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Raccomandata Ricevuta Ritorno - Il Pittore Volante CD (album) cover

IL PITTORE VOLANTE

Raccomandata Ricevuta Ritorno

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.84 | 101 ratings

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tszirmay
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars RRR went right by my radar in 2010, but thankfully I got a reminder from my cat burglar prog friend that I should go out and hunt this sucker down. I know of them but never took the plunge back in the 70s when they made a slight stir with their debut "Per?Un Mondo di Cristallo" released back in 1972. 38 years later they reappear with "Il Pittore Volante", getting marks for patience especially when one realizes these dudes are from Rome, the bastion of calm (hahaha!). The crazed voice of Luciano Regoli is a highlight to say the least and guitarist Nanni Civitenga is quite a legend in RPI circles (both having fronted the delicious Samadhi) and drummer maestro Walter Martino is ex- Goblin. Add to that list some stellar guest stars in Lino Vairetti (Osanna), Claudio Simonetti (Goblin) and Carl Verheyen (Supertramp) and you get quite a stage to fill.

From the opening rocking martial shuffle of "Il Cambiamento", one gets the gist of what will unfurl with this long awaited effort. Powerfully confident, creative and expertly played the album has a crisp sound, a sublime cover and artwork, everything is there to keep any listener fascinated. Sitar noises, distant voices and rattling choices, evolving into a surprising bluesy harmonica that introduces the megalodon riff, accosted by the shrieking Robert Plant-like vocal and the plaintive synth searchlight. Tinges of Led Zeppelin, what with the booming drums that only add to the glory. Guest guitarist Massimiliano Castellini peels off a rippling solo that oozes painfully forward, letting fabulous percussor Walter Martino to bash to his heart's content.

Jazzier realms surface on "Il Vecchio", a more controlled piece led by sultry piano played by another cameo guest in Francesco Venerucci that ultimately peppers violin and sax into the stew, a tumultuous track that definitely evokes the passage of time as Regoli sings in his tired and broken tone.

The charming ballad "Il Fuoco" sets the spotlight on Cristina Cioni and her rapturous voice, some slick guitar flicks, both acoustic and electric, and a gentle expanse for Luciano to duet wonderfully with the expressive female voice. I mean a prog duet! If someone says that's too poppy and should be labelled next to Andrea Boceli/Sarah Brightman, well they need to listen to the instrumental background as it isn't classical orchestra, by any stretch. Nanni actually handles all the instruments save the drums and does a masterful job on guitars (both acoustic and electric), keyboards and bass. Wow!

The longest track is the 10 minute "Eagle Mountain", deservedly beginning with an extended acoustic guitar introduction that is spellbinding, then morphing into a bluesy paced rocker with sweeping synth coverage, Regoli grasping the microphone and howling appropriately, organ boiling and guitar sizzling. Further alteration as another duet with Cioni kicks in, before veering into a cosmic groove that is close to Floyd than anything, extended by a lengthy synth streak, giving invitee Maurizio Pariotti a lot of room to display his ivory tickling skills. Nanni on bass really kills it, propelling nicely. Finally, Nicola di Staso shoots off a frazzled electric guitar solo that howls, screeches and pleads.

The withdrawn mood of "La Mente" calls on the marvelous Fabio Pignatelli of Goblin fame, one of my all-time favorite bass players, to take center stage with his Rickenbacker and lay down a tight furrow. A distressed saxophone emerges from the fire, likes some fiery phoenix. The second section propses a total change of sound, as dual guitars show off a hard-edged bluesy tinge with both Regoli and Riccardo Santini stinging their frets, ministered by smooth as silk synthesizer phrasings and an icy cool rhythmic drive. Regoli's voice is sonically altered to be detached and vacuous as the crazed sax (Fabrizio Desideri) returns angrily, dogs barking harshly in the background. Really fine track, indeed.

RRR does Goblin on "L'Uomo Nuovo" with the renowned Claudio Simonetti handling the raging and spooky Hammond organ, the thumping bass guitar, piano, vocoder and the guitars. Cioni does sublime backing vocals of a more angelic nature, as Regoli does his finest vocal performance, nearly the equal of giants like Di Giacomo, Tagliapietra and Corviglia. Fast, rapid and furious, this is a crimson red Ferrari rolling down the autostrada, handling the pavement like a blanket. At first I thought "Le Anime" was a classic Robin Trower song, until the symphonics kicked in, densely solidifying the theme with synthesized dynamics, booming bass and forlorn drum beat. The streaking guitars are up-front and center, bleeding notes as hard as Regoli's impassioned rant, shrieking at times like the Zep Plant. He also reminded me of Mona Lisa's theatrical vocalist Dominique LeGuennec on their classic "Voyage avec les Morts". ZZ Top riffs and a hard rock female backing vocal choir accompanies Regoli's agitated voice as the guitar sounds even more like Trower, here played by Supertramp sideman Carl Verheyen to prodigious effect, tossing in some Santana-isms to boot. Prog-blues at its finest, there is also some Floydian elements found mainly on the Martino drums and Pignatelli's sure-fire bass playing. This was "Raoul".

"La Spaggia" culminates this splendid offering, a dainty affair, bucolic and breezy, a dizzying butterfly flute and playful minstrel-like voice telling the story with hushed amusement, and mellotron backing. Perfetto.

4.5 Flying Pictures

tszirmay | 4/5 |

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