Monday, 26 September 2011

LOMBARDIA (part 1)

Now we head East, to LOMBARDIA and to its capital MILAN where you can find one of the most important musical scenes in Italy. Milan is known throughout the world for landmarks such as its Gothic Cathedral and the temple of Italian opera, La Scala. It was from here that what is probably the most famous Italian progressive rock band, Premiata Forneria Marconi (Official Website), took off in the late sixties. This band is still in perfect shape, especially on stage, and in 2010 released a new album, A.D. 2010 - La buona novella, a remake of a concept album by Fabrizio De Andrè inspired by the apocryphal gospels.

Another band that started its career in the late sixties and that is still active today with a renewed line-up are I Giganti (Official Website) but their repertoire now is more focused on the “beat” stuff they released in the sixties than on their absolute masterpiece Terra in bocca. In 2009 the original album (plus a bonus track) was re-released along with a book of 272 pages, Terra in bocca - Quando i Giganti sfidarono la mafia, and in 2010 all the original members of the band (except the late Sergio Di Martino) reunited just to perform the whole work in theatres.

By the way, former member of I Giganti, Mino Di Martino, who was also involved in other projects during the seventies such as the experimental Albergo Intergalattico Spaziale and Telaio Magnetico, now leads a prog folk project called Il Compleanno di Mary (MySpace). Two other bands that were formed in the late sixties in Milan and that are still active are I Dik Dik (Official Website) and Formula 3 (MySpace). Both bands collaborated in the seventies with famous singer-songwriter Lucio Battisti and now their repertoire is more focused on the songs written by Battisti and lyricist Mogol than on their short prog period.

In this city Antonio Bartoccetti and Doris Norton started their long artistic partnership at the end of the sixties as Jacula. They are still active today as Antonius Rex (Official Website) and their last album, Per Viam, where dark music flows away like the soundtrack of a horror movie or a thriller, was released in 2009 on the independent label Black Widow. Recently two of the many outstanding one-shot bands that were formed in Milan during the seventies, Maxophone (Official Website) and Alphataurus (Official Website), also reunited for some concerts and new projects. Amongst the seventies bands from Milan that are no longer active (although a reunion in some cases is always possible) and deserve mentioning are Pholas Dactylus, Alusa Fallax, De De Lind, Jumbo, Aktuala, Ricordi d’Infanzia and Il Volo.

Another band of veterans that in some way is still active are the Stormy Six. Stormy Six were formed in Milan in the sixties as a “beat band” and were later involved in the political movements of the left wing. They were also among the founders of the Rock in Opposition movement. In recent years they joined up again for some live performances with a repertoire more focused on their prog folk albums rather than on their experimental period. Former singer of Stormy Six Umberto Fiori recently started an acoustic project along with guitarist Luciano Margorani called simply Fiori & Margorani (MySpace) while one of the founder members of the band, Franco Fabbri, now is a well known musicologist and teaches at University.

Area, along with Stormy Six, were one of the most radical and committed bands of the seventies scene, linked to the left wing movements. Recently the band reformed without the late singer Demetrio Stratos and the late drummer Giulio Capiozzo but the atmosphere of their concerts is rather different from the seventies and the music is all that matters now. Keyboardist Paolo Fariselli (Official Website) has also released some interesting solo albums while guitarist Paolo Tofani (MySpace) is still active too as a solo artist but he has radically changed life style and is now a follower of the Hare Krishna movement.

Former bassist of the Stormy Six Claudio Rocchi (Official Website), who in the past was also involved with the Hare Krishna movement, in the seventies started a solo career as a singer-songwriter releasing some albums that should be of interest to prog lovers. Other singer-songwriters of the seventies Milanese scene that are still in activity and that should be of interest to prog lovers are Claudio Fucci (MySpace) and Eugenio Finardi (Official Website).

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