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Gleemen - Oltre.Lontano, Lontano CD (album) cover

OLTRE.LONTANO, LONTANO

Gleemen

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.96 | 10 ratings

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Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars With the death of beloved Italian guitarist Pier Nicole `Bambi' Fossati just the other day, what better time than now to review one of the final musical appearances to feature his involvement, the comeback album from Italian psych rockers Gleemen, a precursor to the more well-known Garybaldi. It's been over 43 years since their superb debut, so you're no doubt preparing for this album to be a tired collection of bland dad-rock in the tradition of most comeback `retro' acts, right? Well, get that idea out of your head right away, as `Oltre...Lontano, Lontano' sees the band essentially time-travelling to our modern era, picking up exactly where they left off, only saying `Hey, production techniques have changed', and carried on in the same fashion! With the exception of keyboardist Lio Marchi, the original line-up is in place, the band filled out with a couple of younger members and several guest appearances, and Gleemen move through bluesy stompers, laid-back groovers, melodic rockers and the dreamiest of psychedelic pop, all bringing a truly timeless quality.

Three separate guitarists - Gianpaolo Casu, Mauro Culotta and Marco Zoccheddu - get standout (and very different) electric guitars solos throughout the simmering bluesy Clapton-styled opener `Anima di Gomma', with humming Hammond organ, slippery bass and darting flute from guest Daniela Piras, but the fade-out at the end is unforgivable! A nice mix of fiery acoustic guitar and electric soloing in the Santana band styled `La Grande Carovana', with a lusty vocal from Pino Nastasi, a ballistic Hammond run in the middle and such a strong Tex Mex influence that I thought Antonio Banderas was going to wander in with a guitar case full of guns! `Bambi' finally shows up for a thick, heavy and feral strangled n' mangled bluesy instrumental electric guitar stomp `Schizoid Blues' - "Hmm, not bad!" he proclaims at the end! Beatles influenced `Il Venditore di Pallaoni' starts as an acoustic ballad with gorgeous weeping violin, cello and sublime group harmonies, which merges with the brooding `In Una Stanza', Bambi returning for more electric guitar brimstone and a snarling vocal, but again - another fadeout! Just let the band play!

`Stelle di Vetro' is foot-tapping and spiky day-glow pop once it gets going with some joyful electric guitar soloing throughout the finale. With the exception of a few little harder moments, `Nel Mio Cortile' is a smooth Latin-influenced groover that would have fit on one of those comeback Santana albums, if he hadn't been worried about impressing a bunch of younger people who had no connection to his music and weren't, you know, rubbish. The second half lets Martin Grice of Italian prog legends Delirium provide some wicked and wonderfully stirring sax soloing, but again, we end with a disappointing fadeout. `Solo Amore' is a up-tempo rocker with endless tasty electric guitar fills to begin, a romantic chorus over violin and piano with a chugging heavy finale. The album closer title track is a head-nodding slow-burning blues come-down, full of harmonica, accordion, twinkling jazzy piano, Hammond organ ripples bubbling under and a sing-along group chorus. Hang around afterwards for a brief acoustic ballad with a sweet vocal as a hidden track.

But the absolute highlight for me is `Canzone dei Cuori Semplici', one of the most beautiful and dreamy psychedelic pop ballads I've heard in years. Other-worldly treated vocals, drowsy acoustic strumming over shimmering electric guitars, spacey synths and gentle orchestration. There's a blissful unhurried perfection to the piece, a cross between the hazy pop of the Beatles with an early Pink Floyd acid laziness. Pure psych-pop perfection to my ears.

Black Widow Records have a winning album here. This is not simply some tired hero worship by a bunch of aging hippies, it's a finely crafted collected of psychedelic and blues rock that will actually remain more timeless than ever dated. Older listeners in particular will appreciate the energy, passion and careful song-craft on display here, and `Oltre...Lontano, Lontano' is a fresh and impressive reminder of a quietly achieving psych band. It also makes for a respectable and dignified send-off to the dynamic guitarist Fossati.

Three and a half stars, rounded up to four for the Archives.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 4/5 |

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