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I Leoni - La Foresta CD (album) cover

LA FORESTA

I Leoni

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.24 | 21 ratings

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Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
3 stars So in your RPI/Italian prog collection you've got your Banco's, your PFM's, your Osanna's, maybe you've even looked into your more obscure yet still highly regarded De De Lind's, your Cervello's and your Apoteosi's, but still you crave more? How about taking a walk down more unknown paths into literally...a forest! Led by keyboardist/vocalist Carlo Riccardi, Italian trio I Leoni were a little known act from Tortona who only delivered a scant few singles and this gentle little 1971 debut in their brief career, and like the first albums of many of the later legendary RPI acts that crossed the line between R&B, Sixties Beat-pop and psychedelic ditties, `La Foresta' favours melodic vocal tunes instead of lengthy soloing, but it still offers adventurous instrumental interludes here and there woven in.

Looking at some of the highlights, pin-drop piano tendrils, softly whirring synths and gently pattering drums hover behind opener `L'Alba's sighing melancholic lead vocal and stark spoken word climax. Ruminative flute, trickles of organ and delicate bass murmurings drift through the next dreamy ballad `Il Rinoceronte', and murkier interlude `Jena Ridens' (the first piece to really suggest a weightier, more intriguing album) lurks with stalking drum rattles and grotty organ drones, a snarling loopy vocal briefly taking the piece almost closer to a Syd Barrett/early Floyd feel.

The same careful daring continues into the exotic `Lo Stregone' where manic percussion rumbles, ethnic raga strains and tribal chanting weaves around possessed spoken word rantings reminding of both I Raminghi and even extreme RPI occultists Jacula! The first side then concludes with a beautifully sung glorious popper `L'Incendio' to lift the mood again. Flip-side instrumental `Le Scimmie' jangles with guitar funkiness over sprightly huffing flute and cool bass slitherings, `Le Giraffe' bristles with Beatles-esque pop grooves (and dig that very cool runaway jazzy instrumental race in the final minute!), the sauntering `Sesso' is mellow and a touch bluesy, and closing tasteful instrumental `Il Tramonto' blissfully lifts into comforting heavens.

Despite expanding with a guitarist after this release and diving into plenty of live concert activity, the group folded by '73, which makes this sole long-player from them all the more precious. Not an album to ever be confused with being a true RPI classic, but damned if `La Foresta' isn't pretty, warmly charming and deceptively daring in just the right moments. It's also an addictive LP that keeps bringing you back for more listens, and one that RPI listeners wanting to expand their collection with underappreciated and little known gems should keep an eye out for.

Three and a half stars.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 3/5 |

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