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Il Paese Dei Balocchi

Rock Progressivo Italiano

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Il Paese Dei Balocchi Il Paese dei Balocchi album cover
3.76 | 129 ratings | 24 reviews | 29% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
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Studio Album, released in 1972

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Il trionfo dell'egoismo, della violenza, della presunazione e dell'infifferenza (2:34)
2. Impotenza dell'umiltÓ della rassegnazione (4:09)
3. Canzone della speranza (3:55)
4. Evasione (7:40)
5. Hidden song (3:34)
5. Risveglio e visione del paese dei balocchi (4:40)
6. Ingresso e incontro con i Baloccanti (2:00)
7. Canzone della veritÓ (0:45)
8. Narcisismo della perfezione (1:01)
9. VeritÓ dell'intuizione fantastica (6:56)
10. Ritorno alla condizione umana (4:18)

Total Time 41:32

Bonus tracks on 1993 reissue:
11. Fantasia e poesia (3:30)
12. Amore per gioco (2:44)

Line-up / Musicians

- Fabio Fabiani / guitar
- Armando Paone / organ, vocals
- Marcello Martorelli / bass
- Sanaro Laudadio / drums, vocals

- Claudio Gizzi / string arranger & conductor

Releases information

Artwork: Gabriele Di Bartolo

LP CGD ‎- FGL 5115 (1972, Italy)

CD Crime ‎- K32Y 2177 (1988, Japan)
CD Mellow Records ‎- MMP 167 (1993, Italy) With 2 bonus tracks
CD ‎- VMCD125 (2007, Italy) Remastered

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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IL PAESE DEI BALOCCHI Il Paese dei Balocchi ratings distribution

(129 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(29%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(43%)
Good, but non-essential (20%)
Collectors/fans only (8%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

IL PAESE DEI BALOCCHI Il Paese dei Balocchi reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by loserboy
3 stars Heavily rooted in the romantic tradition of the best Italian progressive rock, IL PAESE DEI BALOCCHI blends beautiful instrumental passages with heavy classical orchestration. This is pure symphonic prog the way it was meant to be played and heard. This album dives from the gentle touch of the softest symphonic prog to a medium tempo jazz influenced atmosphere. Like BANCO, PFM and Le ORME, IL PAESE DEI BALOCCHI displays awesome keyboard driven progressive creating the most interesting melodies and warm atmospheres. It is however, their use of the full orchestra which I find so charming here and truely seperates it apart for so many others. This album is not unlike a grand epic soundtrack really and offers the listener a deep conceptual atmosphere to get lost in. This album also varied widely from the chimes of a nursery to the deep gothic pillars of a church organ. Outstanding and clever recording.
Review by Steve Hegede
4 stars This has got to be one of the most inoffensive album ever made. The music here is so quiet, that sometimes I forget the album is evne on. Once in a while, the band breaks out of its sleepy mood and bursts into symphonic energy (with passages that sound similar to RDM's "Contaminazione"), but for the most part the playing is slow and quiet. I got this album back when Mellow Record's had their $10 sale, so I think that it's worth $10. But, if your planning on spending more, be warned that "Il Paese Dei Balocchi" 's debut is sleepy. The music is high-quality, but one wishes that the band had written more aggressive parts to balance out the slow passages.
Review by Proghead
4 stars Here's a totally obscure Italian prog band, so obscure that it seemed that only Mellow Records felt the need to reissue it on CD. The original LP (not easy to come by) was released on the CGD label, a label that wasn't too interested in rock music. This album is a nice, mainly laid-back mix of the prog rock of the time with classical. Orchestra pops up from time to time, but unfortunately, unlike RDM's "Contaminazione", OSANNA's "Milano Calibro 9" or NEW TROLL's "Concerto Grosso Per 1", orchestra and rock band never plays together, it's either orchestra or rock band playing. Regardless, the orchestral passages are rather pleasant, but not particularly rock. There's a couple passages where the band rocks out in a more ELP manner. One cut I can live without is "Risveglio e Visione del Paese dei Balocchi", especially the part with the very cheesy sounding celeste. Nice, generally pleasant Italian prog and classical, but not essential.
Review by Moogtron III
4 stars This is a real gem for most people who are interested in top quality Italian progressive rock records from the 1970's. The album has a unique sound, a bit psychedelic, gothic maybe, but is on the other hand a 100% symphonic rock recording. The album showcases an interesting combination of ELP-like rock (the first notes on the album are very Tarkus- influenced), more mellow rock like Camel, classic passages which seem to be heavily influenced by baroque composer Antonio Vivaldi (one track seems sounds like a lost Vivaldi composition, but according to the credits it must be a band composition), and the whole album has a sort of mystery over it, which is underscored by the fantastic and once again unique artwork: the cover is a sort of patchwork art, and on the inside there is a sort of abstract painting, and dreamy black and white photographs of the band members, streets, alleys etc. The music is dreamlike, but also with heavy outbursts. The music is sometimes very harmonic, sometimes ... not at all. The compositions are all top notch, though you may have to have some patience to really appreciate them. The cd version ends with 2 hitsingles (or attempts to ~), popsongs, but what makes the album so special is that everything, the ELP, psychedelic, Vivaldi, pop and other influences all can stand next to each other, and it all sounds very good. Nothing sounds out of place. Without any doubt the album is a hidden classic. The standout track that makes the record worthwile on it's own, is " Evasione", a very mellow track with a sort of minimal melody, which is augmented with all kinds of effects. The track gives you the sensation of floating over a wide landscape. Classic stuff.
Review by Sean Trane
2 stars Another one of those obscure italian prog bands that only madfe one album . Steve saus it is so quiet that he even forgets that it's playing and still gives 4 * . I get the same feeling to the point that I want to place another Cd in the deck , not even realizing that this one is on. My fellow reviewers describe this acurately , but I place on the lower scale of must- discover especially that the bonus tracks are excrutiatingly bad Italian pop (Ramazotti anyone?) and ruin the rest of the album. Anyone care to exchange a CD with me?
Review by Progbear
2 stars One of the more forgettable Italian one-shot albums of the 70's. This one features orchestrations (live ones) alongside some rather dated organ-rock. It's all made up largely of short songs, arranged in suite form with little linking bits as the musical glue holding it all together. Reminds me more of the Moody Blues than of anything Italian, it has the same "airy, orchestrated psychedelic oop" vibe I get from them.

There's really nothing wrong with the album. The musicians are all fine players and the singing is nice. But it's never much more than merely "nice". It comes across as rather bland, and just kind of drifts off into the ionosphere. Someone else said they forgot it was playing whenever they had it on, and that's exactly the same feeling I get with this. Competently made, yet ultimately pretty dull.

Review by The Prognaut
4 stars Truly, a musical revelation to me at so many levels. Like it's happened to so many other bands out there, it took IL PAESE DEI BALOCCHI only one single production during their short lyrical career to be reminded of. This 1972 album is certainly one of those overseen gems that remain constant over the decades and which enchantment lasts forever. For the purity of its wholeness, I can tell of majestic and virtuous minds crafting such a wonder. Inexplicably how, the record has it all: surprising evolution in its composition and progressiveness, captivating argumentation all along its musical arrangement and a certain blend within the passages and movements that in spite its closeness to the sound of well-known iconic bands, happen to have a sincere uniqueness. And finally regarding the mere context of the album even though it's not a concept one, all the songs are strangely linked together by a thin instrumental line that uncovers this sort of mystical perception.

The record ignites so anxiously violent through the storming sound of drums and keyboards that suddenly get cut off the scene by this set of ravishing strings leading on the first ear-impression to a deep, dark passage just to retake from the beginning and explode all over again. Simply indescribable. Out of first listen, I surrendered before my weakness for delicate keyboards and thus, Armando PAONE won a chapter from that inner battle that goes inside my head.

I'm still incapable to describe what I listened in here. Yes, it's got the Italian Symphonic wit and heart, but any possible comparisons were and are nothing to me until today that I'm typing this down in order for me to detail a full landscape of comprehension. What I do know, is that sometimes it's not necessary for a song to run for over twenty minutes to caught ones expectation that waits uneasy to burst into a flame of emotiveness. I got to felt that within brief seconds that hardly turned into a minute and I'm talking about "Canzone Della VeritÓ" which for the common ear could be just a prelude for the upcoming track on the album but I believe it's indeed an overlooked excerpt of joy and passion necessary to put together the whole conception.

Completely, a mood swinger. It has the ability to make you cry your eyes out and the power to turn you into a fearful, helpless soul due its obscure, evocative sound. If there's anything I could point out as a musical shortcoming on the album, would be the last couple of songs, "Fantasia E Poesia" and "Amore Per Gioco" that honestly, don't suit the ambiance I just tried to detail for you all and that's why I'm giving it the almost perfect rating. Nevertheless, it's a great addition to your collection, that's for sure.

Review by Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A masterpiece in daydreams

One of the many criminally overlooked bands by RPI enthusiasts, Il Paese Dei Balocchi is rarely mentioned when people speak of Italian proggers like Orme, Banco, and Osanna. And yet they left us with one of the most delicately beautiful and esoteric titles from the classic period. It is not a typical Italian symphonic album beyond the fact that it is unpredictable and interesting, rather it takes some of the basics of ISP and blends them with both classical music and space-rock influences. The result is like the soundtrack of a daydream with a rolling palette of one little vision after another. Formed in Rome in 1971 from the ashes of a band called Under 2000, PDB featured the talents of Fabio Fabiani (guitar), Marcello Martorelli (bass), Sandro Laudadio (drums, vocals), and Armando Paone (keys, flute, vocals). They convened in 1971 with producer Adriano Fabi and recorded this gem in only two weeks. Orchestral director Claudio Gizzi played a crucial role in the string arrangements, carefully rewritten and adapted to the rock sections of the band. It was released in 1972 on the early side of the classic period. The band played several of the large Italian festivals and TV appearances in '72 and '73 before splitting up. The material for a second album was written and recorded in demo form but tragically never released.

The music of PDB is not easy to describe but imagine taking a bit of something like Rovescio Della Medaglia's "Contaminazione" and mixing in some "Atom Heart Mother" era Pink Floyd. Such comparisons are never adequate but they give one a starting point. PDB's rock element is anchored by dramatic organ runs, disciplined electric guitar riffs and thudding tom-toms as witnessed in the heavy opening section. Soon a harsh break announces this will be no typical rock album as the rock is cut by sudden strings riffing in extreme tension, oozing discomfort. We are treated to some beautifully scored classical music in yet another very good merging with Italian prog. The final main element is found as the rock and classical are rolled out into a dreamy, occasionally verging on ambient space-psych soundscape. Choired and straight vocals given a unique effect by the heavy reverb of St. Euclide's Church where there were recorded, blended with organ and guitar drift into sections of quiet, eerie unease allowing the mind to drift a bit. But the weirdness and experimentation are always grounded by a good sense of fleeting melodies which at different times impart whimsy, nostalgia, sadness, and joy on the listener. Yes this is a feast of sound and indirect emotion, never easy and rarely obvious. The whole thing settles on you like a cloud as you wander through a completely non-linear event. There is a great director from Poland called Kieslowski whose films often leave the viewer confused, searching for answers that appear to be around every corner but vanish just as you get there. The mysteries are deep and wrapped in great visual beauty. Such is the experience of this album so you must be willing to enjoy the search more than the concrete answer. Regarding the conceptual themes of the album, guitarist Fabiani would tell Augusto Croce of the "Generally speaking our album is a journey of the man into himself...his ego seen here as a Toyland, where we all would like to live in, escaping from a reality that doesn't satisfy us, and where he who pulls the strings is a despotic king that manipulates us as puppets. It's a search for ourselves and our own human identity going through the right and the wrong trying to understand who we are, why we are here and where we are going, until we reach the hope....a vain hope, because at the end of that journey we discover that the bitter reality that we live in, is nothing else than a mirror where we can see the reflection of our soul. All this is contained in our album, with the use of various characters.. always searching for something, probably searching for ourselves or our own place in that society that we didn't feel as our own, and that we thought we could change, especially with our music trying to put each of us in front of his responsibilities toward that society in which we used to live and still we live in."

I'll be completely honest here. While this album is a masterpiece to me personally I have to stop short rating as such: this is highly esoteric and demands a patient listener willing to grow on it over time. It certainly is not an album with the wide appeal most would feel crucial to a 5-star rating. There are few obvious rock grooves to grab onto here. Your first play may be frustrating. Your fifth may still feel like a chore. But if you're like me eventually every play will be a treasure of the true spirit of progressive music-hearing emotions expressed in a unique and interesting way. The Vinyl Magic mini-LP sleeve features liner notes and the albums delightful artwork. I feel this album is a must for Italian aficionados and any others intrigued by the description above. I hope very much that the second album mentioned above emerges someday, a hope born of Fabiani's closing comments in the interview: "We want to release together the second part of our album on CD, but we're still looking for the right musicians to play our music, I'm afraid that I can't find the right musicians here, not that there is no good musicians around here, it's just that all of them interpret our music following their tastes, that are far from what we have in mind. Maybe it's just that I'm too old, don't know, but for sure the music of the past, like progressive rock, played with modern technologies and by modern musicians, technically gifted and real....monsters, seems like a tasteless soup, probably due to the lack of good cooks with the right experience...." Il Paese Dei Balocchi is certainly not a tasteless soup! 9/10

Review by Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Here is another lost gem from the glory days of early Italian symphonic progressive rock - the eponymous album by the quartet Il Paese dei Balocchi bears a peculiar magic that makes it one of a kind through its obvious typical signals. The album kicks off with flashy splendor: 'Il Trionfo dell'Egoismo, della Violenza, della Presunzione e dell'Indifferenza' states a powerful Manierist dynamics by the full band before the string ensemble takes over and fulfills the last passages in order to slow down the intensity level a bit. At this point, the terrain is set for the next section 'Impotenza della Umiltß e della Rassegnazione', a slow rocker very much in the vein of bluesy psychedelic rock (airs of "Meddle"-era Pink Floyd and Nektar are easy to notice). The chorale keeps things quite ceremonious until things spice up in a pompous manner, very bombastic, similarly to Il Rovescio della Medaglia or Buon Vecchio Charlie. The third section 'Canzone della Speranza' is a symphonic ballad, featuring a majestic string arrangement. 'Evasione' is an eerie rocker, slow and melancholic, properly supported by calculated organ layers and developed through the tasteful, not too complicated guitar's lead phrases. The album's second half starts with a very dreamy 'Risveglio e Visione del Paese dei Balocchi', whose structural sound is quite surreal; 'Ingresso e Incontro con I Balcchanti' brings a stylish approach to a mixture of Baroque nuances and horror movie moods. 'Canzone della veritÓ' and 'Narcisismo della Perfezione' bring a dose of serenity with its intimate ambiences. 'VeritÓ dell'Intuizione Fantastica' states an effective combination of Gothic moods that stay between the calm and the creepy, and typical symphonic bombast. Actually, this track doesn't leave the aura of intimacy that had been explored in the previous track, but it takes it to a more colorful dimension. The closer 'Ritorno alla Condizione Umana' is a solo organ piece that installs, once again, the sort of dynamics mixing Baroque and Gothic that the band had been developing throughout the album. Now, this is the creepiest track, even though it is not horrific in a Devil Doll sort of way, but still, creepy in its grayish atmospheres. "Il Paese dei Balocchi' is, ultimately, a weird album: it is a creature of its time, a symphonic opus with lots of borrowed tricks from the world of academic music, but it also has a mysterious quality to it that keeps it on a different ground to those of New Trolls' "Concerto Grosso" or Il Rovescio della Medaglia's "Contaminazione". A very goo item in any good prog collection.

Review by DamoXt7942
FORUM & SITE ADMIN GROUP Avant/Cross/Neo/Post Teams
3 stars My frist impression of this art work was...DEPRESSIVE & DIFFICULT TO UNDERSTAND.

Suddenly this 'eavy guitarwork and dark strings...then what happened on IL PAESE DEI BALOCCHI? I suggesut this early 70s' heavy Italian progressive rock ART should be one of albums which could open the RPI world. Lead guitar, bass, drum & percussion, keyboard and strings...there are many kinds of instrumentals, and all of them are heavy, dark, and depressive. Sometimes vocal can wrap the instrumentals but the atmosphere can't get clear or bright but darker and more depressive. Refraining dark phrases will make us listeners drop the depth down. And the album has finished as we can't stand our mind up. We can see another side of Italian progressive rock world and I'm sure it should be worth for listening as EARLY ITALIAN DARK PROG ART.

In the Mellow label's reissue version are two bonus tracks. I beg your pardon but I think these bonus tracks are not worth for listening. How pop they are...

At any rate, I can recommend you this album if you love depression or darkness and you're an Italian progressive rock freak...LIKE ME. :P Anyway, I'm at a loss whether I should give this album 3 stars or tell the truth, I wanna give 3.5 stars, essencially.

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars This was IL PAESE DEI BALOCCHI's only album released in 1972. I must say this one took me by complete surprise. I did notice the comparisons to NEW TROLLS "Concerto Grosso" and RDM's "Contaminazione" which didn't exactly leave me looking forward to this one. I'm not a fan of either of those albums. This though is more Chamber music than orchestral, plus it has a dark, melancholic vibe to it at times. Definitely for the adventerous as they put their own unique twist on that RPI style. Bottom line is that this album blew me away. It's so fresh and different, it's hard to believe it's from 1972. And I agree completely with Finnforest's review and his title "A masterpiece in daydreams".

"Il Trionfo Dell'egoismo, Della Violenza, Della Presunazione E Dell'infifferenta" is drum and organ led to start with. This is quite aggressive. Then violins take over before a minute eventually turning into a Classical sounding piece. "Impotenza Dell'umilta Della Rassegnazione" opens with faint sounds that come and go. It kicks in after a minute. Very cool. It settles again then we get drums and a full sound before 2 minutes. Nice organ too. It settles again with more organ. Vocal melodies and organ start to build then it changes again. Kicks back in with some nasty organ and guitar. How good is this ! "Canzone Della Sperenza" opens with acoustic guitar as vocal melodies join in. Strings after a minute. Vocals for the first time on the album are reserved.

"Evasione" has this grey, melancholic intro before it starts to build. It settles, then drums and some atmosphere arrive before 2 1/2 minutes. We also get organ, bass and guitar. It's building. This is an amazing soundscape to get lost in (daydreams). The sound changes after 6 minutes as it gets fuller with guitar, drums and vocal melodies standing out to the end of the song. Nice. "Risvaglio E Visione De Paese Dei Balocchi" opens with sax before lots of atmosphere rolls in. It turns to a classical mood after 2 minutes. Organ takes over before 3 1/2 minutes. The drums and keyboards standout early on "Ingresso E Incontro Con I Boloccanti".The guitar is next and it's dark. Vocals late. "Canzone Della Verita" is a short violins piece. "Narcisismo Della Perfezione" is mostly acoustic guitars and vocals. "Verita Dell'intuizione Fantastica" is dark with organ as other sounds come and go quietly until drums and bass take over before 2 1/2 minutes. It's fuller after 3 minutes. Great sound ! Nice guitar and organ. "Ritorno Alla Condizione Umana" ends the album with powerful organ runs.

4.5 stars. A wondrous work.

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is without doubt one of the best integrations of rock and classical music I have heard. Many bands have tried and failed at this, but Il Paese Dei Balocchi managed to create a sonic ambience where both the orchestra and the rock instruments sound fresh and crisp. A remarkable achievement.

The album starts with a short classical piece played with rock instruments. It's jagged, dark and full of bite. It quickly and suddenly changes to an equally urgent string ensemble, sounding a bit like Stravinsky in his neo-classical period. The violins mellow out near the end. 2.34 minutes in and I'm completely overawed already.

And on it goes for another 35 minutes of sharp instrumental rock and prog rock, balanced against classical chamber orchestra, choral vocals and beautiful songs such as Conzone Della Speranza. Everything is very cinematic, as if we're going through different scenes of a play. Even some Floydian atmospherics are present, as on Evasione. In fact, this whole album has something of an Atom Heart Mother feel.

After the wonderful church organ finale of Ritorno Alla Condizione Umana, a complete shock follows with the addition of the two extremely cringeworthy pop bonus tracks. They are placed right after the original album and you don't have more then 2 seconds to press stop so be quick!

A remarkable album that is probably too eclectic to win over the prog masses any time soon, but a highly recommended listen for lovers of classical music and symphonic prog.

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars A cult early name of the 70's Italian Prog scene,this quartet from Rome was born out of the ashes of the beat group Under 2000,which was formed in mid-60's and released a few singles,after bassist Aldo Parente (aka Franco Maria Giannini) left the band.The remaining members were accompanied by (later main leader) keyboardist Armando Paone and bassist Marcello Martorelli.Producer Adriano Fabi helped them record their debut,which was pressed in 1800 copies,an album which meant to be the first and last one for this obscure act.

STYLE: At the same time flirting with complex organ-driven prog and dark/romantic Classical music,''Il Paese dei Balocchi'' is a dangerous listening for non-mystified proggers.Spotted by many reviewers as a calm and very relaxed release,I can only say that this is half true.You will find yourself often after trully complicated heavy prog musicianship with definite symphonic elements,guided by remarkable guitar sounds and bombastic organ.Other themes include hypnotic musicianship with smooth guitars (both acoustic and electric),mysterious choirs,deep basses,spacey synths and soft vocals.The high educational level of the band is in front of you at the strong amount of Classical passages,dominated by vocals,dark organ,intense string parts and grandiose piano.

INFLUENCES/SOUNDS LIKE: Forget about the folkier side of Italian Prog and focus on the most obscure parts of the Italian Symphonic scene.Best comparison would be ALPHATAURUS if you add a strong amount of pure Classical music.Other reference points could be ROVESCIO DELLA MEDAGLIA,MUSEO ROSENBACH,NEW TROLLS or even PHOLAS DACTYLUS and JACULA.

PLUS: Certainly originality!I cannot think of another old Italian band which blends organ- driven prog with so many crystalline Classical parts.Excellent work by Paone on organ,which is the bands biggest weapon.The album emits a bizzare but attractive blend of romanticism, mysticism and darkness in its every section.Excellent choir parts as well.The rocking parts are of top class with balanced complexity and a high level of musicianship.

MINUS: Yes,''Il Paese dei Balocchi'' is much of a calm listening (yet with a high emotional level) and a liitle bit rocking intensity wouldn't hurt.Actually those not into Classical music may have some problems following this album.Male vocals are not that good,average stuff at least.

WILL APPEAL TO: People ,whose nights are torn between( prog) rock and Classical music may find this album in their top 10!RPI fans will definitely like this one too.For the rest,you should try some samples first.

CONCLUSION/RATING: 3.5 stars.An excellent example of early Italian Progressive Rock with a huge musical quality and a very personal sound...but this is not your album for every night I have to admit.Worth purchasing.

Review by friso
5 stars Il Paese dei Balocchi - st (1972)

Continuing my journey through the Italian symphonic land-scapes I found this album by coincidence. I was on a vinyl convention and I had the option to buy four RPI vinyl reissues for forty euros and I had to pick a fourth one (the others were easy choices). I asked the man who sold the records how this strange looking record sounded and he answered something like: 'it's pretty dark and brooming'. A convincing salesman talk. The cover with it's old clothes patterns is actually really good. The inside of this fold-out sleeve has yet some more artwork.

Now, actually, this music ain't that dark, but it is brooming. Il Paese dei Balocchi plays an introvert form of classical inspired prog that has little relation with the ELP-tradition of key- bashing and bombastic arrangements. And I have to agree with Bonnek here, this really is one of the best fusions of prog and classical music. Subtle, atmospheric and intelligent. It isn't as much the notes or recognizable chord progressions that were taken from the classical genre, but it's dynamic listening experience. It's many low-volume passages, it's full-blown string arrangements (with some of the best Italian vocals I've ever heard) and totally unique approach to music make this one of my favorite Italian records so far. Yet, Il Paese dei Balocchi has some moments of up-tempo and rockin' (but subtle) moments. Along the way we also get some dark moments (with panicking vocals), a moment that sounds as if post-rock was invented by this band and a mysterious church-organ ending section. The recording of the album is very good and suitable for it's kind.

Also mentioned by Bonnek, this album's vibe and atmosphere evoke a link to Pink Floyd's Atom Heart Mother. It's hard to explain, but the introvert progression and the totally out-of-the-box approach are somehow resemblant of the Pink Floyd masterpiece.

Conclusion. Innovation is a key-word for the progressive genre, but uniqueness is king. Creating a piece of music that is both atmospheric and intelligent AND totally original is for me the ultimate achievement. It's like magic. I feel obligated to give the five-star rating for Il Paese dei Balocchi. This is what I'm looking for.

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars One between so many one-shot RPI band from early 70. Differently from many others popular RPI releases,this album's music is not only very symphonic, but often dark, complex and almost non-mellow.

Interesting, that compositions there are not symphonic music with mellow pop-rock arrangements, as too often could be heard from similar releases, but real tasteful symphonic prog on its best! Plenty of organ sounds remind more JS Bach or catholic church organ messes than popular classics adaptation for schoolboys party. Sound is ambitious and bombastic, but this album is that rare case when bombastic doesn't mean negative.

Musicianship is of really high level and I really respect how musicians work with symphonic material. Possibly some can say that there are not real melted music of classical and rock is presented, and I can see the reason for such comments. But to be honest,such responsible use of chamber and symphonic material, when rock elements never destroy it,but sound more as side-part additions, is really respectable in my opinion.

In all cases, this only band's release is really one of the greatest examples of non-mellow and non-cheesy RPI, besides of Museo Rosenbach. For many of you who disappointed in RPI because of their "pop meet classics meet rock" sound this album could be one good chance to find great sides of RPI. Just try!

P.S. Re-release 2 bonuses are funny Italian vintage pop, better just skip them.

Review by Nightfly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Releasing only one album, in 1972, Il Paese Dei Balocchi deserve to be spoken of in the same tones of reverence as other highly regarded one shot bands of the Italian prog scene such as Museo Rosenbach and Maxophone and had they lasted longer, who knows, they may have even been up there with the big boys - Banco, Orme etc such is the quality here.

This eponymous offering is a beautiful piece of work - atmospheric, melancholic and haunting, it's a lovely example of Italian symphonic prog with classical touches. It doesn't rush, content to take its time giving the music a trippy vibe at times. Largely instrumental which works in its favour but that's not to say the vocals are lacking in quality when they are present. Great Hammond work gets me every time as it does here, having for want of a better word, a kind of spooky feel to it on this occasion. There also seems to be a church organ present which is equally compelling. Guitar generally takes a back seat as does the drums but there's the occasional powerful moment where things take off for a short while. This thankfully doesn't work to the detriment of the overall vibe of the album.

I'm surprised this excellent album doesn't feature more prominently amongst top Italian prog lists, it really is that good and is essential to anyone on a journey of discovery with RPI and likely to be of interest to many others too. Wonderful stuff and a great example of why Italian prog is so full of surprises and draws in such strong devotes.

Review by zravkapt
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is a classic prog album from 1970s Italy but one which most fans of Italian prog do not discuss much. A shame as I really liked this album but not some of the more popular RPI stuff. Il Paese Dei Balocchi is one of those Italian bands who only released one album and were never heard from again. This situation of course always makes you wonder whether these bands could have come up with something even better or if their first album was indeed their musical peak. Strings are important here and the balance of rock band and strings is well done. There are a few short instrumental interludes scattered across the album. The string parts are very symphonic and classical sounding while the rock parts are either in a 'heavy prog' vein or more mellow-rock.

The tracklist for this album really gave me a headache. Unable to find another streaming source for this album, I used YT to listen to it. This album is on a list of albums I want to get a hard copy of, but most of the prices I've seen for it are not cheap. It would be nice to hear the album as intended instead of in crappy YT sound. Back to the tracklist...every site I visited (including this one) had a different tracklisting and track times. There is also a 'hidden' song to which the YT vids make no reference. It's possible I may have gotten a few tracks confused, but I'll try my best to desribe the songs on this rather underrated album.

"Il Trionfo dell'egoismo..." starts the album off in a heavy prog direction. Then some great dramatic sounding strings take over. The strings then play the heavy riff at the beginning. The second track, which I believe is called "Impotenza dell'umilta..." (etc.) has great guitar playing and wordless harmony vocals along with some nice organ. Track 3 is called "Canzone della speranza" and has Italian lyrics for the first time on the album. Overall it's one of the more uninterersting and dull moments on the album.

"Evasione" is a song I first heard embedded on a website. I loved it so much I wanted to hear the whole album. This track sounds timeless, it could be from 40 years ago or it could have been recorded yesterday. I never heard RPI like this before. A highlight of the album for sure. It opens with some guitar arpeggios before organ, cymbals and bass join in. After 2 minutes it goes into the heart of the song which is built around a 3-note bassline, a jazzy guitar figure and a laid-back and easy-going beat. Eventually strings and atmospheric sounds get added and get louder as the band fades out. Towards the end organ brings the band back playing something different now with some cool "ahh" vocals now and again.

Track 5 which I think is called "Risveglio e visione..." has about 2 minutes of strings before it switches to a neat Prog Folk/Gentle Giant style. Later you hear a musical box or something similar. Ends dramatically with cymbals and organ. "Ingresso e incontro..." again feels like a mix of Tull and GG before it turns slightly blues-rocky. Then it sounds like a field recording of a cappella Italian singing with a little organ at the very end. The longest track, which I think is called "Verita dell'intuizione..." opens with organ and bass that increases in tempo and then is followed by some great symphonic prog. There's some kind of percussion sound you hear going back and forth in stereo before we get to some heavy prog featuring awesome drumming. Lots of unison playing as well.

Afterwards the song goes into what sounds like 9/8 time played slowly. Almost hypnotic this part. This is a very enjoyable and almost timeless album. Hard to compare it to anything since it generally sounds fairly unique. This does not sound as dated as some Italian prog from around the same time. There is also almost no trace of a Genesis influence. Not every track is a winner but the whole album flows well. I will give this 4 stars.

Review by Dobermensch
2 stars There's not much worse than organ related rock in my book. Regrettably this album is replete with such sound. That overblown cheese--fest is abundant throughout this self-titled album from the otherwise untouchable period of prog - 1972.

'Il Paese Dei Balocchi' is one of the more over-rated Italian prog albums which has Armando Paone sniveling and moaning about something or other. Perhaps it would help if I could understand Italian? One way or the other - he ain't no Sinatra.

'Il Paese Dei Balocchi' is decently recorded, sounding lively with much space between tracks. It's just that, well, it's damn uninteresting if I'm brutally honest. The compositions are poor and the playing is half-hearted - almost as though they can't wait to get the recording session over.

Things pick up with the creamy sound of 'Euasione' which, for 2 minutes fools you into a sense of imminent greatness with it's cool guitar and highly produced vocals. It's ultimately inadequate, as what follows is not a crescendo but a crushing lull. A shuffling. soul sapping nonentity.

This is a disappointingly forgettable album that tries ever so hard to be greater than the skills of the musicians at hand. In my opinion, it's just a poorly conceived and boringly executed album.

Review by VianaProghead
4 stars Review N║ 251

We are in 1972, a true very prolific year for the Italian prog scene. It's the year of the publication of many of the greatest masterpieces of the Italian prog. Just to name a few of them and the most importants, we have the homonymous debut album and 'Darwin' of Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso, 'Per Un Amico' and 'Storia Di Un Minuto' of Premiata Forneria Marconi, 'Uomo Di Pezza' of Le Orme, the homonymous debut album of Reale Accademia Di Musica, 'Ys' of Il Balletto Di Bronzo, 'Palepoli' of Osanna, the homonymous debut album of Quella Vecchia Locanda, 'DNA' of Jumbo, and next to them, we can find a small pearl, almost unknown, 'll Paese Dei Balocchi', the album of the band with the same name.

Il Paese Dei Balocchi was founded in Rome in 1971. Born from the ashes of Under 2000 and active since 1965, Il Paese Dei Balocchi were noticed in 1971 by the producer Adriano Fabi who proposed them the making of an album. This happened in the following year and the recording sessions lasted only two weeks and they released their only album.

The line up on the album is Fabio Fabiani (guitars), Armando Paone (vocals and organ), Marcello Martorelli (bass) and Sanaro Laudadio (lead vocals and drums). The Maestro Claudio Gizzi took care of the arrangements of the strings.

'Il Paese Dei Balocchi' is a conceptual album with a very pessimistic theme about the humankind, its society and the search for convincing answers. The concept is about a journey of a man inside himself, and himself here was imagined as a 'Land of Toys', the one where we all want to live escaping from a reality that doesn't satisfy us and where those who hold the threads of power, the despots, maneuvers us as true 'puppets'. It's the search for the human identity, passing through the good and the evil, trying to understand who we are, why we are here and where we are going to.

The cover of the album depicts many pieces of colored fabric sewn together. It fully represents the music on the album, the collage of sounds, classical and electronic, and atmospheres melancholy mismatches, presents on the album, not to be seen as compositional confusion, but as a great technical skill and ability to juggle the articulated world. Its music is a mix of classical, avant-garde and prog. Keyboards dominate, but there are some great orchestral arrangements too.

On the first track is the sublime amalgam between guitar, organ, bass and drums that impose to it. After a short break, the song creates suspense and changes completely. The last seconds are very relaxing. The second track carry with numerous and sudden changes. The start is very minimal, with a guitar and a theme of a few notes, taken shortly after a distorted guitar. The evolution is introduced by the bass and the entry of the whole band is accompanied by the choirs. Shortly, the organ tries to restore the calm, but it's only appearance. The choirs and a guitar come followed by a short segment of keyboards that closes it. The third track is the first sung on the album. A slight arpeggio starts a melancholy ballad. The basic sadness of the piece is also present later on the strings, in the voice and in the text. The end reminds me the pieces for strings of Vivaldi. The fourth track has a dreamlike, psychedelic flavor, a sensation created by the guitar's sound in the first part of the piece. From the second minute the dreamy atmosphere takes more shape with the entry of the keyboards and the battery. We can note some, sporadic, synth inserts and the fuller finish. The choirs in the end remind me Pink Floyd. The fifth track has a musical structure and creates an atmosphere that can be used like film music. The bass tour of the intermezzo instead seems to be taken from a passage by Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso. The sixth track is a song with a double soul. The first part has a very lively intro that exudes something medieval. The second part is entrusted to a voice that sings with a 'monastic' tone. The seventh track is a very short and intense song, played only with strings. It's very close to the pieces on the three 'Concerto Grosso' of New Trolls. It's clearly influenced by Vivaldi. The eighth track is another very short song. The only participants are the guitar and voice. On the ninth track is the bass, accompanied by the percussion, which gives meaning to the piece. They lead the way to a great prog segment. The organ solo presents sounds very British. The last part has psychedelic sounds. The tenth track is a test of strength of the organ alone, played great by Paone. For the occasion, an organ was used in the church of Saint Euclide, a church in which some choirs were also recorded. It's clearly a piece influenced by the organ works of Bach.

Conclusion: 'll Paese Dei Balocchi' is mostly an instrumental album. It's very symphonic and heavily influenced by the classical music of the Baroque Period, namely by the music of Vivaldi and J. S. Bach. Despite the busy beginning, the music mostly aims to be atmospheric and to create ambience instead of flashiness, with a few vocals appearing through the mist every now and then, sometimes only as a backing choir. The acoustic and electric guitars, bass and lots of Hammond organ come together to give to ambitious music worthy of the masters of the golden era of the Italian prog scene. The music is quite complex of the early 70's and the vocals are in Italian and excellent. It's recommended.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Heavy Prog & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
5 stars An obscure gem that deserves far more attention than it has received, this a masterpiece of intricate and unusual compositions that are delicately performed in an almost reverential way.

1. "Il trionfo dell'egoismo, della violenza, della presunazione e dell'infifferenza" (2:34) opening with a big, rolling, full band rock rondo, the music suddenly and quite drastically shifts at the 0:45 second mark into an entirely orchestral version/variation on the opening until at 2:20 it shifts into a finishing cushion of soft beauty. (9.25/10)

2. "Impotenza dell'umiltÓ della rassegnazione" (4:09) opens with gentle, spacious MIKE OLDFIELD sounding pastoral play from guitar and background Gregorian chant-like voices. At 1:50 the voices increase and the full rock band join in to support the Gregorian melody. At 2:30 everything quiets again before loud church organ and amped up voices establish a more rock orientation, which then evolves into a busting out of a full-on San Francisco-like blues-rock jam for the final minute. (9/10)

3. "Canzone della speranza" (3:55) gently picked acoustic guitar with more choral-like voices establish a pretty yet- sad structure before it all switches to a string quartet-supported vocal section around the one minute mark. The strings and lone male vocal are really pulling on heartstrings! Organ joins in for the final minute, otherwise, this is a gorgeous chamber piece. (9.5/10)

4. "Evasione" (7:40) opens with very spacious gently picked electric guitar with some water-like synth or percussion occasionally peeking in. After 90 seconds some more percussion and rock instruments take turns jumping in for short bursts of emphasis until, finally, at 2:43 a fully developed five-part song emerges with a slow, very engaging pop/R&B-feeling melody leading the way. This continues for two long but very satisfying minutes before more incidental instruments are intermittently inserted and then as quickly faded out. At 5:47 everything fades away until a volume-organ enters and is eventually joined by soloing electric guitar with support of rhythm section of cymbal- crashing drums, bass, and, later, two different sets of choral background voices. Cool but mystifying song. (14/15)

5. "Risveglio e visione del paese dei balocchi" (4:40) opens with a solo oboe (or cor anglais) playing a plaintive dirge. Gentle and sparsely orchestrated strings and winds enter in gentle support in the second minute. At the end of the second minute the orchestral instruments fade and are supplanted by organ, bass, and percussives for a minute or so before a volume-oscillating keyboard and organ take over and finish the song with some choral voices in background support. Nice, sensitive, song of interesting and beautiful subtleties. (9.25/10)

6. "Ingresso e incontro con i Baloccanti" (2:00) A KING CRIMSON-like Útude in sound possibilities and instrument and time variations and combinations. Breaks and ends with a church-like vocal solo. (4.5/5)

7. "Canzone della veritÓ" (0:45) is a short Pachelbel-like orchestra strings rondo. (5/5)

8. "Narcisismo della perfezione" (1:01) Brief plaintive folk song with beautiful male vocal supported by picked electric guitar and occasional strums from an acoustic steel-string guitar. (4.25/5)

9. "VeritÓ dell'intuizione fantastica (6:56) opens with distant swirling organ accompanied by bass and gentle drum & cymbal play creating a circular melody which has very slowly increasing volume and tempo over the course of the first 1:10. Things then soften and slow back down as organ fades further into the background while repeating electric guitar arpeggio and bass take over filling the foreground. At 2:15 a kind of Peter Gunn riff from the electric guitar opens up a new section as bass, drums and percussion pick up the pace. At the three minute mark everything suddenly shifts into a very tightly-performed weave. Eventually the swirling organ returns and begins to alternately throw flames and buckets of water upon the song. Then, at 4:10, rather abruptly, the song stops and again shifts into another protracted display of full band discipline and cohesion as they repeat over an over the same motif for several bars before they are eventually joined by a subdued BRAINTICKET-like organ. Even still, over the final minute nothing new is added to this highly disciplined repetition of this short motif. Interesting! Never annoying, just ... unexpected. (13/15)

10. "Ritorno alla condizione umana (4:18) a dynamic and often frenzied solo on the church organ. Very cool! (10/10)

Total Time: 44:43

Bonus song: "Hidden song" or "Fantasia e poesia" (3:34) an Italian variation on the "Whiter Shade of Pale" blues- rock sound with more traditional folkie Italian lead vocal. (/10)

Five stars; a masterpiece of classically-oriented Rock Progressivo Italiano--one that achieves that rare event in its masterful blending of rock and orchestral instruments.

Review by Matti
5 stars The fairly brief golden era of Rock Progressivo Italiano - - in the early 70's -- was full of bands that made only one album without receiving much of attention at the time. Il Paese dei Balocchi ("The Land of Toys") has deservedly found its way among the later found 'lost classics'. The group was founded in Rome in 1971. Two of the members came from the band Under 2000, which released a couple of singles.

The eponymous album is a unique representative of RPI, starting from the unusually large portion of the instrumental approach. The opener dominated by electric guitar and organ is the most rocking piece, but for the most the rather dark-toned album contains so delicate sound tapestry that a less concentrated listener may lose the grip.

Despite lyrics and vocals being very sparse here, in this case I really feel sorry for not understanding Italian, because the album seems to have a deep and intelligent concept dealing with humanity. There are track titles with meanings such as The Victory of Selfishness, A Song of Hope (the movingly sad sounding song 'Canzone della Speranza'), etc.

The art music influences, ie. the arrangements that create orchestral impressions, are far from the Baroque orientation of I New Trolls or Il Rovescio Della Medaglia (and their collaborator Luis Bacalov), instead Il Paese dei Balocchi stays in somewhat restricted, delicate expression, which is exactly what makes the album enigmatic and almost mysterious. For example the nearly 8-minute 'Evasione' could be described as dark ambient and its hypnotic atmosphere, in this whole album actually, has something in common with the Aphrodite's Child classic album 666 released in the same year.

In the end of the album there's again more solid 'rock' sound with Hammond organ but still with an esoteric flavour. The band made some demos for a second album but collapsed in 1974. This album is surely not the easiest to get into, but it's one of the most magical RPI gems of the era.

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