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Officina Meccanica - La Follia Del Mimo Di Fuoco CD (album) cover


Officina Meccanica


Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.73 | 30 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

4 stars Equal parts theatrical weirdness and captivating accessibility, Officina Meccanica never had the chance to release an album during their lifespan. La Follia Del Mimo Di Fuoco is a compilation of singles and unreleased recordings, resulting in a surprisingly cohesive and fluid listening experience. Often described as a cross between Chicago and Van Der Graaf Generator, Officina Meccanica (OM) employ horns in conjunction with the grand RPI tradition; an interesting combination to be sure, but one that works amazingly well due to the outstanding musicianship on display. OM was fronted by the charismatic and mysterious Luciano Maiozzi, whose voice is a cross between that of Alusa Fallax and Corte di Miracoli; at times I hear Hunka Munka as well, but Maiozzi always manages to create his own unique identity. This is evident to some degree on the three included singles (and bonus track "Angelo"), but especially so on the live studio tracks - they capture the OM experience perfectly. That this material would remain unearthed for so long is offensive as the quality is immeasurably high...La Follia Del Mimo Di Fuoco is a five-star effort for me personally, but a four-star compilation.

The "Bambi Innocenti" video was broadcast on RAI in 1974, the exposure allowing Officina Meccanica to successfully tour in support of the single; unfortunately this delayed recording of the album proper, and the live studio material was not recorded until 1976. By 1978 OM had folded, closing the book on this incomparable chapter of Italian rock history. "Bambi Innocenti" crams about eight different songs in its relatively short seven-minute length, but never feels random or contrived. The first three minutes specifically are magical, with Maiozzi singing tenderly and aggressively, often in the same breath; jarring horn blasts and overdriven amplifiers share equal time with spacious ambiance and classical guitar. "Bambi Innocenti" is one of those songs that manages to summarize the entire RPI movement while sounding nothing like it. If there was ever an argument about why RPI deserves its own subgrenre classification, this song makes it.

The other two singles, "Insieme al Sole" and "Amanti di Ieri," showcase the songwriting talents of the group and though the instrumentation is relatively sparse in comparison, stack up well against "Bambi Innocenti" if somewhat less successfully. That brings us to the live stuff - this is the real meat of the compilation, and does a better job at capturing what an OM show would have been like: "Primo Turno" sounds like Osanna with Claudio Canali singing; "Via Non Esiste" relies on a funky beat and plenty of trumpet manipulation before a heavy prog breakdown demolishes any semblance of danceability; "Nel Grattacielo Delle Idee il Pensiero...Piu Alto" starts with jerky Area rhythmicity, unison stacatto in the horn section, and plenty of Maiozzi weirdness; finally, the lengthy "Il Viaggio di...Nella Valle del Tempo" begins as a reveille, with languid cornet and a march beat, before guitar and bass float in seamlessly...then, as if out of nowhere, a frantic unison figure bursts forth and propels the song forward for much of the remaining ten minutes.

The hauntingly beautiful "Angelo" may well be my favorite track on the album; its inclusion is a treat and helps to flesh out the idiosyncratic identity of this odd collection of characters. Officina Meccanica, in my opinion, is one of the most important historical finds ever, on par with Buon Vecchio Charlie and Sensitiva Immagine; all RPI devotees will need to track it down if they have not already done so. The conventional progressive rock fan may not have the patience for this collection, but fans of VDGG and Gentle Giant won't have any trouble with it. A bitter pill to swallow this is, but one that cures what ails you. 9/10.

coasterzombie | 4/5 |


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