Titles are arranged alphabetically with recent additions highlighted in yellow.
A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-T | U-Z
Strange Shape is the 2000 second CD from an Italian instrumental jazz-rock ensemble. “The style is light, jazzy, mellow and inoffensive, very professionally played and produced, with all the rough edges smoothed out. Guitarist Maurizio Neri is an exceptional player in the context of this style, and interestingly enough plays mostly acoustic and classical guitars (electric on three tracks). They are at their best when they go for a more quiet and introspective sound. At their most energized, they have a more generic sound reminiscent of the lighter side of Pat Metheny or John Scofield, albeit acoustically driven. An exceptional tune is their cover of Il Baricentro’s Akua (from Trusciant). The bass, drum and keyboard work are fully supportive of the guitar’s lead role.” [Exposé]
Riflessioni (1998) is their first. The band is a quintet of guitar, keys, bass, drums, and percussion, with Neri playing exclusively acoustic and classical guitar on this one. The music is again instrumental, mellow, light jazz-rock.
The Italian prog band Acqua Fragile made two albums: their self-titled 1973 debut and Mass-Media Stars (1974). The band is well-known because their singer was Bernardo Lanzetti, who later joined PFM. The Acqua Fragile albums are classic Italian prog albums in their own right, displaying Genesis, Yes, and Gentle Giant influences and paralleling PFM to some extent. They are sung entirely in English, Lanzetti having lived in the United States. We feel these albums are underrated. Some people don’t care for Lanzetti’s voice or the high-pitched backing vocals (it was the 1970s), and the lyrics, well, something was lost in translation. But there is musical magic here. The mini-LP version of Mass-Media Stars is the 2011 Sony cardboard sleeve edition. The mini-LP version of the first album is the BMG edition, which comes in a heavyweight gatefold sleeve. The others are the newly-remastered 2011 editions on Esoteric, with booklets featuring fully-restored album artwork and a new essay plus interview with Bernardo Lanzetti. Start with Mass-Media Stars.
Visions from Realities (2013, 50-minutes, digipack) is the debut by this Italian band/project, the initiative of Umberto Pagnini who wrote the music and lyrics but used other musicians to realize the album. The music on this first CD is song-oriented symphonic prog with a folk-pop overlay. The primary singer is Norway’s PelleK, who can also be heard singing on The Anabasis CD. He comes from a metal background, but you wouldn’t know it as he saves any oversinging for his own band. Additional vocals are provided by Mark Colton of Credo and Norwegian Marit Børresen (that’s a female name). There is electric guitar and symphonic keys, but most prominent are the acoustic and clean guitar tones in a Le Orme style. The best songs have that Italian romantic feel (Le Orme, Atons, etc.), but as the lyrics are in English, that feel is not as strong as it would be with Italian lyrics. But then none of the singers are Italian. This is an album where the second half is stronger than the first. Be sure to at least audition the song Usual Plays in Heaven - Be Kind and Talk to Me, which showcases most of Active Heed’s considerable strengths.
Only singer PelleK returns on Higher Dimensions (2014, 65-minutes, digipack), otherwise Pagnini has a new crew, primary among them Cristiano Roversi (Submarine Silence, Moongarden, CCLR, Mangala Vallis, solo), who is responsible for all the arrangements in addition to keyboards and bass. Moongarden’s Gian Maria Roveda is the drummer, while Mirco Ravenoldi of the band Catafalchi del Cyber is the guitarist. This is no doubt the superior album, the prog elements having now nudged the pop elements off to the side, with Roversi adding a lot of Genesis stylings via his vintage keys. There are also occasional heavier elements not present on the first album. Read the Jerry Lucky and Lady Obscure reviews.
A Tree Under the Colours (2000) is the most recent and best CD by this Italian band singing in English. It is in the style of (and better than some of) 90125 era Yes, with crisp production and harmony vocals highlighting their sound. Read the DPRP review. This is the MALS edition, produced under license from Musea.
Alluminogeni or Gli Alluminogeni were a keyboard-oriented prog trio who released the well-regarded album Scolopendra in 1972. See Prog Archives for an mp3 and reviews. This mini-LP edition comes in a heavyweight gatefold sleeve with 8-page bilingual booklet.
Geni Mutanti (1993) consists of new recordings while Green Grapes (1994) includes both unreleased old tracks as well as new tracks. Green Grapes had been the name of the band before changing it to Alluminogeni, so feel free to switch band and album name on that one.
The self-titled Alphataurus album is a 1973 Italian progressive rock classic, with ELP-like keys plus a harder guitar sound. This 2011 mini-LP edition reproduces the triple gatefold jacket of the LP and has been remastered from the original master tapes.
Amazingly, Alphataurus reformed in 2010 and played a memorable gig in November of that year, professionally captured on the Live in Bloom CD (2012, 67-minutes, gatefold mini-LP sleeve). This is one of the greatest live comebacks in the history of Italian progressive rock. The CD contains the whole concert, which in addition to the performance of Alphataurus’ entire 1973 album also features some fantastic unreleased tracks played that night.
After a nearly 40 year respite, Alphataurus returned in 2012 with their second studio album Attosecondo, with the guitarist and keyboardist/composer surviving from the original lineup. Attosecondo is as good as their debut, which means it is one of the best Italian prog albums this millennium. Heavyweight mini-LP gatefold sleeve with 12-page booklet. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
AltaVia are an Italian prog quintet (vocals/keys/guitars/bass/drums, with four members singing) formed in 2007. Girt Dog (2011, 67-minutes) is their debut. The band say that “their main influences can be found in both the classic and neo-prog scenes (Yes and Genesis, but also IQ and It Bites) while also featuring rich orchestral atmospheres and catchy melodies.” Their music mainly falls in the IQ and Jadis camps, with a bit more pomp, but if this isn’t the first really convincing British-style neo-prog to come out of Italy, it is the best. As far as non-UK bands playing this style, AltaVia are at least on the same level as Collage, Opus Est, or Martigan. Most of the continental neo-prog bands took their cues more from early Marillion, which often led to darker, pseudo-serious neo-prog. AltaVia however have the bright exuberance of Jadis or Magenta, and a very British melodic sense. It’s easy to see why Rob Reed of Magenta and Will Mackie of Caerllysi Music chose this as the first release on their White Knight label.
AltaVia’s second Kreosote (2016, digisleeve) is again sung in English except for one song which is sung in the ancient Etruscan language. (If you don’t know who the Etruscans were, it’s a good bet you’ve never been to Tuscany.) Watch the video for Road to Nowhere. See the related band Materya below.
This six-man Italian band’s 1995 recording is 1970s style progressive rock with lots of flute in addition to voice, keys, guitar, bass and drums. Long flowing tracks, slightly psychedelic, slightly jazzy, with hints of Jethro Tull and various Italian 70s bands. Italian lyrics.
While most of the members of Analogy were German, the band had an Italian keyboardist, spent their entire career in Italy, and their self-titled debut album was released on an Italian label in 1972. With their female vocalist, the music is comparable to Sandrose or early Earth & Fire.
This Italian progressive rock obscurity came out in 1979, after most of the original Italian progressive bands had ground to a halt. Mellow Records reissued it on CD in 1994. Antares had a connection with Antonio Bartoccetti of Antonius Rex, who co-wrote two of the six tracks, but Antares don’t have as much of that demonic style. After a dodgy first track with accented English vocals, it settles into mostly instrumental symphonic progressive with a spacey, Floydian feel. Rather than the Hammond and Mellotron favored by earlier progressive bands, Antares’ keyboardist used Roland and Korg synths of that era, favoring more electronic (and cheesy) sounds, though other prog bands did the same during those years. Unfortunately the album is all of 28-minutes long. The album was optimistically subtitled Volume I, but the band never managed to record another.
Antonius Rex are one of the more esoteric of the Italian progressive bands. They were the continuation of the band Jacula, whose first album is from 1969. Zora (1977) was the second Antonius Rex album to be recorded but the first to be commercially released. The music is full of pipe organ, dark atmospheres, and lyrics dealing with occultism. The 32nd Anniversary Edition is the 2010 digipack edition on Black Widow, which includes the original cover. The jewel box version is the earlier Mellow Records edition. The original album had four tracks. A fifth track Gnome was added to the second LP issue in 1978 and is included on both of these editions. The 32nd Anniversary edition adds a 1980 bonus track Monastery (9:39), previously unreleased, plus new photos.
Antonius Rex were known for making dark, demonic music, but by the time of Ralefun (1979), that was no longer the case. Here a quintet of electric & acoustic guitars and vocals, synths & piano, flute, bass, and drums, the music is richer and closer to classic symphonic progressive rock. Not great sonically, but the music is more accessible than much of their previous output. This is the Mellow Records edition.
Antonius Rex released albums through 1980, took a 24-year break, then started in again. Switch on Dark (60-minutes, digipack) is their 2006 CD, now on the Black Widow label, which is a perfect fit for a band whose music is dark, occult, mystical and sinister. Switch on Dark definitely sounds like a soundtrack to a horror film, except that it isn’t soundtrack-y. This is not background music; it is symphonic prog and at times it rocks hard. It is classically-based, the predominant feel is gothic, and male and female voices are used to add a horror element (whispers, screams, Satan impersonations). There are parallels with the work of Goblin and Devil Doll. Even though the music is dark and haunting, it is also quite beautiful at times. It is primarily instrumental, with some vocals that are most often wordless. The CD includes one video track. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
This is the Mellow Records edition of Tardo Pede in Magiam Versus, the 1972 album by Jacula, the predecessor band to Antonius Rex. It’s a mythical if unusual album, focused on the occult and using a lot of pipe organ. It would have made a good soundtrack to an Italian horror film.
The 2002 debut by this Italian band is firmly in the 1970s classic progressive style, influenced both by the Italian 70s bands as well as Genesis, ELP, and Van der Graaf Generator. There are just four long tracks, each going through numerous changes, with lots of instrumental passages. Some of it is upbeat, but it is just as often melancholy. This is romantic and elegant symphonic rock that should earn high marks from all fans of 70s-style progressive. Vocals in Italian.
Behind the Archangel moniker is Gabriele Manzini, keyboardist and primary composer for Ubi Maior and former keyboardist of The Watch. The Akallabeth (2009) is a concept album based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fall of Numenor, a tale taken from The Silmarillion, the cosmological book of Tolkien’s world. The English-language lyrics are faithful to the original story, which has many characters and so several singers were used, principally Damian Wilson (Landmarq and others), Zachary Stevens (ex-Savatage, Circle II Circle), and Ted Leonard (Enchant). There are other important singers and musicians from the Italian progressive rock scene: Francesca “Elayne” Naccarelli (vocals, Dunwich), Walter Gorreri (bass, Ubi Maior), Alessandro Di Caprio (drums, Ubi Maior), Stefano Mancarella (guitars, Ubi Maior), Ettore Salati (guitars, ex-The Watch), Marco Schembri (bass, ex-The Watch), Davide Martinelli (drums, Darksky) and others.
“In comparison with his band Ubi Maior, the sound of Archangel on The Akallabeth is more in the realm of heavy prog and melodic rock. The 12 songs are very tastefully arranged, with strong vocal contributions, splendid harder-edged guitar work, and wonderful work on a wide range of vintage keyboards. These elements remind me of the sound of fellow Dutchman Arjen Lucassen with his project Ayreon (especially the 2CD The Electric Castle), but less bombastic and less focused on guitar. In my opinion Gabriele is also a more elaborate composer... An album to discover if you like heavy prog and keyboard-oriented melodic rock. I am sure that especially the fans of Ayreon and Uriah Heep will be pleased with the sound of Archangel.” [Erik Neuteboom]
Aries is an all-star project headed by the talented and prolific Fabio Zuffanti of Finisterre fame. They debuted in 2005 with a self-titled CD. The key feature of Aries is the beautiful, fragile female vocals of Simona Angieloni (in good English). Imagine merging the folk-inflected vocals of Karnataka, Mostly Autumn or October Project with a deep Italian symphonic progressive sound. The playing during the instrumental passages gets intense, a nice contrast to the mellower vocal sections.
Double Reign (2010, 58-minutes) is Aries’ second CD, which comes in a heavyweight gatefold mini-LP sleeve. Simona has been promoted to co-writer, Davide Guidoni (Tapobran) is the new drummer, and New Trolls’ Vittorio De Scalzi guests on flute. A string quartet adds classical flavors to several tracks. The similarities to the bands listed above are still present, but there is more than just classic prog here, a Dead Can Dance style for one, all contributing to a more modern feel than Aries’ debut. “This is a work of rare beauty, sophistication and grace that will appeal to anyone who appreciates fine quality melodic and prog rock.” [Ravenheart Music (rating 9/10)]
Arpia’s third album Racconto D’Inverno (2009) is substantially different than their previous work, much more progressive. The hard rock and metal are absent here, as all the guitar is acoustic rather than electric, and along with the Italian-language vocals (both male and female), it is the acoustic guitar that dominates the sound. The mood is dark yet beautiful, serious-sounding but not gloomy. Read the DPRP and Prog Archives reviews.
Not the Japanese female trio, rather this Ars Nova was a Roman band who recorded these tracks between 1974 and 1979. It’s quite typical of the Italian symphonic prog style of the time, very melodic with Italian-language vocals, though the music is simpler than that of the top tier Italian bands. The recording is slightly muffled and not up to professional standards, but it’s quite listenable. So not an essential album, but certainly of interest to Italian prog lovers.
With one album alone, Tilt (1974), Arti & Mestieri assured themselves a place in the Italian progressive rock hall of fame. Nominally a fusion album, the symphonic keyboards, violin, and strong melodies give it a foundation in symphonic prog. Furio Chirico is Italy’s top drummer, and one could enjoy this album listening to his drumming alone. Read the Exposé review. This is the jewel box edition on Cramps.
First Live in Japan (76-minutes, digipack) was recorded live in Kawasaki and Tokyo during Arti & Mestieri’s 2005 tour of Japan. It features most of the material from their two classic 1970s albums Tilt and Giro di Valzer per Domani, along with several more recent compositions. “Make no mistake about it, First Live in Japan is a monumental live recording, showing that this veteran band has not lost a step whatsoever. Highest recommendation.” Read the full Sea of Tranquility review.
The 2000 debut album by an Italian quintet singing in English. Their style is much more British than Italian. It sounds completely familiar, and yet there isn’t anyone you can easily compare it to. If at the beginning of the album you think they’re a guitar-oriented band, by the end of the album you’ve decided that the keyboards dominate. Neither in fact dominates, and the songs are melodic and well-crafted.
Aton’s is an Italian band formed in 1977, though their first LP did not appear until 1988. Aton’s mix English prog/neo-prog with the Italian romantic progressive and pop traditions. Their Italian language vocals are one of their great strengths. Their music is filled with such brio, as befits the Italian culture and sunny Mediterranean climate -- nothing dark, brooding, or plodding here. Merge the feel of PFM’s Passpartu album with more electric instrumentation and more rock and you have Aton’s. Though H (1985) is their first album, A.I. 2984 (1988) was the first to appear, initially on vinyl. They followed with the album Caccia Grossa (1991) on the Contempo label; Contempo didn’t last long and so that one is hard to come by. Dr. Faust appeared in 1992; Klein & Wagner is from 1996. After 25 years, the band decided to call it quits, so Capolinea, recorded between 1997-2000, may be their last (but never say never).
Pietro Ratto is the leader, singer, and guitarist of the band Aton’s. This is his 1997 first solo album, all-instrumental, in which he alternates classical and electric guitar-dominated pieces, with keyboards, bass, and programmed drums filling out the sound. Between the styles of Riccardo Zappa and Marcello Capra, this will surprise many guitar fans. Always tasteful and rarely demonstrative.
On their 2005 debut A Parte, this Italian band exists between progressive rock and prog-metal. There is no doubt Atto IV play prog-metal, but they have an excellent keyboardist and are capable of playing PFM and Banco style Italian symphonic prog at a high level. Apart from the generic metal riffing, they have great technique and ideas, and this album is sung in Italian to boot.
Note Atto IV underwent lineup changes in 2008 and switched to English-language vocals for their 2011 CD Shattered Lines. That CD is Dream Theater style prog-metal mixed with heavy neo-prog à la Arena, showing little connection to PFM or Banco or anything specifically Italian.
After six studio and one live album with Presence as well as several collaborations, singer Sophya Baccini realizes her first solo CD, a concept called Aradia (2009, 69-minutes). Here she is also pianist, arranger and composer of all tracks. The CD is immersed in symphonic, dark, sometimes gothic atmospheres, using acoustic instruments such as violin, piano, accordion, bouzouki, and classical guitar alongside Mellotron, MiniMoog, Modular Moog and other vintage synths. All is framed by the beautiful vocals and vocal harmonies. The musicians include Sophya Baccini on lead vocals, choirs, piano, synths and Mellotron; Pino Falgiano: strings, orchestral and percussion arrangements, Hammond organ and Moog; Vittorio Cataldi on violin and accordion; Franco Ponzo on guitars, plus guests Stefano Vicarelli (Fonderia) on modular Moog; Aurelio Fierro Jr. on drums; Martin Grice (Delirium) on flute and tenor sax; and vocalists Lino Vairetti (Osanna), Ana Torres (Universal Totem Orchestra) and Nona Luna (Iconae). A video track is included as a bonus. Read the in-depth reviews at Progressor and DPRP.
Il Balletto di Bronzo’s 1972 album Ys is for some one of the greatest Italian progressive rock albums, for others not so much, but it is certainly the album upon which this band’s reputation rests. This CD reissue on Polydor contains one bonus track from 1973: La Tua Casa Comoda. You can read many reviews and opinions of the album at Prog Archives.
On the Road to Ys is the demo recording made by the band in 1971 at Phonogram Studios Milan, featuring the embryonic versions of two songs that would later be merged into Ys (Introduzione and Secondo Incontro), with English vocals and arrangements that are quite different from the final ones. These demos convinced Phonogram to offer the band a record deal. In 1972 they released Ys, and the rest is history. The audio is from master tapes, remastered by Gianni Leone and Nicola di Gia in 2010. The On the Road to Ys and Beyond CD (gatefold mini-LP sleeve) also contains a lot of live material, beginning with La Tua Casa Comoda live in Mexico in 2006, followed by Donna Vittoria and Tastiere Isteriche from Chile in 2005. From Rome in 2007, the band perform a loving homage to themselves with Introduzione, Primo Incontro, and Napoli Sotterranea, plus two songs from the Leo Nero - Monitor album.
Trys marked the welcome live return of this famous Italian progressive band, still lead by Gianni Leone, aka Leo Nero. On this 1996 recording, they are a keyboard/bass/drums trio with vocals. All of Ys is performed plus tracks from the two Leo Nero albums, as well as a few unreleased tracks composed in the 1970s.
Banco del Mutuo Soccorso, or Banco for short, are along with PFM one of the two pillars of Italian progressive rock. As in a Last Supper and Banco are the 2010 definitive remastered editions on the Esoteric label of the two English-language albums Banco recorded for ELP’s Manticore label. This material is from Banco’s prime period. The self-titled album was initially released in 1975 and contains reworked material with English vocals from Banco’s earlier Italian albums, plus one new song. Actually the material is drawn from Banco’s first album and from Io Sono Nato Libero; nothing from Darwin appears. The production on the songs from their debut is vastly improved. As in a Last Supper is the English-language version of Come in un’Ultima Cena (1976). Both have been newly remastered by the Esoteric team.
The CDs in this group are the jewel box editions on Virgin of Garofano Rosso (1976), Come in un’Ultima Cena (1976), Di Terra (1978), Canto di Primavera (1979), Capolinea (1979), and the 1991 re-recording of Darwin. Garofano Rosso is a film soundtrack and is all-instrumental, quite good though of course a departure from their regular work.
Come in un’Ultima Cena is the album that was also released with English lyrics as As in a Last Supper. It’s one of Banco’s great ones.
Di Terra is Banco’s second all-instrumental album, a symphonic suite recorded with an orchestra, distinct from all their other albums. At this point, the band shortened their name. Read reviews of these earlier albums at Allmusic.
Canto di Primavera, Banco’s final studio album of the 1970s, is their last great album. Every studio album that followed was a pop record that even the band seems to have forgotten.
Capolinea is a live album. Some people dislike it because Banco dared to play their classics in a different style, with funky beats, jazzy elements, and a more open, acoustic sound. It was 1979 and the progressive era in Italy was over. We enjoy hearing songs done differently -- we already know what the originals sound like, and if that’s all you ever want to hear, play the originals.
In 1991, Banco re-recorded their great second album Darwin. Of course start with the original, and if you love that album, the re-recording is fun if non-essential, with more polished production.
Misteriose Voci (2007) is the debut CD for Italian prog band Barock Project, a fantastic album for lovers of Italian 1970s symphonic progressive. The music is pure 70s style with vocals here in Italian, dominated by a virtuoso keyboardist schooled in classical music. It is that uniquely Italian blend of English progressive rock (ELP foremost), classical music, and romantic Italian pop melodies. Read the Exposé and DPRP reviews.
La Fiaba della Buonanotte (2009) is the debut CD for this Italian band from Torino. We may need a new sub-genre: glam-prog, as Baroque blend progressive rock with early Queen, David Bowie, or Mott the Hoople. The result is sometimes similar to the Swedish band A.C.T. It’s great fun, with the Italian-language vocals only adding to the eccentricity. The ballads are more purely in the romantic Italian style, and there is more than enough musicality to keep prog fans entertained, with classical/baroque influences in the keyboards.
Keyboardist/composer Luciano Basso is best known for his 1976 album Voci, an outstanding instrumental work of classically-influenced progressive rock. Cogli il Giorno (1978) is his second, which was very rare on LP. It is another instrumental album blending neo-classical and progressive, featuring piano, synths, violin, cello, flute, soprano sax, operatic soprano voice, electric guitar and more. One live bonus track. Heavyweight gatefold mini-LP sleeve with 8-page bilingual booklet.
Tuscan band Bededeum play charming and mystical progressive folk with female and male vocals in Italian. The music shows some Italian but more Celtic influences, with instrumentation that includes whistles, pipes, flute, and Celtic harp. Read reviews of Oltre il Sipario (2008, 57-minutes, digipack) at Prog Archives. Listen to Bettogli 1911, Gérard Duval Tipografo, and Le Pietre Bianche.
This new incarnation of the famous Italian prog band features original members Pilly Cossa, Baffo Banfi, and Mauro Gnecchi, with contributions from singer/lyricist/flautist Claudio Canali. While these tracks are rearranged versions of the band’s classics, the approach is so different that for all intents and purposes this is a new work. Here Biglietto per L’Inferno are augmented by some talented young north Italian folk musicians as well as a female singer, therefore the suffix ‘.folk’ has been added to the band name. The folk instrumentation is a great touch. The piffero is an instrument in the bombarde family and stands out because, well, you can’t hide a bombarde in a mix. In combination with bagpipes, the sound has much in common with Breton folk, though the Italian flavor is unmistakable. There is also accordion, mandolin, violin, flute and more, all integrated into a rock format. Biglietto per L’Inferno have transformed their classics into something new, yet just as satisfying. The CD also features one previously-unreleased song composed by Claudio Canali. Heavyweight gatefold mini-LP sleeve. Read the Prog Archives and Progressive Land reviews.
The self-titled album is the 1973 Italian heavy progressive classic, like an Italian Uriah Heep perhaps but more complex and proggy, featuring dual keys, flute, and fuzz guitar. Il Tempo della Semina was recorded in 1974 but not released until the 1990s because the record label folded. The album shows its age in the recording quality, but it’s a good progressive album, not as heavy as their first. Many consider it superior, probably depending on one’s taste for the hard rock elements of the first. The jewel box version is the Mellow Records edition, which has better sound than the first CD edition. Trident later reissued the CD in the mini-LP format. The mini-LP edition of Il Tempo della Semina comes in a heavyweight gatefold sleeve with 8-page bilingual booklet. The AMS edition of Biglietto per L’Inferno’s debut was remastered by the band and restores over one minute of music of the song L’amico suicida, on the original LP but missing from the previous CD releases.
1973 Italian progressive rock classic. The actual title is in Greek: Pi Omicron Alpha. This is the 2011 mini-LP sleeve edition on BTF, which comes in a heavyweight gatefold cardboard sleeve with 8-page bilingual booklet and adds two bonus tracks.
“A popular album among European psych and prog collectors, Distortions was released along with a single in Italy in 1971 by a group of unknown studio musicians, and later released in other European countries (with a different cover).” [ItalianProg.com] This all-instrumental album is in a proto-prog style, but a different prog style than the dominant Italian progressive style then in its formative stage. Some of the tracks are based around heavy guitar riffs in the Iron Butterfly or Sabbath style, while other tracks are more keyboard-based with fairly sophisticated (for the time) sonic exploration. This is the 2008 edition on AMS, which comes in a heavyweight gatefold mini-LP sleeve with 8-page bilingual booklet. The two tracks from Blue Phantom’s 1971 single appear here as bonus tracks.
This album was recorded in 1995 but not published until 2000, and it appears Bondage has joined the ranks of one-shot Italian bands. Their sole album is an adventurous and inventive progressive rock with some similarities to Deus ex Machina, DFA, and Area, but more melodic and accessible than any of them. Bondage has just as much of the romantic Italian symphonic style. They have a suitably dramatic and charismatic vocalist singing in Italian, and the music is constantly exciting, always changing but in a completely natural way.
Apparently this large Italian ensemble dates to the early 1980s but didn’t release an album until L’onda Vertebrata (2010), with many new musicians recruited for the task. The compositions however date back to as early as 1990. As the label suggests, Breznev Fun Club could be considered the new Picchio dal Pozzo. Here we have progressive music equally influenced by jazz, contemporary classical, and symphonic rock. In addition to keys/guitars/bass/drums, flute, clarinet, sax, trumpet, trombone, oboe, violin, cello, vibraphone and marimba are interwoven in intricate structures that are at times beautiful beyond words. Not beyond any words, just beyond the ones we’re likely to come up with. The music is mostly instrumental, with some vocals and spoken word in Italian. Other reference points include Hatfield and the North, However, and later Isildurs Bane, but with a Mediterranean touch. This is a most impressive album: colorful, airy, melodic, and surprising. To sort out which songs on composer Rocco Lomonaco’s MySpace page (mp3 icon above) are actually from this album, the track listing is: Ludiche ecchimosi, Il folletto di cera, Inseguito dai creditori, Tre pezzi brevi, L’onda vertebrata, La follia del mimo Azoto. Heavyweight gatefold mini-LP sleeve. Read reviews at Prog Archives and Hanging Sounds.
Il Misantropo Felice (2015, digipack) is their second. Listen to the album teaser and Sperduto nella camera isterica. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
This is the CD reissue of the 1977 debut by I Cadmo, a piano/bass/drums jazz-rock trio from Sardinia. The music consists of four long instrumental tracks and is more jazz than rock, ranging from Soft Machine’s improvisational style to wild jazz-rock in the best Italian tradition to tribal/ethnic Mediterranean-flavored tracks similar to Mauro Pagani, all executed with top-notch musicianship. Heavyweight gatefold mini-LP sleeve with 8-page bilingual booklet.
This Italian band has existed since 1987, but it took until 2005 for their first CD 87/94 to see the light of day, comprised of songs composed between 1987-1994. Here Cage consists of two keyboard players, a flute/guitar player, a singer/bassist and a drummer. These six pieces mix instrumental and English-language vocal passages and are often structured around the delicate and beautiful piano parts of Alessandro Bugliani, the band’s composer and keyboardist. And this is the real thing: dynamic, powerful, complex symphonic progressive in the 1970s style, with elements of Genesis, Yes, ELP, Gentle Giant, and any number of Italian 70s progressive bands.
Many years passed before Secret Passage (2009). Cage added a new singer (vocals in English), and musically, Cage took a big step in the direction of Kenso, that is, melodic symphonic fusion of the highest order. This is married to aspects of the band’s former style, which is more to the fore during the vocal sections. These have the warm intimacy of Peter Gabriel and the pastoral nature of Steve Hackett, mixed with a Canterbury flavor. So Cage have gone from strength to strength, as this is an exceptional album and a unique blend.
40 m2 is the 1999 debut by singer/guitarist Davide Camerin, on a side label of the Italian progressive label Lizard. Assisted by a large number of musicians, Camerin creates a personal style of pop/rock with a dark, late-night feel. It can’t be called progressive rock, but neither is it very commercial. Vocals are in Italian, aside from brief female vocals in English. This is an album where an understanding of Italian would probably enhance the listening experience more than usual. Here is an mp3 of the track Mister Sun.
Campo di Marte is one of the legendary Italian 1970s progressive bands, based on their sole album (self-titled) from 1973. This classic combines the delicate melodicism of early PFM and the progressive hard rock of Il Balletto di Bronzo’s Ys. This is the jewel box edition on Mellow.
Subtitled Live 1972 / 2003, Concerto Zero was first released as a 2CD set in a mini-LP cardboard gatefold sleeve. This is the more affordable MALS label edition, which fits everything on a single CD with a playing time of 75:19 and comes in a jewel box. The 1972 portion was taken from the only existing Campo di Marte test LP, recorded live in 1972. It was a demo LP produced for United Artists prior to the band signing the recording contract. The LP was kept in mint condition, though the recording quality is that of a good bootleg. The 2003 portion has professional quality sound and captures the reformed band live near Florence in the summer of 2003. Of the eight 2003 tracks, five are new compositions and three are from their studio album. In the new lineup, the bandleader’s wife, a trained classical musician, plays recorders and wind synth, introducing an early music (renaissance) influence.
This is a 1972 Italian progressive classic from a Roman band that featured flute, keys, guitar, bass, drums, and expressive vocals in Italian. The hard-edged sound with flute in the lead is similar to Jethro Tull but with a distinct Italian flavor. They left us only this one album plus a couple singles. This is the Mellow Records edition.
This 1972 album is the only one by this progressive band. Side 1 of the LP contains an instrumental suite based on Beethoven’s Patetica, which sounds like Focus before turning into something more Italian sounding. The three vocal songs on Side 2 are also good classical progressive rock. This is the Vinyl Magic edition, which has improved sound versus the first edition on Artis and adds four bonus tracks from Capsicum Red’s 1971 singles. The singles are in a commercial style and are sung in English; the band hadn’t gotten serious yet.
Classically trained at the University of Bologna in composition and piano, composer/arranger Alex Carpani continues the great Italian keyboard-centric prog rock tradition. On Waterline (2007, printed sleeve), his fluid and inventive keyboards are accompanied by an American rhythm section. Waterline is mostly instrumental but does feature Aldo Tagliapietra (Le Orme) on vocals and is between the Italian and British 1970s progressive rock styles. Dan Shapiro (Clearlight) and Ken Jaquess (K2, Atlantis) play bass, while Neil Bettencourt (Clearlight) plays drums. A number of guitarists contribute, among them Tony Spada (Holding Pattern). Counts as only one-half CD for shipping.
On The Sanctuary (2010, digipack), Carpani is assisted by two members of his live band: Ettore Salati on guitars and Fabiano Spiga on bass, while drums are handled by Gigi Cavalli-Cocchi (Mangala Vallis, Moongarden). Watch the album preview video. The cover art for the first two CDs is by Paul Whitehead.
Alex Carpani’s live band is now his studio band too, and on 4 Destinies (2014, digipack) has one important additional member: David Jackson (Van der Graaf Generator) on saxes & flutes. The rest of the band is Alex on vocals & keyboards, Ettore Salati on guitars, Joe Sal additional vocals, GB Giorgi on bass, and Alessandro Di Caprio on drums. Cristiano Roversi produced and co-arranged. 4 Destinies has just four tracks averaging close to 14-minutes each. Watch the album trailer. Read lots of reviews.
It’s over to the Italian Ma.Ra.Cash label for Carpani’s fourth album So Close, So Far (2016, digipack), which features his current five-man band. With English-language vocals throughout, this one is much closer to an English neo-prog style than to classic Italian prog, with a lush, expansive sound and heroic melodies. Watch your speed if listening while driving. Watch the album teaser video.
This is the 2011 debut CD by Italian prog rock trio Cavalli-Cocchi, Lanzetti & Roversi, or CCLR. Former PFM and Acqua Fragile vocalist Bernardo Lanzetti (singing in English) is joined by Gigi Cavalli-Cocchi on drums & percussion, and Cristiano Roversi on Mellotron, piano and Chapman Stick. Roversi should be known to most prog fans as a member of Mangala Vallis, Moongarden, Submarine Silence, for his two solo albums on Mellow and contributions to albums by Lanzetti, The Watch, Daal, and others. Cavalli-Cocchi has a long résumé that includes Mangala Vallis, Moongarden, Alex Carpani Band, Canossa, and more. Each of the nine tracks features a different guitarist performing on acoustic guitars of various sorts, and those guitarists include Steve Hackett and Aldo Tagliapietra (ex-Le Orme). The album is full of Mellotron, and not just strings, while overall the music is in a classic prog style but doesn’t sound like an artifact of the 1970s. Given that this band is almost Mangala Vallis, that is a fair reference point, and this would make a decent present-day PFM album though of course it doesn’t reach the intensity of Chocolate Kings. There is more emphasis on acoustic textures. Seven songs are originals, one is CCLR’s rearrangement of the Acqua Fragile song Morning Comes, and one is their interpretation of Brian Eno’s By This River. All in all, a welcome addition to the new era of Italian symphonic prog.
On Internal Cut (2004, digipack, 69-minutes), this Italian quintet plus guests blends ambient, jazz-rock, and progressive rock in a novel and modern way. They don’t use much guitar but instead use sax, flute, and trumpet to go with the keyboards, bass, drums, loops, samples, and English-language vocals. The first song is a tribute to Demetrio Stratos (Area) and uses samples of his voice, while the final song is a cover of Riders on the Storm. There is a lot of variety here, but the dominant aesthetic is close to that of Sylvian, Jansen, Barbieri, and other ambient-minded Brits.
Though Il Cerchio d’Oro later reformed, their self-titled CD was a posthumous one when released in 1999, documenting the activity of this Italian band that only released three singles at the end of its first life. Formed in 1974, Il Cerchio d’Oro recorded the tracks for an album circa 1976 that remained unreleased until this CD. The album is in a typical Italian progressive style, though on the simpler side. The sound quality varies, most of it is fine but one or two tracks sound like a bootleg cassette. The three singles appear at the end of the CD, but they are in a pop and disco style. The Mellow label describes this as a missing link between Alphataurus, Corte dei Miracoli and Panna Fredda. Maybe throw New Trolls and Le Orme in there.
This 2004 debut is simply one of the best classic-style Italian progressive albums of its era. Chiave di Volta have all the requisite elements, including a strong vocalist singing in Italian (who is also a rather good flute player), but the production is modern and the sound could not be cleaner. They are often complex and intense without going off the deep end, with frequent fusion elements blended into their symphonic rock. Recommended to all fans of Italian 1970s prog. Listen to OniricaMente.
This 1975 album was the sole album for Città Frontale, an offshoot of Osanna. Read reviews at Prog Archives. This edition of the CD comes in a heavyweight gatefold cardboard sleeve with 8-page bilingual booklet.
Clarion is essentially Zauber in disguise, which means they play soft Italian prog with lots of flute. Bourrée (1995) is their second CD and consists mainly of covers of songs by other prog artists, to name some of them: Focus, Gentle Giant, PFM, Steve Hackett, I Nomadi, Amazing Blondel, Banco, Mike Batt, McDonald & Giles, and the original prog artist: Bach.
This is not the Swiss neo-prog band but rather an Italian band who released Second Era of Stonehenge in 2007, the album dedicated to Syd Barrett. The music is early-1970s style guitar-dominated rock, though Fabio Liberatori guests on Hammond and Memorymoog. Listen to Stonehenge 00:37 and Room of Desire.
Riccardo Cocciante is a well-known Italian pop singer and keyboardist with a long career and large discography that you don’t need to concern yourself with apart from his 1972 debut Mu, a very good symphonic prog concept album with excellent instrumental passages. A large number of musicians participate, including Joel Vandroogenbroeck (Brainticket) and Paolo Rustichelli (Rustichelli e Bordini).
This is the same Contrappunto that released the albums Subsidea (1998) and Lilith (2001), but this is called Contrappunto Project because it is the work of keyboardist Andrea Cavallo with the assistance of other musicians on flute, clarinet, bandoneon, trumpet, french horn, and sax. This is a very classical work, informed by rock and jazz, but with orchestral percussion rather than drums. As classical music, it tends toward the dark and ominous, not overly so, but it is a serious sounding work rather than a new agey one. Listen to Vivaci acrobazie and Oltre la luce.
Beppe Crovella is the keyboardist of Arti e Mestieri. What’s Rattlin’ on the Moon? (2010, digipack, 76-minutes) is subtitled “A personal vision of the music of Mike Ratledge”. Ratledge is best known as the keyboardist of Soft Machine. Ten tracks on this CD are interpretations of Ratledge compositions, six are originals. Crovella employs his full arsenal of vintage analog keyboards but no rhythm section, foregrounding Ratledge’s compositions. Read the AllMusic review at the mp3 icon above.
Daemonia is led by Claudio Simonetti, composer and keyboardist of the famous prog band Goblin. Surrounding himself with younger musicians, Daemonia are basically an updated and slightly heavier Goblin, and Zombi / Dawn of the Dead (2013, digipack) contains new arrangements of the Goblin soundtrack album. This CD was originally released in 2006 as part of the Live in Los Angeles DVD. It has three bonus tracks that include Roller and Toccata e Fuga (Bach’s Toccata and Fugue). Read reviews at Prog Archives.
The River (2013) is the debut solo album by veteran composer, multi-instrumentalist (guitar, bass, Stick, keyboards), engineer, and producer Marco De Angelis, joined by lead vocalist Marcello Catalano, drummer Cristiano Micalizzi, and five female backing vocalists. The River is a concept album with first-rate production, sounding completely professional. Musically we are in later Pink Floyd, Peter Gabriel, Fish, and Alan Parsons Project territory, thematically-linked songs that are progressive by virtue of their arrangements, the layered sonics and attention to detail. Read the Exposé and Background Magazine reviews. Watch the video for Black Stare.
Delirium released three albums in the early 1970s, with their 1974 third album III: Viaggio negli arcipelaghi del tempo usually considered to be the best and an Italian progressive classic. Lo Scemo e il Villaggio (1972) and Dolce Acqua (1971) are also excellent albums, with influences of Jethro Tull, The Moody Blues, Van der Graaf Generator, Italian folk, fusion, and more. See Prog Archives for reviews and mp3s. The mini-LP editions come in heavyweight gatefold sleeves with 8-page bilingual booklets. The 2-on-1 is a digipack on Warner Music combining Dolce Acqua and III: Viaggio negli arcipelaghi del tempo on a single CD.
Delirium disbanded in 1975 but reformed in 2003 with three original members plus a new bassist and new guitarist-vocalist. The 70-minute Vibrazioni Notturne was recorded at the end of summer 2006 and presents a mix of old classics revitalized, new material, and a couple of perfect covers for a live show: a Jethro Tull medley and With a Little Help from My Friends.
The first two studio albums for the Italian band known as Duty Free Area were Lavori In Corso (1996) and Duty Free Area (1999). These have been remastered and reissued as the 2CD set Kaleidoscope, with the addition of three live bonus tracks. Here D.F.A. play an intricate, mostly-instrumental symphonic fusion prog with lots of keyboards and spacey touches.
4th (64-minutes, digipack) is D.F.A.’s 2008 studio CD, and you’d be forgiven for thinking this is a new National Health album. It is that good. The music is written by the keyboardist and drummer, and this often results in a more structured, symphonic music than that written by guitarists. National Health is National Health because of Dave Stewart’s composing. The music is instrumental until the last quarter of the album, where there is one track with male vocals and the final track featuring the Sardinian female vocal trio Andhira. This final track is based on a Sardinian oral poem, and while it retains some of the National Health feel, it also branches out from there, with the traditional vocal polyphony and more delicate feel leaving one hoping for more of this in the future. Four cellists and a violin/viola player guest on two of the six tracks. Let’s hope another decade doesn’t pass before the next D.F.A. album, though this one is good enough to keep fans satisfied for a long time.
I Dik Dik began and ended as a pop group and in between made this 1972 album, their only progressive work, very melodic with lots of keyboards. Read reviews at Prog Archives. This is the 2011 mini-LP edition on Sony, which comes in a gatefold cardboard sleeve. Listen to Donna Paesaggio and Le Gambe.
Suono! (2013) is the second album for this Italian symphonic prog quartet singing in Italian. Their first album was released 12 years earlier only as a self-produced CD-R. But it reached the ears of PFM’s Franz Di Cioccio, who wanted Distillerie di Malto on his new label, and gave them the opportunity to open for PFM in 2003. Simply put, Suono! is classic progressive rock without compromises. Three of the eight songs were recorded some time earlier when Maurizio Di Tollo (drums) and Luca Latini (flute) were in the lineup. Listen to the track Il Guardiano (which at the time of this writing has the wrong title listed).
Doracor is an anagram/pseudonym for keyboardist and drummer Corrado Sardella. The fourth Doracor album Transizione (2001) was the breakthrough, trumping the earlier albums as Sardella is aided by seven other musicians, and the sound is that of a full band, with male and female vocals in Italian. It is one of the best symphonic prog albums that few have heard and is quite similar to the first album by the French band Hecenia. Though it does have most of the hallmarks of the Italian 1970s romantic progressive style, it is even more influenced by mid-period Genesis, while at times the energy level suggests later bands such as IQ. Evanescenze (2005) continues in this vein but is even better. Just male vocals this time around, but they are very strong, reminding one of Aton’s or even Locanda delle Fate at times.
Doracor has long since gone from being a solo vehicle for Sardella to being a full band, though Sardella still writes the music. Mixing three parts Genesis with one part classic Italian prog, Doracor have perfected their style with Onirika (2007) and created another wonderful symphonic prog album. Female vocals return on this album and the male vocals are downplayed (lyrics in Italian), but the album is heavily instrumental. This isn’t any less original than half the progressive rock being made today, and recognition for Doracor is long overdue.
On Lady Roma (2008), Sardella heads up a band that uses Taproban drummer Davide Guidoni on most tracks but features two guest drummers: well-known Italian drummer Vittorio Riva and some guy named Ian Mosley. The marriage of Genesis-style symphonics and Italian romanticism is still at the music’s core. This album sees Doracor expanding their sound some, always with pleasant atmospheres and, aside from the five instrumental tracks, warm Italian vocals. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
La vita che cade (2011, digipack) continues the string of great albums Doracor have made this century. The music is again a mix of Genesis, romantic Italian prog, and IQ-style neo-prog, with melodic sax a nice touch on several songs. The Genesis influence is not retro or copyist as with The Watch but rather takes off from the Wind and Wuthering period, using vintage keyboard sounds but not ignoring more modern instruments, not trying to sound like a tribute band. The classic Italian prog comes in mostly via the warm Italian vocals. This is a superb, well-crafted album: majestic, romantic, and stirring. You can find several songs on YouTube, start here.
Eternal Eclipse of Frost (1999) is Dunwich’s third and arguably best album. Here Dunwich play heavily orchestrated symphonic prog with gothic overtones, influences of medieval and renaissance music, beautiful crystalline female vocals in Italian with male choral vocals supporting. Their more esoteric instrumentation includes hurdy-gurdy, Celtic harp, and string quartet. Some of this even sounds like Loreena McKennitt gone progressive. Note that while this album is heavier than their previous two, Dunwich would next appear in 2008 with an almost entirely new lineup and more of a prog-metal style. Don’t judge this Dunwich by that one.
This is the 2008 debut (following two demos) for an Italian keys/bass/drums instrumental progressive trio that say they are united by their passion for Italian 1970s progressive bands such as Le Orme, Goblin, Metamorfosi, PFM, etc. Ego’s keyboardist also plays some flute. Some of the tracks sound like Ego are imitating Le Orme imitating ELP, while other tracks are jazzier, particularly one featuring a guest saxophonist. Still other tracks get away from these two styles into something a bit more original.
On Trip in the Light of the World (1991), this Italian prog band singing in English play high-energy, Marillion-style neo-prog. They followed with another neo-prog CD Fingerprint in 1993. This is the MALS edition of Fingerprint, produced under license from Mellow Records.
By the time of We Are (1995), Egoband’s style was in transition, with a lot of space rock on this album, some hard rock and emerging jazz-rock, while some of their original neo-prog style is still present.
On their fourth album Earth (1999), Egoband completely abandoned their earlier styles. Here they are more instrumental and much jazzier, with a sax and oboe player in the lineup and Rhodes piano dominating their sound. Their music now has more space to breath. There is still a fair amount of Italian symphonic prog blended with the fusion, the end result sounding like an Italian Canterbury style.
1994 Italian prog album. “The duo Rogani/Sburlati, who operate under the name of Syndone, have created a new band called Empire together with singer Rosanna De Luca. Because no guitar can be heard, this CD makes an ideal treat for lovers of keyboards. While the [contributions] of the Syndone duo are very symphonic, the voice of De Luca is rather an ordinary rock voice... Concerning the keyboard parts, it is mainly the inspiration of Keith Emerson that can be felt. It is also the main idea of Empire to create an up-to-date sound which can easily be heard on The Power. The influences remain, but Empire wants to get close to the sound of today by means of modern rhythms and the rock-flavored vocals. [The] balance between instrumentals and vocal tracks give a nice diversity to the album.” [John “Bo Bo” Bollenberg]
Despite the German band name, this 1996 recording is by an Italian band who you might swear is the same band as Aton’s, as their style is identical. So not surprisingly, we find that Aton’s singer/guitarist Pietro Ratto co-arranged all the songs and recorded the album in his studio. It happens that we like Aton’s style a lot. Like Aton’s, Endlich Allein take the Italian romantic progressive tradition of the 1970s and apply it to more contemporary rock, with their Italian language vocals and classical guitar as their trademarks. The music is filled with such brio, as befits the Italian culture and sunny Mediterranean climate -- nothing dark, brooding, or plodding here. Merge the feel of PFM’s Passpartu album with more electric instrumentation and more rock and you have Aton’s and Endlich Allein.
This 1972 album wasn’t released until 1990 when the band released it themselves on LP. Mellow Records followed with this jewel box CD edition in 1995. Another one-shot Italian wonder, this album is very good if not essential Italian progressive rock, with lots of Hammond, Moog, and flute, even a little violin. The vocals are shared amongst the band members, who were teenagers when this was recorded!
Equipe 84 was an Italian keys/guitar/bass/drums quartet, primarily a melodic pop band who, like I Giganti or I Dik Dik, dabbled in progressive rock for a time. The authoritative ItalianProg.com says that Id (1970) “is usually considered their most progressive album”, which is odd because 1974’s Sacrificio usually is. Franz Di Cioccio (later of PFM) is the drummer on Id. This is the 2011 mini-LP edition on Sony, which comes in a gatefold cardboard sleeve. For audio previews, start with La notte della verità or Un brutto sogno and search YouTube for more.
Despite the title, this is not a compilation but rather the 1973 sole album by Sicilian band Era di Acquario. The music is soft prog dominated by acoustic guitar and flute, sung in the Sicilian dialect, with a couple rockier songs in a New Trolls vein.
Eris Pluvia today is one of two splinter groups from the Eris Pluvia that recorded Rings of Earthly Light in 1991, the other group being Ancient Veil. Different Earths (mini-LP sleeve) is from 2016.
Fancyfluid are an Italian neo-prog band singing in English, greatly influenced by the 1980s English bands. After a relatively weak debut, Fancyfluid grew by leaps and bounds on King’s Journey (1992) and The Sheltering Sea (1995), moving closer to 1970s progressive. Rodolfo Maltese (Banco) and Pietro Ratto (Aton’s) contribute to King’s Journey.
This is the first solo CD by Alessandro Farinella, who founded Brainstorm / Theatre in 1987, one of the most important Italian neo-prog bands of the early 1990s. Momo is a refined, melodic progressive rock concept album. Farinella lists his influences as King Crimson, Genesis, Marillion, Yes, Steve Morse, and Anthony Philips. Much of Momo sounds like pop-rock songs dressed up in symphonic rock clothing, but as many musicians will tell you, it’s the arrangement that makes a song progressive. Three instrumentals remove the restraints and allow the progressive nature of the music full reign. Farinella is assisted by several other musicians. He sings in English, and we can’t help but feel that Italian vocals would have enhanced the feel, as English lyrics tend to make Italian prog sound more common and ordinary. Beautiful mini-LP style packaging.
On their 2002 debut, this Roman band play music between progressive rock and prog metal. They don’t really sound all that metallic or heavy, but their aesthetic is a lot closer to the modern prog metal bands than to the Italian prog rock tradition. Consequently, aside from a slight accent to their English vocals, there is nothing specifically Italian-sounding about them. But as modern international progressive rock, this is quite good, and probably a good bet for Rush fans. Read the DPRP review.
Faveravola is an Italian seven-man progressive band whose musicians have been active since the late 60s and early 70s, getting back together after more than 30 years. La Contea dei Cento Castagni (2006, 73-minutes) contains early 70s-style progressive rock with Italian-language vocals, keyboards (dominated by Hammond organ), violin, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, bass and drums. It is reminiscent of the softer sympho-prog of Le Orme, the medieval folk of Angelo Branduardi, and has hints of Procol Harum and The Moody Blues. (Faveravola contributed a track to Mellow Records’ Moody Blues tribute project.) There are no Four Holes in the Ground type displays of ensemble virtuosity or breakneck tempos, the music usually remaining fairly mellow, but it is instrumentally lush and evocative. Aldo Tagliapietra, Le Orme’s singer/bassist, provides narration on one track. Listen to La piana dei temoli del Livenza and Il Sogno.
The 1973 sole album by Festa Mobile is one of the upper-echelon Italian prog albums. The highlight is the keyboardist whose main instrument is piano, where he displays the kind of classical and jazz chops seldom heard in prog today. Three members of Festa Mobile went on to the more jazz-rock oriented Il Baricentro. Both of these editions are on Sony. The 2011 mini-LP edition comes in a gatefold cardboard sleeve; it is now out-of-print, so last copies. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
Fiaba is a Sicilian quintet with an operatic singer, playing a guitar-based progressive rock or prog-metal, generally dark and often heavy. They started out blending heavy prog with medieval folk, then later shifted toward prog-metal and a harder-edged sound. Their vocalist Giuseppe Brancato has that dramatic style descended from Demetrio Stratos (Area) or Alberto Piras (Deus Ex Machina).
I Racconti del Giullare Cantore is Fiaba’s 2005 studio album. This one restores some of the medieval/Mediterranean folk and fairy-tale qualities, with enough acoustic guitar to keep it interesting. As far as guitar-only bands go, Fiaba is unique in the world. This CD comes with a DVD (PAL, all-region) containing a very professional video of the first track of the album, with elaborate sets and costumes and credits that go on nearly as long as the video.
Stefano Panunzi is a key figure in that ambient & jazz inflected prog subgenre that may not yet have a name but can count musicians such as Richard Barbieri, Gavin Harrison, Tim Bowness (not to mention Henry Fool and No-Man), David Sylvian, and the late Mick Karn among its other leading lights. Panunzi is leader of the band Fjieri, who debuted in 2009 with Endless. All those musicians apart from Sylvian played on that album, alongside quite a few others. Words Are All We Have (2015, digipack) is Fjieri’s second, another Anglo-Italian project, the participants this time including Fjieri core member Nicola Lori, Bowness, Harrison, 05Ric, Jakko M. Jakszyk, Daniele Iacono (Ezra Winston), American expat trumpeter Mike Applebaum, and several others. Lori’s twisting fretless bass is a worthy successor to Mick Karn’s. Most of the songs have vocals, sung by Jakszyk except one by Bowness, and they are quality songs. Imagine the band Japan (at the end of their career) extrapolated into even more progressive realms, merging with King Crimson, No-Man, and the solo work of all these great musicians. Watch the album trailer. Check below for Panunzi’s solo CDs.
This 1972 album is a classic of guitar-oriented hard progressive rock, sung in Italian. Side 1 of the record is a 20-minute piece, with three shorter tracks on Side 2. This is actually the band’s second album, more progressive than their first which was released under the name Flea on the Honey. They changed their name to Etna for their third album, which saw a change in style to jazz-rock. Heavyweight gatefold mini-LP sleeve with 12-page bilingual booklet.
The 2003 record by this Italian band could have come straight out of the early 1970s British progressive scene. Floating State have numerous influences including Genesis, Jethro Tull, medieval and psychedelic folk, but the dominant one is Van der Graaf Generator circa Pawn Hearts or even earlier. One track alone, the 44-minute Pilgrimage to Nowhere, could be a lost Van der Graaf Generator album. Aside from that track, there are three shorter tracks and another epic at 22-minutes, for a total length of 75-minutes. This could be the best British 1970s progressive rock album released in another decade, in another country. (Would’ve been a double-LP though.)
This is the 2006 debut from an Italian psychedelic rock band singing in English, with a female vocalist on three tracks and the greater part of the album instrumental. The Mellow label mentions Syd Barrett’s Pink Floyd and Gong, which is fair enough on most of the tracks, though the vocal tracks are more modern than that and with more of a pop influence.
This Italian project is headed by Angelo Santo Lombardi, who released the wonderful I Giorni di Eurisko CD under his own name in 2005. Gan Eden is even better, more purely 1970s Italian symphonic prog in the tradition of the best of them. The previous Gan Eden CD Lavori in Corso (currently out-of-print) was probably the Italian symphonic prog album of 2007. Ritratto di Ballerina (2009) trades off some of the warmth and romantic flavor of Lombardi’s previous work for a more challenging and complex brand of Italian symphonic prog. It is again of very high quality, and the list of progressive rock keyboardists with piano chops like Lombardi’s is a short one. While this album is more instrumental, Lombardi has a tremendous voice and sings entirely in Italian here. As the AMS label says: “This record represents the artistic maturity of the Gan Eden project, that confirms itself as one of the best bands of the current prog scene.” Heavyweight gatefold mini-LP sleeve.
Additives is the 2004 second CD from this Italian band singing in English. The track Afterwards is a tribute to Van der Graaf Generator, and that is the best reference for their style, specifically the pre-Pawn Hearts VdGG style when they were at their most psychedelic. A short CD at 36:23.
Garden Wall began as a neo-prog band mixing Genesis influences with heavier styles, with vocals a la Peter Hammill. Their first album Principium is from 1993, their second Path of Dreams from 1994. These are the two to get, as beginning with the next album, the music became heavier, darker, more technical and less melodic, and this trend continued until Garden Wall had transformed into a completely unlistenable metal band. These CDs were originally released on the now defunct WMMS / Music Is Intelligence label. These are the MALS label editions. Here is an mp3 of the track The Bride of the Wind from Path of Dreams, courtesy of Prog Archives.
After their 1970 debut album under the name Gleeman, which had a 1960s sound, this band changed their name to Garybaldi, moving up musically as well as alphabetically. The first side of Nuda (1972) sounds mostly like an Italian Jimi Hendrix tribute band. The second side is taken up by a beautiful suite of Italian progressive rock, more instrumental, with only a few more references to the Hendrix style, far and away their best piece of music. Garybaldi were more guitar-oriented than the typical Italian progressive rock band, but still they were a quartet with a keyboardist. Beautiful heavyweight tri-fold mini-LP sleeve with 4-panel bilingual booklet.
Astrolabio (1973) consists of just two side-long pieces of guitar-dominated hard progressive. Their keyboardist is present on the album but was no longer a member of the band. Guitarist Bambi Fossati’s love of Hendrix is still evident. The spaciness and semi-improvisational nature of the music takes it close to the kosmic krautrock style of the era or to Grobschnitt’s Solar Music Live. Heavyweight gatefold mini-LP sleeve with 4-panel bilingual booklet.
The 2010 Note Perdute CD is a collection of rarities. It contains a track intended for inclusion on their Gleemen debut, some live and alternate versions recorded between 1969-1998, and three live tracks recorded during the 1973 Naples Be-In festival, one of very few documents of those legendary festivals, as in those days gigs in Italy were rarely recorded. The accompanying DVD (NTSC, all-region, 16:9) is a 70-minute Garybaldi rockumentary entitled Vicino in un Momento that includes interviews of all band members and many vintage videos from the golden age of Italian prog. Heavyweight tri-fold mini-LP sleeve.
A top-notch, charming, and very original Italian acoustic progressive band. They are a quartet of violin, bassoon, piano, and double-bass, with additional musicians on drums, percussion, clarinet, trumpet, trombone, organ, string quartet, and vocals, varying with each album. Sonically these are close to Le Orme’s two acoustic albums of the late 1970s, though less vocal and song-oriented. They all feature sophisticated arrangements, similar to After Crying’s chamber music pieces, Julverne, or an Italian Penguin Café Orchestra. Gioco del Mago (2000, 52-minutes) is their second.
Faust is the sixth Gatto Marte CD, recorded live in California in 2005. Gatto Marte toured the U.S. and Canada, performing an original soundtrack to the 1926 silent film Faust live while the film was shown. The music here is at times a little more, well, soundtrack-y than their other albums, and though the visual element would enhance the experience, the music still has the same charm. Faust has a playing time of 72-minutes. There is some hidden music at the end. After the film finishes, Gatto Marte play a couple Italian chestnuts in light-hearted fashion for the audience’s amusement.
Animali Rari is the second solo album from Pietro Lusvardi, the double bass player of Gatto Marte. It was recorded live in September 2002 and features Francesco D’Auria on drums & percussion and Michel Godard on tuba and serpent (an obsolete bass cornet). The rest of Gatto Marte joins in on one song. Most of this album is low-key and more ambient than Gatto Marte.
This little-known 1977 album was only privately released in its day. The AMS label reissued it on this 2011 CD, which comes in a heavyweight cardboard mini-LP sleeve and adds two bonus tracks. The label says: “Beyond the Life is a wonderful prog rock album, where the drummer blends Italian prog with an ultra-sophisticated jazz-rock. The influences are kaleidoscopic, with the opening track Angoscia that runs through the streets of jazz-prog at its best: Napoli Centrale, Osanna, and Perigeo. The title track could almost be described as a tribute to PFM, while All Recomposes is prog rock close to Yes and Genesis. The B side is a long suite which summarizes the influences cited before by adding flavors of Chick Corea, Dedalus, and Canzoniere del Lazio, but with extremely progressive drumming. A gem of rare beauty, finally rediscovered!”
Another one-off Italian progressive band, the ItalianProg.com site says that despite the name, Genco Puro & Co. was not a group but a solo artist from Sicily whose real name was Riccardo Pirolli. He played on Fetus, the first album by Franco Battiato, who in return helped Pirolli on this 1972 album. The album is mainly song-based, built on keyboards and guitars, with Battiato singing on the best two tracks, and seven of the 12 LP tracks composed by one Ed De Joy who, according to many sources, was Franco Battiato himself. The label says the album was remastered for this edition, which comes in a heavyweight gatefold mini-LP sleeve with 4-panel bilingual booklet. The two tracks from the band’s first single are included as bonus tracks.
Germinale are an Italian quintet plus guests playing a lyrical and refined progressive rock with classical and jazz touches, very good male vocals in Italian plus occasional female vocals. Lush and romantic, nothing heavy here. E Il Suo Respiro Ancora Agita le Onde (1995) is their second and is generally in the classic Italian 1970s prog style. It was one of the best Italian albums of the 1990s.
This 2008 CD is another in the long line of various artists progressive rock concept albums organized by the Finnish magazine Colossus and published by the French Musea label. Giallo!, subtitled One Suite for the Murderer, takes the 1975 Dario Argento film Deep Red as its subject matter. The story has been divided into three chapters, each assigned to a band to create a suite inspired by it. These suites average 24-minutes each, plus there is a short intro and outro performed by Alfio Costa on keyboards. Costa is also featured on the first track Visions of Helga (3:02 excerpt), performed by Dark Session, an offshoot of the Italian band Tilion. The other two bands are Leviathan with Vecchi Giochi and Floating State with Suite dall’Inconscio dell’Assassino (14:48 excerpt). The style is clearly influenced by Italian 1970s symphonic rock and relies on vintage keyboards. Now deleted, last copies.
GnuQuartet are Italy’s Acoustic Asturias, a quartet of violin, viola, cello, and flute, with rock sensibilities. In fact Karma (2014) consists of five prog rock covers plus one original composition. The covers are Peaches en Regalia (Frank Zappa), Roundabout (Yes), The Great Gig in the Sky (Pink Floyd), Hairless Heart (Genesis), and Concerto Grosso 1, Allegro (New Trolls), while the original Stereotaxis might just be the highlight. GnuQuartet are not entirely acoustic as there are occasional effects on the strings, and the percussive playing style is rock, not classical. Read the JustIn Case Prog Radio and Exposé reviews. Paul Whitehead provided the cover art. The CD comes in a simple printed sleeve and counts as only one-half CD for shipping.
The Italian progressive band Goad have been in existence since the 1980s and have several earlier, privately-released CDs that have rarely sold outside Italy. The Wood (80-minutes), subtitled Dedicated to H.P. Lovecraft’s Lyrics, was recorded 2004-2005 and released in 2006 on the Mellow label. Here Goad are influenced by early Genesis, but their style is distinct. They have a dark, mystical, under-produced sound, and they add a small amount of violin, trumpet, and French horn.
In the House of the Dark Shining Dreams (2006, 77-minutes) is their first CD for the Black Widow label, which is a good fit, as Goad play dark progressive rock firmly entrenched in the early 1970s. The feel of early Genesis, early King Crimson and mostly Van der Graaf Generator is present throughout. No points for spotting the last two influences, as the CD includes covers of 21st Century Schizoid Man and Killer. In addition to the analog keys, electric & acoustic guitar, bass, and drums, Goad toss in some flute, sax, and violin. Consistent with the change of label to Black Widow, the music here is darker and harder than on The Wood, and the production is murky. Maurilio Rossi has one of those voices like Mr. Doctor of Devil Doll that only a mother could love, but it’s his band and he can do what he likes. Read reviews of all the Goad CDs at Prog Archives.
Roller (1976) is one of two non-soundtrack albums for Goblin and is generally considered to be their best album. This is the 2012 jewel box edition on Cinevox (cat # CD OST 715/s).
Patrick (1979) is one of Goblin’s better-known soundtrack albums. “Soundtrack freaks and progressive rock fans alike take note: Essentially this space rock/prog recording stands out as an album in its own right -- a document of one of the more influential soundtrack groups of the ’70s.” [Allmusic] This is 2000 Cinevox edition (CD MDF 330).
This 2000 digipack CD on Cinevox is a compilation of the most famous pieces from the soundtracks of the films of director Dario Argento. Which means they’re mostly Goblin tracks, though Keith Emerson, Ennio Morricone, and others are represented. This edition adds four tracks to the original edition. Read review.
grantorinoProg (2011) is the debut by an instrumental Italian prog quartet (keys/guitar/bass/drums). The keyboards tie the music to classic prog, but while not prog-metal, the guitarist does play in a more contemporary style. The musicians come from more of a hard rock background but decided that prog was the one true path to enlightenment, so one can hear where Gran Torino are coming from in the music. It’s a quality prog album for the current generation though no threat to PFM, Banco, and the other great Italian bands. Read the Jerry Lucky review.
Gran Torino are much further down that path to enlightenment on their superior second album Fate of a Thousand Worlds (2013), a robust sympho-prog album with more refined compositions, more introspection as well as greater complexity. Read the Sea of Tranquility review. Listen to the title track and Child of the Stars.
The other Greenwall CD on Mellow, Elektropuzzles, is really a solo CD by keyboardist/composer Andrea Pavoni. While that one is symphonic new age, Il Petalo del Fiore is symphonic progressive with a full band. This CD kicks off with the 33-minute title suite, which was recorded in 1989. Given the opportunity to issue the suite, Greenwall decided to include some other tracks belonging to the same period, plus one track recorded between 1994 and 1998. The feel of this is close to Aton’s, joyful and romantic in the Italian progressive tradition, but more instrumental and more keyboard-oriented. You could also compare much of it to Rick Wakeman’s two collaborations with Mario Fasciano, and there’s a suggestion of Genesis circa Wind and Wuthering. Vocals in Italian. 63-minutes.
Gruppo 2001 were from Sardinia, which is like Italy, only different. Their 1972 sole album begins as typical Italian prog before switching to a more acoustic, Italian singer-songwriter style with proggy arrangements. This mini-LP sleeve edition is the 2012 AMS CD, which comes in a heavyweight gatefold sleeve with 8-page bilingual booklet. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
Heatwave is a male/female Italian duo of Massimo Mazzeo on 6 & 12-string acoustic guitars, electric guitar, and vocals; and Paola Buscaglia on vocals. Mazzeo is the founder of the band Nostalgia and has contributed to the Zarathustra’s Revenge Italian progressive tribute set. On this 1999 recording, they are assisted by a number of other musicians who add fretless bass, electric guitar, drums, keyboards, and a bit of harp and fiddle. It’s a blend of folky pop-oriented songwriting and expansive, progressive arrangements. The main features of the music are the acoustic guitar and the lovely female vocals, plus a big vibrant sound. Nothing earth shattering, but a very pleasant listen. The lyrics are in both English and Italian.
The band Höstsonaten was initially known also as Finisterre Project, because all the Finisterre members appear, but here Fabio Zuffanti has creative control. Their first album Höstsonaten (1997) is the closest sounding to Finisterre. Here is an mp3 from the track The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (foreshadowing the album of that name that would not appear until 2012). This is the MALS edition, produced under license from Mellow Records.
Their second Mirrorgames (1998) is an impressive and ambitious symphonic rock work with renaissance music influences via the liberal use of recorder, tin whistle, and flute, plus a five-member choir and multiple keyboards including Mellotron. Mirrorgames contains the seeds of many of the styles the prolific Zuffanti would go on to explore, including the styles of La Maschera di Cera, Aries, the Merlin rock opera, and the subsequent Finisterre albums. This is the 2010 remastered edition, which comes in a heavyweight gatefold mini-LP sleeve and adds a previously-unreleased bonus track plus new artwork. Here is an mp3 from the track Mirrorcloud.
Winterthrough (2008) comes in a heavyweight gatefold mini-LP sleeve. It is instrumental aside from a little spoken word, a 1970s-sounding blend of Genesis and Italian symphonic prog. The six-man lineup includes two keyboardists commanding a large arsenal, with Mellotron strings or choir usually forming the backbone of each track. In addition to synths and electric guitar, there is soprano sax, clarinet, and brass. Most of the tracks are deliberately paced. A wonderful work as has come to be expected from Zuffanti.
Springsong is the fourth and final chapter of Höstsonaten’s ‘SeasonCycle Suite’, but like Star Wars, things don’t come out in order. Springsong was originally released in 2001. The band consider this remastered mini-LP edition on AMS to be a new album based only in part on the first version. For starters, the artwork and booklet are new, and they are beautiful. Musically the 2001 album has been completely reworked, remixed and remastered. Fabio Zuffanti and Robbo Vigo added many new musical parts: new Mellotron parts played with a real Mellotron (the old parts were played with samplers); new bass parts throughout; new Moog, bass pedals and percussion parts; and a 13-minute bonus track: the acoustic suite Suite Bretonne, the track from which Springsong was born. As the label says: “If you love such works as Genesis’ Trespass or Anthony Phillips’ The Geese and the Ghost, you will certainly welcome this album enthusiastically. If you like acclaimed bands such as Clannad, Nightnoise, and Moving Hearts, bands who usually play on the edge of several musical worlds, you will find the good vibrations you need. But you will also feel at home if you are searching for jazzy and traditional echoes from other European latitudes. For this adventurous trip, Fabio Zuffanti united some former Finisterre members -- Stefano Marelli, Agostino Macor, Boris Valle, Francesca Biagini -- as well as some very talented musicians who normally approach rock music in a different way -- Sergio Caputo, Federico Foglia, Edmondo Romano (ex-Eris Pluvia/Ancient Veil). The result is a blend of powerful modern sounds and traditional instruments that give Springsong a unique and original flavor. With Springsong, Fabio Zuffanti offers us his most painstaking recording, a work which shows the maturity he has reached and that goes beyond the fences that sometimes enclose the progressive rock world.” Heavyweight gatefold mini-LP sleeve.
Autumnsymphony is the 2009 installment in Höstsonaten’s ‘SeasonCycle Suite’ and again comes in a heavyweight gatefold mini-LP sleeve. It is again instrumental aside from wordless female vocals on one track. This is very much a symphony performed with prog rock instrumentation as well as violin, viola, cello, flute, trumpet, oboe, and more. There is lots of Mellotron and touches of the ambient jazz one can hear in Zuffanti’s other recent projects. It all feels late autumn, leaves off the trees, heading into winter, as the mood is very melancholy and often somber. The way Zuffanti blends the classical and rock elements is seamless and very sophisticated.
Summereve (2011) completes the SeasonCycle Suite. Though the last to appear, this is conceptually the first of the four, as all the main melodies of the cycle are introduced. “Fabio’s four-part work is a towering, ambitious achievement that has been almost 10 years in the making. It’s a fanciful, ornate and diverse opus. Summereve is both a remarkable conclusion and an astonishing beginning. It is as elaborate as it is compelling, with micro-dynamics eddying and rippling through the soundstage at every moment. Every touch of every string and every key is perfectly measured and scrupulously recorded but unerring in its drive to elicit an emotional and imaginative connection with the whole. It points us towards something greater than ourselves. It opens our ears, our hearts and our minds. I cannot ask for anything more.” Read the entire DPRP review. Heavyweight gatefold mini-LP sleeve.
The idea of making a musical transposition of the famous Samuel Taylor Coleridge poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner was conceived by Fabio Zuffanti back in 1995 but postponed until The Rime of the Ancient Mariner Chapter One (2012). This CD contains the first four parts of the opus, while the final three parts will appear on Chapter Two, planned for 2013. The label says: “The music is, if possible, more symphonic, theatrical and majestic than ever, with touches of Celtic music, hard/new-prog and much more, developed in five long compositions. The vocal duties rely on five different vocalists, with the aim to explore, interpret and give the listener the emotions of the dark and dreamy poem by Coleridge. Zuffanti’s guests in this new adventure are Maurizio di Tollo (drums), Luca Scherani (keyboards), Matteo Nahum (guitars), Edmondo Romano (sax, bagpipe), Sylvia Trabucco (violin), and Joanne Roan (flute), while Alessandro Corvaglia (La Maschera di Cera), Carlo Carnevali, Davide Merletto (Daedalus), Marco Dogliotti, and Simona Angioloni (Aries) sing on this magnificent work.” Heavyweight gatefold mini-LP sleeve.
Ibis were one of two offshoots of New Trolls, being the same band as Nico, Gianni, Frank, Maurizio, whose album Canti d’innocenza, Canti d’esperienza was actually released with no band name due to legal wrangling over the use of ‘New Trolls’. Drummer Gianni Belleno then left and was replaced by Ric Parnell from Atomic Rooster, and the band now known as Ibis released Sun Supreme (1974), one of the great Italian progressive rock albums, sung entirely in English. Heavyweight gatefold mini-LP sleeve with 8-page bilingual booklet.
Esperia is the 2002 third album by this Italian quintet (vocals, two guitars, bass, drums) with guests supplying keys, flute, and violin. There is an acoustic folk element as on their first album, but this is primarily energetic progressive rock on the hard and heavy side. While Imagin’aria do have an influence of 1970s Italian progressive, their overall approach is more contemporary. They’re not quite as symphonic as some of the best-known Italian bands. Their sound is more weighted toward guitars, but not metal or hard rock guitar. Rather they subtly blend in folk and fusion influences in the Italian progressive tradition. Excellent vocals in Italian. La Tempesta is their 1999 second album. This is the MALS label edition of Esperia.
Indaco are something of an Italian supergroup, formed in 1997 by six musicians from different backgrounds, with the goal of fusing the melodic warmth of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern traditions with the impact of a big rock sound. Indaco mix the sunny Mediterranean feel of PFM’s Passpartu album or Banco’s more acoustic tracks with folk and Middle Eastern melodies, with ethnic instruments sitting alongside rock instruments. Of bands that could be lumped into the world music category, Indaco are among our very favorites, though clearly they transcend that genre -- much of this is Italian progressive rock with more emphasis on acoustic instruments.
The Indaco lineup includes Banco guitarist Rodolfo Maltese, Mario Pio Mancini (bouzouki, violin), keyboardist Carlo Mezzanotte (who has his own fusion band), drummer Pierluigi Calderoni (Banco), bassist Luca Barberini and percussionist Arnaldo Vacca. Guests on Amorgós include Lester Bowie, Francesco Di Giacomo (Banco), Vittorio Nocenzi (Banco), Mauro Pagani (PFM) and more. Guests on Vento del Deserto include Pagani, Di Giacomo, Toni Esposito, and more. These are the mini-LP sleeve reissues (with new covers) of Indaco’s second CD Amorgós (1999, 74-minutes) and first CD Vento del Deserto (1997, 54-minutes). Both CDs come in heavyweight gatefold mini-LP sleeves with bilingual booklets including extensive liner notes compiled by Rodolfo Maltese. Both include one live bonus track.
This is the 2008 debut from an atypical Italian band playing modern psychedelic progressive along the lines of (most of the albums by) Brazilians Violeta de Outono or Italians LaZona. The music is guitar-dominated, varying from dreamlike to moderately heavy. There is some Fender Rhodes, organ and synth that tend to be used only as spacey backdrop. There are some vocals in Italian that function as part of the instrumental palette rather than as traditional lead vocals. The 13+ minute track that concludes the CD seems to be everyone’s favorite, as it bears some resemblance to Porcupine Tree or The Pineapple Thief in instrumental psychedelic mode.
This 1973 record is one of the rarest Italian prog LPs, recorded on a miniscule budget that didn’t even allow for second takes (and the band members were probably in a studio for the first time). The mini-LP edition is the 2012 AMS CD, which comes in a heavyweight cardboard sleeve with 4-panel bilingual booklet. The jewel box is the earlier Mellow Records edition. Read reviews at Prog Archives. Listen to the title track.
Latte e Miele was one of the more classically-influenced Italian symphonic prog bands. They released three albums during the 1970s that are generally regarded as Italian progressive classics. Passio Secundum Mattheum (1972) is the first of those. Read the VintageProg.com reviews. This is the jewel box edition on Polydor.
This instrumental Italian quintet features Fabio Zuffanti of Finisterre. Le Notti Difficili (2002) consists of one 45-minute track divided into four parts. It lulls you into a false sense of serenity, starting ambient and featuring an ambient, heavily-reverbed style of trumpet. But it steadily builds to a powerful, Mellotron-drenched climax reminiscent of Anekdoten and Godspeed You Black Emperor.
This is the 2001 debut by an instrumental Italian progressive band featuring two guitarists, bass, and drums, augmented by violin, flute, and sax. There are several styles present. The first track is wild in a King Crimson way, with the sax making its only appearance and the violin adopting a David Cross tone. Several tracks emphasize structured Ozrics-style instrumentals, while two others are beautiful, pastoral acoustic tracks. Although there are two guitarists, they are generally not playing in a hard rock style. They complement each other well, providing a sufficient variety of textures and effects to compensate for the absence of keys and to keep things sounding progressive and spacey.
La Locanda del Vento (2010, 60-minutes) is the fourth studio CD by arty Italian folk-rock band Lingalad, their first for prog label Lizard. The band’s first album was a Tolkien-inspired affair, after which their lyrics shifted to themes of nature mysticism. Since those lyrics are in Italian, we’re not really sure where Lingalad are now -- storytelling of some sort to be sure, but the music transcends the lyrics. While the bulk of the instrumentation is acoustic, the band has a drummer and uses electronic keyboards, and the music certainly has stylistic elements of progressive rock as well as Celtic and medieval music. They often achieve a genteel grandeur that fans of Rock Progressivo Italiano have heard before in the folkier songs of Le Orme, PFM, Banco and others. The second half of the album seems proggier than the first, so hopefully that’s the direction Lingalad continue in, now that they have the right label for it.
Mysterious Dream (1981) is the second of two releases for Living Life. It followed a six year intermission, as their debut Let: From Experience to Experience was released in 1975. The lineup on the two albums is very different. Mysterious Dream is the more cohesive of the two, more keyboard-based, with both a flute player and an oboe player in the lineup. The music is very good and fairly original, a mix of symphonic prog and melodic jazz-rock, mostly instrumental, with vocals in English. Let: From Experience to Experience is a blend of jazz, rock and ethnic music, instrumental except for one vocal track in English.
The label’s description: Not the same old Italian school band but equally delicate and full of romanticism, not unlike Le Orme or Quella Vecchia Locanda with touches of Pink Floyd and Renaissance. Living Stilts’ debut Shipwreck (2014, mini-LP sleeve) is a concept album sung in English that centers on a vessel’s sinking. Listen to Facing the Winds of Doom.
Locanda delle Fate’s 1977 debut Forse le Lucciole non si Amano Più is simply one of the greatest Italian progressive albums and is as essential as they come. It breaks our heart to think that some people might go through their entire life without hearing this album, so the price now is quite affordable. One bonus track. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
This 2014 CD is the third for Italian band LogoS, but their previous albums were released back in 1999 and 2001 (and are currently out-of-print). So L’enigma della Vita (76-minutes) is a new beginning for LogoS. Suffice to say, this CD is exactly what fans of Italian symphonic prog crave, and there is a spacey element that gives LogoS distinctiveness. “Logos’ L’Enigma della Vita is one for the ages, a scintillating example of modern RPI, caramelized with grandiose symphonic elements, a touch of space/psychedelia, massive hues of shadow and light, as well as all the characteristics that make RPI such a devout prog institution... The material is exemplary, highly layered and intensely emotional on a multitude of levels, a recording that will definitely stand the test of time.” Read the rest of this and other reviews at Prog Archives. Watch the promo video and more songs/videos.
London Underground began as four experienced Italian musicians who played for a number of bands in studio sessions, among them the psychedelic/prog band Standarte. Through a Glass Darkly (2003) is their second album and is in an early-1970s progressive or proto-prog style. Their sound emphasizes “dirty” Hammond organ, piano, and vocals, coupled with guitar using a period tone, and occasional Mellotron, clavinet, or Fender Rhodes. With sax, flute, and female vocals from guest musicians, London Underground offer eleven concise prog songs here. Like fellow Italians Men of Lake, this may remind you of Atomic Rooster, Arthur Brown, Manfred Mann, Argent, the early Canterbury scene, early Pink Floyd, and the Italian progressive bands of the 1970s, but their style never really comes further forward than about 1971. Read the Progressive World and DPRP reviews.
On Honey Drops (2010), London Underground are an instrumental keyboard power trio plus guests on sax, guitars, viola, and still more keyboards. They are still trapped along with Austin Powers in a time bubble that protects them from the post-1971 musical world. The powerful Hammond organ is dominant, in the style of Vincent Crane of Atomic Rooster. But on several songs, London Underground add Mellotron strings for extra prog points -- you have to hear the Mellotron version of the theme from Midnight Cowboy on this CD. That’s not the only cover; there are also covers of songs by Jethro Tull, Arzachel, The Beatles, Eden Rose, and Brian Auger. How else to put it, this CD is just fun. The energy is infectious, and you feel like you’re in a London club as the most creative period in rock history is beginning to explode.
The Lost Generation is the prog rock project of Matteo Bevilacqua, whose regular gig is in London-based metal band Diaries of a Hero. The Lost Generation (2014, digipack) was recorded in Italy though. The album is sung in English, with both male and female vocals. Lots of acoustic or clean guitar tones and ample space in the arrangements ensure that this is far from metal, even though it does occasionally rock hard. Though the music is Anglo-sounding and not related to PFM or Banco, it does have beauty, warmth, and fragility that may have something to do with being in Italy rather than London. Very nice. Listen to Ladder to the Stars.
Simon Luca was an assumed name for singer/songwriter Alberto Favata, who has one of those gravelly Joe Cocker voices. His albums are pop/rock with some progressive touches. His second Per proteggere l’enorme Maria (1972) has several name Italian musicians in the backing band.
Macromarco, alias Marco Grieco, apart from being the composer of the famous Odissea musical, is also a great lover of Italian prog, and his 2009 debut Il pianeta degli uomini liberi (The World of Free Men) follows directly in the footsteps of the best melodic/romantic Italian prog giants such as PFM. While deeply rooted in that tradition, this is not a retro album. Rather, it is the album PFM might make today in a perfect world, with contemporary production but not contemporary compromises. Marco’s Italian-language vocals are excellent, and it is impossible to tell that this is the work of one man just by listening to the music. Marco does depart from the Italian tradition on a few occasions to rip through some classic Genesis-style instrumentals. This is just a beautifully-crafted Italian symphonic prog album, full of gorgeous melodies as only the Italians can do, and pretty much required listening for fans of the genre. Heavyweight gatefold mini-LP sleeve with 12-page booklet containing the lyrics with English translations; 60-minutes. Read the review by veteran Polish journalist Artur Chachlowski.
This Roman band released their first album in 1993. Diamanti (1999), their second, manages to be very much in the Italian 1970s progressive style of PFM, Banco, and Locanda delle Fate, without losing its contemporary edge. Here are those characteristic lush, warm Italian vocal melodies and harmonies. The music is lyrical and romantic, with both delicate and powerful passages, compositions and arrangements approaching the level of the best Italian progressive bands.
Malibran are a six-man Italian band with a 1970s-oriented style featuring lots of flute. They were one of a handful of bands keeping the progressive torch burning in Italy at the start of the 1990s, just before the explosion of new prog bands. Think of a cross between Genesis, Camel, Tull, and all those Italian 70s bands, and you get the idea. The Wood of Tales plus is the CD reissue of Malibran’s 1990 first album plus three bonus tracks averaging seven minutes each. This album is sung in English.
Malibran sang half their 1993 second album La Porte del Silenzio in English, half in Italian. Their third album La Città sul Lago (1998) is sung entirely in Italian, and Malibran would wisely continue this on later albums. Oltre l’Ignoto (2001) is even closer to classic Italian prog than their earlier albums and may be their best, partly because of the Italian-language vocals, also because the music is more symphonic, with fewer touches of hard rock.
Strani Colori is subtitled Rare Tracks 1989-2002 and features Jethro Tull, Jeff Beck, and Camel covers in addition to previously-unreleased live and studio tracks.
In Concerto is a 72-minute live CD featuring a 1997 concert in Sicily.
Il Gabbiano Jonathan is the title of the Italian translation of Richard Bach’s 1970 novella Jonathan Livingston Seagull. Rodolfo Maltese, the guitarist of Banco del Mutuo Soccorso, recorded this concept album in 1987, prior to forming Indaco. Rodolfo’s band on this CD includes a keyboardist, bassist, percussionist, sax player and, on drums, Walter Martino (Ritratto di Dorian Gray, Reale Accademia di Musica, Goblin). Guests include keyboardist Vittorio Nocenzi (Banco), singer Riccado Cocciante and others. However, the album was not released until this 2009 CD. As the label says, Il Gabbiano Jonathan is a wonderful record, mainly instrumental and focused on Rodolfo’s great guitar playing. You can find the first ethnic Mediterranean sounds that became typical for Indaco, some laidback and high-class Italian jazz-rock, and some more epic and guitar-solo focused tracks. It is an important missing link between Banco and Indaco. Heavyweight gatefold mini-LP sleeve.
La Maschera di Cera’s self-titled 2002 debut is a perfect recreation of a 1970s Italian symphonic prog album, right down to the production. Think PFM, Museo Rosenbach, Banco, Locanda delle Fate, Osanna, RDM, and all the rest. Close your eyes and it’s 1972. This mini-LP sleeve edition adds four bonus tracks and comes in a heavyweight gatefold sleeve.
In Concerto was recorded live in 2003 and features the entire first La Maschera di Cera album and part of the second. The jewel case is the 2005 Mellow Records edition.
Check below for the related band L’Ombra della Sera.
The work of keyboardist Marco Cinti, Above and Beyond (2010, 65-minutes) is keyboard prog heavily influenced by Genesis. Sure the production is project studio quality, and Cinti won’t get any gigs as a singer, but he has the Tony Banks writing and playing style down, making this a guilty pleasure for the Genesis fan. Comparisons to The Watch are natural, and it’s interesting how two Italian artists so influenced by Genesis can end up sounding quite distinct from each other. Because of Master of Ceremony’s Tony Banks orientation, this CD leans more toward the Trick of the Tail and Wind and Wuthering era, while The Watch tend not to stray beyond the Gabriel era. Also, Master of Ceremony is not as complete a Genesis clone as The Watch is. There is a little more originality here, but you’ll still hear some rather familiar bits too. Cardboard sleeve, counts as only one-half CD for shipping.
A great find for the White Knight label (co-owned by Magenta’s Rob Reed), who expand their range with Materya’s Case (2012, digipack). Materya are Italians Andrea Stagni (piano/keyboards, guitars, bass, vocals) and Betty Copeta (vocals), with the assistance of drummers Claudio Trotta (Deus ex Machina) and Marcello Bellina. (There are drums on 7 of 12 tracks.) Stagni, Copeta, and Bellina are all members of Italian prog band AltaVia. Materya is to AltaVia as Aries is to La Maschera di Cera. Betty has a gorgeous, crystalline voice, delivering lyrics in both English and Italian. Stagni also sings, and as a keyboardist sounds influenced by Tony Banks / Genesis. It’s mandatory to mention Renaissance in all cases of prog with pure, female vocals, and we comply, but references to Magenta and Karnataka are also apt. This is a beautiful album, with Materya’s version of Stella Splendens the highlight. Stella Splendens is a late medieval song that appeared in a manuscript from 1399 or thereabouts. The song has been recorded by just about every band doing medieval music, including Adaro, Blackmore’s Night, and Companyia Elèctrica Dharma, but Materya’s arrangement is the best we’ve heard, with a slab of Genesis sympho-prog inserted.
(Ec)citazioni Neoclassiche (2005, 61-minutes) is the third album for this band from Turin, following two private releases. It sounds like it came straight out of the 1970s, not so surprising though for a band that traces it roots to 1979. Le Orme is probably their biggest influence. Maury E I Pronomi aren’t quite on that level, but most fans of classic Italian prog will enjoy this.
2010 is the first time on CD for this 1981 Italian instrumental prog album, the only album for Mediterranea. Collectors know this record because it was issued on vinyl in Japan. It’s quite good and quite distinctive, blending rock with a Mediterranean folk feel not unlike PFM’s Passpartu, albeit without the vocals. Listen to Vai Facile, Sonata, Madama Terra, and A Sazietà. Heavyweight mini-LP sleeve.
Men of Lake are an Italian progressive band emphasizing a nostalgic style and vintage Hammond organ sound on their earlier albums such as Men of Lake (1991) and Out of the Water (1994), closer to British bands such as Cressida and Gracious than to the Italian symphonic bands. Music from the Land of Mountains, Lake and Wine (1998) is more adventurous and diverse than their previous albums, featuring wind instruments (sax, flute, brass) on some tracks. The organ sound is now accompanied by modern keyboards and there is more room for guitar.
After years out-of-print, this is the mini-LP sleeve reissue of Fabio Zuffanti’s 2000 double-CD Merlin: The Rock Opera. Zuffanti began the writing process of this album in 1998. It laid the foundation for the La Maschera di Cera albums and Höstsonaten’s SeasonCycle suite. The lyrics are in English. The album has been remixed and remastered, and the Mellotron samples were replaced with the real instrument. The heavyweight gatefold mini-LP sleeve packaging includes new sleeve notes and photos.
“One of many Italian groups formed during the 1970s that proposed religious-inspired lyrics over a soft rock background, Messaggio 73 released with their 1975 LP Una ragione per vivere one of the best examples of this style. The group was formed near Lecco in 1973 and had a long activity with their show E la luce fu, performed all over Italy until 1984. The group was led by composer and violinist Giuseppe Mazzoleni (not credited as a group member), who wrote all the music for the LP. The album contains a mix of soft rock tracks with religious lyrics and some classical-inspired instrumental tracks such as the opener Concerto Pop and a reworking of Adagio by Albinoni.” [italianprogrock.com] This 2012 2CD reissue includes a second CD featuring the complete E la luce fu show recorded in 1975, plus extended liner notes and unreleased band pictures. Listen to Adagio, E la luce fu, and L’ultimo Giorno. (The last two are the A and B sides of a single and appear on the CD as bonus tracks.) Heavyweight gatefold mini-LP sleeve.
Over Reality (2016, digipack) is the debut by an Italian synth-centric prog band singing in English, with a tremendous singer who sounds like Bono of U2. They could easily pass for a British band, and their music and videos are highly professional. Interestingly, the album was mastered in the U.S. In an era of sameness and mediocre singers (in prog anyway), Metadrive don’t sound like every other band, rather their music sounds like a symphonic space-rock take on 1980s British/Irish pop. Watch the short album teaser and the official video for Mankind Theme. You can hear much of the album during this radio interview.
Metamorfosi had its beginnings in Rome in 1971 and recorded two of the classic Italian progressive rock albums: E fu il Sesto Giorno (1972) and Inferno (1973). Inferno was based on Dante’s Divine Comedy. Inferno comes in a heavyweight gatefold mini-LP sleeve with 8-page bilingual booklet.
Mindfloater (2001) is a classy and fairly original symphonic progressive album from an Italian band singing in English. They sound much more like a British prog band than an Italian one though, with a slight Pink Floyd and Genesis influence, some spaciness, and a predominance of dreamy and intimate pieces. Mindfloater is more rock-oriented than Mindflower’s 1995 debut Purelake, with a richer sound palette. It isn’t retro but it isn’t particularly modern either. It’s more of a contemporary take on classic progressive, using synths, piano, and delicate guitar, emphasizing beauty over heaviness. The album has a lot of instrumental content, with male vocals the rest of the time and female vocals on only a couple tracks.
The Fabio Antonelli Ensemble is essentially the same band as Mindflower but with a shift to a more acoustic, chamber music sound. The Art of Dreams in a Little Bottle (1998) contains neo-classical music with progressive instrumental breaks and a song or two. Classical guitar and female vocals dominate the six member band, who are accompanied by a five piece chamber orchestra and eight member choir. Read the Prog Archives review.
Little Enchanted Void (2009) is exactly 80-minutes long. This album sounds like a further development of the style of The Art of Dreams in a Little Bottle. Some of the album was recorded at Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studios, and there is a strong Peter Gabriel feel throughout, particularly vocally. It is even closer to the work of the American band Product, characterized by a predominance of intimate, low-key passages with subtle details, bursting out into full-blown sections, occasionally with extreme dynamics. Relative to Product, Mindflower show a stronger classical influence as should be expected from Italians, with wonderful string arrangements on some pieces. This is sophisticated progressive music that doesn’t go down the same very well-beaten path. Read the Sea of Tranquility review. Links to more reviews can be found by clicking the mp3 icons above.
Minstrel debuted in 2000 with Faust, an excellent concept album of romantic symphonic rock somewhat in the vein of Atons, between classic Italian symphonic prog and neo-prog. Minstrel have a very good operatic male vocalist singing in Italian.
Minstrel’s second CD Ahab (2009, 60-minutes) is heavier and more bombastic, with more of a metallic edge than Faust. It is quite ambitious, with an orchestral arrangement on one track at least. The highlight is the classically-influenced piano work one expects from an Italian prog band, and the operatic vocals. The label says: “This concept CD is dedicated to the mortal journey of Captain Ahab as told in Melville’s Moby Dick, and is characterized by classic guitar riffs, hard rock rhythms, and the astounding lyrical vocals. In Ahab, the typical concept opera meets theatre, operatic melodies, heavy sounds and typical Italian prog rock. The story of the captain of the Pequod is told by dramatic metal passages, romantic piano interludes, Pink Floyd-ish guitar solos, and long opera melodies (with Italian lyrics). This is a unique gem of Italian prog rock.” Heavyweight gatefold mini-LP sleeve, with poster included.
Mogador are an Italian prog band from Como with one English expat, drummer/singer/lyricist Richard Allen. They were a quartet on their self-titled 2009 debut (out-of-print), continuing as a trio handling the same instruments on All I Am Is of My Own Making (2010). Mogador matured a great deal on AIAIOMOM. The production is greatly improved and the music is more original, eclectic, and multi-faceted. The departure of the guitarist who played on the debut is a positive development, as he preferred a heavier style. There is a strong Yes influence on AIAIOMOM, but overall the music feels closer to Glass Hammer (who are also very Yes influenced), with a good balance between electric and acoustic guitars, alongside mostly vintage keyboard sounds. The first two CDs are both primarily 1970s-styled though not entirely retro, more so AIAIOMOM with its greater sophistication and elegance. Read the Classic Rock Presents Prog review.
Absinthe Tales of Romantic Visions (2012) shows an evolution in style, sounding like it came straight out of the early 1970s, not Italy but Britain. This album features four international guest singers including Jon Davison (Yes, Glass Hammer) and two female singers. Absinthe... has a lot of hard-edged guitar, but still a 70s guitar tone. While one could mention Crimson, Gentle Giant, Tull, Van der Graaf, Yes, and Genesis, the music reminds us more of first generation American prog bands such as Netherworld, Mirthrandir, etc., who likewise absorbed the styles of those British bands and created albums of great quality. Listen to the album preview and the short song The Sick Rose.
The title of Mogador’s fourth CD Chaptersend (2017) refers to the closing of the first chapter of the band. They say that this new 74-minute disc has two distinct parts. The first part picks up where Absinthe Tales of Romantic Visions left off, with Jon Davison again singing on one song. The second part comprises completely reworked versions of the Fundamental Elements Suite from Mogador’s out-of-print 2009 first CD. Mogador have expanded to a quintet here, plus guests on violin and flute.
Check below for the related band Sarastro Blake.
With their debut Il Tempo di Far la Fantasia (1992), Montefeltro made one of the very best second-generation Italian symphonic prog albums, right up there with Eris Pluvia. Read reviews at Prog Archives. This mini-LP version is the 2009 limited edition released by the MALS label under license from Musea, which comes in a heavyweight cardboard sleeve.
This 1970 album was one of the rarest Italian progressive albums on vinyl, and among the first. As such, it bridges 1960s psychedelia and progressive rock, using light organ and very melodic vocals a la New Trolls. This Mellow Records reissue adds the tracks from their singles, so it contains the band’s entire output.
In the Abstract (2010) is the first full-length CD for Mytho, following a 2008 debut EP. They sing in English and go for an Anglo prog style along the lines of Saga and British neo-prog (Jadis come to mind), with some Pink Floyd influence and a pop element (Tears for Fears maybe). John Payne (Asia, GPS) sings lead on one song. A quartet, Mytho have no keyboardist but instead have two guitarists who both play some guitar synth. Mytho’s sound is suitably lush; in fact, the prevailing style is on the soft side. Heavyweight gatefold mini-LP sleeve.
Narrow Pass is an outstanding Italian symphonic prog group consisting of ex-Eris Pluvia members, with La Maschera di Cera’s vocalist and a very good female singer recruited for the (English-language) vocals. Their 2006 debut A Room of Fairy Queen’s however is about half instrumental, much of it in the majestic and soaring Camel and Genesis vein. Some tracks are enriched with flutes, bagpipes, soprano sax, and classical guitar, which give the music a warm, renaissance flavor.
In this World and Beyond (2009) is their second and another beautiful album. The core of the group now is multi-instrumentalist Mauro Montobbio and singer Valeria Caucino, fleshed out by nine guest musicians including most of the musicians from the first album. Caucino’s role has been expanded, and our short description of the band now is Loreena McKennitt meets IQ. That is, there are two major styles present. There is symphonic rock that tends to be instrumental, some of it very close to the majestic IQ style, some closer to Eris Pluvia. Then there is the delicate and more acoustic material which is where the beautiful female vocals tend to occur, with some support from male vocals. There is a British Isles folk influence here, and it’s where you’ll find flute, whistle, and violin used.
Flautist Roberto Natullo leads a large ensemble of Italian musicians in a spirited romp through jazz-rock, progressive, Celtic and ethnic folk territories. This is exuberant music, using lots of acoustic instruments with flute in the lead.
This is a 2000 CD of retro-sounding Italian progressive rock sung in Italian from a keys/guitar/bass/drums quartet, with the keyboardist adding a little trombone. “The name N.A.V.E. is an acronym for ‘Nuovo Avanguardia Voci Etniche’ (or ‘New Vanguard of Ethnic Voices’). Their sole album, Le Quattro Stagioni (The Four Seasons), is reminiscent of Le Orme’s Felona e Sorona with hints of Collage. The compositions are organ-based and feature many mood changes, nice solos and interesting dynamics and developments, while the trombone adds a personal touch to their sound. All vocals are in Italian and the production is quite good. Nice addition to any Italian symphonic prog collection but especially recommended to fans of Le Orme.” [Prog Archives]
This 2008 release on the Black Widow label is the debut album of Giorgio C. Neri from Genova. Neri plays most of the instruments: electric & acoustic guitar, bass, mandolin, dulcimer, keyboards and flute, with the assistance of a drummer and guests on flute and vocals. The label says that Logos is a tribute to the artists that influenced Neri, “a path through tradition, music created according to the aesthetic and the sounds of the 1970s.” One such influence would have to be PFM, particularly on the one track with vocals, which are in Italian. Apart from a little spoken word, the rest of the album is instrumental. Hawkwind, Ozric Tentacles or Gong appear to be influences on other tracks, and the album as a whole covers the spectrum between the romantic symphonic prog style and the space-rock style. Of the other influences Neri lists on his MySpace page, Mike Oldfield, Osanna, and Genesis are probably the most relevant, but no one influence dominates. And while Neri’s influences are primarily from the 1970s, this is not a strictly retro album. Overall, Logos is excellent and sounds indistinguishable from a full band. Digipack.
Leo Nero was a pseudonym used by Gianni Leone, keyboardist and leader of Il Balletto di Bronzo, for the solo career he embarked on following the demise of Il Balletto. Despite a few commercial pop songs, Vero (1977) is quite a good progressive rock album, sometimes reminiscent of Il Balletto di Bronzo. Leone sings and plays everything himself including drums and a little guitar, with keyboards dominating.
New Trolls are an Italian progressive band with a relatively long (and convoluted) career. Searching for a Land (1972) is sung in English and was originally a double-LP, with the second half recorded live. It’s all here on a single CD, and although the album is disjointed, there’s at least one album’s worth of good material. Heavyweight gatefold sleeve with 12-page bilingual booklet.
UT (1972) is perhaps New Trolls’ most popular album, but you can hear the band pulling in two different directions, one progressive and one heavy rock. An uneven album, but the good material is really good! Heavyweight gatefold sleeve with 12-page bilingual booklet.
FS (1981) is from the band’s pop phase, but at least the disco of the previous couple albums was gone. The opening track Il Treno (6:16) is excellent symphonic prog, which cruelly raises one’s expectations, as the rest of the album varies from OK to dreadful. Heavyweight gatefold sleeve with 8-page bilingual booklet.
This group was an offshoot of New Trolls. The question mark on the cover had to do with a legal battle at the time over the use of the name New Trolls. They later changed their name to Ibis and released two more albums. Canti d’Innocenza, Canti d’Esperienza (1973) blends keyboard-dominated progressive rock with the Led Zeppelin style. Heavyweight gatefold mini-LP sleeve with 12-page bilingual booklet.
The 1999 self-titled debut by Nodo Gordiano was a very good, mostly-instrumental progressive rock album in the 1970s style with a more modern sound. Alea (2005, 37-minutes) is their second CD, but it may as well be a different band. Nodo Gordiano is a trio here, with bass player Andrea De Luca the only person in common with the lineup that recorded their debut. Alea is a collection of instrumental improvisations for synthesizers, bass and drums. The tracks are generally spacey, using electronic-sounding analog synth patches, and evolve in a linear fashion as most jams do.
Flektogon (2009) sees Nodo Gordiano back on track, showing a strong Red-era King Crimson influence, a flowing space rock style not far from You-era Gong, and many original components as well. The album is instrumental apart from operatic female vocals on one track. As the label says: “Nodo Gordiano are back with their definitive masterpiece. After their successful 1999 debut and the rather experimental and improvised Alea from 2005, Flektogon is surely the magnum opus of this band hailing from Rome. Their spooky, dark and complex yet dreamy prog rock has an irresistible hypnotic edge that captures the listener from the very beginning. Besides some shorter tracks, the most outstanding moment of this record is the 30-minute psych-opus Avventure di mastarna, a progressive firework in which the music develops its very different moods while keeping a regular pattern and taking the listener on an adventurous and never boring musical trip.” Heavyweight gatefold mini-LP sleeve. Read reviews.
Notturno Concertante were one of the small number of Italian progressive bands who began in the 1980s, after the classic Italian prog bands had been all but killed off, but before the prog resurgence began. Initially Notturno Concertante released only cassettes, and their early style was more acoustic, in the vein of Anthony Phillips, Gordon Giltrap, and acoustic Steve Hackett. By the time they began releasing CDs in the 1990s, they were more of a neo-prog band, though still using a lot of acoustic guitar. Erewhon is from 1993. Read reviews at Prog Archives, where you’ll also find one mp3.
NeMeSi (1997) is the second CD by this dark progressive rock band from Genoa with female vocals, more symphonic than their self-titled 1994 debut.
This 1971 album is a minor classic of Italian progressive rock, a melodic song-based prog album with soft, dreamy atmospheres. The mini-LP edition is housed in a heavyweight gatefold sleeve with 8-page bilingual booklet.
Nuova Era were one of the best bands of the Italian progressive resurgence that began in the late 1980s. They released four albums between 1988-1995, full of 1970s-style Italian symphonic prog dominated by organ, with strong vocals in Italian. The self-titled 2010 CD is not really a new album, despite some misinformation on other sites. The first three related tracks are recent compositions, but they also appear on Musea’s Dante’s Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso various artists 4CD sets. The next three tracks are a new version, a demo version, and an alternate version of older tracks. The final three tracks are live versions of tracks from their debut album, from that era. The CD does run over 75-minutes. Heavyweight gatefold mini-LP sleeve.
Return to the Castle (2016, 74-minutes, mini-LP sleeve) is sung in English and is the band’s true comeback album.
Clowns is a classic Italian symphonic progressive album from 1973, the third and final album for Nuova Idea, and their best. The mini-LP is the 2011 Sony edition, which come in a gatefold cardboard sleeve. The jewel box is the MALS edition, produced under license from Mellow Records.
The News (2016, digipack) is the second full-length album for N.y.X, a wild and crazy Italian prog band assisted on this album by Adrian Belew and Trey Gunn, among others. Read the Progressive Music Planet and Progradar reviews.
Odessa are a great Italian band debuting with this 1999 CD but with their heart deep in the 1970s. They use Hammond organ, analog synths, piano, flute; they play covers of tracks by The Trip and Il Rovescio della Medaglia; and their singer is heavily influenced by Demetrio Stratos (Area). His voice is so strong and charismatic that he could carry the material on his own, but he’s also the keyboardist and makes sure the instrumental content is also a highlight. Odessa do have many similarities to Area but are not nearly as jazzy or as experimental.
This 2012 CD is La Maschera di Cera in disguise. As Fabio Zuffanti describes it: First take some top notch Italian prog musicians. Then take soundtracks of some scary Italian TV movies of the 1970s, composed by masters of the genre such as Simonetti, Ortolani, or Pisano. Then force those musicians to play cover versions of those tracks, in the same way Morte Macabre did years ago. Force them to use only original instruments such as Mellotron, Minimoog, Hammond, Theremin, and Fender Rhodes. Sound intriguing? Listen to Gamma. Heavyweight gatefold mini-LP sleeve.
Natural Prestige (2011) is the debut by a melodic Italian prog band, with four instrumentals and six tracks sung in English. Actually, bandleader Filippos Gougoumis is a Greek living in Italy, and German Oliver Philipps (Everon) guests on and co-produces both albums. This isn’t a Rock Progressivo Italiano album but rather an Anglo style prog album along the lines of IQ, Jadis, Marillion, and Rush. Still, some Italian flavor filters through, particularly when acoustic guitar is used. The keyboardist says his passion for rock began by listening to Genesis, Pink Floyd, and Yes, and those influences are there, but the music feels more neo-prog, and the Rush energy is obvious when present. In part Natural Prestige is a suggestion of what Rush might sound like with a real, full-time keyboardist, but there is also The Oneira’s other side, a more delicate, layered, Genesis-oriented sound that has little to do with Rush. It’s a very good CD that should have great appeal to mainstream prog fans. Listen to Intro, Sea Dreams, and Into the Unknown.
After Natural Prestige, Filippos says he decided to challenge himself and work on a more complex, mature, and sophisticated sound, the result being the even better Hyperconscious (2014). Watch the videos for Esoteriko, Closer, and Mater.
Opus Avantra are unique among the Italian prog bands. Led by pianist and composer Alfredo Tisocco, they blend light progressive rock, contemporary classical, and opera in sophisticated arrangements. Their 1974 debut is alternately known as Introspezione or Donella del Monaco (the name of their soprano singer). This first album is their most accessible work, as their avant-garde leanings increased on later albums. Read reviews at Prog Archives. This is the jewel box edition on Trident.
Their second album Lord Cromwell (1975) is more or less in the same style as their first, though Donella del Monaco doesn’t appear on this one, replaced by an American choir. Read reviews at Prog Archives. This is the jewel box edition on Artis.
There are the 2016 remastered editions on Omega Entertainment. After a period of dormancy, Le Orme returned to active duty in 1996 with Il Fiume, followed in 2001 by Elementi. These albums demonstrate that Le Orme have lost nothing since the 1970s, that is unless you’re looking for the faux ELP of their early albums. Instead, this is their lush, warm, lyrical, and unabashedly romantic symphonic prog style, with lyrics in Italian. Elementi features cover artwork by Paul Whitehead.
These are the jewel box editions on Philips. While a Le Orme career overview is beyond the scope of this entry, Wikipedia provides a good overview, and AllMusic and Prog Archives have reviews of most of the Le Orme albums.
Osanna are one of the legendary Italian progressive bands. L’uomo (1971) is their debut. Milano Calibro 9 (1972) is their second album, the soundtrack to the film of the same name. The album’s proper name is Preludio, Tema, Variazioni e Canzona, but many call it by the name of the film. The 2-on-1 combines these first two albums on one inexpensive digipack CD courtesy of Warner Music Italy.
Palepoli (1972) and Landscape of Life (1974) are Osanna’s third and fourth. Palepoli is their masterpiece, Landscape of Life probably their second-best. The mini-LP versions of these first four albums come in heavyweight cardboard gatefold sleeves with bilingual booklets.
The first disc in the double-CD Palepolitana (2015, mini-LP sleeve) contains 12 new tracks by the current Osanna lineup led by Lino Vairetti. The second disc is a re-recording of the entire Palepoli album. Guests include David Jackson (sax, flutes), Sophya Baccini (vocals), Gianluca Falasca (violin), the Falasca String Quartet, and Angelo Salvatore (flute).
The Human Machine (1991) is the sole album by this Italian neo-prog band, who at times evoke the great Italian 1970s bands (e.g., PFM, Banco, Quella Vecchia Locanda).
This 1972 album is the only one by this Roman band, a typical Italian symphonic prog album of the era, generally mellow with strong classical influences and some orchestral arrangements. The jewel box edition on Mellow Records contains two commercial bonus tracks from a single, but according to the ItalianProg.com website, these are actually by an unrelated band with the same name! The mini-LP edition on Vinyl Magic comes in a heavyweight gatefold sleeve with 8-page bilingual booklet.
Violinist Mauro Pagani left PFM in 1976 and released his self-titled first (and best) solo album in 1978. All of PFM guest on the album, as well as most of Area, Roberto Colombo, and other prominent Italian musicians. Here Pagani blends progressive rock with Mediterranean music, what today would be called world music. Pagani’s 1981 second album Sogno di una notte d'estate (Dream of a Summer Night) was music for a stage show and features a large number of other musicians. This nice-price digipack CD on Warner Music combines both albums on one CD.
The sole album by Panna Fredda is from 1971, right at the beginning of the Italian progressive rock explosion. This is high quality progressive rock, the keyboards dominated by organ, with some influences of the early English prog bands such as Gracious. This mini-LP edition adds six bonus tracks which would appear to be from their singles, as all are in the three-minute range. Read the review at Music from the Other Side of the Room. Heavyweight gatefold mini-LP sleeve with 8-page bilingual booklet.
A Rose (2010, digipack) is the second CD for Italian keyboardist Stefano Panunzi, who is also leader of the band Fjieri. A Rose features Mick Karn, Tim Bowness (No-Man), Giancarlo Erra (Nosound), Theo Travis, Markus Reuter, Robbie Aceto, and many more musicians. It downplays the ambient jazz of Panunzi’s first CD and features more songs: seven songs using seven different singers, plus three instrumentals. The production is immaculate, the music mesmerizing and seductive; this is a masterpiece of ambient progressive rock. Read the Prognaut and DPRP reviews.
Per Questi e Altri Naufragi (2007, mini-LP sleeve) is the debut CD of former Germinale guitarist Salvo Lazzara. Germinale released four CDs between 1994-2005 before splitting up. This first album is different from what would come later, more of a solo album consisting of relaxing acoustic and clean-tone guitar instrumentals with overdubbed bass, some percussion and piano, similar to Riccardo Zappa’s mellower pieces: refined, dreamy, pastoral, and atmospheric. The use of found voices and sounds adds a slight avant-garde edge.
Pensiero Nomade eventually transformed into a full band with a bigger sound. There are seven musicians on their fifth album Da Nessun Luogo (2016, digipack), led by Lazzara on guitars, bass, and touch guitar, with the other musicians contributing female vocals in Italian, piano, synths, trumpet, flute, MIDI horns, bass, and drums/percussion. This is striking, innovative fare, balancing intelligent songwriting with challenging and creative instrumental work. There are some similarities to the music of Stefano Panunzi (who for alphabetical reasons may appear just above this entry). Read reviews at Prog Archives. Watch the videos for Più lontano più forte and Niente, Finalmente.
This box set on Esoteric compiles all of PFM’s BBC radio and television appearances on two CDs and one DVD (NTSC, all-region), all newly remastered. An illustrated booklet with essay is also included. These audio and video recordings had remained in the BBC archives until now; this is their first official release. Disc One contains PFM’s 1975 Radio One In Concert recordings, while Disc Two contains their 1976 Radio One In Concert recordings. The DVD contains three broadcasts of the classic BBC Two television series The Old Grey Whistle Test, from 1974, 1975, and 1976. See Prog Archives for the track listing. (Counts as 1.5 CDs for shipping.)
This is Esoteric’s remastered 3CD edition of PFM’s live album Cook. In 1974, PFM toured the United States and Canada (hard as that may be to believe), recording material at concerts in Toronto and New York City. The following year, edited highlights were released by Manticore as the live LP Cook. This limited edition boxset includes the newly remastered Cook album on the first CD and adds two additional CDs featuring the entire set of PFM’s concert in Central Park on August 31, 1974, newly remixed from the original 16-track master tapes. Disc One: Four Holes in the Ground, Dove...Quando, Just Look Away, Celebration, Mr. Nine till Five, Alta Loma Five till Nine. Disc Two: River of Life, Four Holes in the Ground, Is My Face on Straight?, Dove...Quando, Guitar Solo, Just Look Away. Disc Three: Mr. Nine till Five, Alta Loma Five till Nine, Celebration, Drum Solo, The World Became the World. (Counts as 2 CDs for shipping.)
These are the Esoteric label reissues of Premiata Forneria Marconi’s English-language albums, remastered from the original master tapes and including Esoteric’s usual lavish booklet with a new essay. PFM is the most famous of all Italian progressive rock bands, due in part to these albums being released on ELP’s Manticore label, with Pete Sinfield penning some of the lyrics. Photos of Ghosts (1973) includes six bonus tracks, early mixes from the album sessions. The World Became the World (1974) includes three bonus tracks: two previously-unreleased single edits plus La Carrozza di Hans, the B-side of a UK single.
Chocolate Kings (1976) and Jet Lag (1977) featured new vocalist Bernardo Lanzetti, ex-Acqua Fragile. Chocolate Kings is PFM at their most energetic (and the cover of this version is a lot easier to look at than the Italian version). This newly remastered edition adds a second CD of previously unreleased live material recorded at Nottingham University on the band’s 1976 UK tour, an entire live album. Jet Lag saw PFM heading in a Brand X direction, a move which may have been required for a prog band to survive in Italy in that year. It doesn’t sound like any other album they made, but not surprisingly, PFM were superb at jazz-rock too. This edition of Jet Lag includes a previously-unreleased live version of La Carrozza di Hans recorded at Nottingham University on the band’s 1976 UK tour (which does not appear on the Chocolate Kings live disc). While Jet Lag doesn’t make the Top 100, the other three albums or their Italian-language counterparts are arguably among the Top 100 prog albums of all time.
PFM’s 1981 album Come Ti Va in Riva Alla Citta is from their pop phase. This is the Italian jewel case edition on RCA.
Picchio dal Pozzo’s self-titled 1976 debut was in an Italian Canterbury style, closest to Hatfield and the North. The lineup and the style had changed for Abbiamo tutti i suoi problemi (1980), which shifts toward Henry Cow and Frank Zappa. This ReR edition was remastered in 2006. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
This 1996 Italian neo-prog album with English vocals is similar to 1990s English bands such as Threshold or Shadowland, mixing hard rock into a neo-prog base, with plenty of keyboard and guitar solos.
This is the 1998 third, final, and arguably best CD for A Piedi Nudi, a heavy symphonic band often compared to Il Balletto di Bronzo. Read reviews at Prog Archives, where you’ll also find an mp3 sample.
This six-piece band was led by singer Piero Cotto, whose music career began in the early 1960s and continued long after this 1972 album, the band’s only LP. It contains folky, symphonic pop/rock between early Delirium and Odissea, featuring the powerful, somewhat gruff voice of Piero Cotto (similar to Delirium’s Ivano Fossati), with occasional female backing vocals. The band use period progressive sounds: synths, Mellotron and other keyboards, and flute here and there. Heavyweight gatefold mini-LP sleeve with 8-page bilingual booklet.
Presence are one of the under-recognized gems of the Black Widow label. The superb vocals of Sophya Baccini cover the range between soaring opera-style and Kate Bush-style, while the music is heavy and dark symphonic progressive with a sinister edge and lots of synths. On Gold (2001), their third, their progressive side is at its most prominent, with Sophya sounding more like Annie Haslam and the band approaching Renaissance at times, albeit darker. The guitar leads are inspired, the keyboard work and arrangements quite sophisticated, and the overall result very original.
Frontiera (1972) was the first of two rather different LPs for Procession, as the lineup that recorded 1974’s Fiaba had changed substantially. Frontiera is a good heavy progressive album, similar to De De Lind’s, with lots of acoustic passages used to offset the heavy ones. The distorted guitar tones here sound dated of course, but the arrangements are complex, and the electric mandolin and Mellotron add welcome textures. The mini-LP edition comes in a heavyweight gatefold cardboard sleeve with 8-page bilingual booklet.
Fiaba is the more mature work, more original and more symphonic than their first, also using sax and flute. It is similar in style to Delirium and Era Di Acquario. Guests include Raccomandata con Ricevuta di Ritorno drummer Francesco Froggio Francisca, Delirium keyboardist Ettore Vigo, and Circus 2000 singer Silvana Aliotta. Heavyweight gatefold mini-LP sleeve with 8-page bilingual booklet.
Kind of surprising no one combined “progressive” and “fusion” for this band name before, even if there is little real fusion here. Profusion are an Italian heavy prog quintet (vocals in English, keys, guitars, bass, drums), who you might file alongside Subsignal. Profusion’s drummer is a native of Georgia (the country, not the U.S. state), which explains the Georgian ethnic elements that appear in some songs. Phersu (2015, digipack) is Profusion’s third album and features well-known guests from outside Italy, including Mamuka Ghaghanidze from Georgian ethnic fusion band The Shin, Polish virtuoso accordionist Jakub Mietła, and mezzo soprano Anita Rachvelishvili, originally from Georgia. (To see/hear Anita, watch the video for Wrinkled Maiden). A creative band like Profusion expands heavy prog beyond its usual restricted boundaries.
There were eight volumes in this series of limited edition boxsets released between 2009-2010, each containing six Italian 1970s progressive rock albums on CD. It’s the first time on CD for some of them, and all have been remastered by Maurizio Biancani at Fonoprint in Bologna. The individual albums come in printed jackets. Each set counts as 2 CDs for shipping.
Volume 1 includes Balletto di Bronzo - Ys, De De Lind - Io non so da Dove Vengo, Jumbo - Vietato ai Minori di 18 Anni, Sensations’ Fix - Portable Madness, Latte e Miele - Passio Secundum Mattheum, and Mauro Pelosi - Al Mercato degli Uomini Piccoli.
Volume 3 includes Jumbo - Jumbo, Billy Gray - Feeling Gray?, Sensations’ Fix - Boxes Paradise, Tritons - Satisfaction, Toni Esposito - La Banda del Sole, and Mauro Pelosi - Mauro Pelosi.
Noi al dir di Noi (2016, digipack) is the debut by this Italian quartet from Genova, assisted by many guests. Promenade play a fantastic jazzy prog blending the Canterbury and Rock Progressivo Italiano (Italian sympho-prog) styles. The music eschews bombast in favor of a sophisticated harmonic vocabulary, while Promenade’s Italian DNA ensures the music is warm and seductive. Read the progVisions review (which also features an audio sample). Listen to the album teaser.
Improvviso (2013) is the second album by Italian prog band Prophexy. Recorded live in March 2012, Improvviso contains brand new songs as well as new versions of tracks from their 2009 album Alconauta. Musea says: “Crazy time signatures, enchanting flute melodies and style contaminations are the genuine trademarks of the band.” As bonus tracks you get Disassociation and Golf Girl, two Caravan classics performed with Richard Sinclair himself. Listen to La Rotonda della Memoria.
Prowlers are an Italian prog band who feature the beautiful vocals of Laura Mombrini. Prowlers sans Mombrini morphed into the band Tilion. Prowlers regrouped for a 2011 fourth CD: Sogni in una goccia di cristallo. Mombrini sings in Italian on this album, and her voice plays an important but not dominant role, as the guys allow themselves some instrumental sections (sometimes with wordless vocals). Some of these are Tilion-style symphonic rock, others are excursions into Floydian realms. Even on the vocal songs, the vibe is often a vintage spacey one, mellow and mesmerizing. “It’s likely not going to get the acclaim it deserves, but Sogni in Una Goccia di Cristallo is one of the best Italian symphonic progressive albums of the last five years, right behind Pandora and La Maschera di Cera.” Read the full review at Prognaut as well as the ProGGnosis review.
Superflualismo (2005, 64-minutes) is the second CD by an instrumental quintet from Milan with a lineup of two guitarists, bass, drums, and a talented young trumpeter. Someone plays some synths, even if it is uncredited. Psychonoesis is an adventurous band with an original style. They blend jazz-prog, Canterbury, and RIO and include a beautiful cover of King Crimson’s Starless that sounds like Mark Isham had joined Crimson. The melodies are sometimes angular, but the music is not nearly as impenetrable as some RIO bands.
This album, recorded in 2001, is one of Fabio Zuffanti’s (Finisterre, Hostsonaten, La Maschera di Cera, etc.) projects. This one is experimental ambient music, sound collage, that sort of thing. 65-minutes. Here is an mp3 from the title track.
Quasar Lux Symphoniae are now going by QLS, which will make typing a lot easier. Most people first heard QLS in 1994 with the album Abraham, an ambitious prog rock-opera. QLS followed with two more albums during the 1990s, took about a decade off, then returned in 2009 with Synopsis, which the band feels covers all the past styles of QLS. It’s a good thing QLS decided to make another album, as Synopsis is their best. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
Quella Vecchia Locanda’s two albums are Italian progressive rock classics. Their self-titled 1972 debut is in the vein of early Jethro Tull and PFM, featuring flute and violin in addition to the usual keys/guitar/bass/drums lineup. It has a bit more hard rock than their second album Il Tempo della Gioia, which followed in 1974 and is more classical/romantic and refined. This is the jewel box edition on Sony/BMG. Read reviews at VintageProg.com.
Nicola Randone is a singer and multi-instrumentalist from Sicily performing in the Italian romantic progressive tradition. Fans of 1970s Italian progressive rock are familiar with this style, which really requires Italian-language vocals. In a short time, he and his band have risen to the upper echelon of the current Italian progressive scene. These CDs are all the MALS label editions.
Morte di un Amore (2002) is Randone’s debut. Nicola has a fabulous voice and the music on this album, while not as complex as the best Banco or Le Orme, stands up well to his influences, which would seem to be Franco Battiato, Alan Sorrenti, Claudio Rocchi, Aldo Tagliapietra (Le Orme), and Locanda delle Fate. Behind Randone’s vocals are keyboards, guitar, bass, and drums. Highly orchestrated, symphonic, lush and romantic with some spacey touches, fans of Italian progressive will not be disappointed.
Nuvole di Ieri (2003) is his second CD. Nicola added a guitarist and drummer to make it a band while shortening the name to Randone. It’s a noticeable improvement on his first. Most significantly, Beppe Crovella of Arti & Mestieri not only produced the album but plays keyboards throughout, so the album is full of Mellotron, Hammond, Moog, and other keys. It’s always great to see musicians from the first generation of prog working with younger musicians who are carrying on the tradition. And Nuvole di Ieri certainly does carry on that tradition, with a slightly more contemporary guitar style.
Ricordo (2004) is stunning. Randone is a quintet here, and that doesn’t even count Beppe Crovella, whose vintage keys are again all over this album. This suite is noticeably different from Randone’s previous work. Stylistically, it could have come straight out of the classic 1970s era of Italian progressive rock. Lushly orchestrated and full of beautiful vocals, we could mention Locanda Della Fate, Banco, and many others.
Hybla act 1 (2005) is a “barock opera”, a long, dramatic suite about the band’s hometown, the ancient town of Hybla, now Ragusa. It’s probably the most ambitious work for Randone thus far. Beppe Crovella again adds lots of Mellotron, Moog, and Hammond B3, there are four guest vocalists both male and female, and a guest violinist adds a new dimension. Stylistically this is classic Italian symphonic progressive except that the electric guitarist sometimes plays in a metal style. But rather than try to fit into a particular progressive rock camp, Randone are carving out a style of their own and have quietly become one of the most important Italian bands currently active.
A Space Odyssey Part Two: H.A.L. (2015) is the second in a trilogy of albums inspired by Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey for Italian prog band RanestRane, in case that wasn’t obvious from the title. Marillion fans may know RanestRane for their collaborations with Steve Rothery, and Rothery plays on two tracks on this album. “[RanestRane] made a true masterpiece with this release. Everything just falls into place on this CD. As a lover of Rock Progressivo Italiano and progressive rock in general, I couldn’t ask for more. Therefore the highest score of five stars is in place for one of the musical highlights of 2015. All I can say is bravissimo and bring on the final part of A Space Odyssey trilogy!” Read the full Background Magazine review. Watch the album trailer.
First released in 2007, this is the 2013 remastered edition of RanestRane’s double-CD Nosferatu il Vampiro. Read reviews at Prog Archives. Watch the promo video.
This is probably one of those cases where they forgot to switch the noun and adjective order when translating the band name to English. Layers of Stratosphere (2011) is the breakthrough third album for Raven Sad, which the band describes as being Floydian sympho-space-rock, with guitar work at the crossroads of Gilmour, Latimer, and Rothery. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
Today the name Reale Accademia di Musica is being used by singer/songwriter/keyboardist Adriano Monteduro, who back in 1974 made an album that was co-credited to him and Reale Accademia di Musica. The current lineup includes Adriano’s son Antonello on keyboards and two other musicians on bass and drums. Tempo Senza Tempo (2009, 60-minutes) is the second and more progressive album for this incarnation of the band. The music is along the lines of a more powerful and dynamic Jon and Vangelis album, only instead of Jon Anderson, think of an Italian Peter Gabriel. Monteduro’s romantic, majestic Italian vocals work better with the lush symphonic synths than Jon Anderson’s, and the music here is fuller, as there are four instrumentalists rather than one. For those who love those romantic Italian vocals in a progressive rock context, from a singer with a great voice, this is really appealing.
Riddle are an atypical Italian progressive rock band whose sound comes closest to modern King Crimson, not surprising given Riddle’s guitar player Jacopo Bertacco is a member of The League of Crafty Guitarists. On their self-titled debut CD, originally released in 2005, their music is instrumental and features sophisticated Frippian stylings. This is the remastered 2008 edition, which comes in a heavyweight gatefold mini-LP sleeve and adds one bonus track.
Tomorrow (2009) is their second, which adds some vocals in English, though it is still primarily instrumental. The band has expanded to a quintet, and they seem a bit stronger melodically here. Heavyweight gatefold mini-LP sleeve.
Claudio Rocchi was the original bass guitarist of Stormy Six and has had a long and successful solo career that began in 1970 with his first album Viaggio. The music on Viaggio is a form of psychedelic folk, centered on acoustic guitar and vocals, also featuring the flute playing of PFM’s Mauro Pagani, with suitable use of reverb and echo. This is the mini-LP (cardboard sleeve) edition on BMG. This YouTube video will get you started, search there for more audio previews.
Pedra Mendalza (2008) contains the music to Claudio Rocchi’s movie of the same name. In addition to Rocchi, the CD features well-known Italian musicians such as Walter Maioli (Aktuala, Futuro Antico) and Paolo Tofani (Area, Electric Frankenstein). His previous work was influenced by eastern culture and psychedelia, and a little of that is present here, though the subject of the movie is ancient Sardinian “power places”. The music is not ambient as one might expect of a soundtrack. There are excellent songs with vocals in English, and in typical Rocchi fashion, the music covers a wide range, all the way from heavy rock to Mediterranean folk to psychedelic instrumentals to classically influenced pieces. It all flows together seamlessly though and is full of Italian charm and Rocchi’s progressive sensibilities. Much of this is as good as his early albums. Heavyweight gatefold mini-LP sleeve, 75-minutes.
“A band of very good musicians from Parma, Rocky’s Filj (from the name of their leader Rocky Rossi, who came from Vicenza) gained a contract with Ricordi after a positive tour with Banco del Mutuo Soccorso, and the album was produced by Sandro Colombini, who had worked with Banco on their first albums. The album is jazz-rock oriented, but all the tracks have vocals, and Rocky’s voice is very original even if not great. Instrumental parts are very well made, all the band members could professionally play various instruments, and the album is always very enjoyable. The long opening track L’ultima spiaggia, with dramatic vocals and long guitar and sax solo parts, is a fine example of their music.” [ItalianProg.com] This is the 2011 mini-LP edition on Sony, which comes in a gatefold cardboard sleeve. Listen to L’ultima spiaggia and others.
Rohmer are the continuation of the band Finisterre, who were one of the most important latter-day Italian progressive bands. Bassist Fabio Zuffanti became well known by starting several other progressive bands and projects, and he is on board on this, Rohmer’s 2008 debut. According to the band, Rohmer’s music begins where Finisterre’s 1996 album In Limine left off and “continues its works between tradition and experimentation, mixing prog, ambient, electronic, post-rock, contemporary, minimalism and jazz”. That statement is quite true. This is the ambient rather than the rock side of Finisterre. Drums are used, but the music remains low-key, dreamy and ambient. Some of this is similar to Zuffanti’s LaZona project. Heavyweight gatefold mini-LP sleeve, 61-minutes.
The Rome Pro(G)ject is an international all-star project headed by keyboardist Vincenzo Ricca and including Steve Hackett (electric & classical guitar), David Jackson (sax, flute), and Billy Sherwood (bass, drums, electric guitar), with Mauro Montobbio and Luca Grosso of Narrow Pass, Riccardo Romano and Daniele Pomo of Ranestrane, Franck Carducci (two solo albums to date), and others. Of Fate and Glory (2016, digipack) is their second concept CD about the Eternal City, containing 66-minutes of instrumental progressive rock, a musical story about ancient Rome. Listen to the 10-minute album sampler and watch the video for S.P.Q.R. with Steve Hackett getting a lot of screen time.
Despite the Norwegian/Germanic looking name, Røsenkreütz are an Italian band led by Fabio Serra. Serra began as guitarist for the band Arlequin, who released a cassette at the beginning of the prog revival, then went on to Genesis tribute band Yellow Plastic Shoobedoo. (Both bands featured the late D.F.A. keyboardist Alberto Bonomi.) From 1989 on, Serra has worked as a producer and engineer in addition to musician and composer, which will explain the high production values on this CD. The genesis of Back to the Stars (2014) was a project Serra began long ago with Leviathan singer Alex Brunori. More recently, Serra assembled the Røsenkreütz band (both studio and live) and completed this album with the help of some guests that include a violinist and Cristiano Roversi (Moongarden, Mangala Vallis). Røsenkreütz sing in English and sport more Anglo influences than Italian, principally Genesis. The music is energetic with some Asia-style AOR mixed in and should hook most prog fans pretty quickly. As one Prog Archives reviewer says: “Back to the Stars is a near-perfect example of how good crossover bands can be when they get that balance of progressive technicality and melodic commercial appeal just right - no easy feat!” Read all the reviews at Prog Archives.
Cristiano Roversi is a busy man, keyboardist of Moongarden and Submarine Silence, also a member of CCLR and Mangala Vallis, and he has collaborated with numerous other Italian and British artists. Antiqua (2012, 51-minutes) is an enchanting album that features Bernardo Lanzetti (ex-PFM, Magala Vallis) singing in English on one track and Aldo Tagliapietra (ex-Le Orme) singing in Italian on another. Aldo also plays acoustic guitar on that track which, not surprisingly, sounds like Le Orme. There is one more track with vocals (in English), by a woman named Leonora, while the bulk of the album is instrumental. Roversi has the assistance of a number of guitarists (electric & acoustic) including David Cremoni from Moongarden, guests on hurdy-gurdy and fretless bass, and drummer Gigi Cavalli-Cocchi. However, drums are used sparingly, as Roversi’s main influences on the instrumental tracks would have to be early Anthony Phillips, early Mike Oldfield, and pastoral Genesis. This is Roversi doing the music he really wants to do, free of external pressures. It is music from an alternate reality where time flows at its own pace, music strongly connected to the early 1970s, perhaps an ‘antique’ in that beauty and harmony seem to have gone out of favor now, but possessing a magic that modern music cannot touch.
Il Rovescio della Medaglia (RDM for short) began with albums in 1971 and 1972 that were in a hard rock style with some progressive touches. They then added a fifth member on keyboards and produced their 1973 masterpiece Contaminazione, a much more symphonic album. Here they were assisted by Argentine composer Luis Enriquez Bacalov, who had already worked with New Trolls and Osanna. Read reviews at Prog Archives. This is the jewel box edition on Sony/BMG.
Runaway Totem are one of the more original bands from Italy, in existence since 1988, their music a successful combination of diverse musical elements. The dominant influence is Magma, for the obsessive, syncopated rhythms, the strangeness, mystery and anguish, and the distorted, aggressive guitars. Their sound might also be described as gothic for the sacred, religious, and satanic atmospheres. The dark operatic/chanted vocals may be partially inspired by Christian Vander, but they are also steeped in the Italian operatic tradition, thus Runaway Totem are sometimes comparable to Devil Doll or a darker Deus Ex Machina. Symphonic floating sounds of synths and organ manage to create fascinating, dreamlike atmospheres. Overall, it would be hard for Runaway Totem to be more ponderous and turgid, but that’s part and parcel of this style.
Andromeda (1999) is their third album and consists of five tracks averaging 10-minutes each. Le Roi du Monde (2011) contains just three long tracks totaling 68 minutes. Read the reviews at Progressor and Prog Archives. Listen to Le marriage du Soleil et la Lune.
S&L is Salvio Schiano (keyboards) and Lino Esposito (guitars) with assistance from a drummer and two bass players. Eternal (2001), their first album, contains nine instrumental pieces that mix some hard rock/metal guitar with symphonic keyboards and actual progressive rock. Musea compares them to Dream Theater, and while S&L may well appeal to fans of DT, the results are quite different and, on average, more symphonic. Though there are some moments of pointless riffing typical of metal, much of the album is pure melodic prog, if a bit straightforward. Schiano uses some nice ‘new agey’ keyboard textures that set this apart from your average prog-metal, and Esposito more often than not plays melodic leads.
1974 Italian progressive classic. “Samadhi were a sort of supergroup, as most of their members came from well-known bands. Samadhi were formed after the split of Raccomandata Ricevuta di Ritorno by singer Regoli and guitarist Civitenga, along with keyboard player Sabatini (from Free Love and Kaleidon), Aldo Bellanova from Teoremi on bass and drummer Ruggero Stefani (L’Uovo di Colombo), plus two other members. The album mixes very good prog influences with some jazz and even pop, the best of the seven tracks being the closing L’ultima spiaggia with its religious text. The beautiful lyrics were written by poet Enrico Lazzareschi.” [ItalianProg] This mini-LP edition comes in a heavyweight gatefold sleeve with 12-page bilingual booklet.
Sarastro Blake is not the name of a musician but the name of an Italian band, ‘Sarastro’ from Mozart’s The Magic Flute, and ‘Blake’ from British poet and visionary William Blake. They are led by former Mogador member Paolo Pigni, responsible for bass, acoustic guitars, and vocals (in English). Mogador’s Luca Briccola (keyboards, guitars, flute, backing vocals) and Richard Allen (additional vocals) are also in the band. The guest list on New Progmantics (2013) is impressive: Rick Wakeman on piano, Nick Magnus on keys, Richard Sinclair on bass and vocals, Billy Sherwood on guitars and keys, Dave Lawson (Greenslade) on electric piano, David Paton (Alan Parsons Project, Camel) on vocals, Amanda Lehmann (Steve Hackett Band) on vocals, and others on violin and vocals. The music is Genesis-style symphonic prog, not in the sense of copying Genesis but rather that the music is romantic (it’s in the title), refined, song-based prog, with none of the heaviness or dreariness of modern rock. Some of the songs put British/Scottish poems to music, others are inspired by British paintings. So some of the lyrics are Pigni’s, and others are well-known poems by Shakespeare, Burns, Byron, etc. It’s an excellent album and a great surprise.
2001 release from an Italian progressive metal band with English lyrics and a decent singer. They use a lot of keyboards and are more melodic than your average Dream Theater clone. Recommended to fans of Shadow Gallery, Queensryche, Saga of that era.
Keyboardist Luca Scherani began collaborating with Fabio Zuffanti on Merlin: The Rock Opera, later extending to Aries, Höstsonaten, and Zuffanti’s third solo album. Scherani has also recently joined La Coscienza di Zeno. Everybody’s Waiting (2012) is Scherani’s second solo album, which includes Zuffanti and many other musicians on guitar, bass, drums, flute, violin, cello, trumpet, and Italian-language vocals (female and male). Some of those musicians hail from Il Volo, Duello Madre, New Trolls, La Maschera di Cera, and Höstsonaten. This is a fantastic Italian symphonic prog album that is distinct from many others, with neo-classical and jazz influences. Heavyweight gatefold mini-LP sleeve.
2009 CD of minimalistic post rock and ambient music, very dark and somber. Read the Progressor review.
This 1972 album was one of the rarest Italian LPs. As with so many Italian 1970s progressive bands, La Seconda Genesi released one LP and disbanded. The album starts out instrumental, loose and jazzy with sax in the lead. Fortunately that doesn’t last long. The sax is replaced by flute, and the music becomes structured with both Hammond organ and guitar featured, plus vocals in Italian. This is the Mellow Records edition.
Sensations’ Fix was a revered Italian progressive band led by Franco Falsini. They stood apart from the other Italian prog bands of the era in that they were not a symphonic band but rather spacy and psychedelic, close to Krautrock. Falsini was living in Virginia at the time the first Sensations’ Fix album Fragments of Light (1974) was recorded (really as a demo). He relocated to Florence and, joined by an American expat drummer and a bassist, recorded Portable Madness in 1974 and Finest Finger in 1976, plus Falsini’s 1975 solo album Cold Nose (Naso Fredo). The band relocated to California for 1977’s Vision’s Fugitives, followed shortly by Boxes Paradise. The only legitimate way to get most of the Sensations’ Fix albums on CD has been the Progressive Italia grab bag boxsets. Music Is Painting in the Air (2012, digisleeve) is a double-CD collection of new mixes and unheard music, the result of a year-long effort by Falsini and his son Jeyon to restore and revisit the original Sensations’ Fix analog tapes. A 20-page booklet is included.
The Screams Empire (2015, digipack) is the second album for this Marillion-influenced neo-prog band singing in English. Watch the video for Adrift.
Sithonia was one of the best Italian progressive bands of the 1990s, influenced by Locanda delle Fate, Banco, and Genesis. Spettacolo Annullato is from 1992. This is the MALS label edition, licensed from Mellow Records.
Prismosfera (2003) is the second album by this instrumental trio from Bologna, released on PFM drummer Franz Di Cioccio’s Immaginifica label. StereoKimono set themselves apart from other Italian progressive bands with a modern sound and a quirky, original style, sometimes close to 1980s King Crimson but more melodic and symphonic, as they do employ keyboards. They add touches of jazz-rock and space-rock. The last track is a collage that is fun to listen to for the short samples taken from other prog rock albums. Heavyweight gatefold mini-LP sleeve with 12-page full-color booklet.
Un Biglietto del Tram, the 1975 album by Italy’s RIO band, is not actually in the RIO style. Stormy Six’s sound here is acoustic and lacks the avant-garde aspects of their later work. Un Biglietto del Tram is a unique blend of European folk with rock and progressive elements.
L’Apprendista (1977) is our favorite Stormy Six album. Here they combine European folk and chamber music with light rock and just a little avant-garde, using electric instruments sparingly so that the dominant sound is still acoustic. In addition to guitars (mostly acoustic), keyboards (mostly piano), bass and drums, there is violin, viola, cello, mandolin, bassoon, sax, mallet percussion, and Italian-language vocals. It’s a good bet the Italian band Gatto Marte were influenced by this album. The sound palette is similar to Le Orme’s acoustic albums Florian and Piccola Rapsodia Dell’Ape, but Stormy Six’s music is more adventurous and not as strong melodically. There are similarities to the gentler Gentle Giant songs and to Henry Cow, while Conventum is an even better reference. Heavyweight gatefold mini-LP sleeve with 20-page bilingual booklet.
In contrast, Macchina Maccheronica (1980) is a full-on RIO album, heavily influenced by the more experimental 20th century classical composers. Heavyweight gatefold mini-LP sleeve with two booklets, one 8-page and one 20-page.
Every Stormy Six album is different, and Al Volo (1982) is not avant-garde like the previous album. Al Volo adds elements of arty 1980s electro-pop to the typical Stormy Six style, ending up in the vicinity of King Crimson of the same timeframe, though Italian-flavored of course. The mini-LP edition comes in a heavyweight gatefold sleeve with 8-page bilingual booklet.
Demetrio Stratos, who passed away in 1979, is best known as the singer for Area and for his amazing vocal abilities. “His mission was to free vocal expression from the slavery of language and pretty melodies.” [Wikipedia] This is not the well-known 1979 tribute concert, but rather the Mellow label CD containing 1999 live recordings of 16 Stratos/Area songs performed by various Italian artists including Lothlorien, Odessa, Periferia del Mondo, Vedda Tribe, Imagin’aria, and more. This two-day concert was actually the fourth edition of a contest that included many more bands; this CD contains two songs each from only the finalists.
This Italian band led by keyboardist Cristiano Roversi and guitarist David Cremoni of Moongarden was formed in 1995 to appear on The River of Constant Change, believed to be the first-ever Genesis tribute album. With drummer Emilio Pizzocoli from the Luca Donini Quartet, Submarine Silence released their first album in 2001, an eponymous instrumental CD. Roversi later made the Tony Banks-inspired album The Park, but his love of Genesis was even more evident on that debut album, which was unabashedly in the early Genesis style, using vintage keys including Mellotron. Though Roversi and Cremoni have been busy in other bands, it took until 2013 for the second Submarine Silence CD There’s Something Very Strange in Her Little Room, which features vocals (in English). Roversi and Cremoni are joined by Gigi Cavalli Cocchi on drums, Matteo Bertolini on bass, and singers Ricky Tonco and Mirko Ravenoldi. This album is more original than their debut, though there is still a lot of Genesis in their sound. Read the Jerry Lucky and Background Magazine reviews. Listen to Epilogue.
Journey Through Mine (2016, digipack) reunites the original line-up (Roversi, Cremoni, Pizzocoli) and adds vocalist/songwriter Guillermo Gonzales. Submarine Silence do what they do best here and better than they’ve ever done it, essentially a loving homage to early Genesis. Listen to the album teaser.
Syndone are an Italian prog band whose first phase lasted from about 1990-1993. They began a second and more interesting incarnation with 2010’s Melapesante, distinct from the music of their first phase. La Bella è la Bestia / The Beauty Is the Beast (2012, gatefold mini-LP sleeve) is their definitive record, a prog rock concept album inspired by the fairytale written by Leprince De Beaumont in 1756. Bandleader and keyboardist Nik Comoglio had a career writing rock operas during Syndone’s dormant period, which has had some influence on this work. The classical aspects of the music are more pronounced, with cellos and brass used, the writing more sophisticated and the scope broader than Syndone’s earlier ELP power trio style. Ray Thomas (The Moody Blues) guests on flute. Something special is going on in the Italian prog scene again. Watch the album promo video.
As for their 1992 first album Spleen, “[Syndone] are a trio in the style of ELP, Quatermass, The Trip, Le Orme, and a whole lot more. On Spleen, their music is characterized by shorter songs with a heavy keyboard leaning -- piano in the vein of Festa Mobile or organ a la Alluminogeni or Le Orme. This isn’t superb music (some of the themes verge on pop-styled), but at least it isn’t following the typical neo-prog patterns.” [Exposé] “Syndone are a trio from Italy who carry on the tradition of ELP with a virtuosic gentleman named Nik Comoglio manning the keyboards. His lead lines and comping bring to mind the heyday of Keith Emerson. This is mixed in with a steady beat and strong bass, all of which combine to fine effect. Vocals are in Italian which, to these ears, is preferable to delivering lyrics in a second language to reach a mass audience. The overall sound is almost unrehearsed, conveying a live energy that adds another dimension to the music. If I had to offer an opinion, I would rate this as one of the better releases of 1992... Their sound is a mixture of modern prog, fusion, jazz, and high energy chaos, like Arti E Mestieri in overdrive. Vocals are excellent (in Italian), and the album covers a vast amount of territory in a 3-4 minute short-song format. Recommended.” [Gibraltar Encyclopedia of Progressive Rock]
Tale Cue were an above-average neo-prog band from Italy who released only this one album in 1991. The music is in the Marillion and Twelfth Night veins but darker, more mysterious and melancholy. Tale Cue have a female singer, with lyrics in English. Read reviews at Prog Archives. This CD is the 2015 MALS edition, produced under license from Musea, which comes in a mini-LP style sleeve.
Il Tempio delle Clessidre’s self-titled 2010 debut is not only in the classic Italian symphonic prog style, their lead singer is Stefano ‘Lupo’ Galifi, once upon a time the singer of Museo Rosenbach. The band was formed in 2006 and began by performing the entire Zarathustra album in concert, so you know where their prog allegiances lie. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
Run (2008) is the second CD for Tenmidnight, released on the Mellow label following a self-released debut. The lyrics are split between Italian and English, and likewise this album is split between the Italian tradition and the North American one (Kansas, Saga). One track is listed as an homage to Kansas, which would explain why the central riff from Carry On Wayward Son is cloned; another track is an homage to Led Zep. Flute is used in addition to the usual symphonic rock instrumentation. This one is energetic sympho-prog with pomp and AOR flavoring.
The City of Angels (2010, 61-minutes) is a marked improvement. Though the song titles are all in English, the lyrics are almost entirely in Italian, and the North American influence is limited to a suggestion of symphonic Kansas. The City of Angels often sounds close to an early 1970s Italian symphonic prog album. Guests add flute and violin in spots, and the vocals are strong, with characteristic Italian vocal harmonies. We could fill up a lot of space listing similar Italian bands, both first-generation and 1990s prog revival, so suffice to say the music is played with passion and conviction and should make most fans of Italian prog very happy. Read reviews of all of Tenmidnight’s CDs.
This Harmony are a great Italian instrumental quartet comprised of violin, guitar, bass and drums. The classically-influenced violin is the star of the show, and Leila Saida (2006) is recommended to all who love rock with violin in the lead. This Harmony are similar to the Polish band Ankh, but more refined. Obviously they are most similar to the original Ankh that included violin in the lineup, but there is also a good deal of the dreamy, psychedelic feel that Ankh adopted after their violinist left. This CD comes in a light mini-LP style cardboard sleeve and counts as only one-half CD for shipping. Watch videos for Improvvisazione 11 and Improvvisazione 13.
Following a 2000 demo, Tilion’s 2003 debut CD Insolitariamente is quality Italian progressive rock sung in Italian, leaning towards the dark side a la Goblin, with a 1970s sound emphasizing analog keys.
It’s probably fair to call Trama the Italian equivalent of Karnataka, even if this 1998 recording predates most of Karnataka’s output. Trama’s singer Annalisa Accorsi has a similar voice to that of Rachel Jones, and the sound and style of the bands are also similar: accessible, melodic, and on the rock side of progressive rock. Trama do have some ties to Italian 1970s progressive, but it’s blended with a more straightforward style. Trama’s keyboardist is very good and accounts for many of the instrumental highlights. You can hear Trama performing ELP, Camel, and Locanda delle Fate covers on various Mellow Records tribute CDs.
The Trip was initially a band of English expats (with Ritchie Blackmore in their first line-up), but over time most of the English members were swapped out for Italians, most notably keyboardist Joe Vescovi, who took over band leadership. They were a quartet for their first two albums. Their self-titled 1970 debut is more psychedelic, early Pink Floyd styled. Both the jewel box and mini-LP editions are on Sony.
Caronte (1971) is their second album but first real prog album, in the vein of The Nice, ELP, Atomic Rooster, and early Deep Purple. This is the Sony jewel box edition.
The Trip continued as a trio sans guitarist for Atlantide (1972), their sound moving closer to ELP, with keyboards dominant. Furio Chirico, the finest drummer Italy has produced, joined The Trip at this juncture, before heading to Arti e Mestieri. This is the Sony jewel box edition.
Time of Change (1973) is their fourth and final album, with the same lineup as Atlantide. This album shows stronger classical and jazz influences than their earlier albums, with some Yes influence now evident.
Twenty Four Hours is a modern Italian band led by keyboardist-singer Paolo Lippe. On their third album Oval Dreams (1999), the quartet performs music close in spirit to early Porcupine Tree, elegantly and convincingly blending airy guitars with linear rhythm lines and energetic themes. Pink Floyd and Ozric Tentacles can also be mentioned (one track is named Twenty-Four-Pink-Hot-Tentacles). There are two covers that point to other major influences: Van der Graaf Generator’s Darkness (11/11) and The Beatles’ Mother Nature’s Son. The album finishes with The Bastards, a nearly 20-minute suite. This mini-LP edition is the 2009 limited edition released by the MALS label under license from Musea, which comes in a heavyweight cardboard sleeve.
Twenty Four Hours’ fifth album Left to Live (2016) is subtitled A Meditation on Past and Present Perfect Crimes. For the first time the band employed an external producer, Andrea Valfrè, whose production credits include Le Orme and Lunapop. Watch the album trailer.
Uno was the band formed by Danilo Rustici and Elio d’Anna after Osanna split up in 1974. They were joined by drummer Enzo Vallicelli and went to London to record this album. The music here is fairly similar to Osanna on Landscape of Life, with vocals in both English and Italian. Uno managed just the one album, after which Rustici and d’Anna formed the jazz-rock band Nova with Danilo’s brother Corrado (from Cervello) and other musicians. This mini-LP edition comes in a heavyweight gatefold sleeve with an 8-page bilingual booklet.
Venegoni & Co. was the band of guitarist Gigi Venegoni after his time in Arti + Mestieri and became one of Italy’s foremost jazz-rock bands. Mosaico was recorded in 1982 and should have been the third Venegoni & Co. album but was not published until this 2001 CD release, with two bonus tracks added. It is melodic, upbeat jazz-rock from these consummate professionals.
Despite the French name (which at least over here refers to New Orleans’ French Quarter), this is an Italian quintet from Umbria. They released their debut CD Glispiriti Icorpi Elementi independently in 2008. Vieux Carré play in the classic Italian symphonic prog style of PFM, Le Orme, and Banco. One must also mention Genesis, because three of the songs are sung in English, and singer Marco Rambaldi reflexively switches to a Peter Gabriel style on those songs. (Or maybe it’s a Bernardo Lanzetti style.) The band’s first demo (when they were known as Chiaroscuro) contained covers of Firth of Fifth and The Musical Box, so the Genesis influence is not imagined. There is also some jazz influence, which the best first-generation Italian bands had as well. It’s mostly the songs sung in Italian that have that old magic; lovers of vintage Italian prog will understand.
Their second CD Eteronimie (2012) improves upon their first, with all songs sung in Italian. It’s all in the classic Italian romantic prog style, with excellent musicianship, but it doesn’t sound particularly retro. Not that there are any concessions to modern trends, it just doesn’t sound like it was made in 1972. At their most upbeat, Vieux Carré sound similar to Atons, but the mood varies more. The Genesis influence heard on their first CD is not really noticeable here. There is a little Yes flavor, some Emerson in the piano, but PFM is still a much better reference.
The Watch’s seventh studio album Seven (2017, digipack) features a guest appearance by Steve Hackett. Listen to It’s Only a Dream and Disappearing Act. Read The Progressive Aspect review.
Italian band The Watch grew out of The Night Watch, though the only connection between the bands appears to be singer Simone Rossetti. The Watch are a clone of Gabriel-era Genesis. Rossetti even sounds like Gabriel. It isn’t really necessary to say much more, though of course The Watch don’t have quite the songwriting abilities and melodic sense of Genesis. No one does. The Watch do mimic all the Genesis sounds and surface details perfectly, so take a little trip back...
Primitive (digipack) is from 2007, Vacuum (jewel box) from 2004, Ghost (jewel box) from 2001.
Planet Earth? (2010, digipack) sticks to their tried and true style, but with longevity and playing lots of live shows, The Watch are getting rather good at what they do. John Hackett guests on flute.
It was a busy 2010 for The Watch as they toured most of Europe and North America performing their Genesis tribute show. Timeless (2011, digipack) contains seven original songs plus three reinterpretations of very early 1969-70 Genesis tracks (In the Wilderness, Let Us Now Make Love, Stagnation). John Hackett guests on flute on one. Stagnation is live, taken from the 2010 shows, giving newcomers an idea of how incredible and ‘timeless’ that music and this band sound when performing Genesis. Here are mp3 excerpts from the tracks One Day, Soaring On, End of the Road excerpt 1 and excerpt 2, and Thunder Has Spoken excerpt 1 and excerpt 2. Read the Sea of Tranquility review.
Tracks from the Alps (2014, digipack) is the sixth studio album for The Watch, and it really doesn’t matter what we write here -- you know what you’re going to get, and if you’re at all a fan of Gabriel-era Genesis, this is not a difficult buy decision. One Genesis cover is included, the rare Going Out to Get You. The Watch continue to provide a valuable service by recording obscure early Genesis songs for which a good recording doesn’t exist or that were recorded by Genesis before they had fully established their style. Watch the video for Devil’s Bridge.
This band from Sardinia began under the name Eclisse with the privately-released Mercury and Sulfurus (2000), sounding close to Genesis and Marillion with a Gabriel-style vocalist singing in both English and Italian. The band then changed their name to the unpronounceable Yleclipse and released Prime Substance (2002, 49-minutes) on the Mellow label. The style is similar, with the eight tracks evenly divided between English and Italian lyrics. We prefer the Italian-language tracks, which are reminiscent of bands such as Aton’s who have aspects of both 1970s Italian prog and neo-prog in their sound, with the lyrical vocals tying the two together.
Yleclipse then decided to go English-only beginning with Opus (2006, 59-minutes) and continuing on Trails of Ambergris (2008, 75-minutes), and Genesis remains their primary influence. The Watch are the best comparison, but Yleclipse are not the complete Genesis clones that The Watch have been to this point. Both bands have a ways to go before they become the tunesmiths that Genesis are. Sonically Yleclipse are sometimes closer to early Marillion, probably less a direct influence than simply having the the same Genesis starting point and ending up in the same general area. In any event, Yleclipse have polished this style by now, so these CDs are easily recommended to fans of The Watch and Mangala Vallis. This is the MALS label edition of Opus.
Songs from the Crackling Atanor is Yleclipse’s 2012 album. Since your first question is likely to be “What is an atanor, and why is it crackling?”, we found this definition: Atanor - In medieval alchemy, the oven where natural, mystic, and spiritual transformation takes place. To answer your second question, their style remains the same. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
Zaal is the instrumental jazz-rock band led by Agostino Macor, who is the keyboardist in most of Fabio Zuffanti’s bands: Finisterre, Maschera di Cera, Hostsonaten, LaZona, Rohmer, and Merlin. La Lama Sottile (2004) is mostly melodic jazz-rock dominated by keyboards and violin, highly-structured. But it also makes forays into symphonic progressive, with some Frippian guitar. Fabio Zuffanti plays bass on this album. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
Onda Quadra (2010) is Zaal’s second, which comes in a heavyweight gatefold mini-LP sleeve. There’s a new lineup on this one. Of Macor’s other bands and projects, the music comes closest to Rohmer though jazzier and not quite as ambient. But it is just as contemporary, with some minimalist and experimental aspects. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
The classic first two albums from a guitarist who might be thought of as the Italian Gordon Giltrap and who is one of the top Italian acoustic guitarists. Celestion is from 1977, Chatka from 1978. Zappa is joined by other musicians on keyboards, bass, and drums on these instrumental CDs. Zappa was innovative, playing an amplified classical guitar using a pickup and applying effects such as tape delay echo. These mini-LP editions come in a heavyweight gatefold sleeve with 8-page bilingual booklet.
Zauber are a long-lived Italian symphonic prog band who you can also hear on several of Mellow Records’ tribute CDs. They are from the Italian romantic prog tradition, but are not purely a throwback; witness the Celtic-flavored tune that opens Profondo Blu (2001). Their sound is on the soft side, dominated by keys and flute and often close to Camel. Profondo Blu is Zauber’s sixth album. Here they feature excellent male vocals in Italian, and cover two Frank Zappa songs as well as a bit of ELP’s Tank, Dvorak’s New World Symphony, and a Debussy piece with a long French name that we’re not going to type.
This mini-LP sleeve version of Phoenix is the 2009 edition on AMS, which is limited to 500 hand-numbered copies and comes in a heavyweight gatefold sleeve with 12-page bilingual booklet. Phoenix contains recordings made in 1977, just before the release of Zauber’s 1978 debut album Il Sogno. The original Phoenix album was carefully remastered for the AMS CD and one bonus track added.
This is the 2011 debut by an offshoot of the band Fungus, containing 1970s-style instrumental space rock with keyboards and flute in addition to guitar, bass and drums. Reviewers have compared it to Pink Floyd and mellow Djam Karet.
The self-titled CD is from 2009 and is the first album for Fabio Zuffanti under his own name, as his work in the bands Finisterre, Rohmer, LaZona, Hostsonaten, La Maschera Di Cera, Aries, and Quadraphonic just doesn’t keep him busy enough. You can divide Zuffanti’s output into his classic prog rock work and his modern, mellow, cutting-edge work. His solo CD is of the latter, a mix of electronica, songwriter, post-rock, ambient and dreamy psychedelia. Zuffanti plays a long list of instruments and sings in Italian, and the album remains low-key, slow tempo, and surreal, with an introverted, rainy-day feel. Of his other projects, it comes closest to Rohmer. Heavyweight gatefold mini-LP sleeve with 12-page booklet.
Ghiaccio (2010) is Zuffanti’s second. Read the review at Notes from the Optic Nerve. Watch the video for the song Il Costruttore di Elefanti.