Thursday, May 14, 2015

Il Balletto Di Bronzo - 1972 - Ys

Il Balletto Di Bronzo

01. Introduzione
02. Primo Incontro
03. Secondo Incontro
04. Terzo Incontro
05. Epilogo

Bonus track on CD:
06. La Tua Casa Comoda
07. Donna Vittoria

- Lino Ajello / guitar
- Gianni Leone / vocals, piano, organ, Moog, Mellotron, spinet, celeste
- Vito Manzari / bass
- Gianchi Stringa / drums

Progressive rock's most controversial album. Many claim that YS is the "masterpiece of all masterpieces", while others claim that it is just an average album not worthy of all the hype. For me, One of my favorite albums all time. When I'm painting or drawing and need to "zone out" for me it's either give this one or Atom Heart Mother a spin... So you have been warned... I am very biased!

A mind blowing album. If you're not familiar with this album, let me go out on a limb and compare them to the modern day schizophrenic band The Mars Volta. The opening song, "Introduzione" and it's little brother, "Primo incontro" are what The Mars Volta would sound like if they came from the 70's. Frantic, eerie, nightmarish, non-stop, over-the-top with a female voice that kicks off the album as if she was calling out to sailors like a dangerous mermaid. You can't get any faster paced then the first track. How the drummer can keep up with the pace for the length of the song, close to 18 minutes, is amazing. Fantastic keyboard work with unrelenting guitar and that drumming make the first two tracks monumental. Only the singing by Gianni Leone slows down the pace, but just a tad. One of the greatest Italian prog songs of all time. Fantastic singing on track three/four (they blend together), and some freakout guitar, ELP-like keyboard and great drumming changes the tempo a tiny bit, but its a super song with a definate early King Crimson sound. Track five, "Epilogo" starts out frantically, sorta like the first track but turns into a sinister hellborne song, something the devil himself would enjoy with some of the creepiest percussion ever. It's devil music I tell ya! A bonus track rounds out the album, kinda poppy sounding but nevertheless a decent track. So, if you're looking for what could possibly be the only album that compares to the sound of The Mars Volta, (at least track 1/2), try this album out. It's arguably the greatest Italian prog album, which could easily stand tall next to the best of PFM, Banco, Le Orme, Area and all the wonderful one-shot Italian classics. a bonefide classic of the highest order, and one album you'll never tire of.

Now to the album. This album is a keyboardists dream. Fabulous organ, mellotron, and accoustic piano abound. For those who like some heavy guitar work.. have a seat at the table.. heavier than some of those poseurs parading around in leather with styled hair were. As far as the lyrical nature of the album. Andrea has posted a translation of the lyrics in the forums. Interesting tale about meeting 3 faces of death on a journey or something like that hahahha. Can't say much for the lyrics but Gianni Leone in addition to his stellar keyboard work has a great voice.

Ys kicks off with the masterpiece of Introduzione. The highlight .. the incredible (for lack of a better word) use of heightening tension during the frenzied guitar and organ duel with the ...orgasmic release into an out of this world mellotron section, I feel like firing up a Winston everytime I hear it. Amoung my top 5 prog muscial 'moment's of alltime. It's that intense everyone.

Next up are the 3 encounters with death... the primo, secondo, and terzo incontros. The Primo is a reprise of the ending of introduzioine and is available as a sample here. The Secondo incontro has some really sweet mellotron underneath the main vocal sections and seques right into the bass intro to the terzo incontro which is my favorite of the three. A great walking bass line with brutal machine gun burst of the organ following by a guitar solo that to rolls right out of the left channel. Today's guitar soloist's could learn a thing or two from how to make a guitar solo.....sound. A dirty and nasty sounding guitar tone pervades this album. I've often thought that this album recorded today would not have the same sound or effect. It's a nasty brutish subject and the sound matches it.. no overproducing on this. Finally we end with Epilogo. More of the same great singing by Leone, great organ work, and unlike some I love the exteneded outro to the song... and the original album. Very atmospheric.

In summation. If you do not like albums that are heavily keyboard orientated, stay away from this one. If you do, and like being musically bludgeoned for 40 minutes, you will love this album almost as much as I do. As far as rating it... for me.. the best prog album I've heard in a very long time. I haven't been 'grabbed' by a prog album like this since I was a kid sitting in front of my parents 8-track player, and led directly to me being an Italian prog fanatic. 5 stars both personally and a complete masterpiece of progressive rock. It may not be everyone's cup of tea but an album of this caliber is deserving of at least a chance and a listen.

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