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Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso - ...Di Terra CD (album) cover

...DI TERRA

Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.75 | 195 ratings

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Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
5 stars Banco del Mutuo Soccorso are a defining Italian progressive band from the early Seventies, with their first three albums (at least) being absolute classics of the R.P.I field, as well as hugely daring and adventurous works. They were a combination of very talented musicians and the grand bellowing near-operatic croon of Francesco Di Giacomo, however, from time to time, the band would deliver a purely instrumental album (the previous one being the soundtrack work `Garofano Rosso'), and this resulted in 1978's `...Di Terra'. A real one-off that sounds like no-other album they ever delivered, the group were joined by an orchestra here, and despite Italian bands working with orchestration not being an especially new idea (the New Troll's `Concerto Grosso' series instantly comes to mind), here the two forces gelled together and complimented each-other successfully with frequently very experimental and exciting results, with plenty of welcome darker and edgier moments as well.

Banco make an impossibly grand statement of intent right from the start with the purely orchestral overture `Nil Cielo...'. Faraway piano and eerie orchestration quickly turns reflective, then gradually grows in triumph as if sound-tracking the sun rising and announcing a new day. `Terramdare' brings relentless maddening drumming, clanging metallic percussion and maniacal piano that sounds like a cross between `Ummagumma'- era Rick Wright from Pink Floyd and the schizophrenic sci-fi jazz of Vangelis' `Hypothesis' which spirals in circles around droning bombastic horns, chasing bass and disorientating synth effects. Despite opening with more whiplash percussion and moments of chest beating Moog fanfares that sound like a call-to-arms, `Non Senza Dolore' offers groaning vocal drones that stretch into infinity and almost ambient stirring respites. The violin slices, grumbling bass and repulsive malevolent piano of `Io Vivo' bring spastic eruptions of violence, insane hostility and stalking tension, strangely in a similar fashion that bands like Present and DŁn would deliver!

Gorgeous solo piano dazzles away throughout `Nť Piý' to open the second side alongside wavering pretty synths full of positivity and life, before the piece movies into slinking cool jazz/fusion grooves with electric piano, flute and saxophone, mostly leaving any orchestral pomp for the final minute. Chamber rock and Univers Zero-styled darkness consumes the gothic `Nei Suoni...'. Drifting electronics, a heartbeat pulse, tiny little Hammond organ ripples then gorgeous melodic bass bursts through over eerie violins and intimidating cinematic strings, with a very ice-cold chilling piano finale that descends into clawing tension. The closing title track lets a little light back in. Frantic and urgent for the first half, a very up-tempo beat drives chugging bass and strident acoustic guitar strums over thunderous orchestration before a powerful and uplifting final electric guitar solo...but those final piano notes tease a hint that more melancholy is never too far away...

Without question, `...Di Terra' is a hugely divisive album from this Italian band. Purists who cannot imagine the Banco band without the charismatic powerful voice of Francesco may be likely to dismiss it altogether, others may be put off by the knowledge of the band using an orchestra. But this is not some straight-forward rock band with syrupy cliched strings slapped over the top of their music, or lazy interpratation of a traditional classical piece. This is experimental rock music with avant-garde daring that offers plenty of edge, mystery and exciting darker flourishes, and is as far from the easy-listening dreck that rock and orchestra combinations usually present. It's a lively, thrilling, even occasionally uneasy atmospheric work, and it defiantly stands on it's own in the fascinating discography of Banco del Mutuo Soccorso.

Four and a half stars, rounded up to five.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 5/5 |

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