Wednesday, 26 December 2012


Il Cerchio d’Oro are an Italian prog band from Savona, formed during the seventies, when they released some singles but had not the chance to release a full length album. The band reunited in 2006 with a line-up featuring veterans Franco Piccolini (piano, organ, keyboards, backing vocals), Gino Terribile (drums, percussion, vocals), Giuseppe Terribile (bass, acoustic guitar, vocals), Piuccio Pradal (acoustic guitar, vocals) and Roberto Giordana (electric guitar, backing vocals). 

In 2008 they released what should be considered their real debut album for the independent label Black Widow. It’s a concept album inspired by the character of Cristopher Columbus, where the aim of the music and lyrics is to tell the story of a difficult journey full of hopes, deceptions, disappointments and fears that is also a metaphor of life where often the goal is just a new starting point for another journey. The overall sound of Il Cerchio d’Oro is clearly inspired by bands as Le Orme, Banco del Mutuo Soccorso and I New Trolls (especially in the vocal parts), but the result is very good and the song-writing is not too derivative.

The dreamy instrumental opener “Ouverture” sets the musical atmosphere and leads to the beautiful, melancholic “Sognando la meta” (Dreaming the goal). The contrast between the electric guitar and organ underlines doubts and fears before an uncertain impending future. After many efforts Columbus is going to set off and dreams of his goal... “Now I know, I’ll make it / I must believe in the dream / I’m alone in the night, a thought startles me / I already see only one image in my mind / And the goal is nearer...”. 

On “Colombo” (Columbus) the rhythm takes off. In Italian Colombo means pigeon and it’s ironic that a sailor has the same name as a bird. Columbus reflects on this fact and would like to be able to fly... “What an envy for the wings of the seagulls / That can exploit every wind... Sometimes during the night I dream my ships / With great wings instead of cannons / Sailing over unknown lands like kites...”.

“I tre marinai” (The three sailors) begins with the sound of the waves and of an acoustic guitar, then the vocals soar. It’s a reflective, melancholic ballad. Three sailors talk about the reasons that pushed them to embark on this dangerous journey. The first was without money and without women and now has nothing to lose, the second lost his wife and children and now tries to forget his troubles while for the third the most important thing in life is drinking wine in good company... “Let’s keep on imagining that life can change / But let’s not get our hopes up / The viceroy will make no gifts...”.

“Ieri, oggi, ancora niente” (Yesterday, tomorrow, nothing yet) is a complex track featuring an intro with the vocals a cappella and many changes in rhythm and mood. After one month of sailing no land on the horizon yet. Hopes, disappointments, illusions and disillusions turn the mood up and down...

“Il silenzio rumoroso del mare” (The noisy silence of the sea) is tense and haunting. It’s a complex track where the music storms and suddenly calms down, broken by short, delicate melodic passages before taking off again... “I spend all my nights looking through the stars / Listening to the creaking of my ships... I’m losing my excitement and I’m beginning to despair... I feel that there’s nobody on board that I can trust / It’s more and more difficult to hope in the noisy silence of the sea...”.

“Preghiera al vento” (Prayer to the wind) is a short, simple acoustic track that recalls Lucio Battisti, especially the vocals. It’s a kind of pagan invocation to the wind... “Oh wind! At least you, stay by my side...”.

“Tre giorni (L’ammutinamento)” (Three days – The mutiny) starts in an aggressive way, with the electric guitar and rhythm section in the forefront, then the fury stops giving way to a more reflective part... The rage of the crew grows but the captain manages to restore calm by promising that if they do not find land in three days they will turn back... “I have promised them three days and they have agreed / Now it’s my time, time of bets...”.

“Tierra! Tierra!” (Land! Land!) is a desperate ride on the wings of hope while time is running short. After a fiery beginning rhythm slows down, time stands still... Suddenly enthusiastic shouts rise and land appears on the horizon... “Land! Land! Treasure lightened by the stars / A thrill passes through my skin / The same thrill that makes the sailors shout / Land! Land! My God, forgive me if I doubted / Thanks for this joy you gave me / I know you are right and you never deceive me...”.

“Cercando l’approdo” (Looking for a landing point) is a beautiful instrumental. The tension melts and a calm melody veils the horizon leading to a happy end... On “Conclusione (Il ritorno)” (Conclusion – The return) joyful acoustic guitar chords and relaxed melodic vocals greet the return and the end of the journey. But Columbus is not aware of the importance of his discovery and of its consequences... “The whole world is going to change now / New horizons for the humankind...”.

The album features also two nice bonus tracks, the two sides of a 1977 single, “Quattro mura” (Four walls) and “Futuro prossimo” (Near future). It’s strange but these songs do not sound at all old and they fit the mood and the atmosphere of this work perfectly... “Your colour is beautiful / It recalls the sea of lost times / I don’t care if you don’t like me / I can’t die hoping to come to life again and be better than now...”.

From the book Rock Progressivo Italiano: An introduction to Italian Progressive Rock

Il Cerchio d'Oro: Il viaggio di Colombo (2008). Other opinions:
Raffaella Benvenuto-Berry: Even if not exactly an innovative proposition, “Il Viaggio Di Colombo” comes across as a mature, well-structured album that manages to capture the listener’s attention through its skilful use of melody and painstaking build-up of emotions... This is essential listening for all lovers of vintage Italian prog, and a worthwhile purchase for progressive rock fans in general... (read the complete review HERE).

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