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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)




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

4.42 | 1239 ratings
PER UN AMICO
Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM)
4.39 | 772 ratings
IO SONO NATO LIBERO
Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso
4.38 | 975 ratings
STORIA DI UN MINUTO
Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM)
4.37 | 839 ratings
DARWIN!
Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso
4.29 | 630 ratings
BANCO DEL MUTUO SOCCORSO
Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso
4.29 | 619 ratings
ZARATHUSTRA
Museo Rosenbach
4.31 | 465 ratings
ARBEIT MACHT FREI
Area
4.27 | 621 ratings
L'ISOLA DI NIENTE
Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM)
4.25 | 689 ratings
FELONA E SORONA
Orme, Le
4.23 | 529 ratings
UOMO DI PEZZA
Orme, Le
4.26 | 295 ratings
PALEPOLI
Osanna
4.23 | 332 ratings
MAXOPHONE
Maxophone
4.21 | 429 ratings
YS
Balletto di Bronzo, Il
4.24 | 271 ratings
LA CRUDELTÀ DI APRILE
Unreal City
4.22 | 264 ratings
CRAC !
Area
4.22 | 242 ratings
DISCESA AGL'INFERI D'UN GIOVANE AMANTE
Bacio Della Medusa, Il
4.21 | 230 ratings
L' ENIGMA DELLA VITA
Logos
4.31 | 121 ratings
PASSIO SECUNDUM MATTHEUM: THE COMPLETE WORK
Latte e Miele
4.19 | 211 ratings
PRINCIPE DI UN GIORNO
Celeste
4.15 | 232 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

RIFLESSIONI: IDEA D'INFINITO
Dalton
ADOLESCENZA
Panseri, Mario
HYBLA ACT 1
Randone
ÁSRAVA
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Latest Rock Progressivo Italiano Music Reviews


 Tutto A Memoria by SELDON album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.00 | 2 ratings

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Tutto A Memoria
Seldon Rock Progressivo Italiano

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

4 stars Formed in Florence, 2008, Italian band Seldon take their name from Hari Seldon, a character that appeared in American author Isaac Asimov's `Foundation' series. The band released their debut album `Tutto A Memoria' (All in Memory) in 2013, and it presents a frequently tough rock sound thanks to modern harder guitar, with traditional RPI qualities to be found in the charismatic ravishing vocals and plenty of colourful vintage keyboard flavours. It's a confident first impression, where melodic song-writing is given equal importance to instrumental flair.

Opener `Alla Mia Età ' is a catchy tune wrapped in a gutsy rock backing with keyboard player and singer Marco Baroncini's lively vocal rolling over a sprinkling of electric piano, grim mellotron washes and Francesco Bottai's driving electric guitars. Heavy guitar blasts with subtle dirty grooves and sneaky Hammond bursts ripple through `Schiavi', `Senza Una Ragione' is a more mellow and romantic break where the glistening electric piano hints of the Canterbury Sound bands, bluesy slinking guitars with a sprightly vocal skip through `Nottambuli' and mud-thick organ and grinding heavy guitar pounds down on `Secoli'.

`Vedo Lo Spazio' is a melancholic and reflective piano ballad that makes for a nice break from the bluster and noise of the previous piece, the title track `Tutto A Memoria' is playfully creeping with Marco's sinister lip-smacking vocal malevolence, and `Dare/Avere' is a fun and upbeat Hammond organ sprinkled foot-tapping lightly funky groover. Darker mystery returns with growing tension on `E Guerra Sia', where eerie electric piano, Carlo Bonamico's slithering bass, Cristiano Bottai's busy incessant drumming and a purring crooned vocal behind gothic symphonic synths and strangled heavy guitar make it the most ambitious piece of the album that really shows what the band can do. Sophisticated closer `Come Aver Pietà' opens with uplifting piano before the whole band rises to the occasion and delivers a stirring instrumental ending.

Although not overloaded with traditional RPI qualities, Seldon are comparable to other modern Italian bands that take small aspects of that style and apply it to a tougher modern sound like Civico 23 and Le Porte non Aperte. But there's no shortage of talent on display from this skilled group of musicians, and hopefully this is just the beginning of recorded output from them. There's so much potential emerging on this album that the group will hopefully only keep building on, and `Tutto A Memoria' is recommended for listeners who respond to and appreciate well-crafted song-based progressive rock.

Three and a half stars, rounded up to four as encouragement for great things to come from a promising Italian band!

 Petali di fuoco by MASCHERA DI CERA, LA album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.56 | 93 ratings

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Petali di fuoco
La Maschera Di Cera Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by ZowieZiggy
Prog Reviewer

4 stars "La Maschera Di Cera" is probably one of my most beloved Italian bands. But most overall, one of my preferred band all styles. I could witness one of their gigs at the "Spirit of 66" (the only prog rock scene in Belgium) during a prog conference in 2005. That was a great day since "Knight Area" and "Riverside" were completing the bill.

Each of their previous albums was an enchantment and this one is no deception. But as you might have read: I am biased and pleased to tell so.

All the melody of the great RPI genre is here. The charming vocals from Alessandro, the sweet fluting from Andrea, the skilled drumming from Maurizio and not to forget the fantastic job on the keys from Agostino: they are all very much present.

The passion of the vocals is still the same than before and the whole band is in full symbiosis. Let's not forget that the man behind this project (and many, many others) is no less than Fabio Zuffanti. If you are orphan of the great seventies (being Italian or overall symphonic), this album is an excellent starting point (but each of the Maschera one will do the job, believe me).

There are some jazzy influences (like in each of their work), but scarcely developed ("Discesa"). Most of the music played is pure harmony, melody and full of talent. My fave is "L'Inganno", which is full of tact and features convincing vocals again. And what to say about the great flute play? A pure jewel indeed.

In terms of genuine beauty, I can only recommend you to listen to the superb "Phoenix" which is such a delicate piece of symphonic prog. Vocals are so passionate! Piano and flutes are so wonderful. It is another highlight for sure.

The only reproach is probably that the band doesn't offer any epic like before. An evolution of time maybe? Anyway, this is a very good album again; with no weak songs at all. The closing number also allows Matteo on the guitar to display all his skills. The finale is absolutely wonderful.

Four stars.

 Il Paese Del Tramonto by UNREAL CITY album cover Studio Album, 2015
4.13 | 217 ratings

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Il Paese Del Tramonto
Unreal City Rock Progressivo Italiano

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

5 stars Two years ago, a young Italian group based in Parma, under the guidance of modern RPI notable Fabio Zuffanti, released an incredibly vibrant and confident debut album `La Crudelta di Aprile'. That band was Unreal City, and it ended up being one of the Italian Prog highlights of 2013, as well as a thrilling progressive rock work in general. Full of a dazzling variety of instrumental flair, charismatic vocals, winning melodies and ambitious symphonic arrangements, thankfully the band have delivered another winner of an album with their follow-up `Il Paese del Tramonto' (The Country of Sunset). While it holds to some of the format of the first album, this time around the band adds even more theatrical moments, longer jazzier passages and carefully cultured qualities that brings it closer to the rich history of music from their home country. Considering their young age, the band show a complete devouring and knowledge of vintage RPI bands both popular and more obscure, virtually overdosing on those sounds and applying it to their own contemporary style. It's retro by way of a sleek modern sound, all played with youthful vigour and presented in an attractive package that will likely instantly appeal to both a younger audience and established veteran prog rock and RPI listeners.

Right from the opening instrumental `Ouverture - Obscuris Fio', frontman and keyboard player Emanuele Tarasconi is front and center, covering the piece with his swooning yet sombre classical piano, spinning Moog dashes, Fender Rhodes splinters and orchestral Mellotron blasts. Federico Bedostri's drums skitter with driving purpose once the piece jumps up in buoyant tempo, and female player Francesca Zanetta offers a tease of the symphonic guitar greatness to come. With a case of Banco-like schizophrenic musical multiple-personality, `Oniromanzia' may open as a gutsier tune with initially bluesy guitar soloing, electric piano and a reflective lead vocal from Emanuele, but it quickly diverts into energetic jazzy drumming and fiery Hammond organ runs, early King Crimson-esque regal fanfares and all manner of whirring synth goodness. Darker gothic moods permeate `Caligari', Dario Pessina's bass creeping and lurking, eerie Antonia Rex/Goblin- like synth weirdness playfully trilling and imposing organ booming. Stately flights of fancy in the manner of early Genesis rise around a prancing theatrical vocal purr and Francesca's guitar whimsy before the piece careens away into nimble piano runs and a snarling heavy finale.

Violin and accordion strains bring echoes of more folky Italian music of old throughout `La Meccanica dell'ombra', with creeping bass strolling around the background, sitar-like echoing guitar strains, thoughtful delicate classical piano and no shortage of schizophrenic synth delirium! The band don't always feel the need to dial the instrumental prog-outs up to 11, and the dreamy vibes that float through `Il Nome di Lei' show just how well the band do calmer and more direct tunes, with gorgeous ringing electric and soothing acoustic guitar soloing and some prancing harpsichord prettiness that tickles of classic RPI. The deranged `Lo Schermo di Pietra (Kenosis)' is full of hyperactive instrumental explosions, break-neck tempo changes and punky boisterous vocals, and the orgy of keyboard orgasm all over it makes it the `adult movie' of modern RPI by way of hyperactive good-looking youngsters overdosing on filthy battery-acid energy drinks!

But once again, just like on the first disc, the group save the best until last, and the twenty-plus minute four part suite `Ex Tenebrae Lux' is the highlight of the album. Dynamic and daring, playful and determined to impress, the longer running time allows the band to more calmly explore new directions without trying to cram in quite so many quicker racing passages and shorter pieces. Everything from malevolent spectral piano tiptoes, easy-going breezy jazzy electric piano and light jazz/fusion bass grooves, fiery guitar and rippling Fender Rhodes duelling back and forth are included, and some drifting electronic drones hint at new and daring directions the band should consider exploring more in the future. With a greater sense of build, atmosphere and emotion, the music here is truly joyful, and this epic is a big step up in maturity and sophistication for the band while also showing greater subtlety.

Some listeners may find it a little disappointing that, considering Emanuele is an impressive vocalist full of flair, there's more emphasis placed on longer instrumental sections. But this is a case of band really showing what they can do musically as a proper group, giving attention to all the players and letting their abilities shine through. Considering there's a great buzz around the band, they could have focussed more on shorter, more simplistic vocal pieces, or (even worse) chosen to sing in English in a misguided attempt to appeal to a wider audience. But instead, they've delved even further into more ballistic, self-indulgent and pompous Italian prog rock than ever before, and progressive listeners will be in absolute heaven! The first album might just have the edge with stronger tunes, and this one may lack the initial surprise that hit when their debut first arrived, but `Il Paese del Tramonto' is a gifted band taking their own sound, influences and supreme musical talent even further, and it's just as good as the debut while promising so much more exciting music to come in the future.

Another five stars for a shining light in the modern RPI world!

 Nous by NODO GORDIANO album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.03 | 51 ratings

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Nous
Nodo Gordiano Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by ZowieZiggy
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Same process than their previous album. A message to download their labum, and a promise from my side to review it on ProgArchives (although it took me a long time to do so for personal reasons).

The opening number is rather sweet and melodic (which is not the trademark of this band, more heavy oriented). « Portanovo » holds melancholic vocals, flute and very soft instrumental parts. It only becomes a little more in the band's style towards the end. A fine start though.

« Aion » which follows, is rather different. More in line with their previos works : dark, intricate, difficult to access for half ot it. And then, all of a sudden, it turns as a good old « Floyd » tune ! The end being even atmospheric and totally spacey. Another good track at the end of the day.

I have to say that with the following number, the good feelings are quite dropping. Mellow vocals (it could have been an all instrumental actually) and average instrumental parts make this track the weakest so far.

The title track, which is the longest of this offering (it clocks at almost 10 minutes), builds on a crecsendo theme which I love as you might know. It starts a bit mysterious a la Floyd of the very early days (ASOS) and speeds up little by little to reach a splendid guitar part which is really excellent and catchy as well. It evolves towards a more heavier part. Probably the highlight of this work.

The daunting ''Arturiana'' is fully in line with their Crimsonesque influences. It starts heavy, powerful and obscure. The structure (if any) of this track is difficult to understand and it flows more as an organized jam with different sections than anything else. Still, quite enjoyable, I have to say.

We might well be in front of their best work so far. I have to admit that I quite like these melodic lines like we've heard so far and the story goes on with the the sweet and closing number ''Stella Maris'' which ends up as a truely scary number.

Four stars for this good work . Their best so far IMHHO.

 Il Paese Del Tramonto by UNREAL CITY album cover Studio Album, 2015
4.13 | 217 ratings

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Il Paese Del Tramonto
Unreal City Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by aristide

5 stars Second album of the young band from Parma, Italy that confirm all the good impressions of the debut cd. We speak about Italian Progressive rock at highest level, but with a close high to the future. The music has a strong classic heritage, but it is also the fusion of several different sources, from blues to hard rock and more. In that respect, the definition of IPR may be somehow incorrect, as Unreal City have a wide musical culture that is quite difficult to define. Tarasconi , the keyboardist, is the leader, no doubt, but the sound is so monolithic that each member of the group has his own importance in building the structure of the music, Zanetta (finally a girl that just plays !) has a great development from the first album. More solos, more confidence for her Floydian guitar. The rhythmic part is accurate and precise, with punctual drums and a bass that deliver some amazing solos. High quality of the sound mix and a crystal clean production . In general I consider this album a gem in to-day prog landscape and I feel that we will get more fantastic music from this band. They will be in Canada early next year and I do hope to have the chance to be there?.
 Il Paese Del Tramonto by UNREAL CITY album cover Studio Album, 2015
4.13 | 217 ratings

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Il Paese Del Tramonto
Unreal City Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by felonafan

5 stars This is the second album of the marvelous RPI band. Like the debut release, it develops 'nervous' and 'dramatic' sides of the genre: Unreal City is closer to Museo Rosenbach and Banco del Mutuo Soccorso than Celeste and PFM. Sometimes this music is rather dark, although almost always beautiful and melodic. All tracks of the album are excellent. Each track contains brilliant compositional ideas, melodies remained in a memory, an interesting development, and sophisticated arrangements. 'Il Paese Del Tramonto' is full of beauty, power, and energy. Unilke the debut release, there are no boring fragments. Personally I strongly like melody from 'Oniromanzia' repeated in the end of 'Ex Tenebrae Lux'. It is one of the best albums of 2015 although weaker than the classical releases of Le Orme, PFM, Banco del Mutuo Soccorso, and some other 'giants'. 4.5.
 Storia o leggenda by ORME, LE album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.47 | 105 ratings

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Storia o leggenda
Le Orme Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by RaelWV

3 stars I've got a bad habit of buying my first album by a particular band, getting home and reading some reviews, and discovering that I bought the wrong album to use as an introduction. Thankfully, I didn't make that mistake with Le Orme, one of the classic bands from the 1970s Italian prog scene. My first exposure to them was a hunk of their 2005 NEARFest performance on the Rising to the Surface DVD. So I grabbed Felona e Sonora and Uomo di Pezza and was hooked.

Well, there's a flip side to digging into a band's catalog in the right place and falling hard - you keep exploring and, eventually, you find a dud. That's the case with Storia O Leggenda. It's not right to say it's "bad" - it really isn't. But it's not a classic and it's not what really moves me when I think of Italian prog bands.

Le Orme was always one of the more lush, symphonic of bands ? much more Genesis than King Crimson, if you catch my drift. So long as they were working through lengthy instrumental sections with occasional vocals, that's cool..Technically, Le Orme avoided "epics," but tended to run a lot of shorter tunes together to achieve the same effect. But here, the songs stay short, but are more individualized. There's a greater emphasis on lyrics and vocals, with the music becoming less involving.

Which leads to a problem of my own limited faculties. One of the cool things about prog is that it really flourished in outposts around the world. Although it's generally thought of as particular English, it first made popular headway in Italy and eventually spread all over. I've got albums from every inhabited continent except Africa, for crying out loud! That means lots of lyrics I have no chance of understanding since they're, you know, in foreign and such.

Generally, that's not a problem. With very few exceptions, prog is not about the words, it's about the music. Vocals in another language don't pose a problem because the voice itself is more important than the message. Hell, after all these years I'm still not sure what Jon Anderson is on about most of the time, and that's in English! But it sounds good, right?

Yeah, until the words do start to become more important. It's one of the reasons I don't really get a lot of neo-prog with lyrics in other languages. That's a subgenre where words make more of an impact and if I can't understand what they're saying, what's the point? Unfortunately, that's the problem I've got with really digging into this album. The music is nice enough, but it doesn't do much more than support the vocals, which might as well be gibberish for all I know. Judging by the cover art, it has something to drooling horses. As a result, I just can't get that much out of it.

Which is only to say, in the long and storied history of Le Orme, they had an off day. Everybody's entitled to that.

 Live in Seoul by TEMPIO DELLE CLESSIDRE, IL album cover DVD/Video, 2014
4.57 | 10 ratings

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Live in Seoul
Il Tempio delle Clessidre Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by rdtprog
Special Collaborator Heavy Prog Team

4 stars This new Italian band released a DVD after only one album, and because of this, they decided to play the complete "Zarathustra" suite of Museo Rosenbach,one of the best song coming from the Italian scene. This is a logical decision when you know that the original singer Stefano "Lupo" Galifi is with the band. What we got here is a complete new version of that song that is a symphonic prog rock epic with a playing that is rough with heavier guitar riffs and a solid rhythm section with Palo Tixi on drums. This song being inspired by the work of Nietzsche has some dark atmosphere with long instrumental passage that coexist with some lighter atmosphere with the delicate piano of Elisa Montaldo. Like i said, because the band has only one album, the 2 DVD contains the album "Zarathustra" in the act 1 of The Seoul performance and on the encore as a medley. The second disk has also some excerpts of this song, but who is going to complaint to hear that song with a modern new sound and arrangements. This second DVD is a collection of various appearance in Italy and in Nearfest in USA. The sound quality is not the best, but better than some bootlegs material. The act II of the main concert is the original songs of the band from their first album and it's in the vein of "Zarathustra", if you enjoy bands like Banco or Il Balletto Di Bronzo, you will enjoy this band.
 Barbarica by MUSEO ROSENBACH album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.49 | 59 ratings

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Barbarica
Museo Rosenbach Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars MUSEO ROSENBACH hasn't exactly been the most prolific band in the World when it comes to creating music. They released their classic "Zarathustra" back in 1973 and that was followed up by "Exit" released in 2000 then this record "Barbarica" released in 2013. There certainly is a lot to like with their most recent album but there's also some rather unconvincing sections in my opinion.

"Il Respiro Del Pianeta" is the almost 14 minute epic and it opens the proceedings in style. It opens with an almost dirge-like atmosphere before the vocals arrive after a minute. The vocals stop and the music picks up with some nice guitar. A powerful soundscape follows before it settles in sounding very Italian with that accordion. The vocals are back as this song continues to shift. Organ and heavy guitar come in after 5 1/2 minutes but again the song continues to change in tempo and mood. "La Coda Del Diavolo" is melancholic with laid back vocals and the violin really adds to the sadness. It kicks in hard after 3 minutes. Drums to the fore as we get this driving rhythm and the organ joins in as well. I'm not a fan of this driving section and the passionate vocals.

"Abbandonati" features tribal-like drumming and flute early on then multi- vocals come in that I don't like. Some heavy guitar comes and goes then it settles around 2 minutes with vocals. Nice bass 3 1/2 minutes in and the heaviness will come and go. "Fiore Di Vendetta" opens with synths before we get some metalish guitar with organ. It calms right down and flute joins in. Reserved vocals after 2 minutes then it turns more powerful 3 1/2 minutes in before calming down once again. It's heavy before 5 minutes and the vocals return as well. "Il Re Del Circo" ends the album and it opens with flute and gentle guitar. It becomes heavier before a minute but it settles back again quickly with relaxed vocals but they do get passionate at times. Some nice drum work and I also like the organ here. Aggressive guitar joins in as well as it picks up with vocals. Not a fan of the fast paced vocals and sound though. Drums and synths standout late.

Clearly this album is but a shadow of their classic recording "Zarathustra" but there's lots to like here too. I wish the mellotron was more prominent and that the modern vibe was toned down. 3 stars.

 In Hoc Signo by INGRANAGGI DELLA VALLE album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.04 | 175 ratings

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In Hoc Signo
Ingranaggi della Valle Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Progfan97402

5 stars Unreal! Right up there with La Maschera di Cera's Le Porte del Domani, new Italian prog that can hold its own with the very best out of the 1970s, and I can't believe I'm actually saying this! I think a lot of bands in recent years have learned from past mistakes (mistakes too many bands did in the past was nasty digital contemporary production, which many didn't have the knack, and often ended up sterile, and most of all the habit of cramming as much music on one CD as possible so quality control has gone astray and often made for a tedious listen). Ingranaggi della Valle is an incredible band of fusion and prog, in fact this band could have easily fit the Jazz Rock/Fusion category as Rock Progressive Italiano. Incredible energetic prog and fusion, with keyboards, violin, guitar, bass, and drums, and Italian vocals. They combine the high energy fusion of the likes of Mahavishnu Orchestra, Arti & Mestieri and Area (but with more normal vocals and less avant guard inclinations) and give elements of symphonic prog. There are some Allan Holdsworth type guitar fusion moments, with keyboards including piano, organ, Mellotron (or sampled Mellotron), and synths. They have a number of guests, including none other than David Jackson from Van der Graaf Generator (and even Osanna's Prog Family) and Mattias Olsson from Änglagård. I've been waiting for prog like this! It's hard to believe that Black Widow Records is leading the new Italian prog renaissance, and I'm ever thankful for that (it's strange, because Black Widow originally specialized in heavy metal), and it's Black Widow responsible for the release of In Hoc Signo. Totally essential prog that 's truly five star worthy!
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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
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
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
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
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
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
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
KUNDALINI SHAKTI DEVI Italy
LABIRINTO DI SPECCHI Italy
LAGARTIJA 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
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
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
PARADISO A BASSO PREZZO 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
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
RICCARDO ZAPPA Italy
ZAUM Italy

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