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Le Orme - Il Fiume CD (album) cover


Le Orme


Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.49 | 87 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars I first encountered Le Orme's comeback album through the band's 1997 Prog Fest performance (the CD document and not, alas, the actual concert), which included a show-stopping medley of newer material, easily a highlight of the weekend event. The studio version of the same music, released one year earlier, was equally exciting in a welcome, retrograde sort of way, especially when considered alongside the truly awful soft rock the band had been playing over the previous decade.

Rarely has a musical group been in such a hurry to make amends for lost time. Orme's nose-dive from grace in the '80s was precipitous, and their return to form almost fifteen years later was equally sudden (but a more pleasant surprise). This was the sound of a band falling in love with its muse all over again, while retracing its steps to a place that almost looked like home.

The harder RPI edge of classic Orme was deliberately muted. But the album restored much of the romantic grace and melodic appeal of their better efforts from the 1970s, and with a likewise familiar respect for thematic unity. As suggested by its title, the album follows a winding musical river from source to sea, buoyed on the acoustic piano of newcomer Francesco Sartori: the star instrument here, and the perfect vehicle for depicting the ebb and flow of a meandering stream.

Don't expect any whitewater rapids, however. The piano sets a warmer and more relaxed mood than the ubiquitous synths that once tarred the band as the Italian ELP. And Aldo Tagliapietra's renewed fascination with the sitar was used to even gentler effect, in the song "Madre Mia" and elsewhere. My only gripe is with the overloud, artificial boom-thud of Michi Dei Rossi's drum kit, a sign of the times I suppose but totally out of sync with the rest of the album.

In retrospect the abbreviated live set on the Prog Fest disc culled the best material from the studio album, condensing it to a more digestible 16-minute sampler. It also played better without the album's occasional mild touch of boilerplate pomposity, like the additional gospel choir augmenting the song "Grande Acqua" indication of recharged ambition, or of self-conscious Neo-Prog overkill?

Maybe a little rust should have been expected, after so many years in pop music purgatory. In the end the album was a more than respectable three-star achievement, but with four-star implications. If Le Orme could find redemption in their bygone Progressive Rock past, there's hope for all of us.

Neu!mann | 3/5 |


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