1. Intro/Dio del Silenzio (1:23)
2. Il Nome del Vento (6:01)
3. Verso il Naufragio (6:35)
4. L’Acquario delle Stelle (6:15)
5. Luci Lontane (4:14)
6. Profeta Senza Profezie (4:20)
7. Ogni Storia (5:02)
8. Note di Tempesta (4:29)
9. Dopo il Vento (9:40)
10. Cuore Sacro (8:49)
11. L’Aurora Boreale (4:26) (bonus track)
L’Acquario delle Stelle
Ettore Vigo – keyboards
Martin Grice – sax, flute, keyboards
Pino Di Santo – drums, vocals
Roberto Solinas – guitars, vocals
Fabio Chighini – bass
Mimmo Di Martino – vocals (2)
Chiara Giacobbe Chiarilla – violin
Diana Tizzani – violin
Simona Merlano – viola
Daniela Caschetto Helmy – cello
Stefano “Lupo” Galifi – vocals (6)
Sophya Baccini – backing vocals (2, 4, 7, 9), piano (9)
After having spent the past few months concentrating on albums from the English-speaking world, now it is time for me to to spotlight some Italian bands and artists. Though many great albums (in some cases essential for a true prog fan) have come out of my native country from the Seventies onwards, only a part of this vast, exciting output has received the attention it deserves. Here in the US most of the attention tends to be directed at the likes of Le Orme, PFM and Banco (also owing to their relatively frequent visits to the New World), to the detriment of other acts who seem to be familiar only to a selected few.
Genoa-based band Delirium hold a special place in my heart, since their debut album, Dolce Acqua, was the first progressive rock album that I bought – at the ripe old age of 11. Among the founders of the original Italian progressive rock scene, in 1972 they experienced mainstream success with the anthemic single “Jesahel”, which introduced the Italian public to the gritty, bluesy vocal talents of Ivano Fossati. Soon afterwards Fossati left the band to embark on a successful career as a singer-songwriter, to be replaced by British-born Martin Frederick Grice. After the release of their third album, released in 1974, Delirium split up, but thankfully got back together in 2001 with most of the original members on board.
When listening to Il Nome del Vento, one might almost be tempted to feel that the 30-year hiatus between Delirium III and this album has in some way been beneficial to the band – a lengthy yet necessary ‘recharging of the batteries’, so to speak. This is indeed a mature, finely-crafted album, very much in the way of PFM’s Stati di Immaginazione – a sumptuous, accomplished effort from seasoned prog veterans that had been forgotten or written off far too soon.
Although Il Nome Del Vento is a concept album of sorts (the wind symbolizing the energies that sweep negativity away and usher positive change), it does not feel as contrived as many similar efforts can be. Shunning the clichés than often plague concept albums, Mauro La Luce’s lyrics opt instead for simplicity and emotion, a perfect complement to the outstanding performances of all the vocalists involved. The latter are nicely balanced by the brilliance of the instrumental sections, where the background of each musician, their individual tastes and preferences, is put to effective use. While Martin Grice’s love of jazz and vintage English prog shines through his flute and sax work, guitarist/vocalist Roberto Solinas (a true revelation) injects a welcome dose of classic rock energy in what is largely an acoustic effort. The presence of an all-female string quartet contributes an authentically symphonic feel to many of the compositions, infused by that uniquely Italian flair for melody and lyricism.
The continuity between the new and the old incarnation of Delirium is highlighted right from the start, as “Intro/Dio del Silenzio (Reprise)” references one of the songs featured on Delirium III. This brief, intense introduction (complete with sounds of rain and thunder at the beginning) sets the scene for what is to come. The title-track is a magnificent slice of complex yet melodic prog, soulfully interpreted by the band’s former guitarist Mimmo Di Martino, whose deep, bluesy tones find a perfect foil in Sophya Baccini’s ethereal soprano. The following track, “Verso il Naufragio” (one of two instrumentals featured on the album), is an exhilarating rollercoaster ride of slow, majestic keyboard washes and electrifying guitar riffs; it also incorporates a passage from George Martin’s “Theme One” (also covered by Van Der Graaf Generator, Cozy Powell and Osanna). The jaw-dropping duel between sax and organ in the second half of the track displays the band’s jazzier side, a constant of their sound since their debut album, Dolce Acqua.
More jazzy influences surface in the uptempo “Profeta Senza Profezie”, further enriched by a commanding vocal performance by Stefano ‘Lupo’ Galifi (of Museo Rosenbach fame), somewhat reminiscent of the late Demetrio Stratos’ acrobatics; while the romantic “L’Acquario delle Stelle” (dedicated by Martin Grice to his first grandson) is a gorgeous slice of classic Italian prog, in which flute and keyboards emote over a lush background of strings. However, it is the double whammy of “Dopo il Vento” and “Cuore Sacro” that forms the album’s climactic point. The former alternates jazzy passages with calmer, more melodic ones, the string quartet holding the fabric of the song together; while the latter is markedly darker and rockier, enhanced by rippling piano, dynamic drumming, and assertive flute work that recalls early Jethro Tull.
A truly classy offering, and undoubtedly one of the top releases of 2009, Il Nome Del Vento is the ideal showcase for the unique talents of a band that seem to be finally about to get the recognition they highly deserve. It is also a textbook example of how classic progressive rock can sound modern without jettisoning its glorious past. Hopefully this stunning comeback disc will lead the way for more releases of the same high quality from a band that still has a lot to offer to the discerning prog fan.