musical opium is blown apart by a sudden and jarring blast of funky, punchy brass. It stops quickly, reverting back to the peaceful vocals momentarily before Barbati lets ring these fabulous mood changing chords. All of this in the first minute, probably one of the finest first minutes of prog! The song continues a fertile mixture of the brash horns and heavier vocals with soft nylon-stringed acoustic interludes that are heavenly. Some hand percussion and flute or recorder tinge these moments also. Another sections features what sounds like a '60s cop show soundtrack before it heads for a finale of full-on bass chugging under a big electric guitar solo. What a great opener, this is what I call a home run. In the second track "Primo turno" Maiozzi is singing about "his existence as a sad human puppet." Again there are some serene and melodic early moments before the pace picks up with the horns and guitars, the vocals getting increasingly aggressive before hitting a high operatic peak. "Via non esiste" is the first of three 10-minute plus live epic tracks, noted as a critical look at consumerism. Here is where the backbone of the band really begins to shine through. The late Bruno Dionisi was an amazing drummer with a sound all his own. A very punctuated, direct drum sound and here the intuition between him and the great bass/guitar playing of Canini/Barbati respectively becomes apparent through the loads and loads of shifting jamming. The horns are often present clinging for dear life to the wild ride of the bass, guitar, and drums. The short single "Insieme al sole" is a breather in the form of a lighter ballad with horns and guitar that have a time/speed warp sound to them, not sure if this was intentional or not but it works to good effect. Notice the great crisp sound Dionisi gets on the kit during the opening moments. "Nel grattacielo delle idée" is another long live jam showing the band's prowess with the story being about the destiny of a street performer and the vocal style not unlike Christian Decamps. "Amanti di ieri" is another single and the most obvious nod to the traditional romantic Italian sound: heartfelt vocals, acoustic guitar, hand percussion, and strong nostalgic melody in the Era di Acquario vein. While a bit sweet it acts as another nice breather from the heavier live stuff. They get a really nice distinct twang on the acoustic guitar notes at just the right moment, like a "snap" it really adds to the song. At over 13 minutes in length "Il viaggio di un uomo." seems to be the band's live potpourri of explorations: tribal drumming, freak-out blasts, horns ranging in emotion from the serene to the manic, Gentle Giant style starts/stops, trippy keys, and ambitious guitar parts holding the wild beast together. While the track has some vocals this one is all about instrumental overload. The album closes with the poignant "Angelo" which is a lullaby to a firstborn child. It brings everything back to earth and puts a period on this sometimes tension-filled album. The sweeter and more sentimental tracks may be hard to swallow for listeners who want just the heavier stuff but I enjoyed hearing both sides of the band.

They have done a nice job with the sound quality of the disc for the most part. Of course the younger generation used to crisp digital is going to note the 1970s sound difference but my feeling is that it should stop no one from hearing this. I believe this album is essential to any fan of Italian prog and to any fan of "adventurous" '70s prog such as Gentle Giant or VDGG. In any case, be sure to give this album plenty of time to absorb-don't dismiss it after 3 spins as "too weird". Sometime great music takes time to assimilate, having a long-view and an open mind being the best prog fan virtues. The packaging here is fantastic with a gatefold mini-lp sleeve and booklet with Bio and lots of pictures. For putting adventure and attitude above convention this is yet another example of why I listen to the Italian greats more often than the mainstream progressive rock. Within bands like OM there still lies the possibility of being surprised, of being a part of music before it was predictable. That is where real thrills lie.

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars I have plenty of recordings that are very far from being in the mainstream or commercial side of things. I really appreciate bands who have an adventerous spirit, who want to do things their own way and not follow what may be popoular at the time. OFFICINA MECCANICA are truly one of those bands. Of course there are many bands who have forged their own path yet lacked the talent to pull it off successfully. This Italian band has hit one out of the park with this album.This is unique, original and entertaining. I would suggest you read Finnforest's review which really captures what the band was about and their history. I'll focus on the music even though that won't be easy.

"Suite Bambini Innocenti" opens with vocal melodies before an almost dreamy and jazzy soundscape takes over. It settles when the reserved vocals come in. The song continues to shift gears as passionate vocals and horns come in then it calms down again quickly. Flute after 4 minutes as it builds.There is some guest moog and mellotron on this one too. Some nice horn work follows as bass throbs. Great section. The guitar starts to make some noise 6 minutes in to end it. Nice. "Primo Turno" opens with vocals that are followed by an ear piercing horn and some nice drum fills. It settles with reserved vocals. He yells 2 minutes in and an aggressive soundscape follows. Ok he's yelling again as the tempo and mood continue to shift. Here come the horns 5 minutes in.

"Via Non Esiste" is such a blast ! This is humerous and oh so good. It kicks in before 3 1/2 minutes. I love his vocals.The guitar is raw before 5 1/2 minutes. Horns before 7 minutes and it settles a minute later. I like the rhythm before 9 minutes. "Insieme Al Sole" is led by drums, vocals and horns. This is such a feel good song for me. "Nel Grattacielo Delle Idee Il Pensiero Piu Alto E La Pazzia" is led by horns and drums early. He's beating the hell out of his drumkit 2 minutes in. Horns return a minute later. Spoken vocals then a laugh 4 minutes in. A calm a minute later then it builds with higher pitched vocals. Great section 6 minutes in. He screams then that SABBATH-like guitar comes in. Horns join in and eventually the vocals return.

"Amanti Di Ieri" opens with percussion and what sounds like harmonica. Reserved vocals and acoustic guitar take over. One of the best parts of this whole album is when his vocals soar after 1 1/2 minutes and later before 3 minutes and after 4 minutes. Nice atmosphere to end it. "Il Viaggio Di Un Uomo Non Uomo Nella Valle Del Tempo" opens with faint horns and drums. I love when it kicks in after 2 minutes. Horns follow as the tempo picks up. The tempo and mood continues to change. "Angelo" is an acoustic beauty.

What I like best about this album is that it entertains me. I really like the vocals and instrumental work too but this is just a lot of fun.

Review by DamoXt7942
FORUM & SITE ADMIN GROUP Avant/Cross/Neo/Post Teams
4 stars An excellent album of compilation by a non-mainstream band here comes!

In spite of myself, I couldn't help shouting with hearing this compilation. What an avantgarde, aggressive, and amorphous work this is! Yes, Luciano Maiozzi has such a squacked shoutin' voice style. It's no problem we say he could lead and manage the band's style and where they'd go. Don't forget this is only a compilation but has so surprising power. I suggest the reasons are that they are really skilled players and that into each song they should squeeze their force massively. Indeed the recording condition is not good (with cracking noise), but I wanna say the bad condition should be great for presenting its atmosphere.

All songs have heavyness, avantness and gentleness. First...By Bambini innocenti please drop yourself to the bottom and push yourself to the top strongly! This solemn chorus and following brass section are very impressive, and Luciano's frequently-altered voice is very terrific. With only this song we may tell 'bout OFFICINA MECCANICA. (!) Each song has its own character and strength. Absolutely all songs are NOT ON ROCK-MAINSTREAM but actively exploded enough for us to discuss and enjoy the Rock Progressivo Italiano. In Primo turno is sudden rampancy by voice and brasses, and Via non esiste has flexible, floating and unstrict flavour...etc. etc. Exotic or Oriental beginning Il viaggio di un uomo non piu uomo nella valle del tempo can have, and eccentric and amazing beats and waves... Well, as honestly I say, always feel like a mysterious kaleidoscope and a brilliant chandelier.

An Italian gem. :-)

Review by Todd
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Rock Progressivo Italiano!
4 stars A fabulous adventure! This album definitely falls in the category of adventurous RPI -- Semiramis, Balletto di Bronzo, Osanna, Cervello, and most particularly for OM Rocky's Filj. Officina Mecchanica is a varied, wild experience, one that takes you from pastoral scenes to the harder edge of RPI, often in a very short time and within the same song. There is a definite theatric emphasis, particulary in the vocals, as discussed in the wonderful bio written by Jim Russell. The music relies on a very tight, excellent rhythm section to propel the pieces along, particular during the standard mid section which picks up the tempo, often introducing a memorable hook carried and repeated by the bass or often guitar. The musical atmosphere is rounded out by brass, with a variety of saxophones and trumpets, and sometimes a flute--also very tight! The guitar shifts from rhythm to solo, sometimes helping to create a mood with wonderful, somewhat jazzy chords, other times leading out with excellent solos. Like Rocky's Filj, keyboards don't really play a role in OM. (Yes, there are some, but when they appear they are brief and only serve to play a short melody, one that could easily have been covered by brass or guitar--this is definitely not keyboard-driven rock!)

The overall tone of the album shifts from the more mellow studio pieces to the wilder, less restrained live numbers. There are three studio and five songs. The live numbers serve to demonstrate their excellent musicianship--it's clear that this was a very talented band. The more adventurous vocals are also reserved for the live pieces. The one live song that falls in the mellow camp is the bonus track, a beautiful ballad entitled Angelo. All of the songs feature memorable melodies (archetypical RPI), but the studio pieces really emphasize this aspect of their music. The songs tend to be fairly schizophrenic, alternating between more subdued passages and wild, often catchy sections.

Overall, as stated elsewhere by Jim Russell, this band is every bit as important as some of those mentioned above. I can only imagine what they could have become with a studio album or two under their belt--or especially with a whole live album! This overdue, posthumous compilation is not to be missed. Definitely not for the faint of heart or those who fatigue with repeated listening, for that's what it takes to uncover all the facets of this wonderful RPI gem. Bravo!

Review by Nightfly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The RPI genre seems to have more than its fair share of bands that only managed to release one album before folding. Officina Meccanica didn't even manage that; their entire recorded output that saw the light of day in the seventies consisted of just five singles. This may give the impression that the band were of the more commercial variety aiming for success in the singles charts. However, nothing could be further from the truth as Officina Meccanica are one of the more demanding bands in Italian progressive rock.

This collection gathers some of those singles but mainly consists of unreleased recordings intended for their first album which due to poor timing; the drop in interest in progressive music in Italy in the late seventies never saw a release.

The band gained a live reputation for the theatrical approach of singer Luciano Maiozzi who appeared as a mime artist. Musically Officina Meccanica are very hard to categorise, the nearest reference I can think of being Osanna in their wilder moments and combine elements of rock, jazz, prog and a touch of the avant-garde with heavy use of brass in complex and often edgy performances. Alongside this though there are moments of melodic beauty though those looking for classically inspired keyboard driven Italian prog are advised to look elsewhere. The recording is not of the best quality and in one case, Insieme al sole, it sounds like the original mastertape has stretched, but at least it's all clear with no distortion.

If you're heading out on a road of discovery in the RPI genre then this is not an advisable early port of call but for those looking for something that's both challenging, but ultimately rewarding then with repeated plays Officina Meccanica could be for you. 3 1/2 stars.

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Born near Rome in early 70's,OFFICINA MECCANICA were one of the most obscure and challenging bands ever to come out of Italy.The band recorded no less than five singles between 1972 and 1977 and even had a good distribution on TV through their clip for the track ''Suite bambini innocenti''.The sextet unfortunately didn't have the opportunity of recording a full-length work and in 2007 a compilation of their singles along with live unreleased recordings was released on BTF under the title ''La Follia del Mimo di Fuoco" (The Madness of the Fire Mime).The band split up finally in 1978.

STYLE: Hardly to compare them to any of the classic Italian Prog bands.This is neither Symphonic Rock nor exactly Jazz Rock.OFFICINA MECCANICA combine elements of Classic Rock and Psych/Prog with theatrical vocals and brass instruments.Most of the compositions are long with alternating acoustic and intensive electric parts,always supported by a good dose of saxes,trumpets and to a lesser extent keyboards and flutes.Some parts have a typical romantic sound,showing the band's diversity and flexibily on different styles.Luciano Maiozzi is more than a simple singer,he sounds like an actor with changing vocal lines.Not much to mention around the brass section,an impressive work on all of the tracks.Lots of jazzy clarinet passages also,which I like a lot.

INFLUENCES/SOUNDS LIKE: Imagine a mix of VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR,AREA and CHICAGO and you are somewhat in the game...but do not forget about the theatrical approach of the band.

PLUS: Impressive musicians with a God-sent talent.Long compositions with all members contributing rather equally,even the drummer has his solo parts!Excellent vocal work in all of its aspects.A variety of instruments and styles makes the album really challenging and complicated.Very original music,haven't heard another band in that style.Good balance between mellower moments and complex Brass/Prog Rock.A few trully romantic and unforgettable passages close to the classic Italian Prog tradition.

MINUS: Too many changing moods throiughout the listening make the album hard to follow.That's not necessarily bad,but ''La Follia del Mimo di Fuoco'' is a unique and cruel experience even for the prog veterans.Not among the best productions to be heard on old Italian prog.Often the musicianship is sacrified behalf Maiozzi's dominating singing.

WILL APPEAL TO: Fans of RPI,vintage Psych/Prog and certainly to fans of complex prog in the style of VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR,CIRCUS,AREA or GNIDROLOG.

CONCLUSION/RATING: I'm sure that ''La Follia del Mimo di Fuoco'' won't be for every ear around this site.It is possible that people with a deep knowledge on music will find this album closer to their tastes than an average prog listener.However it would be crime not to find and purchase this album due to its phenomenal sound and unique approach.I think a 3.5 star rating would be a fair one.Strongly recommended,considering always the album's difficult sides.

Latest members reviews

4 stars Who knows what the history of Italian progressive rock would have been like if the Officina Meccanica had managed to make an LP 50 years ago. This Roman band is known to aficionados and collectors for some 45s released between 1972 and 1977, among which the two parts of "Innocent Children" stand ... (read more)

Report this review (#2581388) | Posted by prog_traveller!! | Monday, July 26, 2021 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Equal parts theatrical weirdness and captivating accessibility, Officina Meccanica never had the chance to release an album during their lifespan. La Follia Del Mimo Di Fuoco is a compilation of singles and unreleased recordings, resulting in a surprisingly cohesive and fluid listening experi ... (read more)

Report this review (#928300) | Posted by coasterzombie | Monday, March 11, 2013 | Review Permanlink

5 stars AMAZING ALBUM! 6 stars from me I want more music like this!Very sad that they never released proper album,only singles in 70's.Too 2007 ,when this compilation was released lucky Italians were witnesess of their greatness and beutifull weirdnes in their very unique music.I first saw them on Yo ... (read more)

Report this review (#294359) | Posted by zappadaddy | Friday, August 13, 2010 | Review Permanlink

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