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Ianva Italia: Ultimo Atto album cover
4.79 | 14 ratings | 2 reviews | 50% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 2009

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Prologo (2:11)
2. Dov'Eri Tu Quel Giorno? (7:06)
3. Galleria Delle Grazie (7:41)
4. Negli Occhi D'Un Ribelle (5:03)
5. La Stagione Di Caino (2:49)
6. Luisa Ferida (7:10)
7. Bora (5:02)
8. In Compagnia Dei Lupi (5:23)
9. Cemento Armato (2:41)
10. Pasionaria (5:32)
11. Piazza Dei Cinquecento (6:50)
12. L'Estate Dei Silenzio (5:05)
13. Italia: Ultimo Atto (6:17)

Total Time 68:59

Line-up / Musicians

- Mercy / vocals, choir
- Stefania T. D'Alterio / vocals
- Fabio Gremo / classical guitar, choir
- Fabio Carfagna / electric and acoustic guitars, choir
- Francesco La Rosa / drums, percussion
- Giuseppe Spanò / piano, choir
- Azoth / bass
- Roby Nappi Calcagno / trumpet
- Davide La Rosa / accordion, percussion, choir

Guest musicians:

- Fabio P. / violin
- Tommaso F. / viola
- Stefania P. / cello, double bass
- Enrico Silvestrin / voice (1)
- Antonio Carvelli / trombone (2, 8, 9, 13)
- M. Fulvio Di Clemente / trumpet (2)
- Elisa Montaldo / Indian harmonium, calliope, Mellotron (3, 8, 12)
- Franca Lai / performer (3)
- Argento / choir (7)
- Il Colonnello / choir (7)
- Teo / choir (7)
- Prof. Dante Priore / performer (8)
- Youcide / performer (8)
- Duke Montana / performer (11)
- Alberto Traini / fretless bass (12)

Releases information

CD Antica Fonografia Il Levriero LEV05

Thanks to seventhsojourn for the addition
and to seventhsojourn for the last updates
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IANVA Italia: Ultimo Atto ratings distribution

(14 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(50%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(29%)
Good, but non-essential (14%)
Collectors/fans only (7%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

IANVA Italia: Ultimo Atto reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by seventhsojourn
5 stars Italian band Ianva was conceived in 2003 by a diverse group of musicians eager to revive the musical and cultural traditions of their homeland. The music defies precise classification but contains elements of neofolk, martial industrial, dark cabaret and progressive. The band members themselves eschew any kind of label or genre. As is the case with their other releases 'Italia: Ultimo Atto' draws heavily on Italian history and is in fact a concept album that charts some of the country's darker events, from its surrender in 1943 to the political situation in modern-day Italy. Art, music, film and literature are all bound together in Ianva's work and this review only scratches the surface of the album's multi-layered concept. The subject matter is at times controversial so it's worth emphasising that there is no political agenda at work here. Any questionable ideologies are represented solely with the aesthetics and nostalgia of the historical concept in mind.

Despite the narrative's episodic nature the album is well structured and never sounds disjointed. The main themes that drive the story and link the historical events are the passion and boldness of the dissenting voices from within the period; people like Curzio Malaparte, a writer and veteran of World War I, who was stripped of his National Fascist Party membership and exiled after he criticised Hitler and Mussolini, and Giorgio Gaber, a singer-songwriter who pioneered the musical genre known as 'teatro canzone' (song theatre). The album is also full of cinematic details with sound samples and historic speeches helping to carry the story forward. For example the album begins with the spoken- word 'Prologo', a proclamation in the character of Pier Paolo Pasolini (one of those voices of dissent who will feature later in the narrative) that introduces some of the darkest events in the country's recent past.

This is followed by 'Dov'Eri Tu Quel Giorno?', a plea for dignity directed to the turncoats who changed sides when Italy's surrender was announced on 8th September 1943. Benito Mussolini had been ousted in July 1943 but after Italy signed an unconditional armistice with the Anglo-American forces, Mussolini was rescued by German Special Forces who installed him as the leader of a puppet state in northern Italy. The Germans disarmed Italian troops and treated harshly any Italians who then fought against them. The song itself has a strong martial air thanks to its militaristic drumming and blaring trumpets. Trumpet always features prominently in Ianva's music but four of the tracks here also contain trombone and it further strengthens the dark atmosphere on the album.

Under the Allied air offensive of 1942 a series of heavy bombing raids was carried out on Genoa. Many hundreds were killed including 354 who died in a human stampede on 23rd October at the tunnel entrance of the makeshift bomb shelter of the 'Galleria Delle Grazie'. Famed Genoese singer Franca Lai makes a cameo appearance as the voice of the city while sound effects of a scratchy vinyl record, bombs and an air-raid warning siren set the scene for the song perfectly. As well as the terrible loss of life, the bombardment caused the destruction of much historic art and architecture. This is a dark ballad complete with ghostly choral effects, but from amid the debris and destruction a courageous survivor raises the cry for democracy.

After Italy's involvement in World War II ended the country was torn apart by a bloody civil war but the rebel in the title of the melodramatic orchestral ballad 'Negli Occhi D'Un Ribelle' vows to continue to fight injustice even if the revolution fails. Partisan against fascist, brother against brother, the historical speech of 'La Stagione Di Caino' addresses a nation on the verge of ruin. Several guest string players feature throughout the album and their ominous-sounding strings greatly enhance the atmosphere on this track in particular.

Male vocalist Mercy's rich baritone takes most of the leads but the highly charged cabaret noir of 'Luisa Ferida' is an ideal showcase for chanteuse Stefania. Luisa Ferida was an Italian actress who was romantically involved with fellow actor Osvaldo Valenti. Partisans murdered them in 1945 in Milan due to their links with Fascism. Accused of collaboration and of committing torture, they were shot without trial; Ferida was pregnant at the time.

'Bora' is like a dark subterranean dance with pounding drums. It deals with the subject of the Foibe massacres, a term that specifically refers to the ethnic cleansing carried out by Yugoslavs in Istria at the end of World War II. A foiba is a sinkhole, or natural depression or hole in the Earth's surface. In Italy the term foibe has for some people taken on a symbolic meaning; it refers in a broader sense to all the disappearances or killings of Italian people in the territories occupied by Yugoslav forces, whether in caves, jails or concentration camps.

The Montesi scandal of the early 1950s was the first in a series of cover-ups and 'In Compagnia Dei Lupi' deals with the immorality of Roman society at the time. When Wilma Montesi's body was found washed up on the beach outside Rome the police called her death an accidental drowning. However the public was not convinced and the gossip was of a politician's son, orgies and drugs. The story erupted into one of the greatest scandals of the time; it created media frenzy along with the birth of the paparazzi and the modern cult of celebrity. Montesi's death was linked to the beginnings of the dolce vita and to Italy's move from the social concerns of neorealism to the examination of the individual that can be seen in Federico Fellini's films. The song itself has echoes of the Italian melodic tradition and seems to carry the threat of revenge for the titular company of wolves.

The brash instrumental 'Cemento Armato' is full of conflict, accentuated by samples of demonstrations and rallies. The end of the boom years saw the beginning of urban migration, workers' strikes and the first terrorist bombing. This was also the time of the 'poliziottesco' of the 1970s, Italian-produced 'tough guy' and crime films that carried fascist undertones. The years of lead - as in lead bullets ('anni di piombo') - are seen through the eyes of a 'Pasionaria'. Political conflict sparked a modern civil war with more than a decade of terrorism where large numbers of girls were involved in the violence. These events inspired 'la notte della Repubblica', Sergio Zavoli's great series of television documentaries on the subject. This song sounds as if it has come straight from an Ennio Morricone soundtrack and is notable for featuring some rare electric guitar licks.

'Piazza Dei Cinquecento' reintroduces the aforementioned Pier Paolo Pasolini. The highly controversial Italian director was brutally murdered by being run over several times with his own car in 1975. A 17-year-old male prostitute was found guilty of his murder although there was much political controversy surrounding his death. Pasolini had attacked the political caste for its corruption, for neo-fascist conspiracy and for involvement with the Mafia. In addition to an exquisite accordion refrain and Stefania's seductive vocal this song includes a brief appearance by Duke Montana from the Hardcore Rap scene in Rome, who plays the role of a hustler like a character from Pasolini's novel 'Ragazzi di Vita'.

The years of lead and the strategy of tension culminated in 'L'Estate Dei Silenzi' and the massacres of Ustica and Bologna during the Summer of 1980. Various conspiracy theories surround the Ustica aeroplane massacre of 27th June 1980, when an in-flight explosion killed all 81 people on board. The cause of the explosion has been variously attributed to a terrorist bomb, an accidental missile strike, and a missile strike during military operations. The Bologna railway bombing of 2nd August 1980 was seen as the worst atrocity in Italy since World War II and resulted in suspicions over the Italian secret service's involvement in the incident. This song recalls the dark atmosphere of the giants of seventies-RPI and is dominated by the haunting Mellotron of Elisa Montaldo (Il Tempio Delle Clessidre).

The title-track brings the album to a suitable conclusion. The social and cultural disintegration of an Italy under the control of 'entrepreneurs and great financial powers' has led to the political troubles of today, a situation that paradoxically finds Italy at the forefront of the avant-garde. By the same token Ianva is at the forefront of the Italian music scene, and although it's a long way from Genoa to the Gorbals I can happily report that Ianva's music travels well.

Review by andrea
5 stars Ianva were formed in 2003 on the initiative of vocalist Mercy (former member of bands as Il Segno del Comando, Malombra and Helden Rune) and guitarist Argento. They gathered around them musicians coming from different experiences (from classical to prog) and started to work on a concept album telling a story set in 1920 in Fiume, when the city was occupied by rebellious troops led by poet and adventurer Gabriele D'Annunzio. The excellent debut album "Disobbedisco!" was released in 2006, followed in 2007 by an EP, "Occidente", containing a very personal version of The Strawbs' "The Battle", here set during World War I and featuring brand new Italian lyrics. After some line-up changes, in 2009 was released by the independent label Il Levriero "Italia: Ultimo Atto", another excellent concept album where the band revisits some dark, controversial episodes of recent Italian history. In this second full length work the line-up features Mercy (vocals), Stefania T. D'Alterio (vocals), Fabio Gremo (nylon string guitar, backing vocals), Fabio Carfanga (acoustic and electric guitar, backing vocals), Francesco La Rosa (percussion), Giuseppe Spanò (piano, backing vocals), Azoth (bass), Roby Nappo Calcagno (trumpet) and Davide La Rosa (bandoneon, percussion, backing vocals). The overall sound is enriched by many guest musicians as, among others, former member Argento (backing vocals on "Bora") and Elisa Montaldo, keyboardist of a very interesting emerging band called Il Tempio delle Clessidre (Indian harmonium, calliope and mellotron). Musical influences range from prog to neo-folk, from Jacques Brel and Fabrizio De André to Ennio Morricone and Armando Trovajoli... Anyway it would be unfair to consider this album only from a musical point of view. Ianva's music is always closely linked to the lyrics and it's conceived just as a way to underline what the band tries to express throughout this complex album, providing colours and evoking emotions.

The opener "Prologo" (Prologue) features an evocative piano pattern and narrative vocals that sound like a gloomy prophecy... "The future is impending and apocalyptic, children are torn away from the resemblance with their fathers and thrown towards a future that, although maintaining the trouble and the misery of the present, will be different because of something immense and dark...". The words have been taken from the "Lutheran Letters" by Pier Paolo Pasolini (Italian poet, film director and committed intellectual linked to left wing movements) and constitute a warning about the dangers of the degeneration of the ancestral values. A question arises, what could happen as a consequence of the loss of "the honesty of fathers and of mothers" in the name of a "democratic anxiety" emphatically displayed?

The next track "Dov'eri tu quel giorno" (Where were you on that day?) is more elaborate featuring dark choirs, strings and duelling trumpet and trombone... It's a bitter criticism against the people who, after September 8th 1943, when the Italian army melted (well, about this subject I suggest watching a beautiful film by Luigi Comencini, starring Alberto Sordi, "Tutti a casa ? Everybody Go Home"), hurried to help the allies jumping on the bandwagon with the winners forgetting what they had been doing until the day before... Where were they on the day when Mussolini asked from his balcony in Piazza Venezia "Do you want bread or guns"? They were singing in the choir and now... "On a new score / You move your mouth / One cycle is over / It's time for the next...".

"Galleria delle Grazie" is about the bombardment of Genoa in Autumn 1942, a time when Italy was an "importer of Democracy". In an air-raid shelter hundreds of women and children were killed. The track opens with the sound of an old love song coming from a cracked record, then the sound of hooters and aircrafts dropping bombs comes in... The atmosphere is dark and dramatic. The lyrics contain a strong criticism against the Italian partisans who left the lights on to facilitate the destructive task of the allies and against the style of the "liberators" as well... "What style those liberators! / A rich people's style, what great gentlemen! / To hit half a barrack they flatten six city districts...". But a boy survives and emerges from the ruins with rebellious eyes...

"Negli occhi di un ribelle" (In the eyes of a rebel) opens with a marching beat and dreamy strings... "In the eyes of a rebel there are not only flames / That are lighted by rage, between indignation and condemnation / There are fast passages of smiling ghosts as well / Like sunrays piercing through the clouds... In every civil war / Ideologies clash and that special breed of dreamers, romantics and fools emerges / Fated to the grave or to the prison...".

The short symphonic "La stagione di Caino" (The season of Cain) is about the civil war between partisans and Fascists, Italians against Italians protagonists of a bloody vendetta. I suggest watching a film by Paolo and Vittorio Taviani, "La notte di San Lorenzo" (The Night Of The Shooting Stars), to get the right mood for this track... All in all it's conceived as a film score!

"Luisa Ferida" is about an actress, a star during the years of Fascism, condemned to death by the CLN (The National Liberation Committee) although she was innocent and pregnant because she was reputed a symbol of Fascism. Her last hours are described as through the lens of some cameras shooting a last film. But in the end here the cameras are nothing but the guns of the firing squad. "New score: an infamous role... No need for the truth... She is Luisa, Luisa Ferida... Look at her one more time while she's still alive / You are the cameraman who is going to frame her / It's your turn... Read the charges / That's your film!". Theatrical vocals by Stefania T. D'Alterio here are absolutely great.

"Bora" is a gloomy ballad evoking a ghastly dance. Bora is the name of a strong wind that blows from the North East upon Trieste and Istria... "I can hear the echoes of a celebration / They're carried by the wind / In awhile they will be here / They're dancing the Kolo / No style nor decency but a great vitality / Doctrine supports hatred / They think that the right way to begin / Is to erase the tracks that history left on this land...". In 1945 the Yugoslavian communist army led by Tito occupied Trieste and Istria beginning an ideological and ethnical clearance... Recently the three presidents of Italia, Slovenia and Croatia attended a "reconciliation concert" in Trieste, featuring choir and orchestra composed by musicians coming from the three countries directed by Maestro Riccardo Muti, but for many people it's still hard to deal with this subject.

"In compagnia dei lupi" (In wolves' company) features another great theatrical performance by Stefania T. D'Alterio who this time plays the role of a maid in the service of influential, rich people. In 1952 during a party in a villa near Rome an "escort-girl" died from an overdose of cocaine. Many politicians and influential people of the new Italian Republic took part in the party. The corpse was taken away and abandoned on the nearby shore, later the scandal was in some way covered up. The maid had to help to hide what happened... She wonders how long it will take to get rid of such a political class and to see them hanging on a rope, twenty years of Fascism in comparison will seem just a few months... "While we were coming back I was wondering / I'm in the wolves' company...". This track was inspired by a famous Italian scandal, the "Montesi Affair".

"Cemento armato" (Reinforced concrete) deals with the period of the years of lead. It's a very original, interesting track, no lyrics but slogans of opposed extremists intermingled with police hooters and noises evoking the riots of the seventies set mood and... rhythm! During the seventies in Italy terrorism raged. Among the terrorists of the left and right wing there were many girls. "Pasionaria" is a melancholic ballad dedicated to one of them. The music recalls Fabrizio De André and "Spaghetti Western" scores. A feeling of deep disdain towards the people that used to ride the rage of extremism in the seventies and now pontificate shines through. "Remembering you makes me bleed again...".

"Piazza dei Cinquecento" is another dark track. It's an elegy inspired by the murder of Pier Paolo Pasolini. It begins with a delicate acoustic guitar part, then strings come in while the soaring vocals of Stefania D'Alterio depict a rainy Italian Sunday in November... Well, it is strange such a kind of tribute to an intellectual of the left wing, albeit atypical, from a band with a very different political point of view...

The introspective "L'estate dei silenzi" (The summer of the silences) is set during the summer of 1980, the summer of the bomb attack in Bologna Railway Station and of the mysterious "accident" of an aircraft in the sky of Ustica... It describes the feelings of the protagonist when he received the news during his summer holiday on a beach in Tuscany.

The last track is the long, martial title track "Italia: Ultimo Atto" (Italy: The last Act). It's a venomous invective against the "normalization" of the eighties and nineties where the degradation of the values of Italian society is depicted as stronger than ever... "Void / You can't stop to fall / Every time there is a lesser evil / That you have to swallow / Until the next one / That will be even worse...". It's normal then to invoke a change and try to wake the sleeping consciences pushing them to reflect on the roots of the present... A great finale for a very bold album!

Last but not least, a word about the beautiful art work and packaging, featuring a 28 page booklet full of pictures and containing commentaries on the lyrics. It's an essential complement to the concept, almost a guide through some painful vortexes of the Italian collective memory...

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