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(59.17, Black Widow Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Dio Del Silenzio Reprise 1.23 2. Il Nome Del Vento 6.01 3. Verso il Naufragio 6.35 4. L'Acquario Delle Stelle 6.11 5. Luci Lontane 4.15 6. Profeta Senza Profezie 4.20 7. Ogni Storia 5.03 8. Note Di Tempesta 4.30 9. Dopo il Vento 9.40 10. Cuore Sacro 8.49 11. L'Aurora Boreale (bon/track) 4.26 12. L'Acquario Delle Stelle (bon/video) LINEUP: Ettore Vigo – piano, organ, mellotron, Moog, Fender Rhodes Roberto Solinas – el. & ac. guitars; lead vocals Martin Frederick Grice – flute, sax; keyboards Pino Di Santo – drums, percussion; vocals Fabio Chighini – bass Mauro La Luce – lyrics & concept With: Chiara Giacobbe – violin Diana Tizzoni – violin Simona Merlano – viola Daniela Baschetto – cello Stefano Galifi – vocals (6) Mimmo Di Martino – vocals (2) Sophya Baccini – backing vocals (2, 4, 7, 9)
Prolusion. Hailing from Genoa, DELIRIUM was formed at the height of the original Italian progressive rock movement. Their debut album, “Dolce Acqua”, released in 1971, was followed by the nationwide success of the band’s first single, ‘Jesahel’. Both were recorded with singer Ivano Fossati, who left soon afterwards to embark on a career as a singer-songwriter, and was replaced by English-born Martin Frederick Grice. “Dolce Acqua” was followed by two more excellent albums, “Lo Scemo E il Villaggio” and “Delirium III”, before the band split up in 1975. “Il Nome Del Vento” is their fourth official studio album, recorded after the release of their first live album, “Vibrazioni Notturne” (2007), which marked the return of the band on the Italian and international music scene. Most of the original band members are on board, including lyricist Mauro La Luce (author of the lyrics of Delirium’s second and third albums) and guitarist Mimmo Di Martino, as well as special guests such as Museo Rosenbach’s Stefano “Lupo” Galifi and Presence’s Sophya Baccini.
Analysis. Delirium holds a special meaning for me – “Dolce Acqua”, with its stunning gatefold sleeve, was the first prog LP I purchased, at the tender age of 11, and it still gives me a lot of pleasure whenever I listen to it, and not just for sentimental reasons. The band who recorded that album in the heyday of Italian prog was a bunch of young musicians eager to prove themselves, combining the Italian penchant for strong, memorable melodies with influences coming from the English-speaking world – not just ‘symphonic’ progressive rock, but also jazz and blues (so much that the author of the liner notes drew comparisons to such acts as Colosseum and Blood, Sweat & Tears). That album, as ‘green’ and raw around the edges as it may sound to the sophisticated listeners of today, to my ears has never lost its fresh, intriguing nature - something that still lingers in Delirium’s comeback album, doubtlessly one of the most exciting releases of 2009. When listening to “Il Nome Del Vento”, one may be tempted to feel that the 30-year hiatus has in some way been beneficial to the band – a lengthy yet necessary ‘recharging of the batteries’, so to speak. To use words that may sound somewhat condescending (though in this case they are anything but), this is a mature, well-rounded, finely-crafted album, much in the way of PFM’s “Stati Di Immaginazione” – a sumptuous, accomplished effort from seasoned veterans of progressive rock that had been forgotten or written off far too soon. Although “Il Nome Del Vento” is a concept album of sorts, in which the wind symbolizes the positive energies that sweep away negativity and lead the way to a brighter future, it does not feel as contrived or cumbersome as so many such efforts can be. Mauro La Luce’s lyrics shun the mawkishness and cliches than often plague concept albums, and opt instead for simplicity and emotion – as do the genuinely outstanding vocal performances, which are nicely balanced by the brilliance of the instrumental sections. The background of each musician, their individual tastes and preferences, are also put to effective use here. While Martin Grice’s love of jazz and vintage English prog shines through his flute and sax work, guitarist/vocalist Roberto Solinas injects a welcome dose of classic rock energy in what is largely an acoustic effort. The uniquely Italian flair for melody and lyricism is bolstered by the presence of an all-female string quartet, contributing an authentically symphonic feel to many of the compositions. The continuity between the new and the old incarnation of Delirium is highlighted right from the opening track, Dio Del Silenzio Reprise, which (as the title says) references one of the songs featured on what for decades was Delirium’s final album, 1974’s “Delirium III”. This brief yet intense introduction (complete with sounds of rain and thunder at the beginning) sets the scene for what is to come. The title-track is a splendid slice of complex yet melodic prog, soulfully interpreted by the band’s former guitarist Mimmo Di Martino, whose deep, bluesy tones find a perfect foil in Sophya Baccini’s pure soprano. It is followed by one of the two instrumentals featured on the album, Verso il Naufragio, an exhilarating rollercoaster ride of slow, majestic keyboard washes and electrifying guitar riffs, incorporating George Martin’s Theme One (also covered by Van Der Graaf Generator and Cozy Powell). The second half of the track shows the band’s jazzier side, with a jaw-dropping duel between sax and organ backed by muted bass and drums. More jazzy influences surface in the elegant, up-tempo Profeta Senza Profezie, featuring a commanding vocal performance by Lupo Galifi, somewhat reminiscent of the lamented Demetrio Stratos’ acrobatics; while the romantic L’Acquario Delle Stelle (dedicated by Martin Grice to his first grandson) is a gorgeous slice of keyboard-led, flute-infused, classic Italian prog with a lush background of strings and a grandiose, emotional chorus. However, it is the double whammy of Dopo Il Vento and Cuore Sacro that might be defined as the album’s climactic point (the bonus track L’Aurora Boreale being a pleasing, but rather undistinguished composition) – the former jazzy and melodic in turn, with the string quartet holding the fabric of the song together; the latter definitely darker and rockier, enhanced by rippling piano, dynamic drumming and assertive flute work in the mould of early Jethro Tull. As is the rule for Black Widow releases, the album comes in a lavish package, its cover sporting an intriguing, blue-hued panting by Genoa-based artist Anna Ferrari, as well as a booklet containing stylish photographs, lyrics, and very thorough notes. A truly classy offering, “Il Nome Del Vento” is a perfect showcase for the unique talents of a band that seem to be finally about to get the recognition they highly deserve on the progressive rock scene.
Conclusion. Undoubtedly one of the best releases of the year, “Il Nome Del Vento” is a true boon to lovers of Italian prog. Eschewing the unabashedly retro nature of other releases, the album is a textbook example of how classic prog can sound modern without completely rejecting its glorious past. Hopefully this stunning comeback disc will not be Delirium’s swan song – judging from it, the band still have a lot to offer to the world of progressive rock.
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