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Mad Fellaz

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Mad Fellaz Mad Fellaz II album cover
3.90 | 117 ratings | 4 reviews | 21% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2016

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Hollow Shell (14:00)
2. Blood Pressure I (1:28)
3. Blood Pressure II (14:40)
4. Me Gusta (6:54)
5. OVO (Of Virtual Omniscence) (11:56)
6. Moslem Sabbath (8:44)
7. Meet the Gooroo (3:38)

Total Time 61:20

Line-up / Musicians

- Anna Farronato / vocals
- Paolo Busatto / guitar
- Jason Nealy / guitar
- Enrico Brunelli / keyboards
- Rudy Zilio / flute, clarinet, EWI
- Carlo Passuello / bass
- Marco Busatto / drums
- Lorenzo Todesco / percussion

- Flavio Brun / saxophone (1,4)
- Alessandro Brunetta / saxophone (1,3,4,6)
- Sean Lucariello / trumpet (1,4)

Releases information

Artwork: Maria Todesco

CD Self-released (2016, Italy)

2LP Self-released (2017, Italy)

Digital album

Thanks to mbzr48 for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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MAD FELLAZ Mad Fellaz II ratings distribution

(117 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(21%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(40%)
Good, but non-essential (28%)
Collectors/fans only (9%)
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)

MAD FELLAZ Mad Fellaz II reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Rivertree
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Band Submissions
4 stars Hey, are they kinda mad fellas? The allegory of painting. I mean, providing such a beautiful album with such an ... eh ... let's say odd cover picture? Probably only a matter of creative thinking though. Is this arising from the fact that they are hailing from a land of wine and grappa flowing in cascades potentially? Anyway, then again, who will be really bothered about that, when considering the fine musical content offered on their sophomore album. The most significant change, when considering the debut, may be the decision to invite a female singer, Anna Farronato is her name. Fortunato!

This is a call for a play of words, right? Anna is provided with a rather jazzy voice, which perfectly suits the main orientation music-wise. So what is this in the end? Here we have a blend of jazz, funk and heavy prog predominantly, a classical background is shimmering through here and there. Soaring psych guitars now and then. Woodwind instruments are playing an important role. Additionally, especially on Me Gusta, I mean to smell some polka tendencies. Thus a multi-varied, partially eclectic affair, this due to the rather complex compositions first and foremost.

I recently saw Helmut Hattler (ex-Kraan) performing with his band. Well, interestingly this is similiar in parts as for the soul and jazz impressions, though obviously provided with a heavier vibe (Anekdoten references) and surely deriving from a progressive rock basis on this occasion. It's not recommended to highlight any track actually, though I don't wanted to conceal that recently I loved to listen to Moslem Sabbath again and again. My experience: take one hurdle, ignore that cover image, and reserve your time for a listen. You won't regret!

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Italian group Mad Fellaz began life as an all-instrumental group six years ago, releasing a superb self-titled debut in 2014 with `Mad Fellaz', an eclectic mix of vocal-free rock suites that incorporated everything from fiery jazz-fusion meanderings, playful grooves, ambient dreamy atmospheres, ethnic flavours and sophisticated RPI inclusions. But while they were always a stretch to consider ever being a true RPI-sounding group, two years on sees a rather surprising change in the set-up of Mad Fellaz with the addition of female vocalist Anna Farronato (controversially singing in English) that takes the group in something of a Rock-in-Opposition/Avant-Garde direction with a healthy dose of the Canterbury sound, but still maintaining all the instrumental flair present in the band from the beginning.

While those above mentioned styles are all present here again, the band citing Area and Banco del Mutuo Soccorso as original influences still holds in many respects, with a schizophrenic anything-goes variety of changing musical directions constantly in place, but always remaining melodic and avoiding the more shrill, jagged and loopy outbursts of many avant/R.I.O groups (we're not quite talking full-blown Henry Cow here!). Everything from Zappa, 80's King Crimson, Hatfield and the North and the Ozrics are worked in with a constant grooving finesse here, and you have one of the most punchy, fun and colourful discs of the year.

Opener `Hollow Shell' sets a template for much of the disc - diverse and frantic instrumental bursts wrapped around Anna's purring, menacing and whooping girly squeal. You get everything from electric piano trickles and spiralling synth soloing, trumpeting funky sax blasts, and brief twirling flute still holding traces of the proper RPI tradition that occasionally revealed itself on the debut. Constantly fluid murmuring bass grumbles and turns with power and aggression in an instant, slow-burn guitar embers smoulder with bluesy heaviness and grooving saunters, a gleaming Adrian Belew-era King Crimson-like ambience pervades, and there's no skimping on exotic, busy and constantly ballistic drumming - just listen to the 11:00 minute mark!

The two-part `Blood Pressure' suite fuses ethereal sighing harmonies and weeping guitar reaches with muscular grooving heavy riffs and vacuum-like rising/falling electronic distortion over a deranged spoken-word explanation of the medical symptoms of blood pressure - yes really! A soaring extended guitar solo is a highlight in a funky poppier stretch, topped off with a chiming dreamy solo spotlight for Anna, and her frequently spat dangerous catch-cry of `Your f*cking heart's exploding' throughout is sure to impress and annoy in equal measure! Also pay close attention to the gorgeous jazzy piano intro to `OVO', another lengthy workout of stop-start diversions and twisting time-changes that delivers classical sophistication, ethereal crystalline voices, drifting spacey passages, middle east mystery and symphonic power in a piece that sometimes reminds of Canterbury band National Health in little moments.

There's still wholly instrumental pieces - `Me Gusta' sounds like the Ozric Tentacles jamming with the Soft Machine's bursting noisy walls of sax and clarinet in the middle of a dusty desert whilst adding in a few polka, Latin and middle-eastern textures - phew, got that?! `Moslem Sabbath' crushes all in its path with punishing heavy-grooving riffing and monstrous pounding drums before culminating in mysterious drifting ambience and dark jazz blaring sax ruminations with lashings of dirty Hammond organ. Closer `Meet the Gooroo' has traces of Post Rock chiming guitars building in intensity for a victorious and confident finish.

The addition of vocals (and English ones at that) to much of what was a thrilling instrumental act is going to be a difficult thing to accept for some earlier listeners of Mad Fellaz, particularly when the group was doing so well already with the kind of music they were offering on their debut. However, if you pay proper attention, all the same instrumental skill and flair of the first album is always present here, just that it's sometimes in the background behind the vocals, or taking prominence in and out around the voice. Perhaps the group might have considered releasing a two-CD version of the album that included a purely instrumental mix of the main album, or even adopting a different name for this vocal-driven project?

But `Mad Fellaz II' is only disappointing when compared to the all-instrumental debut, and lovers of quirky vocal-focused R.I.O/eclectic rock with endless lashings of instrumental colour, technical skill, a sly sense of humour and unpredictable changes will be completely thrilled by what they find here, and there's no denying this talented group have released another winning progressive-music work. Play it loud, and you just may end up convinced you've discovered one of the best albums of 2016!

Four and a half stars - and bonus points for THE prog album cover art of the year!

Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars I was one of the mad fellas who fell in love with this unique Italian prog band's 2013 debut , a curious style that had both familiar and original features, the spirited playing of an all-instrumental set list of epic sized pieces that simply blew many fans and critics away. Everything about "Mad Fellaz" was inspiring: beautiful cover art, a 'squaddra' featuring a dual guitar approach, sensational bass and drum tandem, a flute/ clarinet to add some flavor , two monsters epics to start off with a bang and a general feel of sophistication. I, among many other reviewers, gave this an easy 5 star rating, a very well-deserved appreciation, especially for a debut album. It took three years to come up with a follow-up, a pretty much intact line-up with only a few minor changes but one major one: a lead singer! Anna Farronato sings in English (maybe a hindrance, maybe not), which threw everyone somewhat off guard, at first.

Just like the first album, the Mad Fellaz initiate the recording with another two sizable back to back epics, proving a point of style I guess. The first is the 14 minute "Hollow Shell" , a whopping instrumental that continues where the band left off, hurling inspired notes at break neck speed and oozing with class and flair. Lavish percussion and electric piano always gets my attention, so it took a mere 3 seconds to get me fixated on Paolo Busatto's stinging guitar as the bass and drums impel the theme forward. The vocal does take a few seconds of adaptation, as her style has a strange tone, a squeaking, girlish rant that hints at Annette Peacock or even Kate Bush perhaps, definitely frantic and deranged at times. Lots of perfected details here, Carlo Passuello's chunky and rambunctious bass guitar muscles along beautifully, amid the intricate drum patterns from Marco Busatto (who shines throughout) and stellar keyboard work from Enrico Brunelli, who also provides a mind blowing sax solo. These well- oiled elements do coalesce into a more Canterbury-like sound, complex rolls and loops that give way more width and depth than other more RPI like bands. Jagged, blurred, distorted, angry and then suddenly serene and almost apologetic, the roller coaster intensity is a unique pleasure to discover and rediscover again. It only gets better with repeated listens anyway.

The second opus is a two-part affair, "Blood Pressure I and II", a swooning and otherworldly voice haunts the fluid acoustic guitar phrasings on the short Part one, before that delectable bass rumble sets the wheels in motion for a shockingly delirious ride, doctored with that unmistakable band characteristic of combining comfortable and original in one whopping missile of music. Stinging and biting rhythms while the organ ruffles a few feathers, Anna blasts angrily into the fray, seemingly unafraid of the musical maelstrom being surgically placed at her feet. The electric guitar performs like a scalpel, devouring sinew and tissue alike, blistering and obtuse, hinting at some Italian cousin of Allen Holdsworth, while Anna resorts to sadistically emote urban poetry into the mix, the sax sounding like a car horn gone berserk in a traffic jam (trust me Italians know how to drive and are the world's best at beeping the bejesus out of their klaxons). Penetrating sounds, forcefully intimidating and pulsating furious with unabashed zeal, this is some kind of devilish progressive rock. This track is also a shocker.

Ti Piace? (You like?) "Me Gusta" (I like it) is, at first, a welcome relief after the 2 previous cataclysmic pieces but these fellaz like to keep the blood pressure on high, providing a rollicking promenade of exotic and ecstatic themes. At times, it sounds almost like Santana on steroids, complete with brassy blasts in a Latin frame of mind, slashed by an old school guitar solo that will bring your house down and a drum solo that winks at Michael Shrieve at Woodstock. This owns not only class and style but humor as well. Daring, adventurous and cool.

"Ovo" offers another 11 minutes of exhilarating enjoyment, giving the piano a chance for Enrico to show off more of his talent. Combining with flute is always a great concept, as the two work well together. As the luxuriant percussion?fueled beat intensifies, the electric guitar starts beaming its illumination in all directions, with Anna adding smooth vocalizations that throb and excite to no end. There is no doubt that there is a pronounced National Health vibe here, not exactly the worst influence one can hope for, as that British band certainly carved a reputation that is now legend. Burdened with endless stops and starts, twists and turns, this a perhaps exhausting labyrinth to deal with but if there is one absolute characteristic of Mad Fellaz, it's definitely their loyalty to ingenious insanity. Note the athletic drum work, the roiling organ forays a la Dave Stewart, the booming bass monster keeping everything in check.

The brutal and austere "Moslem Sabbath" could easily be a soundtrack to some Middle Eastern tragedy (like Aleppo), the lethally pounding drums akin to the devastation falling from the skies, the guitars raging and bloodied, all hammering mercilessly. And then there was ambient serenity, a mournful Arabic-sounding wisp of clanging hand percussion, glittering electric piano ruffles and aromatic flicks of the wrist over the guitar strings. The mysterious blare of the saxophone reprises the sense of forlorn doom displayed earlier, the sinuous clarinet offering prayer to the almighty and finally, the exotic entrance of both the electric guitar and the whirring organ, blasting a linear passage through the Kasbah of sounds. There is a quasi Mahavishnu Orchestra vibe going on here that is exquisite. The short finale resorts to more playfulness, though maintaining the oppressive feel, almost like a Post-rock exercise, slashing guitar panels throbbing wildly in some kind of agony. The theme grows into a crescendo and then, basta! Wow!

I stayed away from comparing this sophomore release to their magnificent debut, and even though it took many repetitions to finally feel comfortable to critique this album on its own merits, I can truthfully announce that it's a marvelous continuance for one of Italy's most promising acts and a beacon of unending entertainment for those who worship originality and style. The sublime cover art maintains the fine reputation that began with the first album. This is one hell of crew, certainly deserving of an avid following in Progland.


PS. this review is dedicated to Aussie-Byrd-Brother, a hopefully kindred spirit who never steers me wrong. Ever!

Review by andrea
4 stars The second album by Mad Fellaz is entitled Mad Fellaz II and was self-released in 2016 with a renewed line up featuring Paolo Busatto (guitar), Marco Busatto (drums), Jason Nealy (guitar), Carlo Passuello (bass), Enrico Brunelli (keyboards), Rudy Zilio (flute, clarinet), Lorenzo Todesco (percussion) and Anna Farronato (vocals) plus some guests such as Flavio Brun (sax), Alessandro Brunetta (sax) and Sean Lucarello (trumpet). The artwork by Maria Todesco perfectly fits the musical content, a magic brew of different influences ranging from jazz to classical music, from Santana to Jethro Tull and many more...

The long opener "Hollow Shell" is a good mix of exoticism, jazz, folk and psychedelia evoking a dream world where time passes by through dangerous love affairs, ephemeral feelings and vain efforts to fill a life that could be perceived as empty when you get lost in a constant search for pleasure without the project to form a family or other goals...

The following "Blood Pressure" is a long suite divided into two parts that starts softly. In the first part the mood is relaxed, then the rhythm section begins to pump up the pressure, the tension rises and the stroke is just behind the corner as your heart seems on the verge of explosion trying to keep up the pace...

"Me Gusta" is a nice instrumental track where fiery Latin rhythm patterns are combined with hard rock, jazz and oriental flavours. Then it's the turn of "O.V.O. (Of Virtual Omniscience)", another long piece where you can find many changes in atmosphere and mood taking you on winding, endless roads across oneiric realms...

Two instrumental tracks close the album. "Moslem Sabbath", as you can guess from the title, combines hard rock and Middle-Eastern influences. After a heavy start marked by powerful electric guitar riffs and a sudden change in rhythm, it veers to more peaceful passages and represents a very strange call for a day of rest and prayer while the following "Meet The Gooroo" takes off like a glider and tries to lead you towards an inspirational source revealing the meaning of life...

On the whole a very good work, even if the jazz trained vocals every now and again could sound a bit out of place. Anyway, have a try and judge for yourselves... You can listen to the complete album on bandcamp!

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