Tuesday, July 31, 2007

OPUS AVANTRA - OPUS MAGNUM: INTROSPEZIONE (1974), LORD CROMWELL PLAYS SUITE FOR SEVEN VICES (19'75), STRATA (1989), ALFREDO TISOCCO KATHARSIS (1975)

INTROSPEZIONE

Tracklist: 1. Introspezione (2:05) 2. Les plaisirs sont doux (3:36) 3. La marmellata (2:34) 4. L'altalena (5:35) 5. Monologo (2:37) 6. Il pavone (4:53) 7. Ah, douleur (4:15) 8. Deliee (5:01) 9. Oro (3:30) 10. Rituale (5:47) 11. Introspezione (integrale) (6:12)

LORD CROMWELL PLAYS SUITE FOR SEVEN VICES

Tracklist: 1. Flowers on pride (5:30) 2. Avarice (5:26) 3. Lust (3:54) 4. My vice (2:00) 5. Ira (7:53) 6. Gluttony (3:05) 7. Envy (5:44) 8. Sloth (4:33) 9. Allemanda (3:03) (bonus track)

STRATA

Tracklist: 1. Canto alla notte (3:51) 2. Quiete e tumulto (2:11) 3. Danza degli oggetti liberati (4:41) 4. Canto incompiuto (4:07) 5. Vertigine (3::24) 6. Fase dello specchio (duello) (3:46) 7. Canto prima dell'alba (3:09) 8. Tics (palude) (2:57) 9. Ritmo alfa (labirinto) - live (7:25) 10. Canto a un dio nascosto (3:35) 11. R.E.M. (11:25) (bonus track)


KATHARSIS

Tracklist: 1. Katharsis (1:11) 2. Galassie (5:57) 3. Tensione (3:29) 4. Il tempo (3:14) 5. Ira (2:10) 6. Richiamo (5:03) 7. (Ah ben si (3:45) 8. Katharsis (1:34) voce recitante "Il principio" 9. Cristalli (2:27) 10. Impressioni (3:10) voce recitante "Impressioni" 11. Flying in the wind (3:22) voce recitante "L'albero" 12. Spiritual (4:35) 13. Caduta (2:39) 14. Katharsis (2:58) voce recitante "Se"

A unique group in the italian scene, Opus Avantra mixed together contemporary classical music with avantgarde and a light progressive rock inflience, giving an original result that's often considered too difficult to listen for straight prog rock ears. Their name was obtained from their three main interests, opera, avantgarde and traditional music.
Formed in Veneto in 1973 around the nucleus of soprano Donella Del Monaco (the niece of famous tenor Mario Del Monaco), pianist-composer Alfredo Tisocco, philosopher Giorgio Bisotto and producer Renato Marengo, and aided in the years by many other musicians, the group released their first album in 1974, Opus Avantra - Donella Del Monaco (often referred to as Introspezione, from the title of the first track) on the collectible Trident label. Usually considered their most accessible work, the album is built on classical-inspired themes with complex arrangements and dominated by the nice soprano voice of singer Del Monaco and good flute playing, with just an instrumental track, Rituale. The band also had a good live activity promoting their album in Veneto and Rome.
Donella Del Monaco was absent on the second album Lord Cromwell (plays suite for seven vices), that follows in the same style as the previous work, being replaced by an american chorus. Former Nuova Idea drummer Paolo Siani played on this album, that like the first one contains some interesting passages for the adventurous listeners.
Both Alfredo Tisocco (along with Gruppo Italiano di Danza Libera in 1975's Katharsis) and Donella Del Monaco (with 12 canzoni da battello in 1977 and Schoenberg Kabarett in 1978) also released individual albums in the same vein, and the duo reunited under the name Opus Avantra for a third album in 1989, Strata, and a CD-only fourth release in 1995, Lyrics.
2008 saw the reunion of Opus Avantra with Donella Del Monaco, Alfredo Tisocco, Giorgio Bisotto and other musicians, for a concert in Japan in April, based on material from all their albums. Hopefully this will repeated for other live exhibitions and new recordings.
The first two Opus Avantra albums are very rare and expensive in their original issues, while the third is more common. All of them came in gatefold covers.
Opus Avantra - Donella Del Monaco was officially reissued on vinyl in 2008 by BTF.Before this reissue others had been released:one of these is probably a counterfeit, very similar to the original but easily identifiable by the usual distinctive elements (see Trident page for details). A 1988 reissue also exists (year appears on the label) with a glossy cover, and this seems a legitimate repressing taken from the original master: the matrix number and release date on vinyl are machine-stamped and SIAE stamp is there. Some copies of this reissue have the labels inverted on both sides of the vinyl (the A-side label is on the B-side).Another edition of the same reissue exists which was customized for export to Japan; this has a smooth cardboard gatefold cover, easily identifiable by the english text on back "Distributed for Japan by Marquee". It also includes an insert with the original lyrics and the japanese translations.
Even Lord Cromwell had a reissue on the same Suono label as the original, this label kept releasing records until the 80's. At least two different reissues exist, one with the "Distributed for Japan by Marquee" writing on back cover was made in 1988 for export in collaboration with the japanese record shop Marquee, which added a lyric sheet and a foldout insert, the other one is identical to the original and even carries the old printer's name and distribution credits ("Grafica Centonze - Como" and "Distribuito da Ariston") so it looks like the cover has been printed from an original matrix (or an original cover has been photographed, as in the best bootleg tradition!).Any details helping to tell originals from the reissues are well accepted!
Two beautiful 4-CD compilation box sets have been recently released by Akarma:Opus Magnum collects the first three Opus Avantra albums (with a bonus track each) along with Alfredo Tisocco's Katharsis (played with Gruppo Italiano di Danza Libera);Omega includes two more albums from Alfredo Tisocco, Ritagli d'anima and Ballet collection, and two from Opus Avantra, 1995's Lyrics and Live concerts excerpts, an unreleased live album with 1977-91 recordings (this CD has been later issued separately).The albums in this box sets have all mini gatefold covers reproducing the original artworks, and some of them also include an insert. Each box set also includes a foldout insert.
A recent CD reissue of Opus Avantra - Donella Del Monaco on the japanese Arcangelo label (ARC-7005) comes with a hard mini-LP cover. (italianprog)

Monday, July 30, 2007

ROBERTO COLOMBO-BOTTE DA ORBI (1977, CD, ITALY)


Tracklist:
1. Ascolta si fa sera 5'15
2. Botte da orbi 1'54
3. Fiato alle trombe 5'46
4. Dai, non fare il romantico 4'39
5. Alegher alegher 5'42
6. Danza disumana 4'53
7. Il ritorno di Likembe 6'07
8. Fine del trenta-tre 1'20
I search desperatly the third Roberto Colombo LP "Astrolimpix" (1980), please if someone has this registration PLEASE contact me! THANKS!!!

ROBERTO COLOMBO - SFOGATEVI BESTIE (1976, LP, ITALY)

Great prog from italy! Recently reissue the two Roberto Colombo works (Sfogatevi bestie and Botte da Orbi) with fantastic combo plays 'a sorta' of incredible progressive-fusion-mediterranean-jazz. Very recommended for all prog fans!!!!!
Tracklist:
1. Sono pronto 2'19
2. Caccia alla Volpe 10'20
3. Entreneuse 6'35
4. Sfogatevi bestie 4'23
5. Assurdo parteI 1'57
6. Metronomo 138 8'26
7. Assurdo parteII 4'33

Monday, July 23, 2007

ETHOS-OPEN UP (1977, LP, USA)

ETHOS were an excellent 70’s US based 4 piece prog rock band whose second album “Open Up” remains a landmark album for this music lover. Fans of classic 70’s prog will love this album with their great epic passages (a la YES) with complex syncopation (aka SPOCK'S BEARD, GENTLE GIANT and KING CRIMSON) and pastoral moments full of the glorious mellotron. In many ways they remind me musically of a cross of FIREBALLET and YES. ETHOS were Brad Stephenson (bass, string bass, moog bass pedals), Mark Richards (percussion, moog drums), Michael Ponczek (mini moog, poly-moog, Hammond, organ, Rhodes piano, mellotron) and Wil Sharpe (acoustic and electric guitars). Their overall sound is full and rich with some real creative and challenging parts yet controlled and highly symphonic. A truely amazing little album that I recommed to all prog rock lovers. (James Unger).
Tracklist:
1. Pimp city (7:26)
2. Start anew (3:22)
3. U.V. Melody (0:32)
4. Memories (7:08)
5. The players (Of the game) (5:49)
6. Marathon II (5:24)
7. Sedona (4:07)
8. Close your eyes (5:45)
Musicians:
Michael Ponczek (keyboards), Mark Richards (percussion), Will sharpe (guitars, voice), Brad Stephenson (bass, voice).
"Open up" degli Ethos, è uno dei migliori album di prog sinfonico americano. Disco che segue "Ardour" del 1976 dove si intuiscono immediatamente le influenze dei Gentle Giant, Yes, Genesis e King Crimson pur mantenendo comunque una propria originalità, ancora più marcata, appunto, in questo secondo lavoro, più maturo a livello compositivo e negli arrangiamenti. Da segnalare, a testimonianza del valore del gruppo la partecipazione come supporter nelle turnè americane di Yes e King Crimson. Purtroppo "Open Up" non è mai stato ristampato su cd; esiste solo una edizione su Tachika Records, registrazione proveniente da vinile. Vivamente consigliato agli amanti del prog classico, o meglio della buona musica..
click here

CIRCUS-S/T (1976, LP, SWITZERLAND)


Coming from Basle (NW Switzerland on the language border between the Alemanics and the Romands), this unusual quartet of musicians has a strange line-up. Hauser is one of the better percussionists (still playing but in jazz bands nowadays), and bassist Cerletti (the only non-Alemanic in the band) is certainly excellent plays also acoustic guitar. The other two, Fri and Grieder, share the wind instruments with the vocals. That's it! No KB and almost no el. guitars, at least on the first two albums. This group is one of the real gems still unknown to most progheads, developing a fusion between classical and rock much like early MANEIGE did but also includes some influences from VDGG (mostly the sax but sometimes also the singing) and also KING CRIMSON to a lesser extent. While having some success locally, they only managed three studio albums of which the first two are now on CD. Of those two albums "Movin' On" is their best but their debut is also excellent.CIRCUS is certainly recommended to everyone who loves great interplay between musicians and to progheads not afraid of a little adventure in their musical endeavours. (Hugues Chantraine)
Tracklist:
1. Stormsplineter (2:45)
2. Nowadays (10:49)
3. Sundays (6:56)
4. Dawntalk (5:07)
5. Room For Sale (15:07)

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

NORTHWIND-DISTANT SHORES (1977, LP, USA)

The original Northwind band was founded in 1968 by Roland Ernest and Jan Stepka. They were inspired originally by bands such as the Doors, Cream, the Moody Blues, the Beatles, and Procol Harum. Northwind was later heavily influenced by ELP, Yes, King Crimson, and Genesis. Echoes of these styles are found in the Distant Shores recordings. The band went through four membership changes. The first incarnation had drummer Steve White. In 1970 they created and performed an original rock opera entitled “Looking Back.” In 1972 they recorded an untitled demo album featuring the song “Last Day at Lokun.” Tom Iacaboni replaced Steve White on drums when Steve left the band to pursue the guitar. In 1974 Tom, Jan and Roland recorded the world famous (in collectors' circles) Northwind demo album in Roland's family's basement. This album is often erroneously referred to as “Woods of Zandor.” Tom was at heart a jazz drummer, and when he left Tim Cahill joined on drums and percussion. For a short period, Bob Pascoe contributed his rock guitar to Northwind's sound. Northwind then performed mostly in clubs and created a reputation in Canada. This period largely had the band playing covers of other rock bands' material. In 1977 returning to original music, Roland took over guitars and the band added the talents of Rob Foster on wind instruments. In 1978 the band recorded their magnum opus “Distant Shores” in Roland's family's basement in Sterling Heights, Michigan. One song, “Just Yesterday,” was released as part of a local radio station's compilation of Detroit area bands' music entitled “Home Grown.” Tim Cahill's religious calling conflicted with his perception of the rock and roll lifestyle leading him to leave secular musical performing. Howard Wells joined the band on drums and percussion for rehearsals while Roland and the band's manager Ron Geddish vainly persued a record contract. Northwind broke up in 1978 largely because of this failure. In the end, the “Distant Shores” songs were never performed outside of Roland's basement. Jan Stepka created this site in 2002 to keep Northwind's music and memory alive(http://www.northwindband.com/)
Musicians:
Roland Ernest (composer, guitars, keyboards on "Just Yesterday", vocals), Jan Stepka (keyboards), Rob Foster (winds), Tim Cahill (drums, percussion, vibes), Joseph Dedischew (sound), Howard Wells (drums, percussion) click here

FLIGHT - INCREDIBLE JOURNEY (1976, LP, USA)

Track list: 1. Music is (6:49) 2. 1929 (5:38) 3. First impression (3:39) 4. Mystery man (3:21) 5. 2003 (5:42) 6. Visions of a dream (3:41) 7. The sands of time (4:20) 8. Roc'n'roll star (3:51)

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

TRUE MYTH-S/T (1979, LP, CANADA)


True Myth was formed in London, Ontario as an offshoot of a class project by students at Fanshawe College -- a music school. Tom Treumuth was the keyboardist and helped the band secure a deal with Warner Bros. Records in 1979. Their debut album was the first digital album recorded in Canada and the second in the world (the first being Stevie Wonder's 'Secret Life Of Plants'). Treumuth soon opened his own record label, Hypnotic, and the band switched for their follow-up album 'Telegram' in 1981. In the meantime, Treumuth had been moonlighting with another Toronto studio project The Fictions on their debut album in 1980. Treumuth would go on to produce the likes of Honeymoon Suite and dozens of other Canadian acts during the 1980's many of them on his surviving indie label Hypnotic. (Wikipedia)
Track list:
1.Reach For The Heavens (6:05)
2. Light Years Before (6:06)
3. It’s Got To Be (3:13)
4. Time and Time Again (4:45)
5. Space Promenade (4:28)
6. In The Mist (4:56)
7. Song For The World (4:21)

Monday, July 16, 2007

GRUPPO D'ALTERNATIVA-IPOTESI (1972, LP, ITA)

This band with a strange name and an unusual line-up is still less-known to many italian prog experts, yet their only album is surprisingly good and has very interesting moments. The weakest point is the singer's voice, squeaky and monotonous and with some spoken parts to connect the musical themes, but musically the band is competent and the album reveals some jazz-rock influences in the Canterbury vein (listen to some jazzy guitar parts or the use of bassoon). Acoustic parts are prevalent but there are sudden rhythm changes and complex arrangements and the album can be a nice surprise. The nine tracks are connected to form two long suites.
Gruppo d'Alternativa was based in Milan, and Ipotesi was conceived as a rock opera, and even represented at Teatro Uomo with good success. It was based on the death of a friend of the group's singer, in a road accident. The LP, released on Harvest, contained only a small part of the opera, that originally relied much more on improvisation, most of the band members being influenced by such jazz artists as Miles Davis. But it was not successful, and the record company asked the group to release a more commercial second album, causing their decision to take separate ways.
Little is known of the former group members after the end of GdA. Leonardo Dosso played for some time with Stormy Six, on their Cliché and L'apprendista albums, and after the end of his musical studies he dedicated to chamber music and formed the Arnold woodwind quintet, playing with them for over 20 years. He is also a bassoon teacher and collaborates with baroque music ensembles.
An album that's been ignored by many collectors for years, Ipotesi has never been reissued on vinyl, but it's not impossible to find though never particularly cheap.The nice gatefold cover is laminated, but non-laminated copies also exist, these being presumably, as in many other EMI issues, later pressings. No counterfeits exist nor foreign issues.
The only CD reissue ever made for this album is the one by AMS, released in 2007 with mini-LP gatefold cover.
Musicians: Tino Guasconi (vocals), Gianfranco Fumagalli (flute), Leonardo Dosso (bassoon, acoustic guitar), Rodolfo Pace (guitar), Roberto Romano (keyboards), Paolo Rizzi (bass), Nino Flenda (drums, percussion)

Sunday, July 15, 2007

ENSEMBLE HAVADIA'-SAME/ SPECCHI (1981-82, CD, ITA)




A very adventurous band, this Italian Avant/Folk ensemble never got much attention during their fairly short formation during the early 80’s, therefore information on this band is hard to find. Their music is very pleasant yet challenging, with also some notable classical and ethnic influences incorporated in their overall sound. The vocals plays a significant role in their music as well, with almost Zeuhl-ish male and female vocal stylistics that flows systematically well with the music. They released one studio album and one EP in 1981 and 1982 with their best release being the self-titled studio album wich represents everything musically decribed in this bio at its best, a truly admiring release and an essential of it’s genre. Ensemble Havadià disbanded shortly after these releases, but they are both reissued on CD so if you stumble over it then check it outif you have a desire for avantgarde, folk and classical music. (bio written by Bj1)
Musicians:Moni Ovadia (voice), Mariuccia Colegni (voice, electric bass), Valemir Dugina (violin), Mario Arcari (oboe, sax), Diego Ruvidotti (trumpet), Alfredo Lacosegliaz (classic guitar, percussion), Lorenzo Leddi (electric guitar, keyboards), Mauro Minucci (contrabass), Aldo Di Marco (vibraphone, drums)

HERMANN SZOBEL-S/T (1976, LP, AUSTRIA)

Hermann Szobel is/was a pianist and composer. He produced and recorded one album, titled "Szobel," at the age of 18, demonstrating, in the words of a "Down Beat" reviewer (9 September 1976), "a conception and technique far in advance of most musicians twice his age." According to the artist biography included with promotional copies of the album, Szobel was born in Vienna in 1958 and was "a child prodigy who began his classical training at the age of six" who "spent the majority of his practicing hours on pieces by Chopin." The bio states that pianists Martial Solal and Keith Jarrett were two major influences on his work. Szobel is a nephew of the late rock-concert promoter Bill Graham. "Szobel" features extremely complicated compositions comparable to those of Frank Zappa. The music is jazz-based but contains elements of rock and Western classical music. Szobel's impressive piano virtuosity is noticeable throughout the album. The other musicians on "Szobel" are Michael Visceglia on bass, Bob Goldman on drums, Dave Samuels on percussion including marimba and vibraphone, and Vadim Vyadro on tenor sax, clarinet, and flute. Obscure even when it was released (on Arista Records) in 1976, "Szobel" does not exist on CD. Hermann Szobel disappeared from the music world after this album and has never been heard from again. (wikipedia)
Fantastic powerfull mixture of progressive jazz close to the Zappa jazz-rock 'era' with complex textures harmonic of rare beauty and intensity.
Personnel: Hermann Szobel (piano, writer/arrangements main performer), Bob Goldman (drums), Michael Visceglia (bass), Dave Samuels (percussion, marimba, vibraphone), Vadim Vyadro (clarinet, sax, flute).
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Saturday, July 14, 2007

MAMMA NON PIANGERE-MUSICA BESTIAME E BENESSERE/ SEMPRE AVANTI A TESTA BASSA (1979-80, 2 LP, ITALY)

This group of Milan, little known and trained around 1978, is closely linked with Stormy Six and The Orchestra label. All their production came out for that label in fact independent and their only stable component was Leddi Lorenzo, the brother of Thomas Stormy Six, along with another element of the group, the sound engineer Roberto Brenna. Group unusual, with all the musicians committed to playing all sorts of traditional and unusual instruments, Mamma Piangere not remember sometimes the English group Henry Cow or other international artists motion Rock In Opposition, especially in the female voice and some tools wind, but they have a unique musical approach that blends together the rock with folk melodies, rhymes traditional Italian incredible pace of waltz and other dances. These two albums are interesting and require attention, but the group broke up after the second LP, recorded live in Sardinia with a training almost completely different from the first. Nicola Scarano and Sonia Milan, the original, also have played since 1970 with Strumentoconcerto, a group closely linked to Mother Piangere Not that included Lorenzo Leddi in the first LP, which has produced two albums for The Orchestra, combining musical research and popular culture. Sonia Milan is now part of the duo with guitarist Ameritalian American Greg Patton. (italianprog).

ORCHESTRA NJERVUDAROV - CON LE ORECCHIE DI EROS (1979, LP, ITALY)


Orchestra Njervudarov was formed in Bologna, though some of the members were from the Marche. The band nucleus existed since mid 70's under the name Frogs, playing a jazz-rock inspired from Soft Machine and Weather Report. The new name was chosen not long before the album release in 1979, and the group had a limited live activity.
Con le orecchie di Eros, the only recorded release by Orchestra Njervudarov, is an album with a very strange story, being well known by name to many italian prog fans throughout the words, though few of them had heard it, making it a sort of legendary (and difficult to find) record.
Released in 1979, probably in a limited quantity, by EMI, and badly promoted, the album is an unusual mix of Canterbury-inspired instrumental jazz prog (not unlike Picchio Dal Pozzo's albums), Zappa-esque sounds and atmospheres and even a touch of ironical new wave like in the long-titled Rapporto Njervudarov sulla teoria degli opposti estremismi (to be honest, this is the only track to sound totally out of place in the entire album, with crazy lyrics in the same vein as some "demential" italian punk bands of the late 70's).The LP has some very good and intense moments, though it's not particularly representative of the typical italian prog sound.
Bass player Roberto Costa has long collaborated with Lucio Dalla and other italian pop artists like Luca Carboni and Luca Barbarossa. Even guitarist Bruno Mariani has briefly played with Lucio Dalla, as well as with Ron, Samuele Bersani, Ornella Vanoni and others.Drummer Adriano Pedini still plays in the jazz field after having a long career as sessionman.
A rare album, Con le orecchie di Eros has never been reissued on vinyl nor CD. It has an odd number in the EMI catalogue, as the 3C064-18139 used for this record seems to be dated 1976 like Baricentro's Sconcerto from that year (no.3C064-18152). Probably the LP was given an unused old catalogue number.
No counterfeits exist nor foreign vinyl issues. (italianprog)


Adriano Pedini: Drums, Vibraphone, Flute, Percussion 
Roberto Costa: Electric Bass, Contrabass, Synthesizer [Crumar, Polymoog], Trombone  
Bruno Mariani: Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Guitar Synthesizer [Roland], Percussion 
Piero Baldassarri: Electric Piano, Piano [Acoustic], Synthesizer [Polymoog] 
Piergiorgio Bonafé: Soprano Saxophone, Alto Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone, Clarinet, Bass Clarinet, Cornet, Flute

link | Official DR value: DR13 (info)