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Gruppo 2001 - L'Alba di Domani CD (album) cover


Gruppo 2001


Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.43 | 37 ratings

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Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
3 stars Like many other Italian groups wanting to break away from the `beat' phenomenon of the time, keyboard player/singer Piero Salis and the band Gruppo 2001 wished to follow a new, untested and exciting path at odds with the predictable and established musical trends of the early 70's. After releasing an atmospheric little poppy number `Messaggio' in 1971 (included as a bonus track on this new reissue), the band went on to record a very confused, yet always highly melodic and predominantly acoustic-based album with more involving progressive elements, `L'Aba di Domani' (The Dawn of Tomorrow), to very mixed results.

Boy, one listen to the first minute of `Maggio' and your expectations will shoot to the skies! Opening with a darkly classical spiraling harpsichord, manic drumming, wild flute and fuzzy hammond purrs, soon electric guitar aims straight for the heavens, with spitfire bass careening around the background, punching through at every opportunity. Piero Salis' voice pleads to a jangling acoustic guitar accompaniment, and sublime group harmony vocals over fancy Mellotron washes carry us through to a slightly repetitive vocal outro with a rather uninspired fade-out. Bit of a shame it kind of fizzles out towards the end, but the journey there is well worth it!

Sounding almost like the Moody Blues, `Una Bambina...' is a mostly upbeat acoustic ditty with a very pleasing melody, soft flute and a heartfelt vocal, particularly striking on the chorus. `Era Bella' is a dreamy frail ballad with rising/falling synth patterns and murky Mellotron before the bass and drums kick in to propel the piece into a more grand spacey prog rocker. Good use of group harmonies again, none of the album can be faulted on that side of things. `Paessagio' is an underdeveloped breezy yet pressing lullaby that doesn't really go anywhere and sounds very incomplete.

`Volo D'Angelo' starts what was the second side off very promisingly with a dramatic and ambient introduction before being abruptly cut short to reveal a stirring acoustic ballad that jumps back and forth from placid to tense. Without warning an unexpected manic prog snap with ranting vocals, quirky furious winding guitar and aggressive bass breaks in. Despite a thin layer of Mellotron over the top for good taste, the falsetto vocals in this section are a little annoying, and the piece is rudely stopped by an obtrusive edit. Very unfocused and frustrating, because you can hear some really good ideas trying to break through.

`Padre Vincenzo' unsurprisingly opens with deep church organ before falling back into more of the same acoustic balladry, there's no denying it's very lovely with a beautiful vocal and grand Mellotron throughout the second half. Uninterestingly for a progressive album, much of this track almost falls into singer-songwriter clich's, which is not my thing at all. `Denise' is a sweet romantic piece perfect for a summers day, though I'm confused by the sudden switch to English lyrics! The title track has an almost two minute spoken word introduction before firing off a fast-paced run of warm keyboards, hurdling bass and a strangely Santana-inspired guitar solo. Too little too late, I'm afraid, for yet another confused and unbalanced number. `Sadanza' is a dizzying keyboard, drum and bass instrumental that essentially repeats the same pattern every few seconds for just over a minute. Kind of cool, but utterly useless and tedious in reality.

The bonus track on my AMS Mini-LP reissue is `Messagio', and it's a well produced upbeat pop track with a strong melodic hook and confident vocals. Not a trace of prog to be found in it though.

After Piero Salis left, the band sporadically released a few more singles right up until 1979. The only one I've heard is from 1978, containing two rather clich'd disco/funk influenced pieces - the instrumental track `Stratosfera', made more bearable by chunky bass playing and shimmering synths/electric piano, and `Chi Sei', a spacey sounding pop/rocker with strange bubbling synth effects and a stomping beat. Truth be told, they're pleasant but totally forgettable. Best just to stick to this album, unless anyone else can recommend any of the other singles? Clearly the more inspired days of the band were well behind them, and other than two or three great moments, even that would hardly be considered a solid recommendation.

The Italian RPI scene is filled with numerous `one and done' bands who released a sole album before finishing up, and although not on the same high quality level as single albums by RPI bands like Maxophone, Museo Rosenbach or Murple among many others, this album could still possibly be a worthy addition to an RPI collection on the strength of a couple of tracks. But in all honesty the real disadvantage is that there are so many better albums and artists worth investigating before considering this one.

So `L'Aba di Domani' was really one tiny step through the prog doorway, one constant big leap back into placid and accessible acoustic balladry with unfocused ideas of inventiveness. Hardly an essential RPI album, but maybe you'll find yourself more forgiving of the album's `split personality' and warm to many of the ideas going on here. Personally, I think I admire it more than truly enjoy it.

Three stars.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 3/5 |


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