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ROCK PROGRESSIVO ITALIANO

A Progressive Rock Sub-genre


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Rock Progressivo Italiano definition

aka "RPI"


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


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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

For the Mick.
29 July 2009



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




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

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

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

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

Movimenti Prog
http://www.movimentiprog.net

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

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

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

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


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

Rock Progressivo Italiano Top Albums


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

4.41 | 1369 ratings
PER UN AMICO
Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM)
4.38 | 918 ratings
DARWIN!
Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso
4.37 | 1082 ratings
STORIA DI UN MINUTO
Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM)
4.38 | 855 ratings
IO SONO NATO LIBERO
Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso
4.30 | 706 ratings
BANCO DEL MUTUO SOCCORSO
Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso
4.29 | 687 ratings
ZARATHUSTRA
Museo Rosenbach
4.29 | 521 ratings
ARBEIT MACHT FREI
Area
4.24 | 689 ratings
L'ISOLA DI NIENTE
Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM)
4.23 | 758 ratings
FELONA E SORONA
Orme, Le
4.22 | 573 ratings
UOMO DI PEZZA
Orme, Le
4.25 | 327 ratings
PALEPOLI
Osanna
4.21 | 474 ratings
YS
Balletto di Bronzo, Il
4.23 | 357 ratings
MAXOPHONE
Maxophone
4.22 | 288 ratings
CRAC !
Area
4.22 | 261 ratings
DISCESA AGL'INFERI D'UN GIOVANE AMANTE
Bacio Della Medusa, Il
4.21 | 266 ratings
L' ENIGMA DELLA VITA
Logos
4.18 | 299 ratings
LA CRUDELTÀ DI APRILE
Unreal City
4.28 | 143 ratings
RISVEGLIO
Egonon
4.19 | 231 ratings
PRINCIPE DI UN GIORNO
Celeste
4.16 | 251 ratings
CONTAMINAZIONE
Rovescio Della Medaglia, Il
4.10 | 348 ratings
STATI DI IMMAGINAZIONE
Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM)
4.08 | 440 ratings
PHOTOS OF GHOSTS
Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM)
4.10 | 333 ratings
FORSE LE LUCCIOLE NON SI AMANO PIÙ
Locanda delle Fate
4.20 | 153 ratings
MELOS
Cervello
4.20 | 150 ratings
IL PASSO DEL SOLDATO
Nuova Era
4.10 | 266 ratings
QUELLA VECCHIA LOCANDA
Quella Vecchia Locanda
4.09 | 279 ratings
ALPHATAURUS
Alphataurus
4.18 | 149 ratings
PASSIO SECUNDUM MATTHEUM: THE COMPLETE WORK
Latte e Miele
4.08 | 262 ratings
IL TEMPO DELLA GIOIA
Quella Vecchia Locanda
4.09 | 233 ratings
BIGLIETTO PER L'INFERNO
Biglietto Per L'Inferno
4.15 | 143 ratings
REALE ACCADEMIA DI MUSICA
Reale Accademia Di Musica
4.11 | 175 ratings
LA COSCIENZA DI ZENO
Coscienza di Zeno, La
4.08 | 210 ratings
BANCO
Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso
4.26 | 91 ratings
TERRA IN BOCCA
Giganti, I
4.16 | 131 ratings
IL GRANDE LABIRINTO
Maschera Di Cera, La
4.05 | 264 ratings
LE PORTE DEL DOMANI
Maschera Di Cera, La
4.05 | 238 ratings
DEDICATO A FRAZZ
Semiramis
4.16 | 117 ratings
TALSETE DI MARSANTINO
Estate di San Martino, L'
4.06 | 202 ratings
ROLLER
Goblin
4.01 | 293 ratings
IL PAESE DEL TRAMONTO
Unreal City
4.00 | 303 ratings
THE WORLD BECAME THE WORLD
Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM)
4.14 | 116 ratings
IL NOME DEL VENTO
Delirium
4.00 | 314 ratings
IL TEMPIO DELLE CLESSIDRE
Tempio delle Clessidre, Il
4.04 | 190 ratings
IN HOC SIGNO
Ingranaggi della Valle
4.12 | 118 ratings
VIETATO AI MINORI DI 18 ANNI
Jumbo
3.95 | 387 ratings
CHOCOLATE KINGS
Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM)
4.04 | 149 ratings
MALEDETTI
Area
4.01 | 175 ratings
LA NOTTE ANCHE DI GIORNO
Coscienza di Zeno, La
4.07 | 120 ratings
WINTERTHROUGH
Hostsonaten
3.98 | 198 ratings
INFERNO
Metamorfosi
4.01 | 160 ratings
ALIENATURA
Tempio delle Clessidre, Il
4.01 | 162 ratings
INTORNO ALLA MIA CATTIVA EDUCAZIONE
Alusa Fallax
3.94 | 277 ratings
SUMMEREVE
Hostsonaten
3.97 | 204 ratings
COME IN UN'ULTIMA CENA
Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso
4.13 | 86 ratings
DELIRIUM III (VIAGGIO NEGLI ARCIPELAGHI DEL TEMPO)
Delirium
4.11 | 92 ratings
CAPITOLO 7 - TRA LE ANTICHE MURA
Castello Di Atlante, Il
4.01 | 133 ratings
LUXADE
Maschera Di Cera, La
4.11 | 80 ratings
IL TRONO DEI RICORDI
Trono Dei Ricordi, Il
3.94 | 208 ratings
CONTRAPPUNTI
Orme, Le
4.05 | 95 ratings
SULLE CORDE DI ARIES
Battiato, Franco
3.95 | 165 ratings
CAUTION RADIATION AREA
Area
4.19 | 59 ratings
DRAMMA DI UN POETA UBRIACO
Pandora
3.99 | 125 ratings
LA MASCHERA DI CERA
Maschera Di Cera, La
4.07 | 79 ratings
STRIGMA
Taproban
4.03 | 89 ratings
CONCERTO GROSSO, THE SEVEN SEASONS
New Trolls
3.98 | 105 ratings
1984 - L'ULTIMO UOMO D'EUROPA
Fabbrica dell'Assoluto, La
3.91 | 156 ratings
SENSITIVITÀ
Coscienza di Zeno, La
3.98 | 101 ratings
AUTUMN SYMPHONY
Hostsonaten
3.93 | 125 ratings
APOTEOSI
Apoteosi
3.93 | 119 ratings
PFM IN CLASSIC - DA MOZART A CELEBRATION
Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM)
3.96 | 101 ratings
ODYSSÉAS
Syndone
4.00 | 82 ratings
ULISSE: L'ALFIERE NERO
Progenesi
4.00 | 83 ratings
DEDALO E ICARO
Cerchio d'Oro, Il
3.92 | 124 ratings
PASSIO SECUNDUM MATTHEUM
Latte e Miele
3.96 | 97 ratings
DI CARNE, DI ANIMA
Gran Turismo Veloce
4.04 | 70 ratings
NOUS
Nodo Gordiano
3.90 | 140 ratings
CHERRY FIVE
Cherry Five
4.15 | 50 ratings
HYBLA ACT 1
Randone
3.91 | 126 ratings
1978 GLI DEI SE NE VANNO, GLI ARRABBIATI RESTANO
Area
4.20 | 44 ratings
HYSTERO DEMONOPATHY
Antonius Rex
3.91 | 124 ratings
IO SONO MURPLE
Murple
3.91 | 124 ratings
PROFONDO ROSSO O.S.T.
Goblin
3.98 | 83 ratings
DIARIO DI VIAGGIO DELLA FESTA MOBILE
Festa Mobile
3.82 | 246 ratings
COLLAGE
Orme, Le
3.98 | 79 ratings
SULLA BOLLA DI SAPONE
FEM Prog Band
3.90 | 116 ratings
ESSERE O NON ESSERE?
Volo, Il
3.86 | 155 ratings
THE RIME OF THE ANCIENT MARINER - CHAPTER ONE
Hostsonaten
3.92 | 100 ratings
ATTOSECONDO
Alphataurus
4.15 | 44 ratings
UNA VITA UNA BALENA BIANCA E ALTRE COSE
Testa, Stefano
4.01 | 66 ratings
L'ISOLAMENTO DEI NUMERI PARI
Astrolabio / Elettrosmog
4.12 | 45 ratings
E TUTTO COMINCIÒ COSÌ...
Sensitiva Immagine
4.12 | 45 ratings
STORIE DI UOMINI E NON
Rocky's Filj
3.91 | 95 ratings
DNA
Jumbo
4.09 | 47 ratings
FRONTIERA
Procession
4.28 | 31 ratings
LA BELLA E LA BESTIA
Syndone
4.07 | 49 ratings
THE LEGEND OF THE HOLY CIRCLE
Three Monks
3.86 | 122 ratings
ELEMENTI
Orme, Le
4.01 | 58 ratings
LE PORTE DEL SILENZIO
Malibran
3.94 | 76 ratings
THE GATES OF TOMORROW
Maschera Di Cera, La
4.04 | 52 ratings
VOCI
Basso, Luciano

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 NOME DEL VENTO
Delirium
TERRA IN BOCCA
Giganti, I
ODISSEA
Odissea
STORIE DI UOMINI E NON
Rocky's Filj

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Latest Rock Progressivo Italiano Music Reviews


 Winter Day's Nightmare by LIBRA album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.18 | 12 ratings

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Winter Day's Nightmare
Libra Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Perhaps the most startling thing about Winter Day's Nightmare - aside from that cool flamingo on the front cover - is that it came out on none other than the legendary Motown Records, who were operating a bit far outside their usual area of expertise here.

That said, whilst it is a bit unexpected to find an Italian prog band released on a label more known for its titanic reputation for top-notch soul, funk, and R&B, it's not completely illogical. Libra's preceding album, released in its original version as Musica e Parole, had a funk-influenced sound not a million miles away from what Goblin were getting up to on the Profondo Rosso soundtrack. Duly impressed by the band's funk chops, Motown not only issued an English-language version of the album for the English-speaking market (retitled simply Libra and given brand new cover art) but went so far as to give the band a 10-album contract. (Perhaps they were looking to the example of ELP, whose Manticore label had released English-language versions of albums by PFM and Banco to some success.)

The band duly flew to the US and put in a stint recording Frank Zappa, and set about recording this sophomore release - their first to be recorded under the Motown contract. Here, however, things began to go badly awry; reportedly, the group had severe disagreements with their producer, and unfortunately you can kind of tell as much from the album, being as it is a weird mix of accessible AOR with smooth soul influences jumbled in with proggier moments. There's clearly the kernel of a good idea there - a fusion of prog and soul could end up being quite intriguing, like a sort of less poppy and more esoteric take on Bowie's Young Americans or Station to Station - but alas, if the band had a strong idea for how they would accomplish this union, it doesn't come across on the album.

The group went home to Italy by the end of 1975, having split up in the process. They'd reform in a reconfigured lineup for that time-honoured pastime of Italian prog bands - namely, producing a soundtrack for an Italian horror movie (Schock) - but this would be without guitarist Federico D'Andrea, whose English vocals had won them the Motown contract in the first place and are one of the silver linings here. (Whether this was truly a Libra album or merely an album released using the Libra name for a bit of name recognition due to some Libra musicians being in the lineup is a question for another day.)

Sadly, Federico D'Andrea would die after being hit by a car in 1978, putting an end to any prospect of this incarnation of the group reuniting. This is a shame, because like I said, there's the glimmering of something special here, but the execution could do with a bit of polishing-up.

 Come Si Diventa Ciò Che Si Era by HOMUNCULUS RES album cover Studio Album, 2015
4.00 | 21 ratings

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Come Si Diventa Ciò Che Si Era
Homunculus Res Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars When it comes to influences of UK groups on Italian prog, it tends to be the symphonic bands we think of - consider Genesis and Van der Graaf Generator's inspirational early 1970s tours of Italy, for instance, or ELP using their Manticore label to give some of the big-league Italians more exposure in the English-speaking world.

However, Italy has also always had its fair share of purveyors of the jazzier side of prog too, and even occasionally puts out a group that has mastered the particular style of jazz-prog associated with the Canterbury scene. Picchio dal Pozzo did it in the 1970s, and now in the 2010s we have the magnificent Homunculus Res, who this time around even give guest spots to members of groups like Picchio and US Canterbury masters The Muffins for good measure, delivering an album which wouldn't look too shabby next to better works by influences such as National Health or Matching Mole.

 Felona E/And Sorona 2016 by ORME, LE album cover Studio Album, 2016
2.67 | 8 ratings

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Felona E/And Sorona 2016
Le Orme Rock Progressivo Italiano

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

2 stars Reboots and remakes - let's face it, everyone loves them!! In the film world, nothing gets devoted fans excited and filled with hope like recreations of their favourite movies such as `Ghostbusters', `Robocop' and `Total Recall' being remade with (surely!) the purest of intentions, and no doubt beloved albums are exactly the same - the more the merrier, right?! OK, so snarky sarcasm aside, what we have here is a modern remake of one of THE most cherished, important Italian prog albums of all time, by a current version of the same band who recorded the defining original, just with some different musicians this time around, founding member and drummer Michi Dei Rossi the only original player in the group at this point.

The current trio that makes up Le Orme these days - the above mentioned Dei Rossi, bass player Fabio Trentini and keyboard player Michele Bon - carried the band forwards after founding member, bassist and singer Aldo Tagliapetra departed back in 2009 for a late run at a solo career. At the time, the band regrouped and recorded the grandly symphonic `La Via della Seta' in 2011 utilising the powerful voice of Metamorfosi singer Jimmy Spitaleri. A fine grower of an album it turned to be, beautifully lavish and pompous in that classic Italian prog style, however the group are now back to a trio here with Fabio handling the vocals this time around, and admittedly doing a reliable job of them.

With 2016 bringing the fiftieth (yes, really!) anniversary of the band, Le Orme could have simply played some commemorative concerts, released a new `best of' compilation, issued a string of reissues, or even better, planned ahead and worked on an all-new album of material to suggest the band was still vital and worthwhile in a modern Italian prog environment. Instead, they have bafflingly decided to commemorate the occasion by completely re-recording the landmark RPI release from 1973 `Felona e Sorona' (as well as including the English language version `Felona and Sorona'), and while the efforts of the players are still impressive as always, the project has ended up as a fairly redundant and unnecessary release.

Discussing each track of an absolutely definitive Italian prog work would be a waste of time here, not only because the album is overly familiar at this point if you're a fan of the original (and there's no shortage of reviews for that one everywhere), but the band more or less play the album in the exact same way, with only the most minute and superficial differences added in. For instance, you want that classic opener `Sospesi Nell'Incredibile' with a shorter intro but extended by a whole two minutes simply by an unaccompanied drum solo at the end - it's here. `Felona' kicks in a little more boisterous from the second verse onwards, and the closer `Ritorno al Nulla' is perhaps heavier and more frantic, but...that's about it. Michi's vocals work fine and there's still plenty of rambunctious fire in his drumming, and both Trentini and Bon deliver great playing, but they're all simply recreating exactly what has come before.

If `Felona e Sorona 2016' is simply meant as a loving `thank you' to fans for the support over the years, then this is a perfectly innocent recording that doesn't deserve much critical looking at (in which case, stop reading now, and this review will self-destruct in five seconds!). However, if the band remade this with the intention of giving it a vital freshening-up that stands on several original merits, to somehow hopefully make this the `new standard' version that should be considered the defining interpretation, then it's all very disappointing. Compared to something like Latte e Miele's 2014 remake of their `Passio Secundum Mattheum' with `The Complete Work' where the original was thoroughly reworked and stood strong as a powerful musical statements all its own, `Felona e Sorona 2016' sounds by-the-numbers, safe and somewhat lazy in comparison.

Back in 2013, modern Italian prog icon Fabio Zuffanti's La Maschera di Cera project released `Le Porte del Domani', a controversial `sequel' to the Seventies `Felona e Sorona' album that rather cheekily used the briefest of little themes and reprises from the classic Le Orme LP (plus similar artwork from the same artist!), but it stood proudly as a powerful standalone effort - actually one of the year's best. It's interesting that Zuffanti's sequel treated the original with honour and respect, and even better was an all-original continuation, because 2011's `La Via Della Seta' proved that Le Orme in a modern era still have plenty to offer with their own original material, so perhaps their efforts would have been better put towards making their own `official sequel' of all brand-new music?

By all means, Le Orme should celebrate their legacy by playing some live concerts performing complete albums, perhaps releasing some live DVD's or blurays of the events. But spending effort on a kind of pale imitation of something much better seems like squandered time, money and energy. Fans would love to hear all-new material from this line-up, especially if there's a chance it could turn out as well as `La Via Della Seta'.

`Felona e Sorona 2016' superficially sounds fine, and it's easy to enjoy on a surface level, but that could also simply be the comfort of already knowing what you're hearing. If you've never heard the original album, by all means give this a spin, but the only logical course of action after that is to immediately rush to the superb original and see what all the fuss is about (which then renders this new one obsolete in an instant). If this was a brand new album of fresh material recorded in the same manner, there would be plenty of reasons to praise the effort here, because all the musicians are in great form. Instead, despite curious little fleeting differences and additions that are momentarily surprising on only the first listen, as it stands `Felona e Sorona 2016' works as an interesting `different perspective' at best, and sadly that's all it will probably ever be.

Two stars.

 Spaventapasseri by FUFLUNS album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.96 | 7 ratings

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Spaventapasseri
Fufluns Rock Progressivo Italiano

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

4 stars Formed in May 2009 and boasting current and ex members of notable modern Italian progressive groups such as Il Bacio della Medusa, Taproban, DAAL, The Watch and Prowlers, Fufluns (named after the Etruscan God of nature, health and growth in all things) is led by Medusa frontman Simone Cecchini, and the group perform melodic song-based Italian pieces in a lightly symphonic prog manner fused with gentle traces of the Italian canzone d'autore (singer-songwriter) storytelling tradition and plenty of that pure RPI fire worked in as well. Instrumental passages are frequent, but the tune itself is always the most important facet, and it makes for an interesting and beautifully played debut work full of character and charm.

The group open with a tasty instrumental `Grecale', a hurricane of thick guitar heaviness, stormy Mellotron clouds, pumping bass and rambunctious drumming delivering a heroic theme, with fleeting teases of dreamy electric piano ambience. While a little repetitive, `Lamento di uno Spaventapasseri' is a scratchy Mellotron-fuelled dirty swaggering groover, with Cecchini's raspy voice seductively purring. `Stella del Vespro' is lovely with tougher outbursts, `Maestrale' is a warm group ballad with huffing flute, humming Hammond and regal organ with a mysterious and quirky instrumental interlude in the second half, `Tra Mille Gendarmi l'Amore' has a sweetly fizzing synth heroic finale, and `Ricordo di Nene' is full of wounded gothic piano theatricality.

After several ballads in a row, the energetic `Scirocco' arrives just in time, an up-tempo rocker with plenty of Hammond organ and little traces of psychedelic weirdness, `Come un Salice' is a wilder reprise of the first vocal piece with added racing piano and Mellotron moodiness with a gorgeous extended instrumental finale, there's inviting harmonies and grand guitars throughout further ballad `Morte di Nene', and `Libeccio' bristles with drama. `Il Foco' is a short and heartfelt folk piece with accordion and acoustic guitar (it actually reminds of that brief but sweet second track `Felona' off Le Orme's classic `Felona e Sorona'!), and the disc closes on the sort of instrumental that has everything you could want for on an Italian prog disc. `Addio ai Corvi' is laced with danger, loaded with fiery guitar runs, dirty flute, delirious synth soling and infernal Mellotron, the perfect soundtrack to this fanciful, sometimes gothic fairytale, reminding of Le Orme again, and perhaps even Delirium.

Perhaps at one hour it's a little too long (a nice vinyl length 45 minutes would have been ideal) and some listeners might grow weary of so many ballad-like tracks , but `Spaventapasseri' is never less than completely lovely. It boasts strong tunes with easy to enjoy melodies, is sung with great confidence and passion, and the restrained instrumental sophistication around the songs is frequently exquisite. This is a fine debut album, so let's hope Fufluns becomes an ongoing project and we get a second album from them in the near future!

Three and a half stars, rounded up to four.

 Concerto Zero : Live 1972/2003 by CAMPO DI MARTE album cover Live, 2003
2.43 | 12 ratings

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Concerto Zero : Live 1972/2003
Campo di Marte Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by memowakeman
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

2 stars A bittersweet live release.

As some of you may know, RPI is one of my favorite progressive rock genres, so there are a lot of bands from this country which I love. One of those bands is surely Campo di Marte and their one and only studio album released back in 1973, a great example of how good prog rock records Italy has given to the world. But well, after so many days without listening to them, I incidentally found at y new job a guy who likes progressive rock, so of course we have talked about it and even shared some CDs and DVDs. He kindly introduced me to this Campo di Marte release, a two-CD live album in which we can find a concert from their early years (1972) and one from a reformation in this new millennium (2003).

Overall, I could say this album gave me very good moments, I mean, the musicians (both lineups) are great, they know what to do and one cannot simply judge that. What left me with a bittersweet flavor was basically the quality sound of the first CD which honestly is really poor, horrible, so despite I wanted to enjoy the music I could not do it because in moments it was difficult to understand the music, nothing was clean so the experience has been totally negative. So I believe it was a nice effort to rescue those old tapes and put it into a CD, but I think it was a waste of time and something unnecessary.

The positive side comes of course with CD 2, because so many years have passed, the production is way better so is the listening experience. However, the sound could have been even better and cleaner, I mean, I have listened to a lot of live records and most of them has a better quality than this one. But well, what we can enjoy here is the performance of that 1973 album with some new musicians and a more powerful sound, with great keyboards and guitar solos. Of course, Enrico Rosa's voice and playing was as good as in the old times, I cannot deny it.

Honestly, I would not recommend this live bootleg, only if you are a collector and want to increase your number of acquisitions. My final grade will be two stars.

However... enjoy it!

 Cherry Five by CHERRY FIVE album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.90 | 140 ratings

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Cherry Five
Cherry Five Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

3 stars The Italian progressive rock supergroup Goblin found great success as writers of eerie and spooky soundtrack music beginning with their debut album "Profondo Rosso (Deep Red)" and continued with the much bigger hit "Suspira" and beyond but the group that would become Goblin actually began under the moniker Oliver when in the early 70s keyboardist Claudio Simonetti, guitarist Massimo Morante, bassist Fabio Pignatelli and drummer Walter Martino all met and recorded some demo tapes together. After a happenstance encounter with Yes producer Eddie Offord, they managed to score interest and a tour with Yes which in a roundabout way led to a contract back in Italy with Cinevox. For unknown reasons the record label changed the band's name to CHERRY FIVE upon release and the band released this one release under that band name until they were approached by Giorgio Gaslini to provide soundtrack music for his "Profondo Rosso" flick upon which they changed their name to Goblin and the rest is history.

CHERRY FIVE is the perfect place for Goblin addicts to begin their journey of understanding the roots and influences of Italy's premier soundtrack spook masters. This 1975 album perfectly reflects how these guys were followers in the footsteps of the greats like Yes, Genesis, King Crimson, Gentle Giant and Emerson Lake Palmer and how they combined elements of their influences into their own vision. At this stage the then known CHERRY FIVE were not quite successful masters of musical alchemy and unfortunately this release reeks of elements of the aforementioned prog bigwigs without properly simmering them down into a cohesive broth. As all of the major influences were English, CHERRY FIVE went against the grain in the mid-70s Italian scene and chose to sing in the English language possibly hoping for the international success story as fellow countrymates PFM.

This album starts out immediately with prog pomp run amok. It begins with a fast and furious Steve Howe inspired guitar riff with a bass line and Emerson keyboard run to match, however the first lineup change of Carlo Bordini on drums in no Bill Bruford. Also i feel that the lyrics in English sound a little stilted, however when Tony Tartarini shuts his mouth and lets the instrumental prowess of the band shine through all is good although there is never a doubt that this music is 75% Yes influenced in the composition department and the other 25% or so being dedicated to Gentle Giant type complexities, Emerson keyboard worship, Genesis theatrical dynamics with symphonic pomp and to a lesser extent King Crimson-esque excursions into a more heavy jazz-related type of prog.

Personally i find the first track "Country Grave Yard" a bit put offing as it seems like it's trying too hard to make a statement throwing all the influences in your face at light speed but ultimately fails to gel into a cohesive original piece. While the second track "The Picture Of Dorian Gray" slows things down a little, it is so reeking of early Genesis that i expect Peter Gabriel to start wailing in at any moment. The true surprise is on track three "The Swan Is A Murderer Part 1" when a sudden break in prog influence worship cedes into a glimpse of the future a la Goblin when after a highly energetic drum circle effect and ELP keyboard pomp suddenly changes near the end of the track into a soundtrack type of setting that reminds one of not only "Rosemary's Baby" in musical structure but of all the Goblin soundtracks that follow. This soundtrack theme continues into the intro of "The Swan Is A Murderer Part 2" before it fades into another Yes inspired prog rock theme.

While this is an insightful specimen of history intrigue, i can't say i love this album as much as others due to the fact that is so derivative of the previous greats and not distilled into a proper amalgamation thereof. Even Tartarani's vocal style evokes a reference to Jon Anderson without his range of vocal prowess. While this album is by no means bad as it delivers some outstanding musicianship in the process, i can't help but be grateful that the main players in this band found a niche in their horrific interpretations of movie soundtracks as i feel the Goblin years more than blow this early incarnation away manyfold. Anyone interested in the early years of Goblin will totally be into this however. The year 1975 was a wild year for this band as they released an album under the moniker CHERRY FIVE, but also one as Il Reale Impero Britannico (exposing their Anglophilic tendencies) as well as the debut under the more recognized entity Goblin. Musically excellent. Creatively mediocre. I'm still glad i own it.

3.5 rounded down

 L'Epoca di un Altro... by PANTHER & C album cover Studio Album, 2015
4.00 | 2 ratings

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L'Epoca di un Altro...
Panther & C Rock Progressivo Italiano

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

4 stars Not much is known about the background of Italian group Panther & C at this point, but one thing instantly certain is that they've released a highly enjoyable modern Italian prog debut that will prove to be a reliable listen for lovers of symphonic prog. A difficult addition to the RPI category of the Prog Archives site, Panther & C borrow substantially from English symphonic groups such as Genesis and little elements of the Neo-Prog acts, but the purer traits of theatrical vocals, classical piano, racing flute and wilder noise that came to be associated with many of the vintage Italian groups frequently reveals itself, with the band carefully delivering their own original and personal sound in teasing little passages.

`L'Epoca di un Altro...' is a collection of unrelated works with shorter pieces in-between two lengthy epics that begin and close the disc. Eleven minute opener `Conto Alla Rovescia' rumbles with atmosphere and energetic bursts, an extended instrumental introduction full of racing scratchy guitars, huffing flute and piano that moves between doomed romance and dazzling prettiness. It soon introduces a twinkling addictive synth line in unison with a catchy and powerful repeated chorus (perhaps one of the best to appear on a recent Italian prog disc!) with intricate and warm harmonies, and a pretty flute solo will instantly remind RPI listeners of the romance of Locanda delle Fate. The two-part `Mariam' is sweeter with fleeting near lullaby-like moments of dreamy chiming guitars before prancing into an all-instrumental Genesis-like regal pomp of Moog- driven dashes, lush Mellotron veils and gliding electric guitar soloing, and the dramatically vocal heavy `Dik' is wistful with twisting guitar-work.

But best of all is the almost thirteen-minute closer `La Leggenda Di Arenberg' where Panther & C embrace their Italian prog heritage more fully. It offers boisterous group vocals, constant drifting flute darting in and out of the piece that is reflective one second, huffing and wild the next in the true RPI manner, with thick upfront bass murmuring seductively, extravagant drumming rattling with purpose and sleek PFM-like synth runs racing to the finish. With plentiful and constant instrumental passages weaving around some of the strongest vocal moments of the disc (plus some surprisingly funky passages and reggae-like diversions!), the piece is the most original, lively and spontaneous track here, so hopefully the group offer even more like this on their next album!

Some might be a little disappointed at the brisk 37 minute running time (but it should be noted that the shorter length calls to mind plenty of compact vintage Italian prog works from the Seventies!), but Panther & C perhaps might prove to be a good `gateway' group for listeners wanting to look into the exciting range of true RPI-flavoured Italian groups but who feel intimidated not knowing where to start. Panther and C bridge the gap between the English Symphonic Prog bands and proper ravishing RPI groups, and `L'Epoca di un Altro...' is a stylish and professional first musical statement from a promising and highly skilled new group.

Four stars.

 Storie di Un'altra Città by GARYBALDI album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.14 | 5 ratings

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Storie di Un'altra Città
Garybaldi Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by la Volpe

4 stars Real score: 6 out of 10 Prog score: 7+ out of 10 (4 out of 5 stars)

Hailing from Genova, Italy, Garybaldi were, in the seventies, the outlet for Pier Niccolò "Bambi" Fossati's guitar wanking. A devout disciple of Hendrix, Bambi Fossati had enough sense to employ creative and intelligent musicians who helped balance Fossat's psych hard leanings with sensitive Italian melodicity and good technique, ensuring that their "Nuda" LP from 1972 was a minor classic of early spaghetti prog.

The group ended its activities in the mid-seventies after a series of lineup changes and a change in name, but emerged in the 2000s like many minor prog groups in the Boot Peninsula. However, Bambi Fossati was forced to retire by a serious illness that ultimately killed him in 2014; the band by then was led by the only original remaining member, drummer and co-vocalist Maurizio Cassinelli.

"Storie di un'altra città" is a pleasant, warm album of mediterranean rock with clear prog leanings. It is ripe with compositions written with intelligence and gusto like the hard/melodic cross "Sulla strada", which opens the album; or the prog divertissement-meets-faux-circus-vaudeville-music "William Fix", with David Jackson (yes, our beloved former Van der Graaf) coloring the tune with his saxophone; or the beautifully sung theme of the minisuite "Nove" (incomprehensibly divided into three parts, when the whole minisuite is less than 7 minutes in length). The tunes are never too long, so they never tire the listener, and the band carefully tends to each song with interesting arrangements and details, like a rhythmic variation, a catchy solo from guitarist Davide Faccioli ("Nova", part 1), or the addition of unusual instruments (violin, cello, sax, flute, bassoon, french horn) in strategic locations of the songs.

Leader Cassinelli and co-singer and keyboardist Jon Morra are able to take upon themselves the legacy of the group after Bambi Fossati's demise; and there is also a tribute to their late friend with the song "Vicino in un momento", the last tune he recorded and sung with the band before dying.

Garybaldi are not concerned with being innovative or with expanding the frontiers of progressive music: at this point in their career, their main goal is to provide the fans with a collection of good songs that can stand with dignity the test with their own past. In this sense, they create a truly beautiful, nostalgic album that, though not really engaging, will appeal to all fans of the more melodic side of 70s spaghetti prog.

 Per Un Amico by PREMIATA FORNERIA MARCONI (PFM) album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.41 | 1369 ratings

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Per Un Amico
Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM) Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Magnum Vaeltaja
Collaborator Eclectic Prog Team

3 stars Contrary to most reviewers, I disagree that this second classic PFM album is an improvement over their brilliant debut, "Storia Di Un Minuto". There's no doubt that it's more refined than its predecessor, but whether that actually speaks to the enjoyment of listening to the music is a different story.

This album is a little deceiving at first, since all of the life and animation is packed into the first two tracks. The opener, "Appena Un Po", is an absolutely gorgeous, moving ballad that truly lives and breathes. Layered mellotrons create a dim, cloudy haze that gives way to very classically- arranged harpsichord before evolving further into a wild and chaotic instrumental palette. Then, once the vocals enter, the song truly ascends into a higher emotional realm. "Generale" follows the opener, with a wild and jazzy feel and a scrambled mix of ideas. While very strange, it's a very exciting piece.

Unfortunately, though, the next three songs, all very symphonic in nature, delicately and carefully arranged, feel lifeless and sterile in comparison. It's a shame that PFM couldn't have worked on spicing them up as they had the material on their debut, because the latter two thirds of the album is quite forgettable. I'll still give "Per Un Amico" 3 stars, however, if only for "Appena Un Po", which I cannot recommend strongly enough. A good, but non-essential album.

 La Curva di Lesmo by CURVA DI LESMO, LA album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.90 | 65 ratings

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La Curva di Lesmo
La Curva di Lesmo Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

5 stars Fabio Zuffanti is Italy's answer to Steve Wilson, a gifted musician, composer and mentor whose creative engine was probably built at Maranello, hometown of the Ferrari automobile, even though he was born in Genoa. His lists of achievements is extensive and his latest project is this Curva di Lesmo , in partnership with the sensational keyboardist Stefano Agnini of La Coscienza di Zeno (CdZ) fame , a band that has become a serious RPI front-runner with three delicious offerings of their own. The goal here was to go back in time when PFM, Banco, Le Orme and many others were revolutionizing rock music in Italy and do a fine retro album loaded with sizzling keyboard wizardry, and bringing in a multitude of guests from a variety of bands, such as singers Max Manfredi of Latte di Miele, Jenny Sorrenti of Saint-Just, who steals the show here and the incredible multi-octave lungs of Claudio Milano of Nickelodeon legend. Other noteworthy names are Boris Valle (Finisterre) and Luca Scherani (Hostsonaten) on keyboards, the terrific drumming of Andrea Orlando (CdZ and Finisterre) and the sublime guitar of Laura Marsano (La Maschera di Cera, Zuffanti, Hostsonaten)on electric and Fabio Gremo on acoustic, he of La CdZ repute. Edmondo Romano appears once again on flute.

Three tracks only but big developed ones where everything is thrown into the mix, creating a complex brew of sounds and textures that will need multiple listens to sink in. The material is based on a famed Italian comic book icon Guido Crepax (you have to love that name!), a 60s comic book series that was quite popular in Italy at the time. Contrary to some who dislike everything about this release, the modern elements added here are supremely entertaining and give the clear production a lot of depth, furthermore the vocals are completely sensational, especially the manner in which Jenny Sorrenti wails like no tomorrow , allied with Manfredi and Milano's convincing deliveries. This is how modern RPI is meant to sound, intensely dense and yet nostalgic, deeply melodic and theatrical, which is a true definition of what makes Italian prog so unique. Overblown, ya think? Have you ever been to Italy? They invented overblown, in everything they attempt!

An opening 8 minute + track introduces both the lovely voice of Beatrice Antolini along with sweeping mellotron strings, a steady drum beat and heavenly melodies, "La Posa Dei Morti" serves as a fine introduction to the theatrical characteristics that Make RPI so special, tons of twists and turns with a plethora of instruments being thrown into the ring (electric guitar, organ, synths, bass), whipped up into a divine frenzy , only to slowly ebb and subside into pastoral gentleness.

The tremendous "L'Isola Delle Lacrime" raises the running time to 17 minutes and change, featuring a more delicate insertion of electronic beats, sweltering synths, flute interventions, technical drumming and an outright Gothic mood that rekindles images of Goblin as well another Zuffanti project, the devilish "L'Ombre delle Sera" but the true highlight is Max Manfredi's initial growl as well as Jenny Sorrenti's inspirational vocal performance, one of the finest to ever grace an RPI album, lush with passion, flair, power and a heady does of sultriness. The tricky beat picks up steam as the slithering violin makes its catty foray into the mix, resonating synths careening in the background add dimension and expanse. When the two vocalists join in unison, the art moves into operatic territory, sobbing violins and suave flute act as cast and crew. Sorrenti hits some high notes that defy description, a tour de force as she wails upward and onward, like a mad woman gone bonkers. Oh my! Manfredi is no slouch when the spotlight shines on him, giving a very Italian folk song recital that emotes thoroughly, Luca Scherani doing nice things on the accordion. Zuffanti shows up on bass and programming, altering the arrangement into a much more modern affair, with recited words adding to the thrill, summoning marshaling drums and an insistent organ to propel the piece into another realm.

The final chapter is the colossal 26 minute and 20 second "Ho Rischiato di Vivere", a multi-part symphony that tackles a rather difficult vocal score, handled brilliantly by the sensational Claudio Milano, whose multi-octave voice also can deliver snarls, growls, screeches and yelps. He is aided by another more 'conventional' vocalist Matteo Merli, as well as German narration by Analogy's Jutta Nienhaus Taylor. Sorrenti also throws in her high pitched wail. Truly fabulous vocal work! Boris Valle plays a sombre piano throughout, deeply melancholic and somewhat abstract. Silvia Trabucco has a violin that shrieks mightily. This is a modern opera that veers into a full blown prog discourse, rocking with full bore passion and unrestrained determination. Laura Marsano does a James Bond 'You Only Live Twice' riff that is shockingly appropriate, before Fabio Gremo's acoustic guitar slides the arrangement back to a whispered menace. The theme is then muscled onwards with unabashed drive, pummeling beat that underlines a nearly psychotic score that shows to be intense and choppy, monstrous and urgent. The Bond-like theme is now fueled by massive choirs and sweeping synths, elevated by a series of gorgeous vocals, a perfect foil for some Marsano guitar pyrotechnics and a tectonic, crescendo-laden finale.

Now, I do not care much for the black and white artwork, even though I understand its part of the retro 60s concept, but the shimmering melodies and the antsy deliveries make this a truly desirable slice of modern RPI.

5 artistic master plans

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Rock Progressivo Italiano bands/artists list

Bands/Artists Country
A PIEDI NUDI Italy
ABISSI INFINITI Italy
ABSENTHIA Italy
ACQUA FRAGILE Italy
AD MAIORA Italy
ADHARMA Italy
AINUR Italy
AKRON Italy
L' ALBERO DEL VELENO Italy
ALGEBRA Italy
ALESSANDRO ALISCIONI Italy
ALLEGRI LEPROTTI Italy
GLI ALLUMINOGENI Italy
ALPHATAURUS Italy
ALTARE THOTEMICO Italy
ALUSA FALLAX Italy
AMMINISTRAZIONE CAOS POPOLARE Italy
ANACONDIA Italy
ANCESTRY Italy
THE ANCIENT VEIL Italy
ANTONIUS REX Italy
GLI APOSTHOLI Italy
APOTEOSI Italy
APRYL Italy
ARCHITRAVE INDIPENDENTE Italy
AREA Italy
ARIES Italy
ARJUNA Italy
ARMONITE Italy
ARPIA Italy
ARS NOVA (ITA) Italy
ASSEMBLEA MUSICALE TEATRALE Italy
ASSENZIO Italy
ASTROLABIO / ELETTROSMOG Italy
ATON'S Italy
ATTO IV Italy
AUDIO Italy
AURORA LUNARE Italy
AVALON LEGEND Italy
IL BABAU & I MALEDETTI CRETINI Italy
SOPHYA BACCINI Italy
IL BACIO DELLA MEDUSA Italy
THE BADGE Italy
BALLETTIROSADIMACCHIA Italy
IL BALLETTO DI BRONZO Italy
IL BALLO DELLE CASTAGNE Italy
THE BALMUNG Italy
LA BAMBIBANDA E MELODIE Italy
BANCO DEL MUTUO SOCCORSO Italy
BARABBA Italy
MARIO BARBAJA Italy
BAROQUE Italy
BARROCK Italy
LUCIANO BASSO Italy
FRANCO BATTIATO Italy
PIERPAOLO BIBBO Italy
BIGLIETTO PER L'INFERNO Italy
BLOCCO MENTALE Italy
BONDAGE Italy
BORNIDOL Italy
LA BOTTEGA DELL'ARTE Italy
BRAEN'S MACHINE Italy
BRAINDEAD Italy
ANGELO BRANDUARDI Italy
BRIGHT HORIZON Italy
BUON VECCHIO CHARLIE Italy
CAGE Italy
I CALIFFI Italy
CALLIOPE Italy
CAMERA ASTRALIS Italy
JURI CAMISASCA Italy
CAMPO DI MARTE Italy
CANTINA SOCIALE Italy
CAPITOLO 6 Italy
CAPRICORN COLLEGE Italy
CAPSICUM RED Italy
ENZO CAPUANO Italy
IL CASTELLO DELLE UOVA Italy
IL CASTELLO DI ATLANTE Italy
CAVALLI COCCHI LANZETTI ROVERSI Italy
CELESTE Italy
IL CERCHIO D'ORO Italy
CERVELLO Italy
CHERRY FIVE Italy
CHIAVE DI VOLTA Italy
LUCIANO CILIO Italy
CIRCLE OF FAIRIES Italy
CITTÀ FRONTALE Italy
CIVICO 23 Italy
CLEPSYDRA Italy
I COCAI Italy
ROBERTO COLOMBO Italy
CONDOR Italy
CONQUEROR Italy
CONSORZIO ACQUA POTABILE Italy
CONTRAPPUNTO Italy
CONTROTEMPO Italy
COOPERATIVA DEL LATTE Italy
CORAL CAVES Italy
CORMORANO Italy
EMANUELE CORREANI Italy
CORTE AULICA Italy
CORTE DEI MIRACOLI Italy
LA COSCIENZA DI ZENO Italy
MARIO COTTARELLI Italy
COURT Italy
CRYSTALS Italy
LA CURVA DI LESMO Italy
GINO D'ELISO Italy
GIANNI D'ERRICO Italy
DALLAGLIO Italy
DALTON Italy
DE DE LIND Italy
DELIRIUM Italy
MAURIZIO DI TOLLO Italy
I DIK DIK Italy
DISTILLERIE DI MALTO Italy
DIVAE Italy
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