Monday, 26 September 2011

LOMBARDIA (part 2)

Progressive rock in Milan was not dead on the wane of the seventies and the current musical scene of the city features many very interesting bands that keep up the flag of prog. You can find here some good “neo-prog” groups such as Edera (MySpace), H20 (who formed in 1977 although they couldn’t release their debut album until 1997) and the “Genesis-like” The Watch (Official Website), born from the ashes of a band called The Night Watch. A recent solo project in “Genesis style” is also that of Alessandro Farinella (MySpace), former member of Theatre, helped by Silvio Masanotti, former guitarist and composer of Tale Cue. From an idea of Francesco Zago, former member of the aforementioned The Night Watch, an interesting project was launched that blends classic symphonic rock with avant-garde, Yugen (MySpace). Francesco Zago is also involved in another project called Not A Good Sign (Facebook) along with keyboardist from Vares Paolo "Ske" Botta and some members of Genoese band La Coscienza di Zeno.

Other local bands with a strong avant-garde taste are the Allegri Leprotti (MySpace) and Nichelodeon (MySpace). Nichelodeon, a “chemical laboratory engaged in performing audio-visual crafts”, are mainly the brainchild of Claudio Milano, vocalist and composer who started to work on it in 1997. In September 2010 the independent label Lizard Records released their first studio album, Il gioco del silenzio, featuring many guest musicians and an extremely rich and colourful overall sound. Well, experimental music is not everyone’s cup of tea but in this case the result is a well balanced concoction of styles that gives strength to the poetical content of the lyrics.

On the prog folk side there are Reverie (MySpace), a band formed on the initiative of composer and guitarist Valerio Vado, former member of the symphonic-prog band Lethe. Prog folk lovers might find some interest also in the West-Coast influenced Come le Foglie (MySpace) who began life in the seventies although they never had the chance to release an album then. Recently they met again and in 2010 finally released an album on AMS/BTF, Aliante, featuring old stuff and new pieces.

With a more conventional Italian prog-style we can find The Badge (Facebook), Filoritmia (Official Website), who in 2009 released the excellent Passaggi and Ubi Maior (MySpace) who in 2009 released the very good, Senza tempo. Ubi Maior’s keyboardist Gabriele Manzini recently started a solo project called Archangel (MySpace).

From Milan there also comes an interesting rock-opera composer, Marco Burgatto (MySpace), whose projects feature Ubi Maior’s rhythm section. An interesting new band that draws on seventies influences is Calibro 35 (Official Website) who take inspiration from the soundtracks of the seventies Italian B-movies about crime and violence, a genre usually called Poliziottesco. Calibro 35 recorded some covers from the seventies and some original tracks in the same style and released an eponymous debut album in 2008, followed by an excellent sophomore one in 2010, Ritornano quelli di... Calibro 35.

Milan also gave us the symphonic prog project Gan Eden - Il Giardino delle Delizie (MySpace) and a band now based in London that in 2009 released a debut album for BTF in pure Rock Progressivo Italiano old-style, Il Ruscello (MySpace). With a sharper sound and some hints of metal then there are VIII Strada (MySpace) who had the chance to play live also with Area’s Patrizio Fariselli as a special guest, and Anacondia (MySpace). Anacondia’s guitarist Walter Marocchi is also involved in an interesting jazz-rock side-project called Walter Marocchi Mala Hierba (MySpace).

If you love mystical atmospheres and a dark sound, try Il Ballo delle Castagne (MySpace). The name of the band means “The Chestnuts Ball” and it was inspired by a legend involving Pope Alexander VI (1431-1503) and his questionable habits: the “Chestnuts Ball” was a kind of “Satanic Sabbath” where naked women used to dance in the light of chandeliers picking up chestnuts from the floor with their mouths. In 2011 they released an interesting album on the independent label Hau Ruck S.P.Q.R., distributed by Black Widow Records. It’s a concept album titled Kalachakra inspired by Wheel of Time, a documentary film by Werner Herzog.

Other interesting local bands that deserve mentioning are the theatrical, amusing Il Babau e i Maledetti Cretini (MySpace) and the very promising symphonic Imaginaria (MySpace). Well, there’s music for every taste here, from the neo prog of Silver Key (Facebook), Cellar Noise (Facebook), Anomalia (MySpace), Natural Mystic (MySpace), Nomalia (MySpace), Soulengine (MySpace), The Redzen (MySpace), Riddle (MySpace), Ad Maiora (MySpace), Progenesi (Facebook), Kalisantrope (Facebook) Aliante70 (Facebook), Fabric (Facebook) to the folk jazz of Dissoi Logoi (MySpace), the fusion of Lalucecontro (MySpace) and Liberae Phonocratia (Facebook), the psychedelic Giöbia (MySpace), the melodic Psicosuono (MySpace) and Althea (MySpace), and the metal influenced Atlantis 1001 (MySpace), Dagorlad Battleplain (MySpace), Il Sentiero di Taus (Facebook) Dodo Verdict (Facebook) and Pindaric Flight (MySpace). In Milan you can find also the headquarters of the independent label BTF, specialized in Italian progressive rock and some venues with a strong leaning to progressive as La casa di Alex.

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