Archive for November, 2007

Italian Fusion

November 29, 2007

1970s Italy was rife with rock maximalists displaying grand lavishness in the symphonic pantheon. But what about blazening dexterity of the fusion calibre? With the informational flow of Web 2.0 unearthing the 1970s as the most musically rich decade ever, a recent discussion on ’70s Italian fusion addressed numerous names, to which I added the following impressions:

Etna – Very derivative of the US-based fusion sound, and when it’s Europe were talking about, I tend to like me a band where I can hear more of an individual stamp upon the style, such as with some of the acts mentioned below. Now initially I thought only two tracks (towards the end of the disc) bore repeated plays, but I reconsidered after seeing Progbear give kudos to Etna at the expense of Flea (who’s Topi o Uomini I do in fact love – it’s the album that got me back into Italian prog after several years away.)
The whole Etna disc, save for the iffy second track, can be heard below:

Festa Mobile – Despite their evolution into the fuzaky Il Baricentro, Diario di viaggio della Festa Mobile never struck me as fusion at all. Superficially, it could be tagged as “ELP on overdrive”, what with all the dizzying piano work, but basically it’s a festive album of tightly-composed keyboard prog:
Festa Mobile

Bella Band – A very tasty, Canterbury-inspired ensemble whose legacy is all-too small:
Bella Band

Duello Madre – A recent fave of mine that hasn’t really struck me as fusion, but I won’t reject the notion. They sound slightly ahead of their time for an Italian band circa 1973, what with their developed Frippian guitar tones. In some respects I could draw a parallel to the contemporaneous German band Kollektiv, who also mixed the newer Frippian guitar sound with jazzier elements totally outside the KC paradigm:
Duello Madre

Arti & Mestieri – I half agree with both of you, in that I consider both their first two albums great (and fusiony.) The first takes a slight symphonic Tilt (pun intended) with reoccurring motifs making for a cohesive set of interrelated compositions, whilst Giro strings together shorter ideas with some funky breaks in a jovial manner:
Arti & Mestieri

Picchio Dal Pozzo – Along with Arti & Mestieri, Picchio are easily my favorite Italian band, though someone else had already taken the honors here:
Picchio Dal Pozzo

Cincinatto – Great album cover, yet the music sounds rather murky on my copy. Don’t know whether it’s down to the rip or the master:(

Il Volo – This Italian supergroup took a turn towards fusion with their second album Essere O Non Essere, though I personally favor the melodramatic prog/pop song approach of their eponymous debut:
Il Volo

Bauhuas – Spin-off from a long-unsung, posthumously-excavated wonder of the early Italian prog scene, Buon Vecchio Charlie. While their lone album Stairway to Escher may not be the eight wonder of the world, it serves as ample evidence that they were the greatest band to have ever named themselves after that famed Weimer-era institute of the avant garde (then again, it’s not like I’ve ever heard of any other bands using that name.:P)