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INGRANAGGI DELLA VALLE

Rock Progressivo Italiano • Italy


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Ingranaggi della Valle biography
Biography given by the band:

INGRANAGGI DELLA VALLE are a young Roman band created with the goal of evoking the sound and atmospheres of the historical Progressive Rock of the 70s, creating their own music open to fusion, ethnic and jazz-rock influences. The 2013 debut album "In Hoc Signo" is the representative manifesto of their music and philosophy.

The project, conceived by Mattia Liberati (keyboards) and Flavio Gonnellini (guitar), already members of the funk/jazz-rock trio The Big Chill, began in December 2010, with Edoardo Arrigo (multi-instrumentalist) on the electric bass; Marco Gennarini (violin) entered the line-up only in June 2011, after the choice of making a concept album set in the First Crusade was made.

During the finalization of the concept album, the band had a long and meticulous selection to find a front man with brilliant vocal, creative and theatrical skills. Only in February 2012 Igor Leone (singer) joined the group. Although Simone Massimi played bass on the majority of the album, the role of the bassist is now filled full-time by Marco Bruno, a friend of the band who played on the album track Cavalcata. Shanti Colucci mans drums and percussion. Also, to round out the sound of the band live, another friend of the band, Edoardo Arrigo, who also played bass and sang some of the backup vocals on the album, is currently with the band playing mellotron, synth, and guitar.

After the creative phase, including recording a demo EP in 2011 which garnered the interest of Black Widow Records, the band began recording their first album, In Hoc Signo, in September 2012, at the Roman recording studio Point Of View Records of Paolo Pierelli (sound engineer). The band was pleased to have as a guest in Rome the renowned Mattias Olsson (ÄNGLAGARD), with whom they recorded the track Jangala Mem; other distinguished guests include the singer Angelica Sauprel Scutti and the great David Jackson (VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR) on the track Finale.

On May 10, 2013, Black Widow Records released their debut album "In Hoc Signo" in CD format, with the painting "In Hoc Signo" by Marcello Toma as cover artwork. A limited edition vinyl is also planned.


Between 2014 and 2015 more than 3000 album were printed and the band played a lot of concerts in italy (FIM, Progressive Live Experiment, Newintage Prog Festival). In this period 3 new member joined the band: Alessandro Di Sciullo (guitars and keyboards), Antonio Coronato...
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Warm Spaced BlueWarm Spaced Blue
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In Hoc SignoIn Hoc Signo
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In Hoc Signo by Ingranaggi Della Valle (2013-05-14)In Hoc Signo by Ingranaggi Della Valle (2013-05-14)
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INGRANAGGI DELLA VALLE discography


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INGRANAGGI DELLA VALLE top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.07 | 213 ratings
In Hoc Signo
2013
4.09 | 96 ratings
Warm Spaced Blue
2016

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INGRANAGGI DELLA VALLE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Warm Spaced Blue by INGRANAGGI DELLA VALLE album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.09 | 96 ratings

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Warm Spaced Blue
Ingranaggi della Valle Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Progfan97402

5 stars Warmed Space Blue, the second release by this Italian band Ingranaggi Della Valle had left me completely speechless, in a completely unexpected manner, I expected them to continue on the jazz rock styles of Area and Arti & Mestieri, but instead go for a much more complex brand of eclectic prog of the more extreme end that borders on RIO at times. Really it's a giant leap forward for the band. The violin and vocals have been reduced, what vocals there are are usually in English. The Mellotron makes a bigger presence than before. What you basically get here is challenging prog in the vein of King Crimson, Änglagård, and even RIO. The music frequently takes on a darker, more sinister vibe, which is always a plus for me. On In Hoc Sogno, the band sounds positively like they're playing it safe in comparison to this! While that one featured Mattias Olsson from Änglagård and David Jackson from Van der Graaf Generator and the recent Osanna as guests, Warmed Space Blue features Fabio Pignatelli, of Goblin guesting on the opening cut. This was completely unexpected for me! Isn't the reason for prog rock is to challenge listeners and even their expectations? Well Ingranaggi Della Valle did just that! This could very well be one of the finest prog releases I've heard of the 2010s! To think of the musical progress, think of if Yes started off with their debut in 1969 and then make their following release Close to the Edge, but to be fair, Yes had three years to get to that point, and so did Ingranaggi Della Valle, the major difference was Yes had three albums released between their debut and Close to the Endge, and Ingranaggi had no albums released between those three years, but it still allowed them time to progress to where they are now. I just love it when new prog bands show their potential on their debut, but then really make that major leap on their next release. That's what IDV does here. But if you like the more jazz rock leanings of In Hoc Signo, Warm Spaced Blue would me a more rough ride. For those wanting new prog that's quite complex and challenging, there's no reason not to own a copy, this is essential!
 Warm Spaced Blue by INGRANAGGI DELLA VALLE album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.09 | 96 ratings

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Warm Spaced Blue
Ingranaggi della Valle Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by rdtprog
Special Collaborator Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team

5 stars This young Roman band offers us his second album with guest musicians Mattias Olson (Anglagard) and Fabio Pignatelli (Goblin). We can hear influences of those two bands in the music that has an old Italian style but a modern Swedish influence including Anekdoten. From the ethereal opener, we are in a strange and dark territory with some violin and vintage mellotron. The drums patterns remind me of the classical song of Ravel "Bolero". The music is mostly instrumental with occasional English lyrics. The band enjoys building the melody slowly in a faster and louder tempo. In the second track, we can hear the piano and keyboards in a pure canterbury style. The third track instrumental starts again with a dark intro and has soundtrack atmosphere. The fourth track brings back the vocals with some jazzy excursions. "Ayida Wedo" is a little masterpiece of vintage sounds, smooth drums, delicate and beautiful keyboards tones with a King Crimson ending. The last song has an acoustic intro with that dark and intense atmosphere ending furiously in the Anglagard style. This album is another fine example of how the Italian scene can be very creative. It's like hearing the sound on the 70's in the modern age with the same songwriting quality.
 Warm Spaced Blue by INGRANAGGI DELLA VALLE album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.09 | 96 ratings

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Warm Spaced Blue
Ingranaggi della Valle Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Roane

2 stars Neither bad nor good... The two first tracks are interesting, essentially instrumental and based on a good and rich orchestration. There is a good Jazz rock groove, the style is baroque with many rhythm breaks, featuring Italian style (makes think to Not a good sign for example), but also with the difficulty to extract some recognizable melodies. Tracks continue in the same style and you begin to wonder if you still not in the same song, except that vocals clearly appear in the forth one and this vocal style is quite special: you like or not... me not unfortunately. Both ending tracks are less good so, at the end of the day, it's difficult to evaluate these kind of album quite inconstant: the average, 2.5 stars
 Warm Spaced Blue by INGRANAGGI DELLA VALLE album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.09 | 96 ratings

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Warm Spaced Blue
Ingranaggi della Valle Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

4 stars Roman band Ingranaggi delle Valle is returning with a slightly more experimental sophomore album, having thrilled the prog community with their rather epic debut "In Hoc Signo". The main core of Mattia Liberati on keyboards, guitarist Flavio Gonnellini , violinist Marco Gennarinni and drummer extraordinaire Shanti Colucci are now complemented with a new vocalist in Davide Savarese, a full-time bassist in Antonio Coronato , as well as multi- instrumentalist Alessandro di Sciullo, who provides both keyboards, vocals and guitars to the heady mix. Guest appearance by iconic bassist Fabio Pignatelli, he of Goblin fame, only enhances the magic. This infusion of new blood has created a new sonic tangent, less jazzy perhaps and more atmospheric and stretching the bizarre even further

The 3 part "Call for Cthulhu" opens, continues and closes this mesmerizing recording, a true progressive sandwich that encompasses many of the stellar attributes that were unleashed on their debut but adding a ton of depth and atmospherics to their rather complex brew. Part 1 "Orison" remains mostly instrumental, as it highlights once again the spectacular interweaving of all players, obviously in tune with each other as if connected spiritually as well as musically and blending in some odd details, like the choir-like Mahavishnu Orchestra stylized voices that enhance Savarese's wild rant. Gonnellini does some serious screeching on his guitar as Colucci defies drum logic with a wild beating of the skins.

The Teutonic-tinged "Inntal" is a10 minute + affair that bewilders with initial delicacy, electric piano and booming bass setting the table, followed by sweet Mellotron waves. The various tangents come together unconditionally, a slow forming structure that reeks of Anglagard-like obstinate symphonism, Colucci doing his finest Bill Bruford imitation/tribute in syncopating the arrangement , exploding into a furious hurricane of insanity, violin in tow. The Mahavishnu- Larks Tongues-ear KC influence is overt and delightful, what with the violin, guitar, bass and drums creating a heady amalgamation of notes that stun and conquer. Bizarrely comes the unexpected German recited poetry (guest Florian Lechter) , as if to add to the bewildering confusion. Axeman Gonnellini shreds again in fine fashion, stripping, shearing and blasting unmolested.

Part 2 of "Call for Cthulhu", a perverse but short "Through the Stars", deafeningly unnerving and spectral, echoing bells and floating ghosts, very soundtrack Goblin. This seems the appropriate preparation for the highlight marathon "Lady Niva", a pulsating slash of melody and urgency, heavily dominated by cowering Mellotron washes, as the rhythmic tandem of Coronato and Colucci carve up quite a storm, while Savarese scales the octaves with a dissonant and hop-scotching vocal display that seems to ache with pain. Out of the 'warm blue', a mirrored pool of Frippian guitar streaks collide with a layered keyboard panorama that serves only to ratchet up the pulse, veering into almost Soft Machine/Isotope universes, clearly devoted to the jazz-rock idiom , before reverting to the initial symphonic storm. A hypnotic and repetitive piano note kills this masterpiece track off.

Obscurity tumbles on the sober "Ayida Wedo", a delirious blend of mathematical keyboard cubism (a la Richard Barbieri), a morose bass line and shifty drum beat. Clanging shards of guitar phrasings and Mellotron sweetness only add to the melee, then swerving into a demanding listen and frightening images that sear the brain. Complex, brooding and immaculately dark, perhaps in tribute to the Starless and Bible Black.

"Call for Cthulhu" finale "the Promise "fences in this troubling opus, a definitely engaging and unsuspecting ending that keeps the listener on a constant precipice, perhaps even vertigo. Organ, Mellotron and manic drumming create a tension-filled universe, a controversial flute solo from guest Paolo Lucini fueling the madness, the discomfort and the raw aggression. The experimental mid-section evolves into a cloudy universe of noises, effects and impressions, slowly rebooting the insanity and supplying the coup de grace.

Redefining the past by aiming for something unique, Ingrannagi delle Valle are part of the new vanguard of Italian prog (RPI or other various genres) that constantly keep the flame going, burning bright. This is very demanding music, requiring a devoted listen at all times, whether listening to the whole or the individual instrumental parts, it's a labor of love quite out of the normal context and augurs well for the future, with so many up and coming Italian groups , such as the magical Il Paradiso degli Orchi (still my favorite of 2016) and the arriving soon albums by Promenade, Il Rumore Bianco and La Bocca della Verita, that I just cannot wait to discover.

4.5 earnest spread-out sapphires

 Warm Spaced Blue by INGRANAGGI DELLA VALLE album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.09 | 96 ratings

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Warm Spaced Blue
Ingranaggi della Valle Rock Progressivo Italiano

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

5 stars Italy's Ingrannagi della Valle delivered a dazzling and brilliantly performed debut, `In Hoc Signo', back in 2013 on the Black Widow label, a thrilling shot-in-the-arm for the traditional vintage symphonic RPI sound, fuelled by endless searing violin and extravagant vocals. It was the classic sound of Italy's proud prog past meeting a youthful and exuberant future, one for lovers of bands such as Quella Vecchio Locanda. So having accomplished that, what was next for the band? How about aiming even higher in something of a different direction and possibly setting the standard for modern progressive rock overall? Because that's what the band have achieved with 2016's `Warm Spaced Blue', a defining work that not only almost completely eclipses their first work, but more than ever sets the band up for a bright future that lifts their status considerably.

It's a little disappointing at first to discover that not only have Ingrannagi della Valle abandoned some of the more obvious classical/theatrical/symphonic styles often associated with those bands that fall under the RPI banner, they've also switched to singing in English (usually this is an absolute disaster, or worse, kind of offensive to purists of the style). But all of that is pushed to one side from the scintillating first few minutes of opener `Call for Cthulhu: Orison' that paves the way for a surprisingly predominantly instrumental-based album. Eerie droning electronic ambience and doomed piano, scratchy Mellotron and Marco Gennarini's stirring violin weave together in unison behind a constant rumbling drum storm and a brief crooning vocal, the spontaneous and lively piece thankfully still containing much of the gothic atmosphere and darker unpredictability found in many of the classic Italian groups. The unsettling and playfully malevolent mood grows in drama and heaviness, and it's perfectly complimented by murmuring bass contributions from guest musician Fabio Pignatelli of Goblin, Cherry Five and Goblin Rebirth.

The ten-plus minute improvisation-heavy `Inntal' is unhurried and offers endless twists and turns of glistening electric piano tiptoes, creaky Mellotron flutes/infernal choirs and Mattia Liberati's overall psychedelic keyboard malaise fused with a delicious jazzy shambling. It peppers the album with bombastic bursts, a gloomy narration, indie-rock posturing and sprightly acoustic jangling, culminating in `Call for Cthulhu: Through the Stars', a nightmarish collage of humming distortion and ghostly piano. Parts of the up-tempo and frantic `Lady Niva' come the closest to a more traditional vocal/song piece, Davide Savarese's wavering and young falsetto voice darting between Shanti Colucci's skittering drumming, Antonio Coronato's purring bass and Flavio Gonnellini's stop-start guitar spasms, but lengthy ambient drifts with serene Mellotron veils and cinematic-flavoured violin strings lift the piece to exotic heavens.

`Ayida Wedo' crosses the sombre reflection of Porcupine Tree's `Dark Matter' off their modern prog classic `Signify' with the heavy grooving guitars of their later `In Absentia'-period, with just a touch of playfully maniacal Goblin/`Roller' electronics thrown in for good measure too! Closer `Call for Cthulhu (Promise)' is a deceiving beast, opening sweetly with chiming acoustic guitars and a reflective vocal, but a creeping heaviness and growing tension emerge to quickly twist it with thick organ, mournful group-harmonies and no end of growling guitars and searing Mellotron.

`Warm Spaced Blue' presents a bold and challenging new phase for this talented Italian group, a work that holds plenty of appeal to both younger and older listeners. So much of the disc is made up of extended instrumental and improvised passages, yet it never sounds aimless or drawn-out, and the punchy vinyl length means it never becomes overlong or causes interest to wane. If there's any justice in the music community, Ingrannagi Della Valle will become one of the biggest progressive rock bands on the planet based off this album, and it is not only probably the best Italian disc of 2016, but absolutely one of the essential Prog rock albums of the year as well. Well done once again to this truly superb band!

Five stars.

 Warm Spaced Blue by INGRANAGGI DELLA VALLE album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.09 | 96 ratings

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Warm Spaced Blue
Ingranaggi della Valle Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

5 stars I had no intention of picking this up until reading some reviews here. Their debut just didn't do a lot for me mainly because of the vocals and the violin which were both too prominent for my tastes. Well both are scaled back quite a bit on this the sophomore album and the results are stunning. The instrumental work here blows me away, it's why I'm giving this 5 stars and the abundance of mellotron sure doesn't hurt either. Oh, and I love the album title for some reason.

"Call For Cthulhu: Orison" opens with the atmosphere sounding like it's hovering as other experimental sounds come and go. Very cool, like listening to some spacey psychedelia. Drums and violin take over around the 2 minute mark. That's replaced by pulsating keys ala LE ORME, mellotron and more. The violin is back along with bass. Soon it turns powerful as they kick some ass. Nice. It settles with the drums and piano standing out. Synths join in as it builds. So cool! The tension is released as it settles back around 6 minutes but not for long. Check out the drums and organ before 7 minutes. Vocals for the first time after 7 minutes as the mellotron sweeps across the soundscape and the vocals turn passionate. Ripping guitar follows and as usual the rhythm section kills. What an opener!

"Inntal" opens with sounds dropping like rain then this beat with keys take over. Mellotron too. It's building until a calm arrives at 2 1/2 minutes. Determined piano arrives and some drum outburts, so good. The mellotron is back and soon we get a storm of it before 4 minutes as the drums and violin also impress. A calm with mellotron before 6 minutes, some narration here as well. It then kicks in with some incredible depth before 7 minutes, love the bass. Vocals follow then another calm takes over followed by some soaring guitar and busy drum work. Check out the organ before 9 1/2 minutes.

"Call For Cthulhu: Through The Stars" features plenty of atmosphere as the soundscape almost vibrates and pulses from it as different sounds come and go. I'm so impressed that they did an instrumental like this one. "Lada Niva" opens with atmosphere and psychedelia until drum and bass outburts arrive with mellotron before a minute. The tempo picks up and vocals join in with huge bass lines bringing 3RD DEGREE to mind. A spacey calm 4 minutes in but eventually drums, violin and more start to build. Great sound 7 minutes. The tension releases after 8 minutes as the piano takes over to the end.

"Ayida Wedo" opens with intricate sounds that build until it turns powerful very quickly. This is complex too. It does settle back with some jazzy drumming and keys. More sounds join in including mellotron then it settles back again. Some powerful sounds return after 3 1/2 minutes. Love the liquid keys and big bass lines here. The mellotron sweeps in as well before another calm arrives ate but then it turns heavy again to end it. A fantastic instrumental. "Call For Cthulhu: Promise" is folky to begin with as we get strummed guitar and reserved vocals. The organ rolls in and drums and man the guy can play. Mellotron and bass too as the tension builds. Soon it's dark and haunting(love this!) then more organ 4 minutes in in this powerful section. The tempo picks up at 5 1/2 minutes. Brilliant! Violin helps out as well.

This one came out of the blue(haha), c'mon it's Christmas! Anyway this young Italian band has hit one out with their sophomore album and this is possibly my favourite RPI album of 2016, we'll see.

 Warm Spaced Blue by INGRANAGGI DELLA VALLE album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.09 | 96 ratings

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Warm Spaced Blue
Ingranaggi della Valle Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Jazz-Rock / Fusion / Canterbury Team

4 stars Warm Spaced Blue is the band's sophomore release from a group of young Italian virtuoso musicians who are drawn to create progressive rock music in the tradition of their RPI forefathers. Here is a band that has fulfilled the promise shown in its debut album. Ingranaggi della Valle burst onto the prog scene in 2013 with their amazingly mature concept album, In hoc signo. That album served notice that seriously talented musicians in Italy of a new generation were desirous of creating serious progressive rock music. Whatever reason impels them to do this is unknown to me. I just know I am exceedingly happy that they do.

1. "Call For Cthulhu: Orison" (9:24) opens up this album with a wonderful display of the growth and maturity these musicians have achieved--especially in the compostitional department as the band here uses much more use of space and slower development than In hoc signo. I have to admit to being rather surprised that the band chose to open with what is, for all intents and purposes, an instrumental like this (the first seven minutes) as the voice of lead singer Davide Savarese is one of the things I look forward to most. Still, a great song with a great sustained buildup and climax. (9.5/10)

2. "Inntal" (10:34) opens slowly, almost delicately, even as the song moves into full-band mode, but the dynamic build up is there, they're just taking their time. By the break and ensuing slow down at 2:25 they have established a solid foundation--one that was considerably lighter than what follows as a dark, heavy YUGEN-like feel emerges with the second section. As things amp up, Mellotron vocals and violin taking leads. The meaning and significance of the recording of spoken German in the sixth minute is lost upon me, as is the vocal that follows, but it flows. Nice guitar solo in the ninth minute. Great drums throughout, as usual. (This guy is a god!) (9/10)

3. "Call For Cthulhu: Through The Stars" (3:13) opens with ominous sounds of distorted, heavily treated bells and organ which are eventually joined by slow treated/distorted piano notes. More ambiguous than scary. (I don't know what their intended effect was.) (7.5/10)

4. "Lada Niva" (8:49) a complex song that displays this band's amazing compositional skills (as well as drummer Shanti Colucci's extraordinary skills). the only flaw with this song is that the vocal feels somehow unfinished. Untreated, it feels as if it should have a little something to help it fit into the song. (10/10)

5. "Ayida Wedo" (5:52) opens with what sounds like a fast paced electronic sequence which is quickly joined by heavily riffing guitars, bass, and drums before Mellotron signals a change. Everything drops down to bass and drums before unhurried electric piano and electric guitar arpeggi join in. This is the drummer's showtime. (And he is impressive!) Then at 2:30 things quite down again for a little bridge from the vibes before a new set of instruments--synths and heavily treated guitars--take over the previously established melody (and add some really beautiful stuff to it). (It's still the drummer on display, though.) Another quiet interlude at 4:20 sets up the final run-- which includes a repetitive bass and synth sequence playing steadily while the drums and other incidentals add their wildness. Interesting and cool song in a NOT A GOOD SIGN way. (9/10)

6. "Call For Cthulhu: Promise" (6:44) a surprisingly simple and emotional beginning to the album's final song (the drums don't even appear until the 1:30 mark!) with acoustic guitar and organ supporting Davide's plaintive vocal. It's trying to be eery but it's failing (for me). It's also like it's trying to be a Zeuhl song. After the soundscape really fills up around the 3:40 mark it finally begins to succeed in expressing the heaviness of its theme. And then there are some subtle shifts starting at the five minute mark--little individual inputs, each admitted one at a time, which turn the song's mood into a more positive, hopeful feel. The ending section saves the song! (8.5/10)

4.5 stars; a near-masterpiece of progressive rock music. Not quite fulfilling the promise and potential shown in their debut but I do consider this a step forward. I look forward to seeing/hearing more vocals and dynamic variation in the future (and as much Shanti Colucci as possible, of course!).

 In Hoc Signo by INGRANAGGI DELLA VALLE album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.07 | 213 ratings

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In Hoc Signo
Ingranaggi della Valle Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by poslednijat_colobar
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Exceptional piece of art

Every time I put In Hoc Signo on I feel a kind of a magic around me. The debut album of Ingranaggi della Valle is an exceptional piece of art with an inimitable style. Each composition has its own handwriting, but as a whole piece of art all of them are connected in elegant style. This album carries the spirit of far- off days. The blend of styles and instruments is balanced and precisely determined. An anthology of so many beautiful things in music and art as whole. The blend of jazz-rock and symphonic rock is executed without any even average moments. The only way to listen to this wonderful album is on one breath, experiencing every single moment and note coming after another precisely and without any compromise with the art. If I just say this is "one in a thousand" album it would not be enough. The musicianship provided by this 20-years old musicians is just incredible in every single aspect. It is easily a top ten album in my all time list and the most favourite outside the 70s. Probably one of the greatest prog albums of all time and I am sure the test of time will prove it over and over again! Extremely highly recommended for profound prog listeners who prefer dynamic fusion style of prog music.

 Warm Spaced Blue by INGRANAGGI DELLA VALLE album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.09 | 96 ratings

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Warm Spaced Blue
Ingranaggi della Valle Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by poslednijat_colobar
Prog Reviewer

5 stars The talented Roman band Ingranaggi della Valle changed their direction with their second album totally. That should annoys the fans of the first album like me /it is my top 10 all time album/. However, this has not happened at all. I was just shocked throughout the first listening of the album. The direction is completely different of what i had expected before that. Their dynamic avant-garde jazz-rock style with symphonic hints is fully dissolved into dark slow eclectic profound sound with strong Anglagard influence. I haven't seen such a difference ever before between band's first and second album without this being a mistake. Ingranaggi della Valle maintain their extremely high level of professional, energetic and profound approach in building top ranged progressive music. Definitely one of the best young musicians in the worldwide scene still in their 20s. Highly recommended to all.
 In Hoc Signo by INGRANAGGI DELLA VALLE album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.07 | 213 ratings

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In Hoc Signo
Ingranaggi della Valle Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by saboliver

4 stars Italian progressive rock has maintained a very high standard in recent years, with a few absolutely stunning albums. In Hoc Signo, at this time the only album released thus far by Ingranaggi Della Valle, is one such piece. It is a restless, intricate, every-changing and yet very cohesive album, heavily influenced by fusion, with a heavy edge but with jazz sensibilities. A lot of classic RPI themes and instrumentation are prominent, but there are also touches of early-to-mid Santana throughout with maybe even a hint or two of Mahavishnu Orchestra. The band has very much its own sound, one which sounds so we developed and confident that it is hard to believe that this is a debut.

Cavalcata bristles with energy, at times restrained - even the stillness of the middle section has tension until the beautiful vocals enter - at times unleashed. Organ runs are used liberally, giving way a fusion guitars as the song takes flight again towards the end. The song is a taste of things to come.

Mare in Tempesta opens with an almost heroic theme on the synth, on suggestive of a journey to be embarked upon perhaps, which gives way to a gentle verse. Those might be waves lapping as the cymbals sound. The understated opening quickly yields to busier drums and an exchange of violin and guitar leads before the synth takes the centre stage. The instrumental section typifies this album with each musician contributing significantly to a cohesive whole. The song lasts for little more than three minutes but covers a lot of ground, with the violin reviving the opening theme, this time a little more reflectively and with a touch of melancholy.

Via Engatia opens with a slower pace and a heartfelt guitar solo with a bluesy, Gimour-esque feel. The drums, a high point throughout the album, signal a change to something with a little less of a sense of stillness for the first verse. The drummer brings Nick D'Vigilio to mind at times. There is a busy-ness and restlessness to the playing that particularly appeals to me. The drum set is as important an instrument as any other, not simply the rhythmic backbone to the song. Jazz and fusion sensibilities are present everywhere. As many of the songs on In Hoc Signo do, this one builds, before taking a sideways step with a more classical, Spanish guitar and violin section with shades of Rodrigo in a rustic mood.

The opening three songs carry a thematic unity and feel very cohesive and yet they also cover quite a wide range of ground musically. After a few seconds of rolling toms, L'Assesio di Antiocha opens with a bright organ figure and a rapid almost military snare pattern before getting a little heavier for the verses. The violin is every present here and contributes to heavier riffs just as much as providing soaring melodic line. As with every performer the singer gives a sterling performance, passion and energy in his voice. No one section ever lasts for long and a slightly funky section gives space for some soloing on the organ. Anyone who likes classic instruments will enjoy the way in which they are liberally sprinkled throughout the album even if solo spots are rarely extended. Ingranaggi Della Valle cram a lot of musical ideas into a three minute song, so eight minute provides a very broad canvas. The vocals over the stabbing violins about five minute in, bring the listener to the edge before stillness returns again. The contrasts and changes of pace are extremely well handled throughout the album contributing to its cohesiveness. Due to this consistency it is hard to think of particular songs or moments that stick out.

Fuga da Amman, an instrumental, opens with an aggressive synth, quickly progressing to a tense, biting riff. This in turn lasts only seconds before a lilting and melancholic violin takes over before soloing over a hypnotic pattern that could have sustained an early Santana album. Kairuv'an starts with the omnipresent busy drums and more slightly jazzy bass, with the organ yielding to a piano lead. It is the jazz and fusion heart of the band that makes this such a good album. The performances are excellent and gel together well. After about two minutes the song becomes a classic piece, highly reminiscent of the early seventies. This wouldn't be out of place on a Premiata Forneria Marconi album. The the dark, quiet guitar pattern that comes in just before three minutes is one of the best parts of the album to me. There is such a range on this one song, as there is through the whole album, that it is captivating listening, though it can also be fatiguing at times if not in the right mood. Find the right mood and this is a superb album. There is always something interesting happening. The violin solo that follows is exhilarating.

Musqat opens in slightly edgy 5/4 time with gritty guitars and violin, before slowing down then accelerating into a bass and violin section. The violin is very prominent throughout the album and is an essential ingredient in the sound. A piano takes up the main theme before getting a little more chaotic and playful. A fuller fusion sound follows with organ and lead guitar. Santana comes to mind again, in a very positive way. Vocals are used economically and sung passages do not follow the standard verse/chorus structure; they appear where they fit. The singer has an expressive voice. Jangala Mem has a more mystical opening and drifts slightly into atonality and ring modulation before flitting between themes, never settling for long on one.

Il Vento del Tempo begins with chimes and intimations of the wind. A muezzin-like call is heard and there is a Middle-Eastern influence embedded in places. A slower tempo an sparser arrangement allows room for the vocals to shine. Finale is probably the highlight of the album - as befits the longest song - with a captivating opening, with its dark, folk theme which almost immediately disintegrates to a jazzy section with vocals to follow. The middle section starts hesitantly and then accelerates, maintaining an barely-controlled edge to it, before the opening theme returns. The intensity grows with saxophone outbursts. The song and album ends with an uplifting violin and flute duet.

This is a truly excellent album, one of the highlights of recent RPI. To fully appreciate it you need to have a liking for fusion and heavy jazz influences. Someone who enjoys classic RPI, early-to-mid Santana and Mahavishnu Orchestra will delight in In Hoc Signo.

Thanks to Todd for the artist addition.

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