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Cervello - Melos CD (album) cover




Rock Progressivo Italiano

4.11 | 250 ratings

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4 stars Review Nš 551

For whatever reason, Italy has been a country with a great tradition in the music. The transalpine country likes dramas, operas and operettas. From the chaotic south to the north, this is something common and accepted in Italian daily and cultural life. This is certainly the main reason why that so many prog bands appeared in Italy, since its heydays to our days. Someone once even said that there are probably more prog bands in Italy than fans. Many of those bands only were able to release a single album despite the usual high quality of their works. And this is also the case of Cervello.

Cervello was an Italian prog rock band based in Naples. They initially came to attention due to the presence of guitarist Corrado Rustici, the younger brother of Osanna's Danilo Rustici. Their unique album "Melos" is vastly an ambitious conceptual album based on Greek mythology, and thoroughly infused with the traditions of the Mediterranean folk. The presence of various separate flautists in the line up also brought a stunningly original dimension to the band's sound. Sadly, Melos broke up in late 1973. In the following year, Corrado had joined to his brother in Osanna and appeared on the fourth studio album of Osanna, "Landscape Of Life" released in 1974, as a guest. Later, he has moved on to Nova.

"Melos" is an impressive work of art. The band came out of nowhere, released an excellent album with great quality. It's dark, mysterious and rich with Mediterranean rhythms, lyrics about ancient Greek myths and much more. If there is any comparison with other bands in Italy, I would probably indicate primarily Osanna, which isn't really in fact a true strange thing, indeed. Much like the music of Osanna, the music of Cervello deftly fortifies complex punctilious prog arrangements with clever uses of local Neopolitan folk flavorings, jazzy touches and heavy outbursts of rock bombast. And like Osanna's line up, Cervello's line up consists of saxophones, flutes, bass, guitar, drums and of course, vocals.

"Melos" isn't an immediate or an easy album to get into. It takes some time and several listens to get on it. One of the defining characteristics of Cervello was the complete absence of keyboards which was almost unheard of in the Italian progressive rock scene. While related Osanna eschewed the predominant use of keys, they still implemented their atmospheric prowess for certain effects. Minus the keys, the atmospheric generating power of "Melos" is derived from a heavy use of four flutes (played by three members), vibraphones and acoustic guitars. Bass pedals were implemented through a Binson Echorec which produced strange distorted cello effects which also give to "Melos" its own distinct flavor. Sizzling saxophone solos also point to a Van Der Graaf Generator connection, a band whose early years found them spending more time in Italy than in their native country UK, because were the Italians the main fans of the band.

All songs on "Melos" are, with the exception of the short closer "Affresco", very complex and progressive. "Canto Del Capro" starts quite loosely and dark with massing, spoken vocals that quickly turns into harmonies of a much more joyful and lighter kind before the track goes into a heavy and bluesy but still quite weird riff with distorted vocals on top. "Trittico" features some of the finest melodies on the album giving to the listener a sense of melancholy and nostalgia. The band makes a somewhat unusual and very inventive musical construction. The recorder gives a slight medieval feel to the opening of "Euterpe" through guitar and flute in beautiful melodic lines. "Scinsicne (T.R.M.)" has a gloomy instrumental passage with some distorted sounds that is quite hard to figure out what really is, considering that the band claimed to use no keyboards. The title track shows a serene and beautiful start, vibraphones, acoustic guitar, soft voice and a medium speed drum input. The flute also puts a rich layer on the melody of the song. The dramatic "Galassia" turns into a sax-driven cacophony based in a disharmonic riff at the end. It invites the listener to an inner search. "Affresco", just over a minute long, is a short and very calm track that concludes the album in a heavenly way.

Conclusion: "Melos" is cited by many as one of the pinnacles of the Italian prog rock scene. "Melos" is intriguing and a unique Italian progressive rock worth hearing if you're into this particular music style. It's an album made from self-confidence and youth, an intriguing and unique album in the Italian prog scene. It's impressive for a number of reasons, where one of the main ones is that while it can look a bit "rough", it has a pastoral feel. The almost total absence of keyboards is brilliantly supplemented by lines of saxophone and guitar arrangements and winds that give the work an air of madness while the compositional delicacy of some passages is undeniable. It's an album of contrasts in which it's necessary to deepen to get all the juice. I think they did something in prol of the progressive rock, beyond the three big names of the genre in Italy, Premiata Forneria Marconi, Banco Del Muttuo Soccorso and Le Orme. It's a pity at the time to have gone virtually unnoticed and with that the band had to separate the year following the release of the album.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

VianaProghead | 4/5 |


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