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Il Rovescio Della Medaglia - Contaminazione CD (album) cover


Il Rovescio Della Medaglia


Rock Progressivo Italiano

4.19 | 333 ratings

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Abisso, abside, accantonare, affogato, allenatore, Alpi, amaretto, arrivedérci, asinino, aspettare, auguri, avanti, babbo, bacio, bambino, befana, Beretta, birra, bolognese, buonasera, calcio, caldo, calzone, cappucino, cercare, chiesa, cinquecento, cipolla, condottiero, conoscere, consigliere, conzucione, croce, culo, cuore, destra, doge, domani, dopo, ebreo, ecco, espresso, fascio, fica, formaggio, fragola, freddo, ghibelino, giallo, giorno, gli, grazie, guardare, guelfo, ieri, insegnante, insieme, latte, loggia, maccherone, madonna, malato, mascarpone, mensa, mezzo, moglie, nave, negozio, nessuno, niente, nocciolato, nodo, nudo, occhio, ogni, olivo, parmigiano, paura, pazzo, permesso, piccolo, pipistrello, pizza, pomodoro, quartiere, quindici, raccogliere, raccolta, ragazza, rapporto, regno, risotto, rovescio, scopo, scusare, sfumato, siccome, specchio, spunto, squadra, stampa, strappo,sviluppo, tagliatelle, tarantella, tasca, testa, tifosi, tonno, treno, tridentino, uscita, vecchio, volere, zio, zucchero, zuppa.

The above list is, rudely put, my entire Italian vocabulary, not counting, obviously, the long array of words similar or alike in my native tongue. A few of those were picked up on trip to Italy last year. Of course, my goal there was not to learn the language, but to attend a Gilmour concert and do a little sightseeing. The Gilmour concert was great, the sightseeing even better, but I feel I could have done more and maybe dive into the cradle of a fantastic musical genre, Italian Symphonic Prog. I knew PFM and La Maschera di Cera were around performing, but one of the downsizes of travelling accompanied is that you can't always go where you what. Still, back to the list, it is not, as you can probably conclude, a very flattering one. And it is probably one of the reasons why I can't appreciate Italian Symphonic Prog (from now on referred to by the Italian initials to Rock Progressivo Italiano - RPI) in full.

I was "introduced" to RPI, surprisingly, by a dear lady friend (prog-chicks - gotta love them!). The band in question was Banco del Mutuo Soccorso. When I asked her where she had got those tracks, she replied "Prog Archives. Don't you know it?" I had never heard of it. I can't say that I would continue not knowing it if not for her, but I agree she speeded up the process of me joining this wonderful resource. She and RPI, that is. For my first moments on this website were spent downloading (when you still could) the massive array of RPI samples available in this prog El-Dorado. From ba-rock bliss to heavy folk-rock, from eerie to exciting, at every track I got, my curiosity and devotion to this amazing genre grew. Progressively.

It seems only fair that my first RPI review refer to my first RPI album: Roverscio della Medaglia's CONTAMINAZIONE di alcune idee di certi prelude e fughe de «Il Clavicembalo ben temperato» di J. S. Bach (don't you just love long titles?). Sure, I had previous contact with the RPI samples here on PA, including the one for RDM, Cella 503, yet Contaminazione. was the first full experience of appreciation I had, which is to say, the first RPI album I purchased. It was an impulse of the moment. I received a mailing list from a music distributor that featured one copy of this album. As soon as I saw it, in 5 minutes I had it bought. Two days later, there he came knocking to my door. Needless to say, the first listen wasn't all I expected it to be. First off, there was the album length - 36 minutes. When you pay some dosh for an album, you might expect it to be filled. Then, as if the album length wasn't enough, there were the tracks - one had 4 minutes and 10 seconds, the rest not even 4. Of course, after a few listens, I realized this wasn't important. As far as I could and can tell, the album compromises only one piece of music, as all the songs segue into the next to form a 36 minute opus (the only exception is between tracks 6 and 7 where, I can only imagine, the division for vinyl was made, an assumption confirmed by other reviewers).

What wondrous music and musicianship! The keyboards are omnipresent, but they don't embark as much on the psych ups-and- downs we are used to in many progressive rock acts as much as they serve an eerie ambient sound. Electric guitars are less present throughout the album, but they do come out sometimes, and what a joy it is when they do! The vocals, both individual and in chorus, are spot on. The orchestra gives it a classical ambience that the band fits into so well and therefore there is plenty of classical instrumentation to go around, driven by the obvious harpsichord and strings, delightfully present throughout the opus. The first half of the album, compromising the first 6 tracks, has an exiting start, but then gets progressively more mellow and emotional. From the second half on, opened by Johan it gets slightly heavier, faster and wackier. Every song before Alzo Un Muro Eletrico sounds like a display of fireworks at Louis XIV's Versailles. When that track does arrive, it does so in a funky blast, after the small 1-minute intro provided by the flute-dominatedContaminazione 1760. Distorted guitars dominate the landscape here, by far the heaviest track of the album and a real highlight. The heaviness is slightly interrupted at the middle by what Ian Anderson could describe as a "sleazy piece of hotel elevator jazz". This amazing track gives way to the climatic yet phantasmagorical, keyboard dominated Sweet Suite (such a sweet name!), that repeats the intro from Alzo Un Muro Eletrico before segueing into the fast-paced, baroque-psyched ending that is La Grande Fuga. Harpsichord, strings, electric keyboards, all compete in this track to see who's stronger and who's faster, and while they do so, the only winner in the competitions is us, the listeners. You can just picture in your mind the fireworks in the end.

This is not an album to hear and discard after one listen. It has to be repeated, listened to carefully, it has to mature in the ear. When it does, you can't keep from seeing it as it is. A masterpiece.

Kotro | 5/5 |


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