The debut album released in 1972 some three years after they formed, came out in the shape of a piggy bank and began with a sci-fiesque keyboard that jumps without warning into lute and flute from a castle banquet. It then materialises in the sixties and is back on Mars, all before you get time to put down your Guiseppe de Lampedusa. A monologue in Italian prompts this absorbing musical maze. The band’s slow start in releasing a record seems to be expressed in this two minute opening track Il Volo (In flight) – what exactly should we do, where should we fly too? The second track, RIP (starting with death?) charges in like a a pack of dogs chasing a cat through your living room. All their ideas seem to fall out all at once, stumbling over each other to make themselves heard. Passagio, one minute long, where a man walks into a room humming and rustling some papers, sits down at a harpsichord, tries out an idea, picks up the papers and then walks out. We never do find out what happened to that idea? The next piece, the ten minute Metamorphosi is the adventure finally beginning before we find ourselves in the albums highlight, the eighteen minute Il Gardino del Mago. Whatever these ideas are supposed to represent musically, this is true Progressive Rock, Italian style.
The album features the angelic voice of the rather large bearded Francesco Di Giacomo alongside the virtuosity of the Nocenzi brothers on pianos and keyboards, Marcello Todaro on guitar, Renato D’Angelo on bass and Pier Luigi Calderoni on drums. Progresssive rock seems to suit the Italian language perfectly. Perhaps it is something to do with the tradition of elaborate operas (melodius and dramatic), it’s a classical odyssey manifested in the freaky seventies musical climate. It’s like Yes mixed with ELP and Genesis, heavily dependent on keyboards, pianos, harpsichords and punctuated with drum stabs, odd timings and complex arrangements. Is it a concept album? Although my Italian is limited, an 18 minute track called Garden Of The Magician probably means there is some kind of concept here! The band released another album in the same year called Darwin, a concept album.
Sometimes it’s tranquil, sometimes relentless, but it’s never boring. It’s like a harlequin, the noun and the adjective. I cannot stress enough, if you don’t like progressive rock do not even listen to this album if you do, then what are you waiting for?
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