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Il Sistema - Il Viaggio Senza Andata CD (album) cover


Il Sistema


Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.26 | 19 ratings

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Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars Let me paint a picture for you...Winter is coming to an end, the first days of warmer weather have started to emerge, you're on a chilled out drive and in need of a very groovy soundtrack for your travels - look no further that the rough and ready Hammond/organ stomping works of Italian band Il Sistema. Comprised of members who would end up in Museo Rosenbach and Celeste, two bands who would later put out hugely important and highly regarded albums in the Rock Progressivo Italiano genre, their early works can now be enjoyed due to a compilation issued by Mellow Candle, as well as more recently being available on a 4 disc box set entitled `Celeste:1969-1977 - The Complete Recordings'.

Initially the order of the day here is scratchy, reckless and noisy instrumentals driven by waves of Hammond organ, rattling drumwork and heavy distorting murky bass, with just the occasional unhinged, melancholic and slightly brooding vocal. As the compilation progresses, you get deranged and dark psychedelic pop/rockers, sophisticated improvisations involving flute and saxophone as more members joined the original trio (bringing us closer to the RPI trademarks Italian bands would start incorporating), grand ambitious progressive works and occasionally some very naughty grooves that will have your foot tapping in no time!

Two numbers are especially dirty, offering plenty of pelvis swiveling wonderful sexy noise to lead your 60's gothic lady to the dancefloor - `Dinamica E Cibernetica' has a hugely dramatic quaking cymbal, murky underwater bass and imposing church organ intro before a twisting, noisy and reckless guitar thrashing groove tears the piece apart. `Sangue Sulle Ruote' is begging to be included on a compilation of rare Italian prog singles, with its wild howling devilish almost Hendrix- like vocals, filthy alternating bass grooves, darting unhinged flute and ragged saxophone not unlike from Delirium's third album. Simply killer stuff, with heaps of grit and mud to get under your nails here. Maddening percussion and machine gun rattling drumwork wraps around some spooky spiraling Hammond tension and stalking crumbling bass in `Lugubre', plenty of deep dark psych terror in this one! One of my favourites on the disc, `Flautando', is a brief light-footed and tasteful catchy melodic jazzy number with trilling flute and Hammond so warm and comforting it could be served in a saucer to your cat.

Of course it's the longer pieces here that will draw the most attention from progressive fans. Ten minute opener `Il Viaggio Senza Andata' is all confident repetitive take-charge drumming tornadoes, distorted plodding bass and cooking thick oven-hot Hammond runs, very cool stuff indeed as I listen with my sunglasses on and nod my head in approval, stroking my chin where a beard should be. The messy and totally addictive `I Pensieri Del Mattino' is a strange one - drawled Jimi Hendrix-like vocals, a bass line that attempts to break into `Day Tripper' by the Beatles on several occasions, all competing in a range of speeds and tempos back and forth - and just listen to how effortlessly the band starts burning together at exactly the three minute mark. Classical interpretation `Una Notte Sul Monte Calvo' is like a deranged version of works that Beggars Opera, Bram Stoker and The Nice attempted, even reminding me of `In Concertro' by Le Orme, as this one is full of that same scuzzy organ and end of days drumming.

But the 15 minute `Il Pozzo' is an early tour-de-force and a bit of a classic, blending acid folk acoustic guitar, crooned gothic vocals, serrated cutting saxophone, disorientating organ noise, ambient electronic melancholy and maddening time changes. Lots of unease and delicate psych flavours here, the beginnings of the pompous classical trademarks that would infect RPI soon after, and the murky sound quality gives it all a very wasted and dangerous edge, like the musicians were locked in a dungeon, only a rusty knife between them to settle their frustrations and to keep the Devil out the door. I even hear a more unhinged version of what fellow Italian band Triade went on to do here, as well as some berserk Van der Graaf Generator-type bluster and King Crimson hostility. Along with the terrifying avant-garde experiment nightmare sound collage `Campo 11', full of screeching wailing torment and scratching metallic percussion, these types of tracks keep you holding your breath and trying to survive.

So the sound quality is quite average a lot of the time, but personally I'm a total sucker for those early heavy Hammond/organ heavy proto-prog kind of albums by acts such as The Nice, Bodkin, early Santana band and numerous others. Prog-related music doesn't come much sexier than this to my ears, and the later more daring tracks like `Il Pozzo' and `Campo 11' are truly dazzling with their ambition and variety. The surviving records of Il Sistema are a shimmering noisy world away from the lush and delicate pillows of Celeste and intense prog of Museo Rosenbach, but there's plenty here for fans of proto prog and the beginnings of RPI to treasure.

Three and a half stars, bumped up to four.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 4/5 |


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