Wednesday, 8 September 2021

A STRANGE SUBMARINE KINGDOM

Il Buco del Baco (the name means “the bug’s hole”) is a strange, mysterious project based in Milan. According to their website, the band came to life in 1970 under the name Gli Altri and disappeared soon after the recording sessions of what should have been their first album. According to their biography, in 1971 the band escaped an unlikely plane crash, got hibernated in an iceberg and woke up in 2016 emerging from a long cryogenic sleep... Then, in 2018 they changed their name into the current one and in 2021 released a concept album entitled Sotto il segno della lampreda (Under the sign of the lamprey) on the independent label Lizard Records with a line up featuring Carlo Mastrangeli (drums, vocals), Gianni De Scalzi (bass, vocals), Fabrizio Nocenzi (Moog, piano, vocals), Daniele Graziani (Hammond, keyboards, vocals), Gaetano Trionfanti (guitars, vocals) and Saverio Silvani (flute, vocals). Are the names of the musicians listed in the booklet nothing but pseudonyms hiding their real identity? I don’t know. Are they serious? Maybe not... Anyway, although Il Buco del Baco might look just as the parody of a seventies Italian prog band reunion their music is worth listening to...
 
 
The opener “Lo scafandro di Sandro” (Sandro’s diving suit) introduces the subject matter of the concept, a surreal submarine journey where the protagonist is looking for his sweetheart, a kind of siren called Rosalisca. The music draws unashamedly on vintage sounds and seventies influences while the lyrics tell of the protagonist who borrows the diving suit of his friend Sandro and sets off for his quest into the deep see...

“Mi immergo negli abissi” (I dive into the abyss) and the following “Dimmi, calamaro!” (Tell me, squid!) describe the first impact of the protagonist with the submarine world and its creatures. He meets some scared mackerels and a squid... A man who talks with the fishes asking for information? Well, the atmosphere of this concept is that of a funny comic strip full of irony and double meanings!

“Il disprezzo della sogliola” (The contempt of the sole) recalls Franco Battiato and tells about the meeting with a monstrous, raging sole. Next comes “Un dedalo di corallo” (A coral maze) where the protagonist gets lost into the coral reef, under the mocking glares of a sawfish. Despite the difficult situation he keeps on looking for his goal... Here the music reminds me slightly of BMS.



“Forse è lei” (Maybe it’s she) blends Jethro Tull and Lucio Battisti and tells about the distorted visions of the protagonist who think he sees his sweetheart among swordfishes, sharks, sea urchins, sea anemones, crabs, cuttlefishes and other creatures... But he’s wrong!

Then it’s the turn of the long “Nel regno delle lamprede” (Into the lampreys kingdom) where the protagonist meets a hammerhead shark, a pearly razorfish, a spine trumpet fish, a clownfish, a triggerfish, a blowfish and finally enters the palace of the great lamprey. Here he realizes that Rosalisca doesn't love him: the great lamprey submitted her to his own power reducing her into a state of subjection and there’s no way to bring her up back home with him...

The last track, “Il plagio di Rosalisca” (Rosalisca’s plagiarism), is the weakest of the lot, a clumsy patchwork made of quotes from Lucio Battisti best known songs. Eventually the protagonist emerges from the sea alone and ends up to get drunk at the Milly Bar...

On the whole, a funny exercise of style with some ups and downs that deserves a try.
You can listen to the complete album HERE

More info:
https://www.facebook.com/IlBucoDelBacoOfficialPage/



Sunday, 18 July 2021

TO PLAY MUSIC

 Giorgio Piazza, nicknamed “Fico”, was one of the founder members of Premiata Forneria Marconi. The bassist left the band in 1973, replaced by Patrick Djivas, and went under the radar for a very long time... It wasn’t until 2012 that he came back on stage with a new project called Per Fare Musica (the name means “to play music”, but in short it’s P.F.M.) gathering around him some talented young musicians to reinterpret and perform Premiata Forneria Marconi’s early repertoire. After many concerts around Italy, in 2019 they recorded live in studio their versions of the pieces taken from Storia di un minuto and Per un amico with a line up featuring Giorgio Fico Piazza (bass), Eric Zanoni (guitars, vocals), Riccardo Campagno (keyboards, vocals), Giuseppe Perna (keyboards, vocals), Marco Fabbri (drums) plus the special guests Marco Colombo (lead guitar on two tracks) and Annie Barbazza (lead vocals on two tracks). The album, entitled Autumn Shades, was produced by Max Marchini for Maniticore Productions Ltd. and released by the independent label Ma.Ra.Cash Records with a beautiful art cover by Lino Budano. 
 

 
Although the track list doesn’t follow the same order of the original albums, all the pieces are reinterpreted with philological pragmatism, great musicianship and freshness. The fruit of the recording sessions is a pleasant immersion in the atmospheres of the past with updated arrangements that respect the spirit of classics such as “Impressioni di Settembre”, “Il banchetto” or “E’ festa”. The sound quality is excellent and I think that this album could be a good starting point. In fact, there’s no new original material on it and I hope that in the future this project will bring us new pieces and creativity, not only perfectly crafted exercises of style. All in all, Il Tempio delle Clessidre started performing the old repertoire of Museo Rosenbach with the original vocalist of the band and ended up releasing some wonderful albums of their own original music... Well, I hope that Giorgio Piazza and his new bandmates will follow their path! 
 

 
You can listen to the complete album HERE
 
More info:
 

Thursday, 1 July 2021

A SPACE HERO

In orbita is the sixth studio album by Conqueror, a Sicilian band whose roots date back to the nineties. It was released in 2019 on the independent label Ma.Ra.Cash Records with a renewed line up featuring Simona Rigano (keyboards, synth, lead vocals), Natale Russo (drums, percussion), Tino Nastasi (guitars) and Sofia Ferraro (sax, flute, EWI 5000) plus the guests Edoardo Ragunì (bass, backing vocals) and Giovanni Alibrandi (violin). It’s an excellent conceptual work inspired by the life of Russian space hero Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin  (1934 – 1968) where the music and lyrics try to express emotions and feelings through a sort of empathy with the protagonist rather than just telling a story. The colourful art cover by Giusy Lo Conti in some way depicts the emotional content of the album...

 


The dreamy opener “Fino al limite” (To the limit) starts softly evoking beautiful landscapes where all the natural elements dance in symbiosis with colours and moving lights... The words and lyrics try to take us back in the childhood of the protagonist, born in the rural village of Klushino, in Smolensk Oblast, Russia. The child, curious and interested in everything, develops an almost transcendental fascination for flight and is determined to pursue his dreams, a bit like Jonathan Livingston, the seagull...

The tense “In cerca d’ali” (Looking for wings) tells of an episode from the protagonist childhood. The music and lyrics describe the evolutions of two planes, red stars falling from the stars avoiding the crash with an audacious combination of geometrical manoeuvres... In a cold winter night, two jet fighters of the Red Army are forced to make an emergency landing in the snow because of a mechanical breakdown. All night long the pilots wait for the rescuers without leaving the damaged air-crafts and the children of the village can admire their courage and tenacity. 


 The dynamic “Verso un nuovo mondo” (Towards a new world) is about the feelings and sensations that the protagonist experiences during his hard training for the space mission. The music alternates lively, almost funky passages with calm, dreamy sections evoking symphonies of colours and rains of sounds while heart and mind of the cosmonaut are focused on the goal of the mission...

Kedr” starts by a nice organ solo pattern, then the rhythm rises as the protagonist is going to board the space-craft. This piece depicts in music and words the emotions and feelings that the protagonist experiences before and during his space mission, the first space flight of the Vostok programme and the first human space flight in history. The title refers to the call sign used by Gagarin during the mission. The Vostok 3KA space capsule was launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome on April 12, 1961, with Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin aboard, from the space he can see that the the Earth is just a far, small blue planet and everything takes a different perspective... 

 

Yuri Gagarin 1961 (pic from Wikipedia)

Un disegno perfetto” (A perfect drawing) is a reflective track that deals with the effects of this extraordinary experience on protagonist. There’s a new awareness, a new maturity, the whole soul of the cosmonaut is transformed and he finds a new balance where serenity and troubles melt... Per aspera ad astra!

The title of the short instrumental “09.07 A.M.” refers to the departure time of the space mission. It’s a beautiful, classical inspired track that leads to the closer “Star On The Moon”. Despite the English title, the conclusive piece is mainly sung in Italian with backing vocals in English. It’s a light, melodic track that draws solar visions from the space, stars over a sailing moon lost in the sea of the universe in a never ending journey towards new worlds and dimensions...

On the whole, an interesting concept and a wonderful work!

You can listen to the complete album HERE

More info:

 



 

Tuesday, 29 June 2021

WHERE ARE THEY NOW?

Il Bacio di Giuda came to life in Rome in 2000 on the initiative of Marco Tesoriero (vocals) and Paolo Vigliarolo (guitar), then joined by Marco Berni (keyboards). Later the line up was completed by Orazio Fabbri (bass) and Fabio Migliori (drums) and in 2005 the band self-released an interesting eponymous demo EP and made it available in free download from their official website. The sources of inspiration range from Italian prog masters of the seventies such as Premiata Forneria Marconi, Banco del Mutuo Soccorso or Area to canzone d’autore and more recent acts and in my opinion it’s a real pity that the band did not last long and called it a day in 2007...

 


The opener “Alba metallica” (Metallic dawn) starts with a slow pace, a strummed guitar and a dreamy atmosphere where the music and lyrics evoke pastoral landscapes and the smells and sounds of an uncontaminated country... Then the rhythm rises and the instrumental breaks could recall bands such as Banco del Mutuo Soccorso and Goblin as the dream turns into nightmare and you can feel the fear that a tree could experience in front of a man, a member of the most dangerous, destructive species of living beings, the species that is transforming Amazonia into an arid desert...

“Il lago” (The lake) is a long, introspective piece that starts with an acoustic guitar arpeggio. The music and the hermetic lyrics conjure up the image of a running train and the fading memories of an unquiet night, abstract wars of dark lights, fog and dust. There’s a lake and descent forces that push a man toward the deep waters in an emotional network of simultaneous contrasts... Then beautiful instrumental crescendo finale is a kind of trip into the unknown of the meaning of life.

 



The claustrophobic “Insonorizzato” (Soundproof) tells of a deep personal crises and alienation. The music and lyrics draw the image of a man alone in his room, then try to depict his inner pain and silent screams on the brink of madness...

The melancholic “La musica di Giuda” (Judas’ music) is a kind of programmatic manifesto and is related to the name of the band that means “Judas’ kiss”. According to an old interview, this kiss should not be considered as an affront or a betrayal but as the kiss of those who regret a mistake made; however, it is not the kiss of a formal apology, but a truly sincere act, in the conscious desperation that it is now too late to remedy it. This kiss should be the desirable one for anyone in everyday life but above all in relation to more general issues such as the evils that afflict the world (war), in which everything, after the mistakes made, is reduced to pure formality. This is the common thread of the pieces songs, even if apparently they deal with different topics and issues.

An instrumental version of “La musica di Giuda” closes this very promising work. Unfortunately the members of the band couldn’t keep the promises and parted ways... 

 



Where are they now? Well, Paolo Vigliarolo, Marco Berni and Orazio Fabbri joined, one after each other, Giancarlo Erra and his project NoSound (Official Website) but Marco Berni is also involved in another interesting prog project called Prototype Lab (Official Website). Fabio Migliori is currently the drummer of a Heavy Metal band called Enemynside (Official Website) while Marco Tesoriero (Facebook), after a long hiatus, has recently self-released two albums in a singer-songwriter style, Questaterra! (2020) and Funamboli astrali (2021)

More info:



Thursday, 24 June 2021

A NEW DARK AGE

 Warm Spaced Blue is the second album by Roman band Ingranaggi della Valle and was released in 2016 on the independent label Black Widow Records with a renewed line up featuring founder members Mattia Liberati (Hammond B3, Mellotron, Fender Rhodes Mk V, Mini-Moog, piano, backing vocals), Flavio Gonnellini (electric guitars, backing vocals), Marco Gennarini (violin, backing vocals) and Shanti Colucci (drums, percussions) along with Davide Savarese (vocals, glockenspiel), Antonio Coronato (electric bass) and Alessandro Di Sciullo (electric and acoustic guitars, Moog, Mellotron, Roland TR 808 and TR 909, Akai MPC Touch, Korg Kaoss Pad KP 3, electronics, backing vocals) plus some prestigious guests such as Fabio Pignatelli (bass), Florian Lechner (narrative vocals), Stefano Vicarelli (synthesizer) and Paolo Lucini (flute). If compared with their previous album, the sound is darker and, in some way, bolder and more experimental. According to the band, this is a concept album sui generis, inspired by H.P. Lovecraft’s literary work, ghost stories and Gothic atmospheres dealing with the relation between self-conscious and collective unconscious. Anyway, there is more focus on music than on lyrics and you can enjoy the album even without the help of a Jungian key to analyse the complexity of the concept while the art cover and the pictures in the booklet by Jacopo Tiberi could give a clue of what the music is about... 
 
 

 
The disquieting opener “Call For Cthulhu: Orison” introduces the subject matter with an invocation to the return of a fallen god, the one who can sweep away laws and morals overcoming the difference between good and evil, restoring universal freedom... “The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age...” (quote from H.P. Lovecraft, The Call Of Cthulhu). 
 
Ingranaggi della Valle 2016

 
Inntal” takes us in the eerie woods of the Inn Valley drawing pastoral landscapes and spectral shadows for a Gothic tale where fear can drive you crazy. The narrative vocals in German, the short lyrics in English, the music and the picture in the booklet evoke the ghost of a drowned girl and the irrepressible force that can attract you in her fatal arms and then push you into the void of the night... 
 
The short instrumental “Call For Cthulhu: Through The Stars” takes you for a nightmarish trip into the deep ocean where you can experience an oneiric vision of the submarine corpse-city of R'lyeh, home of great Cthulhu and his hordes, hidden in green slimy vaults... 
 
 

 
The following “Lada Niva” is a bit lighter and dreamy. It describes the troubles of the ghost of an old man hanging on his memories and who can’t forget his old car and the sound of the rain on its wind-shield, making very difficult for him the last step into the afterlife. Then it’s the turn of the mysterious “Ayida Wedo”, a beautiful instrumental track whose title refers to the Rainbow Serpent of the Voodoo culture and to its double personality... 
 
The long, complex “Call For Cthulhu: Promise” evokes in music and words claustrophobic atmospheres and cosmic journeys across the unknown territories of the mind. The promise of a spiritual rebirth and the hope for a come back from the abyss close an album that is really worth listening to... 
 
You can listen to the complete album HERE