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(60 min, Mellow)
TRACK LIST: 1. Hermes Il Bambino 4:31 2. Affari di Famiglia 2:43 3. I Campi di Delfi 2:30 4. Apollo - Minerva - L'Etrusco 5:36 5. Fiato Immortale 2:58 6. Le Porte Dell'Averno 4:06 7. La Caduta Degli Dei 3:39 8. Lei E Venezia 12:02 9. Voglio Cambiare 5:49 10. Oceano 9:00 11. L'Assenza 7:41 All music & lyrics: by Galia. Arranged & produced by Mauri E I Pronomi. LINEUP: Maurizio Galia - vocals; keyboards, acoustic piano Nicola Guerriero - electric & acoustic guitars Enrico Testera - bass & acoustic guitars Sergio Ponti - drums With: Marco Giacone Griva - lead electric guitar Sergio Cagliero - Hammond, electric piano Dino Pelissero - flute & whistle Bruno Giordana - saxophones Michael Seck - exotic percussions Assane M'Baye - African congas
Prolusion. MAURI E I PRONOMI (MEIP hereafter) is an Italian group led by singer/keyboardist Maurizio Galia. Their history is dated as far back as 1979, but although they never disbanded, they didn't have any output until 1997. At the moment, MEIP has three full-length albums to their credit: "Ziqqurat Nel Canavese" (1997), "Tanganica Il Passato E I Futuro" (2000) and "(Es)citazioni Neoclassiche" (2005). Twenty-five years have passed since the band's birth, and yet, its founding members constitute three quarters of its current lineup. The only newcomer is drummer Sergio Ponti.
Analysis. The first seven tracks are united under a common title, appearing to be parts of the Il Racconto Degli Dei suite, whose lyrics (in Italian, as everywhere on the album) are most likely of a unified concept. There are no pauses between them, and the music flows seamlessly between tracks, so that it's usually impossible to notice when the next track begins without looking at the display of the CD player. The compositional approach used on the opener, Hermes Il Bambino, in many ways served as a prototype for the entire thing. Although the arrangements are built around the chords with only a few shifting keys, the band rarely returns to the once played theme, very successfully avoiding direct repetitions. As a result, not only the suite as such, but also most of its seven parts turned out to be multi-sectional by construction, featuring several different themes. Through the first three tracks the suite develops as a cross between classic Italian symphonic Prog and English Neo, with occasional digressions into '70s' Doom Metal, which didn't seem to be accidental from the very beginning. The further events indicate the increase of heaviness and density of the sound, most of the basic textures nearly imperceptibly changing their shape, particularly those of traditional Art-Rock. The suite's remaining four parts: Apollo - Minerva - L'Etrusco, Fiato Immortale, Le Porte Dell'Averno & La Caduta Degli Dei and the 12-minute Lei E Venezia (the first of the non-conceptual songs) are highly impressive, representing an uncommon synthesis of symphonic Space Rock and Doom Metal, with expressive dramatic vocals and clever interaction between all the instruments involved (though the central soloing forces are usually acoustic piano and electric guitar) and a rather somber overall atmosphere. It would be unfair, if not just wrong, to reproach MEIP with a lack of originality, but relativist comparisons are possible. In a general stylistic context, the five core tracks resemble something average between Eloy, Antonius Rex and Black Sabbath. Apart from a lead guitarist, the guest musicians rarely appear on the epic, but they actively contributed to the last four compositions, all being the longest tracks on the album. Although Lei E Venezia sounds in many ways like the continuation of the suite, at least stylistically, it features much more unconventional instruments (woodwinds, congas, some more) and is richer in the parts of vintage keyboards, such as the Hammond organ and electric piano. The remaining three tracks show the departure from the album's primary style and are vastly different from each other also. Voglio Cambiare is the most unexpected. While the average tempo on the album is moderately slow, that composition is filled with rapidly performed arrangements and is one of the best works of symphonic Hard Rock I've heard in recent years. Oceano is striking for its diversity. Art-Rock, Oriental music, Hard Rock and Jazz-Fusion are mixed here into a unique united whole, delivered with taste and elegance. The band decided to impart a more optimistic relish to the album's conclusion. L'Assenza is the most affirmative song here, bringing the listener to the symphonic Space Rock realm. Compositionally, the last four tracks are on par with the preceding stuff, but surpass it on the performance level. So it was really wise of MEIP to invite guest musicians.
Conclusion. The only significant problem I have with this CD lies in the sound of drums, which is cold and muted (like being processed via the compressor) throughout the suite, but is lush and dynamic on the other tracks. Overall, "(Es)citazioni Neoclassiche" is a remarkable comeback by a very talented band. Recommended to folks tolerating the presence of Doom Metal textures in progressive music. Personally I am a fan.
VM: May 17, 2005
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