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(35:02, AltrOck Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Crescendo 8:51 2. Sequenza Circolare 2:41 3. La Giostra 7:27 4. Non Chiudere a Chiave le Stelle 3:41 5. Non Chiudere a Chiave le Stelle Live 1:02 6. Crescendo Live 4:31 7. Vendesi Saggezza Live 7:48 LINEUP: Leonardo Sasso – all vocals Giorgio Gardino – drums Alberto Gaviglio – flute Luciano Boero – bass Oscar Mazzoglio – keyboards Maurizio Muha – keyboards Michele Conta – keyboards Max Brignolo – guitar Ezio Vevey – guitar
Prolusion. LOCANDA DELLA FATE (LDF hereinafter), from Italy, is a household name for everyone who is well acquainted with the ‘70s progressive rock scene, even though the band only recorded two albums at the time, “Forse le Lucciole Non si Amano Piu” and “Live”, both in 1977, the former a studio program. “The Missing Fireflies” is their most recent outing, released some five months ago, albeit all seven of the tracks that it’s made up of originate from the same distant 1977.
Analysis. The first four of the compositions here are studio creations, all newly recorded by LDF in 2011, and three of them, Crescendo, Sequenza Circolare and La Giostra, are available for the first time ever, as also are – if my memory doesn’t let me down – Crescendo Live and Non Chiudere a Chiave le Stelle Live. All in all, there are only two tracks that sound familiar to me: Vendesi Saggezza Live and Non Chiudere a Chiave le Stelle (the remaining studio item), both of which for the first time appeared on the band’s debut release. Now it’s time to describe the selection in detail. Besides vocals and lyrics, there really isn’t a shred of Italian influence here, IMHO: it’s Britain all the way. On Crescendo and Crescendo Live (the last of which is the sole instrumental here) the band for the most part rocks symphonically in a ‘70s classic art-rock manner, and the feel of the music is quite a bit Yes-like in places. Outside the vocal sections, the main lead instruments here are keyboards, and the men behind those cover Rick Wakeman with ease, especially when playing synthesizers. Anyway, the compositions are put together and performed extremely well, with lots of time signature changes and many sections of alternating synthesizers, pianos and guitars, sometimes building into Mellotron crescendos. La Giostra and Vendesi Saggezza Live are also pieces of classic Symphonic Progressive. Still full of vintage colorations, they develop very much in the same vein as the above two, but don’t reveal any obvious influences – perhaps because the keyboardists are more often focused on pianos here, while their approach to playing this instrument is beyond comparison. To put it in a more precise way, the music still ranges from slow-paced to up-tempo with some blazing parts and instrumental flash as well, but it does not have a full-band sound throughout, at times sinking into soft passages with only piano, flute and vocals in the arrangement. Performed without a rhythm section, Non Chiudere a Chiave le Stelle is a refined art-rock ballad with some inventive interplay between acoustic guitar and synthesizer and a lush Mellotron backdrop. It develops beautifully and then ultimately returns to restate the opening theme, making it a perfectly symmetrical excursion. While played with the same instruments, the live version of the piece sounds very different, and reminds me of an excerpt from “Nursery Crime” by Genesis. Finally, Sequenza Circolare is a piece for fortepiano, most often evoking classical music. As to the vocals, Leonardo Sasso still has an easy, affective voice that is friendly to ears. All the singing is in it Italian, of course, with no multi-part harmonies.
Conclusion. The properly titled “The Missing Fireflies” is not a mere compilation. I wouldn’t call it even a collection of outtakes, because almost all of the tracks presented are in all senses good compositions and would have certainly been issued back in the ‘70s, if the era of digital technologies had already begun at the time. The only problem I have with it is that the sound of most of the live tracks is by far not blameless. On the other hand, everything sounds natural on the disc, breathing with a freshness and honesty that are so typical of the decade, although the studio ones are all modern-day recordings.
VM=Vitaly Menshikov: Agst 13, 2012
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