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Maxophone - La Fabbrica Delle Nuvole CD (album) cover

LA FABBRICA DELLE NUVOLE

Maxophone

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.68 | 25 ratings

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Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars There used to be something of a running joke that Italy was home to a ton of doomed vintage prog bands that delivered one single album in their prime active years and then promptly vanished, leaving it their sole legacy. That rule has been somewhat shattered over the last few years as a ton of Italian groups have reunited and delivered long-belated follow-ups - yes, the likes of Museo Rosenbach, Murple, even Cherry Five and countless others - and now it's Maxophone's turn! Although `La Fabbrica delle Nuvole' doesn't often sound like their much-loved self-titled 1975 debut and only singer Alberto Ravasini and keyboardist Sergio Lattuada remain from the original line-up (although utilising the same talented new musicians that performed on their 2014 `Live in Tokyo' release), it's a varied and lavish assortment of rock pieces grafted to fancy classical-flavoured symphonic pomp that remains melodic and approachable without being overly simple.

Unpredictable and cool rocker `Un Ciclone sul Pacifico' opens the LP around teases of orchestration and cool slinking grooves from electric piano, with heavier punchy bursts kicking in and out around slick backing harmonies, and Alberto Ravasini's voice has remained in fine raspy and charismatic form (with all the vocals performed in Italian, no two versions including English offered this time around, thank you very much!). `Perdo il Colore Blu' is book-ended with twisting/turning up-tempo sprints, and there's a light jazziness to the Hammond organ and cheerful swagger of the piece with brief rollicking PFM-like trilling synth runs, and `Il Passo delle Ore', one of the loveliest tunes of the album, is a gentler romantic moment with a catchy clever chorus, soft violin and crisp electric guitar themes.

The title track `La Fabbrica delle Nuvole' is the first big `wow' moment of the disc, a fully-instrumental crossover of whimsical keyboard prettiness, light jazz-fusion guitar grooves and colourful symphonic themes (Marco Croci's slinking thick bass is a real highlight here too) all in under six minutes, and in parts it doesn't sound unlike Italian discs of the last few years like Progenesi's `Ulisse l'Alfiere Nero', Moogg's `Italian Luxury Style' or the last F.E.M album `Sulla Bolla di Sapone'. Folk aromas permeate intricate rocker `La Luna e la Lepre' with a dancing Baroque fanciness of madrigal-flavoured Gryphon and Gentle Giant-like sophistication and whimsy, plenty of ravishing acoustic guitars and intricate multi-part group harmonies, and dreamy synths, silken acoustic guitars and ruminative sax throughout the tasteful and classy `Estate '41' could almost have hailed from a Steve Hackett solo disc.

`Nel Fiume dei Giorni i Tuoi Capelli' is busily schizophrenic for a track that doesn't even run four minutes, bouncing through everything from dream-like careful soft rock with elegant violin and sparkling electric piano tiptoes to delicate folk and frantic contorting guitar races, ultimately sounding closer to something like the modern version of Swedish symphonic proggers Kaipa. Those baroque and chamber prog flavours pop up again throughout `Il Matto e l'Aquilone' thanks to warm folk-flecked acoustic guitars and prancing violin whilst alternating back and forth with snappy jazz-fusion turns and infectious keyboard-driven symphonic prog sprints, and `Le Parole Che non vi Ho Detto' is a short and giddy violin/piano closer.

While it can't possibly live up to the status that the popular 1975 debut enjoys, `La Fabbrica delle Nuvole's strength lies in the fact that it's a real grower that impresses more and more with every listen. It's an eclectic, colourful and tastefully performed comeback with plenty to recommend about it, and another example that no country delivers better and more rewarding modern prog albums from older acts than Italy. Lovers of Maxophone and Italian prog fans in general should end up having a terrific time with this unexpectedly vital, highly surprising and greatly inspired work.

Four stars.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 4/5 |

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