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Museo Rosenbach, Italy

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Museo Rosenbach - Zarathustra. 1973 Ricordi
Museo Rosenbach - Exit. 2000 Carisch
Museo Rosenbach - Barbarica. 2013 Immaginifica

Since we've given so much focus on the 2013 Italian progressive rock renaissance, this might be a good time to address the elephant in the room. Regarding the discography above, Museo Rosenbach have more albums from an archival perspective (including a recent live in the studio rendition of "Zarathustra"), but I'm just including the 3 studio albums to date. I will cover their landmark 1973 album "Zarathustra" (an album I've owned for over 25 years) on my sister blog Unencumbered Music Reviews at another time. I have not heard "Exit", but it would seem to be a typically underwhelming reformation album, where the band tried to be relevant, and yet seemed to have no understanding of its real audience. I've seen defenders of the album as well, though no one would be willing to fall on their sword for it I'm sure.

Perhaps the "Exit" album was a lesson learned for the veterans of the original Museo Rosenbach. Because "Barbarica" not only addresses its past, but also its future. We've talked about reformations here on UTR in the past, and generally they are abject failures. From Italy, Alphataurus and Le Orme have been glaring exceptions as their reformation successfully captured the spirit of the original band without them resorting to caricature. "Barbarica" is similar - except even more successful to my ears. Alphataurus had the added benefit of an unfinished 1974 album to work with, for example. Museo Rosenbach was starting from scratch. Original bassist (and now keyboardist) Alberto Moreno and drummer Giancarlo Golzi are the only steady members across their entire discography. Joining the reunion was original "Zarathustra" lead vocalist Stefano Lupo Galifi. The latter himself coming fresh off the debut by Il Tempio delle Clessidre which no doubt revived his interest in progressive rock - and most certainly he was held in high reverence by the much younger band that surrounded him. Ego boosts after age 60 don't come as often as they once did I'm sure. Even for myself, I was shocked at just how great his voice still sounded. And he continues to belt it out with the best of them on "Barbarica". These three old warriors were then augmented by a new quartet of two guitarists, bass, and keyboards.

What amazes me most about "Barbarica" is how much the new material represents the spirit of their past, without copying it. The instrumentation is a mix of new and old - and the latter is often represented by the former. One of the most amazing aspects of "Zarathustra" was their ability to write jaw dropping breaks. Those kind where everyone looks at the stereo and says: Did you hear that? Well, guess what? You'll be doing that with "Barbarica" too. Like all great bands, it was the synergy of the collective whole that made that 1973 opus great, rather than a collection of soloists. "Barbarica" is exactly that. It's a true group effort, that retains their brilliant songwriting capability. The band sounds bold and confident. I've read some bellyaching that "Barbarica" isn't the same as "Zarathustra". Well I hope not! While I'm not willing to say it's on the same level either - there are just too many parameters to consider where it would have the same effect on me - I will say that "Barbarica" may in fact be in the Top 3 of all the great Italian albums released in 2013. And that's a huge achievement given the competition. For me, the best ever reformation album coming from Italy. Yea.... Wow.

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