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TRACK LIST: 1. Colla E Gesso 6.59 2. Senza Sale 8.45 3. Non E’ Festa 5.28 4. L'Uomo Che Torna 9.04 5. Godo 9.37 6. Il Sogno Del Fotografo 7.46 7. Questo 7.13 8. Manifesto 10.02 LINEUP: Giorgio Mele – vocals Angelo D'Ariano – keyboards Antonio Mazzucchelli – drums Roberto Riccardi – guitars Matteo Scarparo – bass
Prolusion. FILORITMIA were founded in Milan in September 1993, but it was only in 1997 that the band found their ideal lineup, when Roberto Riccardi (guitars) and Matteo Scarparo (bass) joined the historical core formed by Angelo D'Ariano (keyboards), Antonio Mazzucchelli (drums) and Giorgio Mele (vocals). The band alternated live performances to periods dedicated to composition; then, in September 2000, their self-titled debut album, completely self-produced, was released. In 2009 came the band’s second album, “Passaggi”, whose eight tracks had been composed in 2002-2006, and recorded in 2006-2007. In the months prior to its CD release in the month of April, the whole album was made available for free download on their website, one track at a time.
Analysis. In spite of all those people who see the Internet as the No-1 enemy of music (mainly on account of the illegal downloading phenomenon), Filoritmia have embraced it enthusiastically, and used it to their best advantage. A proudly self-reliant outfit that has been around for over ten years, they devote as much attention to the presentation of their musical product as any high-profile band (if not even more so), with the intent of offering a complete artistic experience to their listeners – much in the way of the classic prog bands, even if taking full advantage of 21st-century technology. While struggling against the odds of a music scene that seems to reward style rather than substance, Filoritmia manage to keep an obviously passionate attitude towards music-making, and the painstaking care they take in the presentation of their musical product bears this out. “Passaggi”’s elaborate foldout sleeve cannot but remind the older generations of the wonderful tactile and visual quality possessed by most Seventies albums. Moreover, their lush yet powerful sound, while firmly rooted in the golden era of progressive rock, is nevertheless imbued with a sense of exquisitely modern freshness. Compositionally focused and instrumentally tight, the music showcased on “Passaggi” feels densely woven, never flagging, keeping up a sense of urgency that is supported by each individual performance. As a listener, I set great store by an album’s opening track, and Filoritmia do not disappoint in this respect. Colla E Gesso takes no prisoners, a hard-hitting cavalcade flush with gritty vocals and raging Hammond organ, blending Deep Purple, Black Sabbath and vintage Italian prog with plenty of contemporary flavour in a truly heady mixture. Though the Hammond’s soulful growl might be seen as the album’s trademark, all the instruments are equally essential for the end result. Filoritmia’s real ace in the hole, however, are Giorgio Mele’s powerhouse vocals. The band’s music is the kind that needs to be handled by a strong set of pipes, and Mele delivers in spades, his voice rugged and melodic at the same time, capable of tackling barnstormers such as the above-mentioned Colla E Gesso, or the equally intense Godo, and more melodic, subdued moments like the first half of Senza Sale and L’Uomo Che Torna. The driving energy of the keyboards (not just the Hammond, but also piano and synths) is bolstered by Roberto Riccardi’s brilliant guitar work, always at the service of the compositions rather than the other way around. From a structural point of view, “Passaggi” comes across as such a solid effort that it is not easy to pick out any track for analysis, with hardly any single item that actually sounds ‘weaker’ than the rest. The almost-instrumental Non E’ Festa – a tribute to one of the most influential and revered Italian prog bands, PFM, and their iconic E’ Festa (known in the English-speaking world as Celebration) – is the only number that might be construed as filler. Though not as memorable as the other items, it nonetheless manages to capture the listener’s attention with its upbeat keyboards and brief vocal section. None of the other songs (whose running times range from 7 to 10 minutes) feels overlong or padded, the music often positively riveting, brimming with melody, power and emotion, and often building up to a crescendo – as is the case of L’Uomo Che Torna and the dramatic tour-de-force of album closer Manifesto. Though Deep Purple might appear as the single most relevant influence, the album is also unmistakeably Italian, and not only on account of the excellent, thought-provoking lyrics. Other, unexpected sources of inspiration also crop up, such as the Eighties King Crimson vibe surfacing in the jagged guitar licks and drumming patterns of Il Sogno Del Fotografo. Like the best vintage Italian prog, “Passaggi” is invigorating and ultimately uplifting, its Seventies feel enhanced and updated by thoroughly modern production values. If Filoritmia were based in an English-speaking country, they would probably be hailed as the next big thing in the prog world. Indeed, their reinterpretation of the classic heavy prog sound of the Seventies is far more effective than the overrated efforts of bands like Bigelf. With sterling technical chops paralleled by a high emotional quotient, the band have the potential to grow into an act to be reckoned with.
Conclusion. A surprisingly mature, multi-faceted album, “Passaggi” will equally appeal to lovers of classic heavy progressive rock in the Deep Purple/Uriah Heep/Atomic Rooster mould, and to the ever-increasing contingent of Italian prog fans. Successfully reconciling vintage sounds with more contemporary sensibilities, Filoritmia would deserve a lot more exposure outside their native Italy – provided they do not keep us waiting another nine years for their next album.
RB=Raffaella Berry: July 3, 2010
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