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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 AndrÚ, 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 Ó 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 Wikstr÷m
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 | 1463 ratings
PER UN AMICO
Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM)
4.36 | 1167 ratings
STORIA DI UN MINUTO
Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM)
4.36 | 992 ratings
DARWIN!
Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso
4.37 | 918 ratings
IO SONO NATO LIBERO
Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso
4.29 | 743 ratings
ZARATHUSTRA
Museo Rosenbach
4.28 | 765 ratings
BANCO DEL MUTUO SOCCORSO
Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso
4.26 | 569 ratings
ARBEIT MACHT FREI
Area
4.23 | 818 ratings
FELONA E SORONA
Orme, Le
4.23 | 744 ratings
L'ISOLA DI NIENTE
Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM)
4.22 | 606 ratings
UOMO DI PEZZA
Orme, Le
4.23 | 502 ratings
YS
Balletto di Bronzo, Il
4.25 | 394 ratings
MAXOPHONE
Maxophone
4.24 | 351 ratings
PALEPOLI
Osanna
4.22 | 310 ratings
CRAC !
Area
4.22 | 279 ratings
DISCESA AGL'INFERI D'UN GIOVANE AMANTE
Bacio Della Medusa, Il
4.20 | 287 ratings
L' ENIGMA DELLA VITA
Logos
4.17 | 277 ratings
CONTAMINAZIONE
Rovescio Della Medaglia, Il
4.18 | 245 ratings
CELESTE [AKA: PRINCIPE DI UN GIORNO]
Celeste
4.14 | 329 ratings
LA CRUDELT└ DI APRILE
Unreal City
4.21 | 176 ratings
MELOS
Cervello
4.23 | 156 ratings
RISVEGLIO
Egonon
4.10 | 353 ratings
FORSE LE LUCCIOLE NON SI AMANO PI┘
Locanda delle Fate
4.09 | 369 ratings
STATI DI IMMAGINAZIONE
Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM)
4.11 | 301 ratings
ALPHATAURUS
Alphataurus
4.07 | 466 ratings
PHOTOS OF GHOSTS
Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM)
4.18 | 168 ratings
IL PASSO DEL SOLDATO
Nuova Era
4.10 | 282 ratings
QUELLA VECCHIA LOCANDA
Quella Vecchia Locanda
4.08 | 275 ratings
IL TEMPO DELLA GIOIA
Quella Vecchia Locanda
4.09 | 248 ratings
BIGLIETTO PER L'INFERNO
Biglietto Per L'Inferno
4.14 | 161 ratings
PASSIO SECUNDUM MATTHEUM - THE COMPLETE WORK
Latte e Miele
4.26 | 98 ratings
TERRA IN BOCCA
Giganti, I
4.14 | 154 ratings
REALE ACCADEMIA DI MUSICA
Reale Accademia Di Musica
4.08 | 218 ratings
BANCO
Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso
4.15 | 138 ratings
IL GRANDE LABIRINTO
Maschera Di Cera, La
4.05 | 253 ratings
DEDICATO A FRAZZ
Semiramis
4.06 | 218 ratings
ROLLER
Goblin
4.06 | 227 ratings
IN HOC SIGNO
Ingranaggi della Valle
4.03 | 278 ratings
LE PORTE DEL DOMANI
Maschera Di Cera, La
4.08 | 190 ratings
LA COSCIENZA DI ZENO
Coscienza di Zeno, La
4.01 | 328 ratings
THE WORLD BECAME THE WORLD
Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM)
4.00 | 336 ratings
IL TEMPIO DELLE CLESSIDRE
Tempio delle Clessidre, Il
4.13 | 126 ratings
IL NOME DEL VENTO
Delirium
3.99 | 329 ratings
IL PAESE DEL TRAMONTO
Unreal City
4.11 | 133 ratings
VIETATO AI MINORI DI 18 ANNI ?
Jumbo
4.01 | 216 ratings
COME IN UN'ULTIMA CENA
Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso
3.94 | 413 ratings
CHOCOLATE KINGS
Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM)
4.08 | 126 ratings
TALSETE DI MARSANTINO
Estate di San Martino, L'
4.03 | 162 ratings
MALEDETTI
Area
4.01 | 175 ratings
INTORNO ALLA MIA CATTIVA EDUCAZIONE
Alusa Fallax
3.99 | 215 ratings
INFERNO
Metamorfosi
4.06 | 131 ratings
WINTERTHROUGH
H÷stsonaten
3.94 | 287 ratings
SUMMEREVE
H÷stsonaten
4.09 | 103 ratings
SULLE CORDE DI ARIES
Battiato, Franco
3.98 | 183 ratings
ALIENATURA
Tempio delle Clessidre, Il
4.10 | 96 ratings
DELIRIUM III (VIAGGIO NEGLI ARCIPELAGHI DEL TEMPO)
Delirium
3.95 | 223 ratings
CONTRAPPUNTI
Orme, Le
4.08 | 102 ratings
CAPITOLO 7 - TRA LE ANTICHE MURA
Castello Di Atlante, Il
4.01 | 140 ratings
LUXADE
Maschera Di Cera, La
4.20 | 66 ratings
DRAMMA DI UN POETA UBRIACO
Pandora
4.01 | 135 ratings
WARM SPACED BLUE
Ingranaggi della Valle
3.95 | 198 ratings
LA NOTTE ANCHE DI GIORNO
Coscienza di Zeno, La
4.01 | 119 ratings
AVENOTH
Bocca della VeritÓ, La
3.95 | 178 ratings
CAUTION RADIATION AREA
Area
3.98 | 131 ratings
LA MASCHERA DI CERA
Maschera Di Cera, La
4.03 | 90 ratings
IL TRONO DEI RICORDI
Trono Dei Ricordi, Il
4.00 | 96 ratings
CONCERTO GROSSO - THE SEVEN SEASONS
New Trolls
3.97 | 112 ratings
AUTUMN SYMPHONY
H÷stsonaten
3.93 | 140 ratings
APOTEOSI
Apoteosi
3.97 | 102 ratings
STRIGMA
Taproban
3.94 | 123 ratings
1984 - L'ULTIMO UOMO D'EUROPA
Fabbrica dell'Assoluto, La
3.90 | 155 ratings
CHERRY FIVE
Cherry Five
3.89 | 171 ratings
SENSITIVIT└
Coscienza di Zeno, La
4.14 | 55 ratings
HYBLA ACT 1
Randone
3.91 | 137 ratings
PASSIO SECUNDUM MATTHEUM
Latte e Miele
3.94 | 119 ratings
ODYSS╔AS
Syndone
3.91 | 133 ratings
IO SONO MURPLE
Murple
3.98 | 92 ratings
ULISSE: L'ALFIERE NERO
Progenesi
4.02 | 75 ratings
NOUS
Nodo Gordiano
3.90 | 135 ratings
PROFONDO ROSSO [AKA: DEEP RED] (OST)
Goblin
3.94 | 108 ratings
DI CARNE, DI ANIMA
Gran Turismo Veloce
3.83 | 265 ratings
COLLAGE
Orme, Le
3.97 | 90 ratings
DIARIO DI VIAGGIO DELLA FESTA MOBILE
Festa Mobile
3.95 | 99 ratings
DEDALO E ICARO
Cerchio d'Oro, Il
3.92 | 112 ratings
ATTOSECONDO
Alphataurus
3.87 | 164 ratings
THE RIME OF THE ANCIENT MARINER - CHAPTER ONE
H÷stsonaten
4.10 | 54 ratings
FRONTIERA
Procession
4.13 | 50 ratings
E TUTTO COMINCIĎ COS╠...
Sensitiva Immagine
3.90 | 124 ratings
ESSERE O NON ESSERE?
Volo, Il
4.13 | 49 ratings
UNA VITA UNA BALENA BIANCA E ALTRE COSE
Testa, Stefano
4.05 | 61 ratings
NEO
Torre Dell Alchimista, La
4.12 | 50 ratings
STORIE DI UOMINI E NON
Rocky's Filj
3.88 | 135 ratings
1978 - GLI DEI SE NE VANNO, GLI ARRABBIATI RESTANO!
Area
3.87 | 136 ratings
PFM IN CLASSIC - DA MOZART A CELEBRATION
Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM)
4.02 | 64 ratings
LE PORTE DEL SILENZIO
Malibran
3.93 | 94 ratings
SULLA BOLLA DI SAPONE
FEM Prog Band
4.04 | 59 ratings
VOCI
Basso, Luciano
4.06 | 54 ratings
THE LEGEND OF THE HOLY CIRCLE
Three Monks
3.88 | 115 ratings
SYMPHONY N.1: CUPID & PSYCHE
H÷stsonaten
4.07 | 53 ratings
HYSTERO DEMONOPATHY
Antonius Rex
3.90 | 103 ratings
DNA
Jumbo

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

POA
Blocco Mentale
SEI LACRIME D'AMBRA
NotaBene
RIFLESSIONI: IDEA D'INFINITO
Dalton
MELOS
Cervello

Latest Rock Progressivo Italiano Music Reviews


 La Fabbrica Delle Nuvole by MAXOPHONE album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.67 | 24 ratings

BUY
La Fabbrica Delle Nuvole
Maxophone Rock Progressivo Italiano

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

4 stars There used to be something of a running joke that Italy was home to a ton of doomed vintage prog bands that delivered one single album in their prime active years and then promptly vanished, leaving it their sole legacy. That rule has been somewhat shattered over the last few years as a ton of Italian groups have reunited and delivered long-belated follow-ups - yes, the likes of Museo Rosenbach, Murple, even Cherry Five and countless others - and now it's Maxophone's turn! Although `La Fabbrica delle Nuvole' doesn't often sound like their much-loved self-titled 1975 debut and only singer Alberto Ravasini and keyboardist Sergio Lattuada remain from the original line-up (although utilising the same talented new musicians that performed on their 2014 `Live in Tokyo' release), it's a varied and lavish assortment of rock pieces grafted to fancy classical-flavoured symphonic pomp that remains melodic and approachable without being overly simple.

Unpredictable and cool rocker `Un Ciclone sul Pacifico' opens the LP around teases of orchestration and cool slinking grooves from electric piano, with heavier punchy bursts kicking in and out around slick backing harmonies, and Alberto Ravasini's voice has remained in fine raspy and charismatic form (with all the vocals performed in Italian, no two versions including English offered this time around, thank you very much!). `Perdo il Colore Blu' is book-ended with twisting/turning up-tempo sprints, and there's a light jazziness to the Hammond organ and cheerful swagger of the piece with brief rollicking PFM-like trilling synth runs, and `Il Passo delle Ore', one of the loveliest tunes of the album, is a gentler romantic moment with a catchy clever chorus, soft violin and crisp electric guitar themes.

The title track `La Fabbrica delle Nuvole' is the first big `wow' moment of the disc, a fully-instrumental crossover of whimsical keyboard prettiness, light jazz-fusion guitar grooves and colourful symphonic themes (Marco Croci's slinking thick bass is a real highlight here too) all in under six minutes, and in parts it doesn't sound unlike Italian discs of the last few years like Progenesi's `Ulisse l'Alfiere Nero', Moogg's `Italian Luxury Style' or the last F.E.M album `Sulla Bolla di Sapone'. Folk aromas permeate intricate rocker `La Luna e la Lepre' with a dancing Baroque fanciness of madrigal-flavoured Gryphon and Gentle Giant-like sophistication and whimsy, plenty of ravishing acoustic guitars and intricate multi-part group harmonies, and dreamy synths, silken acoustic guitars and ruminative sax throughout the tasteful and classy `Estate '41' could almost have hailed from a Steve Hackett solo disc.

`Nel Fiume dei Giorni i Tuoi Capelli' is busily schizophrenic for a track that doesn't even run four minutes, bouncing through everything from dream-like careful soft rock with elegant violin and sparkling electric piano tiptoes to delicate folk and frantic contorting guitar races, ultimately sounding closer to something like the modern version of Swedish symphonic proggers Kaipa. Those baroque and chamber prog flavours pop up again throughout `Il Matto e l'Aquilone' thanks to warm folk-flecked acoustic guitars and prancing violin whilst alternating back and forth with snappy jazz-fusion turns and infectious keyboard-driven symphonic prog sprints, and `Le Parole Che non vi Ho Detto' is a short and giddy violin/piano closer.

While it can't possibly live up to the status that the popular 1975 debut enjoys, `La Fabbrica delle Nuvole's strength lies in the fact that it's a real grower that impresses more and more with every listen. It's an eclectic, colourful and tastefully performed comeback with plenty to recommend about it, and another example that no country delivers better and more rewarding modern prog albums from older acts than Italy. Lovers of Maxophone and Italian prog fans in general should end up having a terrific time with this unexpectedly vital, highly surprising and greatly inspired work.

Four stars.

 Frammenti Notturni by UNREAL CITY album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.17 | 33 ratings

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Frammenti Notturni
Unreal City Rock Progressivo Italiano

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

5 stars RPI band Unreal City made an instant splash in modern progressive rock circles when their debut `La CrudeltÓ Di Aprile' arrived back in 2013, an energetic and confident first work given a profile boost by the backing of modern Italian prog icon Fabio Zuffanti. The young and talented-beyond-their-years group followed it up two years later with the possibly even superior `Il Paese del Tramonto', and a further two on from that brings us to the crucial third album, `Frammenti Notturi'. It's wonderful to discover that it maintains the exact same quality of their first two discs, as well as frequently introducing a new and fresh approach that ensures the band confirms they have plenty of fiery inspiration and ideas left to be realised in the future!

`Frammenti Notturi' may hold plenty of the usual Unreal City characteristics - doomed symphonic and romantic moods blasted with constant instrumental flights-of-fancy delivered with a youthful zest - check! But this time, the band have frequently given their music a heavier grunt as well as a wickedly addictive dirtier (and more dangerous!) instrumental backing, they've placed a lot of prominence on the addition of violin in the first half to further acknowledge their vintage Italian prog heritage, they've incorporated some subtle and unexpected electronics, and they've even dialled back on the more overly swooning catchier vocal moments of the first two discs. But most importantly, `Frammenti Notturi' also proves to be their most grandiose and often equally (and very importantly) subtle and richly detailed artistic musical statement to date, even more evidence of their growing maturity and surety as a group.

Of the five pieces on offer, the band open with the five-part suite `La Grande Festa In Maschera', and a boisterous, aggressive and tasty behemoth it is, with three of the core founding line-up, joined by new drummer Marco Garbin, battering through a range of loopy and high-energy instrumental symphonic themes. But this time around, there's plenty of distortion and wilder noise throughout to a heavier guitar approach and jazzier touches, and guest violinist Matteo Bertani is given free reign to weave through the bluster and stormy attack with searing feeling. The standouts are Dario Pessina's upfront thick bass bouncing with ferocious purpose around Marco's versatile and peppy drumming, Francesca Zanetta's maddening King Crimson-like guitar splinters and vocalist Emanuele Tarasconi's jagged piano stabbings, and his fuzzed-up noisy Fender Rhodes-like soloing in the climax gives the Italian Canterbury sound band The Winstons a run for their money! Play this piece loud, and especially listen out for the deeply sexy distortion rumbles that start at about the 9:55 mark!

`Le Luci delle Case (Spente)' is dramatic and...even a little playful! Francesca's guitars melt into erupting molten electric distortion and slick electric piano glistenings have the piece taking on a seductive heavy groove early on, and Emanuele's charismatic voice purrs with charm and roars with chest-beating pride in the finale. In it's upbeat jovial moments with rollicking synths and scratchy violin, the track actually almost embraces a fancier and whimsical quality that may remind some listeners of seminal Italian prog band Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM).

The shortest piece at just under six minutes, `Barricate' is perhaps the closest to a `traditional' lovingly melancholic and romantic Unreal City tune, but teasing a low-key jazzy buoyancy from electric piano tiptoes. It then proceeds to gently introduce spacey fizzing electronics and diverts into an aggressive solo spot in the middle highlighted by supremely dirty Hammond organ and grumbling bass, and the ringing guitar shimmers sound like they've wandered off a modern Marillion album. The stuttering bass stabs, whirring keyboards and snappy drumming of horror tale `Il Nido delle Succubi' suggest the musical approach of Unreal City's current touring friends, fellow young Italian band Kalisantrope, might be rubbing off on them, but the piece eventually comes to resemble a captivating spectral pantomime laced with prancing harpsichord, ghostly Mellotron choirs and eclectic Steve Hackett/Genesis-flavoured regal synths.

But what a closer `Arrivi all'Aurora' turns out to be...where in some moments on the earlier discs the band have giddily raced off into delirious extended keyboard soloing and busy instrumental interplay at many opportunities, here they strip things back for a sombre and elegant piano-driven ballad that eventually takes flight into joyful skies. Emanuele's weary voice moves between wounded romance and eerie treated moments, and the more slower-paced, restrained soloing from the whole band in the second half shows great poise and genuine emotion, making this finale come across as a very important piece in the continuing development of the group.

`Frammenti Notturi' is everything a third album should be - not a band merely coasting on past successes, but taking their recognisable sound and fusing it with dynamic new ideas as well as only beginning to hint at possible new directions and fresh sounds to be explored on albums to come. It's also admirable that the group, despite their much-loved status in the current Italian Prog community, have defiantly refused to not only streamline their music into overtly melodic and catchier shorter pieces to try and lure in more commercial audiences, but resisted the urge to sing in English, and if anything, this disc seems designed to appeal much more to long-term fans of the group than newcomers (who might be better off checking out the previous two albums to start off with).

This is classic Italian symphonic music given a proudly `pure prog' bombastic approach with a modern sensibility delivered by an impeccably skilled young band in Unreal City, who've not only released their third exceptional disc in a row, but have absolutely delivered one of the standout Italian prog works of 2017 that will be greatly loved by their fans.

Five stars.

 Elegie d'Inverno by CONTRAPPUNTO album cover Studio Album, 2004
2.72 | 13 ratings

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Elegie d'Inverno
Contrappunto Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by proghaven

5 stars Not prog, not neo-classical, not avant garde, not new age. Or on the contrary, if you prefer, neo-classical plus avant garde plus new age... but still minus prog sensu stricto. This unusual and charming album is partially influenced by Banco ...Di Terra (there are some obvious thematic parallels in Vivaci Acrobazie), though the 1978 Banco's orchestral album is full of dynamics, while Elegie d'Inverno sounds slightly weird and more or less slowed down, captivated, bewitched if you like, especially La Nebbia. And, unlike Banco ...Di Terra, this 'post- Contrappunto' album is played not by band plus orchestra but by small orchestra or, more precisely, chamber ensemble as a band. I think those who classify Elegie d'Inverno as modern chamber music are completely right. Surprisingly, some psychedelic tunes can be heard in the second half of La Nebbia, and being performed by chamber ensemble they sound quite piquantly. Surely the album stands by itself, and gives a reason as to say that it does not belong to prog music at all, so to contend that it widens the idea of prog music.
 Il Giusto Equilibrio by PANTHER & C album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.08 | 23 ratings

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Il Giusto Equilibrio
Panther & C Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by CeeJayGee

4 stars This is a delightful album. The band Panther & C is new to me and I must search out their debut album L'epoca Di Un Altro... released in 2014 as I am mightily impressed by their 2017 release Il Giusto Equilibrio. The album has five tracks with three over 10 minutes long and the other two just under five minutes long. What struck me most on listening to the album was the long and strongly melodic instrumentals, reminiscent of early Genesis. There are also some lovely guitar solos that reminded me of Steve Rothery at his best. There are vocals but they are used sparingly. I have been listening to the album on repeat for some time and recommend anyone to give it a try. I rate it a strong four stars.
 1998 - La Storia Di Sabazio by TRIADE album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.74 | 57 ratings

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1998 - La Storia Di Sabazio
Triade Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Per Kohler

5 stars The way I got hold of this album is somehow odd and peculiar. There was a jazz sale in a prominent record store in my hometown (called Waidele, now defunct). As I searched through the CDs with moderate interest, this particular prog album happened I suppose mistakenly to be a part of it. The big problem here is I didn't know of any Triade. I had to use all my intuition, knowledge and assumption. Study instrumentation, album cover, image, line-up and everything imaginable. Luckily I was convinced about that it wasn't a pure jazz album. Very luckily. As I got home and listened to it it quickly became a huge favorite. Actually music can't reach much higher than this.

ELP line-up right off, but without the occasional electric guitar. Raw Hammond sound from the earth cellar, gentle acoustic guitar and unmistakably Italian vocals. I haven't access to the music where I am now writing this so I can't comment any individual songs. I remember the relatively short running time but that's not a big deal. We never got a follow up album to this low-key masterpiece and will never know if Triade would've competed with the other big names of Italian prog scene.

 Morte Di Un Amore by RANDONE album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.61 | 36 ratings

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Morte Di Un Amore
Randone Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by The Crow
Prog Reviewer

2 stars I tried to like this album, but I obviously failed in the attempt!

The style of this album is like some kind of strange mixture between romantic Italian pop with some elements of progressive, symphonic and electronic rock. The production of the album is very good, and every instrument sound just fine. That what's my problem with this record? Let's talk about the songs.

Visione introduces the mood of the album, where the voice of Randone is the protagonist. The song contains good arrangements of keyboards, giving some symphonic feeling to the composition. I personally do not like the voice of Nicola, I find it just too strident and even annoying sometimes. He sings with passion his good lyrics, but I just can't bear his singing in this album! Sorry. The ending of the song has a fine atmospheric work with synthesizers, in the vein of Tangerine Dream but with tons of sound effects (wind, wolfs, cats?)

Il Pentimento Di Dio Dolo La Fine del Mondo is a reggae/ska song with not much to comment about beyond the weird vocals and ecclesiastical choirs. Tuttle le Mie Stelle is a romantic acoustic song with beautiful neo-prog keyboards after the chorus. Not really special, but one of the best tracks of the album nevertheless. L'Infinito is a bit darker, but pretty forgettable as well despite the fine guitar solo.

Un Cieco starts with the dolphin's cry, and it contains a good acoustic melody and strong and uplifting chorus. It's one of the most progressive songs of an album that's not really progressive, and also one of the stronger in songwriting. La Giostra is another dramatic song, which talks about the horrors of Auschwitz and contains one of the best instrumental works of the album, especially in the beautiful accordion section.

Strananoia is pure folk-rock with some influences of celtic music. It remembers me to the great Spanish band Celtas Cortos, but very far from their quality. Nevertheless, it contains an interesting final electronic-influenced section. Amore Bianco is another Italian pop-rock song with some fine guitars with slide, but which is not really interesting, leave alone progressive.

Morte di Un Amore is stronger since the beginning, containing some symphonic arrangements and good vocal melodies (despite the singing is so annoying as always) This time even the reggae is good, because it leads to a great electric guitar work and more instrumental and symphonic passages. This album is obviously better when Randone is not singing! And that's maybe the reason Morte di Un Amore is my favorite song of the album. Is the longest one and with the fewer proportion of sections with vocals. The long final atmospheric section bring back the melodies and the Tangerine Dream influences of Visione.

Conclusion: if you like romantic Italian pop, and acts like Franco Battiato, maybe you'll find Morte di Un Amore interesting. But don't expect something like Premiata Forneria Marconi or similar groups, because this album is not so progressive and it's also very far from the quality of this classics.

It's interesting and times, and I consider that Randone had tons of potential despite it's improvable singing. For this reason, I'm eager to hear more albums of this man. But I can't really recommend Morte di un Amore apart from Italian prog completionists!

Best Tracks: Un Cieco, La Giostra, Morte di un Amore.

My Rating: **1/2, rounded down to two stars.

 Rings of Earthly Light  by ERIS PLUVIA album cover Studio Album, 1991
3.74 | 83 ratings

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Rings of Earthly Light
Eris Pluvia Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by maryes

3 stars My review about ERIS PLUVIA "Rings of Earthly Lights" is almost the same review of PROG REVIEWER b olariu ! I recognize the great importance which this album in the early 90's ( the progressive rock "resurrection" moment ) but, like he said ( in other words ) this is don't figures day by day menu ! In fact is only a regular / median album. Although, reserves some good instrumental parts like the first track "Rings Of Earthly Light" ( and I agree again with b olariu) the best song of this record and maybe of whole band discography. Another coincidence between our analysis is absence of more "abetters" instrumental moments , how is expected from a good prog music! One moment with some of this strong intrumental music is track 3 "The Broken Path" but, is so breath... In counterpoint some beautiful flute/acoustic guitar/keyboards themes as for instance track 2 "In The Rising Mist" and track 4 "Glares of Mind" (other good moment ) bring to the listener some "madrigal landscapes" My rate is 3 stars !!!
 Storia Di Un Minuto by PREMIATA FORNERIA MARCONI (PFM) album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.36 | 1167 ratings

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Storia Di Un Minuto
Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM) Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Luqueasaur

5 stars My favorite debut in prog rock: 9/10

This album is meaningful to me because it was the first I bought without having prior listened to it (and I paid mere 13 dollars!). Until then, I had little contact with PFM other than their long and eccentric name - as the band members say, ''the more difficult to remember a band's name, the more difficult to forget it" - and the high rating of their first two albums. Assuming this is a debut, the acclaim is at the very least suspicious, "how can a new band start right off the bat so strongly?". Well, thing is that by the time PFM released their first album in Jan, 1972, the band members had experience on jamming various genres in their earlier band I Quelli ("Them [Weirdos]"), including prog rock. It is no surprise that their first release would be as strong as a veteran band's at their prime, mostly because they were so.

The first thing that called my attention on STORIA DI UN MINUTO is its eclectism, far broader than other contemporaneous Italian bands such as BANCO or MUSEO. They, as usual, syncretizes symphonic classical and traditional Italian music to the rock context of the 70s, except that they take a step further and also pour in healthy doses of blues and folk, the latter taking the limelight on most occasions. Also, their vocalist isn't the strongest point, differently from the aforementioned bands. That brings in a vacancy of prominence, solidly taken by the instruments, which range from heavy synthesizers (an innovation for Italian music) to pastoral flutes and further beyond. Long, varied instrumental parts are the norm.

While most songs aren't inherently complex, at least on a technical level, the intricate melody and its metamorphic nature confer a continuous flow of varied influences and sections, all unique to their own, almost in an incoherent fashion. Such as on ╚ Festa, bringing the hardest rock La Premiata offers that, after dissolving into a jazzy interlude, changes yet again to a folksy recap of the intro. Things of this nature are common in STORIA and that makes me think the musicians forgot about the quality of bonding (musical) concepts together, opting instead to just jam whatever they felt like. Another point that diverges PFM from their contemporaneous counterparts. They're far more dynamic.

Perhaps the first distinguished RPI record, both home and abroad, something that probably has to do with their mildly solid fan base prior to its release. Nonetheless, PFM's success was a moral victory to all aspiring prog Italians, as they observed a fellow of theirs triumphantly roaring. I can only imagine what wonders must it have been to finally see prog penetrating in their peninsular homeland as they played PFM's record once and twice and thrice and so on to capture every nuance and absorb every song at its fullest. To this day, PFM remains as a legend, rightfully so, because this stuff is, plain and simple, legendary.

 Avenoth by BOCCA DELLA VERIT└, LA album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.01 | 119 ratings

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Avenoth
La Bocca della VeritÓ Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by maryes

4 stars Although, my first impressiom about LA BOCCA DELLA VERIT└ "Avenoth", after hear the track 2 "Overture" and track 3 "Contro Luna e Luce" which in fact starts the album, was a strong influence of LOCCANDA DELLE FATE and his anthological album "Forse Le Lucciole Non Si Amano Pi¨" (1977), this impression don't remaining in the rest . Starting from this moment the band reveal some other influences, as for instance GENESIS, E L & PALMER and his compatriots BANCO , LE ORME.... but , besides they shows some heavy prog moments , like in track 4 "La Suite dei Tre Pianeti" ( starting about 8 min 54 sec until 13 min 50 sec) and follow soon another Banco inspired passage.Track 5 "Avenoth" is full of different styles: the main theme is very "festive" , the following part reminds PFM and the vocals recalls to me certain HAPPY THE MAN breaf passage. After a classical guitar theme GENESIS ( very simillar to "The Battle Of Epping Forest" passage) retake the scene. The more different moment in the whole album be in track 9 "La Rivolta - Il Massacro dei Terrestri" a very havy theme where the keyboards mix DEEP PURPLE, URIAH HEEP, E L & PALMER and at the final a solo guitar in Hackett "vein". In sume the album is quite pleasant . My rate is 4 stars !!!
 Fiori, Frutti, Farfalle by HUMANA PROG album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.00 | 5 ratings

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Fiori, Frutti, Farfalle
Humana Prog Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Todd
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano!

4 stars In the Golden Age of Prog, one of the glittering gems from Italy was Maxophone's brilliant 1975 album. The album is a blend of multiple musical styles, great songwriting, and wonderful musicianship, as well as an underlying lovely pastoral ambience that suffused the album with a peaceful, dreamlike quality. One of the contributors to that album was Paolo Farina, who wrote the lyrics to "Al mancato compleanno di una farfalla." Farina was one of the many youths in the early 1970s who got together with friends to play and sing. He wrote several songs in those days, and even roughly recorded a 16 minute song, "Fiori, frutti, farfalle". Decades later, Farina discovered that old cassette and decided to bring the music to light. Fleshing out that piece and adding other compositions from the early 1970s, Farina joined together with several other musicians, using almost exclusively acoustic instruments, trying to recreate the typical musical atmosphere of those old times, as if it were a group of friends gathered together in a park under the shade of a tree to create music. One of those musicians is Sergio Lattuada, key contributor to Maxophone both in the 1970s and the reunited lineup, who plays harpsichord on the song that started it all, "Fiori, frutti, farfalle." The resulting album, appropriately named after that track, was released in 2014 on the BTF label.

The atmosphere on the album definitely succeeds in providing the pastoral, intimate feeling that was intended by Farina. The title track is a sequential combination of several themes and melodies, pleasant and not too challenging, featuring the acoustic guitar but marvelously enriched by swirling violin and flute, along with harpsichord fluorishes. Bass and drums, and even electric guitar appear on this track, giving it a bite and drive not found on the other songs. The recurrent theme is a beautiful pastoral melody that is embellished differently each time it appears. Through it all, Farina's very pleasant baritone sings the story.

The other standout track for me is the last track, "La Ballata degli Amici Perduti" (The Ballad of Lost Friends). This features acoustic guitar and lush strings, playing a nostalgic tune that befits the song title. It is a track that is easy to get lost in.

The packaging is wonderfully done (as always by BTF), with a nice thick papersleeve gatefold mini lp style, with lyrics, photos, and artwork in the booklet. I'm not a huge fan of the cover itself, but I suppose it does match the overall purpose of the work. All in all, this is a really nice album, much in line with the better of the folk-style RPI titles from the 1970s. Three and a half stars, rounded to four. (Gnosis 11/15)

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