In 2009, the Italian progressive rock band Latte E Miele impressed me with their album Marco Polo Sogni E Viaggi (see review). It brought back the music which they already performed in the seventies. Traces of the fantastic progressive rock acts of that era were very much notable. Fans of Genesis, Le Orme, PFM, Banco, Yes, The Enid and Camel could embrace this album whole heartedly. Too bad it took them five years to come up with a follow up album. However Passio Secundum Mattheum - The Complete Work was most certainly well worth waiting for!
The album has again a link to their past, because Passio Secundum Mattheum - The Complete Work is the revival of their first work Passio Secundum Mattheum, which came out in 1972. But this time around it was released with the addition of seven new tracks. Furthermore everything was totally re-recorded by Marcello Giancarlo Dellacasa (electric and classical guitar), Oliviero Lacagnina (piano and keyboards), Alfio Vitanza (drums and vocals) and
Massimo Gori (bass, vocals), who wasn't present on the first version. The music was most of all composed by the first two mentioned members and the lyrics were done by the last two mentioned musicians. Just like the first edition of the album so was this second version-as far as I know-based on the Matthew Passion, not directly on the famous oratorio by Bach, but there are some melodies with some similarities. To make this piece of music something special, a lot of extra contributors were asked to participate in this ambitious musical project which melts (progressive) rock and classical music in a perfect way. First of all, the project sees the presence of the Gnu Quartet of Genoa and the Mixed Choir Class of Spezia prepared and directed by Sergio Clerics. But the surprises do not end there. To record the recitatives of the Gospel of Matthew were asked some of the biggest names in the Italian progressive rock scene. People such as Alvaro Fella (Jumbo), Lino Vairetti (Osanna), Silvana Aliotta (Circus 2000), Paolo Carelli (Pholas Dactylus), Aldo de Scalzi (Picchio dal Pozzo), Sophya Baccini, Elisa Montaldo (Il Tempio Delle Clessidre), Giorgio D'Adamo (New Trolls), Max Manfredi, Simonluca and Paolo Griguolo (Picchio Dal Pazzo) can all be heard. All those people together managed to achieve something special which resulted in a real masterpiece. All of the nineteen tracks are of an unbelievable high level. I just couldn't spot any weak parts.
More than forty years after the first version was released, the group comes up with a more detailed version. In almost one whole hour they reveal a heavy symphonic work, in the familiar Italian prog so renowned melodic shape. Of the original thirteen-volume work is the base remaining in main line, while a handful of pieces have been replaced by additional new ones, bringing the total to 19 compositions. This way, the whole concept is absorbed and explored in a much better way. The choir comes more to the surface and there is a more important role for the evangelist. It is in this pretentious work, nice to hear how the heavy bombastic pieces are interspersed with passages full of parts performed on the acoustic instruments. This leads to a refined game between the different instruments.
Latte E Miele is a group that more than any other of the Italian progressive rock bands defines the expression "Rock Symphony" and symphonic, almost cinematic, are the atmospheres they created with their new arrangements of the old tunes and the adding of the new pieces. The majestic, sometimes bombastic keyboard parts certainly have a main role in the overall sound they created on this release and many times sound very orchestral.
This is a real masterpiece in which the bombastic parts only work to the advantage of the total. The subject of this musical concept lends itself of course naturally fine. This album is really complete with the superb choral singing, like a flowing red thread through the entire album and remains beautifully balanced especially with the guitars and percussion. Latte E Miele took an intelligent step to not simply copying the old album, but in adding a lot of new things to it-beautiful brilliant ideas that did lead to the release of a real masterpiece which didn't sound out dated at all! The highest score is well deserved for this great piece of art which not only can be played during Easter. Highly recommended to those who love the excellent musical collaboration between rock and classical music.
***** Henri Strik (edited by Robert James Pashman)
Where to buy?
All Rights Reserved Background Magazine 2015