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Toto Torquati - Gli Occhi Di Un Bambino CD (album) cover


Toto Torquati


Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.56 | 28 ratings

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4 stars The Stevie Wonder of Italy! . well, sort of

Sitting down to give an album that first attentive listen, you never know what to expect, especially one as overlooked as this. Sometimes an album goes unnoticed for good reason, and sometimes an album is just unwelcoming or difficult to grasp, keeping the more casual listeners away. Gli occhi di un bambino is really neither of those, in fact I was hooked on first listen; blown away by the "big- time" sound, and the fluidity with which Torquati explores seemingly incompatible approaches.

Toto Torquati is a good example of a session musician who gained a backlog of experience working with established and rising artists during the artistic boom. Blind from birth, but without any noticeable effect on his skill behind many keyboard instruments; he played with many prominent acts and artists, beginning with jazz and dabbling in pop as well. Despite his experience and reputation, the first solo album, a collection of keyboard covers based around hit singles, gained little attention. He released another one (Gli occhi) a year later in 1973 which would be his last. This album received even less attention than the first despite being a large improvement. Luckily, the "Italian prog revival" in the '90s brought this gem to the light of day when Akarma reissued it on cd. Also surprising is the great sound quality and production - definitely one of the clearest records you will hear this deep in the prog trenches. As for the styles employed here.that's a tough one because we're at the artist's whim: it feels like Toto tried out everything he was familiar with or that seemed interesting, and the result surpasses this reviewer's ability to explain it. Basically, you will hear pop, jazz, orchestral/classical, symphonic, gospel, funk, soul. I would say that most adventurous listeners will find something (probably many things) interesting; it's not a difficult album to enjoy.

The first two tracks show off some creative development of themes that will be used throughout and allow Toto to get some good exercise out of the keyboard rig. It takes just over one minute to reach the first majestic orchestral flourish; an almost text-book symphonic introduction, but it transitions straight into a funky guitar riff that converses with a cool, choppy drum beat. This definitely sounds like a tight, active band. The wide range of synths and effects take the place of would-be brass instruments. When the vocals come in, they are as powerful as the music: Giampiero Scalamoglia, whom Torquati played with previously, takes lead vocal duties, and he has a thick, soulful voice which is complimented by a chorus of female voices at times. The vocals really seem tailor-made for the soul/gospel parts, which play very nicely between the contrasting jazz and pop sections. And whoever plays guitar.they do a hell of a job - there's no hesitation to challenge Toto's keyboards for the spotlight in the faster sections, creating some deadly interplay. There aren't necessarily any "standout" tracks-the orientation is more toward the album as a whole - it could easily be combined into two or three movements rather than 12 separate tracks. Side one shows the development of several substantial themes, which are revisited on the final stretch of side two after some more "new" stuff. Parts within these movements really should have made some impact by themselves on the mainstream, given the prevalent attitudes of the time. The parallel feel of different motifs gives the album a clear soundtrack vibe, which is a good thing in my mind, going back to the "big-time" sound that I mentioned. Could this be a concept album ("The eyes of a child") about childhood? I can only guess...

Recommended to anyone enthusiastic about the fusion of styles; anyone who just flat out loves music, because the music and songwriting exude so much love for the craft. You can't help but find yourself taken in for the entire 40 minutes (yep, an RPI album that reaches the 40 mark!! You better rest up for the bad boy.) *insert that fitting majestic theme that opens and closes the album to end my review*

PA Rating: 4+/5 As I said, this album should appeal to many, though it's not the very best to come out of Italy. "Gli occhi di un bambino" has risen on the big list that I call my favorites, and I would like to see it given the attention that it deserves. I can't see anyone really disliking it.

The Jimmy Row Factor: 8.5/10, B+

jimmy_row | 4/5 |


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