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Le Orme - Florian CD (album) cover

FLORIAN

Le Orme

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.80 | 128 ratings

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coasterzombie
4 stars From the opening notes of "Florian," it's clear you are in for a treat. Le Orme abandon all the preconceptions of Prog on this 1979 release, and accomplish something truly progressive. Trading in electric guitars, bass, synthesizers and drums for baroque instrumentation, the group manages to seamlessly and effortlessly transition into an 'unplugged' version of themselves, and the result is mesmerizing; Florian is beautiful, majestic and powerful in a reserved way. But don't let the acoustic instrumentation scare you away - this is vintage Le Orme, featuring all the trappings of the classic band but in a new presentation. Considering the timeframe, it's clear Le Orme knew something had to change considering the rise of punk and new wave and the wane of progressive rock in general. And change it did...Florian defies all convention, achieving a timeless, dignified result while pushing the boundaries of what Italian Prog is and what it isn't. What this album lacks in raw energy and aggression it more than makes up for in concise songwriting, unique instrumentation, and true emotion.

The instrumental "Florian" sets the tone sublimely. Michi Dei Rossi's percussion ping pongs its way forward, propelling the song in new directions while retaining the classic Le Orme sound. I suppose you could call this 'Chamber Prog'. Newest member Germano Serafin lilts by on violin, expressing himself confidently. Singer Aldo Tagliapietra swaps his trademark bass for cello, and plays more of a reserved role; Antonio Pagliuca trades in vintage analog synthesizers for piano, harpsichord and harmonium. Aldo's familiar voice finally graces the somber "Jaffa," a reflective piece that is full of emotion and the characteristic Le Orme balladeering. "Il Mago" incorporates Eastern sounds, while retaining a driving, rhythmic touch. I especially love the strummed classical guitars on this one. "Pietro il Pescatore" takes things down a notch, and breezes its way through these three-and-half minutes. Don't let the brief running times of these songs fool you - Florian is concise yet fully fleshed out. The playful "Calipso" finds the second side as enjoyable as the first. The longer "Fine di un Viaggio" leads perfectly to the concluding "El Gran Senser." This instrumental bookends the album wonderfully, leaving the listener satisfied yet wanting more.

Florian is one of those albums that may seem like background music at first, but don't let the gentle instrumentation escape your attention. I would consider this one of the more important releases in Le Orme's long history, and one that more than meets the test of time. Florian easily stands next to Contrappunti and Collage in their discography, even if falling a bit short of the masterpiece achievements of Uomo di Pezza and Felona e Sorona. Florian would predate the similar, if somewhat less effective Piccola Rapsodia Dell'Ape which attempts to recapture some of this Florian magic. Florian is definitely recommended for all Le Orme fans, Rock Progressivo Italiano collectors, and especially those with a more adventurous spirit. While I can't quite get to five stars, Florian is every bit of four and probably closer to 4.5. Buy with confidence.

coasterzombie | 4/5 |

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