Sunday, March 3, 2019

Alberto Radius - 1972 - Radius

Alberto Radius

01. Rock
02. To The Moon I'm Going
03. Radius
04. Prima E Dopo La Scatola
05. Area
06. Il Mio Cane Si Chiama Zenone

Gianni Dall'Aglio : drums
Walter Bravi : bass
Alberto Valli : guitars
Alberto Radius : guitars
Demetrio Stratos : voice, piano
Tony Cicco : battery
Gabriele Biondi : low
Johnny Sax : soprano sax
Pappa : low
Ciccia : battery
Giulio Capiozzo : battery
Patrick Djivas : bass
Gaetano Leandro : tenor sax
Alfredo D'Aquino : violin
Johnny Lambizzi : guitars
Ellade Bandini : battery

The guitar player of Formula 3, in this his first album,as released in 1972 with help from Area members and produced by Lucio Battisti. One of the most heavy psychedelic guitar albums Italy has ever produced in the 70's. This album blows them all away easily! His first solo album, regarded as one of the Italian prog rarest though not particularly representative of the genre, was issued in 1972 when Formula Tre were still active, and was a sort of jam session with important Italian musicians of the time, including Franz Di Cioccio from Premiata Forneria Marconi and Area´s Demetrio Stratos and Giulio Capiozzo along with Gianni Dall'Aglio and Vince Tempera that were later with him in Il Volo. The album was produced by Lucio Battisti under the fantasy name of Lo Abracek. The first Italian vinyl reissue was released in 2008 by BMG, in a limited numbered series.The guitar player of Formula 3, in this his first album,as released in 1972 with help from Area members and produced by Lucio Battisti. One of the most heavy psychedelic guitar albums Italy has ever produced in the 70's. This album blows them all away easily! His first solo album, regarded as one of the Italian prog rarest though not particularly representative of the genre, was issued in 1972 when Formula Tre were still active, and was a sort of jam session with important Italian musicians of the time, including Franz Di Cioccio from Premiata Forneria Marconi and Area´s Demetrio Stratos and Giulio Capiozzo along with Gianni Dall'Aglio and Vince Tempera that were later with him in Il Volo. The album was produced by Lucio Battisti under the fantasy name of Lo Abracek. The first Italian vinyl reissue was released in 2008 by BMG, in a limited numbered series.

Albero Motore - 1974 - Il grande gioco

Albero Motore
Il grande gioco

01. Cristoforo Colombo (6:15)
02. Le esperienze passate (3:35)
03. Una vita di notte (5:28)
04. Landru (4:43)
05. Israele (6:30)
06. Nel giardino dei lillà (5:30)
07. Capodanno '73 (2:41)

- Glauco Borelli / bass, vocals
- Fernando Fera / guitar
- Adriano Martire / keyboards
- Maurizio Rota / vocals, percussion
- Marcello Vento / drums

A Rome-based, five-piece band, ALBERO MOTORE got together in the early Seventies. Their name means "drive shaft" in Italian. They were discovered by the singer and guitarist Ricky Gianco, who produced their first and only album, "Il grande gioco" (released in 1974), and he also wrote the lyrics to all the songs. He then helped them obtain a recording deal with his new label Intingo (which specialised in Italian folk music) when their original label, Car Juke Box, closed down. The following year, Albero Motore released a single by the title "Messico lontano", then disbanded. 

From a musical point of view, the album has few real connections with progressive rock, sounding more like one of the numerous rock-influenced albums by Italian singers-songwriters (cantautori) which were popular at the time. The vocal parts, sung by Maurizio Rota's strong, gutsy voice (often compared to Joe Cocker's) are very much in evidence; while the overall sound of the band is more influenced by American-style, blues-based classic rock than by symphonic prog. Among the eight tracks included in "Il grande gioco", particular mention should be made of "Israele", which addresses the plight of the Palestinian people with the sensitivity typical of many Italian '70s bands towards political issues.

After the band's end, most of the individual members have continued their career in the Italian music world. Guitarist Fernando Fera is an established sessionman and composer of soundtracks; while lead vocalist Marcello Rota still performs in the Rome area, both as a solo singer and as member of a Beatles tribute band. Drummer Marcello Vento is a teacher and jazz musician. 

This is one of so many Italian bands that came to scene, released one album and then disbanded. That is a pity because it would have been nice to see how they managed to improve and create a second record, a third or a fourth one; now we'll never know. Albero Motore released "Il Grande Gioco" in 1974, an album whose music is not that traditional RPI sound, though it does have some traditional Italian folk rock moments. The album features seven songs and a total time of 35 minutes.

The first song is entitled "Cristoforo Colombo", which is a very nice melody. Acoustic guitar with soft piano and nice raw vocals. Later a wind instrument, backing vocals and a pretty good guitar solo. The mood is enjoyable, like a nice rock and roll song with good piano moments, but nothing more. "La Esperienze Passate" is like the second part of the opener song, because it stars practically with the same music the first song ended. A minute later it stops, there is a violin for some seconds and later vocals, bass and drums appear. There are also some guitar sounds here and there. The rhythm is pretty simple, but anyway, enjoyable, catchy.

"Una Vitta di Notte" starts with piano and vocals, seconds later it turns faster when drums appear. The music again is not bad, but it sounds like a conventional 60s rock band. It has some slices of bluesy moments, but the progressive element does not really exist. At half the song, there is a nice moment where piano takes the leadership. And the last part is very cool, in moments reminding me of The Rolling Stones.

"Landru" has nice bass notes and a predominant piano sound, a very rockish piece of music with some funny vocals. Nice guitar riffs and good instrumentation. Their sound is pretty 60s, though it was released at mid-70s. "Israele" is a softer piece with nice chorus vocals that do remind me to some of the RPI bands, such as New Trolls in moments. But later the song changes and a voice (not the raw one) appear with a more delicate sound. The music seems to be simple, nothing difficult to play I mean, but sounds nice. This is actually one of the best, if not the best song here.

"Nel Giardino dei Lillá" has acoustic guitars and harmonica accompanied by vocals. Seconds later drums and I believe it is a soft keyboard sound appears. This is a very catchy song, which can be both, listened or skipped. I mean it is not really transcendent. And the last song is "Capodanno 73'" which is a pretty nice track actually, a short but rich one. The music is quite enjoyable and here I would say the prog element does exist. The piano, drums, guitar and bass sound all together produce an excellent moment. There is also an acoustic guitar that reminds me to some of Cocciante's or Battisti's works. A nice song to end the album.

Alan Sorrenti - 1977 - Figli delle stelle

Alan Sorrenti 
Figli delle stelle

01. Figli delle stelle (4:35)
02. Donna Luna (3:25)
03. Passione (5:00)
04. Notte di stelle (0:39)
05. E tu mi porti via (3:55)
06. Un incontro in ascensore (3:37)
07. Casablanca (5:09)
08. C'e sempre musica nell'aria (3:26)
09. Tu sei un'aquila e vai (8:25)

- Alan Sorrenti / vocals, main producer
- Walter Martino / drums
- Ed Greene / drums
- Jay Graydon / lead, electric, rhythm and acoustic guitars
- David Foster / acoustic piano, Fender Rhodes, clavinette, Wurlitzer
- David Humgate / bass
- Dino Kappa / bass
- Nicola di Stasio / electric guitar
- Steve Forman / percussions
- Antonio Carlos Sylva / percussions
- Quitman Denis / saxophone

Little did I know that when I chose the only album of Sorrenti in my library system with the name Son Of The Stars of an artiste in our precious database, that I would end up with some semi-disco album that is best forgotten or stayed away from. Of course the album had a release date of 77, which might have given a first hint, and the album title had a double entendre and the artwork was doubtful. Nevertheless this fearless music explorer took the object home had was whacked across the head by dumb disco-beat easy listening music not far away from the Bee Gees.
The worst part is that the opening title track does have a semi-proggish intro, raising your expectations up a tad, but soon after, the whole thing collapses as soon as the song proper kicks in an easy two beat. A little further down, the short (very) piano interlude might give you hopes for improvements especially recalling the "stars" thing (Stelle in Italian), as if it might be some kind of concept, but the following track is a boring MOR/AOR song, again ruining the hope. "Meeting in a Elevator" is more GIBBerish from Sorrenti, which has most of his older fans tearing their hairs out in despair. The funk-disco Casablanca doesn't dispels the unease towards this kind of album getting a release, while other artistes' best works are still un-issued. All of the songs really have a stinking disco tinge that makes me want to puke my guts out, but I'd rather listen to this gibberish than early 80's new wave electro-pop.

Alan Sorrenti - 1976 - Sienteme, It's Time To Land

Alan Sorrenti 
Sienteme, It's Time To Land

01. Alba (6:47)
02. The Prisoner And The Dancer (4:15)
03. Island Queen (4:45)
04. Sienteme (3:37)
05. Try To Imagine (3:21)
06. Seagull Song (3:54)
07. Sliding On The Wire (3:15)
08. Listen (2:45)
09. Your Love Is Magic (3:04)

Line-up / Musicians
- Jeff Neighbor / bass
- Mike Howlett/ bass on 4
- Steve Mitchell / drums
- John Lingwood / drums in 4
- Bobbye Hall, Kent Middleton / percussions
- Larry Blackshere / vibes- percussions and marimba
- David Khane: keyboards, English words and arrengements
- Gianni Leone / keyboards and acoustic guitar in 4
- Mike Deacon / clavinet in 4
- Corrado Rustici / electric guitar in 4
- Roger Voudouris / acoustic guitar
- Mike Butera, Bob True, Al Bent / horns section
- "The Waters with Maxime, Alex and Julia / background vocals
- Alan Sorrenti / lead vocals

A dreamy sax solo soaring from a delicate acoustic guitar pattern announce a new dawn... "Dawn, you are rising / There is no noise into the air / Dawn, you are spreading your colour / And you are calling me / My heart is opening / I feel that I am changing / Yes, I feel it, I'm changing...". The opener "Alba" is a beautiful track that could remind the early Alan Sorrenti's album, but it also one of the few moments that could be of interest for a prog lover. Another excellent track is the sparkling "Sienteme", featuring nice bass lines and beautiful vocals, and lyrics in Neapolitan dialect. On the album there is also an English version of this song, "Listen To Me", with a different and less interesting arrangement.
The rest of the music contained on this album is very different from the early works of this artist. The album was recorded in the U.S.A., it's sung almost completely in English and it has a definitively pop sound. The songs are simple and melodic, there's almost no room left for experiments and the voice is no more a daring and bold instrument. Nonetheless I don't think that this album is really a treason. Alan Sorrenti was completely fed up with the atmosphere and the politic climate that surrounded the music business and the social life in Italy. He was looking for a new dawn, a new musical direction. Songs like "Try To Imagine" and "Your Love Is Magic" clearly show this direction... The days of disco music were just behind the corner.

Alan Sorrenti - 1974 - Alan Sorrenti

Alan Sorrenti
Alan Sorrenti

01. Un Viso d' Inverno (7:44)
02. Dicitencello Vuje (4:00)
03. Ma Tu Mi Ascolti (7:37)
04. Sulla Cima del Mondo (4:52)
05. Poco Più Piano (4:05)
06. Microfoni Assassini (4:32)
07. Incrociando il Sole (4:50)

- Alan Sorrenti / vocals, acoustic & electric guitars, synthesizer AKS
- Antonio Esposito / drums & percussions
- Nero Limone / bass, fuzz bass, electric guitar
- Enzo Castella / acoustic guitar & mandolin
- Mark Harris / acoustic piano, fender piano, acoustic guitar, eminent, synthhesizer AKS
- Ettore De Carolis / strings & brass (5)

Recorded at the "Chantalain" studios of Rome - autumn 1974

One artist that does not get a lot of discussion in prog circles, even among fans of Italian prog is Naples's own Alan Sorrenti. Sorrenti of course released Aria in 1972 which was a landmark album in Italian prog. In addition to being known for that album he is also known as having left progressive rock behind and having a 'notorious' successful career chasing the almighty Lira, not to mention those of the female persuasion. He turned musically to the most dire and despicable forms of music known to prog fans... disco and music made to make the young ladies swoon. What a waste of musical talent beh. That changeover from the music of Aria to 'Non so che darei' hahaha (check that on youtube and you'll understand) was not an abrupt or immediate one however. After Aria he released two albums that did mark a downward progression away from progressive rock. This, a self titled album from 1974 was his last gasp of the pure progressive air before we got to see him shake his moneymaker to throngs of screaming girls. The inspiration to reviewing this album came from my better half.. who noticed that his subsequent album to this has a higher rating than this album does.. and in the scope of the prog universe, this site,.. there is something very wrong with that. Even if there are no blaring saxophones, tear inducing mellotrons that scream I AM PROG HEAR ME ROAR this album is a very good album with still very strong attachment to progressive rock, also to Neopolitan music which he would also leave far behind starting with his next album.
'Un viso d'inverno' leads off the album. Of course the star of any Sorrenti album is going to be the voice of Sorrenti. I find his voice to be very hypnotic and sensual. If his voice makes ME feel that way, you could imagine the lure ..the temptation to sing to scores of pre-pubescent chicks hahah. The song, the longest on the album at just under 8 minutes is a tranquil exercise in Sorrenti's vocal abilities where he doesn't as much sing as again use his voice as an instrument dancing around the main melody in pleasant journey through the puffy white clouds in our minds. Excellent music again, not for getting revved up for the hot date, but music for rainy Saturdays when you want to be taken away to a better.. more beautiful place than the one we currently have.

'Dicitencello vuje' is next up. The song has a bit of story to it. For non-speakers of Italian the lyrical meaning of the song is lost but is a Neopolitan love song composed in 1930. It has been performed by the greatest of Opera stars in Italy like Enrico Caruso,and Pavarotti. Sorrenti's version of it on this album did not go down well and was not well received. Now from our vantage point as pure listeners who don't see the song as the equivalent of having 'The Star Spangled Banner' covered, thus mangled of course by young punks like Slayer, the song is not going to elicit the same response. What we are though, are prog fans, and I hate to say. As wonderful as Sorrenti's voice is, this song holds as much appeal to prog fans as Willie Nelson performing Jerusalem hahha.

Thankfully the next song up is a more interesting one for us. 'Ma tu mi ascolti' harkens back to the opening song in length, about seven and a half minutes, and in feel as well. A sedate song with a wonderful acoustic guitar melody and the rhythm held with simple percussion and a low in the mix electric bass. Using this sonic canvas Sorrenti takes off for the heavens again with his majestic voice taking the listener who feels as much as listens on another voyage of beauty of sound and inner mental wanderings. Wonderful music again for those rainy Saturday afternoons or a cuddle session with that special lady.

'Sulla cima del Mondo' follows next and is a more layered with synths and a more prominent bass guitar and drums. Here Sorrenti shows great range in vocal delivery shifting from strongly delivered lines to the soft and ethereal to using his voice as an instrument. Some notable yet not particularly wild shifts in tempo give the piece a nice feel with a nice synth and e-guitar section thrown in for good measure. Good song. 'Poco piu piano' is next up on the playlist. The most distinctive feature of this song is the use of violins in it which give the song a real interesting feel with some funky guitar playing. Good song.. but nothing I see the prog fan specifically will find all that interesting.

'Microfoni assassini' starts us down the homestretch of the album. Sorrenti's instrumental voice starts it going over a strong snare drum and piano melody before shifting to lyrical verse. Again.. I can't stress that even though the song may not be progressive as many see progressive that in itself does not mean the music can not be uniformly excellent. There really isn't much here again for the prog fan, but if you are looking for good music. We have another one to satisfy you. The album is brought to a close with a song very.. very close to my heart. 'Incrociando Il Sole'. Raff will hear of this when she reads this for the first time but I always took this album with me when I went to see her in Rome (as I have been saying..this is a great album). I never failed to play this song when I was flying over the Atlantic on my way back home after spending such precious time with her. I coined a term in reference to another album, another artist soon to be added to the site. Sensual Prog. My god... listening to Sorrenti's sensual ethereal voice starting this song for a verse or two is enough to bring tears to my eyes thinking about when I would see her next. If that wasn't bad enough.. after a couple of verses we get a beautiful piano melody which takes us through to the end of the song. I jest not that I remember one time that I hit repeat on this song 11 times in a row. It is memorizing and again.. will take you on a voyage if you let it and get the stick out of your ass that good music has to have thundering charges of rhythm sections, moogs, and Rickenbacker basses.

Rating the album... as pointed out in the first paragraph, I reviewed this for a specific reason. To show the dividing line for this site regarding Sorrenti's work since this site lists all albums by an artist. The ratings can be, and are in this case deceiving. My rating will not change that of course without giving a rating far exceeding what the album deserves, but maybe the review itself will for show that for anyone exploring Sorrenti past Aria. Is the album 100% prog.. no it is not,. It again is a transition album between his first albums and the progressive ABYSS of his next album. It is an album that music fans may well adore as I do. For the site... 3 stars. If you liked Aria, this album may hold some real interest to you. For myself, 4 stars. I love his voice. Not just his voice.. but love what he does with his voice as an instrument which is a common theme in Italian prog. This review is dedicated to Scott who gave me some great advice regarding inspiration and reviewing

Alan Sorrenti - 1973 - Come un vecchio incensiere all'alba di un villaggio deserto

Alan Sorrenti
Come un vecchio incensiere all'alba di un villaggio deserto

01. Angelo (4:32)
02. Serenesse (3:53)
03. Una Luce Si Accende (5:29)
04. Oratore (5:09)
05. A Te che Dormi (3:53)
06. Come un Vecchio Incensiere all'Alba di un Villaggio Deserto (23:17)

- Alan Sorrenti / vocals, acoustic guitar and synthesizer (track 6)
- Antonio Esposito / percussions, drums, cymbals and bells
- Ron Mathienson / contra bass
- Francis Monkman / synthesizer, piano and electric guitar
- Mario D'Amora / piano
- Toni Marcus / violin and viola
- Victor Bell / cello

And, as a special guest, David Jackson on flute (track 2 and 4)

Recorded at the London's "Island Studios".

Sorrenti's second album is best called Desert Village instead of its original lengthy Italian title. If you thought Aria was a difficult album, then don't even look here: Desert Village is definitely weirder, stranger, innovative and inventive album than Aria was. But it loses some of its initial appeal because it is a lot less melodic and is much rawer than its predecessor. Again a gatefold album, but presenting a bizarre post-nuke atmosphere, it fits rather well the music. Built on a reverse blueprint of Aria, the sidelong title track suite is on the flipside, while the sorter song (5 instead of 3 and none above 5- min30) come first, then comes the pièce-de-résistance

Opening on the acoustic folky Angelo, resembling a bit early Tim Buckley (Goodbye & Hello) with the congas (the great Esposito) and added effects and I Never Wanted To Be Your Mountain is not far away, only a piano making the difference. The flute-laden (by Graaf's Jaxon, no less) Serenesse also "benefits" from a seemingly out-of-tune violin, courtesy of Mareux (makes you wish for Ponty in the previous album). The same violin opens Lucce Si Accende with acoustic guitar strumming, but Sorrenti's voice is not picking up the song, it forces the song to wait for it, and once it has been subdued, then Alan unleashes with the piano and we're gone for a typically Italian overblown piece until amid cymbal scrapes and crashes, Sorrenti throws his voice on hot coals and we just have to suffer its screaming, but this is nothing that Buckley hasn't got you used to either. In Starsailor or Lorca, sorrenti being a tad less melodic but a tad more dramatic.

The return of Jaxon (more discreet, this time) in Oratore is not the only feature, as Sorrenti is again up on crazy Buckley-type of antics and crosses it with Hammill's own tricks, probably in Jaxon's honour. Oratore is also violinist Mareux's best contribution to this album. Te closing A Te Che Dormi has Sorrenti trying a few Robert Wyatt, just himand his guitar and voice, the latter getting some multi tracking.

Obviously the main attraction is the 23-mins+ title track suite filling the flipside of the album and that it's in here than Alan pushes his vocal talents to the extreme. Less than a minute into the track, you're fighting vocal drones that even Matching Mole in Instant Pussy wasn't daring. At one point, you'd swear that Buckley, Wyatt and Hammill are on the same microphone and competing for most bizarre intervention. This track is probably Curved Air's Monkman's weirdest he ever participated in, and his synth interventions have nothing to envy to the rest of the musos present. As ambitious as it gets, it fails to captivate throughout, but Desert Village has its moments, generally in the more accessible passages, like between the 10th and 13th minute. At others it sounds much improvised but then the Krautrock pioneers do a better job (Tangerine Tempel Vuh Klust-Werk) at building semi-cosmic ambiances. Actually if you look at the artwork, it's a fair visual description for its track.

There is no question, in my mind that Deserted Village is just as stunning as the debut and for experimental progheads, I find it superior. If you're more in the traditional prog, you'll prefer Aria, although I'll be the last to call this album or Aria traditional. Not for everyone, start with Aria then see if you want to go further.

Alan Sorrenti - 1972 - Aria

Alan Sorrenti

01. Aria (19:49)
02. Vorrei Incontrarti (4:58)
03. La Mia Mente (7:36)
04. Un Fiume Tranquillo (8:01)

- Alan Sorrenti / vocals and acoustic guitar
- Antonio Esposito / drums and percussions
- Vittorio Nazzaro / bass guitar and lead classic guitar
- Albert Prince / organ hammond, accordion, mellotron, synth harp
- Tony Bonfilis / bow bass
- Jean Costa / trombone
- André Lajdi / trumpet
- Martin Paratore / spanish dancer

Guest musician:
- Jean Luc Ponty / violin

A very important artist from Naples, ALAN SORRENTI released his first album in 1972 on Harvest. He had a Welsh mother and had lived in Wales as a child. 

"Aria" is a very good album, with two different sides: the first only contains the long title track, a dreamy suite starting with acoustic guitar and based on the marvellous, instrument-like voice of Sorrenti, and culminating in the final part with a memorable violin solo by Jean-Luc Ponty. Side 2 is softer, with three tracks, two of which ("Vorrei incontrarti") also appeared as a single. The album was successful in Italy, and Alan Sorrenti was one of the few solo artists to compete with other prog groups in the open air festivals of the time. The album was also released abroad, but to little success.

A second album, with the long title of "Come un vecchio incensiere all'alba di un villaggio deserto" was released a year later. It was based on the same formula as "Aria", but probably lacked the fresh impact of its predecessor. Once again a side-long title track was complemented by some shorter, softer tracks, this time with help from Francis Monkman (Curved Air) and Dave Jackson (Van der Graaf Generator), along with Neapolitan percussionist Toni Esposito.

His third, self-titled album is usually considered the least convincing of Alan's early production, despite some very good tracks, his style slowly shifting toward more a more mainstream song format. The remake of the traditional Neapolitan classic "Dicitencello vuje", included on the album and also released as a single, was seen as treason by his early fans, and, while it gave the album very good sales and a high chart placement, it caused the artist to be boycotted in many summer festivals.

After a two-year break, a new Alan Sorrenti came back in 1976, with a more commercial style, influenced by dance music, and totally breaking with his past experience as a prog artist. Sorrenti's long career ended with an album released in 1992 - though in 2003 he released an album by the title of "Sott'acqua", containing previously unreleased material.

Aria, released in 1972, the golden year of the original prog movement, Aria is probably the least 'Italian' of the classic RPI albums - and that in spite of Alan Sorrenti's Neapolitan background. However, Alan was born in Wales, his mother's country of origin, therefore his Mediterranean roots find themselves entangled with the equally old, fascinating Celtic tradition. Because of that, his debut album is one of the most intriguing, distinctive offerings to come out of Italy, and possibly everywhere else, both on account of the music - a heady, mesmerizing blend of various ethnic influences - and his unique voice. His singing style, often compared to folk legend Tim Buckley, is definitely over-the-top, but not in the way RPI singers are generally known to be. Actually, the best comparisons on the Italian scene would be his sister Jenny (of Saint Just fame), and possibly Battiato, at least as regards the Eastern flavour of many of his vocal performances.
As is the case of many other albums of that time, the A-side of the original edition of Aria is taken up by the eponymous, almost 20-minute-long suite, while the B-side is comprised of three shorter tracks. The album is primarily acoustic, though both of the iconic keyboard instruments of the era, the Hammond organ and the mellotron, are featured. The best-known of Sorrenti's collaborators is gifted, Naples-born drummer and percussionist Antonio (Tony) Esposito, who would go on to become a famous session man and solo artist, and would also perform on Aria's follow-up, Come un vecchio incensiere all'alba di un villaggio deserto, as well as on Perigeo's La Valle dei Templi.

Aria, the song, is an intoxicating slice of music dominated by Jean-Luc Ponty's magical violin, a perfect foil for Sorrenti's soaring voice, an instrument in itself. World-music influences are thick on the ground - Celtic, Spanish (there is a sequence featuring flamenco-style guitar and castanets), Indian, Middle Eastern, and more. The music somehow reflects the eerie beauty of the blue-toned cover, one of the most striking yet tasteful to come out of the original prog era: it is at the same time dark and uplifting, mystical and experimental, soothing and demanding. Undoubtedly, Alan's voice is very much of an acquired taste, and some listeners may find it irritating after a while. Here, it is still relatively restrained, while he went decidedly overboard on Incensiere, some parts of which are really a bit hard to take.

After such an exhilarating listening experience, the exquisite, romantic ballad Vorrei incontrarti provides a kind of respite. The song was released as a single, and often played on the radio. I remember singing along to the strumming of some friend, during weekend trips to the country. As simple a song as it is, Alan's vocals and guitarist Vittorio Nazzaro's delicate playing take it to a higher level, together with the presence of that ultimately romantic instrument, the accordion. The last two songs, La mia mente and Un fiume tranquillo, are longer and more complex, partly reprising the atmospheres of the title-track (though somewhat less successfully), with stunning instrumental performances (check Tony Esposito's fantastic drumming on Un fiume tranquillo) and vocal flights of fancy.

Aria was one of the albums I encountered right at the time of its release, as a 12-year-old girl who was then getting into more 'serious' music. It left a lasting imprint, and I was happy to 'find' it again when my beloved husband (a huge fan of RPI in spite of his American origins) came into my life. Alan Sorrenti's music intrigued me right from the word 'go', and I was utterly devastated by his sudden U-turn in the mid-Seventies, when he became a very successful pop-disco artist. Talk about a waste of talent... Those later albums would make even Genesis' pop output sound like Close to the Edge.

Even if Sorrenti eventually decided to turn away from progressive music, his first three albums are a must for everyone interested in Italian prog, and Aria is something every prog fan should listen to at least once. It does have its flaws, though, and this is why I would rather not give it the highest rating, and go for 4 stars with the addition of a virtual half-one. However, even without the full 5 stars, it is a mesmerizing piece of music, and an authentically progressive one. Very highly recommended.