This brand new archival release from Cuneiform Records features a never before heard, live in the studio recording from Italian prog band Picchio dal Pozzo. The group recorded two albums in the 70's before breaking up in 1980, and this CD is from a session in 1977 that just happens to contain new songs from the band that were at the time previously unreleased.
Upon first listen to this CD it is more than obvious the "Canterbury" style that Picchio dal Pozzo chose to use, which is a combination of complex progressive rock, jazz, and light, humorous lyrical content. Previously this style of music was made famous in England (and named after an actual location) by a long list of bands that included Soft Machine, Hatfield and the North, Matching Mole, Gilgamesh, Caravan, Henry Cow, and of course National Health. Rather than record lush, romantic music loaded with acoustic instruments, woodwinds, Mellotrons, and operatic vocals, which was the norm for many Italian progressive bands of the time, this band chose to combine the styles of the bands mentioned above, plus a healthy dose of the zany instrumental brilliance of Frank Zappa. The end result is a complex maelstrom of quirky, challenging music that really hits the mark and demands full attention from the listener. Take for example the thirteen-minute "The Town", which features some neat jazz-inflected scat vocals amidst swirling sax, guitar and keyboard jaunts that are as complex as anything National Health or Gentle Giant ever recorded, yet retain a high sense of melodicism. The fact that this band was a six-piece makes for a rich, full sound, and all the various instruments give each song an almost big band jazz sound with a rock mentality. If you have ever heard Frank Zappa's Grand Wazoo album, this would be an excellent comparison.
Hopefully this new release will spark someone to get Picchio dal Pozzo's first two albums out on CD. It's nice to hear an Italian progressive act from the glory years that chose to go down a different path from their contemporaries, and succeeding at it.