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STEFANO TESTA

Rock Progressivo Italiano • Italy


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Stefano Testa biography
Stefano Testa was born in Rome in 1949. When he was a young child he moved to Porretta Terme, a small town in the mountains between Bologna and Florence where he resides to this day. At the age of 17 he began playing and writing with the beat group Gli Scorpioni. In the 1970s, influenced by bands and people such as Genesis, Tull, D'Andre, and Sorrenti, he was driven to continue his musical journey. First came collaboration with the acoustic group Portici Trio. Then in 1977 came the release of the progressive gem "Una Vita Una Balena Bianca e Altre Cose". This fantastic acoustic progressive work is a concept album on moments in the life of writer Cesare Pavese. Featuring stunning songwriting, lots of vibrant, layered acoustic guitars, soft keyboard passages, great vocals and flute, the album will have huge appeal to fans of RPI, mellower symph, or prog-folk genres. It is still currently available on CD via Mellow Records, and my advice is that you not wait. People have been snapping up the remaining copies as word of the lost treasure has spread.

A second long suite was proposed after Una Vita but unfortunately the classic RPI period was on the way out and it did not happen. These days Stefano runs a theater in Porretta and has recorded new material with a friend, which from the samples I've heard are a more contemporary progressive rock and very interesting. I am hoping we will soon have a second release from Stefano to talk about! My thanks to Stefano for his friendship and for his Italian progressive album treasure. I urge RPI fans to check it out. You can read my interview with Stefano by following this link: http://www.progarchives.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=61360

[Jim Russell/Finnforest]

Stefano Testa official website

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4.13 | 42 ratings
Una vita una balena bianca e altre cose
1977
3.95 | 5 ratings
Il silenzio del mondo
2012

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STEFANO TESTA Reviews


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 Una vita una balena bianca e altre cose by TESTA, STEFANO album cover Studio Album, 1977
4.13 | 42 ratings

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Una vita una balena bianca e altre cose
Stefano Testa Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars Οriginally coming from Rome, but living in the village of Porretta Terme since he was 10, Stefano Testa's early influences included all the legendary names of US and British Psych/Pop and the most famous Italian singer/songwriters.In the 70's he broadens his music listenings with Classic Italian Prog acts and many British bands like Jethro Tull and Gentle Giant, showing a love for concept albums.His first serious project was the Portici Trio around mid-70's and in 1976 Fabrizio Quiriti, director of an art gallery in Cuneo, presents him to Giampiero Simontacchi, owner of the Disco Piu label.Testa completes his work on ''Una vita, una balena bianca e altre cose'', the basic theme of which dealt with the last moments of writer's Cesare Pavese life.The album was released in 1977 in about 2000 copies with Testa on guitar, piano and vocals, Portici on lead guitar, Marco Coppi on flute, Alberto Monpellio on Moog synthesizer, Cosimo Fabiano on bass and Ottavio Corbellini on drums.

The centerpiece of the album is the 16-min. ''Una vita'', a pastoral Prog Rock experience, somewhere between I GIGANTI, CELESTE and Xian soft Prog acts such as LA SORGENTE, with a poetic atmosphere due to Testa's melacholic voice and lyrics and a folky approach due to the constant use of acoustic textures.While a Singer/Songwriter style is evident throughout the track, the music goes far beyond the simplistic structures of Pop with lots of orchestral lines surrounded by intense synth and light organ parts and occasional flute flavors in a piece trying to find its balance between vocal and instrumental moments.The rest of the album is pretty nice as well with harmonic and sensitive moments in the forefront, albeit less imaginative.Half of the remaining tracks recall the works of FABRIZIO DE ANDRE, who had been a idol for Testa, blendind Orchestral Music with vocal Pop.The other half is again an atmospheric experience of Italian Pop with psychedelic and Folk colors around, highlighted by the sensational flute work of Marco Coppi, having the acoustic guitars as the driving force.The less pronounced keyboard vibes somewhat reduce the proggy feeling and the minor symphonic touches of the opening opus, but there is still some discreet synth parts to be found in these cuts with ''Il Dio sulla ferrovia'' having a striking vocal melody and the richer sound among them.

No wonder, the album went unnoticed in a period, when Art Rock was declining and reasonably enough a second work proposed by Testa under the title ''Decadenza e morte di Andrea il Traditore" was found too expensive by Simontacchi to be recorded.Testa was only occasionally breaking into music recordings for decades, basically running a cinema in his village, but in 2012 he returned with a more conventional second album, ''Il silenzio del mondo''.

Even the Mellow Records reissue in the 90's was not enough was not enough to bting Testa's work on the surface and his contribution to Prog/Art Rock was only praised in late-00's.Emotional, vocal-heavy Soft/Folk Rock with progressive touches, very melodic and warmly recommended.

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 Una vita una balena bianca e altre cose by TESTA, STEFANO album cover Studio Album, 1977
4.13 | 42 ratings

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Una vita una balena bianca e altre cose
Stefano Testa Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by coasterzombie

4 stars Una Vita Una Balena Bianco E Altre Cose is a testament to the power of the internet and communities such as ProgArchives shedding new light on forgotten treasures, which the album most certainly is. Just when you thought the well ran dry, another amazing creation springs right before you, and fills you with unaffected beauty and sincerity. Of all the singer/songwriters to latch onto the RPI genre in the 1970s (Mauro Pelosi, Lucio Battisti, Riccardo Cocciante), I can positively say Stefano Testa is easily my favorite. His lone work is a brilliant blend of acoustic and pastoral splendor, symphonic pop, and lite prog. By any description, Una Vita Una Balena Bianco E Altre Cose is a worthy inclusion to any progressive rock collection, and essential for Italian Prog listeners.

The long suite "Una Vita" introduces us to the somewhat idiosyncratic world of Stefano Testa; I have to admit, the first few times I heard it, the song didn't really gel for me. In fact, this may be the one song that keeps the album from attaining masterpiece status in my opinion. The middle section is just a little too Italian Pop/disco for my liking. Blame it on the bass player. All kidding aside, the session players do a fantastic job, particularly the vocalists and string section. "Risveglio" allows us to see Testa in his element, singing softly and capably. "La Ballata Di Achab (Moby Dick)" reminds me a bit of Jumbo or maybe even Banco's playful side. Testa belts out the lyric, but never loses composure, or more importantly, his phrasing or pitch. The man has a golden voice, one of the best you'll hear in Rock Progressivo Italiano.

"Notturno" is my favorite track on the CD and the one most symphonic; acoustic guitar, flute, and what sounds like a viola with a chorus effect all support the vocalist. An Anthony Philips comparison is apt and I mean that in a good way. "Difficile Chiamarti Amore" is another ballad, nearly as beautiful and symphonic as "Notturno," but in a more upbeat way. "Il Dio Sulla Ferrovia" again features the rock instrumentation which is not my favorite in this setting, but it seems to work better here than previously. Finally "Ninna Nanna," a bittersweet narrative, leaves the listener wanting more as the relatively short album concludes. This review would not be complete without an expression of gratitude to Jim Russell for increasing my awareness of this release.

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 Il silenzio del mondo by TESTA, STEFANO album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.95 | 5 ratings

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Il silenzio del mondo
Stefano Testa Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by andrea
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Stefano Testa is an Italian artist who was born in Rome in 1949 and lives in Porretta Terme, a spa town in the province of Bologna. In 1977 he released an excellent debut album, "Una vita, una balena bianca e altre cose" (A life, a white whale and other things) where he managed to blend prog influences and "canzone d'autore". Unfortunately the album was not successful at all and he left the music business for a long time. In 1994 his debut album was re-discovered and re-released by the independent label Mellow Records and became a cult album for many prog lovers. In 2012 Stefano Testa finally released a new album on the independent label Snowdonia, "Il silenzio del mondo" (The silence of the world), helped by Remo Righetti (who took charge of all instruments and programming). This time the influences of singer-songwriters as Fabrizio De André, Francesco De Gregori, Claudio Lolli, Leo Ferré or Tom Waits prevail and there are less instrumental parts and progressive-rock echoes than on the debut album from the seventies. Well, times have changed but I'm happy that the creative vein of Stefano Testa is not dry and I like very much this new work even if for many progressive fans it could be less interesting than the previous one.

The opener "Domani è festa" (Tomorrow is a holiday) is an amazing, bitter-sweet waltz with a strong sense of melody. It describes a melancholic day before a holiday, a long, solitary waiting for something that maybe will never come... "Beyond the gate lies the usual road / But there's something that makes the sundown sick / It really seems that the sky is falling...".

"Trecento gradini" (Three-hundred steps) is one of my favourite tracks on this album. It's a dreamy, mystic piece featuring mild Oriental flavours and a mysterious atmosphere. The lyrics describe a fugitive man who is climbing the three hundreds steps of a marble hill. He reaches a house on top of the hill, then time and space get blurred... "I, exiled without a passport, I run away from home / Groggy from sleep, I fell asleep on those fresh sofas / And your city didn't seem so close...". But there's no escape from life, the old fugitive can't find a way out as if was lost in a labyrinth while past and future melt in a hopeless dream...

"Metamorfosi" (Metamorphosis) features South-American atmospheres and a dark mood. It's another excellent track that describes an impending change. But not every change is positive, slogans and daily violence can transform a quiet man in a wild beast... "I see my teeth of wolf growing and this real hook / I'm waiting for the night with a new cheerfulness / And I toast to the war, and war will be! / I don't need anything but the moon, the moon of the dogs / To go down in the street looking for company and make you shake as little birds...". A final hint to the Fascist anthem "Giovinezza" could suggest that the times that were changing were those before World War II, but you never know...

"Nel vostro quartiere" (In your neighbourhood) begins with a funky groove and a lighter atmosphere but it's only an appearance. The lyrics invite you to dig better into reality by observing what is going on around you, right near your home and family. Stories of solitude and exploitation, broken dreams and loveless children... "How many lights in our neighbourhood / How many dreams to buy and how many wishes / How many promises and how many ageless bodies...".

"Musica" (Music) is about the consolatory power of music. It features some exotic influences with colourful echoes coming from Africa and Latin America... "Music, in the meantime a lot of music / To dance, to try dreaming once again / But, after all, this music is merciless / And makes this void even greater...".

"La ballata dell'angelo svogliato" (The ballad of the lazy angel) is an excellent track with a dark mood that could recall Tom Waits or Nick Cave. It depicts in music and words a strange dream where a lazy angel visits the protagonist of the song. The angel is hopeless, tired of a world where the cult of power rules and vanity is stronger than mercy, where you can find nothing but ice and desert inside the hearts... "I don't know what I can say / It happened just this / If you can, keep on sleeping and forget the rest / Maybe the sleep will heal your pain / For this infectious wound in your heart...".

"Argo soltanto" (Only Argos) is about a return back home after a long period of absence. After many years home could become just a dream and a comeback could be a disappointment. There is no one waiting for you but a dog... "Here there's too much silence / Where is life? / My home is more beautiful / It's the home of a king... Only a nosy dog was sniffing, looking for an owner...". So, the return leads to a new departure. By the way, Argos is the name of Ulysses' faithful dog!

"Niente" (Nothing) is a bright, joyful song about the need to break the silence of the world with a positive attitude... "Nothing to sing / Nothing to play / Nothing to listen to / Nothing to dream of / Nothing to wait for / Nothing to learn / Nothing to look for / Nothing to look at / Nothing to touch / Nothing to buy / Nothing to steal / Nothing to save... We need a huge white sun to burn this silence...".

"Pilù Pilò" (4:33) is a dark nursery rhyme where the threatening ogre is more real than in fairy-tales... "Moon, break the dark night / Shine, make him forget his fear... Sleep, rest for a while / Dream of playing in your courtyard / Dream of your mother coming to you, smiling...".

"Magioel" (4:22) is a melancholic song about the consequences of war. An injured soldier lies in a psychiatric hospital and the nurse who brings him his painkiller is his only hope and looks like an angel... "Everyone has lost his mind / But they pretend and go on / I was lucky / I have you, Majoel...".

"Io con te" (I with you) is a melodic love song that invites you to dance with your sweetheart under the stars in a summer night while the following "Una canzone banale" (A banal song) is a personal song about a love stronger than time.

"Ballata della città felice (La peste di Messina, 1348)" (Ballad of the happy city ? the pest of Messina, 1348) features a darker atmosphere. The lyrics depict the arrival of the Black Death in the city of Messina in 1348, carried by a ship. The happy city suddenly has to tackle the horror of the plague and everything changes as in a dream that turns into nightmare.

The final track "Camicie azzurre" (Blue shirts) is lighter and brings a bit of optimism. It's a melodic ballad about the aftermath of a broken relationship. A man finds a new balance and a new tranquillity living alone with his cat... "There not much left to say / Not for this we have to suffer anyway / We have to breathe and listen to the life who is living...".

Well, all in all I think that this is a very good album and I enjoyed it very much. You can listen to it in streaming on bandcamp, so have a try and give it a chance!

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 Il silenzio del mondo by TESTA, STEFANO album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.95 | 5 ratings

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Il silenzio del mondo
Stefano Testa Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Finnforest
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Review #1000. Since I'll never make 2000...

...just a quick thanks to this great site ProgArchives and to the Admin team who prove daily that no good deed goes unpunished. PA remains my favorite rock music site and the web home of so many great members and friends. Grazie all!

Reviewing a new Stefano Testa album feels like coming full circle on my little RPI journey at ProgArchives. It was the discovery of his treasured 1977 gem "Una Vita Una Balena Bianca e Altre Cose" a few years back which inspired me to interview Stefano for the site. The interview and reviews from other members have given Testa's debut the attention it always deserved and I think many RPI fans consider it an essential album in their collection. I certainly do.

At the time of Una Vita, there was a second long suite envisioned by Stefano which he attempted to record, but at the time circumstances in the Italian music scene were no longer favorable. That second progressive work is rumored to be a mixture of "prog rock" and classical overtones, and Stefano still hopes it will see release one day. In the meantime we have a more recently conceived project from Stefano. This one would be more properly categorized as art-rock/Italian pop than progressive rock, yet there is much here to love for fans of Stefano Testa and RPI.

The new album from Stefano is titled "Il Silenzio del Mondo" which translates to "The Silence of the World." The lyrics are an important part of the work so I will refer you to the informative review by Andrea Parentin who as usual will provide explanations of the lyrical themes for those of us who don't speak Italian. Musically the album is a collection of the modern Stefano Testa in shorter song form. There are certainly elements of the Una Vita sound referenced here but the longer suite with the more experimental sound is replaced by easily accessible and more conventional framing. There are melodic, standard sounding choruses and rhythm tracks amongst occasional prog tendencies.

But there is much to love! For those who don't mind following an artist down a different path, these are wonderful and melodic songs. They are dressed beautifully and with much care, with interesting things happening even within the confines of the simpler song structure. There are RPI styled operatic vocals, excursions into world music sounds, but most importantly, the almost childlike wonder and joy Stefano brings to his melodies and vocals. Here is a man well on in years who manages a true zest for music and for life (he is an avid photographer as well, sharing great shots on his FB page.) This is what makes the album for me. Despite the fact I don't understand the text I love the mood and melody of the tracks. Stefano's partner here is Remo Righetti who does a spectacular job with the instrumentation and programming.

A few of my favorites include "Domani ' festa" with its comforting lullaby feel, the warmth of piano, and those operatic vocals which are always appreciated by me. I believe I heard some harp along with strings and flute. Just a wonderful opener. Strings and piano are employed often and give the album that wonderfully warm Italian feel. "Musica" brings in some world music vibes for a unique feel, still Italian, but almost like a show tune. Testa's songwriting is so universal and approachable he really could write music for the stage with good success. "Argo soltanto" has a swooning bassline played on keys I believe, with a sampled strings or mellotron behind, closing with a nice bit of saxophone and some environmental sound. A special mention must go to Snowdonia Records and artists Alberto Scotti and Cinzia La Fauci for the fine artwork through the tri-fold digipak, complete with lyrics and notes from Marco Olivotto, who mastered the album.

While "Il Silenzio del Mondo" is not going to appease those RPI fans looking for complex progressive rock, my feeling is that anyone who enjoyed Stefano's debut, itself on the softer side of prog rock, will also enjoy the new album. Fans of the Italian singer/songwriter tradition are surely going to want to check it out. For me it is an excellent album. Welcome back Stefano and may there be more in the future!

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 Una vita una balena bianca e altre cose by TESTA, STEFANO album cover Studio Album, 1977
4.13 | 42 ratings

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Una vita una balena bianca e altre cose
Stefano Testa Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by seventhsojourn
Special Collaborator RPI

4 stars Stefano Testa's conceptual work about 'a life, a white whale and other things' is a wonderfully warm, yet sad and intimate creation. The album's cornerstone is the 16- minute 'Una Vita', a song that's loosely based on the life and works of Cesare Pavese. One of Italy's foremost writers of the 20th Century, Pavese died from an overdose of barbiturates in the hotel Albergo Roma and this multi-part song tells in flashback of the events that resulted in his suicide in 1950. The writer's dark themes of obsession, social isolation and betrayal are beautifully portrayed in Testa's broadly melancholic style of music.

Pavese advocated simple language and Testa matches the writer with the same laconic spirit of non-electric music, pure and stripped of unnecessary clutter. Shadowy flute bookends 'Una Vita' but the first acoustic guitars quickly chime in and we're off on an epic journey that continues with Pavese's days as a schoolboy in Turin where he developed a love of the rolling hills of the Langhe countryside. This area featured prominently in his work and perhaps provided him with the solitariness he at times desired. From its bucolic beginnings the song develops with agitated flute and strings that suggest turmoil. When he was older Pavese moved in political circles and in 1934 he was imprisoned for suspected anti-fascist activity. He returned to Turin in 1936 but took refuge in the hills during the bitter struggles between the partisans and German troops. Depression, a failed love affair, and political disenchantment finally led him to his suicide and an eerie dreamlike section in the music reflects this mood. Pavese wasn't a writer who sheepishly followed trends and by the same token Testa didn't swim with the prevailing tide when he released an album of acoustic-based progressive music in 1977. The second track 'Risveglio' (Awakening) seems to be thematically entwined with 'Una Vita' largely thanks to its matching flute part. Perhaps it represents an awakening of Pavese in the spiritual world.

Pavese said he hated the sea, which he often alluded to it as a place of danger in his work, and in 1932 he translated 'Moby Dick' by Herman Melville. The typical protagonist in Pavese's works was a loner and the pithy ballad 'La Ballata di Achab (Moby Dick)' draws a comparison between Ahab and Ulysses/Odysseus. The sea represents the fateful region of both adventures but whereas Odysseus is sent abroad by the gods and has his thoughts firmly fixed on his homecoming, Ahab pursues the white whale of his own volition and thinks only of revenge. The white whale is the embodiment of Ahab's rage; death comes upon Ahab from the sea and his obsession and self-annihilation can perhaps be seen as presaging Pavese's own fate. Testa employs a concertina to add a nautical flavour to this song and the same instrument also features on 'Una Vita', thus reinforcing the sense of solitude on that track. In Melville's novel Moby Dick represents God, nature, fate and the ocean, all elements that are beyond Ahab's control. This song is structured around alternating sections that seem to represent the different protagonists, with jaunty parts for the high spirits of the crew as they set out on their adventure and dramatic passages of soaring strings and female vocals for the divine white whale.

The meaning behind the beautiful album painting (by Mauro Milano) seems to remain a mystery even to Stefano Testa but I personally think Todd has nailed this one. In his review he makes the connection with Polyphemus who captures Odysseus and his men and eats two of them every night until they escape. The blinded Cyclops then hurls rocks after their boat as they sail away, except that the album painting draws on the spiritual kinship of Odysseus and Ahab with a pig being hurled at a boat that looks more like the Pequod.

The remainder of the album is an assortment of brief songs that are of no less quality than 'Una Vida', just much shorter. One of the highlights among these is the heart-rending lullaby 'Ninna Nanna'. The way that the female vocals mimic the flute solo just has to be one of the saddest sounds in the universe. Although a morbid preoccupation with death seems to pervade the album Testa has somehow managed to create an enchanting and uplifting work, there's something deeply spiritual about the entire thing. Melville's epic tome about the King of Fishes can be heavy going at times but there's no such danger with this beautiful opus. One final word, be sure to read Jim's highly insightful interview with Stefano Testa in the PA forum for more background on the album.

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 Una vita una balena bianca e altre cose by TESTA, STEFANO album cover Studio Album, 1977
4.13 | 42 ratings

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Una vita una balena bianca e altre cose
Stefano Testa Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by andrea
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Stefano Testa is a "cantautore", a singer-songwriter who in 1977 released a beautiful debut album with strong prog influences. During the recording session he played piano and guitar and was helped in studio by the experienced arranger Franco Chiaravalle and by musicians like Marco Coppi (flute), Alberto Monpellio (moog), Cosimo Fabiano (bass), Ottavio Corbellini (drums) and the guitar trio Portici. "Una vita, una balena bianca e altre cose" (A life, a white whale and other things) features poetical lyrics and excellent instrumental parts with flute and acoustic guitar in the forefront. The result is a well crafted and balanced work, a perfect example of "prog cantautorale", a mix of "canzone d'autore" and Italian progressive rock. Unfortunately in 1977 it was not commercially successful and Stefano Testa left the music business for a long time. This album was luckily re-discovered later and re-released in 1994 by the independent label Mellow Records that took it out from oblivion.

The opener "Una vita" (A life) is a long and complex suite inspired by the life of the Italian poet and novelist Cesare Pavese (1908 ? 1950) and by his works. Cesare Pavese committed suicide on August 27th 1950 in a hotel room in Torino, the Albergo Roma. His thoughts and reflections before dying are the starting point for this piece... "Albergo Roma in Torino / The summer is almost gone / In a deaf room, tomorrow they will find nothing but words / Of a whole life there's nothing else left / But you remember now...". Then souvenirs from the childhood that Cesare Pavese spent in a village in the hills near Cuneo emerge while music flows setting a bucolic atmosphere. Lyrics depict a boy walking in the countryside and discovering every day something new... "Life was something else / Made of plants, of sky / Of wind and of nothing...". The atmosphere suddenly changes and music almost stops for a while on organ chords while lyrics depict the strangeness of a foreigner sky and the impact of the urban landscape on the young Cesare Paves who went to live in Torino, a big industrial city... Then the mood changes and music becomes nervous... "The city taught me infinite fears / A crowd, a street made me tremble... ". The city and its busy rhythm, a numb city dressed in black, anesthetized by Mussolini's slogans and empty promises, where Pavese's political passion is growing... "I looked for the comrades working in the factories without a smile / I loved them because I felt the life was on their side... They used to shout that it wasn't because of destiny if the world was suffering... It was men's fault". Nonetheless during the civil war Cesare Pavese didn't join the anti- fascists partisans, he didn't fight and sought refuge in the hills. Later remorse haunted him for his lack of courage... Music slackens and becomes dramatic to describe a man alive but alone. Romances with the wrong women, remorse, depression lead him to commit suicide... "You wake up one morning and the summer is gone / The colour of the world has changed / The mountain doesn't touch the sky anymore... There's nothing more bitter than the dawn of a day where nothing is going to happen / There's nothing more bitter than uselessness...".

"Risveglio" is a melancholic and sad track describing an awful morning. Time passes by fast and steady and sometimes the regret for the wasted hours can be overwhelming... "How awful is the morning / when you find your dreams hanging on the ceiling / Like sinners that have confessed their capital vice / And you find the laid snake of boredom / Sleepy beside you in the bed...".

"La ballata di Achab (Moby Dick)" is a beautiful ballad featuring allegoric lyrics about a desperate quest for knowledge. It was inspired by Herman Melville's novel "Moby Dick"... "I felt to be like a merchant dealing with fish / For sure not a hero playing with death... But when they shouted: ? There's a white whale! / I stood still, looking over the prow... I had to know what was that monster / I had to know, I wished to tame it... That whale was the sea / That whale was me as well / That whale did not exist / That whale was God...". The atmosphere of this track reminds me of Francesco De Gregori's "Bufalo Bill"...

"Notturno" is a bitter-sweet track featuring delicate acoustic guitars patterns and a swirling flute. Music and lyrics depict echoes of notes fading in the shadows, paper ships sailing towards imaginary seas, words breaking through from unread books, a painter missing a colour to finish his first tableau... Well, night is the right time for dreams and illusions that time carries away!

"Difficile chiamarti amore" (It's hard to call you love) is another beautiful acoustic track, more a song about love than a love song indeed, full of sharp reflections about love, time, family and work... "In a time that makes us wishing everything / Finally your God has become the partner who helps you in your business... How it's hard to call you love, my dear angel...".

"Il Dio sulla ferrovia" (The God on the railway) is a track in two parts that was inspired by a Jorge Luis Borges tale. On the first part nocturnal acoustic atmospheres prevail... "Tonight I was walking along the railway... Staring at the void, listening to nothing but silence... Tonight I was walking along the railway / And a high-pitched hiss from a secret God / Lead my steps to a tiny point of marvellous light / Of eternal matter...". The light unchains a stream of visions and on the second part of the track rhythm takes off while twirling flute and guitar notes embroider colourful threads all around apocalyptical lyrics... "I saw the dawn and the night... I saw endless deserts... I saw the red sun of the end on the clear walls of Hiroshima / I saw a black rose... I saw ruins, books, mountains and people, lands and silences / I saw an old blind man singing... / I saw my father dying on a Saturday... And my death coming on a farther Monday...". An excellent track that every now and again could remind of "Ho visto anche degli zingari felici", by Claudi Lolli, another famous Italian "cantautore".

The last track "Ninna nanna" (Lullaby) is a lullaby for a dead child... "Ninna nanna, ninna nanna / Silence is talking about you... Ninna, nanna, ninna, nanna / This night is only for you / And my heart on your heart will stay / Until light will come...". Beautiful female vocals and flute give a sense of infinite pity to this sad song...

Stefano Testa would have deserved more credit and success... Anyway, never say never! After a long hiatus he's working on a new album and I'm looking forward to listen to it...

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 Una vita una balena bianca e altre cose by TESTA, STEFANO album cover Studio Album, 1977
4.13 | 42 ratings

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Una vita una balena bianca e altre cose
Stefano Testa Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Pirx the Pilot

4 stars Another bow to Mellow Records for this treasure of a reissue. Stefano Testa's 1977 release is a very warm and passionate album with HEART (no better way to state it than all caps). Although I will admit that my first couple of listens must have been quite unfocused, as I almost tossed the CD aside proclaiming it ordinary, outdated folk music. Thankfully I stuck with it, as even the greatest recordings don't usually click with me straight off. And it certainly didn't help in this case that my passion for music at the time excluded the more pastoral side of prog. Alas, one cold and rainy afternoon, I was walking home from work with this in my ears when everything fell into place.

Una Vita is the most evident progressive piece here, and a marathon at sixteen minutes considering the brevity of the other songs. Haunting flute bookends beautiful, shifting melodies, as the entire piece covers a lot of ground quite seamlessly. If I have one complaint, it is a technical one that is evident here and again later on the CD - the mix tends to favor (unfavorably) the low end, which muddies the kick drum quite a bit. Regardless, Una Vita is astonishing.

From here on the album is a little less conventionally progressive (whatever that means), but wonderful all the same. Risveglio is a tender piece with lush strings that is just too short. La Ballata Di Achab, in contrast to the rest of the album, has the feel of a sea shanty; although fun, I'll skip this one depending on my mood, as it runs counter to what comes before and after. Notturno is heavy on the guitar and flute, a very pretty composition. Difficile Chiamarti Amore is another sweet melody, but the backing vocals are a little nasal here, which I find fairly distracting. And there is little of interest to me in the first half of Il Dio Sulla Ferrovia, but pulls ahead to an accelerated second half with a great guitar outro. Finally, the heartfelt Ninna Nanna, rich with strings; honestly, I could weep listening to this under the right circumstances.

This is a mostly dreamy album that suits late night listens. Even if I'm not in the quiet, contemplative mood, Stefano's Una Vita will most certainly put me there. Not entirely progressive rock, but a stunning beauty nonetheless.

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 Una vita una balena bianca e altre cose by TESTA, STEFANO album cover Studio Album, 1977
4.13 | 42 ratings

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Una vita una balena bianca e altre cose
Stefano Testa Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by giacomo

5 stars This is my review, exit on " Future City " in 1977 of Stefano testa's lp. ACHAB WILL NOT CAPTURE THE WHITE WHALE   "A life, a white whale and other things". This is the title of a new, recently issued, Stefano Testa's LP, edited by DISCOPIU' (Milan). The author is a young singer-song writer from Emilia at his first record experience. The topics and the problems of the work are already clear in the title : the existential ones ( a life ), the ideological-Utopian ones ( a white whale ) and the ones of the memory's scraps and wounds ( and other things ).The inspiration and the literary-musical world of the record lie in this " completely absorbing" and " historically-dialectical" dimension. In this work, the author tries to mediate between the past- present ( memory-reality)and the delusion-future dream ( utopia-new world ), critically filtering his own emotional universe ( rational as well as unconscious ) through the ideology, meant as the projection of a political commitment towards the achievement of a world where the contradiction will not find harrowing and sorrowful spaces. Shouldn't captain Ahab capture the White Whale, nothing could be left for his thirst of glory and for his hope, meant as wish and fight to survive.

The record is divided in two parts. In the first one , entitled " A LIFE "and freely inspired by C.Pavese's works, a soft music with restrained harmony accompanies the identification between the author and Pavese, from the tragedy of the partisan war to the suicide in a shabby hotel in Turin,city of anxiety and fear. This identification gets rid of the ideology and sinks into the existential tragedy always dangling between a naturalistic sadness and the terror of a too traumatic discovery.

The record's second part gathers other pieces among which "The Ahab's ballade", a wonderful fairy-tale , full in harmony and musical fascination, freely drawn from the novel by Melville, that represents a lyrical-musical abstraction of the author's delusion-utopia.

Beside the " White whale", there are other well-done musical tales as " The waking up" and "The God of the railway" ( inspired by a Borges' work ). They are classical, literary projections of memory, a "decadent",but musically inspired, tribute to the Proustian ideology of the "recherche". In its complexity and contradiction, the record is extremely valuable and well-done and represents a positive novelty in which the cultural mediation-synthesis between the existential dimension of memory and of reality and the dialectical world of the ideology-utopia finds a new lyrical and musical singleness foisting on the listeners moments of meditation and mental straining.

In conclusion, even though, sometimes, it follows outdated musical spheres ( Tenco, Paoli ), the work represents a good level accomplishment and distinguishes itself , with sparks of high creative and musical intelligence, in the too often sterile world of the Italian singer-song writers.

giacomo martini rating: five stars

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 Una vita una balena bianca e altre cose by TESTA, STEFANO album cover Studio Album, 1977
4.13 | 42 ratings

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Una vita una balena bianca e altre cose
Stefano Testa Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by toroddfuglesteg

4 stars I would start to say a big thank you to Finnforest and PA for the interview and bringing Stefano Testa and this album back from the obscurity. I think this album will rate pretty high on anyone's list of this year's biggest re-discovery.

Books like reviews has been written about this album since it's re-discovery so I will be brief.

This album is a very poetic, mellow album with it's roots in Italian folk rock. Or actually; folk music like in the old ballads format. The main instruments are the accoustic instruments like accoustic guitars and flute. It is still listed as Italian Progressive Rock, but both Folk Prog and Eclectic Prog would had been OK for me. Still; it is as Italian as parma ham & cheese. And as delicious too....... Sluuuurp ! This album is a feast of good melodies, themes and songs. The vocals are excellent and pretty dominating in the crystal-clear sound. I did not know it was possible to make that good soundscape back in the 1970s, so I suspect the re-master is the main reason for the perfect sound the CD is furnished with. The opening track Una Vita sets the standard for the album with a mellow intro which goes into a nice folksy landscape after a while. I am not anywhere near an expert on the Italian scene, but I guess both Banco and PFM are good reference points. I still thinks both this song and the rest of the album is somewhere between folk prog, Jethro Tull and Genesis. In particular their Nursery Cryme album is not a bad reference point. Neither is Thick As A Brick too.

The quality is excellent throughout. It did take me a long time before I fell for this album though. This is not easy listening by any means. But when I got it, I really got it...... bad ! I think this album deserves it's hype and it will come high on my list of this year's best discoveries. It is highly recommended.

4 stars

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 Una vita una balena bianca e altre cose by TESTA, STEFANO album cover Studio Album, 1977
4.13 | 42 ratings

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Una vita una balena bianca e altre cose
Stefano Testa Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Finnforest (Jim Russell) should be proud for having a lot to do with bringing Stefano Testa back into the public eye. I'm certainly proud of him, especially after reading the excellent interview (a must read) on this site. Lots of great information in that interview which sheds some light on the man and this album.This record happens to be a concept album about this author who's about to commit suicide in this hotel room.The music looks at four moments in the writers life that he looks back upon before he dies.This is an all acoustic affair with the guitar being the most prominant instrument.The vocals are very good and in Italian.

"Una Vita" is the over 16 minute long opening track. Soft flute to begin and the mood brightens when the acoustic guitar joins in. Vocals a minute in. The sound gets fuller and the tempo picks up after 2 minutes. Some Anderson-like flute after 6 minutes and the vocals get more passionate. Female vocal melodies after 7 1/2 minutes then we get a calm. It turns pastoral after 10 minutes. Just a beautiful section. Another calm follows until the acoustic guitar and drums change that. Great section here with vocals. Some organ before 14 1./2 minutes before it ends as it began with solo flute.

"Risveglio" features piano and vocal melodies before flute takes over. Vocals and piano follow. Strings before 2 minutes and the vocals are great. "La Ballata Di Achab" is more uptempo with a good beat. Expressive vocals too. It settles with strings before 1 1/2 minutes (moving passage) then picks up again as contrasts continue. "Notturno" simply sounds gorgeous with the acoustic guitar, flute and vocals. An emotional track. "Difficile Chiamarti Amore" has some more backing female vocals, acoustic guitar, bass and vocals. Why is this so moving ? "Il Dio Sulla Ferrovia"is more of the same with vocals and acoustic guitar. Bass and drums join in.The tempo picks up 3 minutes in with flute. "Ninna Nanna" features acoustic guitar, soft vocals and other sounds. Cool track.

I may bump this rating up in time. This is a special album.

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Thanks to Finnforest for the artist addition.

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