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Consorzio Acqua Potabile & Alvaro 'Jumbo' Fella: Coraggio E Mistero
The coming together of two Italian progressive acts with links to the past, Coraggio E Mistero finds Consorzio Acqua Potabile inviting singing veteran Alvaro Fella, from Jumbo, to front the band. Steeped in Italian progressive traditions, the approach here is unsurprisingly one based round a 70s vintage and infused with moog, recorder, whistle and flute. As you may expect, the results are a vaguely quirky melding of Jethro Tull and the more expected symphonic prog attack. Involved and intricate though "Tra Le Scale E Il Cielo" or "Il Cervo E La Fonte" are, in truth, they contain few surprises, gentle prog expanded into a European folk setting and embellished by the (literally and figuratively) bells and whistles of the Italian prog sound. While nothing here is below standard, it would also be fair to suggest that neither does anything particularly stand out, the tranquil, almost twee setting illustrated on the CD cover (the booklet is verging on huge, so hat's off to Black Widow Records for that) all too often recounted in the music itself.
The 'twist' here however is "Jumbo", a singer who it would appear is possibly better known for his youthful lyrics and performances in the 70s often being censored and banned, than for the music he actually combined those lyrics to. Apparently age hasn't dulled his attack, the energy and enthusiasm he brings welcome, even as it detracts from the songs. In fact, give or take some energetic instrumental passages in "La Strada", you could argue that so much space has been left for the vocalist to make his mark, that little else really occurs. Under normal circumstances the lack of lyrical understanding on an album isn't really a huge stumbling block for me, yet here, with "Jumbo" front and centre to the extent that everything else feels secondary, that all the lyrics are sung in Italian and not translated in the booklet, definitely leaves you feeling like you're missing out on a key element of what's going on (unless you speak Italian of course). When you factor in that "Jumbo's" contributions are often energy over precision and eccentric over restrained, then without the connect his words may (or indeed, may not), bring to proceedings, there's never quite enough left to keep you locked into this album's doctrine.
While never bad, and the musicianship is universally high, Coraggio E Mistro is too often content to feel like a non-event. "Jumbo" may be the key here, but to a non-Italian speaker, he's actually the main hurdle and even if you can overcome that aspect, the music itself never really feels like it's interested enough in persuading you to stay the course.
1. Coraggio E Mistero
2. Il Cervo E La Fonte
3. Io Ti Canto
4. La Strada
5. Ciao Alvaro (Dove Vai?)
6. Sette E Trenta (di Mattina)
7. Tra Le Scale E Il Cielo
8. Le Sette Stanze Di Dimitrji (vinyl only)
9. La Notte E Il Mulino Di Al
Added: April 2nd 2017
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Consorzio Acqua Potabile online
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|Consorzio Acqua Potabile & Alvaro 'Jumbo' Fella: Coraggio E Mistero
Posted by Jon Neudorf, SoT Staff Writer on 2017-04-02 14:13:31
Here's an Italian progressive rock band with an interesting history. The original band's roots date back to 1971 but didn't release an album and called it quits a few years later. The band reunited in 1993 and released two albums; Nei Gorghi del Tempo and Sala Borsa Live 77. Their recently released fourth album on Black Widow records is titled Coraggio E Mistero.
It's tough to keep track of all the members over the years but the latest band line-up is:
Maurizio Mercandino (vocals, guitar)
Maurizio "Mux" Mussolin (drums)
Luigi "Gigi" Secco (bass)
Chico Mercandino (guitar)
Massimo Gorlezza (guitar)
Enrico Venegoni (Mellotron, keyboards)
Maurizio Venegoni (Minimoog, keyboards, woodwinds)
Silvia Carpo (vocals, flutes, recorders)
Alvaro "Jumbo" Fella (lead vocals)
Guido Dipierro (electric guitar)
Sergio Conte (keyboards)
I think Italian progressive rock fans will really dig this album. The arrangements are highly complex and interesting so you can be rest assured boredom will not be a problem. Looking at the list of instruments one realizes just how varied this music is. The songs contain so many shifts in tempo and mood that I will admit it can be a little overwhelming at times but the professionalism and consummate musicianship of these musicians should not be understated.
The album begins with the twelve minute long title track. Wisps of percussion and flute/recorder trills evoke a light and airy mood before the shift towards heavy prog takes shape with cutting guitar riffs and emotive lead vocals. There are so many shifts in mood it just might make your head spin as the music goes from heavy to soft acoustic guitar in the blink of an eye. The imaginative arrangements should keep all who listen on their toes. I will admit the transitions could be a little smoother at times but this is still an excellent opening track. Classical piano begins "Io ti Canto" before shifting to heavy guitar, dreamy keyboards and organ before returning to the beginning classical sounds.
The true epic of the album has to be the twenty-one minute "La Notte e il Mulino di Al". Dogs howling begins the piece before a tricky drum pattern surges the music forward into heavier territory. The music flows back and forth between peaceful keyboard soundscapes, solid mid-tempo grooves and heavier prog. The guitar playing is excellent throughout as are the myriad of keyboard and organ sounds. Not everyone will love the lead vocals and they do take some getting used to as they can be a little overly dramatic at times. You will have to decide that for yourself.
The accompanying CD booklet contains some classy artwork as well. I only wish I understood Italian!
For shear intricacy and musical complexity Italian prog fans should find a lot to like here. Just remember, music like this usually takes a few listens to fully grasp. What you do next is up to you.
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