Gran Turismo Veloce come from Grosseto and began life in 2008 with the aim to play original stuff blending vintage and modern sounds. The name of the band was inspired by a series of Alfa Romeo sport cars and on stage all the members of the band wear red mechanic's overalls to emphasize their ironic, theatrical approach to a genre of music too often reputed excessively serious and self-indulgent.
In 2011, after a first demo, Gran Turismo Veloce released an excellent debut album on the independent label Lizard Records, “Di carne, di anima” (Of flesh, of soul), with a line up featuring Claudio Filippeschi (vocals, piano, keyboards), Flavio Timpanaro (bass, backing vocals), Stefano Magini (drums) and Massimo Dolce (guitars, backing vocals, loop programming). The result of their efforts is a perfectly balanced mix of various influences filtered through a very personal taste and a strong sense of irony that you can find also in the beautiful art cover by Francesco Serino and Francesco Rossi.
The opener “Anec Retrorsum” is just a very short introduction, just a patch of colour that leads to “Sorgente sonora” (Sonic source), a piece about musical creativity... “Nothing prevents my mind from flying across words / There are infinite concepts / Freedom of uncontrollable sensations / In the air a sonic source becomes thick / In a belly of passion the notes are dancing, breeding... I paint words on the edge of sound...”. You have here ink smells blended with pure melody, sensual tango passages broken by aggressive guitar riffs and many more.
“Misera Venere” (Mean Venus) depicts a very dangerous, sexy woman. She's gorgeous and greedy, she's always perfect, she clouds even her shadow, she's charming and perfidious, she's the lady of the new tendencies, she's almost as nauseating as seducing and her charm expands around her as in a physical vortex. She's a kind of black widow who wield the weapons of beauty and seduction to get her victims and now she's lurking for another man. There's a change in mood, now the atmosphere becomes darker... “In the clash the heart crumbles and falls down to the bottom of the little pride that is left and is slowly melting / Stolen from the man who is slave of that world / The world of Venus...”.
The following “Quantocamia” ia an amazing instrumental track with many changes in atmosphere and in rhythm. It begins with a high-paced rhythm section and a keyboards vortex that takes you away into space. Then a calmer, dreamy section follows and you can relax for a moment before a new surge of energy.
“L'artista” (The artist) begins softly with a nice piano pattern and electronic loops in the background. Imagine a man who escapes from the daily grind and revolves in his reflections, pushed by the warm wind of artistic creativity. Art can make a man live again every time you look at his works... “A new world shines through / Sprinkled with visions which blind the look of the usual thoughts...”.
“L'estremo viaggiatore” (The extreme traveller) features heavy electric guitar riffs and baffling keyboards waves mixed with calmer, reflective passages. It's about a man who is going to set off on an interstellar voyage and will soon become a living legend. Now he's on the ramp leading to the spaceship and a tear crosses his face while he's thinking about his past and what he's leaving behind... “An echo of glory resounds in the air / Ready for his rebirth...”.
“La paura” (Fear) begins with some electronic loops, then the vocals and some threatening guitar riffs conjure up a disquieting atmosphere. Fear is a feeling that cuts its way like a knife into your subconscious, it breaks out in a moment, with a single shiver, cold and merciless it haunts you in your darkest nightmares. Fear makes you hide from the real world and look for a shelter from the cynical society you live in but the cruel reality is that fear is a vital, essential feeling that helps every animal to survive and you have to cope with it.
“Misera Venere (reprise)” begins with some pulsing bass lines. The atmosphere is dark and mysterious... “Under attack she reveals the true world inside her / From mean Venus to a free statue / Of mind, of heart, of soul...”. Well, this short reprise of “Misera Venere” reminds me of a beautiful novel by French writer Prosper Mérimée, La Vénus d'Ille.
“L'indice e l'occhio” (The forefinger and the eye) features strong classical influences, hermetic lyrics and a melancholic mood. It makes me think of a sad make up in the dressing room of a theatre before a play where the pale mask of Pierrot will star... “The forefinger dives into the black powder / Then it walks along the eyelids as it paints the tears / Water and salt for a flower or an insect...”. A short ghost track featuring a sax solo concludes this wonderful album.
On the whole I think that this is a work that should have a place in every Italianprog collection!
Gran Turismo Veloce: Di carne, di anima (2011). Other opinions:
Jim Russell: GTV certainly have heard classic Italian prog and they sound influenced by it. The first thought that popped into my head as I listened was that this was like a young Banco-influenced band with lots of modern edge. All of the drama of the classic sound is there, with the beautiful piano runs and passionate Italian vocals. But also present are hard-hitting and powerful blasts of alternative rock and heavy, spacey progressive rock, sometimes bordering on metal. It is absolutely refreshing and quite original, infectious and very well executed. The songs are vital, energetic and accessible, containing plenty of quirky diversions and change-ups. You will not be bored and you will not be skipping tracks... (read the complete review HERE)
Henri Strik: Apart from the many aspects of the progressive rock spectrum and the metal guitar riffs you'll notice many jazz elements, but also fine symphonic touches with classically tinged piano playing. These elements beautifully counterbalance the heavier ones. The strong vocals are sung in the Italian language which strengthens the emotions that usually get lost when an Italian band sings in English. All of the compositions contain a high standard of musicianship. As a result these songs are really outstanding, most inventive and very captivating... (read the completer review HERE).