Friday, 24 May 2013

ON THE BORDER

Procession are an Italian prog band from Turin that was formed in 1972. In their debut album, “Frontiera” the line-up featured Gianfranco Gaza (vocals, harmonica), Angelo Girardi (bass, electric mandolin), Marcello Capra (electric and acoustic guitar), Giancarlo Capello (drums, percussion) and Roby Munciguerra (electric and acoustic guitar). The album was recorded in just a week in Rome and was released on the Help label. The music alternates hard, raw passages with electric guitars in the forefront to delicate, reflective atmospheres where acoustic passages prevail. It’s a concept album that deals with the problem of immigration from Southern Italy to the North and its industrialized cities like Turin or Milan. The lyrics were written by Marina Comin, the same lyricist as Raccomandata Ricevuta Ritorno’s “Per... un mondo di cristallo”.

Procession 1972

The opener “Ancora una notte” (One more night) starts with an acoustic guitar arpeggio, then the electric guitar and the rhythm section bring in a dark sense of impending change. The lyrics describe the last night of an emigrant before leaving his native village for the big city and an uncertain destiny... “One more night and the train will set off / But in this last night I can’t sleep / I’ve waited too long for this day / Now I’m scared / I fear that my life could end there...”. The body is going to leave but the roots are not yet broken and this contrast is underlined by the music.

Uomini e illusioni” (Men and illusions) starts with a fiery electric tarantella (that could recall PFM’s “E’ festa”). The lyrics describe the train carrying its burden of men and illusions while running through Italy, from South to North, men who feel strangers in their own Homeland... “I will have to live my life / Like a clown compelled to smile / Even when his son is dying / I can’t show any pain...”.


Città grande” (Big city) opens with a delicate acoustic arpeggio, the music and lyrics describe the arrival in the big city and the feeling of pain for family and home left behind, the struggle for a job, then the feeling of hope for a better world and society where people can survive without leaving home... “Big city I’m here... I left my mother, my girlfriend and perhaps my joy to live / But hope makes me go on / And I will live of hope...”.

Incontro” (Meeting) is a joyful ballad featuring strummed acoustic guitar and flute. The music and lyrics describe the meeting between the protagonist and a boy about twenty years old. The boy talks about friendship, love, freedom and equality... “We’re all alike / You can find a thousand friends / If you look for them with your heart / There are no limits / If you live in love...”.


Anche io sono un uomo” (I’m a man as well) is a delicate, melancholic track about equality and awareness. The protagonist thanks the boy for the new hope but then there arises an awareness that not everyone thinks in the same way... “How many people treat me like a man and don’t judge me? / How many people understand that I’m a man like you?”.

The long, complex “Un mondo di libertà” (A world of freedom) is more aggressive. It starts softly but then fiery electric guitars start storming enraged notes. Then the vocals come in while the tension slackens... “You have lost your freedom / But I’m not speaking with you just out of pity / There’s a whole world around you that loves you like me / It’s true that everyone here minds just his own business / But you are a man and you’ll find your way...”. The lyrics are a kind of sermon against resignation, all in all every place is the same and life is not so bad...


Solo 1” (Alone) begins as an electric rock and roll... “Alone again, alone again in the big city / You look around you / Trying to understand where to go...”. Then rock and roll melts into something very different and moody...

Un ombra che vaga” (A wandering shadow) begins with hard guitar riffs shaping a troubled, desperate mood... Then comes a sudden change of atmosphere and acoustic guitar and vocals describe what seems to be just a wandering shadow, a living ghost... “Your future life is like a dark shadow / You see your hopes in the eyes of the night / Houses seem big but they are colourless / You would like to be at home / But you can’t come back....”. Then, on “Solo 2” rock and roll and loneliness are back for another desperate ride in the big city... “Alone again, alone again in the big city / You look around you / Trying to understand where to go...”.

Hopes and disappointments, rage and love, friendship and loneliness, hard rock and acoustic passages... On the whole a very good album with good ideas and some ingenuity. Well, now the wish to go away from the hectic city life rises... “Away from here, away from here!”.