Monday, March 4, 2019

Automat - 1978 - Automat


01. Automat (16:30)
(The) Rise
(The) Advance
(The) Genus
02. Droid 5:30
03. Ultraviolet 6:20
04. Mecadence 4:45

- Romano Musmarra / MCS 70 synth, composer & arranger (4-6)
- Claudio Gizzi / MCS 70 synth, composer & arranger (1-3)
- Mario Maggi / programming

Claudio GIZZI (Aka Jean-Pierre Posit, born 16/05/1946) career is obviously recognised for eloquent neo-classical compositions used as soundtrack (mainly in horror and B movies like "Flesh for Frankenstein" / "Blood for Dracula", "Quoi?"). Back in 1978 he launched a curious & innovative musical project with Romano Musumarra and Marrio Maggi. Called Automat and only known for one publication, this little project can be considered as a reminiscence of Kraftwerk minimal but powerfully effective electronics. The music is entirely built around the MCS70 synthesiser and progammings. Automat is more into rhythmical electronic territories than into cinematic, textural ambient fields. An interesting musical document for collectors.

I first discovered Claudio Gizzi in his few precious collaborations for movie scores. This is a strong classical based musician. In this project he is accompanied by Romano Musmarra & Claudio Gizzi & Mario Maggi to provide more substantial materials. Published in 1978, this automat self title and unique album can be seen as a classic of late 70's avant garde electro pop music. This is a superb listening brillantly alternating unearthly loopy electronic ambiences with amazing retro-synth pop melodies. This work is not so far from Wolfgang Riechmann, Kraftwerk and early Colin Potter's successes in post-modern cold electro. This album doesn't have the soulful-colourful grandeur of others 70's synthscapes from Italy (Francesco Leprino, Futuro Antico, Telaio Magnetico...) but it remains absolutely original, perfectly achieved and well orchestrated. Side A culminates the album with a gorgeous sci-fi & enigmatic epic dominated by electronic scintillations, surreal themes and hyper catchy-hypno rythms / melodies. The ambience is dynamic, energetic but also admits obscure, dark, haunted vibes that remin me Goblin's 70s horror soundtracks. Droid reiterates this Goblin-esque feeling (notably in Phenomena) with tremendous, urgent rythms, scarily (a little bit cheesy) synthezised melodies. Ultraviolet features suspensful, long droning sequences in a rather icy, moody atmosphere. A mysterious, scary, cheesy and proggy electronic album that clearly deserves a listening.

The album Automat produced in 1977 and released in 1978 by italian duo Romano Musumarra and Claudio Gizzi, aka Automat. Released by EMI Italia. What is more curious about this album is that all the sounds in the album were produced using an MCS70, a synthesizer that was only one time produced. Automat is recognised for having played this synthesizer and produced the album with the same name.

The MCS70 was a monophonic synthesizer designed, built and programmed by Italian engineer Mario Maggi. Automat was Mussumara’s initiative , after learning about the instrument and proposing it to EMI Italia, through Harvest Records.  Claudio Gizzi was added to the project from EMI, for being a more experienced composer. Side A is attributed to Claudio and side B to Romano. SIde A sounds more ambient, side B sounds more epic and dancing. In total there are 6 tracks with around 5 minutes each. In total they had only 4 weeks in the studio, being the last track, Mecadence, incomplete.

Both composers used the 64 presets in the synthesizer, provided by Mario Maggi himself. The only requirement is that only the MCS70 was used to create the album.  Though a total failure by the time it was released, that didn’t leave both composers satisfied, the album is nowadays well respected by critics. Jean Michel Jarre was the first one to get a copy of the album. While Automat was being produced, Jarre released his Oxygene, album.

ATP - 1977 - Giobbe, Uno Degli Uomini

Giobbe, Uno Degli Uomini

01. Introduzione
02. Uno Degli Uomini
03. La Paura
04. Proprio Tu
05. Continuerò A Gridare
06. Il Tuo Volto È Pulito
07. Dio Ci Sei?
08. Tu Credi Di Essere
09. Sono Piccolo
10. Cerca In Se Stesso
11. Uno Degli Uomini
12. Exultet
13. Il Frutto
14. La Sua Speranza Non Delude
15. Conclusione

Roberto Rizzoli (vocals)
Tino Carretta (vocals and drums)
Alberto Ferretti (guitar and banjo)
Umberto Minoliti (keyboards)
Otello Azzali (sax and flute)
Sergio Podofillini (bass)

Their rare debut ''Giobbe, Uno Degli Uomini'' from 1977, released on Eco Ego Records, is credited to musician Cesare Regazzoni on the front cover, but the truth is that this is 100% percent made by ATP.

Odd little pop/folk album from the underbelly of mid 1970's Italy, mostly a collection of short songs with a slightly conceptual feel, some nice flute, occasional sax and simplistic wah-wah'd guitar accompaniment. Vocals are straight sounding and rather lyrical, but never obstrusive to the point of being cringe-worthy. 
Now it's not something I would recommend to anyone. Calling it vaguely proggy or psych-like would be too much of a stretch, I feel.. but if you think you could handle an obscure poppy singer-songwriter album with an understated oddness to it and some rather "dated" musical backing, then it *could* (inverted comas, I insist) do the trick.
It all starts off very gently, but there is actually a sequence of songs (running from tracks 6 to 10) where things get a little bit more offbeat, ominous and interesting. Oh, I did buy this album for the beautiful cover painting by the way - which reminds me of the I Numi album (also from Italy). 
Uh.. (struggling).. I know I shouldn't really enjoy this thing (and waste your time with it), but somehow I do - which makes it weirdly interesting in my view, I guess - more so than an album which is right up my alley stylistically, ie : is "bound" to hit my pleasure centers, and which I unsurprisingly end up enjoying. 

Atlantide - 1976 - Francesco Ti Ricordi

Francesco Ti Ricordi

01. L'Uomo Ed Il Cane
02. Sporcandosi Di Sangue
03. Quando La Luna
04. Se Perdessi La Vita Cosi
05. Il Pagliaccio
06. Francesco Ti Ricordi

Mimmo Sanseverino - guitar, vocals
Leonardo Sanseverino - organ, synth
Mario Sanseverino - bass
Matteo Sanseverino - drums

Like their contemporaries HERO, ATLANTIDE was an all-Italian band active in Germany in the Seventies. Its four members, the Sanseverino brothers (Mimmo, Matteo, Leonardo and Mario), originally came from Cirigliano, a town in the Basilicata region of southern Italy. They already used to play together as a band before their move to Rottweil (Germany) in 1973, where they still live (though one of the brothers, Leonardo, died in 2006).

In their new country ATLANTIDE engaged in a lively concert activity, mainly as a support act to local bands, such as THE SCORPIONS, and gained critical acclaim from the press. However, their only, self-produced album, "Francesco ti ricordi" (1976), released exclusively in Germany, had very little commercial success (though it seems to have been printed in relative large quantities). It is a good heavy progressive rock album, strongly influenced by the likes of DEEP PURPLE

Assemblea Musicale Teatrale - 1979 - Il Sogno Di Alice

Assemblea Musicale Teatrale
Il Sogno Di Alice

01. Venezia (3:59)
02. Mimì (4:57)
03. Ma che cazzo vuoi (2:21)
04. I Fiascheggiatori (4:35)
05. Lager (5:06)
06. Il sogno di Alice (4:09)
07. La fattoria degli animali (4:15)
08. Non fateci conto (3:39)

Alberto Canepa / Percussion, Vocals
Giampiero Alloisio / Vocals
Giorgio Marzano / Vocals
Gianni Martini / Guitar, Vocals
Bruno Biggi / Bass
Ezio Cingano / Keyboards
Mauro Arena / Drums, Percussion

The band's mastermind, at least at the time of this release, was the singer-songwriter Gian Piero Alloisio, who has collaborations, between the others, with Giorgio Gaber, Fabrizio De Andre' and if I'm not wrong, with the nobel-prize winner for literature Dario Fo.

The band's songs have strong left-winged political contents (more than Roger Waters) and deeply inserted in the actual political instability of Italy in the late 70s: terrorism from Red Brigades and fascists groups plus massacrees organized and piloted by sectors of the intelligence and the state hepled by mafia, not a very safe place. More or less the same arguments that can be found in the early albums of Stormy Six.

"Venezia"(Venice) is with Lager one of the two songs which were recorded also by the singer-songwriter Francesco Guccini on his album "Metropolis" the same year. The sweet and melodic piano intro gives already an idea of decadence against which the anger behind the warm voice of Gian Piero Alloisio can't do anything. It's a very sad song about a girl dying while giving birth to a child, with Venice in the background, seen as a decadent and dying city after the tourists have gone.

"Mimi'" is more funny, thankfully. It's about the "Weimar Republik" and the advent of Nazis, but full of anacronisms to compare that political and social situation to the actual one.

"Ma Che Cazzo Vuoi?"(What the hell you want? - but "cazzo" is a raw word for "penis") is in my opinion the best song about heroin ever written. Whoever has seen friends, especially in the 70s and 80s, dying of heroin knows what I'm writing about. Alloisio speaks to a friend he lives with, but this is mainly an invective.There's no hope of recover, just a description of what his friend and their friendship has become and the anger for something that's too late to change. Musically it's just a ballad with some folk flavor, lyrically it's a masterpiece.

Side A is closed by "I Fiascheggiatori". Not easy to translate, it's a word between "Fiasco" (Bottle of Wine) and "Fiancheggiatori"(terrorist's supporters), but it's mainly about Genoa and the every day life in that period which appeared to be the end of an era. It's jazzy and from a musical point of view, the prog song of the album. About the lyrics, I just want to mention the sentence which opens and closes it: "in sto merda di mare non c'e' un pesce che riesca a nuotare" which can be translated as "in this [&*!#]ty sea neither a fish is able to swim"

Side B is opened by "Lager". Apart of the quite good lead guitar work there's few to say about it. It's what the title says: a song about Nazi's lagers. Probably Guccini decided to include it in his album also because his very first success in 1966 was a single entitled "Auschwitz".

The title track "Alice's Dream" is grotesque and somewhat funny. Thinking of "prog" I think it can be compared to some Canterbury easy songs, like Caravan's "In The Land Of Grey And Pink" (the song, not the album) or Kevin Ayer's "Caribbean Moon". Less prog than them, but similar in the mood. It takes "Alice in Wonderland" as an allegory to the actual political behaviour of the left winged italians.

"La Fattoria Degli Animali" (Animal's Farm") Is a song about George Orwell's masterpiece. That novel is already an allegory, so there are no hidden or cryptic messages in the lyrics, it's a synthesys of the novel. Another ballad, nice, I like it, but if you are not italian speaker and just listen to the music it can be boring.

Finally "Non Fateci Conto"(Don't count on us) is a grotesque conclusion. I remember the band playing it with all the members wearing a Groucho Marx mask, proggy, isn't it? Not the same as Peter Gabriel but.... To understand the song I think translating one sentence is enough:

My sister doesn't stay neither with the State nor the Red Brigades. It doesn't mean she doesn't have a "position". She doesn't give a [&*!#] to both, and she's right".

I don't know how many stars "good but non prog" should deserve. It has somequite good music and some just listenable but it has excellent lyrics and I really like Alloisio's vocals, very theatrical. It's not a case that "Teatrale" is part of the band's name.

Assemblea Musicale Teatrale - 1977 - Marilyn

Assemblea Musicale Teatrale 

01. Marilyn (3:08)
02. America (3:18)
03. Gli Indiani (3:18)
04. Tutto E' Spettacolo (2:55)
05. Le Condoglianze (3:32)
06. La Città Futura (2:21)
07. Festa (2:28)
08. Carlo Marx (5:53)
09. Ribellarsi E' Giusto (3:37)
10. Amica Dolce, Amico Caro (3:00)
11. I Ricchi (3:50)

- Alberto Canepa / Percussion, Vocals
- Giampiero Alloisio / Vocals
- Lilli Ladeluca / Vocals
- Gianni Martini / Guitar, Vocals
- Bruno Biggi / Bass
- Ezio Cingano / Keyboards
- Gino Ulivi / Drums, Percussion

"Marilyn" is a song with a particular meaning: it was the favorite song of a friend of mine who died recently and I can't not think to him speaking of it. I have never liked this song much, honestly. The lyrics about the star system which should have lead Norma Jean to death appear moralistic, I don't like how it's sung by Lilli Ladeluca who wasn't a bad singer, but I don't think her voice fits well with this song and, last but not least, in the last chorus they've had to add a beat to fit into a metric horror. The wooden flute sounds ridicously hippy while a harmonica would have probably brought a bit of blues into this forgettable country ballad. Have I been harsh enough? Well, not all the album is so weak luckily. It has its good moments.

"America"starts like a country-rock ballad but the classical guitar gives it a RPI flavor. Also the pauses and the possible mistake of the guitarist before the first chorus don't sound bad. The bongos sounds even kraut, the keyboard bass and drums are added and this country ballad becomes a prog song. Alloisio's voice is excellent as usual and the lyrics about the American way of life referred to the cold war and all the bads in the actual foreign politics, but also with mentions to good people like saying "we hate your government but we love your people" which was a quite common position within the actual left-winged Italians. America was sometimes an enemy but sometimes a promised land.

"Gli Indiani" (The Indians) seems to indicate that initially this was conceived as a concept album about USA, as it's the third consecutive song with an "American" subject. Musically this song is more similar to the debut album, surely more progressive. It reminds a bit to a song from an Italian singer-songwriter of the same period, Francesco De Gregori and his "Bufalo Bill". Similar also in the subject.

"Tutto e' spettacolo" is a swing song, with very funny lyrics totally out-of-topic. No more America. It's about the end of the "revolutionary" age and anticipates what the 80s will be. Prophetic.

"Le Condoglianze" (The Condolences) is about the same arguments of the previous song, but it's not aggressive. It's a melodic song with some nasty moments like when they sing "If you are a German who comes to the sea, think to how many Meinhof's you will let be killed" Ulrike Meinhof was a German terrorist, founder of the "Rote Armee Frakton" who was found dead in jail, but likely killed as it happened to her mate Andreas Baderand other belongers to that group, all officially suicided. Howes ver this is just a reference and not the song's subject which is about ancients retired, football supporters and many other characters of the time.

"La Citta' Futura" (The Future City) was a common concept in the actual communist area. It was also the name of a radio still active today (which also transmits a lot of prog). It's mimic of a brass band with ironic lyrics. "If the future city will be made of waste, give a pill to all the family. For the little sister dioxyne is ready and with heroin she will achieve the peace" This is more or less what the lyrics say.

"Festa" (Celebration) is about the "Festa dell'Unita'", an annual celebration organized every year by the Communist party to raise money for the party which was in Italy a counterpart to the religious celebrations and with almost the same contents with people eating sausages, playing games, making music and sometimes listening to a meeting of a politician. Not very different from the celebrations in any little country town around the world. Of course they make a bit of sarcasm about the normal absence of political contents. Today, what was the communist party is now called Democratic Party and includes catholics and other kind of person very far from communism but the name of that celebration has remained the same.

"Carlo Marx" whose name is "Italianized" is a slow blues and it's not really about Marx. Carlo Marx is the nickname of some Carlo arrested by police. "When they arrested Carlo we played a concert to free him". I don't think this Carlo ever existed, it's just a metaphor. Other than the blues the song has some more jazzy moments and I think can have some appeal for RPI fans. Musically is the most interesting song which also features a nice guitar riff.

"Ribellarsi e' giusto"(Rebel Is Right) is a Mao Zedong's famous sentence. The instrumental opening sounds a bit Californian psych with bongos, harmonica and 12 strings guitar. It has also a funky bass riff and it's so good that I have had to pay attention to the lyrics as I'm more concentrated on the music. One of the best musical performances of this band which is usually more concentrated on the words. If Marilyn is for me a 1-star song, this is at least a 4-stars. Excellent song.

"Amica Dolce Amico Caro" (sweet friend, dear friend - in Italian amica is female and amico is male) is a piano based sad song, still about the everyday ambush of politicized people going to face the 80s, with many references to Chile and Pinochet.

"I ricchi"(The rich men) starts with some chattering in studio and the voice of Francesco Guccini can be clearly recognized. It's just a joke with very funny lyrics still strongly politically oriented about bourgeoises. It has no sense if you don't understand Italian.

Even if it has good moments and an excellent song, appreciating it can be hard even for RPI fans. I have some personal feelings with this album and I would never skip Marilyn even if I dislike it but it has to do with my youthness, not with music. I think this is no more than a collector's item. I think it has been re-released on CD anyway.

Assemblea Musicale Teatrale - 1976 - Dietro Le Sbarre

Assemblea Musicale Teatrale
Dietro Le Sbarre

01. Allora potrai cominciare
02. Il quadro antico
03. La pazzia
04. Alle donne brutte
05. La violenza
06. Ninna nanna del piccolo borghese
07. L'impotente
08. E tu che ne fai di tuo fratello-
09. Donna
10. La nostra storia

Alberto Canepa - vocals, percussion
Giampiero Alloisio - vocals
Lilli Iadeluca - vocals
Gianni Martini - vocals, guitar
Bruno Biggi - bass
Ezio Cingano - keyboards
Gino Ulivi - drums, percussion

L'Assemblea Musicale Teatrale (The Assembly of Musical Theatre) formed in Genoa, Italy at the beginning of 1975, after the dissolution of progressive rock group La Famiglia degli Ortega. The band, with original members Bruno Biggi, Alberto Canepa and Gianni Martini, came together with the intention of creating performances that combine Italian rock with a variety of theatrical and experimental musical components, with a strong focus on social and political lyrical themes, especially those that were important to student movement groups in the 70's. Their first shows were censored due to explicitly criticizing personalities in Genoa. The nine members involved in the group at different points released three very different albums throughout their four years of activity until their dissolution in 1979, but the project has since regrouped under vocalist Giampiero Alloisio, leading to a comeback release in 2002. 

Of particular interest to progressive rock fans (and especially RPI enthusiasts) is their debut `Dietro le Sbarre' (Behind Bars). A suffocating mood, daring experimentation, intricate instrumental arrangements, classical charm, weary passionate vocals and avant-garde strangeness can all be found on this fascinating work, comparable to the more daring and darker Italian progressive albums of the 70's. Follow up album `Marilyn' (1977) appears in more of a folk singer/songwriter style, while `Il Sogno di Alice' (The Dreams of Alice) from 1979 is something a return to grander works with piano and strings, but as a mix of commercial, folk and adult pop/rock with slight proggy leanings. 

L'Assemblea Musicale Teatrale (The Assembly of Musical Theatre) had a brief moment of activity in the 70's, resulting in three albums between 1976 and 1979, including this magical debut `Dietro le Sbarre' (Behind The Bars). It moves around from unnerving, suffocating avant-garde strangeness, pleasing psych folk ballads, to daring Italian progressive experimentation. While the political/social lyrical aspects may be lost on many listeners, it's still very easy to appreciate the talent, imagination and skill of the musicians involved here. Lead vocalist Giampiero Alloisio has a raspy and charismatic tone that brings the right amount of grit and heart at all the appropriate moments. Although the album is frequently acoustic based, it has these spasmodic bursts of electronic flourishes and electric energy, making it a very unique album for RPI collectors, but one they will surely appreciate.
The disorientating mood of the album is present right from the opener. Eerie wavering electronics, hazy strummed acoustic guitar, weary male vocals, and hypnotic percussion grows in tension throughout. By comparison `Il Quadro Antico' is a much warmer piece with gentle classical guitar and stirring chorus backed to placid washes of synths, before a confident and forceful diversion in the middle and nimble acoustic soloing in the finale. It's a lovely respite before the schizophrenic `La Pazzia', full of tempo changes back and forth, jazzy licks, ranting vocals, nightmare synths and hallucinatory ambient effects. There's a real wildness and unpredictability to this one, and the dark string section that ends the piece raises the drama even more. It's then lovely to come down with the placid `Alle Donne Brutte', where the floating blissful synths remind me so much of `Il Rituale Notturno' from the self titled Corte Dei Miracoli album! It's a gentle ballad with flute, recorder, acoustic guitar and low-key electric guitar fills topped off with a beautiful romantic vocal. Then we're back to sinister murky synths, loopy frantic guitar tension, maddening percussion and a strident and darkly pleading vocal for `La Violenza' that oddly turns slightly more upbeat in the chorus. Sadly there's not much of an ending, rather an abrupt fade out/stop that kills the build the track was aiming for.

Side B of the original vinyl opens with the longest piece on the album, the classical acoustic folk of `Ninna Nanna...', and after being a little let down by it being the most straight-forward song, there's no denying it's somewhat sorrowful and fragile beauty, and just wait for the last minute grand ending with a whirling synth run! The more upbeat `L'Impotente' sounds like a mix of RPI with an early Pink Floyd track, it's got that same dreamy stoned slide guitar David Gilmour sound weaving throughout the whole piece, and it's a lovely easy going catchy number that will get your foot tapping! However the cheery country popper `E Tu Che Ne...' is far too grating and cheesy for me, and sadly it sounds totally out of place here, really intruding on the album. It sounds the most like the material on their next album, and the female vocalist used here, Lilli Ladeluca, would have more of a role on that follow up. Then we're back where we should be with the wilting and downbeat dark folk of `Donna', with some very unsettling washes of ghostly synths and suitably creaky vocals from Giampiero. Oddly, album closer `La Nostra Storia' is all tribal/percussion heavy/world music with male//female singers and chanted vocals that also sounds totally inappropriate here. If this one and `E Tu...' had been left off the album, or saved for the follow-up, we'd still have a beautifully flowing 35 odd minute album, which is not an unusual running time for a 70's Italian progressive album.

With the following album `Marilyn' heading in more of a folk/protest/singer-songwriter direction, and the third album from 1979 `Il Sogno di Alice' being an adult rock but sophisticated commercial release, this is the main release from the band to treasure for progressive rock fans, and especially RPI enthusiasts. It can be placed comfortably along numerous other Italian prog works, the majority of the pieces here, excluding the above mentioned couple, would be welcome on any RPI album, and it gets better and more surprising with every listen. Some may find the mix of styles and moods a little distracting and inconsistent, but that's just what makes it such a fascinating work. It's one of the reasons why the RPI artists stand out so much in the first place, and makes `Dietro le Sbarre' well worth discovering.

Art Fleury - 1981 - The Last Album

Art Fleury
The Last Album

Radio Memoria 1
01. Quark 0:40
02. Micrononsense 4:48
03. Gabbie 2:24
04. Lilith 5:10
05. Fungus 1:50
06. Berlin Charlottenburg 4:42
07. K-123 3:00
Radio Memoria 4
08. Rain 1:39
09. Nonsense October Tango 5:02
10. Luci Della Città 3:30
11. Ghost's / Cultura 1:46
12. Black-Out 5:30
13. Debbie 3:56

- Giangi Frugoni / Bass, Guitar (12 string)
- Maurizio Tomasoni / Drums, Trumpet, Electronic Drums, Piano, Tapes
- Furio Ciulini / Guitar
- Etienne / Performer (Walkie Talkie)
- Augusto Ferrari / Synthesizer, Organ (Compact Farfisa)
- Mattei Borghesi / Sxophone (Flanger)
- Marco Ricci / Guitar
- Francesca Albini / Voice
- Marco Margiotta / Voice
- Robert Vogel / Voice, Effects (Ambient)
- Jean-Luc Stote / Voice
- E Conod / Loops

Recorded August/September 1981 at Sunrise Studios, Kirchberg, Switzerland.

Art Fleruy's second album takes a step away from the cacophony of tape-loops and radio frequencies of 'I Luoghi del Potere' following a more straight forward song-orientated formate. They still grasp at the experimental nature of their first album, but compact these ideas into New Wave influenced tunes. For this listener it was a bit o' a disappointment after a love glazed affair with their first album, to watch this radical band side way into straight forward New Wave - clearly featured on their '83 album 'New Performer'. While the first album gives hints towards Nurse With Wound, 'The Last Album' finds closer quarters with the industrial chaps Cabaret Voltaire. Overall the album is a little patchy in what I deem to be solid material, tracks like 'Nonsense October Tango' show the more progressive side of the album. Overall Side B is the more more interesting of the two deteriorating into tasteful deconstructions, while flaunting the innocence of Aksak Maboul's first backed up by the rhythmic entities of post-punk. Side A finds experimental tendencies libidinously coupling with poppy ostentation's which feel at times a little disposable (depending on what sort of mood I'm in).
For those who enjoyed their first certainly check this one out. For avant people unfamiliar with the band dive straight into their first. But for those fringe avant listener this could be an alluring starting point, offering a more sedated outlook on the bands musical endeavors. A good rounded album.

Art Fleury - 1980 - I Luoghi Del Potere

Art Fleury 
I Luoghi Del Potere

01. Uno spettro si aggira per (4:36)
02. Brigate Hans Eisler (4:41)
03. Fabbrica Rosa (11:32)
04. e=mc2 (5:01)
05. La morte al lavoro (11:56)
06. L'overdose (7:58)

- Augusto Ferrari / keyboards
- Maurizio Tomasoni / soprano sax, flute, clarinet
- Giangi Frugoni / guitars, bass

Italian group ART FLEURY, born in Northern Italy, Brescia has been a grave oversight from the Italian Avant scene, lost amidst the fertile artistic works of the time. It was not until the unearthing (re-issue) of their first album 'I luoghi del Potere' by experiment label Die Schachtel that the young group received wider spread recognition. Starting in their teens ('76) they opened for quirky Jazz-fusion legends Area at the Parco Lambro Festival in Milan. From here the band joined the Cooperativa L'Orchestra - a Milan based musical collective of experimental artist - to shortly change their name to Art Fleury. 

Between these beginnings and the releasing of their first album ('80) Art Fleury played and toured alongside RIO greats Henry Cow. This influence is stamped on their unique take on Rock in Opposition. Beside Henry Cow influences can be heard from Franco Battiato's experimental works, Faust and Nurse With Wound. Their sound straddles a dynamic juxtaposition of RIO-esque brass fragments and a mélange of tape-loops and radio frequencies, resulting in a cacophony of sounds that find themselves in surprisingly harmonic territory. 

"Superficially (or intentionally) ascribed to the "progressive" genre, "i luoghi del potere" (originally conceived as the soundtrack of an imaginary movie), is in fact a very personal and radical experience, through which music becomes once again the vehicle for the re-appropriation of our personal sphere, and at the same time a chance to rethink the way we listen to music, out of any pre-ordered cultural, social or political context. in other words, out of the "places of power" which are still alive and active." * 

Their second album 'The Last Album' ('81) while retaining their experimental attitudes takes a more song-orientated formate giving a definite nod towards the growing new wave scene. The album was produced at Sunrise Studios recording home to other such acts as: Cassiber, Art Bear and Univers Zero. 

Careful now! Coming out the RIO back-door, Art Fleury were one of those obscure little bands that started out as mere teens in the late 70s. These mad Italians actually toured with both Henry Cow and Italian madhatters Area back in the day, although this was before they got to record their first album. It was first in 1980 that this record saw the light of day, and whether they used all of their time begging for some studio time during punk and discos heyday - or just honed their skills and magical sorcery for the great big showdown - I honestly don't know.

What I do know is that you need to approach this album with care. As a matter of fact, if you shy away from music that just feels a tiny bit out of place, dissonant, quirky or detuned - then run away as fast as you can - real quick now!! Art Fleury are a strange band. They play an abnormally bizarre kind of RIO with musical jig saw pieces that don't necessarily fit together - dress them up in all kinds of electronic buzzing and eclectic sound bits - and whoops out comes this weird and totally unique sonic monster. It's bizarre, circus-like, occasionally rocking but not the way you think and at times wonderfully ambient and soaring.

Talking about this music is like reading David Hume to a 5 year old with a serious hearing deficit. I feel like a closed door - or some kind of awkward oyster who's battling its shut jaws - trying to express how much love its got for a bucket of the Atlantic Ocean. Arhh nuts - well anyway here goes nothing: To this humble listener it feels like musical montages created by crooked and bend pieces of sound - be that musical bits, radio broadcasts, field recordings, tape-loops, toy store gadgetry or a violent storm with thunder and lightning. In a strangely inharmonious meeting this album reflects on the RIO past of old with a monstrous way of cutting up music in uneven segments. Much of the time I've spent listening to this beast, I've felt like the only person on the planet who's managed to tap into the secret radio broadcast coming out of Saturn's rings. A bunch of Italian schizophrenic musicians/astronauts/radio-hosts out there in the emptiness of space have obviously been mixing the music backwards and in the wrong order - whilst their in house jam band is playing offbeat organ bits along with the star-struck space DJ who's bashing the radio percussion tap tap tapping away on the knobs and buttons like a disorientated beat-boxer.

Sometimes I get slow moving burial cortege music where the organ moans away like a rolling staircase of sadness. In the periphery of this I get wafting titbits of zooming radio segments, tape-loops and bizarre percussive splashes. It's like musical porridge - you know that sticky icky substance only conveyed in sound and sonic matter, but then out of the blue you hit a piece of chilli - or a piece of salt liquorice. Zing!

What I am trying to convey here is that you'd better be prepared for some genuine avant-garde music, before you decide to plunge into this bowl of porridge. This is the deep end folks and only for trained swimmers, but if you happen to adore the music of Henry Cow, John Cage and the experimentalism of Area's Maledetti, then you should definitely get your diving suit out. This is the bee's teeth and if you haven't yet gone a bit mental from all this prog rock, then I challenge you to sit through this one without thinking bizarre and strange thoughts about polar bears on stilts and just how many bananas it takes to kill a gibbon monkey.

Through the magic of file sharing, bootleg reissues and music blogs, troves of bands once painfully obscure have been rescued from the deeps to be appreciated anew by listeners who were likely never previously even aware of the band's existence. Such plundering of underground past has unearthed some newly crowned classics as well as a bevy of mediocre efforts from bands perhaps best left packed in the proverbial vault. Prog and art of the fertile 1970s seems an especially marketable commodity, with forward-looking groups of all varieties being championed as overlooked mavericks and undiscovered purveyors of musical genius. Such laudatory praise is often given in overly generous helpings, but there's not a shortage of worthwhile music being dredged up by dedicated diggers and informal archivists, and while it's not always easy to casually tell the cubic zirconium from the real thing, there certainly exists gold in them thar hills for those patient enough to peruse.

Art Fleury may have arrived in 1976, but their debut album, I Luoghi del Potere (The Places of Power), wasn't released until 1980, by which time the band had changed names (from their initial AMG moniker) and developed a mindset that found them firmly cemented on the far left side of the political spectrum. The Italian trio's radical activism was a strong influence on its music, usually in abstract form; there's no blatant proselytization, no catchy slogans or directives for public action.

As they were also firm opponents of music as big business, it can be supposed that Art Fleury's protestation was embodied in their aesthetic. Written as a soundtrack to a nonexistent film, I Luoghi del Potere, even by contemporary standards, is a rather diverse affair, with its incorporation of sound collage, improvisation and near ambient atmospherics as equal parts to the band's rock-based composition.

The idea of I luoghi del Potere as soundtrack is one that governs much of the disc; it's opener, "Uno Spettro Si Aggira Per," is largely 12 minutes of mood-setting music, with scattered improv peppering its middle, and the rock ratio decidedly low. Much of I Luoghi del Potere follows suit, and while Art Fleury are often unwilling to sit still for too long, the album repeatedly returns to swells in momentum and/or tension, often resulting in piecemeal improv or another surprise turn. Were I Luoghi del Potere in fact accompanied by visuals, the resulting film would be one of consistently thwarted expectations and momentum building to a perplexing and often underwhelming end. Aficionados of horror soundtrack work will notice in Art Fleury's sound traces of Goblin and their spooky ilk, most notably in segments driven by Augusto Ferrari's keyboards, though the postmodern calisthenics latent in the trio's sound foils any conventional utilization of the usual hallmarks of the genre.

Though I Luoghi del Potere isn't likely a protest album, per se, Art Fleury's debut is a rebuff of the musical status quo, not simply in terms of the business side of things (the album was originally self-released), but in terms of the very nature of the music itself. The trio's fractured style and intentional upending of their more pacific sequences seem attempts to alarm, a musical analogy for a more widespread prescription for open eyes and alert minds.

So though I Luoghi del Potere can be frustrating in its multiplicity, an album full of Art Fleury's take on rock (as enjoyable as it might be) would certainly be a less startling, and therefore, less powerful affair. The days of Italy in the 1970s are certainly over, but, human nature being what it is, it's likely that the need for civil disobedience will never disappear. Art Fleury's debut is a subversive document, though perhaps sometimes only subtly so, and, almost 30 years later, I Luoghi del Potere remains an album worthy of unearthing. If not a forgotten classic

Art Fleury were a trio from Brescia devoted to a deeply suburban and experimental progressive rock. Though obviously in debt with King Crimson, especially for the guitar style, their attitude was much closer to more radical and nihilist bands such as Faust, The Residents or This Heat. Their influence is pretty evident on all of the four tracks which compose their debut album: heavily destructured narrations of the industrial gloom, merging tape material, atonal organ or orchestral puddles and restrained arpeggios, occasionally roken by convulsive prog-rock bursts.
The band had indeed more than some contacts with the left-wing R.I.O. scene, having opened several times for Henry Cow concerts and played together with Area and bands from L'Orchestra cooperative (Stormy Six, Art Bears, Etron Fou Leloublan and many more).

"I luoghi del potere" is a fascinating work, pervaded by a dreary, disillusioned mood which constitutes a strong and well-conceived critique of industrial and Cold War alienation. Besides being a masterpiece of Italian progressive rock, it's also one of the very few ones to show a very distinct post-punk leaning: it's an important document of the late-70s transitions.

Alphataurus - 2012 - Attosecondo


01. Progressiva Mente (8:29)
02. Gocce (9:27)
03. Riposando E... (6:32)
04. Claudette (13:40)
05. Valige Di Terra (10:37)

- Claudio Falcone / lead & backing vocals
- Guido Wassermann / guitars, keyboards (4), vocals
- Andrea Guizzetti / piano, synths, vocals
- Pietro Pellegrini / Hammond organ, synths
- Fabio Rigamonti / bass, vocals
- Alessandro "Pacho" Rossi / drums, percussions

Almost fifty years ago, a little-known band called Alphataurus released their self-titled debut to the world. Although they are still arguably little-known (largely due to the fact that they called it quits after an half and a half), "Alphataurus" is one of the wonderful gems of the Italian progressive rock scene. Alphataurus essentially perfected their sound on their first try, and with that in mind, it's an even bigger shame that they split up so soon after. While it's conceivable Alphataurus would have come out with several more great albums throughout the 70's, the band is now making up for lost time. Just earlier this year, they released "Live in Bloom", a remarkable and charismatic concert recording taken from their Progvention appearance. If that wasn't enough to indicate Alphataurus are back on their feet, they have done something that quite a few RPI fans had hoped for ages. Keeping in mind that the work-in-progress "Dietro l'Uragano" isn't considered a proper album to begin with, "Alphataurus" finally has a successor worthy of its name. "AttosecondO" may not add much upon the sound of the original, but for a scene that's still largely trying to recreate the magic that the original Italian progressive legends such as they kindled, Alphataurus sound as strong as ever.

Stylewise, it's as if Alphataurus have been frozen in time. Although the production standard enjoys the conveniences of modern technology and a lifetime of experience, Alphataurus are in essence the band they were when they left the public ear decades ago. While the stagnation of style would normally mean artistic death for a band, Alphataurus sound ear and enthusiastic. The music is a feast of vintage synths, quirky time signatures and phonic exploitation of the rich Italian language. Although the debut sounded more experimental in its context, "AttosecondO" sounds just as thoughtful. Claudio Falcone's vocals add a wonderful touch to the fleshy arrangements. Although not as theatrical a performance as some of the other Italian prog coming out these days, he has a powerful resonance to his voice. As is the case for most Italian prog, Anglophones will be left in the dark as far as lyrics go, although the emotion is certainly there.

Although Alphataurus enjoy a well-rounded sound and one of the most professional mixes I've heard in progressive rock this year, "AttosecondO" is most definitely a keyboard-oriented album. Considering that the band sports two keyboardists (Andre Guizzetti and Pietro Pellegrini) with a third on call (guitarist Guido Wassermann), this shouldn't be too much of a surprise. Alphataurus still manages to sound rich and even heavy by RPI standards however, the synth and organ textures they choose are always a joy to hear. The organs tend to add texture to the rhythm and understated guitar riffs, whereas the moog-ish synths play some bright lead work. Although the dramatic, symphonic RPI staple sound is ubiquitous throughout "AttosecondO", Alphataurus use this well-worn formula to traverse an impressive span of emotional ground. "Progressiva-Mente" kicks off the album on an upbeat, enthusiastic note, but by the time "Claudette" rolls around, Alphataurus have fallen to a melancholic depth, and though I cannot understand the Italian lyrics, the mood and mournful tone of the voice sounds like the speaker has lost someone dear to them.

Alphataurus tend to stick to the predetermined instruments and tricks of Italian prog, and they're able to do this while keeping the emotions fresh and evocative. It builds proudly upon an already-excellent Italian progressive tradition, and while it may never have the same far- reaching influence within the scene as the eponymous debut, "AttosecondO" still rates as one of the strongest RPI records to come out in a while. Their age regardless, Alphataurus have proven that their sound- and by extension, the sound of Italian progressive rock- is timeless, and that is quite an accomplishment in of itself.

If you like Alphataurus' first album (or even their 2nd incomplete album released by Mellow) and have concerns about this one (because it is in the modern times) as to whether or not it's worth buying: please wipe those concerns away as there's really no reason to not get this album!!!

Alphataurus - 2012 - Live in Bloom

Live in Bloom

01. Peccato D'orgoglio (13:26)
02. Ombra Muta (9:56)
03. Ripensando E... (7:36)
04. La Mente Vola (11:03)
05. Dopo L'uragano (7:28)
06. Valigre Di Terra (12:02)
07. Ringraziamenti (1:43)
08. Croma (4:05)

- Pietro Pellegrini / organ, synths
- Giorgio Santandrea / drums
- Guido Wassermann / guitar, vocals
- Andrea Guizzetti / piano, keyboards, vocals
- Fabio Rigamonti / bass, vocals
- Claudio Falcone / lead vocals, percussion

Alphataurus are a band that would have been lost to obscurity, were it not for their tight musical display and resulting cult fanbase. Although they only put out one complete record in their time (as well as one incomplete, and substantially less acclaimed sophomore) Alphataurus are a staple for any self-respecting fan of Italian prog rock. Considering that the band's heyday was 1973 and little has been heard of them since then, it's quite an event to have them return, even if it's only in the form of a live recording.With word of a new studio album on the apparent horizon, it's indeed exciting to have this band back and running, although for its own merits, "Live In Bloom" does not add much more to Alphataurus than we have heard in the past.

All things considered, it is very impressive to hear this band still in such tight shape after nearly forty years since their pair of albums came out. Of the six musicians playing here (at the 2010 Progvention, an Italian festival) three of them are original members of the band. There is not a single 'weak' point to the group's performance here, however. While this is recorded in a live venue, the performance is tight and clear to the ear. Considering that poor, muffled recording is an annoyance that plagues a great many live albums, it's great to hear "Live In Bloom" executed with such clarity.

The song selection itself is precisely what one would expect from an Alphataurus set; encompassing the entire debut album, whilst plucking a couple of picks from the "Dietro l'Uragano" record as well. The music is very consistent in its quality, though while I found myself in a constant state of awe towards the bands tightness and relatively technical take on the 'symphonic' style of prog rock, I cannot say that any part particularly stood out, or captivated me as a highlight of beauty. Granted, I'm not greatly familiar with Alphataurus' studio work, but the performance feels like a fairly reproduced rendition of what's on the album itself. In other words, the performance rarely seems to take a life of its own, and that's often what separates the good from the great when it comes to releases like this.

"Live In Bloom" certainly gives Alphataurus fans something to be excited about, and though their talent and skill are still as bright as ever, I'm not left seeing the band's music much differently. Regardless; it takes some incredible skill to perform music of this style and calibre in the live setting, and Alphataurus do not disappoint.

One of the great surprises of recent years for fans of Italian prog was the reformation of Alphataurus who released one highly regarded album nearly 40 years ago and then split leaving an unfinished second album, later released in the unfinished form as Dietro L'Uragano. The reformed Alphataurus features 3 original members and Live In Bloom, taken from a show in 2010 is the first recorded output of the new 6 piece line-up.
Live in Bloom features their entire first album with a couple from the second - Ripensando E... and Valigre Di Terra. Alphataurus put on an impressive performance showing they have lost none of their chops as they rip through the seven compositions, mainly symphonic prog along with the bluesy hard rock of Dopo L'Uragano. For a while new vocalist Claudio Falcone had me fooled that he was original member Michele Bavaro, his performance faithfully replicating his predecessor at times. The excellent recording and slick performance with vintage keyboards intact make this album a must for fans of the band.

Alphataurus - 1973 - Dietro L'Uragano

Dietro L'Uragano

01. Ripensando E.... (6:29)
02. Valigie Di Terra (10:28)
03. Idea Imcompiuta (1:52)
04. Claudette (13:58)

- Guido Wasserman / guitars
- Pietro Pellegrini / keyboards
- Alfonso Oliva / bass
- Giorgio Santandrea / drums, vocals

Recorded at Alphataurus studios between August/December 1973.
Digital remastering using NoNoise Sonic Solution during October 1992.

First of all let me start by saying that I think Alphataurus first effort was a clearcut masterpiece, - which incidentally also was the predominant reason for me acquiring this album. (This could actually ruin the whole thing for you, if you dive into this record thinking it will be a serving of the same ridiculously multi flavoured exotic meal, as the last time you visited this restaurant.) At first I was a bit dissapointed with the shift in style, the beautiful and soaring vocals of Michele Bavaro are gone, and the vocals are instead done by drummer Giorgio Santanderea, who is ok but lacking in power and diversity when the 2 are compared. However the album is near all-instrumental, and the sound is more of a laid-back-jamming-with-your-buddies than highly orchestrated rock symphonies - albeit for the last tune "Claudette". I finally found the key to this record in a highly unexpected place - listening to The Stones "Get Yer Ya Ya´s Out" one night and then putting "Dietro l'Uragano" on right after, I suddenly realized that you need to listen to this as a live record. It really sounds like 4 guys fiddling about at a concert, and at times they DO penetrate the sound system speakers with a force to be reckoned with - much credited to the drumming of Santanderea (who reminds me of an italian John Bonham on steroids), and the spacey keyboard licks sometimes intertwined with high soaring moog solos, fripp-like guitarlicks but faaar more ITALIAN and throbbing basslines makes this offering a potent meat and potatoes prog-rock live feast.
The first cut serves as an opener and kindly welcomes you to the show with a dreamy instrumental fronted by a melody driven moog that takes in some jazzy flavouring combining small and sneaky rhythm breaks - suddenly transforming this song into an evil Mario brothers theme. I like it! "Valigie Di Terra" is actually my favourite out of the bunch with the thunderous drumming, the giant leaps between the valleys and the peaks, and the small parts in the song where you can hear the musicians talking to each other by jamming in different directions makes this a wonderful 10 min. symphonic semi-jam, that I listen to far too often. I´d say that probably 50% of this is sheer jam. "Idea imcompiuta" starts out like an old horror movie with horrendous sounding keyboards that leads into a terribly confused little piece with sniffling jazzy drums and a jump rope bass line, that sounds like a man chasing mice inside his scull. Very mysterious indeed. The album closes with the beautiful "Claudette" that really is the closest you get to the old Alphataurus, if it wasn´t for the jazzy stylings of the breaks and turns, and the missing Bruce Springsteen vocals of the first. The only draw back might be the reserved vocals, that in truth serves more as muffled melodic words than actual "singing". The closing part is particularly good- sounds like a rock n´ roll infused Edgar Froese on top of a wild a rumbling rhythm section, climbing and climbing until it finally erupts. What a way to end an album!

I have been listening to a lot of RPI lately - once I cleared the language barrier (Come on man - most of the time you can´t understand diddly squat of what´s reverberating between Mick Jagger´s two beeboppaluuuuing slugs - following in the Stones analogies....) - it was all downhill I can tell you. The skills of these musicians are second to no one, and combining that with a childish approach to the instruments, meaning playfulness and imagination at the front wheel, and that special something - the secret ingredient that IS RPI, you are treated with progressive rock that is apart from it´s brothers in the UK, Germany, France, the States - you name em´. Something else.

Alphataurus - 1972 - Alphataurus


01. Le Chamadere (Peccato D´Orgoglio) (12:18)
02. Dopo L´Uragano (4:48)
03. Croma (3:14)
04. La Mente Vola (9:21)
05. Ombra Muta (9:48)

- Michele Bavaro / vocals
- Guido Wasserman / guitar
- Pietro Pellegrini / piano, Hammond organ, Moog, vibraphone, spinet
- Alfonso Oliva / bass
- Giorgio Santandrea / drums, timpani, congas

Alphataurus is one of those legendary RPI bands who are obscure in the annals of general progressive rock, but much appreciated by Italian prog fanatics who venture beyond the more well-known groups. Not much is known about the group from Milan who sprang on to the scene with a great album before vanishing in typical RPI fashion. A second album was partially recorded and later released by Mellow in the '90s as part of their archival projects. Our original site Bio summed them up like this:

"Expressive Heavy prog band from the classic early 70's Italian prog scene, very similar to MUSEO ROSENBACH and IL BALLETO DI BRONZO. Just like their contemporary 'sister' bands they mix very well the heavy parts with soft melodic passages, with exquisite contrasting strong voice. The keyboards are superb and their long thematic developments alone would merit an interest in their albums. They released two albums, the first one "Alphataurus" considered by many as a masterpiece of the 70's Italian scene. They are an unparallel heavy prog classic to my ears." 

They did mix well the light and heavier sections and sometimes even a bluesy, jazzy, or spacey edge. I believe they probably had both English and Italian influences with the former being perhaps VDGG or even Deep Purple. I would say if you enjoy the heavier side of Italian, such as De De Lind, JET, or Museo Rosenbach, you will need to check out Alphataurus. Tragically the band split in 1974 while working on their second album, leaving it unfinished. It was released posthumously but was not even close to finished. Drummer Giorgio Santandrea went on to work briefly in Crystals, and Pietro Pellegrini collaborated with both Riccardo Zappa and PFM.

What else can I say that many others haven't in praise of Alphataurus' eponymous album? Well, for starters, this is one of the top masterpieces of hard rock oriented Italian prog, or Italian prog, for that matter. The level of beauty and imagination instilled in all compositions, the fine interplay created among the four musicians, the captivating layers and chords played on synth, organ, harpsichord and mellotron, the stunning vocal lines sung by the lead vocalist. there are so many ingredients that make this dish made in Columbus' hometown such a fantastic feast. Actually, none of these five tracks sounds as heavy as some other bands catalogued in this sub-genre (Balletto, Biglietto, Museo Rosenbach, for example), but there's always that special intense fire drifting through the electric guitar lines, the keyboard solos and textures, the powerful rhythm section, and of course, the half-operatic rock linings of Michele Bavaro's singing (sometimes anticipating and over-Dioing Dio). 'Peccato d'Orgoglio' is a great 12-minute opener: this track itself is the most representative incarnation of the band's style, full of diverse motifs, all of them bearing a predominant orchestral feel, yet played with a hard rocking attitude. The guitar and keyboard parts sound really hard, and so do the sung parts. The lead singer's deliveries are both ballsy and sensitive, and the occasional harmonies are quite strong, too (similarly to the vocal harmonies in the best New Trolls repertoire). Then comes the mostly bluesy 'Dopo l'Uragano', the only piece in the album in whcih the guitar assumes a clearly prominent role - the cadences delivered on the basic acoustic guitar chords and the subsequent electric guitar riffs make it really happen for the main theme. As always, the vocalist's energy acts as a cornerstone for the effective delivery of the track. The 3 minute instrumental 'Croma' is a delicious baroque-oriented instrumental with some incorporated jazzy twists: the alternation of spinet and organ passages finds a perfect background in the massive moog layers and added colours on guitar, which come to a point of majestic explosion in the closing climax. The closing floursihes on combined synth and guitar are simply too emotional to keep the listener indifferent - amazing!! Alphataurus focuses on their symphonic side on 'La Mente Vola' (with keyboardist Pietro Pellegrini singing the lead vocal parts), which includes a short but effective vibraphone solo, as well as eerie moog passages. On teh other hand, the closure 'Ombra Muta' returns to the essence of the first two tracks. In this way, 'La mente Vola' finds the band exploring a spacey side to their music that is quite a novelty in the album, while 'Ombra Muta' comes to eptiomize what is the truest and most intimate symponic essence of Alphataurus. In short, this is an Italian hard prog delicatessen.

One of my favorite Italian records, just by the cover you can see this is an excellent album. Strong vocals and good musicians make this album a classic furious masterpiece of the genre. All the songs are good to me, from influences of vdgg to the noise of a storm to open second song, from the beautiful "croma" to "la mente vola" and " ombra muta". Despite the influences, this is a very original and powerful band with intricate arrangements, they have a style you can listen all the instruments clearly despite the energy and speed they play.