Ask fans of the Italian progrock from the seventies for their top-10 and I am sure that most of them will mention Ys (1972) by Il Balletto Di Bronzo, a legendary band from the seventies just like PFM, Banco and Le Orme. I have opposite feelings about the music on that highly acclaimed record: on the one hand I am delighted about the sumptuous and often compelling vintage keyboard drenched symphonic rock moments, but on the other hand I can't get into the nerve-racking avant-garde inspired interludes. For me this progrock album remains a bit too complex and too varied. But I really appreciate their adventurous musical ideas on Ys. In my opinion it is a classic album in the history of progrock, an album that can compete with the best work of Yes, Genesis, Emerson, Lake & Palmer and King Crimson. In 2007 Il Balletto Di Bronzo performed old and new material as a trio during a concert in Rome, the historical Italian capital. Initially it has been released as a CD (2007), now there is the DVD-version (2008). You can experience a bit of the magic of that legendary Ys -album, 35 years after its release.
The first part of the concert contains of five compositions featuring theatrical vocals, lots of sumptuous keyboards often fat and spectacular synthesizer flights and a very propulsive and groovy rhythm-section with compelling and hypnotizing atmospheres and obvious ELP hints. It's a bit weird and experimental, but also captivating and adventurous. Perhaps you can describe it as 'an avant-garde version of ELP'. The DVD contains also an abridged version of the Ys-album. Now we can enjoy one of the highlights of Italian progrock. This trio comes pretty close in capturing the unique spirit of Ys: a choir in the intro and then breathtaking swirling Hammond organ to flashy minimoog-like flights in Introduzione. Lots of sensational keyboards, theatrical vocals and a wonderful final part with harpsichord in the more complex sounding Primo Incontro, splendid drumming, a bass solo with freaky synthesizer support and a jazzy piano with a propulsive rhythm-section in Secondo Incontro. We hear lots of piano, theatrical vocals and distorted bass sounds in the experimental Terzo Incontro. Finally we can enjoy a bombastic climax with drums and organ in the Epilogo. What an awesome and compelling sound! I was carried away during the almost half an hour tribute to the album Ys. A big hand for this trio of Il Balletto Di Bronzo! Then three songs I did not know, but to me the swinging L'Emofago and Il Castello sound very pleasant with spectacular keyboards and an adventurous rhythm-section often reminding me of ELP. An extra on this DVD is a solo performance by singer/keyboard player Gianni Leone, I have to admit that I am a bit disappointed about his blend of electronic music and synthi-pop, only Hommage To Balleto is great with sequencers and virtuosic play on keyboards, but in general I miss the bombastic and compelling atmosphere without the rhythm-section. To be honest, a drum-machine sounds rather poor. My conclusion: the first part will not be everyone's cup of tea, but I appreciate the adventurous mind of Gianni Leone, the Ys rendition is jaw-dropping the final part is good, but the Gianni Leone solo inclusion fails to keep my attention, so I quickly zapp back to the Ys-rendition: breathtaking, astonishing, awesome ...!
*** Erik Neuteboom (edited by Peter Willemsen).
Where to buy?
All Rights Reserved Background Magazine 2013