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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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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Excellent Dark RPI

Nearly two years ago I went on a small binge of Italian prog as I explored the unfamiliar corners of ProgArchives. Among the albums I acquired at that time was Banco's DARWIN. It has been on my "to review" for a long time, and falls in that hardest category for me, the "excellent but not quite masterpiece" level. Like Le Orme and PFM, this band represents the canon of the subgenre. If someone were to say, "So what is this Italian prog thing all about?" DARWIN would be an excellent album to grab to start the conversation. At the same time, there are stronger albums in this category, my favorite being QVL's IL TIEMPO DELLA GIOIA.

While there are some very pretty, romantic passages interspersed on this record, DARWIN is a little bit harsher and more intense than the average RPI. The albums opens with a slippery low key part that evokes a fox sneaking up on prey. Soon the music opens up into a colorful scene a la the sun breaking through the night. Always melodic and rhythmic, the band isn't afraid to throw in some harsh harmonic intervals and nasty distortion for effect. There are abrasive staccato accents and strident vocal passages that I wish I could understand. But the band does remain grounded in the Gryphon / Genesis mold so that the most striking aspect of this work is the contrast of light and dark. Thankfully, this is done much more subtly than most rock bands, and the number of textures in the music is quite broad.

Overall, the closest American style I can liken this to is Genesis' Trespass, heavy on The Knife. Of course, the more dramatic, almost operatic Italian singing style gives the music its own flavor. Keys definitely dominate over the guitars as in most RPI. These two elements will make or break your preference for the genre, and I like the way they are handled on DARWIN as well as any album. The vocals have clear, simple melodic motifs that make them still powerful and memorable even in a different language. The keys are tasteful and well played, and rarely go into full ELP cheese mode. When guitars enter, they are definitely derivative of Steve Hackett's style with huge sustain. Bass is high in the mix, trebly, and the drums are busy. Like Genesis or Yes, you get the feeling of a strong band where each element is critical, each player not only skilled but giving you their full heart.

Highlights include the opener, "L'evolutione" and "Miserere alla storia" which begins in an almost Zeuhl-ish throb but evolves in a more composed, chamber rock style. There are no lo- lights. This album does, for me, lack that special something that grabs my heart and beats it for me. But my mind's interest is held for listen after listen, my toes is tapping, and my child's sense of "Coool" is piqued.

Bottom line - great album, highly recommended. 4/5 stars.

Negoba | 4/5 |


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