In 1966 Aldo Tagliapietra founded the group Le Orme. By the early 1970s Le Orme had established itself as one of Italy's finest progressive rock groups by releasing numerous essential albums. Perhaps best known for their 1973 release Felona E Sorona, they are widely hailed as the Italian Emerson, Lake & Palmer. During a band hiatus between 1982 and 1986, Aldo released his first solo effort, 1984's ...Nella Notte. In 2012, Aldo has once again released a solo effort entitled Nella Pietra e Nel Vento, his sixth to date.
So what has taken me so long to get this review completed? The simplest and most direct answer I can offer is: from the moment it hit my CD player it has enchanted and bewitched me. I can't quit playing it. I haven't even listened to the other CDs awaiting my attention, so to everyone waiting, my apologies, and it's Aldo's fault... wink wink. It has taken me quite some time to get a solid and in depth understanding of why this album has been such a dominant force in my own listening habits.
The album is sung in Italian. Aldo has a wonderful voice, expressive and passionate, with a wide range at his disposal. The lyrics are printed inside the sleeve, but unless you speak Italian I find it's best to consider the vocal work as another instrument. The artwork done by Paul Whitehead reminds me of early Genesis albums like Nursery Cryme, Selling England By The Pound, and Trespass.
The opening track Nella Pietra e Nel Ventro has a quality about it that is rather rare musically, it succeeds at capturing the best flavour of mid-70s Pink Floyd. It also shares a strong resemblance to Captain Beyond's stunning Starglow Energy and Omega's Time Robbers. It is melancholic and beautiful. I'll give this one a 4 out of 5 possible stars. The second track Silenzi wisely does not leave the listener in melancholia though. It is bright and uplifting with a lush chorus that is very memorable. The end of the track transitions to a strong Genesis style keyboard based theme that could easily have come from Trick Of The Tail. And to complete the one, two, three knock-out punch Il Santo is a brilliant and majestic ballad.
After such an emotional beginning La Cosa Piu Bella provides a much needed respite and is truly relaxing. Un Grande Giardino picks up the pace once again with a lively acoustic guitar / keyboard infused melody. Sette Passi is classic Italian soft prog, lush and ornate. Ce Una Vita is the album's rocker, and it's a just right. Not too heavy, not out of place, just what is needed to keep a great balance. I bet this piece is a real romp live. Tra Il Bene E Il Male is perhaps the piece that doesn't quite fit in. It has a feel of belonging on a movie soundtrack, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but these types of songs are often intentionally transparent and not attention grabbing so as to provide a backdrop for the movie rather than diverting away the audience's attention. There is nothing wrong with the piece per se; it simply seems out of place here. But Dio La Sa quickly remedies that, it is a very lively track that just grabs and does not let go, it is another 4 out of 5 possible stars. I hear the best elements of Santana, Steeley Dan, and even a little Jethro Tull all mixed together. Il Sutra Del Cuore is the perfect closer for the album. If I close my eyes I would almost swear Steve Hackett is playing guitar. It is simply breath taking. As aforementioned, once it's over I find myself pushing play again. Overall, I am perhaps most impressed by the sheer magnitude of musicianship offered here. Though a solo effort, this album has the feel of a band that has played together for years and has clearly refined their sound. There are no signs of any single player trying to one-up the other; everyone here works seamlessly to make the best possible music. In an industry filled with players trying to prove themselves the best at this or that, all too often it is the music that suffers. Here, the music is first, as it should be.
****+ Thomas Rhymer
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