Skip to main content

Il Bacio della Medusa, Italy



Facebook
Website
Samples

Il Bacio della Medusa - s/t. 2004 private; 2006 Black Widow (CD; LP); 2015 AMS/BTF (mini-LP)
Il Bacio della Medusa - Discesa Agl'inferi D'un Giovane Amante. 2008 Black Widow (CD; LP);  2015 AMS/BTF (mini-LP)
Il Bacio della Medusa - Deus Lo Vult. 2012 private (hard bound book CD); 2015 AMS/BTF (mini-LP)

In the wake of discussing all of these fantastic new Italian progressive rock bands from 2013, I think this would be a good opportunity to address one of the groups who's been operating in this field for almost a decade now. Il Bacio della Medusa sort of slipped in without notice until their second album arrived, and even then few paid much heed. This is about the period I was introduced to them, but wasn't able to give the albums the attention they deserved. Last year I rectified that by buying all 3 albums on CD and absorbing them properly. So it's about high time I get a band page going here.

----Il Bacio della Medusa

Il Bacio della Medusa may have entered the scene quietly, but that album cover certainly is striking. Like a cross between Nuova Idea's Clowns and Manilla Road's The Courts of Chaos, one might imagine this to be some wacky prog metal take on the classic Italian 70s scene. Fortunately it is not and is much more reverent to the Italian progressive rock masters than heavy metal. Still, this is definitely their heaviest album, and also their most modern sounding. It could pass for sophisticated hard rock as much as symphonic progressive. In that way, Il Bacio della Medusa started their career much in the same way as Deus Ex Machina. Hey, you gotta start somewhere. And in 2004, there was a lull in the retro progressive movement, and it seemed every band coming out of Italy were either prog metal nuts, or Dutch styled neo progressive bands singing in English, neither of which interested me much anymore. So here comes Il Bacio della Medusa with their flutes, psychotic Italian vocals, crazy dynamics, even an accordion, plus more ideas than they could control at that time. In retrospect, it's an excellent album, where perhaps the only fault was the aforementioned crunchy guitars, which belied their overall approach.

----Discesa Agl'inferi D'un Giovane Amante

Il Bacio della Medusa is back with their sophomore effort Discesa Agl'inferi D'un Giovane Amante. Just rolls off the tongue doesn't it? Well if there was any doubt where Il Bacio della Medusa's heart was after the debut, then those were put to rest for the opening here. With the addition of violin, Il Bacio della Medusa declares that they are indeed a progressive rock band, and they're here to stay. Simone Cecchini's vocals have definitely improved, and you can tell he's studied the early 70s masters intently (and even more so on their 3rd album). Love the Pholas Dactylus styled psychotic narration. His performance is definitely one of the highlights of the disc. Meanwhile Diego Petrini gives the old fashioned piano more air time, which is always welcome here at the UTR. Not to mention plenty of old school organ. Eva Morelli's staccato flute is layered on the constantly changing rhythms, and guitarist Brozetti still has a bit too much pig squeal in his guitar, but he can lay off when appropriate. For those who miss the glory days of Osanna, you could do worse than pick this album up on your next order.

----Deus Lo Volt

Il Bacio della Medusa returns with their 3rd opus, an album that is likely to please fans of classic early 1970s Italian progressive rock – and perhaps only to them. Allow me a chance to further clarify: If band names such as Delirium, Cervello, and Odissea send a chill up your spine, then Deus Lo Volt will be considered a must purchase. Otherwise, you may want to do a bit more research and get back to us. There is some Italian progressive rock that is easy to digest on initial listening (PFM, Le Orme, Acqua Fragile…) – and then there’s the deep-dive stuff – albums that require hours of listening to a preferred style and still love it despite the quirks. In other words, you have to be “all in” to appreciate an album such as this. Good, bad, or indifferent, I myself would have to be considered “all in”, so I think it’s a wonderful piece overall. But this is not the first album I’d pull from my collection for a co-worker looking to hear a few sounds from my collection. They’d look at me as if I’d just arrived from another universe (well, they do anyway, but let’s not go there…). Deus Lo Volt is a concept album about Pope Urbano II, the Papal overlord of none other than the First Crusade. If there was ever a topic that is likely to draw a gleeful smile from a shadowy progressive rock fan, well then... this has got to take the cake! What the lyrics interpret of his life and ambition is for Italian speakers only, and I could care a less really. I’m here for the music and the vocal representation. On this latter point, the male vocals here are of the 70s gruff variety similar to the aforementioned bands in sentence number #2.  Of course there’s the fluttering flute provided by no less than a shapely and beautiful long haired lass. All the other requisite sounds and themes are in place: Majestic keyboards, hard rocking guitars, and a rhythm section that can’t stand to stay on the same meter for more than 20 seconds. A couple of somewhat disappointing observations: The title track, for the first 5 minutes at least, sounds more like Iron Maiden on their debut than Italian prog rock. And while I love Maiden as much as the next person, I do feel it’s a bit incongruous here. Though the final two minutes of said track show off their Italo-prog cred – add flute - and go all Osanna on us. And then finally we get to the length of the disc. Now I know lots of folks feel that “filling the disc” with 80 minutes of music is tiresome, and while I may not completely agree, I do understand the point. But Deus Lo Vult is only 34 minutes long. Certainly another 10 or 15 minutes could have been added to fill out a normal LP length? We’re in Dalton territory here, right? On the plus side, the CD comes in a wonderful hardbound book cover, with an interesting lyric libretto with photos. I’m really enjoying this musically and aesthetically. But surely, oh surely, there  had to be another 10 good minutes sitting on the cutting room floor?

Last update: July 27, 2016

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Forgas Band Phenomena, France

News: According to the latest Wayside flyer, Forgas Band Phenomena's 6th album will be coming soon. No other info has emerged.

UMR notes

La Coscienza di Zeno, Italy

Samples
Facebook

Originally published November 3, 2013 and moved forward to highlight their new album La Notte Anche di Giorno.

The band is still active as of August 2016, and a 4th album is in the works.

La Coscienza di Zeno - s/t. 2011 Mellow (CD); 2014 Fading (CD)
La Coscienza di Zeno - Sensitivita. 2013 Fading (CD)
La Coscienza di Zeno - La Notte Anche di Giorno. 2015 Fading (CD); 2016 Fading (LP)

----La Coscienza di Zeno

La Coscienza di Zeno's debut is fastball down the middle Italian progressive rock. If you're a fan of the style, then hard to imagine one not enjoying this. It does eschew the retro instrumental palette, but compositionally similar to the 70s masters.

----Sensitivita

Continuing on from their debut, La Coscienza di Zeno have made some significant improvements in many areas... and perhaps a few steps back in others. Let's focus on the positive first. The instrumental palette has been increased to include more of an analog orientation, though there is …

Kenso, Japan

Website
Facebook

No new updates from Kenso since 2015.

Kenso - s/t. 1980 Pam (LP); 1995 Arcangelo (CD)
Kenso - II. 1982 Pam (LP); 1993 King (CD); 2002 Pathograph (CD papersleeve)
Kenso - s/t (aka III). 1985 Nexus (LP; CD); 2011 King (CD papersleeve)
Kenso - Sparta. 1989 Crime (CD); 2009 Pathograph as Sparta Naked (CD)
Kenso - Yume No Oka. 1991 King; 2011 Pathograph (CD papersleeve)
Kenso - Esoptron. 1999 King (CD); 1999 Musea (France CD)
Kenso - Ken-Son-Gu-Su. 2000 Pathograph (CD)
Kenso - Fabulis Mirabilibus De Bombycosi Scriptis. 2002 Nexus (CD); 2002 Vinyl Magic (Italy CD)
Kenso - Utsuroi Yuku Mono. 2006 King (CD)
Kenso - Uchi Naru Koe Ni Kaikiseyo. 2014 King (CD)

There are many other live and archival releases from the band, though I only own Ken-Son-Gu-Su. All the other entries above represent their studio albums. There's also a 14 CD box set on King that contains all their studio albums through 2012, as well as a handful of live recordings.

For a band with so many recordings, an…

Gerard, Japan

Website
Fan site (more info than official site)
Samples

Gerard are a long running symphonic progressive rock band lead by keyboardist Toshio Egawa. I presume they are still a functioning unit, though the last activity I could find is 2015. Not sure if they have a Facebook page, but I couldn't find one if they do. My history with the band goes back to their very beginning, and I once owned their first two albums on LP. I sold them, though I'm not sure I'd do that today. In addition, I have heard Irony of Fate and Pandora's Box, but never owned them. I currently only possess The Ruins of a Glass Fortress and the album we're featuring today: Live in Marseille. No matter if I ever buy more Gerard, or not, for certain this album will be a keeper deep into my lifespan. I'll update this post when I revisit Ruins/Glass, or any others I decide to pick up along the way.

Gerard - s/t. 1984 Nexus (LP); 1988/92/99 Crime (CD); 2001 Spalax (France CD); 2011 Nexus (mini-LP)
Ger…

Hills, Sweden

Samples
Facebook
Website

Originally published on July 17, 2011 and updated on February 3, 2012. Moving post forward to highlight their new album Frid.

Hills are among the finest of the neo Krautrock bands one can hear today. They are still active as of August, 2016..

Hills - s/t. 2009 Intergalactic Tactic Records (LP); 2010 Sulatron (Austria CD)
Hills - Master Sleeps. 2011 Intergalactic Tactics Records (LP); 2011 Transubstans (CD); 2013 Rocket Recordings (UK CD; LP)
Hills - Live (EP). 2013 Cardinal Fuzz (UK LP)
Hills - Frid. 2015 Rocket Recordings (UK CD; LP)
Hills - Live At Daemonens Port. 2015 Kommun 2 / Svensk Psych Aften (2 LP)

Regarding the debut, this is one of those cases where I bought the LP (the pink vinyl edition no less), since I didn't figure it would be issued on CD. I probably would have waited otherwise, but what the hey, the LP is pretty cool looking. But owning it on CD with the bonus tracks was necessary too. I may one day part with the vinyl, but not in a hur…

ARC, England

News: ARC has a new album entitled Fleet that was just released on October 20th. Auto buy!

To the best of my knowledge, there is no centralized website or Facebook for the band. There's plenty of samples, mostly under the Ian Boddy name. I have no idea why the band's name is capitalized. As far as I know, ARC is not an acronym that stands for something. Maybe the progenitors will inform us?

Overview: One of the premier Berlin School electronic revivalists going today. Mark Shreeve already is enshrined in the school's hall-of-fame with Redshift, so ARC makes it 2 for 2. And Ian Boddy needs no introduction either to fans of the genre.

UMR notes

Willowglass, England

Website
Samples

Willowglass- s/t. 2005 private
Willowglass - Book of Hours. 2008 private
Willowglass - The Dream Harbour. 2013 private

We pick up Willowglass on the second album "Book of Hours"... What do you do with a guy who is enamored with the European Medieval past of stained glass windows, Celtic crosses, and towered villages - and who has an obsession with 1970-1973 era Genesis? Someone who distills those ideas, reshapes it in his own image, and then pushes back out to the wilds for all to critique. It's easy to pan such an effort, but when it is done this well and with this kind of passion, one really does have to admire the final product. If early Genesis is your thing, and you're OK with no vocals being present in such a setting, then it's highly likely you will enjoy, or at the very least appreciate, Andrew Marshall's Willowglass. 

----

As a reviewer myself, I tend to read dozens of reviews. It can be wearisome to see the same tired critiques…

Necronomicon, Germany

News: Well, forget what I said. There is a new album (see cover above)! It's noted as such in the comments but I missed the meaning. Oh my goodness, this band is something else...
Website Facebook
Location: Aachen

Overview: Necronomicon released one famous album (in the underground that is) in 1972, and only reappeared with some archival releases in 1990s. Then completely out of nowhere they released an album in 2012 that was even better than their original release!

UMR notes

IQ, England

Website
Samples
Facebook

IQ - Seven Stories into Eight. 1982 private. Cassette only. Re-recorded as Seven Stories into '98. 1998 Giant Electric Pea.
IQ - Tales from the Lush Attic. 1983 The Major Record Company (LP); 1988 MSI (France CD)
IQ - The Wake. 1985 Sahara (LP); 1994 Giant Electric Pea (CD)
IQ - Nonzamo. 1987 Mercury CD + LP
IQ - Are You Sitting Comfortably? 1989 Vertigo CD + LP
IQ - Ever. 1993 Giant Electric Pea (reissued in 2013 on LP)
IQ - Subterranea. 1997 Giant Electric Pea (reissued in 2012 on LP)
IQ - The Seventh House. 2000 Giant Electric Pea; 2005 InsideOut (Germany)
IQ - Dark Matter. 2004 Giant Electric Pea (reissued in 2008 on LP by Primal Vinyl)
IQ - Frequency. 2009 InsideOut (Germany)
IQ - The Road of Bones. 2014 Giant Electric Pea (also as a 2 CD set with bonus tracks)

IQ have also released many live albums, outtakes, demos, and other such non-studio recordings that I've left off here. This includes the debut tape, which I will investigate further now that …

Arabs in Aspic, Norway

Website
Samples

Arabs in Aspic - Progeria (EP). 2003 Borse Music
Arabs in Aspic - Far Out in Aradabia. 2004 Borse Music
Arabs in Aspic - Strange Frame of Mind. 2010 Pancromatic LP. 2011 Black Widow (Italy) CD
Arabs in Aspic - Pictures in a Dream. 2013 Black Widow (Italy) CD + LP

Robert Fripp has stated that "Larks' Tongues in Aspic" means: "Something precious which is stuck, but visible. Something precious which is encased in form."  So with that heady bit of insight, it's obvious to me that Arabs in Aspic means... yea, I have no idea either. [shrug]

But what is "in aspic" is the band's ability to recreate the sounds of the 1970s. Specifically the American FM sound of 1975 and '76. Despite being from Norway, Arabs in Aspic are yet another band that would fit well in my USA Midwest / Ontario Progressive Rock (1970's/early 80s) list. Sounds odd doesn't it? Well... it's not as strange as it may first appear.

In 1990, in my Euro…