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Il Bacio Della Medusa - Imilla CD (album) cover


Il Bacio Della Medusa


Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.56 | 25 ratings

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Jay Taylor
3 stars I was immediately drawn to this album by the cover art, an agit-prop meets spaghetti western image that reminded me of John Zorn's "The Big Gundown", itself a musical homage to Ennio Morricone. I had never before heard this band so I decided to start here.

Il Bacio Della Medusa (The Kiss of Medusa) formed in Perugia, Italy in 2002 around the vocals and acoustic guitar of Simone Cecchini, the drums of Diego Petrini (who also plays piano, organ, mellotron, synth, melodica, and typewriter on this album!) the sax and flute of Eva Morelli, the bass of Frederico Caprai, and the electric guitar of Andrea Morelli. They quickly gained the attention and appreciation of fans of Italian progressive rock for their devotion to the sounds and style of 70's Golden Age RPI (favoring the heavier rock approach of classic bands "New Trolls" and "Osanna") yet with a modern take of their own. "Imilla", their fifth studio album, was released in 2023 and, according to pre-release press is a concept album about Monika Ertl (alias "Imilla") who was a combatant with the Bolivian militia in the 60's and 70's and who eventually died at their hands. It also informs that this work began as a purely acoustic guitar / vocal demo by vocalist Cecchini before receiving a band arrangement spearheaded by drummer Diego Petrini. Track 1: Un Visto per la Bolivia (A Visa for Bolivia) A typewriter begins the album, as if we are in for a musical novel. A tarantella emerges rhythmically from the typing and we find ourselves in the midst of a folkish romp complete with a melody played thru a kazoo, giving it a tinge of Zappa! Heavy guitar chords begin to augment the rhythm and Cecchini ? with the gruff and gritty vocals of Museo Rosenbach's Stefano 'Lupo' Galiffi mixed with the maniacal zaniness of Ange's Christian Decamps ? joins in with a "Ya-Ya-Yi-Yi!" that reminds me of early Mr. Bungle, another band that specialized in mixing the silly and zany with the ominous and heavy (and who had a considerable influence on later-era Italian progressive) As an opener it is short and interesting, but not much to it.

Track 2: Amburgo 1 Aprile 71 (Hamburg) This track ups the energy with a heavy riff that quickly goes into Italian Melody, something familiar to all experienced listeners of Italian folk and progressive, but this is a slightly odd melody and it's oddness is something I cant pin down but which I suspect comes from a more "pantonal" approach to the progression; whatever it is these sections have a curious lack of energy to them and leave me wondering "where is this going?" before a more insistent acoustic-strummed tarantella cuts in to liven thigs up, then goes back to the weirdly lackadaisical melody, which I assume they are using purposely to contrast the heavier sections and make them more intense. Lead vocalist Cecchini keeps the show rolling throughout with a style that earns the words "histrionic" and "dramatic" and "unusual"; without a doubt his vocals will be a point of contention for many but I find them to be interesting, entertaining, passionate, occasionally annoying, yet often exciting; indeed his voice and style is a major element of the band's sound.

Track 3: La Dolorida (The Sorrowful) Here the album kicks in for me with a melody for voice and acoustic guitar full of yearning and dark melancholy. Cecchini's vocals escalate into demonic pronouncements as heavy guitar augments the melody, the sax of Eva Morelli adding a touch of grandeur to the spectacle (a sound that reminds me of early King Crimson, also 70's Italian band Rocky's Filj) The music breaks into a fast groove racing down a highway at night; a metallic guitar riff with sax drives it forward yet the lead is taken by a mean sounding Hammond organ solo that resolves into a Black Sabbath "War Pigs" type riff - tension-charged gaps filled with jazz hi-hat - before the music becomes suddenly a gorgeous wash of acoustic lounge-jazz as the opening melody returns to crush me emotionally and make me weep at its sorrowful beauty. A guitar solo takes us out with an otherworldly yet meaty tone.

Track 4: Zio Klaus (Uncle Klaus) Another one of my favorites, this track opens with heavy organ and synth and a processional march over which Cecchini declaims things contentious and violent sounding, and I wish I understood Italian better to know what he is going on about! This is a standard mode for this album however and the song is at first in danger of being just average until around the 3 minute mark it goes full "New Trolls" with heavy guitar and distorted flute. For a few seconds we are teased by Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries" (Kill the Wabbit! Kill the Wabbit!) before a tricky and precise little stumble of notes down some stairs deposits us back with the opening section for a reprise.

Track 5: Dentro Monika Qualcosa Non Va (Something is Wrong with Monika) Set to a reggae beat with an organ- driven late 60's Jazz-pop mood, this song is vocal / lyric heavy and obviously pushes the story forward, but not knowing the language (Italian being my favorite language to hear spoken and sung) I remain in the dark.

Track 6: Ho Visto gli Occhi di Inti Virare a Nero (We See Inti's Eyes Turn Black) Comes in with a Jazzy shuffle highly reminiscent of Colosseum's "Elegy" featuring tasty sax and wah-wah guitar. Cecchini's double-tracked vocals add energy and a magisterial touch before a vintage 70's rock guitar groove takes us on a quick jaunt then, at long last, drops us into the full-on Lounge-Jazz the album has been flirting with throughout. Regardless of your position on lounge-jazz it is well worth the wait for ? under the spell of Sea Hag flute by Morelli - it is an exquisitely beautiful section of music.

Track 7: Senior Service. The Jazzy movie soundtrack atmosphere continues but gets groovy with ominous sax conjuring VDGG. Flute and sax are the stand-out elements here.

Track 8: Lo Specchio di Hans Ertl (The Mirror of Hans Ertl) A smooth yet emotionally rowdy ballad with gentle acoustic guitar, lilting flute, and Cecchini's passionate and histrionic vocals over every second of it, so if his vocals are not your thing you might skip it! If you enjoy his voice it is a great performance.

Track 9: Colt Cobra 38 Special. Gunfire and squealing tires take us into a Tull-meets-Camel hybrid with lead guitar exposition that becomes a reprise of themes heard throughout the album and ends with a dreamy rendition of the "La Dolorida" melody ending the album on a note of melancholic beauty.

Jay Taylor | 3/5 |


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