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Cottarelli, Mario: Prodigiosa Macchina

At the risk of sounding like I judge books, or indeed CDs by their covers, when I first picked up Mario Cottarelli's debut album Prodigiosa Macchina I can't say that the image of (I presume) the man himself looking like he is taking a Sunday stroll through the country with his sweater draped over his shoulders, superimposed onto a hazy pink backdrop filled me with great confidence. As you may have guessed Mario is from Italy and this solo album, where he sings, plays guitars, drums and the dominating keyboards, contains three long songs that are filled with a gently progressive keyboard driven sound that can only originate from the sort of sunny climes he lives in.

Always upbeat in outlook, the opening track is a showcase for his undoubted keyboard talent which over its twenty two minutes delves into accordion inspired passages, xylophone like interludes and dreamy chimes. Sprinkle over the top of that mix a few neo prog bursts and the often revisited themes actually come to life to create an undemanding but rather enjoyable listen. There's nothing in the way of a darker counterpoint to Cottarelli's dreamy vision and while his vocals are not the most accomplished you may come across, he does possess enough deep character to justify handling the Italian language lyrics himself. Not understanding the actual words themselves detracts little from the overall experience as the journey through this album is easily conveyed through the music and there are many long instrumental sections that work just as well as those with vocals.

The atmospheric chords that back piano and organ introduce a slightly different dynamic for "Il Pensiero Dominante" although before long staccato keys stabs and xylophone plonks are back to once more transport you into a pleasant musical theme that adds some hand percussion to the mix. However just as you are beginning to think that the song is going nowhere, a glorious neo prog burst of keys raises the interest once more and as the song closes out a welcome guitar solo alters the songs focus once more.

The shortest of the bunch, "I Cori Via Lattea" begins with the darkest theme on the album, as church organ ushers in what at first appears to be quite a bleak landscape. Then Cottarelli breaks out a keyboard burst that would have once made Mark Kelly proud for one of his best workouts on the album which precedes a mellow meander through some more restrained themes, before revisiting the organ sound that opened the song.

I have to say that on first listen I was completely underwhelmed by Prodigiosa Macchina; however with every subsequent listen a quaint charm becomes more apparent and whilst some will find the whole experience too restrained, polite and possibly naive, at times this could be a welcome change of pace.


Track Listing
1. Prodigiosa Macchina
2. Il Pensiero Dominante
3. I Cori Via Lattea

Added: April 11th 2010
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Score:
Related Link: Artists MySpace Page
Hits: 1441
Language: english

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