Monday, 19 January 2015

A DISQUIETING TRAVELOGUE

Festa Mobile were one of the many Italian prog bands of the early seventies who disbanded soon after the release of an excellent debut album in 1973. The line-up featured Renato Baldassarri (vocals), Francesco Boccuzzi (bass, keyboards), Giovanni Boccuzzi (keyboards), Alessio Alba (guitar) and Maurizio Cobianchi (drums). The Boccuzzi brothers later formed another band called Il Baricentro, more “jazz-rock oriented”. On “Diario di viaggio della Festa Mobile” the band showcase a great musicianship although the sound quality from the recording sessions is not flawless. Festa Mobile are often compared with BMS, PFM, Le Orme and other “classic” Italian prog bands: you can find here many influences ranging from classical music to jazz, from British prog rock to Italian folklore, but the final result is original enough and it’s definitely worth listening to.


Diario di viaggio della Festa Mobile” is a concept album where the band describes in music and words the experience of a company of comedians returning home after the celebrations in honour of the new king of a far (imaginary) country, Hon. The opener “La corte di Hon” (Hon’s court) is introduced by a dizzy piano pattern, then a frenzied rhythm section and vocals come in... The lyrics depict the atmosphere of false joy put up by the oppressive power of the new king... “Hon’s celebration lasts hundred days / For a hundred days the sun won’t set / Hon sits on his throne / The moving feast lives on / It seems a celebration of love / But it’s just a false mask... Peace seems to rule / But it’s war that rules... It seemed a celebration of love / But it was a celebration of death...”.

On the second track “Canto” (Song), the comedians end their performance in honour of Hon singing a song inspired by their extraordinary travelling experience and by the contrast between an ideal world full of love and peace and the cruel reality... “I sing the colours of time and the rhythm of the wind / That are living in me... I sing the story of happy people living in ingenuity... I sing the future I dream / A new day that’s lost and will never come...”. The rhythm is complex and fiery while the vocals depict a dream that turns into a nightmare...


On the third track “Aristea” the mood is more relaxed, almost mystic. After the celebration, our “heros” are on the way home. They stop to rest in a mysterious abbey where the great priestess Aristea silently looks at their hands and reveals them a prophecy... “You will go there / Where the sun doesn’t shine / Where men do not know happiness...”. So they become aware that freedom is in danger even in their homeland. Well, you can feel almost a sense of impending doom at the end of the track when a “nervous” rhythm section comes in...

The fourth track is about despair and mercy. “Ljalja” tells about the meeting with a young girl crying in a country ravaged by war. She was still clasping her dead son in her hands, she was still a child but without a future... “Then slowly she smiled / She couldn’t speak anymore...”.

Festa Mobile

The long, complex last track “Ritorno” (Return) tells of the return and of the fear that the protagonists feel since they are aware that what they have seen during their journey could happen in their homeland too... It’s like waking up with a nightmare still hanging on: “We were travelling back to home / And the souvenirs in our minds seemed made of stone / Red stone from the innocent’s blood / People who died in the name of their truth / Martyrs of Hon and of the dream of a new reality / Under a different sky we’re looking at home again... Where sooner or later Hon will come / With the rules of the strongest...”.