Recently I was surfing on the Background Magazine Facebook page, I stumbled upon a post from a member of Quel Che Disse Il Tuono about their debut album, read the very positive words and decided to contact that band member on Facebook. During a one hour chat it turned out to be the female guitarist, only 30 years old but very much into Seventies David Gilmour and Andy Latimer, and playing on a Fender Stratocaster from 1972. But she also plays on a 'fair amount of vintage keyboards', to say the least, what an awesome array of distinctive and unsurpassed 'old gear'. Including a digital Mellotron delivering mind blowing sounds of the violin - and choir section, that was what I discovered while I listening to their debut CD on the band camp page. But first a small history lesson.
The new Italian formation Quel Che Disse Il Tuono (which means “What The Thunder Said”) was founded early 2019 in Milan by four young musicians: Francesca Zanetta on guitars and additional vintage keyboards (she was the founder of Unreal City), Niccolò Gallani on keyboards, flute and additional vocals (he is an active member of Cellar Noise), Roberto "Berna" Bernasconi" on bass and lead vocals, and Alessio Del Ben on drums, and additional keyboards and vocals. The biggest influence is symphonic progressive rock from the early 70s, especially Yes, Genesis, King Crimson, Gentle Giant, Camel and Pink Floyd. But all members also like the prolific Italian prog. The band's name is an homage to the late poet T.S.Eliot while Il Velo Dei Riflessi is a wider concept.
The album contains five tracks, including four epics, between 9 and 14 minutes. The other song Chi Ti Cammina Accanto? is a wonderful ballad, very tastefully coloured with fragile guitar play, the distinctive string-ensemble, intense Mellotron violins (reminding me of Museo Rosenbach and the Skandinavian prog), melancholy Grand piano, delicate flute, and topped with strong and emotional vocals. The conclusion is very compelling, featuring intense Mellotron violin, bombastic Mini Moog, sensitive electric guitar and Mellotron choir, in the end tender Grand piano, slowly fading away, simply wonderful.
But back to the four epics, these are firmly rooted in the Seventies symphonic rock tradition, very melodic, harmonic and dynamic with lots of shifting moods, strong musical ideas, and pleasant Italian vocals. But the most obvious element is the lush vintage keyboard sound, from soaring Mellotron violins, subtle Fender piano and delicate Solina string-ensemble to bombastic Hammond, flashy Mini Moog and majestic Mellotron choirs, wow! Every composition delivers its own flavour and interesting musical ideas.
An omnipresent Hammond organ, exciting eruptions on Mellotron and Mini Moog, warm flute play and elements from early Camel, Genesis and Le Orme in Il Paradigma Dello Specchio (Primo Specchio).
Figlio Dell'Uomo (Secondo Specchio) features even more Vintage Keyboard Extravaganza, from Mellotron choirs and tender Fender piano runs to flashy pitch bend driven Mini Moog flights and bombastic Hammond runs (evoking Le Orme, first album). I am also pleased with the varied guitar work and the emotional vocals.
In the alternating Il Bastone e Il Serpente (Quarto Specchio) lots of interesting moments: a raw rock guitar blended with lush vintage keyboards (evoking Swedish Landberk), a captivating contrast between the powerful electric guitar and soaring Mellotron (reminding me of Museo Rosenbach) and another compelling grand finale, now with a tight rhythm-section, moving electric guitar, awesome Mellotron choir and Mini Moog, what an exciting blend of Seventies UK symphonic rock and Classic Italian prog.
The final and longest epic track entitled Loro Sono Me - Catarsi (close to 14 minutes) is my highlight on this album. It contains hints from King Crimson and Anekdoten (compelling, dark, fiery guitar and intense Mellotron), Emerson, Lake & Palmer and Le Orme (bombastic Hammond) and Il Balletto Di Bronzo (bombastic, compelling, agressive drums and majestic Mellotron). And cascades of interesting musical ideas, from interplay between Mellotron brass and harpsichord to a Spanish guitar (part of Asturias) with rock guitar, 'classic meets prog'. The conclusion is mind blowing: after a Mellotron violins interlude and slow drums (evoking early Genesis), a rock guitar joins, the music builds to a grand finale featuring strong vocals, again an awesome Mellotron choir sound, varied guitar work (from subtle distorted to very moving) and lush Hammond, in the end again (like in the start) the sound of thunder, wow, this is the band in its full splendor, very well done!
**** Erik Neuteboom (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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