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ROCK PROGRESSIVO ITALIANO

A Progressive Rock Sub-genre


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Rock Progressivo Italiano definition

aka "RPI"


"So it's an established fact that in Italy during the period between 1971-1974, a music movement existed where bands would challenge each other to see who could be the most imaginative, who could create the album for the ages. They were all painters and sculptors just as in Renaissance Italy." -Tom Hayes/Gnosis


1. The background
As the 60s drew to an end, Italy experienced a wave of new ideas and ideals which coincided with the new musical era being born. It would not be exaggeration to state that the 70s were a watershed period in the history of the country. Even though the 60s are generally remembered as the years of the 'economic boom', it was only in the following decade that Italy made the long, difficult change from a relatively poor, traditional country into a fully developed Western society. A look at any timeline for 70s Italy will show an incredible concentration of events that changed the fabric of Italian society irrevocably: laws and acts were passed which affected worker's rights, family and divorce law, and women's rights and reproductive health. In a country where the physical presence of the Catholic Church has always been impossible to overlook, not least because of its open intervention in the country's political affairs, the introduction of such radical changes was no small feat.

Most of those changes were made possible by the presence of a strong left-wing component in Italian political life, even if regarded with extreme suspicion by both the Church and Italy's main ally, the United States. Though the existence of a party that openly called itself Communist was not exclusive to Italy, at the time the PCI (Partito Comunista Italiano) was considered more of a danger than, for instance, its French equivalent - mainly due to Italy's strategic position in the Mediterranean area, as well as the party's obvious connection with the Soviet Union. Such a peculiar, potentially explosive situation sadly became a breeding ground for a number of extremist groups, who were responsible for the season of violence and unrest commonly known as the 'Anni di piombo' ('years of lead'), which lasted well into the first half of the Eighties. The number of casualties due to terror acts and rioting was quite high, involving people from all walks of life. However, the defining episode of the decade was the kidnapping and subsequent murder of well-known politician Aldo Moro (a left-leaning Christian Democrat) by the notorious Brigate Rosse ('Red Brigades') in the spring of 1978.


2. The birth of a movement
The turbulent times affected countless musicians looking for something new-some way to parallel the political climate through artistic media. Ranging from highly educated conservatory students to local singer-songwriters, this spirit managed to captivate an entire country within a few short years. Young people were restless, bursting with a burning desire to change the staid, suffocating atmosphere of Italian society starting with one of its symbols, its venerable musical tradition. Most musicians had more or less strong left-wing leanings (the prime example being Area), while the few examples of openly right-wing bands never managed to break out of obscurity, or gain more than a strictly cult following.

Without a strong rock tradition in the 60s Italy had mainly produced beat bands of varying quality, as well as singers well-versed in the long-standing canzone tradition of the country. As the tidal wave of counter-culture swept in, it brought revolution not only in the form of progressive rock, but also differing forms of heavier, continental rock which was establishing itself around the same time. Psychedelic influences and the incorporation of classical music may have been the same stepping stones used by most other progressive scenes around the globe during the same period, but even at this embryonic stage there was a whiff of something else in the air. In the late 60s when the beat scene was already heading towards a decline, a number of bands formed, some of them releasing singles (or even albums) that bridged the gap between beat, conventional Italian easy listening music (musica leggera), and the new ideas coming from Great Britain - among them, New Trolls, Le Orme, Panna Fredda, I Quelli (later to become Premiata Forneria Marconi), Il Mucchio, and Fabio Celi e gli Infermieri.

"We wanted to put some improvisations between the singing parts and we had to make up our minds about the style to follow... After having been to the Isle of Wight festival, it was clear to all of us that we couldn't keep on playing the usual songs with verses and refrains." -Toni Pagliuca, Le Orme


3. The golden years
The beginning of the new decade saw the rise of a countless number of bands and artists, some of whom would go on to become successful acts. PFM, Banco del Mutuo Soccorso, Osanna, Il Balletto di Bronzo, Quella Vecchia Locanda belong to this group, with all but the latter being still active at the time of writing. Some others only managed to release one album (or even just a handful of singles) before they disbanded. The prog-rock bug became so widespread in Italy that some experts say every artist and band in Italy produced at least one progressive album during this time. A number of well-known mainstream artists started their career with a prog album, like singer-songwriters Riccardo Cocciante (with Mu) and Ivano Fossati (with the first Delirium album, Dolce acqua). Or, like Lucio Battisti or Fabrizio De André, they released strongly prog-influenced albums when the movement was at its height.

During the peak years of the RPI movement in the early 70s, countless bands showcased their talent in the many pop festivals organized throughout Italy. The festivals were often free of charge and boasted a level artistic freedom and competition seldom seen in popular music. Fans witnessed bands rise from obscurity to compete on the same stage as the heavy hitters. This musical competition created something of an upward spiral; everyone tried to outdo each other, producing unique sounds and incorporating disparate influences into their music. The variety of the music went through the roof, with every band sharing the same aspirations, though seldom the same sound. It must also be made clear that despite the beliefs of those who write off Italian prog as simply a British counterfeit, many of these bands were creating music that was phenomenally original, experimental, free-spirited, and creatively successful. While bands from abroad helped influence and inspire Italian bands, Italy's young bands quickly took the ball and ran with it. It is ludicrous to suggest the scene a mere imitation. The upward spiral also meant an over saturated market, in which many bands only managed to put out one or two releases with minimal budget and intense recording. Some of the best, most genuine and treasured albums of Rock Progressivo Italiano can be found in this group: Semiramis' "Dedicato a Frazz", Pholas Dactylus' "Concerto delle menti", Raccomandata Ricevuta di Ritorno's "Per un mondo di cristallo", Museo Rosenbach's "Zarathustra", and Balletto di Bronzo's "Ys" to name just a few.

"We had to tackle this tradition, we had to fight against the conventions and refuse to be integrated. The New Sounds hadn't arrived yet, there was no music for the young people, there was nothing, you had to invent and build up your space. Perhaps this was the mainspring that unchained such a creative strength." -Gianni Leone

With time some of the biggest bands achieved international success, with PFM as the best-known example. Lyricist Peter Sinfield, known from his work with giants like King Crimson and ELP, even wrote for the band, while Peter Hammill provided English lyrics for Le Orme's "Felona e Sorona". Ironically this success often meant a detour from the roots of the RPI sounds, making these albums more aligned to the British scene than the bulk of the artists and albums in the archives. Look beneath the surface in order to discover hidden (or not so hidden) gems. While the oft-mentioned big 3 of Italian prog (PFM, Banco, and Le Orme) are conveniently considered the peak by those casually mentioning this scene, RPI enthusiasts know the river runs so much deeper, and many of our personal favourites are found outside of these popular groups. Those who search beyond the surface will discover that the most daring and provocative works were often made by more obscure groups who released one fantastic album and then vanished into thin air. This common syndrome of Italian "one-shot" bands became the bane of many RPI fans.

Since so many different musicians experimented with the progressive format, you will also find a broad musical scope within RPI, something which has kept the subgenre fresh and vital over time. Examples include Franco Battiato (still a very successful artist in Italy), Picchio dal Pozzo, Opus Avantra, Stormy Six and Area, who each in their own individual way, show a more cosmopolitan flavour and range of influences than most other acts.

After its explosive development in the early 70s, the movement followed the same path as other progressive musical movements around the world as the 80s approached. Some influential artists continued to release new albums though never with the same success as in the halcyon days. Others changed with the times and became highly successful mainstream artists both in Italy and internationally. As elsewhere in the prog universe the quantity and quality of RPI began to dry up a bit in the late 70s and early 80s, although there were some quality releases from that period. These titles tended to be more melodic and less brashly avant-garde than the classic period but were respectable nonetheless. To name but a few there were Locanda Delle Fate, Stefano Testa, Pierpaolo Bibbo, and L'Estate de San Martino. Area, Stormy Six, and PFM had a good title or two left in them as well.


4. Musical features of RPI
Italian symphonic prog is notable for the prominence of classical influences, often providing the driving force behind the music. The new listener will discover that this particular branch of RPI feels more like classical music in a rock setting as opposed to occasional classical influences on top of the rock format. Furthermore, the rich, diverse musical traditions of Italy permeate the albums, creating a strong national and even regional character. The "textbook" RPI groups can usually be identified by a pervasive sense of romantic melancholy and earthy flair, sometimes enhanced by baroque elements, sometimes by more ethnic ones. Other distinctive features include overt opera and operetta influences, wild and uncontrolled storytelling, and as a general rule, bold and highly emotional vocals. There is extroverted, operatic gallantry and panache or mellow balladry; exciting use of all sorts of keyboards, with sounds heard nowhere else but in this particular scene; exotic instruments such as aggeggi, ottavino, mandoloncello, clavicembalo- names that tickle the imagination and leave their distinct mark on the music. There is a uniquely magical marriage of the traditional to the modern, of the warm to the wild. The combination of flute, piano and violin is often encountered, and the interplay between the first two instruments in particular supplies the subgenre with a fair share of its identity and flavour.

Though the symphonic element is indeed the most common in RPI, the genre would be better characterized as eclectic. Jazz-fusion, folk, hard rock riffing à la Jethro Tull, Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin, intense drama a la Van der Graaf Generator (whose albums were revered in Italy), singer-songwriter, proto-metal, blues, avant tendencies, pop, psych, dark/occult, electronic-the list goes on. Even more amazing, these differences in style can often be found to varying degrees on one album, and still feel natural in the distinct stylistic framework mentioned above.

No overview of RPI would be complete without mentioning the use of the Italian language, by many considered one of the most musical languages in the world. It could be safely stated that the use of Italian is inherent to the soul of RPI, a critical component to the full appreciation of the subgenre. In fact, even if some key RPI albums were translated into English in an attempt to gain international recognition, most of them fail to impress. They feel as if one of the basic ingredients of what makes RPI such a successful concoction is missing. While most serious RPI fans consider Italian vocals essential to their listening experience, it is fair to say that some believe English lyrics are not so detrimental-even if in most cases the odd phrasing, incorrect emphasis, and heavy Italian accent of the singers detract significantly from an authentic overall effect. While some prog fans can find the gregarious Italian vocal style challenging at first, newbies are encouraged to simply stick with it for a while. With only a modest effort any RPI newbie will soon find they cannot imagine this music without traditional Italian vocals-they truly are the icing on the cake.

One common misconception that must be addressed is the belief that any prog band from Italy is an RPI band. There are bands from Italy more appropriate for other genres. As an example, a pure and obvious post-rock band who just happen to be from Rome are going to be in the post-rock sub, not RPI. A pure jazz-fusion band with no RPI characteristics to their sound could be easily placed in the Jazz/Fusion subgenre. The RPI team will work hard to evaluate bands that fit the characteristics and the feel of the subgenre, and those whose primary sound is more suited for another sub are recommended to them.

"Progressive is basically a blending of three elements: the song, the improvisation inspired by jazz and the composition in classical style. This cocktail is interpreted in different ways in every country: in England, for instance, Celtic, rock and blues influences prevail. In Italy we have to cope with our classical tradition: the melodramma, Respighi, Puccini, Mascagni but also all the contemporary classical composers. It's in this legacy, in my opinion, that the specificity of the Italian Progressive Rock is concealed." -Franco Mussida, PFM


5. RPI in the new century
As recently as the 90s and early 2000s RPI again proved its longevity to the prog community. Scores of the classic albums were re-pressed in Japan, then specialized independent labels such as BTF, Mellow and Black Widow (the latter responsible for rescuing the likes of Jacula and Antonius Rex from oblivion) started to re-issue many of the classic albums. As a consequence RPI has not only reached a new generation of fans, but the increased interest and appreciation have led to new material being released. Artists whose recordings have never been in circulation, bands that are as new to our ears as they are to many of those who were there when it happened, now have a new-found audience creating an ironic worm-hole effect: brand new music straight from prog's golden years.

With the revival clearly under way the 90s produced some stellar Italian albums and the beginning of CD reissue fever. In the 2000s the trend has continued to a much more successful degree. RPI is back and fan interest has exploded for both the classic period and the new bands of today like Il Bacio Della Medusa, Pandora, Lagartija, Conqueror, Il Ruscello, Senza Nome, Coral Caves, J'Accuse, Ubi Maior, and the projects of Fabio Zuffanti to name just a few. Italian progressive rock today covers a wide range of styles and influences, but many of the bands ground a portion of their sound in the RPI tradition. Moreover, this first decade of the 21st century has seen a new round of publications (both in print and in electronic format) covering various aspects of Italian prog, as well as the creation of a number of excellent websites dedicated to the subgenre, which are extremely influential as regards the promotion of new bands and artists.

The commercial success of RPI has always been modest compared to the big bands from other countries. However, the quality of the music past and present, from its unique compositions to fiercely independent spirit, has earned the RPI subgenre some of prog's most loyal followers.

By:
Raffaella Berry
Michael Berry
Ryan Olsen
Jim Russell
Linus Wikström
Todd Dudley

For the Mick.
29 July 2009



Current RPI Team
Todd
Aussie-Byrd-Brother (Michael)
rdtprog (Louis)




Additional information:
Italian Prog - A dedicated RPI site
http://www.italianprog.com

Italian Prog Map - A superb blog by RPI writer Andrea Parentin
http://italianprogmap.blogspot.com/

Andrea Parentin's history of RPI (essential reading)
http://www.progarchives.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=33377&PID=2345095#2345095

Andrea Parentin's contemporary Italian prog (newer bands)
http://www.progarchives.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=62150&FID=58

Movimenti Prog
http://www.movimentiprog.net

Centro Studi per il Progressive Italiano
http://www.centrostudiprogitaliano.it

John's Classic RPI blog - Another good blog on the "classic" era
http://classikrock.blogspot.com/

Arlequins - A prog rock webzine with much RPI content
http://www.arlequins.it/gb/index.asp


Where to buy Italian prog
Syn-phonic (USA) - http://www.synphonicmusic.com
Doug Larson (USA) - http://www.douglarsonimports.com
Kinesis (USA) - http://www.kinesiscd.com/index.html
Wayside (USA) - http://www.waysidemusic.com/
Mellow Records (Italy) - http://www.mellowrecords.com
BTF (Italy) - http://www.btf.it
Black Widow Records (Italy) - http://www.blackwidow.it
Camelot Music Store (Italy) - http://www.semanticweb.it/camelotstore/
Discogs - www.discogs.com

Rock Progressivo Italiano Top Albums


Showing only studios | Based on members ratings & PA algorithm* | Show Top 100 Rock Progressivo Italiano | More Top Prog lists and filters

4.40 | 1425 ratings
PER UN AMICO
Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM)
4.37 | 957 ratings
DARWIN!
Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso
4.37 | 886 ratings
IO SONO NATO LIBERO
Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso
4.36 | 1128 ratings
STORIA DI UN MINUTO
Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM)
4.30 | 722 ratings
ZARATHUSTRA
Museo Rosenbach
4.29 | 741 ratings
BANCO DEL MUTUO SOCCORSO
Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso
4.27 | 551 ratings
ARBEIT MACHT FREI
Area
4.24 | 719 ratings
L'ISOLA DI NIENTE
Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM)
4.23 | 791 ratings
FELONA E SORONA
Orme, Le
4.22 | 591 ratings
UOMO DI PEZZA
Orme, Le
4.25 | 373 ratings
MAXOPHONE
Maxophone
4.23 | 486 ratings
YS
Balletto di Bronzo, Il
4.24 | 338 ratings
PALEPOLI
Osanna
4.23 | 302 ratings
CRAC !
Area
4.22 | 272 ratings
DISCESA AGL'INFERI D'UN GIOVANE AMANTE
Bacio Della Medusa, Il
4.20 | 278 ratings
L' ENIGMA DELLA VITA
Logos
4.18 | 268 ratings
CONTAMINAZIONE
Rovescio Della Medaglia, Il
4.16 | 318 ratings
LA CRUDELTÀ DI APRILE
Unreal City
4.19 | 237 ratings
CELESTE [AKA: PRINCIPE DI UN GIORNO]
Celeste
4.25 | 151 ratings
RISVEGLIO
Egonon

Rock Progressivo Italiano overlooked and obscure gems albums new


Random 4 (reload page for new list) | As selected by the Rock Progressivo Italiano experts team

STORIA MAI SCRITTA
Capuano, Enzo
BUON VECCHIO CHARLIE
Buon Vecchio Charlie
IL PAESE DEI BALOCCHI
Paese dei Balocchi, Il
UNA VITA UNA BALENA BIANCA E ALTRE COSE
Testa, Stefano

Latest Rock Progressivo Italiano Music Reviews


 I Am Changing by ANCIENT VEIL, THE album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.07 | 9 ratings

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I Am Changing
The Ancient Veil Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

3 stars While it's been 22 years since Edmondo Romano and Alessandro Serri released the first ANCIENT VEIL album, they have been somewhat active in the interim, particularly Romano who has played on all three releases by NARROW PASS. Serri handled vocals on that group's latest "A New Day". With their earlier group ERIS PLUVIA having issued a couple of their own creations in the interim, it's only fitting that ANCIENT VEIL return, and, with the assistance of associates from all of the above, "I am Changing" is the result.

Those familiar with the light chamber prog of their 1995 album will feel at home here. Reserved and controlled English vocals; delicate string woodwind, and brass arrangements; wind accompaniment, and nimbly plucked acoustic guitar remain the cornerstones here. A few more aggressive junctures are negotiated by electric guitar, particularly on the instrumentals "Bright Autumn Dawn", which appears as a mashup of ideas conceived over a couple of decades, and the more integrated "Fading Light". Serri's lead guitar style bears comparisons to Dave Gilmour and Andy Latimer, particularly in passages reminiscent of the quieter moments of "Dust and Dreams".

Ultimately, the production is vocal oriented, and its strength must be measured by the quality of the songs, which, while graceful and elegant, are somewhat precious and precise, lacking the warmth and emotion of earlier releases which the members have enriched. The lyrical themes don't seem especially adventurous and hardly match the pledge of the magnificent cover. My favourite is "Chime of the Times", thanks to the welcome vocal of long time associate Valeria Caucino and, about halfway through, a return of a recycled theme from the first album, offering one of the only passages that is the symphonic equal of early ERIS PLUVIA. "A Mountain of Dust" approaches this level thanks to more spirited singing and instrumental passages including recorders and pipes.

While i do think that this is probably the weakest release yet by any ERIS PLUVIA/NARROW PASS related band, and of limited interest to most fans of prog and rock in general, it does reflects the duo's admirable skill and dedication to craft, stalwart musical ideals in the face of so much change. 2.5 stars rounded up.

 Per Aspera Ad Astra by TAPROBAN album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.01 | 32 ratings

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Per Aspera Ad Astra
Taproban Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Gaia

5 stars Listening to the the new Taproban album PER ASPERA AD ASTRA, it seems as if you began a journey into an inner world, where opposing rhytms alternate themselves, as in the tumultuous life of a metropolis of the future. In the lyrics you can find the same human conflict you feel in the music, as well as the beautiful cover image, the "Sunset On The Sea " by Daniela Ventrone, best expresses the concept of modern man's discomfort, with which, however, he has learned to live with. I believe, in fact, that the common thread connecting the 9 tracks, although expressed in each of them differently, as in a colourful musical allegory, it is precisely the theme of uman contrasts. It's worthwhile to note the great sax intro to "Nexus", by the guest star Antonio Marangolo, and the rhythmic changes of the multiform and sprawling "Octopus".
 Jet Lag by PREMIATA FORNERIA MARCONI (PFM) album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.17 | 254 ratings

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Jet Lag
Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM) Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Walkscore

2 stars Decent music, but the singing ruins it.

This is the second album w/ singer Bernardo Lanzetti. The music is actually pretty decent in most places, but the singing RUINS it. Unfortunately, on this album Lanzetti really exaggerates his vibrato at every turn, making otherwise just-weak vocals now completely unlistenable. Maybe they thought this would differentiate the new electric PFM sound from the other prog-rock bands, or make PFM sound identifiably Italian, or something, but it just doesn't work. Songs like "Jet Lag" and "Traveler" could have been decent, but are *completely* ruined. In fact, the only vocal song I can listen to on this album is "Cerco La Lingua", on which the vibrato is not quite so over-done. Otherwise, it is the instrumentals that are worth hearing. The opener, "Peninsula", a short acoustic guitar instrumental, is the best track on the album, followed by the fusion-y Meridiani (which has some great jazzy bass playing and a good guitar solo). The song "Left-Handed Theory" has a vocal, but that only appears in the middle third of the piece, so if you cut that out (easily done in the age of digital nowadays), you get another great instrumental track. But those 4 pieces are pretty-much it. This is on the low end of 2 PA stars. I give it 3.6 out of 10 on my 10-point scale.

 Chocolate Kings by PREMIATA FORNERIA MARCONI (PFM) album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.94 | 403 ratings

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Chocolate Kings
Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM) Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Walkscore

3 stars A Step Down.

Thinking PFM could compete with/mirror the success of the big UK prog-rock bands like ELP and Yes, they were encouraged to hire an English singer, and to switch completely to English-language lyrics. To do this, they brought on Bernardo Lanzetti as lead singer. They also went full-tilt electric. The result is a big shift in their sound, but it is a major step down from the beauty that defined their earlier work. There is by now very little subtlety, and they go for a louder arena-rock style. They are still writing decent music though. "From Under", "Harlequin" and "Out on the Roundabout" provide good examples of mid-70s progressive rock. Lanzetti's vocals, however, are really inferior, and to my mind would ruin their subsequent album (Jet Lag). On this album, they were able to rain him in enough to make listening to the singing here passable, but at every turn you are just waiting for the instrumental passages. "Chocolate Kings" is OK, but goes on to long and the singing makes one want to hit skip. "Paper Charms" would have been great music, but the singing here is the worst on the album, thus leaving a bad taste in one's mouth, particularly after repeated listenings. After many years, I can hardly sit through this in one go. I give it 6.3 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which is on the low side of 3 PA stars.

 L'Isola Di Niente by PREMIATA FORNERIA MARCONI (PFM) album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.24 | 719 ratings

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L'Isola Di Niente
Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM) Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Walkscore

4 stars The last of the first phase of PFM, and PFM's third-best album.

L'isola Di Niente continues in much the same format as Per Un Amico, but with a harder edge, and the use of even more progressive rock staples (synth solos, etc), and with the addition of a choir at certain places (including opening the album). This is, to my mind, the last great PFM album. Like 'Per Un Amico', they also recorded an entirely English-language version of this album, with English lyrics by Peter Sinfield (called 'The World became the World'), and again, this Italian version is far superior to that Engligh version (on this album, however, there is one song they wrote in English: "Is My Face On Straight", so not all the singing here on the Italian version is in Italian). The music here is again quite varied, even more rock than the previous album. There are some great moments. I really like the brash guitar chords that follow the choir on the opening title track, which is on the whole great, and there are some really excellent sections towards the ends of both "La Luna Nuova" and "Via Lumiere". The fourth track "Dolcissimma Maria" is one of PFM's best-ever songs, and the most musical piece on this album. Saying this, the transitions between the very diverse musical sections on this album work less well than they did on their two previous albums, and the album comes across as a somewhat fragmented listen. There are many sections you hear that are very musical, but they don't develop them, and the listener is left wondering why they didn't stay a bit longer on them, add a solo, etc. This album just squeeks by into a 4-star rating: I give this 7.9 out of 10, which is the minimum needed to attain 4 PA stars on my 10-point scale. It is the end of their first period - after this, their albums would go downhill.

 Photos Of Ghosts by PREMIATA FORNERIA MARCONI (PFM) album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.07 | 455 ratings

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Photos Of Ghosts
Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM) Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Walkscore

3 stars Get the Italian version (Per Un Amico) Instead.

Greg Lake liked PFM and signed them to his Manticore label. Their first album for Manticore is their album 'Per Un Amico' but with new English lyrics written by Peter Sinfield, as well as a new instrumental ("Old Rain") and "Celebration" which is just "E Festa" from their first album but with new English lyrics (also written by Sinfield). There are three problems with this. First of all, the singing of the new English lyrics is not as good as the vocals for the original Italian lyrics. It is not (just) that this required Italian singers to sing in English, but the musicality of the singing is far inferior here, compared to the original Italian. Second, I don't like most of the English lyrics, which in most cases carry different meanings than their original Italian (Sinfield did not bother trying to re-write the original Italian lyrics, but instead substituted his own poetry). Third, and for me the worst part - they put lyrics on much more of the music here than on the originals, including some excellent instrumental sections. So, instead of being able to listen to the great musicality of those sections, one has to try to listen through these (inferior) lyrics. (They left "Il Banchetto" though, thankfully, so at least that song remains untouched!). Despite having some great music underneath the problematic lyrics/singing, I can only give this 6.1 out of 10 on my 10-point scale. To my mind, the only reason to pick this up is for the new instrumental, "Old Rain", which has a very nice flute solo. Otherwise, definitely stick to the original Italian version ("Per Un Amico").

 Per Un Amico by PREMIATA FORNERIA MARCONI (PFM) album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.40 | 1425 ratings

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Per Un Amico
Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM) Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Walkscore

4 stars PFM's second-best album.

While this is the album that many fans point to as their best, I think their first album (Storia Di Un Minuto) is far superior. However, this is still their second-best album, and is highly recommended. This one is more rock than their first album, and while still quite diverse is not as sensitive, nor consistently-musical as their first album. The album gets off to an excellent start with the fantastic "Appena Un Poco", one of their best tracks. However, the other tracks are not up to the same standard. "Generale" in particular is not very musical (yes, it is definitely complex progressive rock, but this does not always mean musical), and interrupts the flow of the album. "Ill Banchetto" and "Geranio" are good, and have some excellent sections, but are not as consistently-excellent as the music on their debut. Nonetheless, take altogether, the album deserves four stars. I give this 8.3 out of 10 on my 10-point scale.

 Storia Di Un Minuto by PREMIATA FORNERIA MARCONI (PFM) album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.36 | 1128 ratings

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Storia Di Un Minuto
Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM) Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Walkscore

5 stars PFM's best album.

This album set the trademark PFM sound, and it is on this album they are most successful at excelling at this. The music is intensely beautiful and musical, and highly diverse, effortlessly weaving together different styles (from baroque classical, to jazz, latin folk, to heavy Crimson-like rock). Unlike Per Un Amico, every track on this album is excellent, and they pull you in, with each new track/segment building on the previous, maintaining interest and momentum. The first three albums all have great singing, and I think this one is best on this front too, mainly because of the sensitivity of the vocalists. The dynamics are incredible, going from soft-as-a-whisper to frontal-assault, but without ever being pretentious. Really excellent music. For me, this is the best album that best represents the RPI genre. I give this 9.4 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translates to 10 PA stars.

 Eppure by FONETICA album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.50 | 2 ratings

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Eppure
Fonetica Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

4 stars Italian group Fonetica formed in Mestre in 2011 around composer, lyricist and guitarist Fabio Bello who connected with several musicians that shared his passion for the Italian canzone d'autore (singer/songwriter) tradition, and after much live activity on the local scene and some line-up changes, Fabio and his musical collaborators were able to record their first album. Arriving in 2014, it's clear with the debut that the initial `songwriter' ambition that led to the forming of the group has evolved and stretched in other directions, and `Eppure' is a fancy, mature collection of passionate eclectic ballads and energetic rock songs performed in Italian enhanced by a colourful variety of instrumentation and shared male/female vocals.

Looking at some of the highlights, opener `Santa Pace' begins as a gentle sparkling piano and flute reflection before picking up in tempo to properly announce the album with Massimiliano Cadamuro's murmuring bass, Claudio Matinolli's reaching electric guitar strains, the driving drumming of Douglas D'Este and gentle wisps of synths, all backing Fabio's commanding vocal lifted by Silvia Siega's stirring backing voice. Both the gutsy `La Strada del Sole' and darker `La Nuova Guerra' have a nice bluesy strut to them, `La Legge del Branco' nails a killer chorus, and `La Scuola è Morta' is a frequently acoustic tune wrapped in flute, harmonica and accordion with a boisterous chest-beating group vocal.

Cool pop-rocker `Le Parole' adds lightly jazzy flavours with Riccardo Gallucci's electric piano dreaminess and wafting trumpet, and Silvia takes lead on the breezy and pretty popper `Aspettare', one of the most instantly likeable songs in this set, and there's nicely shimmering vibraphone throughout it too! The longest piece on the album at seven minutes, `Pioggia Pioggia', fuses joyful Latin American flavours with sprightly jazz touches through plenty of nimble soloing and spirited singing but includes an unexpected electronic passage in the middle and lengthy instrumental finale that really shows off the musicians, and `Eppure' is a dignified and hopeful ballad to close on performed with tasteful restraint.

Special attention must go to `Pianeta Blu', a very welcome six-minute instrumental break that slinks with seductive bass, whirring synths, careful percussion, floating flute and exhilarating electric guitar soloing with just a trace of bite, all helping the piece to rise with joy and victory in the final moments - more please next time, Fonetica!

Sixty-seven minutes of music here is probably too much, with a few of the pieces holding a similar sound to each-other, and the disc might be light on serious prog and firmer RPI qualities, but the entire album is full of glorious extended soloing and constant instrumental colour that lift even the more straight-forward songs much higher, even if the tune is always the priority. `Eppure' is a showcase of strong and charismatic singing, smart song-writing that constantly takes unpredictable turns and offers endlessly skilled musicianship, everything performed with honesty and conviction, and it makes for a terrific first release from a talented group of musicians that will hopefully issue a follow-up in the near future.

Four stars for simply a very fine Italian rock album - go on, give it a go!

 Finisterre by FINISTERRE album cover Studio Album, 1995
3.69 | 64 ratings

BUY
Finisterre
Finisterre Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

4 stars The Nineties was hardly the most fertile time for Italian prog and RPI flavoured bands, but one of them that instantly stood out and are still very highly spoken about are the mighty Finisterre, formed in Genoa in 1993. The group is sometimes a little unfairly thought of these days as `That group Fabio Zuffanti used to play in (Zuffanti, for those not in the know, is perhaps the closest Italian equivalent to someone like Porcupine Tree's Steven Wilson, a modern progressive music icon of great status, talent and knowledge in the progressive music community)', but they were so much more than that, with that evidence rife throughout their dynamic self-titled debut from 1995. It may offer all the classical and theatrical bombast that many Italian groups do, but `Finisterre' also manages to capture the tough danger that permeated many of those best-kept-secret RPI discs a world away from the polish of many of the more widely known classics, and it delivers plenty of the ravishing playing, raw unpredictability and daring experimentation of Banco del Mutuo Soccorso.

Predominantly (perhaps surprisingly) instrumental, sure enough the disc even opens with two of them, `Aqua' a low-key ambient introduction, but `Asia' is a classic RPI blast of skittering drums, searing heavy keyboards and coarse guitar blasts, where Sergio Grazia's dirty huffing flute calls to mind Biglietto per L'Inferno's classic debut and the crisp guitar solo in the finale contains a distinctly 80's icy Marillion tone. Once the disc settles into its first longer vocal piece,`Macinaaqua, Macinaluna', it reveals sweeping fanciful themes with little traces of whimsy and playfulness, even finding time to playfully flit in and out of popular classical themes. Fabio's bass is proudly thick and slinking, Boris Valle's keys offer everything from whirring electronics, upfront synth noodling and doomed romantic piano, and not only do Stefano Marelli's guitars weave seductively in a Pink Floyd-by-way-of-the-blues manner, but he also delivers a wounded and melancholic vocal with a tasty hint of pleading madness!

The snaking guitars, sparkling early a.m hours piano, murky slithering bass and sharp rattling snap to Marco Cavani's jazzy drums of improvised instrumental `...Dal Caos...' creep with the same strangled tension of early King Crimson, but it's a mere tease at only just over three minutes and clearly truncated from a longer jam before its proper end. The fifteen minute instrumental `Συν' is another of the longer pieces, a highly emotional epic of contrasting moods and schizophrenic direction changes, full of whimsical and spirited up-tempo runs and big symphonic moments. Much attention is given to sparkling classical piano and Sergio's sublime flute, but it also seductively works in reflective violin, looping electronics, strangled sax, and a haunting male/female operatic choir.

`Isis' turns stormy and tough in between washes of ambient electronics, droning treated faraway multi-tracked vocals and unhurried mysterious improvised drifts in the manner of King Crimson's `Moonchild' and a stark but ultimately hopeful acoustic finale, and Fabio takes the lead vocal for the surprisingly pretty and pleasing nearly twelve-minute `Cantoantico', with plenty of chiming guitars (the mix of acoustic guitars even briefly remind of Porcupine Tree), a spotlight again placed on Sergio's spiralling flute and a stirring choir in the finale. The up-tempo instrumental closer `Phaedra' is a culmination of everything the band have delivered throughout the disc, with plenty of runaway drums, furious electric guitar blasts and breakneck keyboard pomp, taking brief pauses time for pristine piano reflections and intimidating spacey diversions.

Perhaps the album is just a little too long (damn that CD ability to squeeze in more music than vinyl LP's!), but there's no denying the sheer talent on display and the endless high quality of the material. Parts of this version of the band would split following the release of this album, but the remaining members would regroup with additional players to release another landmark Nineties RPI stunner `In Liminie' only a year later, and the jury is still out on which is the better of these two! But `Finisterre', hailing from a pretty lean decade for RPI, is a thrilling and unique work that deserves to be treasured and still investigated today, and it truly might be something of a `modern' Italian Prog classic.

Four and a half stars.

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Rock Progressivo Italiano bands/artists list

Bands/Artists Country
A PIEDI NUDI Italy
ABISSI INFINITI Italy
ABSENTHIA Italy
ACQUA FRAGILE Italy
AD MAIORA Italy
ADHARMA Italy
AINUR Italy
AKRON Italy
L' ALBERO DEL VELENO Italy
ALGEBRA Italy
ALESSANDRO ALISCIONI Italy
ALLEGRI LEPROTTI Italy
GLI ALLUMINOGENI Italy
ALPHATAURUS Italy
ALTARE THOTEMICO Italy
ALUSA FALLAX Italy
AMMINISTRAZIONE CAOS POPOLARE Italy
ANACONDIA Italy
ANCESTRY Italy
THE ANCIENT VEIL Italy
ANTONIUS REX Italy
GLI APOSTHOLI Italy
APOTEOSI Italy
APRYL Italy
ARCHITRAVE INDIPENDENTE Italy
AREA Italy
ARIES Italy
ARJUNA Italy
ARMONITE Italy
ARPIA Italy
ARS NOVA (ITA) Italy
ASSEMBLEA MUSICALE TEATRALE Italy
ASSENZIO Italy
ASTROLABIO / ELETTROSMOG Italy
ATON'S Italy
ATTO IV Italy
AUDIO Italy
AURORA LUNARE Italy
AVALON LEGEND Italy
IL BABAU & I MALEDETTI CRETINI Italy
SOPHYA BACCINI Italy
IL BACIO DELLA MEDUSA Italy
THE BADGE Italy
BALLETTIROSADIMACCHIA Italy
IL BALLETTO DI BRONZO Italy
IL BALLO DELLE CASTAGNE Italy
THE BALMUNG Italy
LA BAMBIBANDA E MELODIE Italy
BANCO DEL MUTUO SOCCORSO Italy
BARABBA Italy
MARIO BARBAJA Italy
BAROQUE Italy
BARROCK Italy
LUCIANO BASSO Italy
LA BATTERIA Italy
FRANCO BATTIATO Italy
PIERPAOLO BIBBO Italy
BIGLIETTO PER L'INFERNO Italy
BLOCCO MENTALE Italy
LA BOCCA DELLA VERITÀ Italy
BONDAGE Italy
BORNIDOL Italy
LA BOTTEGA DELL'ARTE Italy
BRAEN'S MACHINE Italy
BRAINDEAD Italy
ANGELO BRANDUARDI Italy
BRIGHT HORIZON Italy
BUON VECCHIO CHARLIE Italy
CAGE Italy
I CALIFFI Italy
CALLIOPE Italy
CAMERA ASTRALIS Italy
JURI CAMISASCA Italy
CAMPO DI MARTE Italy
CANTINA SOCIALE Italy
CAPITOLO 6 Italy
CAPRICORN COLLEGE Italy
CAPSICUM RED Italy
ENZO CAPUANO Italy
IL CASTELLO DELLE UOVA Italy
IL CASTELLO DI ATLANTE Italy
CAVALLI COCCHI LANZETTI ROVERSI Italy
CELESTE Italy
IL CERCHIO D'ORO Italy
CERVELLO Italy
CHERRY FIVE Italy
CHIAVE DI VOLTA Italy
LUCIANO CILIO Italy
CIRCLE OF FAIRIES Italy
CITTÀ FRONTALE Italy
CIVICO 23 Italy
CLEPSYDRA Italy
I COCAI Italy
ROBERTO COLOMBO Italy
CONDOR Italy
CONQUEROR Italy
CONSORZIO ACQUA POTABILE Italy
CONTRAPPUNTO Italy
CONTROTEMPO Italy
COOPERATIVA DEL LATTE Italy
CORAL CAVES Italy
CORMORANO Italy
EMANUELE CORREANI Italy
CORTE AULICA Italy
CORTE DEI MIRACOLI Italy
LA COSCIENZA DI ZENO Italy
MARIO COTTARELLI Italy
COURT Italy
CRYSTALS Italy
LA CURVA DI LESMO Italy
GINO D'ELISO Italy
GIANNI D'ERRICO Italy
DALLAGLIO Italy
DALTON Italy
DE DE LIND Italy
DELIRIUM Italy
MAURIZIO DI TOLLO Italy
I DIK DIK Italy
DISTILLERIE DI MALTO Italy
DIVAE Italy
DUEMILA12 Italy
ECLISSE Italy
EDERA Italy
EDGAR ALLAN POE Italy
EGO Italy
EGONON Italy
EMPIRE Italy
ENEIDE Italy
ENIMA Italy
ENTITY Italy
EQUIPE 84 Italy
ERA DI ACQUARIO Italy
ERIS PLUVIA Italy
ERRATA CORRIGE Italy
L' ESTATE DI SAN MARTINO Italy
EUTHYMIA Italy
EXPLOIT Italy
LA FABBRICA DELL'ASSOLUTO Italy
FABIO CELI E GLI INFERMIERI Italy
FALENA Italy
FEM PROG BAND Italy
FESTA MOBILE Italy
FILARMONICA MUNICIPALE LACRISI Italy
FILORITMIA Italy
FINISTERRE Italy
FLEA Italy
FLOATING STATE Italy
RICCARDO FOGLI Italy
FOGLIE DI VETRO Italy
FONETICA Italy
FORMULA 3 Italy
FABIO FRIZZI Italy
CLAUDIO FUCCI Italy
FUFLUNS Italy
GARYBALDI Italy
GENCO PURO & CO. Italy
GENFUOCO Italy
GERMINALE Italy
FRANCO MARIA GIANNINI Italy
GIARDINI D'AUTUNNO Italy
GIARDINO DELLE DELIZIE Italy
I GIGANTI Italy
GIGI PASCAL E LA POP COMPAGNIA MECCANICA Italy
IL GIRO STRANO Italy
GLEEMEN Italy
GOBLIN Italy
GOBLIN REBIRTH Italy
GRAN TURISMO VELOCE Italy
GREENWALL Italy
GRIMALKIN Italy
GRUPPO 2001 Italy
GUERCIA Italy
H2O Italy
HOMUNCULUS RES Italy
HOPO Italy
HORUS Italy
HÖSTSONATEN Italy
HUNKA MUNKA Italy
IANVA Italy
IBIS Italy
IL FAUNO DI MARMO / THE REBUS Italy
INGRANAGGI DELLA VALLE Italy
J.E.T. Italy
JACULA Italy
JANUS Italy
JESTER'S JOKE Italy
JET LAG Italy
JUMBO Italy
KALISANTROPE Italy
KUNDALINI SHAKTI DEVI Italy
LABIRINTO DI SPECCHI Italy
LAGARTIJA Italy
LAPERA Italy
LASER Italy
LATTE E MIELE Italy
LUCIANO LAURINI Italy
LEO NERO Italy
I LEONI Italy
LETHE Italy
LIBRA Italy
LINEATEORICA Italy
LOCANDA DELLE FATE Italy
EMILIO LOCURCIO Italy
LOCUS AMOENUS Italy
LOGOS Italy
LOST TALES Italy
LOTHLORIEN Italy
MACROSCREAM Italy
MAD CRAYON Italy
MADRUGADA Italy
MAGNOLIA Italy
MALAAVIA Italy
MALIBRAN Italy
MALLEUS Italy
MANGALA VALLIS Italy
LE MANI Italy
MARCHESI SCAMORZA Italy
LA MASCHERA DI CERA Italy
MAURY E I PRONOMI / AQUAEL Italy
MAXOPHONE Italy
MEDITERRANEA Italy
MELLONTA TAUTA Italy
MESSAGGIO 73 Italy
METAMORFOSI Italy
MINDFLOWER Italy
MINSTREL Italy
MIRAGE Italy
MO.DO. Italy
MÖBIUS PROJECT Italy
LORENZO MONNI Italy
MONTEFELTRO Italy
MOSAICO Italy
IL MUCCHIO Italy
MURPLE Italy
MUSEO ROSENBACH Italy
FRANCO MUSSIDA Italy
MYROS Italy
LA N.A.V.E. Italy
NARROW PASS Italy
NASCITA DELLA SFERA Italy
NATHAN Italy
NEW TROLLS Italy
NEW TROLLS ATOMIC SYSTEM Italy
NICOSIA & C. INDUSTRIA MUSICALE Italy
NODO GORDIANO Italy
NOTABENE Italy
I NUMI Italy
NUOVA ERA Italy
NUOVA IDEA Italy
OBSCURA Italy
THE ODEJA Italy
ODISSEA Italy
OFFICINA MECCANICA Italy
L' OMBRA DELLA SERA Italy
OMBRALUCE Italy
LE ORME Italy
ORNITHOS Italy
OSAGE TRIBE Italy
OSANNA Italy
IL PAESE DEI BALOCCHI Italy
MAURO PAGANI Italy
PANDA FIGHT CLUB Italy
PANDORA Italy
PANE Italy
PANGEA Italy
PANNA FREDDA Italy
MARIO PANSERI Italy
PANTHER & C Italy
PARADISO A BASSO PREZZO Italy
IL PARADISO DEGLI ORCHI Italy
MAURO PELOSI Italy
I PENNELLI DI VERMEER Italy
LA PENTOLA DI PAPIN Italy
PERDIO Italy
PERIFERIA DEL MONDO Italy
PERIPLO Italy
PERSIMFANS Italy
PHAEDRA Italy
PHOLAS DACTYLUS Italy
GIAN PIERETTI Italy
PIERO E I COTTONFIELDS Italy
PIERO EZIO E TINO Italy
PLANETARIUM Italy
PLENILUNIO Italy
PLURIMA MUNDI Italy
LE PORTE NON APERTE Italy
POSTO BLOCCO 19 Italy
PREGHIERA DI SASSO Italy
PREMIATA FORNERIA MARCONI (PFM) Italy
PRESENCE Italy
PROCESSION Italy
PROGENESI Italy
PROMENADE Italy
PROPHEXY Italy
PROWLERS Italy
PSYCHO PRAXIS Italy
QIRSH Italy
QUARTO VUOTO Italy
QUASAR LUX SYMPHONIAE Italy
QUEL GIORNO DI UVE ROSSE Italy
QUELLA VECCHIA LOCANDA Italy
RACCOMANDATA RICEVUTA RITORNO Italy
I RAMINGHI Italy
RANDONE Italy
RANESTRANE Italy
REALE ACCADEMIA DI MUSICA Italy
RES GESTA Italy
RICORDI D'INFANZIA Italy
CLAUDIO ROCCHI Italy
ROCKY'S FILJ Italy
IL ROVESCIO DELLA MEDAGLIA Italy
IL RUMORE BIANCO Italy
IL RUSCELLO Italy
RUSTICHELLI & BORDINI Italy
SACKA Italy
SALIS Italy
SAMADHI Italy
SAMSARA Italy
TITO JR. SCHIPA Italy
LA SECONDA GENESI Italy
SECRET TALES Italy
IL SEGNO DEL COMANDO Italy
SELDON Italy
SEMIRAMIS Italy
LE SENSAZIONI Italy
SENSITIVA IMMAGINE Italy
SENZA NOME Italy
SEZIONE FRENANTE Italy
SHOWMEN 2 Italy
PAOLO SIANI & FRIENDS FEAT. NUOVA IDEA Italy
SIDE C Italy
IL SISTEMA Italy
SITHONIA Italy
SLOGANS Italy
LA SORGENTE Italy
ALAN SORRENTI Italy
ST.-TROPEZ Italy
LE STELLE DI MARIO SCHIFANO Italy
STRANAFONIA Italy
DEMETRIO STRATOS Italy
SUBMARINE SILENCE Italy
SUNSCAPE Italy
SYNDÉRESI Italy
SYNDONE Italy
TACITA INTESA Italy
TAPROBAN Italy
IL TEMPIO DELLE CLESSIDRE Italy
TENEBRAE Italy
I TEOREMI Italy
STEFANO TESTA Italy
THEGENERATION Italy
THREE MONKS Italy
TILION Italy
TOTO TORQUATI Italy
LA TORRE DELL ALCHIMISTA Italy
TRIADE Italy
THE TRIP Italy
IL TRONO DEI RICORDI Italy
TUGS Italy
UBI MAIOR Italy
ULTIMA SPIAGGIA Italy
UNA VOLTA ERAVAMO IN SETTE Italy
UNO Italy
UNREAL CITY Italy
L' UOVO DI COLOMBO Italy
VEDDA TRIBE Italy
VIEUX CARRE Italy
VITTORIO DE SCALZI - LA STORIA DEI NEW TROLLS Italy
IL VOLO DI ICARO Italy
IL VOLO Italy
VUOTI A RENDERE Italy
RICCARDO ZAPPA Italy
ZAUM Italy

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