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Classic Italian progressive band Banco del mutuo soccorso released an esteemed trilogy of sorts in the early seventies, the only overarching theme being that all followed a fairly similar style of classically-influenced progressive rock, and that they were the band's first three full-length releases. The self-titled debut is possibly the weakest of the three, and as I can't really think of an appropriate analogy off the top of my head, you can imagine for yourself the first part of a film trilogy that got better and more sophisticated with the second film, before returning to the same level of confused quite-good mediocrity with the finale ('Star Wars' doesn't count, because 'Return of the Jedi' was pretty rubbish, and I didn't have the patience to sit through 'Lord of the Rings' so I wouldn't know about that).
The key players here are the Nocenzi brothers Gianni and Vittorio, who play a variety of keyboard-style instruments between them to vary between prog rock in the classic symphonic style, similar to Genesis or Yes, and chamber music in the classic classical style, similar to the olden days. It's a talented and interesting mix, and the concept only becomes strained when the respective organ, keyboard and piano solo sections, among others, interfere with the overall structure of a song, as happens most significantly in 'Metamorfosi,' while the grand finale 'Il Giardino Del Mago' is more or less a complete mess of disjointed ideas that are good in their own right, but don't make for a strong eighteen-minute song to hold the listener's attention.
Francesco Di Giacomo's voice is that of an opera singer, which works very well in more classically-styled songs like 'R.I.P.', clearly the strongest material here by a long way, but is less successful in the proggier offerings, where he tends to take a back seat until returning at the end. This is very original and supremely talented music, but it lacks restraint and a sense of logical structure that prevents it from really impressing, not to mention that the whole sound is so explicitly rooted in the early 1970s for that specific audience's (presumed) tastes. The singing is great, and the keyboards excellent when they're used for a sensible purpose, but any album that opens with a clarinet of all things could never go on to become a true classic.
1. In Volo
2. R.I.P. (Requiescant In Pace)
5. Il Giardino Del Mago
...a) Passo Dopo Passo
...b) Chi Ride E Chi Geme
...c) Coi Capelli Sciolti Al Vento
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 In Volo
2 R.I.P. (Requiescant in Pace)
5 Giardino del Mago