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IL PAESE DEI BALOCCHI

Rock Progressivo Italiano • Italy


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Il Paese Dei Balocchi biography
Founded in Rome, Italy in 1971 - Disbanded in 1974

Guitar (acoustic, electric), bass and lots of Hammond organ come together to give to ambitious music worthy of the masters of the golden age of Italian Progressive, such as BANCO DEL MUTUO SOCCORSO. Their music is quite complex early 70's sound. The album is a typical italian symphonic prog album that combines powerful symphonism and subtle poetry. The vocals are in Italian and excellent.

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3.71 | 109 ratings
Il Paese Dei Balocchi
1972

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IL PAESE DEI BALOCCHI Reviews


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 Il Paese Dei Balocchi by PAESE DEI BALOCCHI, IL album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.71 | 109 ratings

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Il Paese Dei Balocchi
Il Paese Dei Balocchi Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars An obscure gem that deserves far more attention than it has received, this a masterpiece of intricate and unusual compositions that are delicately performed in an almost reverential way.

1. "Il trionfo dell'egoismo, della violenza, della presunazione e dell'infifferenza" (2:34) opening with a big, rolling, full band rock rondo, the music suddenly and quite drastically shifts at the 0:45 second mark into an entirely orchestral version/variation on the opening until at 2:20 it shifts into a finishing cushion of soft beauty. (9.25/10)

2. "Impotenza dell'umiltÓ della rassegnazione" (4:09) opens with gentle, spacious MIKE OLDFIELD sounding pastoral play from guitar and background Gregorian chant-like voices. At 1:50 the voices increase and the full rock band join in to support the Gregorian melody. At 2:30 everything quiets again before loud church organ and amped up voices establish a more rock orientation, which then evolves into a busting out of a full-on San Francisco-like blues-rock jam for the final minute. (9/10)

3. "Canzone della speranza" (3:55) gently picked acoustic guitar with more choral-like voices establish a pretty yet- sad structure before it all switches to a string quartet-supported vocal section around the one minute mark. The strings and lone male vocal are really pulling on heartstrings! Organ joins in for the final minute, otherwise, this is a gorgeous chamber piece. (9.5/10)

4. "Evasione" (7:40) opens with very spacious gently picked electric guitar with some water-like synth or percussion occasionally peeking in. After 90 seconds some more percussion and rock instruments take turns jumping in for short bursts of emphasis until, finally, at 2:43 a fully developed five-part song emerges with a slow, very engaging pop/R&B-feeling melody leading the way. This continues for two long but very satisfying minutes before more incidental instruments are intermittently inserted and then as quickly faded out. At 5:47 everything fades away until a volume-organ enters and is eventually joined by soloing electric guitar with support of rhythm section of cymbal- crashing drums, bass, and, later, two different sets of choral background voices. Cool but mystifying song. (14/15)

5. "Risveglio e visione del paese dei balocchi" (4:40) opens with a solo oboe (or cor anglais) playing a plaintive dirge. Gentle and sparsely orchestrated strings and winds enter in gentle support in the second minute. At the end of the second minute the orchestral instruments fade and are supplanted by organ, bass, and percussives for a minute or so before a volume-oscillating keyboard and organ take over and finish the song with some choral voices in background support. Nice, sensitive, song of interesting and beautiful subtleties. (9.25/10)

6. "Ingresso e incontro con i Baloccanti" (2:00) A KING CRIMSON-like Útude in sound possibilities and instrument and time variations and combinations. Breaks and ends with a church-like vocal solo. (4.5/5)

7. "Canzone della veritÓ" (0:45) is a short Pachelbel-like orchestra strings rondo. (5/5)

8. "Narcisismo della perfezione" (1:01) Brief plaintive folk song with beautiful male vocal supported by picked electric guitar and occasional strums from an acoustic steel-string guitar. (4.25/5)

9. "VeritÓ dell'intuizione fantastica (6:56) opens with distant swirling organ accompanied by bass and gentle drum & cymbal play creating a circular melody which has very slowly increasing volume and tempo over the course of the first 1:10. Things then soften and slow back down as organ fades further into the background while repeating electric guitar arpeggio and bass take over filling the foreground. At 2:15 a kind of Peter Gunn riff from the electric guitar opens up a new section as bass, drums and percussion pick up the pace. At the three minute mark everything suddenly shifts into a very tightly-performed weave. Eventually the swirling organ returns and begins to alternately throw flames and buckets of water upon the song. Then, at 4:10, rather abruptly, the song stops and again shifts into another protracted display of full band discipline and cohesion as they repeat over an over the same motif for several bars before they are eventually joined by a subdued BRAINTICKET-like organ. Even still, over the final minute nothing new is added to this highly disciplined repetition of this short motif. Interesting! Never annoying, just ... unexpected. (13/15)

10. "Ritorno alla condizione umana (4:18) a dynamic and often frenzied solo on the church organ. Very cool! (10/10)

Total Time: 44:43

Bonus song: "Hidden song" or "Fantasia e poesia" (3:34) an Italian variation on the "Whiter Shade of Pale" blues- rock sound with more traditional folkie Italian lead vocal. (/10)

Five stars; a masterpiece of classically-oriented Rock Progressivo Italiano--one that achieves that rare event in its masterful blending of rock and orchestral instruments.

 Il Paese Dei Balocchi by PAESE DEI BALOCCHI, IL album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.71 | 109 ratings

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Il Paese Dei Balocchi
Il Paese Dei Balocchi Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Review N║ 251

We are in 1972, a true very prolific year for the Italian prog scene. It's the year of the publication of many of the greatest masterpieces of the Italian prog. Just to name a few of them and the most importants, we have the homonymous debut album and 'Darwin' of Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso, 'Per Un Amico' and 'Storia Di Un Minuto' of Premiata Forneria Marconi, 'Uomo Di Pezza' of Le Orme, the homonymous debut album of Reale Accademia Di Musica, 'Ys' of Il Balletto Di Bronzo, 'Palepoli' of Osanna, the homonymous debut album of Quella Vecchia Locanda, 'DNA' of Jumbo, and next to them, we can find a small pearl, almost unknown, 'll Paese Dei Balocchi', the album of the band with the same name.

Il Paese Dei Balocchi was founded in Rome in 1971. Born from the ashes of Under 2000 and active since 1965, Il Paese Dei Balocchi were noticed in 1971 by the producer Adriano Fabi who proposed them the making of an album. This happened in the following year and the recording sessions lasted only two weeks and they released their only album.

The line up on the album is Fabio Fabiani (guitars), Armando Paone (vocals and organ), Marcello Martorelli (bass) and Sanaro Laudadio (lead vocals and drums). The Maestro Claudio Gizzi took care of the arrangements of the strings.

'Il Paese Dei Balocchi' is a conceptual album with a very pessimistic theme about the humankind, its society and the search for convincing answers. The concept is about a journey of a man inside himself, and himself here was imagined as a 'Land of Toys', the one where we all want to live escaping from a reality that doesn't satisfy us and where those who hold the threads of power, the despots, maneuvers us as true 'puppets'. It's the search for the human identity, passing through the good and the evil, trying to understand who we are, why we are here and where we are going to.

The cover of the album depicts many pieces of colored fabric sewn together. It fully represents the music on the album, the collage of sounds, classical and electronic, and atmospheres melancholy mismatches, presents on the album, not to be seen as compositional confusion, but as a great technical skill and ability to juggle the articulated world. Its music is a mix of classical, avant-garde and prog. Keyboards dominate, but there are some great orchestral arrangements too.

On the first track is the sublime amalgam between guitar, organ, bass and drums that impose to it. After a short break, the song creates suspense and changes completely. The last seconds are very relaxing. The second track carry with numerous and sudden changes. The start is very minimal, with a guitar and a theme of a few notes, taken shortly after a distorted guitar. The evolution is introduced by the bass and the entry of the whole band is accompanied by the choirs. Shortly, the organ tries to restore the calm, but it's only appearance. The choirs and a guitar come followed by a short segment of keyboards that closes it. The third track is the first sung on the album. A slight arpeggio starts a melancholy ballad. The basic sadness of the piece is also present later on the strings, in the voice and in the text. The end reminds me the pieces for strings of Vivaldi. The fourth track has a dreamlike, psychedelic flavor, a sensation created by the guitar's sound in the first part of the piece. From the second minute the dreamy atmosphere takes more shape with the entry of the keyboards and the battery. We can note some, sporadic, synth inserts and the fuller finish. The choirs in the end remind me Pink Floyd. The fifth track has a musical structure and creates an atmosphere that can be used like film music. The bass tour of the intermezzo instead seems to be taken from a passage by Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso. The sixth track is a song with a double soul. The first part has a very lively intro that exudes something medieval. The second part is entrusted to a voice that sings with a 'monastic' tone. The seventh track is a very short and intense song, played only with strings. It's very close to the pieces on the three 'Concerto Grosso' of New Trolls. It's clearly influenced by Vivaldi. The eighth track is another very short song. The only participants are the guitar and voice. On the ninth track is the bass, accompanied by the percussion, which gives meaning to the piece. They lead the way to a great prog segment. The organ solo presents sounds very British. The last part has psychedelic sounds. The tenth track is a test of strength of the organ alone, played great by Paone. For the occasion, an organ was used in the church of Saint Euclide, a church in which some choirs were also recorded. It's clearly a piece influenced by the organ works of Bach.

Conclusion: 'll Paese Dei Balocchi' is mostly an instrumental album. It's very symphonic and heavily influenced by the classical music of the Baroque Period, namely by the music of Vivaldi and J. S. Bach. Despite the busy beginning, the music mostly aims to be atmospheric and to create ambience instead of flashiness, with a few vocals appearing through the mist every now and then, sometimes only as a backing choir. The acoustic and electric guitars, bass and lots of Hammond organ come together to give to ambitious music worthy of the masters of the golden era of the Italian prog scene. The music is quite complex of the early 70's and the vocals are in Italian and excellent. It's recommended.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

 Il Paese Dei Balocchi by PAESE DEI BALOCCHI, IL album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.71 | 109 ratings

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Il Paese Dei Balocchi
Il Paese Dei Balocchi Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Cleansoul

5 stars I consider a masterpiece those albums that are unique and I want to hear from head to toe and the concept is meaningful, logical and the music and lyrics complement each other filling its "atmosphere". Il Paese Dei Balocchi has all these qualities with an important social message and awareness. It is a true progressive rock album, that stands up for what I consider the main characteristic of progressive music, it changes all the time, evolving along the piece. I believe it is a "must-have". I may be carried away by the fact that it used to be played at ELDOPOP, an open-air radio station in Rio de Janeiro, that played only progressive music during the '70s when I was teen and old love dies hard. Either way, it is a great addition to any collection. Thank you for your music.
 Il Paese Dei Balocchi by PAESE DEI BALOCCHI, IL album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.71 | 109 ratings

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Il Paese Dei Balocchi
Il Paese Dei Balocchi Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Dobermensch
Prog Reviewer

2 stars There's not much worse than organ related rock in my book. Regrettably this album is replete with such sound. That overblown cheese--fest is abundant throughout this self-titled album from the otherwise untouchable period of prog - 1972.

'Il Paese Dei Balocchi' is one of the more over-rated Italian prog albums which has Armando Paone sniveling and moaning about something or other. Perhaps it would help if I could understand Italian? One way or the other - he ain't no Sinatra.

'Il Paese Dei Balocchi' is decently recorded, sounding lively with much space between tracks. It's just that, well, it's damn uninteresting if I'm brutally honest. The compositions are poor and the playing is half-hearted - almost as though they can't wait to get the recording session over.

Things pick up with the creamy sound of 'Euasione' which, for 2 minutes fools you into a sense of imminent greatness with it's cool guitar and highly produced vocals. It's ultimately inadequate, as what follows is not a crescendo but a crushing lull. A shuffling. soul sapping nonentity.

This is a disappointingly forgettable album that tries ever so hard to be greater than the skills of the musicians at hand. In my opinion, it's just a poorly conceived and boringly executed album.

 Il Paese Dei Balocchi by PAESE DEI BALOCCHI, IL album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.71 | 109 ratings

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Il Paese Dei Balocchi
Il Paese Dei Balocchi Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by the philosopher

4 stars Sometimes you'll find some progressive music that realy is different. This is the case with Il Paese dei Balocchi. This music is a nice combination of classical music and rock. It's bombastic, dynamic and shows some territory within prog that was not heard before. On this record there are many long silent passages, which makes this record to be listened only when you've got the time to listen to it carefully. The silent -sometimes mysterious, sometimes mourning- passages makes the bombastic parts explode in to your rome leaving you thrilled on your sofa. There is a lot of emotion in this music. The combination of classical music and rock was never used before in this way; the dynamic, bombastic and emotional way. An emotion caused by instruments.

Many parts of this record are realy beautifull. The reason I don't give this the masterpiece rating is because there are some mediocre passages during the middle of side one and two. The beginning and the end are great however and this record will always light me up.

 Il Paese Dei Balocchi by PAESE DEI BALOCCHI, IL album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.71 | 109 ratings

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Il Paese Dei Balocchi
Il Paese Dei Balocchi Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by zravkapt
Special Collaborator Post/Math Rock Team

4 stars This is a classic prog album from 1970s Italy but one which most fans of Italian prog do not discuss much. A shame as I really liked this album but not some of the more popular RPI stuff. Il Paese Dei Balocchi is one of those Italian bands who only released one album and were never heard from again. This situation of course always makes you wonder whether these bands could have come up with something even better or if their first album was indeed their musical peak. Strings are important here and the balance of rock band and strings is well done. There are a few short instrumental interludes scattered across the album. The string parts are very symphonic and classical sounding while the rock parts are either in a 'heavy prog' vein or more mellow-rock.

The tracklist for this album really gave me a headache. Unable to find another streaming source for this album, I used YT to listen to it. This album is on a list of albums I want to get a hard copy of, but most of the prices I've seen for it are not cheap. It would be nice to hear the album as intended instead of in crappy YT sound. Back to the tracklist...every site I visited (including this one) had a different tracklisting and track times. There is also a 'hidden' song to which the YT vids make no reference. It's possible I may have gotten a few tracks confused, but I'll try my best to desribe the songs on this rather underrated album.

"Il Trionfo dell'egoismo..." starts the album off in a heavy prog direction. Then some great dramatic sounding strings take over. The strings then play the heavy riff at the beginning. The second track, which I believe is called "Impotenza dell'umilta..." (etc.) has great guitar playing and wordless harmony vocals along with some nice organ. Track 3 is called "Canzone della speranza" and has Italian lyrics for the first time on the album. Overall it's one of the more uninterersting and dull moments on the album.

"Evasione" is a song I first heard embedded on a website. I loved it so much I wanted to hear the whole album. This track sounds timeless, it could be from 40 years ago or it could have been recorded yesterday. I never heard RPI like this before. A highlight of the album for sure. It opens with some guitar arpeggios before organ, cymbals and bass join in. After 2 minutes it goes into the heart of the song which is built around a 3-note bassline, a jazzy guitar figure and a laid-back and easy-going beat. Eventually strings and atmospheric sounds get added and get louder as the band fades out. Towards the end organ brings the band back playing something different now with some cool "ahh" vocals now and again.

Track 5 which I think is called "Risveglio e visione..." has about 2 minutes of strings before it switches to a neat Prog Folk/Gentle Giant style. Later you hear a musical box or something similar. Ends dramatically with cymbals and organ. "Ingresso e incontro..." again feels like a mix of Tull and GG before it turns slightly blues-rocky. Then it sounds like a field recording of a cappella Italian singing with a little organ at the very end. The longest track, which I think is called "Verita dell'intuizione..." opens with organ and bass that increases in tempo and then is followed by some great symphonic prog. There's some kind of percussion sound you hear going back and forth in stereo before we get to some heavy prog featuring awesome drumming. Lots of unison playing as well.

Afterwards the song goes into what sounds like 9/8 time played slowly. Almost hypnotic this part. This is a very enjoyable and almost timeless album. Hard to compare it to anything since it generally sounds fairly unique. This does not sound as dated as some Italian prog from around the same time. There is also almost no trace of a Genesis influence. Not every track is a winner but the whole album flows well. I will give this 4 stars.

 Il Paese Dei Balocchi by PAESE DEI BALOCCHI, IL album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.71 | 109 ratings

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Il Paese Dei Balocchi
Il Paese Dei Balocchi Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Nightfly
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Releasing only one album, in 1972, Il Paese Dei Balocchi deserve to be spoken of in the same tones of reverence as other highly regarded one shot bands of the Italian prog scene such as Museo Rosenbach and Maxophone and had they lasted longer, who knows, they may have even been up there with the big boys - Banco, Orme etc such is the quality here.

This eponymous offering is a beautiful piece of work - atmospheric, melancholic and haunting, it's a lovely example of Italian symphonic prog with classical touches. It doesn't rush, content to take its time giving the music a trippy vibe at times. Largely instrumental which works in its favour but that's not to say the vocals are lacking in quality when they are present. Great Hammond work gets me every time as it does here, having for want of a better word, a kind of spooky feel to it on this occasion. There also seems to be a church organ present which is equally compelling. Guitar generally takes a back seat as does the drums but there's the occasional powerful moment where things take off for a short while. This thankfully doesn't work to the detriment of the overall vibe of the album.

I'm surprised this excellent album doesn't feature more prominently amongst top Italian prog lists, it really is that good and is essential to anyone on a journey of discovery with RPI and likely to be of interest to many others too. Wonderful stuff and a great example of why Italian prog is so full of surprises and draws in such strong devotes.

 Il Paese Dei Balocchi by PAESE DEI BALOCCHI, IL album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.71 | 109 ratings

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Il Paese Dei Balocchi
Il Paese Dei Balocchi Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by snobb
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars One between so many one-shot RPI band from early 70. Differently from many others popular RPI releases,this album's music is not only very symphonic, but often dark, complex and almost non-mellow.

Interesting, that compositions there are not symphonic music with mellow pop-rock arrangements, as too often could be heard from similar releases, but real tasteful symphonic prog on its best! Plenty of organ sounds remind more JS Bach or catholic church organ messes than popular classics adaptation for schoolboys party. Sound is ambitious and bombastic, but this album is that rare case when bombastic doesn't mean negative.

Musicianship is of really high level and I really respect how musicians work with symphonic material. Possibly some can say that there are not real melted music of classical and rock is presented, and I can see the reason for such comments. But to be honest,such responsible use of chamber and symphonic material, when rock elements never destroy it,but sound more as side-part additions, is really respectable in my opinion.

In all cases, this only band's release is really one of the greatest examples of non-mellow and non-cheesy RPI, besides of Museo Rosenbach. For many of you who disappointed in RPI because of their "pop meet classics meet rock" sound this album could be one good chance to find great sides of RPI. Just try!

P.S. Re-release 2 bonuses are funny Italian vintage pop, better just skip them.

 Il Paese Dei Balocchi by PAESE DEI BALOCCHI, IL album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.71 | 109 ratings

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Il Paese Dei Balocchi
Il Paese Dei Balocchi Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by friso
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Il Paese dei Balocchi - st (1972)

Continuing my journey through the Italian symphonic land-scapes I found this album by coincidence. I was on a vinyl convention and I had the option to buy four RPI vinyl reissues for forty euros and I had to pick a fourth one (the others were easy choices). I asked the man who sold the records how this strange looking record sounded and he answered something like: 'it's pretty dark and brooming'. A convincing salesman talk. The cover with it's old clothes patterns is actually really good. The inside of this fold-out sleeve has yet some more artwork.

Now, actually, this music ain't that dark, but it is brooming. Il Paese dei Balocchi plays an introvert form of classical inspired prog that has little relation with the ELP-tradition of key- bashing and bombastic arrangements. And I have to agree with Bonnek here, this really is one of the best fusions of prog and classical music. Subtle, atmospheric and intelligent. It isn't as much the notes or recognizable chord progressions that were taken from the classical genre, but it's dynamic listening experience. It's many low-volume passages, it's full-blown string arrangements (with some of the best Italian vocals I've ever heard) and totally unique approach to music make this one of my favorite Italian records so far. Yet, Il Paese dei Balocchi has some moments of up-tempo and rockin' (but subtle) moments. Along the way we also get some dark moments (with panicking vocals), a moment that sounds as if post-rock was invented by this band and a mysterious church-organ ending section. The recording of the album is very good and suitable for it's kind.

Also mentioned by Bonnek, this album's vibe and atmosphere evoke a link to Pink Floyd's Atom Heart Mother. It's hard to explain, but the introvert progression and the totally out-of-the-box approach are somehow resemblant of the Pink Floyd masterpiece.

Conclusion. Innovation is a key-word for the progressive genre, but uniqueness is king. Creating a piece of music that is both atmospheric and intelligent AND totally original is for me the ultimate achievement. It's like magic. I feel obligated to give the five-star rating for Il Paese dei Balocchi. This is what I'm looking for.

 Il Paese Dei Balocchi by PAESE DEI BALOCCHI, IL album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.71 | 109 ratings

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Il Paese Dei Balocchi
Il Paese Dei Balocchi Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars A cult early name of the 70's Italian Prog scene,this quartet from Rome was born out of the ashes of the beat group Under 2000,which was formed in mid-60's and released a few singles,after bassist Aldo Parente (aka Franco Maria Giannini) left the band.The remaining members were accompanied by (later main leader) keyboardist Armando Paone and bassist Marcello Martorelli.Producer Adriano Fabi helped them record their debut,which was pressed in 1800 copies,an album which meant to be the first and last one for this obscure act.

STYLE: At the same time flirting with complex organ-driven prog and dark/romantic Classical music,''Il Paese dei Balocchi'' is a dangerous listening for non-mystified proggers.Spotted by many reviewers as a calm and very relaxed release,I can only say that this is half true.You will find yourself often after trully complicated heavy prog musicianship with definite symphonic elements,guided by remarkable guitar sounds and bombastic organ.Other themes include hypnotic musicianship with smooth guitars (both acoustic and electric),mysterious choirs,deep basses,spacey synths and soft vocals.The high educational level of the band is in front of you at the strong amount of Classical passages,dominated by vocals,dark organ,intense string parts and grandiose piano.

INFLUENCES/SOUNDS LIKE: Forget about the folkier side of Italian Prog and focus on the most obscure parts of the Italian Symphonic scene.Best comparison would be ALPHATAURUS if you add a strong amount of pure Classical music.Other reference points could be ROVESCIO DELLA MEDAGLIA,MUSEO ROSENBACH,NEW TROLLS or even PHOLAS DACTYLUS and JACULA.

PLUS: Certainly originality!I cannot think of another old Italian band which blends organ- driven prog with so many crystalline Classical parts.Excellent work by Paone on organ,which is the bands biggest weapon.The album emits a bizzare but attractive blend of romanticism, mysticism and darkness in its every section.Excellent choir parts as well.The rocking parts are of top class with balanced complexity and a high level of musicianship.

MINUS: Yes,''Il Paese dei Balocchi'' is much of a calm listening (yet with a high emotional level) and a liitle bit rocking intensity wouldn't hurt.Actually those not into Classical music may have some problems following this album.Male vocals are not that good,average stuff at least.

WILL APPEAL TO: People ,whose nights are torn between( prog) rock and Classical music may find this album in their top 10!RPI fans will definitely like this one too.For the rest,you should try some samples first.

CONCLUSION/RATING: 3.5 stars.An excellent example of early Italian Progressive Rock with a huge musical quality and a very personal sound...but this is not your album for every night I have to admit.Worth purchasing.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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