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Il Babau & i maledetti cretini - La Maschera Della Morte Rossa CD (album) cover


Il Babau & i maledetti cretini


Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.90 | 13 ratings

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Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars 2013 has already been a superb year for Italian albums, but modern RPI releases don't come any more lush and evocative than the new Il Babau e l Maledetti Cretini release `La Maschera della Morte Rossa', an interpretation of an Edgar Allan Poe story `The Mask of Red Death'. What makes the band so distinctive is that they approach their music as a `phonodrama', a sort of `audio-tale' if you will, that incorporates typical Italian progressive elements, narration and sound effects to create an ambient moody soundtrack. Housed in a luxurious mini LP sleeve and lengthy booklet comprised of the story, lyrics and surreal paintings/illustrations, it resembles a book and gives the album a very special important grandness. Fans of darker Italian progressive music such as Goblin and the works by Antonio Bartoccetti may be especially interested to look into this release, the first of a planned trilogy.

The album open with sinister howling winds and countryside ambience before marching percussion and murky electric guitar soloing moves in. This brief mysterious introduction gently fades away before we're suddenly blasted with punching bass, crashing drums and a powerful grand repetitive electric guitar melody that pushes down on the listener, sounding like one of those classic 70's Italian horror movie themes. As the music moves into early 70's Pink Floyd-like eerie floating dreamy tension, the first section of narration soon enters, Franz Casanova's voice taking on a vile, guttural scratching tone that sounds a lot of the early Jacula/Antonius Rex albums. The third movement thankfully dances like a soundtrack to the spring season, a blissful and melodic passage with slight medieval influences, a jig-like percussion rhythm, low-key humming synths and the loveliest of foot-tapping melodic electric guitar noodling that provides a brief pause from the gloom.

The fourth and fifth sections really take us down to the pits of despair again, as our narrated tale continues amongst psychedelic electronic humming, smashing percussion and ranting voices. By this stage the album really starts to dig under your skin, the tension and unpleasantness becoming overwhelming, the narration itself even more manic and harsh, and you feel like you're falling into a trance. By the time we reach the closer, the music has taken on a very pulsing electronic pattern that ebbs and flows around the listener, with a serrated edge growing more present and suffocating as it builds. It's a disturbingly reflective section that has you begging for some sort of uplifting respite from the brooding menace, but it never comes. This is quite a brave move from the band, and it will completely alter your mood and demeanor.

If the band intends to make the next two releases in the series to be of an equally short length (this one runs a total of just over 24 minutes), perhaps they might include a purely instrumental continuous version of the pieces as a bonus at the end of the album? The music you can hear behind the unnerving narration sounds absolutely fascinating and deserves to be heard clearly on it's own! This would just give the album a bit more value, even though you're already receiving a sublime musical experience.

This dramatic and striking approach to their craft puts Il Babau e l Maledetti Cretini in a very unique position within the current RPI crowd. Don't be put off by the relatively short running time, it just ensures you'll give it repeat plays more often, letting it cast it's gloomy atmosphere around you. It won't be for everyone, but those who appreciate the darker side of Italian progressive rock should make it their next priority. If you're one of those fans, why not treat yourself and grab a copy of this immersive work that you'll really come to treasure?

Four stars.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 4/5 |


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