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Le Orme - In Concerto  CD (album) cover

IN CONCERTO

Le Orme

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.60 | 44 ratings

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Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
3 stars Released in the same year as their studio album `Contrappunti', Le Orme's 1974 live album `In Concerto' is a bruised, rough but occasionally beautiful gem, a fascinating document of the band quite far away from their lush and dreamy studio works. Admittedly the actual recording quality borders on that of a somewhat murky bootleg, but it's not unlistenable, and in addition to a new side-long composition not to be found on any studio album from the band, it highlights a selection of favourite works from their first three progressive albums in slightly reworked arrangements that are well worth listening to, especially if those much-loved studio discs are over-familiar at this point.

The first three minutes of the two part `Truck of Fire' deceptively opens with slightly malevolent pounding gothic classical piano, just a hint of tension, but no sign at all of the outright violence to come! When the tornado of noise hits, it's like a snarling, dirty gnashing and smashing punch to the face as you run head-first into a brick wall. This is the most cacophonous explosion we've ever heard from the band, a vile and addictive free-form jazz tsunami, a frantic race of Tony Pagliuca's deranged infernal Hammond violation, apocalyptic whip-storm powerhouse drumming from Michi Dei Rossi and sludgy wet bass from Aldo Tagliapietra. Witness whirling dancing nubile native Moogs, virgin-sacrificing ritualistic maddening cult-like drum soloing and loopy ambient electronic weirdness that suggests R2-D2 is recording the whole thing! There's even little traces of the early psychedelic days of Pink Floyd and the Soft Machine here, and I love how the piece plays with expectations of what is probably expected of the band, in other words the more lovely and soothing passages found on their studio albums. The second half starts as a more dreamy vocal section, curiously sung in English (although the band had released an English language version of `Felona e Sorona' by this point), but it's not worth complaining about the language choice because the voice passages are only very short and definitely not the focus here. Alternatively floating then imperialistic synths with repetitive punchy bass lines and confident outbursts, the whole piece quickly dissolves back into wild unhinged noise before finally imploding.

The band then runs through a selection of tracks from their previous studio albums, and all have a wonderful ragged and more loose quality that is quite thrilling to hear in comparison. There's the beautiful humming Hammond, electric piano and bouncy bass on `Sguardo Verso Il Cielo', and in particular it's nice to hear Aldo a little rougher around the edges, not being able to take the time to carefully perfect his voice as usual in the studio. `Preludio a Era Inverno' is a nightmarish and suspenseful thick electronic interlude with tiny glistening raindrops of organ and sharp percussion, with an atmospheric and doomy outro. Aldo's vocals are again coarse and commanding on `Era Inverno', given a more powerful interpretation with a wonderfully urgent and deranged drum and Hammond sprint in the middle. Then there's a thrilling pulse-quickening rendition of the closing number from the `Felona...' album, `Ritorno Al Nulla', and a snappy run-through of the addictive and pompous church organ instrumental `Collage' that opened the album of the same name to finish on.

It has to be said that `In Concerto' is probably not a good representation of the kind of works usually associated with Le Orme, but like only the best live albums, this one stands apart from the studio discs and takes on a character all it's own. Many listeners will have extreme issues with the sound quality (that's why I'm marking the disc down a little more than it probably deserves), but especially for the `Trucks of Fire' first side, it adds a darker energy to the performance and creates an intense atmosphere. This is definitely one live album worth investigating after you've made your way through their classic studio albums from the same period.

Three stars.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 3/5 |

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