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Alan Sorrenti

Rock Progressivo Italiano

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Alan Sorrenti Aria album cover
3.91 | 119 ratings | 23 reviews | 27% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1972

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Aria (19:49)
2. Vorrei Incontrarti (4:58)
3. La Mia Mente (7:36)
4. Un Fiume Tranquillo (8:01)

Total Time: 40:26

Line-up / Musicians

- Alan Sorrenti / vocals and acoustic guitar
- Antonio Esposito / drums and percussions
- Vittorio Nazzaro / bass guitar and lead classic guitar
- Albert Prince / organ hammond, accordion, mellotron, synth harp
- Tony Bonfilis / bow bass
- Jean Costa / trombone
- André Lajdi / trumpet
- Martin Paratore / spanish dancer

Guest musician:
- Jean Luc Ponty / violin (1)

Releases information

LP Harvest (3C064-17836)
Mellow (MMP 191)
EMI (72438 60271 2)
Vinyl Magic (VM 071)
Water (WATER 180)

The album was recorded at the "Sonic" and "RCA" studios of Rome, at the "Europa Sonor" of Paris and at "S.E.E.D." studio of Vallauris (Nice-France).

Thanks to andrea cortese for the addition
and to ProgLucky for the last updates
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ALAN SORRENTI Aria ratings distribution

(119 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(27%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(49%)
Good, but non-essential (18%)
Collectors/fans only (7%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

ALAN SORRENTI Aria reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Andrea Cortese
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Aria is justly considered as a hell of an album by many italian prog lovers. It is the debut work of this peculiar artist who started as a pure prog singer-songwriter and, just after three records, completely changed his musical behaviour becoming a disco-music hero! Yes, it's crazy and unusual. Almost a sacrilege...

Aria is also the splendid long epic that fills the whole first side and is an astonishing piece of art of over 19,40 minutes! Very hard to get into for its complex vocals intrigue and probably it cannot be everyone's cup of tea. He was also compared as the one who eat a mellotron. So strange appeared to the audience his adventurous experimental way of singing and buildind such a - mainly - acoustic opus. Mellotron (his voice apart), hammond and synth harp are here, but never loudly, never shadowing vocals and acoustic intruments. Alan Sorrenti is also compared to Tim Buckley for the extended vocal harmonies.

I use to listen to this album very often 'cause it part dark and sinister, part melodic, warm and melancholic. Still hard though but I tell you this: a pleasant experience enriched by the wonderful contribution of JEAN LUC PONTY on violin in the self titled epic. A memorable performance!

Lyrics are also excellent and poetic, in my humble opinion with dreamy and fantastic imaginery of love, lost and (almost) unreachable.

Second side feature four shorter tunes still of high standard of quality as for the soft and gentle "Vorrei Incontarti" (5,00 minutes). His most melancholic contribution to the world. Fantastic! A simpler tune, but intimate, polite and relaxing as few really are. The other tracks are worth istenings, but, hey, not for mainstream prog lovers...

I fear this album. It is great and terrible listening art the very same time. Anguishing!

Review by memowakeman
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Aria!!!

In a strange decision, yesterday i was having a look to the Alan Sorrenti´s page here in PA, the fact is that i had also the idea of reviewing Aria, though i first had a look to the single that comes from this studio album, which features 2 songs and decided to review it first, that single contains the second and fourth songs of Aria, maybe i found it easy or i dont know but in order to have the same thoughts written, i will stole from my own review what i wrote about those songs and put it here, hope that doesn´t bother you.

Alan Sorrenti, luckily, could left an album that is memorable to Italian progheads and non-Italian ones who know Aria, i said luckily because this was actually the only album of hims who had a recognized success due to its uniqueness, sadly, after the release of this album he could not reach the same level with the other ones, and his music became pop and not so good, anyway what this magnific album offers is a mix of avant-gardism oriented passages with folk tones and even some experimental jazz moments, those things is what makes this album different, special, unique, i wish he was followed the same pattern in order to create other albums like this, but anyway, sometimes we can get enough with only one album, why should we want more.

This album has 4 songs, the first one is by far the best and most ambitious composition which lasts almost 20 minutes!, this song alone is really a worth listening, believe me, it starts with a very melodic sound but something strange happens that since the first minutes it caughts my total attention and shows that is not the classic RPI album, it is different, very experimental and avant-garde to be from 1972, when probably Italian prog scene was having glorious moments, the voice of Sorrenti is also unique and awesome, he has his own style which is not easy to dig, trhoughout this long song we will find some calm and melodic passages, others which shows his vocals with a more chaotic feeling, also we can listen to a nice variety of instruments such as violin or mellotron (besides guitars ,drums, bass etc, you know), some dramatic changes in the song with a dark atmosphere provoked by his vocals and the texture of the music. Overall a unique and magnific song, you will be amazed.

The second song is the first one who appears in the single "Vorrei Incontrati" with almost 5 minutes of lenght is a beautiful song, very pastoral with a delicate and beautiful voice as well, also as i am a lover of Italian language, then i enjoy more this kind of songs, the pronunciation for me is beautiful, the song has a lovely acoustic guitar and a very relaxing mood, we can listen to accordeon there.

Then "La Mia Mente" is another great song, with again acoustic guitar and his voice making some noises here and there, it also has a very progressive flavour due to its piano sound and the bass notes, it has a very jazzy style when piano and trumpet sound each one in his own but that is what i like of this style, not in the same channel but at the same time together, another good song here.

And the last is "Un Fiume Tranquilo" this time we can hear a more intense song starting with piano notes and then the vocals (beautiful vocals) and a total progressive flavour which you can notice due to the synths work, there are also a trombone sound but the song is still pastoral, there are some moments that the vocals may remind you to Peter Hammill, so you know wheter to give a try to it or not, then the song has a change and the acoustic guitars appears.

I have finished, this album deserves 5 stars just for its uniqueness, it is difficult to find another album like this, but since i consider it a difficult album i believe some people could not enjoy it as i do, so 4 stars would be better, excellent addition to any prog lover and highly recommended!

Enjoy and love it! (or not)

Review by NotAProghead
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Errors & Omissions Team
2 stars To appreciate this album, you need acquired taste. Alan Sorrenti's voice is not for everyone. Screaming, shouting, groaning, bleating make the listening uneasy task. I find 20-minute title track almost unbearable. Shorter songs are better. ''Vorrei Incontrarti'' is, probably, the best song on the album. But again, I prefer it sung by other artists (for example by HOSTSONATEN on ''Zarathustra's Revenge'' V/A tribute).

Important album in RPI history, but not everyone's cup of tea. If you don't want to hurt your wives, girlfriends, mothers, aunts etc, don't play this album when they are at home. Even if your ladies are pure angels, I don't recommend to try their patience.

Review by Raff
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Released in 1972, the golden year of the original prog movement, Aria is probably the least 'Italian' of the classic RPI albums - and that in spite of Alan Sorrenti's Neapolitan background. However, Alan was born in Wales, his mother's country of origin, therefore his Mediterranean roots find themselves entangled with the equally old, fascinating Celtic tradition. Because of that, his debut album is one of the most intriguing, distinctive offerings to come out of Italy, and possibly everywhere else, both on account of the music - a heady, mesmerizing blend of various ethnic influences - and his unique voice. His singing style, often compared to folk legend Tim Buckley, is definitely over-the-top, but not in the way RPI singers are generally known to be. Actually, the best comparisons on the Italian scene would be his sister Jenny (of Saint Just fame), and possibly Battiato, at least as regards the Eastern flavour of many of his vocal performances.

As is the case of many other albums of that time, the A-side of the original edition of Aria is taken up by the eponymous, almost 20-minute-long suite, while the B-side is comprised of three shorter tracks. The album is primarily acoustic, though both of the iconic keyboard instruments of the era, the Hammond organ and the mellotron, are featured. The best-known of Sorrenti's collaborators is gifted, Naples-born drummer and percussionist Antonio (Tony) Esposito, who would go on to become a famous session man and solo artist, and would also perform on Aria's follow-up, Come un vecchio incensiere all'alba di un villaggio deserto, as well as on Perigeo's La Valle dei Templi.

Aria, the song, is an intoxicating slice of music dominated by Jean-Luc Ponty's magical violin, a perfect foil for Sorrenti's soaring voice, an instrument in itself. World-music influences are thick on the ground - Celtic, Spanish (there is a sequence featuring flamenco-style guitar and castanets), Indian, Middle Eastern, and more. The music somehow reflects the eerie beauty of the blue-toned cover, one of the most striking yet tasteful to come out of the original prog era: it is at the same time dark and uplifting, mystical and experimental, soothing and demanding. Undoubtedly, Alan's voice is very much of an acquired taste, and some listeners may find it irritating after a while. Here, it is still relatively restrained, while he went decidedly overboard on Incensiere, some parts of which are really a bit hard to take.

After such an exhilarating listening experience, the exquisite, romantic ballad Vorrei incontrarti provides a kind of respite. The song was released as a single, and often played on the radio. I remember singing along to the strumming of some friend, during weekend trips to the country. As simple a song as it is, Alan's vocals and guitarist Vittorio Nazzaro's delicate playing take it to a higher level, together with the presence of that ultimately romantic instrument, the accordion. The last two songs, La mia mente and Un fiume tranquillo, are longer and more complex, partly reprising the atmospheres of the title-track (though somewhat less successfully), with stunning instrumental performances (check Tony Esposito's fantastic drumming on Un fiume tranquillo) and vocal flights of fancy.

Aria was one of the albums I encountered right at the time of its release, as a 12-year-old girl who was then getting into more 'serious' music. It left a lasting imprint, and I was happy to 'find' it again when my beloved husband (a huge fan of RPI in spite of his American origins) came into my life. Alan Sorrenti's music intrigued me right from the word 'go', and I was utterly devastated by his sudden U-turn in the mid-Seventies, when he became a very successful pop-disco artist. Talk about a waste of talent... Those later albums would make even Genesis' pop output sound like Close to the Edge.

Even if Sorrenti eventually decided to turn away from progressive music, his first three albums are a must for everyone interested in Italian prog, and Aria is something every prog fan should listen to at least once. It does have its flaws, though, and this is why I would rather not give it the highest rating, and go for 4 stars with the addition of a virtual half-one. However, even without the full 5 stars, it is a mesmerizing piece of music, and an authentically progressive one. Very highly recommended.

Review by Sean Trane
4 stars What a voice this guy's got, and just as wondersome as his sister Jenny. Is it because they had Welsh roots (mother's side) and the weird mix with his Napolitan upbringing? Who knows, but one thing is sure, if you don't like vocal experimentations, then stay away from the Sorrenti's, at least in their early career. Sisdter Jenny had a good start with the short-lived Saint Just group, than released a solo effort, before slipping from my radar, while Alan started with stupendous solo albums, but by the mid-decade had veered disco and pop. His solid gatefold debut release is probably one of the more striking one from these year on the peninsula and he certainly had some important musical help, including drummer Esposito (already involved with St Just) and some Spanish and French guests including Ponty on violin, but Clearly the man in the shadow is Albert Prince on keys and arrangements.

Alan's voice and how he uses it as an instrument is a strange mix of Peter Hammill, Robert Wyatt and the utmost experimental Tim Buckley. And there is no doubt Sorrenti heard all three to dare being so audacious from his first album onwards. And does Alan ever leave his voice rip it up throughout the opening side on the epic sidelong title track. Along with Ponty's brilliant violin interventions, Aria is a stunning piece of music, sometimes curdling your blood because of Alan's voice ramblings. Starting on winds, discreet mellotron and Alan's acoustic guitar, it's almost an enchanted evening; if it wasn't for the glacial choirs in the background until Prince's piano enters the fold. Then Alan's voice smoothly glides from spellbinding to first worrrysome, then menacing tone and soon becomes demented if not diabolical, shifting between Hammill's tone with Buckley's range and control and sometimes Flamenco, soon wiped by Prince's keyboards. At one point, with Ponty's violin work, we can think of the eeriness of Comus' First Utterances. Yes, that good and that weird. At other times, we're close to the mythic Starsailor or Lorca albums, and even a bit of Rock Bottom (via his voice, but also the trumpet playing). What do you mean you're not at the records shop yet???

The flipside is less thrilling with three shorter songs, of which only one doesn't really belong here. The opening Vorrei Incontrati is a calm pastoral folk song a bit similar to Crimson's I Talk To The Wind and holds the same function in a demented album, to give you breath of fresh air before returning to insane times. I will take a point of saying I don't enjoy the accordion bit, though. The following Mia Mente returns to the glacial background choirs at the start of the title track and add a superb bass line and later trons of mello, but Sorrenti's voice must wait Prince's piano to unleash itself in a Hammill style, both taking the insanity plunge in a rock-bottomed well, saved by the lighthouse keeper. Just as stunning as the title track, even if returning to it a bit too systematically: in a way, you could say that the 19-mins+ epic can be condensed into Mia Mente. As for the closing Fiume Tranquillo; it starts with a bowed bass (love it) and early Hammill-ian vocals (both solo and Graaf) and proceeds to its own adventures with a trombone and some excellent Esposito drumming, and smùoothly dying in pastoral sounds soon becoming nightmarish.

Certainly worth the investigation with his second album in tow, Sorrenti's Aria is one unconventional album out of the Italian Peninsula. It's actually a wonder how Alan could veer disco with such an experimental start. Anyway, an amazing album, and one of the most experimental from the Italian boot, along with early Battiato. Stay away if you don't like vocal digression, but if you don't mind a bit of adventure aria should just about do it for you.

Review by loserboy
4 stars As far as the 70's Ital-Prog scene one of the clear standout album IMHO is Sorrenti's ARIA. A strange dream-like folky prog album for sure with the centrepiece superlative enigmatic vocal escapades of Alan Sorrenti. The 70's Ital-Prog scene was watermarked with creative and many unusual yet strong and beautiful vocalists (ie.Francesco Di Giacomo, Demetrio Stratos, Gianni Leone, Linio Vairetti). One could and should add Sorrenti's name to this long list and one listen to the 20 Min epic title track "ARIA" will clearly encapsulate you deep into this album ! Sorrenti is supported by a great band that includes the e-bow master Jean-Luc Ponty ! Musically this album ebbs and flows from Genesis-like progressions to the folk solemness of Nick Drake...all surrounded by the theatrical and powerful voice of Alan Sorrenti. Absolutely essential for any fan fo 70's Ital-Prog.
Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars A half-Italian,half-Welsh artist from Naples,ALAN SORRENTI was born on 9th November 1950 in Naples,but had spent years of his childhood in Wales.He is mostly known for his more commercial efforts close to disco music,however he started as a pure rock/prog artist in early-70's,who's albums were quite unique-sounding.The first of them was released in 1972 on Harvest,later succeeded several re-issues.On ''Aria'' SORRENTI is supported by numerous well-known musicians,among them are famous violinist Jean-Luc Ponty and great drummer Tony Esposito,an important figure of the Italian jazz/rock scene of the 70's.

The album consists of an eponymous dark soft suite on side A,while on side B there are three shorter tracks.Definitely the 19-min. ''Aria'' is the darkest and most experimental of all tracks.The pastoral musicianship surrounds the vocal experiments of SORRENTI's unique voice.Wordless weird vocal acrobatics blend with ethereal harmonies and chords to present SORRENTI's wide range of singing.The music is rather calm yet with a haunting feeling,based on the light keyboard work,mostly organ, the pastoral acoustic guitars and the excellent violin work of Ponty.Quite different and comparable only with PETER HAMMILL's solo works.Side B opens with ''Vorei inconrtarti'',a typical singer/song-writer ballad with only acoustic guitars and some accordion,but an emotional SORRENTI makes it sound really beautiful.''La mia fente'' follows and the musicianship gets closer to VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR with maybe DEMETRIO STRATOS on vocals.Heavy acoustic doses mixed with trumpets and piano,featuring the most experimental vocal exercise of the album.The closer ''Un fiume tranquilo'' is even closer to PETER HAMMILL with SORRENTI adding a little harmony and more depth in his voice,while musically the track offers lots of soft keys ((even some effects),supported by trumpets,trombones and a smooth rhythm section.

''Aria'' deserves to be listened by anyone,who wants to name himself a progressive rock fan.However it won't be everybody's taste.Propably fans of FRANCO BATTIATO, DEMETRIO STRATOS, PETER HAMMILL and even VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR will find it more than rewarding.For the rest,prepare yourselves for some realaxed yet deep and experimental experience.

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars Alan Sorrenti's vocals will decide on whether you will love or hate this album. Sorrenti along with Peter Hammill, Robert Wyatt and Demetrio Stratus seem to have that affect on people. I was surprised to see a lot of low ratings on some sites for this record but maybe I shouldn't have been. I had this cd on last week at work and one lady said "John what are you listening to !?" As it says in the liner notes Alan's "voice mutates into a musical instrument. Words are gently warbled, carressed, cosseted, vibratoed and violent expunged". Yes he gets crazy and theatrical at times (haha). Some have desribed "Aria" as a Psychedelic Folk album, which I think is a good description. Jean-Luc Ponty guests on this album too which is pretty cool.

"Aria" opens with the sound of the wind blowing as acoustic guitar comes in gently. Spacey sounds then vocals after 1 1/2 minutes. Organ,piano and bass help out as vocals and that spacey soundscape continue. He's getting theatrical as cymbals arrive then violin from Jean- Luc Ponty. Check out the violin and vocals around 6 minutes. Nice. It settles before 8 minutes but vocals and violin continue. A change before 10 minutes as the tempo picks up with strummed guitar and passionate vocals. It calms down a minute later, it's kind of eerie here. Some synth harp follows then we get this Spanish vibe after 13 minutes. Violin is back 15 minutes in with mellotron flooding in a minute later. Trumpet is back 17 minutes in before strummed guitar and violin come in late as vocals continue.

"Vorrei In Contrarti" opens with gentle guitar and fragile vocals. Some vocal melodies follow and then the accordion comes in. Whistling 4 1/2 minutes in to end it. "La Mia Mente" opens with strummed guitar, bass and vocals. Mellotron comes in, keyboards follow. Horns 5 1/2 minutes in then some crazy vocals a minute later. This is avant-garde folks. "Un Fiume Tranquillo" opens with the birds singing followed by the sound of running water. Vocals and a fuller sound follow. Check out the vocals 3 minutes in. Strummed guitar, drums and trumpet a minute later then the vocals return. Then the sounds of birds chirping return and just when you think it's over, it ends in a very psychedelic way with trumpet, synths, vocal expressions and other sounds.

Easily 4 stars. I don't think i'll forget the vocals of Alan Sorrenti any time soon.

Review by andrea
4 stars Alan Sorrenti is an Italian artist from Naples that in 1972 released an interesting debut "prog-style" album, "Aria", for the label Harvest. This work is an excellent effort to blend acoustic and dreamy atmospheres with experimental sounds and vocal acrobatics. The most evident source of inspiration here is Tim Buckley but the Neapolitan artist on this work managed to shape a peculiar and original sound that is really worth listen to.

The opener is the long, complex and claustrophobic title track... "Air, I'm looking for you in every corner of my room / Air, I'm running after you into the labyrinths of my mind... Air, I feel I'm loosing you". Surrealistic poetry, the use of the voice like an instrument, calm and reflexive moments counter pointed to almost hysteric, frenzy passages... Along almost twenty minutes the music flows away between sudden changes of rhythm and colourful melodic liens running out one after each other. The track is enriched by the violin of the special guest Jean Luc Ponty

The second track "Vorrei incontrarti" (I would like to meet you) is my favourite one. It's a dreamy acoustic ballad, almost mystical. It express the desire to follow something so beautiful to seem unreal, an illusion, a spell or the singing of a siren... "I would like to meet you / Outside the gates of a factory / I would like to meet you / along the streets leading to India / I would like to meet you / But I don't know what I would do / Perhaps I would cry of joy... Sing your song, sing it for me / Maybe one day I will sing for you".

"La mia mente" (My mind) is a melancholic ballad where vocals experiments and dissonant piano chords soar from an acoustic strummed guitar background... "My mind is a balloon / Wondering in a soft dream / And it doesn't come back on earth / My people show it / My people shoot at it / The first hit make it shake / The second one shoots it down...". In some moments Alan Sorrenti here reminds me of Area's singer Demetrio Stratos.

The final track "Un fiume tranquillo" (A quiet river) is another long and peculiar ballad. Lyrics deal with the fear of self-destruction while the music flows like "a quiet river that erase the memories", a "quiet river that can save you from a violent fall"...

On the whole an excellent album.

Review by LinusW
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Intriguing and very beautiful, Aria is a slightly convoluted listening experience that stays with you for quite some time. Alan Sorrenti manages to evoke both subtle and confronting soundscapes with remarkable depth and precision at a detail level, which makes the album a different experience every time, and succeeds in taking you to different states of mind depending on what mood you're in.

Melancholic and meditative at heart, but with an underdog edge and passion that makes the music soar from time to time, positively vibrating with a tense, direct presence. Part of this success lies in Sorrenti's stunning vocal talents, with an acrobatic fragility that tells a story of its own regardless of the musical backing. He twists and turns the meaning and expression in every word - sometimes simply because he can.

Dominated by the twenty minute long title piece, it's hard to pinpoint any specific musical direction. Perhaps it's best described as a foundation of spacey folk and Italian melodrama drawing on a number of ethnic influences, which then builds up and descends into excursions of other styles. Never is this more apparent than on the epic song Aria. Humbly starting with understated guitar and sweet and mellow keys with a windy, cold effect in the background, the mood is set instantaneously; wistful, lonely, rainy and autumnal. Meandering slowly onwards, the song efficiently envelops in a series of dynamic percussion subtleties, naked piano runs and expressive, meaningful guitar phrases. The composition is so accurate, so natural, so very carefully applied you wilfully get lost in its intricacies. And all of a sudden the song's picked up speed in a near-symphonic mini-crescendo, with a strong base of organ and a whirling, individualistic violin performance from Jean-Luc Ponty (wonderful addition), neatly complementing and accentuating Sorrenti's spontaneous vocals. Further down the road, Aria captures the spirit of the first six or so minutes, but flesh out the influences and styles even further. It visits familiar, mysterious symphonic forays of bands such as Museo Rosenbach, Celtic as well as Latin delicacies, Battiato-esque percussion and even dares an approach to almost jazz territory. And all of the time maintaining that dreamy, complex style that makes it all so fascinating.

With the exception of Vorrei Incontrarti, which has a decidedly more romantic, ballad-like and simpler edge, the rest of the songs follow the same pattern as Aria. Perhaps never as successfully, emotionally charged or as accurately, but still with the same artistic goal to them, in taking something familiar and turning into something new, explorative and way more colourful and daring than it appears at first glance. This is the strength of the great progressive Italian singer-songwriters of the seventies, and this might very well be one of the best examples of it, far removed from the sentimental sweetness often associated with the country during later decades.

4 stars.


Review by ProgShine
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars 01. Aria

Well, we started Alan's trip with beautiful guitars and a blowing wind. Meanwhile grouped with the keyboard, melodies and voices. The voice of Alan is very beautiful, is kind of a falsetto all the time. This large first part of the melody is crooked, and full of hairpin bends of feelings. The bass line of Vittorio Nazzaro is strange, but good. The range is increasing at an unprecedented and immersive. Alan's vocals are totally sick (laughs) in a way that I had not seen it before. The violin of Jean Luc Ponty appears here and there at various times. Shortly after 8 minutes the track falls a little in speed with the guitar in the foreground dictating a syncopated rhythm, but calm. A cue for the voice of Alan that still crazy. After only 9 minutes and a half is that the drums kicks in to let the music with a face of 'real music' (laughs). The drummer Antonio Esposito has a good feeling, with quick turns. Keyboardist has much to 'blame', he's responsable for a good part of the sound here. At 12 minutes the track changes again, this time with the acoustic guitar solo of Nazzaro, while Alan makes a hallucinating rhythm. Of course, the violin of Jean is everywhere. One more change at 16 minutes and the calm takes over the heart of our beloved singer. I could not find the lyrics of this track, but it does not seem to repeat any verse, and he did not stop singing any minute (laughs). At the end a percussion 'balmy' takes the violin 'burning' in delirium.

02. Vorrei incontrarti

Pretty introduction, I think that into our digital era the two tracks would be nice if they were together (Aria and this one) seems natural to me. Acoustic guitar, the vocals this time throughout the first part is sweet and melodic, after only two minutes in a part of vocalizations is that it is affected a little. And in this crazy infects till the accordion from Albert that appears, giving a good mood for the music. The whistle ends unscathed.

03. La Mia Mente

Guys, it eerily reminded me Dança Das Borboletas from the first solo album by ZÉ RAMALHO which reminds me too much Astronomy Domine, opening track of The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn (1967) from PINK FLOYD. Highlight to the bass, great line. In this song I'm not sure if there is a letter or Alan simply sings whatever comes to mind (as the track name suggests).

04. Un Fiume Tranquillo

We've started with a tense melody in the cello of Tony Bonfil and a good piano line. And once again we are bombarded from all of the sides with vocals and melodies without end of our beloved Alan Sorrenti. At 4 minutes he puts fire in it with a guitar base, the drums together, good base for some madness. Return the birds, we are in the square (imagine!), But something is not right, perhaps a madman on the street trying to kill someone with a knife in his hand? Perhaps only someone in the street with his head on fire for your thoughts and deadly dangerous if not cleared his thought, it can be bad, very bad.

This album is without doubt very different, a little crazy sometimes but in a good way.

Review by Matti
4 stars Can't tell whether this is a rarity or a major classic in the Italian prog history but at least I was was very pleased to hear it, without knowing anything about the artist in advance. There are relatively many reviews on this (so, it is a classic, I suppose?) - I'm just giving my own first impressions. The album consists of the near-20-minute epic title track and three tracks between 5 and 8 minutes. Quite soon I had one specific artist in my mind: PETER HAMMILL/ VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR, especially on the wide range of singing (which has been compared to TIM BUCKLEY's most far-out works too) and on the overall attmosphere, which is a bit eerie and haunting. What a great harmony between the cover art and the music!

Unlike in VDGG there is no sax, but Jean-Luc Ponty's appearance as a violinist gives more or less the same flavour. You hear also hammond, accordion, trombone, trumpet and synth harp, but the vocals and acoustic guitar of the leading man remains in focus. The music has some kind of spontaneity and deep emotional impact just like Hammill in the early VDGG. Some parts are not so 'nice' listening but the interest is kept pretty well all through the epic, as well as on the three shorter tracks. One really needs to listen to this music many times before knowing it well. Hopefully I'm still to find many more levels and emotions in this album.

Review by Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Genius to some, dreadful to others--I understand both views

Alan Sorrenti was born in Wales and later worked from Naples, releasing a few prog albums in the early 70s before switching to commercial pop in 1976. He is the brother of Jenny Sorrenti of Saint Just fame, and his debut Aria is notable for featuring the famed violinist Jean-Luc Ponty as a collaborator.

Aria is an experimental album featuring vocals that can only be described as a free-form experiment, they dominate the music like some animated avant-garde poetry reading over folk/chamber music. Actually the music is more of a dark cloaked, ethnic folk and acoustic blend, with generous keys, creating a murky pool over which Sorrenti lays down vocals that are among the most interesting you will ever hear. As someone used to Italian vocals which have a reputation for being difficult (though rarely deserved in my opinion), I can tell you that this album will test your limits for vocal histrionics. Here Sorrenti's baying at the moon makes Peter Hammill sound like Cat Stevens. If that sounds harsh I suppose it is because I don't really like the Sorrenti vocals, though I'll endure them for the unique music presented here. The centerpiece track "Aria" opens very quietly and acoustic, you might think you're in for something like "Rivendell" or "Granchester Meadow." But it changes quite quickly as melancholic piano and cymbals are added along with the beginnings of Mr. Sorrenti's long, hallucinogenic vocal trip. He basically turns his voice into an instrument and he moves up and down the register in a way that can seem random, he explores places which seem out of his natural range, and he provides and endless repertoire of unusual noises, bleats, and groans. And he keeps it up almost constantly which is one of my biggest complaints. More restraint or some longer places to breath would have helped the overall piece. Then again, if you like his spiel here you are in for a treat. Bass and violin soon follows as the piece gets more tension filled and spooky. I think if you cranked this album on the big speakers in your garage, a neighbor would have the police there in about 5 minutes. Horns and organ make appearances as well as the track either overstays it welcome or you get lost in the waves, there's no easy way to predict who will like this and who will not. Side two is broken in to three shorter tracks which offer more diversity but still suffer from the overbearing vocals. There is beautiful melody and interesting progressions here but it is sometimes a challenge to follow them through the vocals. I enjoy difficult music and can find beauty in harsh places as you will know if you read my reviews, but I'm just not sold that Sorrenti is as amazing as others think he is:

"Creating a blend of folk with a melodic, avant-garde jazz backdrop, Sorrenti has rendered a vocal tapestry on par with anything Van Morrison or Peter Hammill has had the energy to commit to tape. Aria is a blend of the most sophisticated form of symphonic folk I have ever heard. At times Sorrenti weaves his way through his tunes like an emblazoned Peter Hammill with VdGG, only to recess back to the solitude of a melancholy troubadour, evoking images of a soul in suspended animation." -Fantasyman, RYM

This is an atypical RPI album that was as bold and challenging as other acclaimed works like Battisti's "Anima Latina" or Battiato's "Sulle Corde di Aries." While not a favorite of mine I recognize the tortured genius (or is the pointlessly irritating and self-absorbed)? I can only recommend the album to those interested in the most challenging approaches to music, to lovers of the weird and the avant-garde. At the end of the day I feel it has the potential for brilliance, but rather than tempering the vocal a bit he just drives it into the ground. It's a tough album yet still a good one, and perhaps more. Read my friend LinusW's wonderful review which while different from mine I completely accept---there is beauty here, it's just going to take me more time to find it.

Review by Guldbamsen
4 stars It´s a bird! It´s a plane -No, no, no hang on a minute you were right the first time...

I was talking to Pierre (our local duck in the RPI den) about this record, and rightly so, he said that one should look at Alan Sorrenti not as a singer, but as a bird. Words of wisdom right there, and ever since that conversation took place, I´ve listened to this album with a big smirk on my face and countless images of storks and ibises flying around my head. It´s his voice that makes this comparison apt, and I promise you once you´ve heard this album, you´re not likely going to forget it anytime soon. This guy probably has one of the most charismatic and unique voices ever to ornament the face of any rock music.

Going through these different "voices" within his voice is like looking for individual blades of grass on a green meadow. There seems to be an endless amount of them. Just to give you an idea of this guy´s enormous vocal talents, I´ll name a few styles of his. First of all he has a gentle touch, when the song craves for it and he can sound almost female-like with gentle whispers and sensuousness oozing out of the phrasings. On several occasions, I´ve sponsored quite the crush on him, only to be ripped out of my newly found love with the sudden change of his singing - now turning into frantic and demonic yells. These high pitched squawks of Sorrenti might lead you into believing, that he´s only a mere Hammill impersonator, but that is far from the truth. Hammill never had this vocal range, and furthermore I don´t think he´ll ever be as eloquent in Italian. That being said, there is definite signs of Van Der Graff Generator in this music. Sorrenti does frequently use that theatrical way of wrapping his lips around the words, and the music accompanying this spectacle could also make your mind wander towards the organ lead cacophony of VDGG, but here the similarities end. Comprised by a hefty dosage of acoustic guitars with a medieval flavour - almost resembling the old jester with his lute - jumping around in sheer exuberance and carelessness, Aria is heavily rooted in the Italian folk music tradition. It´s chuck full of evil sounding rock n´ roll organs, heavy breathing wind instruments and the bass lines to back this up, - but still the soul of this recording is to be found in the old Mediterranean folk musics. Adding to this theory of mine, is the way that French violinist Jean-Luc Ponty plays his instrument on here. People who´ve heard this guy with Zappa or on his solo albums, will probably associate Ponty with those kinds of musics, but just remember that Aria is the zany and otherworldly bridge that unites such genres as classical, folk, rock n´ roll and the avant guarde, - and in this wonderful mess he doesn´t sound out of place, but rather fits in like a disguised cuckoo in the chicken coop.

Getting back to Monsieur Sorrenti and his tender vocal phrasings, people need to understand just how much out of the ordinary this album must have sounded like back then. Italy is first and foremost known for its impeccable and refined usage of melodies. Be that in their traditional folk music or inside the world of classical composers - this has always been a defining trademark of theirs. Try listening to the differences between Wagner and Puccini with a classical connoisseur, and almost immediately you´ll be facing these huge differences in both temper and angular design, but firstly in the sweet and melodic way that Puccini´s music presents itself. This is a highly melodic nation of people, and to have a young guy with obvious vocal talents come out of the blue with clear connotations to the wild and blurry avant guardistic and abrasive sides of the human voice, obliterating and alternating the well-known acoustical guitar ballads and traditional folk laden musics all at once with the flick of a switch - and with a voice of a thousand eagles............... - must´ve been quite the change. I for one would love to have experienced this first hand in down town Naples with a bottle of red wine by my side.

Review by siLLy puPPy
4 stars ALAN SORRENTI was and is a singer and composer who was born in Naples, Italy to a Welsh mother and spent as much time in the city of Aberystwiyth, Wales as in his native born Italy. As a result SORRENTI became fluent in both Italian and English languages and culture. While he would release a very sizable discography since his debut album in 1972, in 1976 he abandoned his early flirtations with progressive and psychedelic folk rock of his first few albums and jumped into full-on dance music. ARIA is his debut and fits firmly within the eclectic progressive rock arena that displays a whole plethora of musical influences including a healthy dose not only freak folk that meets psychedelic rock but shows his affinity with the progressive Italian rock scene as well as the most obvious influence of all, namely, early 70s Peter Hammill in the form of Van Der Graaf Generator. In fact SORRENTI almost perfectly mimics Hammill's vocal style only with an Italian flair. Understandable that SORRENTI would have been exposed to VDGG as Italy was the country where they experienced their greatest success. ARIA is in a way paying homage to the great UK eclectic prog band that found its home in a distant land.

The 19 minute and 45 minute title track begins the album and not only swallows half the album but mimics many a great of the day with not only Hammill style vocal acrobatics along with his singer / songwriter skills that were so prominent in VDGG but also the progressive freak folk instrumentation of Comus which comes to mind as the instrumentation comprises mostly of acoustic guitars accompanied by the brilliant violin playing skills of guest musician Jean Luc Ponty. There are also plenty of Hammond organs and mellotrons to create a thick lysergic atmosphere that enriches all the twists and turns of the song structure. While the VDGG and Hammill comparisons may lead one to expect a rock experience, this is first and foremost a psychedelic folk album that never once delivers an electric guitar riff or solo but rather incorporates a rich tapestry of acoustic and classical guitars and on this title track even ventures into the gypsy foot stomping territory of Spanish flamenco all the while SORRENTI's vocals do their own little dances around the melodic developments.

While the musical deliveries on ARIA are top notch, it is truly SORRENTI's vocals that are the star of the show here. As the liner notes explain: "SORRENTI's voice is treated with effects that compliment his experimental tendencies. Lines rise to crescendo and echo wildly in space. Falsettos tremble and vibrate. Lyrics disintegrate into exultation where SORRENTI's voice mutates into a musical instrument. Words are gently warbled, caressed, cosseted, vibrated and violently expunged. Styles of music melt and congeal together." I couldn't possibly top this first-rate description of the vocals, so i won't even try. The fact is this album comes off as if it were a long lost psychedelic recording of Van Der Graaf Generator. This is a dilemma for me as i find the album quite the brilliant experience but am a little put off by the blatant Hammilisms expressed in every musical cadence throughout the album despite the lyrics being totally penned in the Italian language. Some remaining short tracks to have more of an Italian feel and less of the VDGG textures. "La Mia Mente" actually has more of a Robert Plant feel.

Overall i'd have to say that i dig this album more than feel any sense of animosity. Yes, the influences are more than worn on the sleeve and stand out strong and bold, but SORRENTI actually has a more varied vocal style than Hammill and the music despite feeling like a counterpart in some alternative universe of the VDGG experience still manages to be captivating and complex with many instrumental workouts underneath the strident and bravado filled vocals that dominate the soundscape. The listener is treated to a plethora of keyboards and acoustic guitars, bow bass and trombone, trumpet and synth harp. Despite my usual resistance to give albums that take the influence thing a little too far, i have to admit that i find this particular release more than mesmerizing. This really is worth hearing over and over again.

Review by octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
4 stars Listening to the debut of Alan Sorrenti I can't tink to the rubbish stuff that he released just few years after. It's clear, in the early 70s in Italy an artist couldn't literally survive without at least a hit single, and there's nothing even remotely similar to a hit single in the 4 tracks of this first release.

The side long title track is something that I don't think the Italian market has seen before. The italian prog was already selling, thanks to PFM, Banco, Orme and their likes, but Aria, based on vocal experiments and acoustic instruments, with the addition of Jean Luc Ponty's violin, was completely out of the schemes. Alan's voice is naturally high-piched, and this may be the reason why he years later tried to clone the Bee Gees. He's experimental, but not a reasercher like the other big voice of the Italian 70s, Demetrio Stratos was. The song's melody changes seveal times, the passages are never trivial, sometimes even too unusual, so when sometimes gets back to more familiar armonies, it seems more melodic than what it really is. An important role is played by Ponty's violin, which is present in this track oly, but also the work made on percussion by Tony ESPOSITO (NAPOLI CENTRALE) is remarkable.

"Vorrei Incontrarti" (I wish to meet you) is a more "regular" song. Melodic but not too different in style from the title track. Still mainly acoustic with less vocal exercises. It fades out and the voice is replaced by a final whistle. An original final.

"La Mia Mente" (My mind) is more experimental. Maybe because of the subject. Not only the vocals, the whole arrangement is unusual. I have the impression to hear also an unreferenced Theremin, but it's the synth harp that makes a weird job.

The closer is opened by a cello solo. "Un Fiume Tranquillo" (A Quiet River) has strange lyrics. Following them is not very easy even for an Italian. Not only because of his kind of singing, but also because the attention is captured by the whole. An excellent work is performed by the Trumpet, then the track goes in crescendo, not as quiet as the river of the title. Instrumental interludes driven by the trumpet bring it back to the initial theme.

It's a pity that after a so interesting debut Alan Sorrenti attempted an "easy career". He had a big hit in the late 70s, while trying to be a Bee Gees clone, and in Italy is still remembered for that song only. After that he has been almost completely forgotten. Sometimes he appears on TV, always singing "Figli delle Stelle" and nothing else.

Recently he has released a 5 CD boxset entitled "The Prog Years", but I don't think he had enough prog material to fill 5 CDs unless there's something previously unreleased.

A 2 stars career, but this is a 4 stars album. Just give it a listen before buying, you may not lke the vocal style.

Latest members reviews

4 stars Alan Sorrenti is an Italian artist from Naples with a young Jean Luc Ponty on violin. (9.5/10)- Aria (19:49) The Epic title track mixes Sorrenti's ghostly falsetto with a mantic, Satantic Ponty setting fire to cat gut. Vocal gymnastics galore; Sorrenti rocks acoustically on Aria as if he list ... (read more)

Report this review (#2529761) | Posted by omphaloskepsis | Monday, March 29, 2021 | Review Permanlink

5 stars It's been a long while that a not yet known to me artist was able to really impress me, in fact Captain Beefheart and Amon Düül II were the last and that's been some time ago. Yes, I have discovered good music meanwhile, able to indeed impress me, Andre Demay's Generic, Farm's Farm, Pell Mell ... (read more)

Report this review (#965521) | Posted by jeromach | Monday, May 27, 2013 | Review Permanlink

5 stars A breath of fresh Aria My Rating: 9/10. Before taking the path of commercial success with songs like "Figli delle stelle" and "Tu sei l'unica donna per me", Alan Sorrenti wrote prog music. Have you ever listed to "Figli delle stelle"? If you are not italian, as I am, I think not. Well, I d ... (read more)

Report this review (#356069) | Posted by Dark Nazgul | Friday, December 17, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Aria is the first album by Alan Sorrenti and it is also the best record that he made. Although he was influenced by Tim Buckley's singing, (a little bit by Hammill), the album is original and very important in the Italian Prog scene. The contribution of Jean Lu ... (read more)

Report this review (#169750) | Posted by Civa | Saturday, May 3, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars A truly original and excellent album. The unusual vocals (sounding really quite like Tim Buckley's) take a bit of getting used to but soon you'll realise that he's using them more like an instrument than perhaps anyone else I've ever heard - one comparison you can make is Wyatt's vocals on Rock ... (read more)

Report this review (#169566) | Posted by musicbandit | Friday, May 2, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Also Alan Sorrenti begun as a prog singer, then he started to write awful pop songs (Battiato didn't, he wrote lots of good cds even if he passed to popular music)... This '72 studio work evidences the great Sorrenti's talent, a very loud singer. The title track is a perfect suite, then we have ... (read more)

Report this review (#137731) | Posted by paloz | Tuesday, September 11, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is one of the most important italian symphonic progressive album, in my opinion. Further it is surely the most original album - in a sub genre deeply influenced by the english works.The stuff runs very dark but at the same time mediterranean at the beginning through the amazing "Aria". Liste ... (read more)

Report this review (#116594) | Posted by Gigi | Wednesday, March 28, 2007 | Review Permanlink

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