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ROCK PROGRESSIVO ITALIANO

A Progressive Rock Sub-genre


From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

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

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.synphonicmusic.com
Doug Larson (USA) - http://www.douglarsonimports.com
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/
Discogs - www.discogs.com

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 | 1489 ratings
PER UN AMICO
Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM)
4.36 | 1186 ratings
STORIA DI UN MINUTO
Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM)
4.37 | 1002 ratings
DARWIN!
Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso
4.37 | 928 ratings
IO SONO NATO LIBERO
Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso
4.30 | 756 ratings
ZARATHUSTRA
Museo Rosenbach
4.29 | 773 ratings
BANCO DEL MUTUO SOCCORSO
Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso
4.27 | 573 ratings
ARBEIT MACHT FREI
Area
4.23 | 827 ratings
FELONA E SORONA
Orme, Le
4.23 | 758 ratings
L'ISOLA DI NIENTE
Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM)
4.23 | 508 ratings
YS
Balletto di Bronzo, Il
4.22 | 610 ratings
UOMO DI PEZZA
Orme, Le
4.25 | 399 ratings
MAXOPHONE
Maxophone
4.24 | 355 ratings
PALEPOLI
Osanna
4.25 | 313 ratings
CRAC !
Area
4.22 | 280 ratings
DISCESA AGL'INFERI D'UN GIOVANE AMANTE
Bacio Della Medusa, Il
4.20 | 292 ratings
L' ENIGMA DELLA VITA
Logos
4.18 | 281 ratings
CONTAMINAZIONE
Rovescio Della Medaglia, Il
4.18 | 249 ratings
CELESTE [AKA: PRINCIPE DI UN GIORNO]
Celeste
4.14 | 335 ratings
LA CRUDELTÀ DI APRILE
Unreal City
4.21 | 180 ratings
MELOS
Cervello

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

IL PAESE DEI BALOCCHI
Paese dei Balocchi, Il
POA
Blocco Mentale
VIETATO AI MINORI DI 18 ANNI ?
Jumbo
BUON VECCHIO CHARLIE
Buon Vecchio Charlie

Latest Rock Progressivo Italiano Music Reviews


 Apoteosi by APOTEOSI album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.93 | 141 ratings

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Apoteosi
Apoteosi Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by EnriqueD

4 stars One of the best Italian prog albums from the '70s.

Very young and skilled musicians, Apoteosi wrote only an album, but the construction of each track is almost perfect, delevoping each theme without boring the listener.

The sounds are very "vintage" but, since both songs and playing are solid and the recording quality is good, they add a "sign of the times" feel that in the end is nice.

I also like the voice of Silvana Idà: some say they do not like her because of her heavy "southern-Italy" accent. In fact, her southern accent is undeniable, but in my opinion it adds sweetness to her singing, and it also reminds me of another, much more known, singer from southern Italy: Marcella Bella, a pop singer very famous in the '70s. All in all, I think this is an issue that non-Italian listeners will not get, concentrating on her nice clear soprano voice.

The only defect of this album is that her voice was kept a bit low in the mix, but for the rest Apoteosi is a really good album from the rich Italian Prog family!

 Adolescenza by PANSERI, MARIO album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.11 | 10 ratings

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Adolescenza
Mario Panseri Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by poito

3 stars Curious Italian singer/composer. Mario Panseri is along with Franco Battiato one of precursors for modern Italian troubadours and prog singers, like Ferro etc. The impressive Italian Prog school, firmly rooted over the centuries in great symphonic tradition has raised a refined and cultivated population that loves music above all and from which many teenagers adventure into composing complex music while in other countries they have no choice than import and reproduce whatever comes from anywhere. That makes me feel envious. This Adolescenza appears a concept album with a story behind, kind of soundtrack stuff, the tunes are mellow, smooth, with some changes of tempo and beautiful arrangements. Mixing traditional singing with prog outbursts. The music is uncomplicated, although there are quite a few changes of style in the middle of some tracks that let you know this is a carefully planned compositional work. Few instruments at a time and the lyrics well at the front, taking the most, but there is always wide space to enjoy the music. The more audible tracks for prog fans are La Tua Casa, Viccino Alla Mamma, and Il Primo Amico.
 I Suoni In Una Sfera (OST) by CELESTE album cover Studio Album, 1992
2.66 | 23 ratings

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I Suoni In Una Sfera (OST)
Celeste Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by poito

2 stars This is a late instrumental release by this peculiar Italian band of the 70's. We won't find here changes of rhythm, mindblowing composition or impressive solos. It is all smooth and slow, veeeery slow. It seems the music was composed as a soundtrack for a movie. That is probably why it is far less ambitious than the first release in 76 PRINCIPE DI GIORNO. Some themes are interesting with subtle arrangements, a flute and a piano taking most of it. Kind of reminds me the late albums by FOCUS, somethng I called prog for grannies. But one has to be in a really somnolent mood to feel comfortable with the pace in this album. It is to play as ambient music, when no one worries about what is in the air or if you need to relax. I can't say the music is bad, but not for a typical prog fan, unless you are looking for a tune to take a nap. The album title says it all. The album title track is a nice tune for an anthem or something, and the next The Dance of Sounds deserves a listening. Two tracks are undressed versions of the 76 release, Eftus and Favole Antiche, day and night. Possibly, that is what is miisng here, some dressing, some voices.. who knows. This is for fans and collectors.
 La Bestia Umana by SFARATTHONS album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.00 | 2 ratings

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La Bestia Umana
Sfaratthons Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by andrea
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Borrello is a beautiful small town in the province of Chieti in the Abruzzo region, near the border with the province of Isernia in Molise. Nearby you can visit a natural park with the highest waterfalls in the Apennines, le Cascate del Verde. Here, in the middle of these magnificent panoramas, in the late seventies, five young friends in love with progressive rock music formed a band called the Sfaratthons, a word derived from the local dialect that can be loosely translated as "the idlers". The first line up of the band featured Cecilio Luciano (drums, vocals), Giovanni Di Nunzio (guitar, sax, vocals), Mario Rosato (keyboards), Bruno Di Nunzio (bass) and Luca Luciano (vocals, guitar). With the help of another friend, lyricist Argentino D'Auro, they started to work on a rock opera dealing with environmental issues entitled La bestia umana. Unfortunately, the band never managed to release an album during their early days and eventually split up in the eighties.

In 2011 some of the old members reunited with the idea of making an old dream come true. With a renewed line up featuring Cecilio Luciano (drums), Giovanni Di Nunzio (lead vocals, guitar, sax), Luca Di Nunzio (keyboards, guitar, vocals), Giovanni Casciato (bass, guitar) and Mario Di Nunzio (bass), the Sfaratthons started to work again on their old compositions. Another original member, Luca Luciano, is now an appreciated painter and took charge of the art work while lyricist Argentino D'Auro wrote a book about the concept of the album and the history of the band... During the recording sessions the band was helped by some guest musicians such as Geoff Warren (flute), Berardo Adenolfi (guitar) and Giovanni Ferrari (sax) that contributed to enrich the sound. The album was finally completed and self- released in 2016 and I think it's really worth listening to. The music and lyrics are able to convey emotions and there's a vintage atmosphere that could recall some Italian album from the seventies...

The instrumental opener "Overture" is like a kind of time machine that takes you back in time. Imagine to dive in a sea of green grass in a foggy September morning... There are evocative vintage sounds and quiet pastoral atmospheres that could recall bands such as PFM or Blocco Mentale. Now you are surrounded by a still uncontaminated nature...

"La bestia umana" (The human beast) begins by what seems like a child's lament, a disquieting guitar arpeggio and swirling flute notes, then a marching beat and the voice of Giovanni Di Nunzio introduce a strange kind of evil animal, Mankind! Indeed, here the music and lyrics depict the human madness and its consequences: self-conceit, ruthlessness, disrespect and a fatal overestimation of the power of science lead to a natural disaster... The calm middle section conjure up the gloomy atmosphere of the day after while the drum beat of the final section come as a kind of funeral march.

The heartfelt, committed "Civilt' perduta" (Lost civilization) is a bitter complaint against human greediness and vanity. Men run after dreams of power and deceiving spectres that made them blind and unscrupulous, hate and terror become their myths, remnants of a civilization that celebrated its deadly rites to the gods of pride and stupidity. The bright sun of progress led men on a dangerous path and condemned them to doom, arid deserts now cover the land that once was green and blooming...

The delicate, dreamy "La dolce illusione" (The sweet illusion) is a sad, tormented reflection about a generation who lost every hope and now lives in the sweet illusion of a better future. It leads to the following "Smog" a frenzied track that describes in music and words the threatening shadow of a black, venomous cloud. You can feel here fear, anxiety and a sense of helplessness in front of another impending tragedy.

"Il verde" (Green) begins by hard electric guitar riffs and an almost martial pace. Then, melancholic vocals describe the systematic destruction of the forests, allowed by indifference and by political inertia. Men keep on committing the same errors condemning themselves to death... A bitter-sweet requiem to Mother Nature!

Next comes "Life In A Prison" a track that, despite the English title, is sung in Italian. It tells about the hypocrisy of artificial paradises built on sufferance and exploitation, chains and violence. You have to look for a way out... The music and lyrics of the dramatic "Epilogo" (Epilogue) seem to invoke the help of an extraterrestrial race, more evolute and wiser than humankind, just before the fatal return to naught.

Too late! "Dopo" (After) is a melancholic piano ballad that depicts a gloomy landscape made of lunar deserts... What have we done? The marching beat and a celestial choir evoke a sad farewell to humankind. The short closer "Uomo" (Man) features narrative vocals and poetical lyrics. It's just a final warning about an impending danger that maybe we are not able to see...

All in all, this is very interesting work, a labour of love that deserves a try! The album is available from the main digital stores, for the CD you have to ask the band. You can listen to the complete album on deezer or spotify...

 Percorsi by PLURIMA MUNDI album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.87 | 4 ratings

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Percorsi
Plurima Mundi Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Italian band PLURIMA MUNDI first appeared some eight years ago when they released their initial EP "Atto I". In the years that have passed it would appear that the band have been through some changes, seeing that half of the band has been replaced since then. "Percorsi" is their full length debut album, and was self released in the spring of 2017.

How much to say about an album and the music of a band will always be a key issue for any writer. In this case the key aspects of this album are fairy easy to identify however, despite this production being rather expressive. Vintage era progressive rock is the name of this particular game, in this case art rock with a liberal amount of impulses from classical music in particular and quite a few from jazz as well. Explored within a progressive rock context, with the violin as the key and dominant instrument. An album to seek out for those who find such a description to be intriguing.

 Arbeit Macht Frei by AREA album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.27 | 573 ratings

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Arbeit Macht Frei
Area Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Review Nº 148

'Arbeit Macht Frei' is the debut studio album of Area and was released in 1973. The line up on the album is Demetrio Stratos (vocals, organ and steel drums), Giampaolo Tofani (guitar and synthesizer), Patrizio Fariselli (piano), Eddie Busnello (saxophone), Patrick Djivas (bass and double bass) and Giulio Capiozzo (drums and percussion).

This wasn't their original line up. In 1972 the pianist was Leandro Gaetano and the guitarist was Johnny Lambizzi instead of Patrizio Fariselli and Giampaolo Tofani. On the other hand, this was the only album with the participation of bassist Patrick Djivas, who left the band to be a member of Premiata Forneria Marconi and which was replaced by Ares Tavolazzi. And it was the only participation on the group of the saxophonist Eddie Busnello, that wouldn't be replaced.

'Arbeit Macht Frei' is widely regarded as a masterpiece of the progressive Italian rock from the 70's. Their music shows all their expressive potential like jazz, ethnic music and rock in its experimental research. The album is a manifesto of their nervous and cutting style. Their music is taken up sometimes to strange and 'oriental' forms. 'Arbeit Macht Frei' is called by the critics, 'radical music' because it tends to go to the roots of the political significance of the Pop movement. Shining in the uncommon progressive set-folk of Area is especially Stratos. Stratos was able to develop an extraordinary vocal technique, which included the use of diplofonie and an harmonic voice, as well as a vocal extension almost unattainable. It can be said that he was one of the best singers of all time, with a unique and original singing.

'Arbeit Macht Frei' has six tracks. The first track 'Luglio, Agosto, Settembre (Nero)' is a song with its lyrics about the black September of 1972 when the Palestinians committed terrorist attacks. The track begins with an Arab feminine voice reciting a poem. Musically, it's a very difficult song to describe and we must to hear it to understand it. It seems to be built around ethnic and traditional music, probably from Greece. Definitely, this song represents, without any doubt, one their finest musical moments. The second track is the title track 'Arbeit Macht Frei'. It's a song with strong political lyrics and which ironically its title was taken from the very well known Nazi motif on the entrance of the infamous death camp Auschwitz, in Poland. Musically it's a completely different musical proposal from their previous debut song. It's a song very close to avant-garde jazz, very innovative, and which begin to typify the band to a new and unconventional musical approach. It's another great and strong song of the album. The third track 'Consapevolezza', lyrically is a dramatically call to the revolution. Musically, is a fantastic jazz/rock song with plenty of some exotic musical atmospheres, that binds us to the song, and it has also a real hypnotic musical rhythm and the suggestive vocals invite us to freedom. The fourth track 'Le Labbra Del Tempo' is another great and complex song also influenced by jazz and with a very good and interesting rock section. It's a song that changes very often of its musical structure. This is a song with great musical passages and where the lyrics show an obscure reflection about the life and the time, and that we all should fight by our human rights and let ourselves free of superstitions and old beliefs. The fifth track '240 Chilometri Da Smirne' is the only fully instrumental track on the album. This is an avant-garde jazz piece of music with an incredible saxophone work. It's a song that, in many parts, seems to be a completely free jazz improvisation and it's incredibly a very good song. This is pure musical enjoy for any truly progressive fan, especially for jazz rock fans. The sixth and last track 'L'Abbattimento Dello Zeppelin' is for me the most avant-garde music on the album. It's a song with many experimental musical noises of different musical instruments, including the voice of Demetrio Stratos. This is a very weird and bizarre song with some musical changes all over the song. It's an insane song with vocal echoes, some musical explosions, strange instrumental sounds and which abruptly ends without warning. This is a strange, and at the same time, a coherent way to close this progressive masterpiece. It's one of the best improvised tracks, indeed.

Conclusion: The band members like to describe themselves as an International POPular group because they said that Area was a band that creates music for the people and for the masses and not for the elites. Sincerely and in general, I agree with them. However, with 'Arbeit Macht Frei' I don't know if that is completely true. In reality, 'Arbeit Macht Frei' is a truly and pure jazz rock/fusion album, and in my humble opinion, it's one of the best releases of that sub-genre ever made. 'Arbeit Macht Frei' is, without any doubt, one of the greatest progressive albums made in the 70's. However, I must confess that I always preferred their third studio album 'Crac !'. 'Crac !' was my third album in my progressive collection and was also my first contact with the band. Perhaps that is the reason why 'Crac !' remains for be my favourite musical work from them. Still, 'Arbeit Macht Frei' is a truly masterpiece of the band, putting Area at the same level of their compatriots of the 70's, Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso, Premiata Forneria Marconi and Le Orme.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

 Celeste [Aka: Principe Di Un Giorno] by CELESTE album cover Studio Album, 1976
4.18 | 249 ratings

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Celeste [Aka: Principe Di Un Giorno]
Celeste Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by poito

4 stars One more of the gems of the Italian prog scene fortunately unburied from the backyard of music history. I am happy the disc company industry went bankrupted by piracy. So happy! You see, before that it was almost impossible that we could even have a taste for any music unless they had packed it for you. It demanded a great effort just to get to know the new groups in our neighborhood, or those that passed by your hometown in holidays and they were generously paid by the 'authorities'. Radio and TV broadcasting were shameless slaves of disc companies. Nothing to scratch there. We had to wait 40 years to listen to these musical treasures, all thanks to musical archeologists. Anyway, here they are, at last. This CELESTE is a rare album in which all tracks are mellow, and at times it makes you wish an outburst just to break the trend. It has a lot of influence by the prog heroes, for instance the marvellous Fripp's mellotron painting it all in the background, while beautiful Gabriel's flutes draw butterflies in the front, but there is plenty of compositional work with amazing tunes. A curious singer in a smooth warm voice alla Paul Simon. I do not see much folk music here, at least not in the celtic style we normally refer to. Flutes, acoustic guitar and piano fragments, combined to make perfect atmospheres that still, will demand your attention not to miss the compositional effort. The album is not well balanced though. The second half (B-side?) is less inspired. Check these: Principe Di Giorno, Eftus, Favole Antiche, and Giochi Nella Notte.
 A New Day by NARROW PASS album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.61 | 19 ratings

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A New Day
Narrow Pass Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

3 stars At times erroneously depicted as an offshoot of ERIS PLUVIA, NARROW PASS was formed in the 1980s by Mauro Montobbio and does count several original members of that band, who now form the ANCIENT VEIL, within their ranks. On "A New Day", Alessandro Serri sings and plays an assortment of instruments, while Edmondo Romano contributes a selection of winds. Balancing female vocals are offered by Anna Marra. But the marquee here is illuminated by JOHN HACKETT, whose flutes grace half the tracks. Given this admixture , it's no surprise that "A New Day" is instantly recognizable as another NARROW PASS production, commensurate with a more soothing GENESIS, CAMEL, or PFM, as well as the aforementioned groups. The focus is on soothing melody and texture, with occasional brief soloing. One track, "Metamorphosis", is harder rocking but remains nonetheless within the breadth of the group. Vocals as before are in English in contrast to most RPI, recounting a science fiction tale so elaborate that the full narrative must be included separate from the lyric sheet. That said, it makes for lovely packaging.

While a uniformly pleasant listen, "A New Day" retains most of the qualities that made prior releases good but not especially memorable. In spite of the skilled work of all parties involved, I find few if any "wow" moments let alone passages, and don't consider the attempts to connect the pieces thematically to be particularly successful. I almost feel guilty for saying this, best laid plans and all, but this new day is a lot like the old one, which makes it seem just a tad longer.

 Quella Vecchia Locanda by QUELLA VECCHIA LOCANDA album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.13 | 289 ratings

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Quella Vecchia Locanda
Quella Vecchia Locanda Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

5 stars QUELLA VECCHIA LOCANDA has so much more of a beautiful ring to the ears than the rather plain sounding English translation 'This Old Inn' which found this band from Rome carrying on the Italian progressive rock tradition of taking on a cutesy band name in the same style as Premiata Forneria Marconi (Award-winning Marconi Bakery) and Banco del Mutuo Soccorso (Bank of Mutual Relief). This quintet formed in 1970 and enjoyed a rather vigorous live setting that helped them become one of the more remembered Italian prog rock bands of the heyday in the early 70s. Their eponymously titled debut emerged in 1972 after a rather pop-oriented beginning which while almost completely faded into history left traces only lingering about on a various artists compilation titled 'Progressive Voyage' (The track is titled 'Io ti amo' or in English 'I love you.' While they would hone their prog rock chops in no time and be ready for the big time, there's no doubt that the pop aspects of this band carried over to their proggier side and allowed them to dish out some of the more melodic flow of compositions in the Italian prog rock scene.

QUELLA VECCHIA LOCANDA only released two albums in their short career with this one being released on the Help label and then finally getting picked up by RCA for their second album 'Il Tempo Della Gioia.' While they only released two albums, both are quite distinct in their style despite both firmly placed in the category of classically infused rock with folk and jazzy touches. This debut album lacks the production prowess of the second album but for my ears is the more interesting album of the two as it unleashes a powerful youthful exuberance and enthusiasm that 'Il Tempo Della Gioia' lacks as they began to slip into a comfort zone but a very beautiful one i must add. The band's main leaders were lead singer and flautist Giorgio Giorgi, guitarist and clarinetist Raimondo Maria Cocco, keyboardist Massimo Roselli and percussionist Patrick Traina who all played together in the earlier pop rock phases of the band but for their more adventurous prog years added Donald Lax to dazzle with his violin skills that added a unique gypsy swing and Paganini element to the band's overall sound that set them apart from many of the purely symphonic rock contemporaries of the day.

'Prologo' bursts onto the scene with a scorching duo between the violin and piano with the guitar bursting in and finally the drums and as the intro cedes into the more symphonic leaning rock segments, the instruments all go crazy on each other. Lax plays both acoustic and electric violins and sometimes delivers frenetic assaults reminiscent of the Mahavishnu Orchestra and at times reminding of the folkier side of the prog rock scene from such bands like Comus or Spirogyra. While not unique to QUELLA VECCHIA LOCANDA, the band mastered the dynamics shifting of soft sensual classical piano oriented pastoral segments with the heavy guitar laden rock sections that allowed Roselli to unleash his best Keith Emerson inspired keyboard wizardry. Certain tracks like 'Un Villaggio,Un'illsione' display Lax's playing around with Bach, Brahms, Corelli and other classical masters and weave them into a more Paganini performance that would be reworked into the rock fusion compositions that start out with classical intros and slowly morph into the heavier guitar, bass and drum action accompanied by the passionate vocal style of Giorgi who had the perfect vocal style for this type of music magic.

It may only last slightly over 34 minutes in duration but the debut album by QUELLA VECCHIA LOCANDA is one of the best offerings the early RPI scene had to offer. These eight tracks are chock full of passionately strewn classically infused rock sophistication very much at a level of the other greats of PFM, Banco, Il Balleto di Bronzo, Le Orme and the rest. The music is as perfectly constructed as the stunningly beautiful album cover and covers so many grounds in such a small amount of time that i can easily put this one on rotation and listen to it repeatedly without getting bored for one second. This band mastered the melodies, the Tull inspired folk feel, the ELP keyboard prowess, the medieval chamber aspects, the freak gypsy folk and the symphonic heavy rock. Chock full of brilliant dynamic shifts and progressive time signature workouts without sacrificing some of the most intricately designed melodic developments, QUELLA VECCHIA LOCANDA is one of the Italian greats of the era. For my money this debut release is one of the absolute best examples of this era of Italian progressive rock that rightfully deserves all the high praise and positive criticism that it has received ever since.

 Frammenti Notturni by UNREAL CITY album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.76 | 93 ratings

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Frammenti Notturni
Unreal City Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Lost another review so here's the short version. This is UNREAl CITY's third studio album and I found the first two studio albums to be very solid 4 star albums slightly preferring the second one. While there has been some glowing reviews for this one it's still rated lower than the first two on this site(before I submitted this review) and I agree with that. I found this a little disappointing despite that over 13 minute opener that to me stands out as the best song on here. The mellotron is sampled like on the first two albums but I still like it, just wish there was more.

"La Grande Festa In Maschera" is my favourite as I just mentioned. Check out the nasty opening, more please! Unfortunately that intensity is missing on this record. Lots of tempo shifts on this one and I like that it's heavier later on.

"Le Luci Delle Case(Spente)" doesn't do much for me until 4 minutes in when it sounds much better as the violin steps aside and a calm follows. Reserved vocals join in as well. It kicks in again as contrasts continue. A change 7 minutes in as the synths come to the fore, not really into this but I do like when it turns fuller including the vocals late.

"Barricate" is more of the same really with the contrasts between the laid back and more fuller sections. I do like the organ led section 4 minutes in which is followed by a guitar solo.

"Il Nido Delle Succubi" has this bouncy start that will come and go. Check out the mellotron though just before 30 seconds. It's so brief but it's the best part of the album for me which says a lot. I don't like that passage that starts before 4 minutes. Is that harpsichord? A sample from a James Stewart movie I believe can be heard as James gets emotional and when that sample stops the music kicks in with power. Nice.

"Arrivi All'Aurora" ends it and it begins with fragile vocals and piano. Piano only after 2 minutes then it turns fuller with bass then more as it builds. Synths lead after 3 minutes then it settles back with mellotron and drums standing out. It starts to wind down late.

For me this is a clear step down from the first two albums but not everyone agrees apparently(haha). Just my two cents worth but I'll stick with their first two albums thankyou!

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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
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
LA BOCCA DELLA VERITÀ 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
CHRISTADORO 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
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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
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GINO D'ELISO Italy
GIANNI D'ERRICO Italy
DALLAGLIO Italy
DALTON Italy
DE DE LIND Italy
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I DIK DIK Italy
DISTILLERIE DI MALTO Italy
DIVAE Italy
DUEMILA12 Italy
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EGO Italy
EGONON Italy
EMPIRE Italy
ENEIDE Italy
ENIMA Italy
ENTITY Italy
EQUIPE 84 Italy
ERA DI ACQUARIO Italy
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ERRATA CORRIGE Italy
L' ESTATE DI SAN MARTINO Italy
EUTHYMIA Italy
EXPLOIT Italy
LA FABBRICA DELL'ASSOLUTO Italy
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FALENA Italy
FEM PROG BAND Italy
FESTA MOBILE Italy
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FINISTERRE Italy
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FLOATING STATE Italy
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FORMULA 3 Italy
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GAN EDEN - IL GIARDINO DELLE DELIZIE Italy
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GENCO PURO & CO. Italy
GENFUOCO Italy
GERMINALE Italy
FRANCO MARIA GIANNINI Italy
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I GIGANTI Italy
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GLEEMEN Italy
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GRIMALKIN Italy
GRUPPO 2001 Italy
GUERCIA Italy
H2O Italy
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HOPO Italy
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HUMANA PROG Italy
HUNKA MUNKA Italy
IANVA Italy
IBIS Italy
IL FAUNO DI MARMO / THE REBUS Italy
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ISPROJECT Italy
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JACULA Italy
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JESTER'S JOKE Italy
JET LAG Italy
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KALISANTROPE Italy
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I LEONI Italy
LETHE Italy
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LE MANI Italy
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MAXOPHONE Italy
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MESSAGGIO 73 Italy
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MINSTREL Italy
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FRANCO MUSSIDA Italy
MYROS Italy
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I NUMI Italy
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IL PARADISO DEGLI ORCHI Italy
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PERIPLO Italy
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PHAEDRA Italy
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GIAN PIERETTI Italy
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PLANETARIUM Italy
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LE PORTE NON APERTE Italy
POSTO BLOCCO 19 Italy
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PREMIATA FORNERIA MARCONI (PFM) Italy
PRESENCE Italy
PROCESSION Italy
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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
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LE SENSAZIONI Italy
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SENZA NOME Italy
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SFARATTHONS Italy
SHOWMEN 2 Italy
PAOLO SIANI & FRIENDS FEAT. NUOVA IDEA Italy
SIDE C Italy
IL SISTEMA Italy
SITHONIA Italy
SLOGANS Italy
LA SORGENTE Italy
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ST.-TROPEZ Italy
LE STELLE DI MARIO SCHIFANO Italy
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SUBMARINE SILENCE Italy
SUNSCAPE Italy
SYNDÉRESI Italy
SYNDONE Italy
TACITA INTESA Italy
TAPROBAN Italy
IL TEMPIO DELLE CLESSIDRE Italy
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I TEOREMI Italy
STEFANO TESTA Italy
THEGENERATION Italy
THREE MONKS Italy
TILION Italy
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TRIADE Italy
THE TRIP Italy
IL TRONO DEI RICORDI Italy
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UBI MAIOR Italy
ULTIMA SPIAGGIA Italy
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UNREAL CITY Italy
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