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Nicosia & C. Industria Musicale picture
Nicosia & C. Industria Musicale biography
This unique-sounding band from Piemonte, Italy, formed initially in 1971 as a quartet under the leadership of guitarist Nuccio Nicosia. The quartet was soon expanded into a "big band" format, with the addition of four trumpets and four trombones. The musicians eventually recorded their only album, Una Favola Vera, in 1973. Their aspirations were high--they wanted to produce a synthesis of elements of rock, jazz, classical, folk, and pop with lyrics that addressed many problems of society, especially focusing on the issues of immigration from Southern to Northern Italy. The blend of instruments is unique, with a full brass section in addition to the typical RPI instrumental combinations of guitar, bass, piano, organ, Moog, drums, violin, flute, and sax. The result is a delightful album with many elements familiar to RPI fans, but with the addition of the brass section. Described as "a bit intrusive at times," the brass section is nevertheless what sets this band apart from most RPI bands and creates their unique sound. NICOSIA & C. INDUSTRIA MUSICALE often sounds like a more pop-oriented version of OFFICINA MECCANICA, another band with a large brass section, albeit much more adventurous. Traces of SHOWMEN 2 and NAPOLI CENTRALE are also heard. The album is recommended to all fans of RPI and would be a great addition to your music library.


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3.79 | 24 ratings
Una Favola Vera

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 Una Favola Vera by NICOSIA & C. INDUSTRIA MUSICALE album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.79 | 24 ratings

Una Favola Vera
Nicosia & C. Industria Musicale Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Finnforest
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Fantastic, unconventional "big-band" RPI

What a treat! Nicosia & C Industria Musicale is the overly long name of this unique RPI entry whose roots began I believe in the 1960s, as part of a working quartet led by Leo Loris. When Loris split for a music business job the members of the group began assembling what would become Nicosia, the name of their guitarist Nuccio Nicosia. They spent a very fruitful summer working on material and playing, inspired by the counterculture and the changes occurring in the music scene. In 1971 the band became realized with the addition of an 8-piece brass section. By 1972 the group settled with 12 members, the standard 5-piece line-up plus a supercharged 7-piece heavy brass section. The members brought with them a variety of musical backgrounds in the hope of creating a grand project, and they largely succeeded. In 1973 they released their only album on Fonit, the heady "Una Favola Vera." 1975 saw the release of one further single but unfortunately Nicosia & C would be fated as yet another Italian one-shot band.

"Una Favola Vera" is an intoxicating album which takes a somewhat typical line-up of vocals/guitar/keyboards/bass/drums and blasts it with a heavy brass section, with the mission to create something big and bold. The band members were engaged in spirited conversations about life and art, and the album's themes reflect some of the social turbulence of the time. "We were all immersed in a strange subconscious philosophy, trying to outrun the dualism between spirit and matter." While describes the RPI/Big Band sound as measures of Chicago, Blood/Sweat/Tears, and Napoli Centrale, my own description would be "reduced-calorie Officina Meccanica!" The rock band portion of the sound is not quite as aggressive, the vocals not quite as provocative, and the horns more smooth than in-your-face. Officina Meccanica had a more adventurous proginess to their longer jams as well. But that is not to dismiss Nicosia & C in any way. I very much enjoyed this outlandish musical ride. And in fact they may appeal more to those who found Officina Meccanica to be a bit "over the top" as there is more accessible melody here.

The tracks are a feast for the musical senses, full of life, variety, and great playing. The songs are only in the 3-7 minute range but this is perfect for the blend of catchy songwriting and playing going on. Half the tracks have decent Italian vocals while the other half are instrumental. Sometimes the band can sound like Sinatra's "swinging" era backing band on steroids (or psychedelics) while other times the more traditional RPI/rock arrangements are employed. Always a very good balance is maintained between the imposing brass section and the other players---this is not easy as brass can be harsh, but I never found them to be overpowering. Instead, they come and go giving support to wonderful softer sections, with acoustic guitars and gentle flutes, or to more driving jazzy rock sections. There are occasional rocking sections that groove with funky, yes, funky, electric guitars, organ, and sax. The bass is solid and the horn players are very good, producing music that feels nicely layered and well developed. Sometimes the feel can veer into what sounds like the theme to some 60s spy show, or 70s cop show. Other times they will go for lovely and nostalgic melody like the piano and strings opening "Paradiso e Casa Mia." There are some moments where the vocals get downright nuts with theatrical wildness. The keys are fantastic referees to the whole affair, supplying ample runs of organ and piano to hold everything together nicely. I can imagine some people listening to Nicosia and saying "this ain't RPI!" but they'd be way wrong. Not all RPI sounds like Orme and PFM folks, and this is only one example of variable flavors of the subgenre. You could compare Nicosia as perhaps a cross between Officina Meccanica and Chicago as they possess the RPI flair of the former, with the pop sensibilities and sunshine of the latter. Great soft-prog arrangements and loads of melodic Italian pop/rock songwriting are "shaken and stirred" by the "big band" element, then served up by the masterful barkeep that was the year 1972, when such an experiment was approached with joyful enthusiasm rather than cynicism. The result is an album that is all about what I listen to music for. This is not the greatest prog of all time; it is not even the greatest RPI album by a long shot. But it is a fantastic, grooving, perhaps na´ve burst of energy and style that is an instant favorite for me, an album that will give me joy for many years. I get rid of a good percentage of the music I acquire; I can assure you I won't be losing Nicosia & C.

The AMS/BTF reissued CD is one of those delightful gatefold mini-lp sleeve editions. The sound quality is very good for 1972, great care was taken in the production of this work. The 8-page booklet contains some photos and liner notes but was a bit scant for my taste. This is such a lovely album I would have enjoyed reading much more, from all of the main participants. Two very good bonus tracks with equally good sound are included, boosting the value of the album by another 10 minutes. This is not an essential RPI title, and it is not a representative RPI title, but it is a fabulous and unique treat for those of us who look for something a little different. It exudes the spirit of the time and I recommend it heartily to RPI fans who enjoy horns.

Thanks to Todd for the artist addition.

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