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Il Castello Di Atlante - Passo Dopo Passo CD (album) cover


Il Castello Di Atlante


Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.25 | 39 ratings

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4 stars You'd have to be a hardhearted soul indeed to fail to be moved by the story of this RPI band. To recap briefly, they formed in 1974 and never really disbanded between then and their 1992 debut on Vinyl Magic. They claim that they were united more as friends than musicians during that period. That may be so but the strength of their friendship is the current that powers their music, an enchanting and lovable blend of 1970s RPI and British symphonic prog. In 1993, when informed that their debut had surpassed the lofty sales peak of 3000 units, they were asked, nay commanded, to dispatch a second album pronto. What to do? They had yet to fully tap their significant repertoire amassed during 18 years sans record deal, but they had no time to lavish the same loving kindness on the other chestnuts as they had on "Sono Io Il Signore Delle Terre A Nord". So they made the only logical choice - they raided the vaults and the result is "Passo dopo Passo", a mostly live compilation of hitherto unreleased bootleg quality material from the 1974-1984 period, much of it live.

The result is bittersweet. If the band had been given sufficient time, many of these pieces could have found their way onto subsequent studio efforts, edited and produced in a manner that does justice to their underlying strengths. As far as I can tell, only one, "Cavalcando tra le nuvole" has been resuscitated in the intervening 22 years, and this is a minor tragedy. The lengthier tracks are just a few washed out bridges from being up to the level of subsequent recordings, while the mid length songs could have graced the debut album and not been out of place with minor cleanup. In particular, the ballad "Alice" (pronounced appropriately as ah-lee-chay), "Omer", the masterful mini epic "La Guerra del Topi", and the dazzling instrumental, "Chorale" (which reminds me oddly of the title cut to CAMEL's "Rain Dances") outshine their skimpy treatment. But honestly, nothing here is weak, particularly given the context. I especially enjoy the prominence of violin and flute as well as the washes of string synthesizer throughout, and the rhythm section is stalwart and accomplished.

The positive aspect to wasting these compositions in this manner is that the band could no longer depend primarily on archive material from then on. After "L'Ippogrifo", released fairly quickly the following year, they became very much a going concern in terms of songwriting, production and performance, and have released several high quality disks over the last couple of decades, including a new one this year.

My own tastes ally most with the band as they were in the early 1990s, so even though this isn't much better than the old teenage trick of putting a mike to the clock radio speaker - actually, that's probably pretty much what it is - to me the spirit shines through and handily overcomes any obstacles, generously offering, warts and all, the definitive, versions of these low hanging fruit. Step by step indeed.

kenethlevine | 4/5 |


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