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Exploit - Crisi CD (album) cover




Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.44 | 25 ratings

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3 stars Right here, my friends, we have empirical evidence that the Italian prog movement is indeed a bottomless pit, or at least as deep as the Pacific trenches. I guess that makes "Crisi" one of those bristlefish you'd find near the bottom. I still have the feeling that there's more below, but this record is pretty darn obscure. Collectors have estimated that the vinyl pressings of this are among the rarest from the era, and fittingly, little is known about the musicians who played on it. From what is known, Exploit consisted of three session musicians who left behind this curio as an artifact of the '70s Italian scene and then disappeared at some point down the line. As Jim (Finnforest) says, these guys weren't into playing live, which is a clear reason why they wouldn't reach popularity being that the festival circuit was essential for bands here. The album is a hodge-podge, consisting of a suite in three movements filling the first half, followed by six singles and b-sides. Apparently two more singles were recorded the following year but haven't been re-issued.

Okay, so how about the music? To put it simply: if you're not down with the Italian scene in general, you won't likely be into this record. And even so, it is quite average, mediocre, what have you; but not to say that there aren't strong points because Crisi is definitely not a dry run the whole way through- the listener won't be bored here, just underwhelmed to an extent. There is little variety in the instrumentation, but the band squeezes as much as possible out of their limited arsenal which consisted of a small keyboard setup plus bass and drums. There is no guitar on the long suite. Carlo Crivelli seems to be the leader- he is responsible for the keyboard sounds that saturate the record, as well as lead vocals. Enzo Cutuli on bass, and Aldo Pignanelli on drums are more than competent in support- these guys had a ton of potential. I wouldn't be surprised if the first side was nailed in one take, which is impressive but there are obvious flaws that could have been ironed out. The result is a very composed feel (heavy orientation toward classical/symphonic), but juxtaposed by a laid-back approach- quick sketches on a white background, if you will, a reflection of the cover art as Jim put it. The most notable influences that I can see are early Orme and a touch of the Trolls, as well as The Doors, and most obviously, The Nice. As one may guess from these influences, the approach is two or three years behind the times so to speak, being a transition between jammy psychadelic bits and a more refined classical approach.

From the opening notes, it is apparent that Crivelli is one hell of a player, but will bite off more than he can chew over the next 20 plus minutes. He relies almost exclusively on a thin, yet glossy organ tone that is probably overstretched, even though he manages to manipulate several decent sounds out of it. The bass is "up" in the mix and sometimes rises to the top; Cutuli plays it with adept precision and even wanders off on his own tangent in the background at times; to these ears he sounds very similar to Bob Callero of Il Volo and Osage Tribe among others. Actually now that I have the music playing . . . woa, that bass-playing is top notch! Crivelli's vocals are strong, but he tries to sing in English and Italian, and as usual, the English vocals are a pitfall due to the heavy accent and butchered grammar. But complaints aside, the vocal approach is very good and compliments the shifts into darker territory when necessary- my best reference point would be somewhere between Osanna and Jim Morrison (hey, you can't say I'm not trying here!). My favorite parts include the dramatic harpsichord riff that opens the second movement, and the crafty drum solo that opens the third. The first two sections, "Speranza" and "Crisi" are, in my opinion, stronger than the third, "Pazzia" which begins to fizzle out halfway through when the English vox return coupled with an over-ambitious theme that sounds hilarious given the lyrics that accompany (Pholas Dactylus, eat your heart out!). But regardless, this piece isn't half bad, especially for an "epic". As for the shorter songs that make up the second half: they will be a matter of taste and are basically hit or miss. Personally, I like a couple of them as much as the first part, because that bass sound is still there (albeit slightly calmer) and guitar is added . . . oh and the songs are catchy as hell. But that's coming from someone who likes this style of "beat-pop" in general.

With regard to the rating, I'm stuck between two and three stars. I like the music, but there are tons of other bands to explore before Exploit, even within RPI- in that respect it is firmly in the collectors/fans corner. But I think the tentative quality of this record speaks too much for the depth of the period it represents, and I flat out like it, warts and all.

PA rating: 2.5, rounded to 3

The Jimmy Row Factor: 6/10, with a generous C-

jimmy_row | 3/5 |


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