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Delirium - Dolce Acqua CD (album) cover

DOLCE ACQUA

Delirium

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.72 | 96 ratings

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Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars Delirium's debut album `Dolce Acqua' from 1971 is a hazy and warm acoustic mix of vocal pieces and instrumentals, a snapshot of a band finding their feet by stretching the boundaries of pop, folk, jazz, classical and psychedelic music. There's a sense of comfort and togetherness from the band through their pleasing group harmonies and the frequently upbeat, joyous compositions. Mostly dominated by acoustic guitar, piano and flute, with tastefully restrained orchestral flourishes, with even occasional raga-rock droning percussion wrapped up in a late 60's/early 70's Pink Floyd drowsiness, it's truly a perfect soundtrack for warm summers, best enjoyed in the company of good friends and relaxed atmospheres. Lead vocalist Ivano Fossati would only hang around for this one album, but his style is not too different to his replacement Martin Grice, so fans coming to the band from their later defining work `Delirium III' should still feel right at home.

Apparently `Dolce Acqua' is a concept album about human emotions, but you don't need to follow the Italian lyrics too closely to enjoy the pieces. Besides, it's frequently instrumental, the music perfectly conveying the titles, and many of the vocals are wordless harmonies anyway. `Preludio' is a haunting and thoughtful acoustic opener, Ivano sharing the vocals with another member of the band (hard to tell who, they're all credited on vocals!), and it's especially lovely when their two voices seamlessly blend together in the sublime chorus. There's some lovely shimmering vibraphone and restrained bass too. The boisterous `Egoismo' fires up for a more raucous and stomping acoustic rocker, raspy lead vocals leading the way before improvised huffing flute and a foot-tapping jazzy run. For some reason, the melody reminds me briefly of the opening title track off the Renaissance album `Prologue'! The piano driven `Movimento II' has a late Beatles-like orchestral grandiosity, especially listen out for the strangely uneasy ending, while `To Satchmo...' is a laid-back and breezy flute-fuelled lounge-jazz instrumental that floats along on supremely good and positive vibes.

`Sequenza 1 And 2' is another pleasing extended piano and distorted flute instrumental with some added humming Hammond organ. The slow-drifting yet spiky acid folk of `Johnnie Sayre' has droning repeated vocals, electronic distortion and wild stereo-panning drumming/percussion that leaves the listener dizzy and overwhelmed. Despite strident acoustic strumming and other-worldly treated lead vocals, `Favola O Storia...' is a little repetitive, with far too many vocals crammed into a shorter pop piece, so thankfully there's some ghostly orchestration that almost resembles a scratchy Mellotron during the brief instrumental passage in the middle. After a nicely plodding acoustic strum ala Pink Floyd's `Green Is The Colour', the closing title track finds a purposeful beat and blesses the listener with a heartfelt, confident Rick Wright-styled piano build and gentle orchestration throughout. It ensures the album ends in a suitably grand and momentous manner.

Admittedly, a few of the pieces are a little repetitive and played out a little long, but there's not a single poor moment to be found here. Italian progressive albums would only start getting even more experimental and daring from here, but there's no denying the band was offering magical, wonderful music right from the start. Despite only four studio albums, a handful of singles/non-album tracks and live recordings to show for their forty-plus year career, the band has almost always delivered superb musical offerings, and this exquisite debut is no exception. It's fairly easy to get hold of again now on both LP and CD reissues, but try to track down the inexpensive two disc Warner Brothers CD boxset I bought, `Delirium - 1971-1974', that includes every bit of their Seventies recorded output. You'll get three amazing works and a bunch of tasty extras that add up to an extra 40 minutes of music. Absolutely essential.

`Dolce Acqua' is a very special, delicate gift, the most precious and breezy Delirium album, yet never skimps on terrific musical sophistication. It will captivate every listener, and forty years on, has proven to be truly timeless.

Four stars, and my personal favourite from the band.

(I wish I had this one on vinyl, just look at that front cover with the flute being plugged directly into the brain! Just how I feel when I listen to so many of those flute-dominated RPI titles!)

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 4/5 |

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