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ROCK PROGRESSIVO ITALIANO

A Progressive Rock Sub-genre


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Rock Progressivo Italiano definition

aka "RPI"


"So it's an established fact that in Italy during the period between 1971-1974, a music movement existed where bands would challenge each other to see who could be the most imaginative, who could create the album for the ages. They were all painters and sculptors just as in Renaissance Italy." -Tom Hayes/Gnosis


1. The background
As the 60s drew to an end, Italy experienced a wave of new ideas and ideals which coincided with the new musical era being born. It would not be exaggeration to state that the 70s were a watershed period in the history of the country. Even though the 60s are generally remembered as the years of the 'economic boom', it was only in the following decade that Italy made the long, difficult change from a relatively poor, traditional country into a fully developed Western society. A look at any timeline for 70s Italy will show an incredible concentration of events that changed the fabric of Italian society irrevocably: laws and acts were passed which affected worker's rights, family and divorce law, and women's rights and reproductive health. In a country where the physical presence of the Catholic Church has always been impossible to overlook, not least because of its open intervention in the country's political affairs, the introduction of such radical changes was no small feat.

Most of those changes were made possible by the presence of a strong left-wing component in Italian political life, even if regarded with extreme suspicion by both the Church and Italy's main ally, the United States. Though the existence of a party that openly called itself Communist was not exclusive to Italy, at the time the PCI (Partito Comunista Italiano) was considered more of a danger than, for instance, its French equivalent - mainly due to Italy's strategic position in the Mediterranean area, as well as the party's obvious connection with the Soviet Union. Such a peculiar, potentially explosive situation sadly became a breeding ground for a number of extremist groups, who were responsible for the season of violence and unrest commonly known as the 'Anni di piombo' ('years of lead'), which lasted well into the first half of the Eighties. The number of casualties due to terror acts and rioting was quite high, involving people from all walks of life. However, the defining episode of the decade was the kidnapping and subsequent murder of well-known politician Aldo Moro (a left-leaning Christian Democrat) by the notorious Brigate Rosse ('Red Brigades') in the spring of 1978.


2. The birth of a movement
The turbulent times affected countless musicians looking for something new-some way to parallel the political climate through artistic media. Ranging from highly educated conservatory students to local singer-songwriters, this spirit managed to captivate an entire country within a few short years. Young people were restless, bursting with a burning desire to change the staid, suffocating atmosphere of Italian society starting with one of its symbols, its venerable musical tradition. Most musicians had more or less strong left-wing leanings (the prime example being Area), while the few examples of openly right-wing bands never managed to break out of obscurity, or gain more than a strictly cult following.

Without a strong rock tradition in the 60s Italy had mainly produced beat bands of varying quality, as well as singers well-versed in the long-standing canzone tradition of the country. As the tidal wave of counter-culture swept in, it brought revolution not only in the form of progressive rock, but also differing forms of heavier, continental rock which was establishing itself around the same time. Psychedelic influences and the incorporation of classical music may have been the same stepping stones used by most other progressive scenes around the globe during the same period, but even at this embryonic stage there was a whiff of something else in the air. In the late 60s when the beat scene was already heading towards a decline, a number of bands formed, some of them releasing singles (or even albums) that bridged the gap between beat, conventional Italian easy listening music (musica leggera), and the new ideas coming from Great Britain - among them, New Trolls, Le Orme, Panna Fredda, I Quelli (later to become Premiata Forneria Marconi), Il Mucchio, and Fabio Celi e gli Infermieri.

"We wanted to put some improvisations between the singing parts and we had to make up our minds about the style to follow... After having been to the Isle of Wight festival, it was clear to all of us that we couldn't keep on playing the usual songs with verses and refrains." -Toni Pagliuca, Le Orme


3. The golden years
The beginning of the new decade saw the rise of a countless number of bands and artists, some of whom would go on to become successful acts. PFM, Banco del Mutuo Soccorso, Osanna, Il Balletto di Bronzo, Quella Vecchia Locanda belong to this group, with all but the latter being still active at the time of writing. Some others only managed to release one album (or even just a handful of singles) before they disbanded. The prog-rock bug became so widespread in Italy that some experts say every artist and band in Italy produced at least one progressive album during this time. A number of well-known mainstream artists started their career with a prog album, like singer-songwriters Riccardo Cocciante (with Mu) and Ivano Fossati (with the first Delirium album, Dolce acqua). Or, like Lucio Battisti or Fabrizio De André, they released strongly prog-influenced albums when the movement was at its height.

During the peak years of the RPI movement in the early 70s, countless bands showcased their talent in the many pop festivals organized throughout Italy. The festivals were often free of charge and boasted a level artistic freedom and competition seldom seen in popular music. Fans witnessed bands rise from obscurity to compete on the same stage as the heavy hitters. This musical competition created something of an upward spiral; everyone tried to outdo each other, producing unique sounds and incorporating disparate influences into their music. The variety of the music went through the roof, with every band sharing the same aspirations, though seldom the same sound. It must also be made clear that despite the beliefs of those who write off Italian prog as simply a British counterfeit, many of these bands were creating music that was phenomenally original, experimental, free-spirited, and creatively successful. While bands from abroad helped influence and inspire Italian bands, Italy's young bands quickly took the ball and ran with it. It is ludicrous to suggest the scene a mere imitation. The upward spiral also meant an over saturated market, in which many bands only managed to put out one or two releases with minimal budget and intense recording. Some of the best, most genuine and treasured albums of Rock Progressivo Italiano can be found in this group: Semiramis' "Dedicato a Frazz", Pholas Dactylus' "Concerto delle menti", Raccomandata Ricevuta di Ritorno's "Per un mondo di cristallo", Museo Rosenbach's "Zarathustra", and Balletto di Bronzo's "Ys" to name just a few.

"We had to tackle this tradition, we had to fight against the conventions and refuse to be integrated. The New Sounds hadn't arrived yet, there was no music for the young people, there was nothing, you had to invent and build up your space. Perhaps this was the mainspring that unchained such a creative strength." -Gianni Leone

With time some of the biggest bands achieved international success, with PFM as the best-known example. Lyricist Peter Sinfield, known from his work with giants like King Crimson and ELP, even wrote for the band, while Peter Hammill provided English lyrics for Le Orme's "Felona e Sorona". Ironically this success often meant a detour from the roots of the RPI sounds, making these albums more aligned to the British scene than the bulk of the artists and albums in the archives. Look beneath the surface in order to discover hidden (or not so hidden) gems. While the oft-mentioned big 3 of Italian prog (PFM, Banco, and Le Orme) are conveniently considered the peak by those casually mentioning this scene, RPI enthusiasts know the river runs so much deeper, and many of our personal favourites are found outside of these popular groups. Those who search beyond the surface will discover that the most daring and provocative works were often made by more obscure groups who released one fantastic album and then vanished into thin air. This common syndrome of Italian "one-shot" bands became the bane of many RPI fans.

Since so many different musicians experimented with the progressive format, you will also find a broad musical scope within RPI, something which has kept the subgenre fresh and vital over time. Examples include Franco Battiato (still a very successful artist in Italy), Picchio dal Pozzo, Opus Avantra, Stormy Six and Area, who each in their own individual way, show a more cosmopolitan flavour and range of influences than most other acts.

After its explosive development in the early 70s, the movement followed the same path as other progressive musical movements around the world as the 80s approached. Some influential artists continued to release new albums though never with the same success as in the halcyon days. Others changed with the times and became highly successful mainstream artists both in Italy and internationally. As elsewhere in the prog universe the quantity and quality of RPI began to dry up a bit in the late 70s and early 80s, although there were some quality releases from that period. These titles tended to be more melodic and less brashly avant-garde than the classic period but were respectable nonetheless. To name but a few there were Locanda Delle Fate, Stefano Testa, Pierpaolo Bibbo, and L'Estate de San Martino. Area, Stormy Six, and PFM had a good title or two left in them as well.


4. Musical features of RPI
Italian symphonic prog is notable for the prominence of classical influences, often providing the driving force behind the music. The new listener will discover that this particular branch of RPI feels more like classical music in a rock setting as opposed to occasional classical influences on top of the rock format. Furthermore, the rich, diverse musical traditions of Italy permeate the albums, creating a strong national and even regional character. The "textbook" RPI groups can usually be identified by a pervasive sense of romantic melancholy and earthy flair, sometimes enhanced by baroque elements, sometimes by more ethnic ones. Other distinctive features include overt opera and operetta influences, wild and uncontrolled storytelling, and as a general rule, bold and highly emotional vocals. There is extroverted, operatic gallantry and panache or mellow balladry; exciting use of all sorts of keyboards, with sounds heard nowhere else but in this particular scene; exotic instruments such as aggeggi, ottavino, mandoloncello, clavicembalo- names that tickle the imagination and leave their distinct mark on the music. There is a uniquely magical marriage of the traditional to the modern, of the warm to the wild. The combination of flute, piano and violin is often encountered, and the interplay between the first two instruments in particular supplies the subgenre with a fair share of its identity and flavour.

Though the symphonic element is indeed the most common in RPI, the genre would be better characterized as eclectic. Jazz-fusion, folk, hard rock riffing à la Jethro Tull, Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin, intense drama a la Van der Graaf Generator (whose albums were revered in Italy), singer-songwriter, proto-metal, blues, avant tendencies, pop, psych, dark/occult, electronic-the list goes on. Even more amazing, these differences in style can often be found to varying degrees on one album, and still feel natural in the distinct stylistic framework mentioned above.

No overview of RPI would be complete without mentioning the use of the Italian language, by many considered one of the most musical languages in the world. It could be safely stated that the use of Italian is inherent to the soul of RPI, a critical component to the full appreciation of the subgenre. In fact, even if some key RPI albums were translated into English in an attempt to gain international recognition, most of them fail to impress. They feel as if one of the basic ingredients of what makes RPI such a successful concoction is missing. While most serious RPI fans consider Italian vocals essential to their listening experience, it is fair to say that some believe English lyrics are not so detrimental-even if in most cases the odd phrasing, incorrect emphasis, and heavy Italian accent of the singers detract significantly from an authentic overall effect. While some prog fans can find the gregarious Italian vocal style challenging at first, newbies are encouraged to simply stick with it for a while. With only a modest effort any RPI newbie will soon find they cannot imagine this music without traditional Italian vocals-they truly are the icing on the cake.

One common misconception that must be addressed is the belief that any prog band from Italy is an RPI band. There are bands from Italy more appropriate for other genres. As an example, a pure and obvious post-rock band who just happen to be from Rome are going to be in the post-rock sub, not RPI. A pure jazz-fusion band with no RPI characteristics to their sound could be easily placed in the Jazz/Fusion subgenre. The RPI team will work hard to evaluate bands that fit the characteristics and the feel of the subgenre, and those whose primary sound is more suited for another sub are recommended to them.

"Progressive is basically a blending of three elements: the song, the improvisation inspired by jazz and the composition in classical style. This cocktail is interpreted in different ways in every country: in England, for instance, Celtic, rock and blues influences prevail. In Italy we have to cope with our classical tradition: the melodramma, Respighi, Puccini, Mascagni but also all the contemporary classical composers. It's in this legacy, in my opinion, that the specificity of the Italian Progressive Rock is concealed." -Franco Mussida, PFM


5. RPI in the new century
As recently as the 90s and early 2000s RPI again proved its longevity to the prog community. Scores of the classic albums were re-pressed in Japan, then specialized independent labels such as BTF, Mellow and Black Widow (the latter responsible for rescuing the likes of Jacula and Antonius Rex from oblivion) started to re-issue many of the classic albums. As a consequence RPI has not only reached a new generation of fans, but the increased interest and appreciation have led to new material being released. Artists whose recordings have never been in circulation, bands that are as new to our ears as they are to many of those who were there when it happened, now have a new-found audience creating an ironic worm-hole effect: brand new music straight from prog's golden years.

With the revival clearly under way the 90s produced some stellar Italian albums and the beginning of CD reissue fever. In the 2000s the trend has continued to a much more successful degree. RPI is back and fan interest has exploded for both the classic period and the new bands of today like Il Bacio Della Medusa, Pandora, Lagartija, Conqueror, Il Ruscello, Senza Nome, Coral Caves, J'Accuse, Ubi Maior, and the projects of Fabio Zuffanti to name just a few. Italian progressive rock today covers a wide range of styles and influences, but many of the bands ground a portion of their sound in the RPI tradition. Moreover, this first decade of the 21st century has seen a new round of publications (both in print and in electronic format) covering various aspects of Italian prog, as well as the creation of a number of excellent websites dedicated to the subgenre, which are extremely influential as regards the promotion of new bands and artists.

The commercial success of RPI has always been modest compared to the big bands from other countries. However, the quality of the music past and present, from its unique compositions to fiercely independent spirit, has earned the RPI subgenre some of prog's most loyal followers.

By:
Raffaella Berry
Michael Berry
Ryan Olsen
Jim Russell
Linus Wikström
Todd Dudley

For the Mick.
29 July 2009



Current RPI Team
Todd
Aussie-Byrd-Brother (Michael)
rdtprog (Louis)




Additional information:
Italian Prog - A dedicated RPI site
http://www.italianprog.com

Italian Prog Map - A superb blog by RPI writer Andrea Parentin
http://italianprogmap.blogspot.com/

Andrea Parentin's history of RPI (essential reading)
http://www.progarchives.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=33377&PID=2345095#2345095

Andrea Parentin's contemporary Italian prog (newer bands)
http://www.progarchives.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=62150&FID=58

Movimenti Prog
http://www.movimentiprog.net

Centro Studi per il Progressive Italiano
http://www.centrostudiprogitaliano.it

Mats Italian Prog Site
http://www.italianprogrock.com/index.php

John's Classic RPI blog - Another good blog on the "classic" era
http://classikrock.blogspot.com/

Arlequins - A prog rock webzine with much RPI content
http://www.arlequins.it/gb/index.asp


Where to buy Italian prog
Syn-phonic (USA) - http://www.synphonic.8m.com/index.htm
Doug Larson (USA) - http://www.hicom.net/~dlarson/
Kinesis (USA) - http://www.kinesiscd.com/index.html
Wayside (USA) - http://www.waysidemusic.com/
Mellow Records (Italy) - http://www.mellowrecords.com
BTF (Italy) - http://www.btf.it
Black Widow Records (Italy) - http://www.blackwidow.it
Camelot Music Store (Italy) - http://www.semanticweb.it/camelotstore/

Rock Progressivo Italiano Top Albums


Showing only studios | Based on members ratings & PA algorithm* | Show Top 100 Rock Progressivo Italiano | More Top Prog lists and filters

4.40 | 1379 ratings
PER UN AMICO
Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM)
4.38 | 927 ratings
DARWIN!
Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso
4.36 | 1093 ratings
STORIA DI UN MINUTO
Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM)
4.37 | 862 ratings
IO SONO NATO LIBERO
Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso
4.30 | 698 ratings
ZARATHUSTRA
Museo Rosenbach
4.29 | 713 ratings
BANCO DEL MUTUO SOCCORSO
Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso
4.28 | 526 ratings
ARBEIT MACHT FREI
Area
4.24 | 694 ratings
L'ISOLA DI NIENTE
Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM)
4.23 | 763 ratings
FELONA E SORONA
Orme, Le
4.21 | 577 ratings
UOMO DI PEZZA
Orme, Le
4.25 | 329 ratings
PALEPOLI
Osanna
4.21 | 478 ratings
YS
Balletto di Bronzo, Il
4.24 | 360 ratings
MAXOPHONE
Maxophone
4.22 | 291 ratings
CRAC !
Area
4.22 | 262 ratings
DISCESA AGL'INFERI D'UN GIOVANE AMANTE
Bacio Della Medusa, Il
4.21 | 270 ratings
L' ENIGMA DELLA VITA
Logos
4.18 | 302 ratings
LA CRUDELTÀ DI APRILE
Unreal City
4.27 | 144 ratings
RISVEGLIO
Egonon
4.19 | 232 ratings
CELESTE [AKA: PRINCIPE DI UN GIORNO]
Celeste
4.16 | 254 ratings
CONTAMINAZIONE
Rovescio Della Medaglia, Il

Rock Progressivo Italiano overlooked and obscure gems albums new


Random 4 (reload page for new list) | As selected by the Rock Progressivo Italiano experts team

CONCERTO DELLE MENTI
Pholas Dactylus
LA DIVINA COMMEDIA
Giro Strano, Il
ALPHATAURUS
Alphataurus
STORIE DI UOMINI E NON
Rocky's Filj

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Latest Rock Progressivo Italiano Music Reviews


 Tempi Dispari by NEW TROLLS ATOMIC SYSTEM album cover Live, 1974
3.80 | 34 ratings

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Tempi Dispari
New Trolls Atomic System Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by poito

4 stars This is one more of the many faces of the New Trolls. In this Atomic Version lineup lead by De Scalzi they take the route of jazz. There is little here that reminds of the symphonic prog in former versions except the great musicianship that is common to all their musical adventures. There are only two long tracks; the first is the more jazzy, improvisation-like with plenty of sax. The second 13/8 is got two well differentiated sections, beginning with a 4 min duo of smooth guitar/synth, followed by a totally distinct section in which a repetitive bass trail is run by all other instruments to show their musical abilities. This is more fusion-like of the time. It is a really enjoyable piece for fusion lovers.
 Searching For A Land by NEW TROLLS album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.68 | 92 ratings

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Searching For A Land
New Trolls Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by poito

5 stars The creativity of this band had no limits. New Trolls were the all-time masters blending instruments and tendencies. This album is a perfect demonstration of their abilities. It begins with Searching, a most peculiar track with a hypnotic background and an Australian aborigine didgeridoo in the background and includes a jazzy piano section, a cocktail that, believe me, you are not going to dislike. The next track, Percival, is built on a smooth picking acoustic guitar on top of which an opera singer releases a jet of voice coming as if from the background, something like the sound of an old radio in earliest Jethro Tull themes. The next In St. Peter's Day begins with a voice a la Bowie while a smooth piano hovers in the background until a powerful Crimsonian synth breaks in, fantastic, indeed. And so on and so forth. Each track brings up a surprise cocktail. To me, this is by far the best work by this marvelous Italian band, an album to keep in the front line of your Prog shelves.
 La Batteria by BATTERIA, LA album cover Studio Album, 2015
4.00 | 1 ratings

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La Batteria
La Batteria Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

— First review of this album —
4 stars La Batteria are a new Italian instrumental band who's starting point are the horror soundtrack legends Goblin, but perhaps in part to the four musicians who make up the group all coming from a wide variety of music backgrounds, they work in a bunch of modern styles on top of the Seventies-flavoured horror movie style themes on their self-titled 2015 debut. But unusually for this sort of band, their eerie pieces are fairly compact and frequently up-tempo, full of heavy grooves that might go on to include traces of dance music, electronic, alternative rock and synth-pop. In some ways they're similar to bands such as Zoltan, Zombi, Anima Morte and Morte Macabre, but those groups are much more interested in building atmosphere and lengthy drawn-out moods, whereas La Batteria prefer energetic shorter bursts and having a lot of fun while they're doing it!

One thing that instantly stands out warmly and richly are the instruments the band play with, Stefano Vicarelli's army of vintage synths that are plied all over the disc being especially lovely. It gives the disc a sweet retro flavour, but to dismiss the group as some mere recreation of the Sixties and Seventies would be completely wrong, as the group mix in a wonderfully eclectic variety of modern sounds. At heart, most every single piece here holds some similarity to the classic Goblin albums, but it's where the group take their all-original compositions from there that makes things really interesting!

Classy album opener `Chimera' will instantly remind of the classic Italian horror band, a dreamy and haunting theme of chiming romantic acoustic guitars and doomed scratchy Mellotron. The funky `Vigilante' works in Emanuele Bultrini's snarling guitar grunt over bristling Hammond organ and Davide Nerattini's head-bobbing drumbeat, `Scenario' fuses lurking electric- piano footsteps with Sixties psychedelic coolness, and `Formula' crosses Seventies horror synth eeriness with a spy-like theme, slinking dance beats and runaway Fender Rhodes soloing. `Vice Versa' shimmers with wah-wah guitars, a sauntering beat and Paolo Pecorelli's mud-thick bass, and `Manifesto' is a gorgeous Morricone-esque soundtrack complete with a whistling melody, sighing female cries and dusty acoustic strums with an unexpected up-tempo momentum.

`Dilemna' bristles with creaky Mellotron, acoustic guitar ripples and devilish bass mischievously darting in and out, but there's a lively and cheeky energy to the piece that Goblin fans will go nuts for. Sure enough, `Expresso' bounces with perky groovy vibes and plentiful floating synths, the evocative accordion from guest player Feliciano Zacchia and constant organ of `Incognito' bring a little more atmosphere, and `Scenario 2' reprises an earlier theme with spikier guitar work and is dominated by thick fluid bass. `Zero' is a break-neck heavier blast with a spectral female voice, and album closer `Persona Non Grata' works in harpisichord-like keys, ghostly church organ and ethereal choir Mellotron in the classic Goblin manner.

It's definitely a stretch to place La Batteria under the RPI tag, but they take many elements from Goblin and several of the darker bands such as L'Albero del Veleno that are filed under that banner, just expanding them in new and fresh directions, although for some Italian prog purists that will likely not be enough. Admittedly perhaps twelve tracks and even a forty-six minute running time here is a little excessive, as some of the pieces don't have a lot in the way of depth to offer, the group instead preferring great sounding surface thrills, however there's no denying the skill of the players and just what a terrific sounding album they've delivered - perhaps it's best to think of them as the equivalent of a `Goblin party band'?! But `La Batteria' is still a very addictive and effortlessly cool little album from a band with immense promise and impeccable skills, that have the potential to find a strong crossover appeal that could easily even catch the ear of listeners who have no interest or knowledge in prog-rock at all.

Three and a half stars, rounded up to four.

 1978 Gli Dei Se Ne Vanno, Gli Arrabbiati Restano by AREA album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.87 | 128 ratings

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1978 Gli Dei Se Ne Vanno, Gli Arrabbiati Restano
Area Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by DamoXt7942
Forum & Site Admin Group RIO/Avant/Zeuhl & Neo Teams

3 stars The last album for Demetrio has been launched in the same year as the title says. At first let me say this is a fantastic album on that all AREAers might introduce sound variations all around and construct quite refined, well-matured world of eccentricity. These auditory effects here and there undies with each other are excellent indeed but Demetrio's magnificent spiritual power might have been gradually attenuated, it's my speculation though. On the contrary, instrumental affection based upon active, strict, explosive play would get more intenser ... this is another reality in this creation.

Via this album we cannot feel any of tragedy that the genuine voice creator would be likely to leave the great combo away. As above mentioned their play is quite intensive and positive, and Demetrio's voices are as powerful and immersive as well. And more of sensuality, I cannot understand Italian language though. Yes this album might not have any issue in a critical manner. Wondering why little impressive texture can be grabbed at least in my ears. Because this album sounds more of RPI-ish melodious progressive rock / pop rather than of powerful, aggressive, and violent jazz rock like their debut stuff? No, not at all.

Every single song can be created and produced greatly indeed, but no unification of the whole album nor energetic "spirit" can be heard actually ... yes there is something lacking. I guess all members should play with their enthusiasm upon every song without suspicion. It's really a difficult case each song be as good as another, "at the similar level" ... surely the collection of "not bad" songs must attenuate the identity of the album. It's a pity they created such a great colourful variation featuring the worldwide essence for every track. Tough looseness should have been another reason of Demetrio's resignation, I'm afraid. Not bad nevertheless.

 Osanna & David Jackson: Prog Family by OSANNA album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.66 | 43 ratings

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Osanna & David Jackson: Prog Family
Osanna Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

3 stars Themes

Like most I know David Jackson as one of the members of the classic line-up of Van Der Graaf Generator, but I recently "re-discovered" him through his participation in The Rome Pro(g)ject - a progressive Rock project led by Italian musician Vincenzo Ricca and in which Jackson (or "Jaxon" as he is sometimes known) appears alongside Steve Hackett and several other Prog luminaries. I found Jackson's contributions to The Rome Pro(g)ject impressive - particularly his flute playing - much more so than his role in Van Der Graaf Generator (a band I like, but don't love).

My renewed interest in Jackson led me to investigate what else he has been doing outside of Van Der Graaf Generator and it was in this way that I came across the present release credited to David Jackson and the Italian band Osanna. The album is nicknamed "Prog family" and features also a number of other musicians including ex-King Crimson violinist David Cross (who, like Jackson, also contributed to The Rome Pro(g)ject).

I was previously unfamiliar with Osanna, but as far as I understand the material on this album consists mainly of re-recorded and re-arranged versions of songs that originally appeared on that band's albums from the 1970's. Whilst I cannot say how these new versions compare to the old, I can say that this is a good and enjoyable album in its own right. Also included is a version of George Martin's Theme One, a number also performed by Van Der Graaf Generator.

The music is eclectic with elements of Jazz, Blues, Folk, etc. within a heavy Rock framework. The vocals are predominantly in Italian language but some parts are sung in English. Perhaps it would have been better to choose one language or the other rather than alternating between Italian and English, but the main attraction at least for me is the instrumental aspects.

 Un'Altra Verita by CONQUEROR album cover Live, 2015
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Un'Altra Verita
Conqueror Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

— First review of this album —
4 stars Italian band CONQUEROR was formed in 1994 by drummer and composer Natale Russo. Several line-up alterations came between the foundation and the release of their debut album "Istinto" in 2003, which has been something of an ongoing challenge for this band, from what I understand. So far they have five studio albums to their name, and also this latest production, the live CD/DVD "Un'Altra Verita" outing, which was released through the Italian label MaRaCash Records in 2015.

As this is Conqueror's first ever live production, fans of the band have noted its availability and bought it already, I'd expect. For those not overly familiar with Conqueror, this production comes across as a good introduction and documentation for what the band is about. The DVD part may be mostly of interest to existing fans, of course, but even so, this is a good quality production, and one that, I suspect, will find favor among those who know and love '80s neo progressive rock, Camel and Pink Floyd, and, naturally enough, in particular those who like all of them.

 Il Paese Del Tramonto by UNREAL CITY album cover Studio Album, 2015
4.04 | 301 ratings

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Il Paese Del Tramonto
Unreal City Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Representing a fresh new generation of Italian prog musicians, the members of Unreal City take the group's sound from strength to strength on this second album. No sophomore slump for this talented group - if anything, tighter production and some absolutely gorgeous compositions helps refined the style of La Crudeltà di Aprile, as well as prompting them to dip into some unexpected stylistic detours along the way - the intro to La Meccanica Dell'Ombra, for instance, takes in a range of Middle Eastern musical styles and gives a spacey enough twist to them to resemble something that Ozric Tentacles might belt out. Unreal City are at the top of their game here, and I'm eager to see where they go next.
 Il Trono Dei Ricordi  by TRONO DEI RICORDI, IL album cover Studio Album, 1994
4.04 | 81 ratings

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Il Trono Dei Ricordi
Il Trono Dei Ricordi Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Yet another Italian "one-album wonder", Il Trono Dei Ricordi offer up an interesting sound on their self-titled album which unfortunately comes unstuck a little too often to give a very high grade to. The vocals sound a little off, in a way which I am not sure whether it is the mix or the actual performance from Alberto "The Wizard" Mugnaini; moreover, the keyboards from Alessandro Lamuraglia and electronic effects from Stefano Cupertino have dated a little badly, to my ears sounding like the cheaper end of what could be accomplished in 1994. (In fact, at part it sounds like a lukewarm CRPG soundtrack from the late MS-DOS era.) The compositions are good enough to prevent it being a total wash, but this is far from being a hidden classic.
 Hypnophonia by MARCHESI SCAMORZA album cover Studio Album, 2015
4.04 | 8 ratings

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Hypnophonia
Marchesi Scamorza Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

4 stars Back in 2012, a new Italian band called Marchesi Scamorza released the charming `La Sposa del Tempo', a polished debut that highlighted a group full of potential that was slowly finding their feet and forming their own sound. The extra few years performing and writing together has delivered great results, and their vinyl-length follow-up work in 2015, `Hydrophonia', is a significant improvement on their first work and a big step up! Their compositions are richer and more dramatic now with a greater variety, singer Enrico Bernardini's vocals are sounding stronger than ever, and by letting go mostly of the more Neo-styled/Genesis-like elements of the debut, the group have embraced their theatrical Italian prog heritage more fully and crafted a much more distinctive and eclectic symphonic work full of personality.

Lively opener `1348' is a strident, confident tune with a skipping momentum to its regal symphonic snap, Enrico's coarse voice commanding as if a call to arms. `Il Cammino delle Luci Erranti' is the first of two longer epics, full of synth-driven symphonic sophistication and classically-flavoured darker elegance that the Italian groups in particular do so well throughout its near-fourteen minute running time. With Enrico Cazzola's ghostly piano and scratchy Mellotron aplenty, Paolo Brini's bass sweetly murmurs with wicked intent, Enrico's vocal leaps between weary purrs and biting unease, and drummer Alessandro Padovani expertly delivers subtle bursts to effortlessly move the piece up and down in tempo. The group finds time for dashing Premiata Forneria Marconi-like charges and even heavier frantic attacks with a dirtier guitar bite from Lorenzo Romani in the manner of the first Banco del Mutuo Soccorso album, leading to a glorious and grand finish. `Campi di Marte' then closes what could be the first side with surprising funkiness, regal sprinting P.F.M gallops mixing with wild guitar fire.

`L'uomo col Fiore in Bocca' initially smoulders with molten guitar grooves, but a tastefully reflective piano interlude with a gently wounded vocal in the second half proves to be one of the surprising highlights of the disc. Three-part thirteen-minute closer `La via del Sognatore' is truly the soundtrack to a swooning, romantic and playful gothic pantomime with lengthy instrumental passages of ravishing symphonic themes. Full of theatrical instrumental pomp and ravishing vocals, constant doomed piano creeps with a devilish mischievousness, guitars chime with mystery and drift through dreamy Pink Floyd-like shimmering interludes while announcing drums rumble with purpose and build. It showcases the band fully immersing themselves in the glorious traditions of the vintage Italian prog past and is easily the most cultured and involved piece the band have offered to date.

It would be easy to place Marchesi Scamorza alongside numerous other low-key modern Italian bands that fly under the radar, but at the same time, `Hypnophonia' is the sound of what was an already promising band stepping up in a big way and delivering a superior work that easily eclipses their earlier effort, carefully showcasing their influences but also offering unexpected surprises. It boasts a fuller production, more confident vocals that aren't afraid to step back and let the thrilling instrumental passages take the focus, and gifted musicians playing with boundless enthusiasm and sharp skill. No doubt about it, `Hypnophonia' is simply a terrific symphonic album from a highly talented Italian band deserving of so much more attention!

Four stars.

 Symphony N.1: Cupid & Psyche by HOSTSONATEN album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.91 | 67 ratings

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Symphony N.1: Cupid & Psyche
Hostsonaten Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

4 stars Whether it's the luscious all instrumental four-album `Seasons' cycle or bombastic classical- influenced rock-operas such as `The Rime of the Ancient Mariner' and its live interpretation `Alive in Theatre', Hostsonaten has always been the most purely symphonic project modern Italian progressive music icon Fabio Zuffanti is involved in, and he and his music collaborators here return in 2016 with `Symphony N. 1: Cupid and Psyche'. Zuffanti and his musical friends, including La Coscienza di Zeno's keyboardist Luca Scherani, Laura Marsano on classical and electric guitars, Paolo `Paolo' Tixi on drums and Danielle Sollo on fretted and fretless bass, are backed up by multi- member brass and woodwind sections as well as a string quartet, and without a doubt they've delivered one of the most proudly grandiose, extravagant and bombastic symphonic Italian works of the year!

`Cupid and Psyche' was a story originally written in the 2nd century AD by Lucius Apuleius Madaurensis, concerning the overcoming of obstacles to the love between the above two characters and their ultimate union in a sacred marriage. The tale has not only been frequently retold in poetry, drama and opera, but depicted widely in painting and sculpture, and it makes for an ideal inspiration for the frequently theatrical and classical-flavoured style that Italian prog-rock is so often renowned for.

The album forms a continuous suite of instrumental music, and looking at some of the highlights, opener `The Sacrifice' blends skipping violin, triumphant horns and rollicking drums with whirring synth trills, and Mellotron and violin weave together dramatically with snapping up-tempo fanfare runs and spiralling synth soloing throughout `Zephyr'. Unsurprisingly with its title, `Love Scene' is a deeply romantic and softly swooning theme that would have fit right at home on any of the above- mentioned `Seasons' albums, and the extended guitar solo in the second half reminds instantly of the Flower Kings' Roine Stolt and Pink Floyd's David Gilmour. `Unmasking' fleetingly reminds of Osanna with its mix of heavier guitars, dominating Mellotron with call-and-response horn duels and intimidating orchestration, but the second half turns acoustic with reflective prettiness.

There are four pieces that then make up the `Trial' movement - `Venus (1st Trial)' is often playfully mischievous with an approaching tension, `Entrapped (2nd Trail)' is a sobering piano, flute, violin and classical guitar rumination that rises in dignity with subtle orchestration, the sprightly `Sheep and Water (3rd Trail)' surprisingly grooves with jazzy electric piano dashes and soaring orchestral flights of fancy, and `Underworld (4th Trial)' is excited and full of liveliness, culminating in immaculate Pink Floyd-like weeping bluesy guitar strains over carefully humming Hammond organ before roaring to life in the powerful finale. `The Awakening' instantly launches into a Moog- powered sprint with a heavy driving beat and scratchy Mellotron, and the joyfully stirring `The Ascension' is a dashing reprise of perfectly fused rock and orchestra unity to finish on.

For such an epic undertaking, it's actually a welcome relief to find that `Symphony n. 1' is a forty- four minute vinyl-length release, often broken into shorter passages that together mean the album can be given plenty of replays without an overwhelming length becoming too intimidating. Some will find the album impossibly stuffy, pompous and self-indulgent (but hey, pretty sure that's what a lot of prog-fans are here for!), but lovers of the grandest of progressive rock styles will find this to be luxurious symphonic prog at its very finest, one of Hostsonaten's grandest artistic statements to date, and certainly one of the most sophisticated Italian releases of 2016.

Four and a half stars.

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Rock Progressivo Italiano bands/artists list

Bands/Artists Country
A PIEDI NUDI Italy
ABISSI INFINITI Italy
ABSENTHIA Italy
ACQUA FRAGILE Italy
AD MAIORA Italy
ADHARMA Italy
AINUR Italy
AKRON Italy
L' ALBERO DEL VELENO Italy
ALGEBRA Italy
ALESSANDRO ALISCIONI Italy
ALLEGRI LEPROTTI Italy
GLI ALLUMINOGENI Italy
ALPHATAURUS Italy
ALTARE THOTEMICO Italy
ALUSA FALLAX Italy
AMMINISTRAZIONE CAOS POPOLARE Italy
ANACONDIA Italy
ANCESTRY Italy
THE ANCIENT VEIL Italy
ANTONIUS REX Italy
GLI APOSTHOLI Italy
APOTEOSI Italy
APRYL Italy
ARCHITRAVE INDIPENDENTE Italy
AREA Italy
ARIES Italy
ARJUNA Italy
ARMONITE Italy
ARPIA Italy
ARS NOVA (ITA) Italy
ASSEMBLEA MUSICALE TEATRALE Italy
ASSENZIO Italy
ASTROLABIO / ELETTROSMOG Italy
ATON'S Italy
ATTO IV Italy
AUDIO Italy
AURORA LUNARE Italy
AVALON LEGEND Italy
IL BABAU & I MALEDETTI CRETINI Italy
SOPHYA BACCINI Italy
IL BACIO DELLA MEDUSA Italy
THE BADGE Italy
BALLETTIROSADIMACCHIA Italy
IL BALLETTO DI BRONZO Italy
IL BALLO DELLE CASTAGNE Italy
THE BALMUNG Italy
LA BAMBIBANDA E MELODIE Italy
BANCO DEL MUTUO SOCCORSO Italy
BARABBA Italy
MARIO BARBAJA Italy
BAROQUE Italy
BARROCK Italy
LUCIANO BASSO Italy
LA BATTERIA Italy
FRANCO BATTIATO Italy
PIERPAOLO BIBBO Italy
BIGLIETTO PER L'INFERNO Italy
BLOCCO MENTALE Italy
BONDAGE Italy
BORNIDOL Italy
LA BOTTEGA DELL'ARTE Italy
BRAEN'S MACHINE Italy
BRAINDEAD Italy
ANGELO BRANDUARDI Italy
BRIGHT HORIZON Italy
BUON VECCHIO CHARLIE Italy
CAGE Italy
I CALIFFI Italy
CALLIOPE Italy
CAMERA ASTRALIS Italy
JURI CAMISASCA Italy
CAMPO DI MARTE Italy
CANTINA SOCIALE Italy
CAPITOLO 6 Italy
CAPRICORN COLLEGE Italy
CAPSICUM RED Italy
ENZO CAPUANO Italy
IL CASTELLO DELLE UOVA Italy
IL CASTELLO DI ATLANTE Italy
CAVALLI COCCHI LANZETTI ROVERSI Italy
CELESTE Italy
IL CERCHIO D'ORO Italy
CERVELLO Italy
CHERRY FIVE Italy
CHIAVE DI VOLTA Italy
LUCIANO CILIO Italy
CIRCLE OF FAIRIES Italy
CITTÀ FRONTALE Italy
CIVICO 23 Italy
CLEPSYDRA Italy
I COCAI Italy
ROBERTO COLOMBO Italy
CONDOR Italy
CONQUEROR Italy
CONSORZIO ACQUA POTABILE Italy
CONTRAPPUNTO Italy
CONTROTEMPO Italy
COOPERATIVA DEL LATTE Italy
CORAL CAVES Italy
CORMORANO Italy
EMANUELE CORREANI Italy
CORTE AULICA Italy
CORTE DEI MIRACOLI Italy
LA COSCIENZA DI ZENO Italy
MARIO COTTARELLI Italy
COURT Italy
CRYSTALS Italy
LA CURVA DI LESMO Italy
GINO D'ELISO Italy
GIANNI D'ERRICO Italy
DALLAGLIO Italy
DALTON Italy
DE DE LIND Italy
DELIRIUM Italy
MAURIZIO DI TOLLO Italy
I DIK DIK Italy
DISTILLERIE DI MALTO Italy
DIVAE Italy
DUEMILA12 Italy
ECLISSE Italy
EDERA Italy
EDGAR ALLAN POE Italy
EGO Italy
EGONON Italy
EMPIRE Italy
ENEIDE Italy
ENIMA Italy
ENTITY Italy
EQUIPE 84 Italy
ERA DI ACQUARIO Italy
ERIS PLUVIA Italy
ERRATA CORRIGE Italy
L' ESTATE DI SAN MARTINO Italy
EUTHYMIA Italy
EXPLOIT Italy
LA FABBRICA DELL'ASSOLUTO Italy
FABIO CELI E GLI INFERMIERI Italy
FALENA Italy
FEM PROG BAND Italy
FESTA MOBILE Italy
FILARMONICA MUNICIPALE LACRISI Italy
FILORITMIA Italy
FINISTERRE Italy
FLEA Italy
FLOATING STATE Italy
RICCARDO FOGLI Italy
FOGLIE DI VETRO Italy
FORMULA 3 Italy
FABIO FRIZZI Italy
CLAUDIO FUCCI Italy
FUFLUNS Italy
GARYBALDI Italy
GENCO PURO & CO. Italy
GENFUOCO Italy
GERMINALE Italy
FRANCO MARIA GIANNINI Italy
GIARDINI D'AUTUNNO Italy
GIARDINO DELLE DELIZIE Italy
I GIGANTI Italy
GIGI PASCAL E LA POP COMPAGNIA MECCANICA Italy
IL GIRO STRANO Italy
GLEEMEN Italy
GOBLIN Italy
GOBLIN REBIRTH Italy
GRAN TURISMO VELOCE Italy
GREENWALL Italy
GRIMALKIN Italy
GRUPPO 2001 Italy
GUERCIA Italy
H2O Italy
HOMUNCULUS RES Italy
HOPO Italy
HORUS Italy
HOSTSONATEN Italy
HUNKA MUNKA Italy
IANVA Italy
IBIS Italy
IL FAUNO DI MARMO / THE REBUS Italy
INGRANAGGI DELLA VALLE Italy
J.E.T. Italy
JACULA Italy
JANUS Italy
JESTER'S JOKE Italy
JET LAG Italy
JUMBO Italy
KALISANTROPE Italy
KUNDALINI SHAKTI DEVI Italy
LABIRINTO DI SPECCHI Italy
LAGARTIJA Italy
LAPERA Italy
LASER Italy
LATTE E MIELE Italy
LUCIANO LAURINI Italy
LEO NERO Italy
I LEONI Italy
LETHE Italy
LIBRA Italy
LINEATEORICA Italy
LOCANDA DELLE FATE Italy
EMILIO LOCURCIO Italy
LOCUS AMOENUS Italy
LOGOS Italy
LOST TALES Italy
LOTHLORIEN Italy
MACROSCREAM Italy
MAD CRAYON Italy
MAD FELLAZ Italy
MADRUGADA Italy
MAGNOLIA Italy
MALAAVIA Italy
MALIBRAN Italy
MALLEUS Italy
MANGALA VALLIS Italy
LE MANI Italy
MARCHESI SCAMORZA Italy
LA MASCHERA DI CERA Italy
MAURY E I PRONOMI / AQUAEL Italy
MAXOPHONE Italy
MEDITERRANEA Italy
MELLONTA TAUTA Italy
MESSAGGIO 73 Italy
METAMORFOSI Italy
MINDFLOWER Italy
MINSTREL Italy
MIRAGE Italy
MO.DO. Italy
MÖBIUS PROJECT Italy
LORENZO MONNI Italy
MONTEFELTRO Italy
MOSAICO Italy
IL MUCCHIO Italy
MURPLE Italy
MUSEO ROSENBACH Italy
FRANCO MUSSIDA Italy
MYROS Italy
LA N.A.V.E. Italy
NARROW PASS Italy
NASCITA DELLA SFERA Italy
NATHAN Italy
NEW TROLLS Italy
NEW TROLLS ATOMIC SYSTEM Italy
NICOSIA & C. INDUSTRIA MUSICALE Italy
NODO GORDIANO Italy
NOTABENE Italy
I NUMI Italy
NUOVA ERA Italy
NUOVA IDEA Italy
OBSCURA Italy
THE ODEJA Italy
ODISSEA Italy
OFFICINA MECCANICA Italy
L' OMBRA DELLA SERA Italy
OMBRALUCE Italy
LE ORME Italy
ORNITHOS Italy
OSAGE TRIBE Italy
OSANNA Italy
IL PAESE DEI BALOCCHI Italy
MAURO PAGANI Italy
PANDORA Italy
PANE Italy
PANGEA Italy
PANNA FREDDA Italy
MARIO PANSERI Italy
PANTHER & C Italy
PARADISO A BASSO PREZZO Italy
IL PARADISO DEGLI ORCHI Italy
MAURO PELOSI Italy
I PENNELLI DI VERMEER Italy
LA PENTOLA DI PAPIN Italy
PERDIO Italy
PERIFERIA DEL MONDO Italy
PERSIMFANS Italy
PHAEDRA Italy
PHOLAS DACTYLUS Italy
GIAN PIERETTI Italy
PIERO E I COTTONFIELDS Italy
PIERO EZIO E TINO Italy
PLANETARIUM Italy
PLENILUNIO Italy
PLURIMA MUNDI Italy
LE PORTE NON APERTE Italy
PREGHIERA DI SASSO Italy
PREMIATA FORNERIA MARCONI (PFM) Italy
PRESENCE Italy
PROCESSION Italy
PROGENESI Italy
PROPHEXY Italy
PROWLERS Italy
PSYCHO PRAXIS Italy
QIRSH Italy
QUARTO VUOTO Italy
QUASAR LUX SYMPHONIAE Italy
QUEL GIORNO DI UVE ROSSE Italy
QUELLA VECCHIA LOCANDA Italy
RACCOMANDATA RICEVUTA RITORNO Italy
I RAMINGHI Italy
RANDONE Italy
RANESTRANE Italy
REALE ACCADEMIA DI MUSICA Italy
RES GESTA Italy
RICORDI D'INFANZIA Italy
CLAUDIO ROCCHI Italy
ROCKY'S FILJ Italy
IL ROVESCIO DELLA MEDAGLIA Italy
IL RUMORE BIANCO Italy
IL RUSCELLO Italy
RUSTICHELLI & BORDINI Italy
SACKA Italy
SALIS Italy
SAMADHI Italy
SAMSARA Italy
TITO JR. SCHIPA Italy
LA SECONDA GENESI Italy
SECRET TALES Italy
IL SEGNO DEL COMANDO Italy
SELDON Italy
SEMIRAMIS Italy
LE SENSAZIONI Italy
SENSITIVA IMMAGINE Italy
SENZA NOME Italy
SEZIONE FRENANTE Italy
SHOWMEN 2 Italy
PAOLO SIANI & FRIENDS FEAT. NUOVA IDEA Italy
SIDE C Italy
IL SISTEMA Italy
SITHONIA Italy
SLOGANS Italy
LA SORGENTE Italy
ALAN SORRENTI Italy
ST.-TROPEZ Italy
LE STELLE DI MARIO SCHIFANO Italy
STRANAFONIA Italy
DEMETRIO STRATOS Italy
SUBMARINE SILENCE Italy
SUNSCAPE Italy
SYNDÉRESI Italy
SYNDONE Italy
TACITA INTESA Italy
TAPROBAN Italy
IL TEMPIO DELLE CLESSIDRE Italy
TENEBRAE Italy
I TEOREMI Italy
STEFANO TESTA Italy
THEGENERATION Italy
THREE MONKS Italy
TILION Italy
TOTO TORQUATI Italy
LA TORRE DELL ALCHIMISTA Italy
TRIADE Italy
THE TRIP Italy
IL TRONO DEI RICORDI Italy
TUGS Italy
UBI MAIOR Italy
ULTIMA SPIAGGIA Italy
UNA VOLTA ERAVAMO IN SETTE Italy
UNO Italy
UNREAL CITY Italy
L' UOVO DI COLOMBO Italy
VEDDA TRIBE Italy
VIEUX CARRE Italy
VITTORIO DE SCALZI - LA STORIA DEI NEW TROLLS Italy
IL VOLO DI ICARO Italy
IL VOLO Italy
VUOTI A RENDERE Italy
RICCARDO ZAPPA Italy
ZAUM Italy

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