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Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso - Garofano Rosso CD (album) cover


Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso


Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.49 | 163 ratings

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4 stars It's pretty obvious that Garofano Rosso is not your typical Banco album, simply because of the astonishing non-presence of lead singer Francesco di Giacomo, so why even bother making this a cause celebre, criticizing for no more reason than it not fitting the comfort zone?

I love this album and always have, a soundtrack that showcases the incredible instrumental talents of the players especially the upfront bass meanderings of Renato D'Angelo and the work of drummer Pier Luigi Calderoni, who does some admirable percussive work throughout but also the incredibly varied orchestral arrangements that add a completely non-prog element to the music. Here the French horn, trumpets (clarino and tromba ), vibraphone and timpani take up a large musical storefront , even though the Nocenzi brothers still lather on the keyboards with sizzling gusto.

All the pieces save the intro "Zobeida", which is the weakest track here, are astounding slices of Italian-flavored prog-rock, with liberal doses of expressive intent, veering into jazz, experimental, symphonic and orchestral with unabashed ease.

From "Funerale" on, the music starts evoking some heavenly realms, dreamy passages that suggest cinematographic images (pealing church bells), trumpets leading the fanfare with swirly organ as the piano leads the merry escapade. Romanticized and elegant, the melodies are purely dazzling.

"10 Giugno 1924" begins with a furious cavalcade, all guns blazing intensely, Calderoni's drums beating a marshalling drive. Sounds like some escape scene from a wild Italian film, slightly dissonant and hyperactive, with Maltese's electric guitar the only supplier of melody.

Veering into the quasi-medieval and the all too brief "Quasi Saltarello", a little ditty that shows a myriad of baroque essences and aromas that point playfully towards the core trio of essential pieces: "Esterno Notte", the title track and "Suggestioni di un Ritorno in Campagna", the vivid music surely serves cinematographic necessities that can also be selfishly enjoyed by closing one's eyes and imagining another gripping silver screen scene. Starting off with a surreal synth medley involving splendid acoustic guitar, a nascent melody that is serenely elegant and tasteful as the piano takes over. Brooding stuff! The title track relies on a more typical Banco premise, piano, guitar and synths carving out a multi-phased assault on the senses, held together by that solid rhythm section. The Nocenzi brothers understand ivory interplay (presumably learnt in the womb), complementing each other impeccably. This is something ELP fans wold gulp up in a jiffy! On the final piece of the triad, the majestic piano interplay with Maltese's lead guitar is an album highlight, another Banco speciality at its finest, this piece recalls "Metamorphosis" for its bouncy and nervous piano tones but in a perhaps more subtle style, jazzier, cooler and less bombastic. Simply stated, this is RPI of the highest order, complex interactions between the gifted musicians, common melodic vision and this album's icing on the cake.

The disc ends with 5 easy little pieces, each between 2 and 3 minutes and all fascinating mosaics of sound: "Passagieta in Biccicleta" is slightly more playful and childlike, trumpets galore pushing along a basic rhythmic pulse, this piece sounds like an Italian version of UK jazz-rock legends Nucleus, erupting drum attacks propulsed by a demonic bass, synth adornments and lots of atmospherics! "Tema di Giovanna" is piano central, the grandiose keys interweaving with synthesized flutters and D'Angelo carving a solid bass furrow. Very pretty! "Siracusa" is carousel time, you can imagine the Fellini clowns eating their sopressata sandwiches as their buffoons prance around them playing their leisurely instruments in a hot piazza somewhere in the boot! "Notturno Breve" is spooky melody featuring mostly synths and organs, in a dapper baroque style, evoking times gone by and keeping the mood solid and entertaining. Finally, "Lasciando la Casa" puts this puppy to bed, another splurging symphonic rendition with just the right amount of fanfare, bombast and bravado. The electric guitar sizzles among the phased arrangements and settles this into the night sky.

Perhaps not the finest Banco recording ever but Garofano Rosso is one of the best instrumental packages from the 70s progressive rock scene and should be seen as the latter and not the former. As such and especially because of its unique qualities, this is a prog collector's dream album. While some may lament Di Giacomo not presenting his dramatic voice, the music simply stands all the tests and proves once and for all, the mammoth talents of the musicians involved.

4 Red Carnations

tszirmay | 4/5 |


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