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Mario Cottarelli biography
Mario Cottarelli is a composer and multi-instrumentalist born in Cremona Italy in 1956. Around the age of 14 he became the drummer in a band called Gli Eremiti, along with friends Marco Lupi, Franco Masulli, and Luciano Marchetti. They were mostly a cover band and didn't get far, but managed to record a single which on the flip side included a version of PFM's "Impressioni di settembre." After the split Cottarelli added guitar to his talents and then keyboards. During RPI's fertile classic period he began composing music but was unable to attain a recording deal as the prog market in Italy dried up in the later 1970s.

Mario got a degree in Biology in 1982 and life went on, though he did work on commercial music in the 1980s, and Italian folk and melodic dance bands in the 90s. There were collaborations with Ivana Spagna and Claudio Simonetti among many others. He always longed to return to progressive rock and in 2005 decided it was time. Using some of his original compositions from the mid '70s, Mario rearranged the tracks and recorded them all on his own. The result is the Cd "Prodigiosa macchina", published by New Lm Records in November 2007. You can download the album on iTunes and other digital stores or you can find the CD on New Lm Record's website . A mixture of symphonic music, Rock Progressivo Italiano, and perhaps some new-age style dabblings, Cottarelli's album should please those who enjoy long keyboard explorations.

In 2011 Cottarelli followed up with his second full length album, "Una Strana Commedia." In the opinion of this writer it is even stronger than his first.

[Jim Russell/Finnforest]

Mario Cottarelli official website

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3.93 | 4 ratings
Prodigiosa Macchina
3.91 | 4 ratings
Una Strana Commedia

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Showing last 10 reviews only
 Prodigiosa Macchina by COTTARELLI, MARIO album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.93 | 4 ratings

Prodigiosa Macchina
Mario Cottarelli Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Italian multi-instrumentalist Mario Cottarelli was born in Cremona in 1956, showed his love for Progressive Rock at a very young age but by the time he produced his first demos in late-70's the interest on prog music had faded for good.For the next two decades Cottarelli turned to more commercial music, composing songs for dance and folk acts, but ,with the revival of Progressive Rock, he revisited some of the pieces he composed back in the 70's, re-arranged them and wrote new lyrics.The result is the 2007 CD album ''Prodigiosa macchina'', released on the Ravenna-based New Lm Records.

Cottarelli is responsible for all instruments, vocals and programming on this album, highlighted by the eponymous 22-min. epic track, where the musician offers some great musicianship in a Classic Italian Prog style, though more modern sounding, with evident LATTE E MIELE and LE ORME influences.Melodic keyboard-based Symphonic Rock with a slight New Age/Jazz vibe on a couple of instrumental parts is the style here with dominant almost psychedelic organ parts, superb work on synthesizers but also some lovely work on guitar, featuring also numerous shifting moods and breaks, resulting a fantastic modern prog opus of high quality.The pair of tracks following and eventually closing the album are more of the same.Great marching keyboard parts, grandiose symphonic organ passages and some great guitar solos just proove that Cottarelli was much unappreciated back in his youth and unlucky enough to record a proper album.Especially the keyboard interludes have a superb haunting atmosphere you can't get enough of.The only flaw of the album are Mario's vocals, which sound a bit melodramatic, but not too bad to spoil the whole atmosphere.Nevertheless the musicianship coming out of this man's mind is so rewarding you will never pay attention at first place.

This is some excellent Symphonic Rock music in the best Italian tradition and if you are a lover of keyboard-based adventures ''Prodigiosa macchina'' is an absolute must-have.Highly recommended.

 Una Strana Commedia by COTTARELLI, MARIO album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.91 | 4 ratings

Una Strana Commedia
Mario Cottarelli Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Finnforest
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars A strange comedy, a fantastic ride

Mario Cottarelli is one of my favorite RPI artists releasing albums in the current era. Born in Cremona in the 50s he was there for the classic era although he didn't get to release his work until decades later. A talented multi-instrumentalist and composer, "Una Strana Commedia" is his second album of original material. It's a wonderful album that builds on the instrumental strength of the first and heads in a more engaging direction, packing every minute with great melodies, interesting sounds, and superb play.

The five tracks here range from 6-12 minutes in length and are immaculately constructed pieces of sophisticated, rewarding keyboard-heavy symphonic rock. Cottarelli is a first-class keyboardist and a great prog songwriter. In some ways he reminds me of Beppe Crovella in terms of his talents, and perhaps Crovella's Secret Cinema might be a reference point. But Cottarelli is a more interesting musician and the dense layers of tightly-wound, reasonably complex prog rock remind me even more of a slightly lighter Deluge Grander. Like Grander, the first plays of Commedia leave you somewhat sonically overwhelmed. There is so much going on, so many criss-crossing ideas and counterpoints that initial plays are exhausting. Like Grander, it took several plays to really warm to, and then suddenly the intricacy of Mario's construction comes alive and you really appreciate all the cool parts he has packed these tracks with. It's an album that demands active listening and when I sit and concentrate I'm just amazed. Big epic tracks, Cottarelli is such an enthusiastic composer, he's like a kid in a candy store who has so many flavors to sample. If you don't give the album your undivided attention you will miss things.

Mario's keyboards are rich, vibrant, energetic; his textures are full of color and imagination. The songs are a light-hearted and upbeat symphonic which pulses along with the frequent addition of his warm vocals, dancing flutes, strings, choir vocal parts, and occasional guitar parts. Sometimes the programmed drumming sequences have a colder feel than I like, and I'll take a great drummer with a live sound any day of the week. But I get past that pretty quickly and "Una Strana Commedia" will be one of my favorite albums in a very fruitful 2011 for Italian prog. "Bianca scia" is probably my favorite track with the deep spacey organ section, the frantic piano, repeating flute motif and odd wordless vocalizations. But there's a musical romp here that will please just about every symphonic RPI fan taste. It's one of the few albums where I actually regret not being able to understand the lyrics. Usually I don't care about lyrics, I'm a music guy. But here, the album cover (also my favorite of the year) makes me really want to know the lyrical themes. It feels like a warm pondering at the absurdity of life with an appreciation for the preciousness of it. I can only guess. Listen often, this refined gem just gets better with each play. 4-plus stars, solid as hell.

Mario, a million thanks to you for this wonderful work, I love it.

 Prodigiosa Macchina by COTTARELLI, MARIO album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.93 | 4 ratings

Prodigiosa Macchina
Mario Cottarelli Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Finnforest
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Keyboard ecstasy born 30 years later!

Some good things are worth waiting for....even decades for! Mario Cottarelli is a composer and multi-instrumentalist born in Cremona Italy in 1956. A professional keyboardist, guitarist, and drummer, Cottarelli created several progressive compositions in the mid 1970s but was unable to get an album recorded in that period. After finishing his studies he went on to other endeavors but always longed to get back to the siren of progressive rock, and finally in 2005 he went for it. Using some of his original compositions from the mid '70s, Mario rearranged the tracks and recorded them all on his own. The result is the Cd "Prodigiosa macchina", published by New Lm Records in November 2007.

This is a truly wonderful album that is sure to please aficionados of RPI, symphonic, and all keyboard fanatics of any stripe. Mario is a keyboards whiz. I just envision banks of different keys in his jamming room, but I'm no expert on hardware, maybe they all emanate from one machine. He is a master of atmospheres and weaves three long, whirlwind tracks which breeze from one melodious meadow to the next. The first track is a 22 minute monster with no filler! While his influences are noted as the Italian and English prog masters (Jethro Tull, Genesis, Gentle Giant, Pfm, Banco del mutuo soccorso, Le Orme, Mike Oldfield) I also believe I can discern just a hint of Yes in a couple of places where the driving percussion and strong keys reminded me of some of the more fusioney era Yes tracks (ie sections of Relayer and Topographic). But I think mostly this is an album for modern keyboard lovers, for those who love Toto Torquati, Rustichelli Bordini, Beppe Crovella's Tower, but with a more updated sound than the classic works. He just runs passionately through long sweeping instrumental sections with total freedom of sound and pace, augmenting some sections with warm, personal Italian language vocals. Mario plays everything on the album but unlike some solo instrumentalist projects this one sounds full and satisfying: he's a quite capable drummer and guitarist, although the guitar is dwarfed by the keyboard presence here, it's a second fiddle mostly but you won't mind. Occasional electric leads double behind the melodies. The drumming is varied and interesting to my ear, always moving the music briskly. But most important is the quality of what he plays on the keys and I found myself reveling in his choices of notes, chords, progression. I didn't expect to enjoy it initially because I typically like albums with at least some dark vibe whereas this one is almost completely upbeat and sunny. But win me over it did. While I don't understand the lyrics the music's mood is majestic, soaring, very open in terms of space. For being mostly digital it is not cold, nor lifeless. There are one or two sections where a bit of world music feel a la Oldfield will creep in, but for me it never strays too far from glorious Italian prog sensibility. The beginning of track 3 even offers a bit of psych/space flavor, a very cool intro. My only criticism is that it could have used some of those surefire RPI charms for more variety of sound, like more strings, operatic chorus, maybe more piano or flute. But it's a very minor quibble---Mario's debut is a fantastic project and I'm so happy these songs from the 70s have found life in the 2000s. I hope we hear from Mario again with another RPI project. I think about what it must have been like for him to hear these songs from his youth coming to life all these years later, for him to be breathing life into them. He must be proud and yes, I'm gushing a bit. I love this classy album.

This is an excellent disc I recommend with ease to anyone who loves grand music soaked in synthesizers through and through, for keyboard lovers of all ages. The accompanying booklet is only a foldover but does include the lyrics, in Italian. You can download the album on iTunes and other digital stores or you can find the CD on New Lm Record's website

Thanks to Finnforest for the artist addition.

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