Thursday, 29 November 2012

SWEET FEELINGS


Delirium began life in Genoa in the late sixties under the name I Saggittari. In 1970 they changed their name and in 1971 they released “Dolce acqua” (Sweet water) with a line-up featuring Ivano Fossati (vocals, flute, acoustic guitar), Mimmo Di Martino (guitar, vocals), Ettore Vigo (keyboards, vocals), Marcello Reale (bass, vocals) and Peppino Di Santo (drums, percussion, vocals). Well, this is the first Delirium album but for many people this is most of all the first album by Ivano Fossati, Delirium’s singer, guitarist and flutist who left the band after this work and is now one of the most influential and successful Italian singer-songwriters. Anyway, “Dolce acqua” is an amazing work. It’s a kind of concept album about human feelings and the music is a beautiful mix of progressive, folk, jazz, classical influences and poetry...

Delirium 1971

The delicate opener “Preludio” is about “Fear” (Paura) and it’s a dreamy ballad with the vocals of Ivano Fossati and Mimmo Di Martino that interact very well. Just the sound of the flute, then an acoustic guitar comes in... “White houses kissed by a sun without light / Strange sun / Cosmic trains set off and don’t come back anymore / From that sun... Hot shadows are burning the air above us / From that sun / Cold hands are opening from our ruins / To that sun / Fear runs inside me since I know / What will remain of us is nothing but a bonfire... Spring, if you ever pass around here / You will bring with you a little part of me...”.


Then the rhythm rises with the following “Movimento I”, a track about “Selfishness” (Egoismo)... “I haven’t got a father / I haven’t got a mother / In my life I never loved anyone but me...”. Next comes “Movimento II”. It’s a track about “Doubt” (Dubbio) and it’s another ballad featuring poetic lyrics and a classically inspired outro... “All the dark from the past, the uncertainty of the future / There are a thousand years inside me now / Fear of dying, a great desire to love / Days and days wondering why / Of course, it’s better not to think / I’ll have time to seek / Perhaps it’s better not to know / Not to feel, not to see, not to seek... I’ll have time to know and maybe to understand better... I’ll be alone facing myself / I’ll shout that’s it right to love / I will try to start again / I will be free to go, to understand, to feel, to speak, to steal / I’ll have time to die, to die a little bit more...”. The instrumental, jazzy “To Satchmo, Bird and other unforgettable friends” concludes side A of the original album and represents “Pain” (Dolore).


Side two begins with the brilliant instrumental “Sequenza I e II”, about “Hypocrisy and Truth” (Ipocrisia – Verità), introduced by an acoustic rhythm guitar with a catchy melody that melts into a weird jazzy sound after a short drum solo break... The following track “Johnnie Sayre” is a delicate ballad with an interesting instrumental passage and changes in rhythm. It’s about “Forgiveness” (Perdono) and the lyrics are an adaptation of Edgar Lee Masters’ poem Johnnie Sayre from the Spoon River Anthology: “Father, thou canst never know / The anguish that smote my heart / For my disobedience, the moment I felt / The remorseless wheel of the engine / Sink into the crying flesh of my leg / As they carried me to the home of widow Morris / I could see the school-house in the valley / To which I played truant to steal rides upon the trains / I prayed to live until I could ask your forgiveness / And then your tears, your broken words of comfort! / From the solace of that hour I have gained infinite happiness / Thou wert wise to chisel for me: / Taken from the evil to come”. Well, sometimes I think that poetry is music and vice-versa...


The following “Favola o storia del lago di Kriss” (Fable or story of Kriss Lake) is about “Freedom” (Libertà). It’s an amazing acoustic ballad and the lyrics speak of a lake that would like to go out from its shore to explore the world of men. In a clear full-moon night a shadow passes across the warm waters of Kriss Lake. From the lake a voice soars... “Oh you who can walk on the water / Please stay here and have a talk with me...”. The shadow stops and listens to the voice... “Speak then great Kriss Lake”! “I’ve been between these banks for a thousand years / I can’t see anything but the trees around me... Please, let me see the world, the men and the women and the deepest sea / The farther lands that I’ll discover / The most dazzling light that I’ll see... And I entrust you my prayer...”. In the warm night the shadow answers with the voice of the wind... “Old lake you don’t know what you want! / You’ve been for a thousand years between these banks / The world is not as you fancy it / It would swallow the deepest sea / The farther lands are burning / You can see every day the most dazzling light / It’s peace what you feel around you...”. As the moon goes down on Kriss Lake the shadow melts in the dark and silence comes back on the waters of Kriss Lake...


The final track “Dolce acqua” (Sweet water) is about “Hope” (Speranza). It’s almost completely instrumental and features a beautiful melody introduced by flute and a “crescendo” with a good vocals and piano work... “Green lawn inside me / The storm isn’t gone yet / But I can see sweet water...”. Well, in my opinion the last is perhaps the best track of the album!

On the CD version there’s also a bonus track, “Jesahel” that was released as a single in 1972 (a very successful one indeed) and didn’t appear on the original version of the album. It is the band’s best known song but it has nothing to do with the concept of an album that is one of most interesting in the progressive scene of the early seventies in Italy. By the way, if you like this album I suggest checking out some of the solo works by Ivano Fossati (for instance “La pianta del tè”, “Macramé” or “L’arcangelo”); although they’re not exactly prog I think Fossati’s music is really worth listening to...

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