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ACQUA FRAGILE

Rock Progressivo Italiano • Italy


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Acqua Fragile biography
Founded in Parma, Italy in 1971 - Disbanded in 1975 - Reformed 2004-2006 and in 2017 as "Acqua Fragile Project"

They are perhaps best known for the band that were to supply PFM's English singing vocalist Bernado Lanzetti, making his debut with them on Chocolate Kings.

Lanzetti with guitarist Gino Campanini and drummer Piero Canavera had played together in Gli Immortali. Joined on keyboards by Maurizio Mori and bassist Franz Dondi, formerly of I Moschettieri, who released a single in 1967, they shortly changed their name to ACQUA FRAGILE.

It was to be two years before their eponymous debut album saw the light of day, due to difficulty in finding a record company that would allow them to release it with English sung lyrics. Musically they bore a resemblance to GENESIS and GENTLE GIANT, with harmony vocals not unlike CROSBY, STILLS, NASH AND YOUNG, no doubt influenced by the time Lanzetti spent in the USA. Lanzetti's vocals have a similar feel to Roger Chapman of FAMILY and the album is skilfully played by the already at the time, well versed players. The plan to sing in English backfired as it wasn't well received in Italy and didn't receive a release abroad. Undeterred, their second album Mass Media Stars, released in 1974 saw the band treading similar musical territory and did receive a release in the USA.

Mori quit and was replaced by ex-THE TRIP keyboardist Joe Vescovi and shortly after a bigger blow came when Lanzetti left for PFM. The band soldiered on for a while longer bringing in former I TOP 4 and I DIK DIK man Roberto Facini. Lanzetti remained with PFM until 1980 followed by a successful solo career. He is now a member of MANGALA VALLIS. Canavera and Dondi went on to play with ROCKY'S FILJ and the ACQUA FRAGILE name has recently been reborn as the ACQUA FRAGILE PROJECT by Dondi. He is the only original member participating in the project.

-Paul Fowler/Nightfly

See also: WiKI

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ACQUA FRAGILE discography


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ACQUA FRAGILE top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.11 | 111 ratings
Acqua Fragile
1973
3.23 | 97 ratings
Mass Media Stars
1974
3.87 | 39 ratings
A New Chant
2017

ACQUA FRAGILE Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.83 | 6 ratings
Live In Emilia - Spring 75
1994

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ACQUA FRAGILE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 A New Chant by ACQUA FRAGILE album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.87 | 39 ratings

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A New Chant
Acqua Fragile Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars When I was asked if I would review this album, I obviously said yes, partly because I knew that I already had at least one other of theirs in my collection. Now, when you've been writing about music for as long as I have, and have the odd album or two in their collection in one format or another, sometimes things don't connect as quickly as they should. Yes, I do have another Acqua Fragile album in my collection, 'Mass-Media Stars', which was released back in 1974!! Unlike many other Italian bands at the time, they decided to perform in English, with songs that weren't always quite as symphonic as the rest of the Italian progressive scene, and these two factors really put them up against it. But, the real nail in the coffin for the band was the departure of Bernardo Lanzetti to PFM, and although the band did keep going for a while, they never recorded again.

Over the years Bernardo has appeared in different places (I remember interviewing him when he joined Mangala Vallis), but now, more than 40 years since his departure the group have reformed around him, drummer Piero Canavera and bassist Franz Dondi along with multiple guests. 'Chocolate Kings' is probably my favourite PFM album, the one where Bernardo made his debut for the band, but arguably he is singing better than ever, with a band that are bringing together styles that have as much in common with neo-prog, Gabriel-era Genesis and IQ as they do with the Italian scene. This is glorious prog, soaring and symphonic when it needs to be, layered and structured at times, but simple and reflective at others. If ever an album oozed class from every pore then this has to be it. There are ballads, there is an Italian march, there is intensity but throughout there is also always beauty. Bernardo's Chapman-style vocals have weathered and become more rounded, as happened with the Family man, but still have the stridency when it is required.

The only real question now, is do we have to wait 43 years for the next one? Superb.

 A New Chant by ACQUA FRAGILE album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.87 | 39 ratings

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A New Chant
Acqua Fragile Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

4 stars The modern era has seen all things `retro' embraced, so there's been no shortage of vintage Seventies Italian Prog-rock bands making long-belated comebacks in this modern day. One of the more unexpected ones has been Acqua Fragile, most known for their association with (then) future Premiata Forneria Marconi vocalist Bernardo Lanzetti on a few of their albums from 1975's `Chocolate Kings' onwards. Adored by some, completely dismissed by others perhaps because of the reason that they performed in English and their music didn't have a lot of the purer theatrical and classical characteristics that often are part of the identity of the Italian prog groups, Acqua Fragile were a tricky one to navigate. Their two studio albums, a self-titled work and `Mass Media Stars' between 1973-74 were hardly poor, but perhaps not quite special enough to compete with the truly important names of Italian rock music at the time.

Fast forward over forty years later, and three of the core original members - drummer/percussionist Piero Canavera, bassist Franz Dondi and singer/guitarist Bernardo Lanzetti - have surprised Italian prog fans with a brand new work, 2017's `A New Chant'. Some things remain the same - it's still mostly sung in English, so more traditional Italian prog-snobs (yours truly included!) should be warned! - but it's everywhere else that counts where the band step up in a big way. With help from some other musical contributors, the trio offer a confident album jammed full of so many rich little instrumental details that twist the tunes in all sorts of interesting directions (and parts of which are probably the most genuinely `Italian' sounding of their music to date). The disc avoids drifting constantly into lazy `old man' pleasant AOR, it welcomely isn't afraid to make a bit of rumble and noise here and there, and is ultimately the most lavish and sophisticated Acqua Fragile work overall.

Right from opener `My Forte's Mediterranean-flavoured ringing acoustic guitar notes around lively drumming, sparkling piano and teasing slivers of handsome orchestration, it's clear that this is the fanciest Acqua Fragile has ever sounded. Best of all, vocalist Bernardo, once rather grating with a Family/Roger Chapman-esque bleating harshness on the Seventies AF and PFM discs, is now so much more subtle, full of colourful personality and deeply charismatic, meaning he's never sounded better as a singer, and it instantly helps make this rich and evocative opener an even lovelier surprise.

Acqua Fragile here happily embrace how Bernardo's voice has often been compared to the Peter Gabriel-fronted era of Genesis in the past, so a few pieces throughout the album drift closer to those years of that wildly influential group, if sometimes offering a kind of sound that suggest where they might have headed if that frontman had hung around after their ambitious double `...Lamb' album. The first of these, `The Drowning', broods with murmuring bass ruminations, careful veils of Mellotron-like majesty and plenty of slow-burn guitar soloing, perhaps taking the piece closer to the spectral gothic pantomimes that current Steve Hackett Band vocalist Nad Sylvan offers on his ravishing solo albums. It also calls to mind the fondly remembered The Night Watch `Twilight' album and band from the late Nineties that would morph into The Watch years later.

`Wear Your Car Proudly' is surprisingly heavy with endless twisting ragged guitar turns, delirious synth soloing and an overall frenetic driving wildness, and `Tu per Lei' is a sole piece that is performed in Italian (despite constantly singing in English throughout much of his career, it's always a wonderful when Bernardo performs in his native language!) and holds a rousing singalong group chorus that culminates in grandiose fanfare pomp (and dig that drowsy Moog wafting around the final seconds!).

`Rain Drops' is an elegantly haunting ballad carried by accordion, piano, careful orchestration and Bernardo's overly emotional romantic crooning full of longing, and the punchier up-tempo `All Rise' races with a boisterous repeating refrain that wouldn't have sounded out of place on the early I.Q and Neo-Prog albums (and listen for that teasing thick bass solo in the middle that's not nearly long enough!). `How Come' is an impossibly pretty and exquisite little acoustic ballad interlude, and the deceptively lyrically dark and surreal title track `A New Chant' lifts dreamily into the heavens with a rousing chorus delivered with all the deliciously histrionic passion constantly found on so many Italian progressive works!

There's so much to recommend about `A New Chant'. It's hardly the most challenging of Italian prog collections, but, like Maxophone's recent and very worthwhile `La Fabbrica Delle Nuvole', it's full of gorgeous playing, captivating vocals and adventurous, energetic rock pieces full of variety and rife with the most luxurious of instrumental flourishes. It also proves that many of these so- called `oldies acts' still have very vital and exciting music to offer when they put the effort in, so whisper it (chant it?!) - `A New Chant' just might be the best Acqua Fragile album so far, but it is absolutely one of the most genuinely unexpected yet welcome surprises in Italian prog music for the year.

Three and a half stars, rounded up to four.

 Acqua Fragile by ACQUA FRAGILE album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.11 | 111 ratings

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Acqua Fragile
Acqua Fragile Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by berkaal

2 stars Main problem is Bernardo Lanzetti. He tries to imitate Roger Chapman, but the outcoming is horrible, with that unbearable vibrato, bleah! His english is terrible, fake, really awful, and he never sounds natural. His lyrics are ridiculous, and his phrasing is just bad. With another singer, it would have been a decent album. "Morning Comes" is too naif, too amateurish. "Comic Strips" is Gentle Giant inspired, but it's bad, really bad, the worse of the lot. "Song From A Picture" and "Going Out" are musically the best tracks, and would be quite good if not flawed by Lanzetti. The other three tracks go nowhere, they're fillers.
 Acqua Fragile by ACQUA FRAGILE album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.11 | 111 ratings

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Acqua Fragile
Acqua Fragile Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by stefro
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Pretty decent if slightly underwhelmung slice of melodic Italian prog from Acqua Fragile, a group most famous for providing a platform for lead-vocalist Bernardo Lanzetti. Possessing a unique, Roger Chapman-style voice and fluent in English, Lanzetti would go to to join Italian prog giants PFM during their Manticore-era English-language phase, before enjoying a successful solo career following his departure in 1980. His time with Acqua Fragile saw the Parma-based outfit issue two albums in two years, both featuring English lyrics, with this self-titled debut closely followed by 1974's 'Mass Media Stars'. Having spent time living in the United States, Lanzetti was keen from the very beginning to sing his vocals in English and thus have the group appeal to a wider international audience, yet the ploy backfired when their 1973 debut was issued in Italy only, and as a result the album proved a commercial disappointment. 'Mass Media Stars' did, however, prove slightly more successful, and was given a limited release in North America, though it failed to chart. Of the two, it is arguably the debut that shines brightest, the group wearning their Yes and Gentle Giant influences on their sleeve and providing a decidedly un-Italian brand of upbeat prog-rock that has very little in common with the likes of Le Orme, Area, Osanna or Banco, though they do share the same bright, optimistic ambience found on some of PFM's better records. Of course, the main attraction for many will be Lanzetti, and the vocalist gives a stirring performance, his throaty, warbling yet warm and comfortable voice given the perfect backing on tracks such as 'Morning Comes', which opens the album in fine style, and the eight-minute closer 'Three Hands Man'. In between you'll find a selection of attractive songs adorned with pretty melodies and occasionally complex instrumental flourishes, though the album does lack any real stand-out tunes. That said, fans of both Italian and British prog should find enough to satisfy their tastes, and Lanzetti's voice reallty is something to behold. Hardly a classic then, but enjoiyable enough all the same. STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2015
 Mass Media Stars by ACQUA FRAGILE album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.23 | 97 ratings

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Mass Media Stars
Acqua Fragile Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

3 stars Italian band Acqua Fragile are probably most well known now for being the previous band that vocalist Bernardo Lanzetti from Premiata Forneria Marconi's studio albums between 1975-1978 used to front. They released two studio albums between 1973-1974, before Bennardo was off to appear on PFM's `Chocolate Kings' album, but the fact that Acqua Fragile pretty much dissolved at that point is not too much of a tragedy. Despite being an Italian band, there's really very few proper RPI traits to be found in their music, instead they favoured a well-intentioned and energetic take on the sounds of British progressive bands, especially Yes, Gentle Giant and Genesis. They chose to utilize English vocals as well, likely in an attempt to appeal of international audiences. This second album, `Mass Media Stars', is well-played and tasteful, yet also fairly unengaging.

Unfortunately, Bernardo Lanzetti's vocals are extremely hard to love here. His English pronunciation became stronger and clearer on the PFM albums, but here his words often seem to run together in an increasingly inane way, very difficulty to understand and focus on, and attention starts to wander from the decent music behind them. Just notice the way the album suddenly picks up whenever the vocals calm down for a moment and the band launch into lengthier instrumental passages. Sadly these sort of more magical moments are few and far between.

Opener `Cosmic Mind Affair' has a nice punchy groove throughout, moving back and forth into little ethereal drifting moments as well. The sprightly drumming is the highlight, and the jazzy piano over pulsing bass and mandolin change of direction in the middle would have been great without the bleating obnoxious vocal dribbling all over it. `Bar Gazing' pulls out every clichéd Genesis trick, whether it's the acoustic guitar chimes or the symphonic organ pomp, but the repeated chorus melody is catchy (if completely impossible to understand due to Bernardo's gargling vocal), and the electric guitar solo in the middle is pleasingly a little scratchy and rough around the edges to offer a bit of tasty grit. The band then moves onto recreating Yes for the title track, with the high-pitched group harmonies a dead ringer for the more well known band, and the chunky murmuring bass and frantic guitar runs also completely modelled on Mr's Squire and Howe. While it's one of the better tracks, with plenty of twisting and turning infectious up-tempo energy, some oriental themes that pop up here and there throughout are a little baffling, and one or two spots where the group take on a squealing female-like chorus is excruciating.

Frantic Gentle Giant-aping complex harmonies open the second side's `Opening Act', but the rest is a jangling joyful tune full of dazzling piano and strident acoustic strumming. It's made borderline unlistenable by another forced lead vocal and a confusingly oriental-like wail, a shame because the actual tune and playing is lovely. `Professor' merges another Yes-clone rocker with a Gentle Giant-esque vocal (Bernardo is probably at his best on this one), and the rattling drumming, relentless bass and bombastic keyboard blasts are top- notch, making it the best track of the album. Album closer `Coffee Song' opens as a beautiful and delicate acoustic ballad, that gradually builds in stature and power with spacey synths, classical Renaissance-like piano drama and grand organ for a final dreamy instrumental run. A more restrained vocal throughout the earlier minutes would have made it even more special, but it's another of real standout moments on the album.

`Mass Media Stars' is at it's best when the musicians can really stand out and the instrumental passages allow them to shine, but these moments are fairly fleeting, with definitely too much emphasis placed on Mr Lanzetti's difficult vocals. If you decide to investigate Acqua Fragile, the better of their two studio albums is the debut, so be sure to go for that one first. `Mass Media Stars' is not completely without merit, but the truth is that there are far many more exciting and important Italian bands from the Seventies to explore long before this.

Two and a half stars, barely rounded up to three for the final two tracks and the overall musicianship lurking throughout the album.

 Mass Media Stars by ACQUA FRAGILE album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.23 | 97 ratings

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Mass Media Stars
Acqua Fragile Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

3 stars 'Mass Media Stars' - Acqua Fragile (6/10)

Italy's Acqua Fragile delivered a fairly unassuming facsimile of the British symphonic prog sound over the course of two albums. Although their vocalist Bernardo Lanzetti's future participation on Premiata Forneria Marconi's English-language albums might make for a greater claim to fame than the music itself, Acqua Fragile demonstrated some excellent musicianship and an ability to capture some of the same pastoral magic as the giants they hoped to emulate. The band's second album "Mass Media Stars" does nothing to avert or disprove the common criticism of Acqua Fragile as a 'Genesis clone', but lively musicianship and fairly memorable songwriting makes the record worth checking out for proggers outside the RPI inner circle.

Although the same could be said for many lesser-known prog acts, Acqua Fragile's sound seems split between the likes of Yes and Genesis. It's a comparison that should spark groans from many who have heard the same comparisons made for every 'typical' prog rock act, but there are few I've heard that follow the footsteps so accurately. "Cosmic Mind Affair" truly sounds like Yes and Genesis met up to collaborate sometime around the recording of "The Yes Album". The guitars are filled with a bright electric twang you might hear delivered by Yes guitarist Steve Howe. On the flipside, the acoustic guitars here are evidently influenced by Genesis' Steve Hackett. Although such an explicit lack of originality would normally be a death sentence, Acqua Fragile's replication of the 'British sound' is surprisingly convincing. The musicianship is lively and organic, and though the songwriting isn't quite up to the par of the bands they try to emulate, there's clearly been some sincerity and thought put into these pieces. "Cosmic Mind Affair" and the rich title track stand out as highlights.

Bernardo Lanzetti's vocal contribution to Acqua Fragile is no doubt a reason why many listeners found the band in the first place. Later singing on some of PFM's late-70's albums including "Chocolate Kings" and "Jet Lag", Lanzetti is best known for his similarity to Peter Gabriel. While some might enjoy the comfort and familiarity Lanzetti's resemblance to Gabriel provides, I never found his performance to be particularly effective with PFM, and the same applies to his work with Acqua Fragile. Although Peter Gabriel is one of my favourite classic prog vocalists, Lanzetti's voice has a strain and warble to it that wears on the ears. Although the band's instrumental performance is remarkably solid throughout, there are many times here where it feels like Lanzetti's voice feels like more of a distraction than a compliment to the rest of the performance. The lilting acoustic piece "Bar Gazing" is especially guilty of this; although there is some very warm acoustic playing that recalls the work of Steve Hackett, the vocals come across as a little annoying, helped no bit by poor lyrics that sound like they were roughly translated from Italian- the 'dictionary fails' indeed!

Like Acqua Fragile's self-titled debut, "Mass Media Stars" shows tact and potential, but it lacks any sort of unique personality or identity. First impressions are certainly brighter than the album's lasting impact, as some of the album's weaker aspects- Lanzetti's vocals especially- tend to wear down the enjoyment before too long. They may be little more than a Genesis clone, but they do manage to recreate the style faithfully.

 Mass Media Stars by ACQUA FRAGILE album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.23 | 97 ratings

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Mass Media Stars
Acqua Fragile Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars ''Acqua Fragile'' was actually heading for an export release, something that eventually never happened, and the album went rather unnoticed within the Italian borders.For the second album Acqua Fragile insisted on writing English lyrics, but this time the new album ''Mass media stars'' was released on the Ricordi label and succeeded a US release as well by Import Records.

By the time of the release of ''Mass media stars'', PREMIATA FORNERIA MARCONI had already started writing albums in English for a possible abroad success and Acqua Fragile followed exactly the same receipt both lyrically and musically.With a talented and highly expressive singer in the line-up, Acqua Fragile sounded like a poor man's P.F.M., having little personality, but musically the band played a rich and passionate Symphonic/Art Rock with intense interplays and plenty of dramatic moments.Organs and mellotrons along with the alternating acoustic and electric guitars remain the band's driving forces, offering nice symphonic arrangements with some great ideas popping out and a pretty solid songwriting, combining vocal- and instrumental moments with comfort.The resemblance to P.F.M's and GENESIS' style sounds often a bit annoying, as the album is dominated by the multi-vocal harmonies, the numerous piano paces and the folky acoustic textures, sometimes with a slight Mediterrenean feel, but again the virtuosic instrumental battles and the first-class harmonies are not an easy thing to achieve, thus Acqua Fragile overcome the lack of originality with passionate and very tight musicianship all the way.

At the fall of 1974 Mori left the band and was replaced by The Trip's keyboardist Joe Vescovi.The live album ''Live in Emilia - Spring 75'', issued in CD format in 1994, gives a good idea of the sound with the new line-up.The same year though Bernardo Lanzetti quit to join Premiata Forneria Marconi, he was replaced for a short time by future-I Dik Dik Roby Facini, but Acqua Fragile disbanded for good shortly after.

Another nice album along the lines of P.F.M.'s English versions of Classic Italian Prog.Top notch Symphonic Rock, where the word ''originality'' is totally absent, still strongly recommended...3.5 stars.

 Acqua Fragile by ACQUA FRAGILE album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.11 | 111 ratings

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Acqua Fragile
Acqua Fragile Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I must admit I really hesitated in checking this band out because of all of the negative reviews. The fact they sing in English and sound more British than Italian is one common complaint, but the biggest is that they sound too much like other bands. The strange thing with this album is that almost each song sounds like they are copying a different band. Usually a band will sound like one band throughout. So we get strong flavours GENTLE GIANT, GENESIS, CSNY and YES. The appeal for me is the amazing instrumental work and very good vocals. Also I just have too much fun when listening to this so it's hard for me to be critical.

"Morning Comes" opens with gentle guitar and vocals then it kicks in after 1 1/2 minutes with vocal melodies. The vocals that follow are Gabriel-like. Organ and guitar then lead and passionate vocals follow. Vocal melodies again before 5 1/2 minutes followed by a calm. Just an excellent GENESIS flavoured track. "Comic Strips" sounds amazing instrumentally and when the vocals arrive it's clear that this is inspired by GENTLE GIANT. Such a fun song. "Science Fiction Suite" has strummed guitar and vocals that recall CSNY.

"Song From A Picture" has intricate guitar and subtle bass as reserved vocals join in. There is a very GENESIS-like instrumental section before 2 1/2 minutes. Beautiful stuff. "Education Story" is fairly heavy with passionate vocals. "Going Out" has strummed guitar and reserved vocals. Vocals melodies follow as these contrasts continue. "Three Hands Man" is the over 8 minute closer and i'm impressed with the instrumental sections on it.

A low 4 stars.

 Mass Media Stars by ACQUA FRAGILE album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.23 | 97 ratings

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Mass Media Stars
Acqua Fragile Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by historian9
Forum & Site Admin Group Site Admin / JRF Team

4 stars I might just repeat myself from the review of ACQUA FRAGILE's first album; they are to GENESIS (with bits of YES and GENTLE GIANT but mainly PETER GABRIEL era GENESIS) what THINK FLOYD is to PINK FLOYD basically. That said, this is still a very good melodic album and as long there isn't actual plagiarizing of notes and riffs going on I couldn't care less if a band is regarded as a clone of a more famous one. Definitely worth checking out at least to make judgement for yourselves; recommended to fans of British symphonic rock scene, it's weird this kind of band came from Italy.
 Acqua Fragile by ACQUA FRAGILE album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.11 | 111 ratings

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Acqua Fragile
Acqua Fragile Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by historian9
Forum & Site Admin Group Site Admin / JRF Team

4 stars Maybe not the most original style, but still good music. Classic symphonic of early GENESIS era, all in english, with none of the elements of the italian prog scene that you usually hear, like domination of classical music over rock. Also added to the mix are some folky guitar pieces which suit them nicely. It's an enjoyable listen if you're not gonna nitpick how unoriginal or derivative the music may be , as I am quite tolerant of 70's bands that sound similar, it's quite a different story when a band in the 2000's try to emulate these sounds then they just bore the hell out of me. Recommended to symphonic fans, but not for someone who looks for italian sound though.
Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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