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Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso - Darwin! CD (album) cover


Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso


Rock Progressivo Italiano

4.37 | 1138 ratings

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4 stars The much-acclaimed and revered epitome of 1970s 'classic' RPI here finds criticism and disconnect.

1. "L'Evoluzione" (13:59) This song offers a perfect opportunity for me to express a few of my dislikes in Banco music. Banco songs can sometimes be too busy. Like the comment in Amadeus about Mozart using just too many notes, the average, untrained human brain can only take in so much. Then there are the tendencies that Banco uses to compose support music for individual soli that is too rigid and monotonous--that goes on for far longer than one would like to hear. And then there are the flaws in the mixes of the instruments. Still, there is the fact of the amazing complexity and sophistication that is always a part of Banco compositions. Admirable and laudable, but they do not always translate into enjoyable listening experiences. Sometimes there can be just . . . too much going on at once. And I am often found having trouble finding, much less attaching to, lead or woven melodies. Where are they? And I will finally admit that after all these listens to Banco materials: I am just not that big of a fan of Francesco Di Giacomo's voice. He may be the equivalent of the Peter Hammill of Italy--you either love him or you hate him. (Like with Hammill), I fall into this latter category. (Well, I don't really hate him. I don't always enjoy his voice or vocal performances.) (8.5/10)

2. "La Conquista Della Posizione Eretta" (8:42) until the final two minutes, this is an instrumental song of typical Banco complexity and breakneck speed but possessing some nice, interesting, engaging melodies on the top (mostly from the synthesizer). Still, this song feels a bit too much like a song that would run over the introductory or end credits of a 1970s spy film. One of the more tolerable, even enjoyable, Francesco Di Giacomo vocals. (9.5/10)

3. "Danza Dei Grandi Rettili" (3:42) opens with a kind of sophisticated coffee-house jazz feel. For 45 seconds. Then the full-house orchestral hall sound bursts forth. For a bit. Reverting back to café dynamics, the jazzy sound returns for some piano and jazz guitar interplay. The louder 'chorus' section returns with some cool organ and synth interplay before a bridge back to the original sound and theme occurs. Piano, jazz bass, brushed drums, and jazz lead guitar play out to the end--and, it is assumed, the sparse applause of the smokey café. (9/10)

4. "Cento Mani E Cento Occhi" (5:22) opens with a driving, dynamic burst of straightforward organ-based rock. Francesco's poorly recorded voice is oddly mixed. There then follows a kind of Keith Emerson section before the vocals return. In the second half of the song, a kind of all-male barrel-house vocal ensemble becomes the form of vocal delivery--in both the louder and even the softer sections. A well constructed and performed song that is somehow poorly recorded and troublesome to connect with. Better to sit back and enjoy as spectator. (8.5/10)

5. "750,000 Anni Fa ... L'Amore?" (5:38) opens as a gentle, contemplative piano-based song over which a very strong, passionate, almost operatic vocal is sung by Francesco Di Giacomo. The man can definitely sing! There's even a section where Francesco's voice alone exudes the force that an entire full rock band might try to display--just his voice! Perhaps he was a failed or frustrated opera singer. The odd synth interlude in the middle is unfortunate. But, it is short-lived. We return to the piano and solo voce format where Francesco and Gianni Nocenzi perform their magic--until the rest of the rock band finally joins in for the final 35 seconds. (9/10)

6. "Miserere Alla Storia" (5:58) opens with a fade in of an already in full-form and fast-pace jazz-rock weave, but, then, just as it reaches front and center, it stops! Instead we are left with some spacious organ, bass, synthesizer play beneath a distant soloing clarinet. At two minute mark a very aggressive, demonic (non-Francesco) vocal sets up the onset of a new instrumental section of driving film soundtrack music. Piano soloing over staccato rhythm section ensues at the end of the fourth minute before returning first to the soundtrack "chase scene" theme and then to a pensive soft section for bass and fading clarinet to take us out. Odd song. (8.5/10)

7. "Ed Ora Io Domando Tempo Al Tempo Ed Egli Mi Risponde ... Non Ne Ho!" (3:29) opens with themes and sounds that could come from several ethnic musical traditions--and which sounds a lot like some of Woody Allen's clarinet- led Italian music as used in his films. The song is partly beautiful, partly grotesquely sad, partly funny--and definitely interesting. (9/10)

A near-masterpiece of Rock Progressivo Italiano and a clear example of how brilliant ideas in the hands of virtuoso artists do not always result in glowing masterpieces of artistic product.

BrufordFreak | 4/5 |


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