Sunday, 25 September 2011

PIEMONTE and VALLE D'AOSTA (part 1)

Now we head north to PIEMONTE and to its capital TURIN, the first capital of Italy. This city is well known for its automobile industry, for landmarks such as the Mole Antonelliana and as home to the Shroud. Here there’s another interesting, busy prog scene. The best known prog band from Turin are Arti e Mestieri (MySpace), formed in 1974 and still active today. Some offshoots of this band are active as well as Esagono (MySpace), formed in the seventies by former Arti e Mestieri member Marco Gallesi that recently reunited and Venegoni & Co. (MySpace) formed by former guitarist of Arti e Mestieri Gigi Venegoni. In Turin there are also the headquarters of the independent label specialized in progressive rock Electromantic Music, founded by Arti e Mestieri keyboardist, leader and solo artist Beppe Crovella (MySpace). Beppe Crovella also started some side-projects that should be of some interest to prog lovers such as Tower, Mosaic, Secret Cinema and Romantic Warriors. The latest in order of time is a psychedelic project called Steeo (ReverbNation).


Arti e Mestieri is not the only local band formed in the seventies that continues to play. Recently, on the initiative of guitarist Roby Munciguerra, Procession (MySpace) have been reformed with a renewed line-up and in 2007 released an album featuring new songs and old stuff with new arrangements, Esplorare, while another former Procession guitarist, Marcello Capra (MySpace), in 1978 started a solo career and is still active today.


Other active bands whose roots date back to the seventies are, Aquael a.k.a. Maury e i Pronomi (MySpace), Mass Media (MySpace), Sintesi (ReverbNation) and, from the nearby town of Pinerolo, Dedalus (Official Website). In the past Turin also gave us bands such as Circus 2000, Errata Corrige, Gli Alluminogeni, Aton’s, Horus, Zauber, Clarion, Circle Of Fairies, Fancyfluid, Abiogenesi, Empire, Sačka, Camera Astralis, Pictures and Contrappunto. By the way, Aton’s were formed in 1977 and are not active anymore, but their leader Pietro Ratto (MySpace) started a solo career and in 2009 released an album in the same vein as his old band, Il folle.


Another interesting band from Turin with a long career is Calliope (Official Website) that began life in 1989. After a long pause they are now working on new projects. 1989 also saw the formation of Syndone (Official Website) who recently reformed after a long hiatus on the initiative of keyboardist and composer Nick Comoglio. In 2010 they released a new album, Melapesante.


Of course, the prog scene of the city is not stuck in the past. Close to Turin lies Venaria Reale from where comes a whole progressive rock orchestra, Ainur (MySpace), whose music has been inspired by the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. They have released three albums so far, the latest in 2009, entitled Lay Of Leithian. From a prog orchestra we pass to a project which sets out to compose, perform and record rock operas. Euthymia (MySpace) were formed in 2008 and in 2010 they released their first rock opera featuring strong seventies influences, L’ultima illusione, on the independent label Electromantic.


Then, among the emerging prog artists and bands from Turin there is the very promising Baroque (MySpace) that started their activity in 2004. After many intense, sparkling live performances in 2009 they released their debut album, La fiaba della buonanotte, on the French label Musea Records. Baroque have a funny and very theatrical approach that leads to an amazing musical delirium full of irony and interesting intuitions. Despite the name, do not expect to listen to a clone of PFM or to a “baroque music ensemble veined with rock” but to an original band full of energy and ready to start a sonic assault on conventions.


Other local contemporary prog bands and projects that deserve mentioning are N.y.X. (MySpace), Vidocq (Official Website), Orchestre Celesti (MySpace), Janice Lintner (ReverbNation), Le Ceneri di Alice (MySpace), Chiave di Es (MySpace), Ombraluce (Official Website), Pulseve (MySpace), The U.K.O. (MySpace), Closure (MySpace), Amaze Knight (Facebook), No Strange (Facebook), Ophicina (Facebook), Avalon Legend (Facebook), Ronny Taylor (Facebook) and Eyering (MySpace). Last but not least, in my opinion the prog influenced singer song-writer Davide Tosches (MySpace) and the metal troubadours Lou Quinse (MySpace) might be of some interest to prog lovers.