Thursday, 17 April 2014

TIME OF PASSION

Latte e Miele began life in Genoa in 1971 with a first line-up featuring Giancarlo Marcello Della Casa (electric and acoustic guitar, violin, bass, lead vocals), Oliviero Lacagnina (piano, organ, harpsichord, moog, mellotron, celesta, vocals) and Alfio Vitanza (drums, cymbals, bells, flute, vocals). In 1971 guitarist Giancarlo Marcello Della Casa also took part, with other guest musicians, in the recording sessions of I Giganti’s album “Terra in bocca”. This experience seems to have influenced also Latte e Miele’s debut album, “Passio Secundum Mattheum”, a concept work where clear classical influences blend with rock, classical music and beautiful melodies. Well, “Passio Secundum Mattheum” is also the title of a classical work by J.S. Bach, but this album is not its “rock version”. The lyrics drew inspiration from the Gospel according to St. Matthew and they are absolutely “politically correct”, you can’t find here the boldness and the poetical inventions of “Terra in bocca” (an album completely “built upon the lyrics”) or of Fabrizio De Andrè’s album “La buona novella” (a conceptual work inspired by the apocryphal gospels). Here the lyrics seem to be just a feeble thread binding together a good musical patchwork, but the result is not always convincing. By the way, Latte e Miele were the very first rock band to perform in the Vatican City in front of the Pope, no wonder then if the narrative parts every now and again seem just to come out from a “Catholic mass”...


The short instrumental opener “Introduzione” (Introduction) sets the atmosphere starting with a church-like choir, then shy echoes of Bolero come in leading to a beautiful crescendo featuring a good electric guitar solo. Next comes “Il giorno degli azzimi” (The first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread) and “Ultima cena” (The last supper), closely bound together. An acoustic guitar arpeggio and a dreamy mood are the background for narrative vocals and sung parts where the band interacts with an operatic choir... “On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread the disciples and Jesus prepared the Passover...”. The lead vocals and choir interpret the voices of the disciples and Jesus while a narrator is in charge of the spoken parts... While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples... “The bread you will break will be your body shared for us / The wine you will pour will be your blood spilled for us...”. When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve. And while they were eating, he said... “One of you will betray me...”. The disciples were very sad and began to say to him one after the other... “Surely not I, Lord?”. The voices of the disciples seem to come from an opera, there’s surprise and brio, then the rhythm calms down...

Judas, the one who would betray him, said “Surely not I, Rabbi?”. It’s the beginning of “Getzemani” (Gethsemane) a beautiful and melodic “aria”. Jesus’ soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death and his voice soars in a prayer... “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done...”. Judas said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him. Jesus was arrested and put on trial. The short “Il processo” (The trial) features amazing operatic vocals... “Now, My Lord you’ll go on trial for the world’s sake / This way you will save us...”.

The next track “I testimoni” (The witnesses) is divided in two parts and features reminiscences of Latin rock “à la Carlos Santana”. Those who had arrested Jesus took him to Caiaphas, the high priest, where the teachers of the law and the elders had assembled. The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for false evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death. Finally two came forward and declared... “This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days...”.


Il pianto” (The crying) is a short acoustic and melodic track, an “aria” full of mercy and admiration for the man who is going to die for the world’s sake... “You don’t speak my brother / Silently you are going to die for me... A mother is crying for her son who’s going to die...”.

Giuda” (Judas) is another short track. It’s more aggressive and features hard rock guitar riffs and swing passages... When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and the elders. Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself. His fate was to betray because of jealousy... “A tableau is hanging / It makes you understand...”.

Il re dei Giudei” (The king of Jews) is solemn and dramatic. Jesus was brought to trial in front of Pilate, the Roman procurator. The governor asked him, - Are you the king of the Jews? - Jesus replied - Yes, it is as you say. When he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer... “Jesus was silent in front of Pilate / He said nothing but – I’m the king of Jews...”.


Il calvario” (Golgotha) opens with operatic vocals shouting “Barabbas!”. It was the governor’s custom at the Feast to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd. At that time they had a notorious prisoner, called Barabbas. So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, - Which one do you want me to release to you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?... The crowd chose Barabbas and Jesus was condemned! The roaring answer of the crowd then gives way to the organ and choir describing in music the Via Crucis... His cross carried by Simon the Cyrenian, Jesus is led to Golgotha for crucifixion. The executioners fix a sign to the cross: “This is Jesus: the King of the Jews”. From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land. About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”. And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit...

The conclusive “aria”, “Il dono della vita” (The gift of life), is a reflection full of mercy and hope where the lead vocals and choir interact. “Like a stream which wants to wet the sand / You will be my brother... Your life is so great to be called never ending...”.

The re-release on CD also features a bonus track, “Mese di maggio” (May). It’s just a melodic pop song that contrasts with the rest of the album and adds nothing to this work...


You can listen in streaming to the complete album HERE

The band have recently completely re-recorded the whole album with new versions of the old pieces and some unreleased tracks...

More info: