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Mad Crayon - Ultimomiraggio CD (album) cover


Mad Crayon


Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.50 | 41 ratings

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4 stars The government, with all the foresight of a giddy schoolgirl, wants us to perform three random acts of kindness each day in order that we feel happy. My contribution to this harebrained hobnailed happiness scheme would be to recommend Mad Crayon to fellow prog lovers. I have to tell you, this band is one of the best-kept secrets in town.

Their debut album 'Ultimo Miraggio' is a milestone and the minestrone of classic Italian symphonic prog of the nineties - a big galumphing soup, heavy with the aroma of the seventies and cooked-up with a delicious excess of Genesis, PFM and Banco. But mostly Genesis. You can almost put it to your lips and suck the marrow out of its bones. And while nine out of ten such albums tread the boards to a similar familiar foxtrot, the quality of this one is somewhere above the norm. It wasn't by sheer chance that the artwork was provided by the hand of none other than Walter 'Mac' Mazzieri of Le Orme fame.

'Ultimo Miraggio' is one of those RPI albums where English and Italian lyrics mingle with one another like streaks of mist. I'm not really fussed on this mixing of languages - although it actually works fine here - and the songs with Italian texts probably make the stronger impression. The opening brace, sung in English, instantly impresses with brisk frisky tempos but Mad Crayon really get their mojo working on the album's first song in the vernacular - 'Fiore di Luna' - a simple folk-like ballad that engenders a typically Italian feeling of romance.

Hammond organ plots the course of 'Running Child', a bedraggled instrumental romp that splices hornpipes with snippets and snapshots of Bach's 'Toccata' and Mozart's 'Rondo Alla Turca'. This track is sure to blot out the miseries of daily existence better than any political coalition. I've only skimmed the surface with my descriptions but if you're waiting for the big one you'll find it flying high among the three back-to-back RPI classics at the tail end of the album.

Some great things have found their way onto this album and in particular it's well endowed with melody, but if there is a counterweight to my glowing recommendation it's that 'Ultimo Miraggio' lacks the wild Italian animal spirit. Otherwise, shortcomings are as rare as the album itself - and you might have to sell your soul for a copy of this one.

Returning to the anecdote about government and its substanceless ideas, rather than bringing us happiness and gratification it seems to be doing its best to wear us down. When I began my working life over thirty years ago the life expectancy for men in my profession was sixty-five, therefore I might not live to collect my pension. In just the same way I fear there are many albums I will not hear again before I go to my grave, but not this one. It's a wonderful thing all the way through and, if my earlier talk of food has made you feel a little bit peckish, from the egg to the apples this album will surely satisfy your nutritional necessity.

seventhsojourn | 4/5 |


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