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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Mario Cottarelli

Prodigiosa Macchina

Review by Gary Hill

This release from Mario Cottarelli is really a great example of Italian progressive rock. All the lyrics (two of the three songs have vocals) are in Italian, so I don’t have a clue what the songs are about, but it doesn’t really matter. The music here is very much in a classic prog style, feeling at different times like ELP, Genesis, Yes and more. The vocals are quite theatrical, which seems to be a feature of most Italian progressive rock. All in all, I’d consider this quite a strong release. The shortest song on show is eight minutes long and the epic is over twenty. So, that should appeal to those out there who measure their prog in terms of length of the songs.
Track by Track Review
Prodigiosa Macchina
There’s a jazzy groove as this leads off. As the other instruments enter it takes on a jazz meets prog sound. The vocals come in as the music drops way down. They are in Italian and rather in keeping with the type of vocals one expects from Italian progressive rock. This cut works through a number of changes and alterations as it continues, feeling at times like ELP, at other points like Genesis, and even like Yes in places. It’s all worked into a mélange that is quite original, too. While much of the track is more rocking, it drops down in places to some quite sedate sounds. One mellow jam mid-track that calls to mind early King Crimson is particularly noteworthy. Later in the piece we get an especially ELP-like jam. At the progressive rock tour continues, we get a section that’s quite Yes-like, too. At almost twenty two minutes in length, this epic is the most massive cut on show here.
Il Pensiero Dominante
There’s an old world, ethnic texture to this, mixed with a pounding, ELP-like symphonic rock sound. They seem to fight for command, but then the music moves out into a rather Genesis-like sound. The vocals eventually come in over the top of this. We’re taken out into a rather quirky jam later that feels rather like folk music meets classical and progressive rock. Further down the road we get a fast paced jam that truly rocks. This thing is very Yes-like, but also shows signs of Genesis. It doesn’t stay around long, though. Instead we’re dropped back into the vocal based section of the track. It gets very dramatic at times when it continues beyond the vocal based movement. Although this piece isn’t as long as the previous one, it’s still over eleven minutes long.
I Cori Della Via Lattea
A symphonic and rather ominous tone opens this. As it builds it feels like it could be part of the soundtrack to a horror or science fiction movie soundtrack. This eventually gives way to a more rock oriented jam that reminds me quite a bit of Genesis or even Lands End. It turns more classical later, but there is still plenty of progressive rock built into it. Then we get another movement that rocks out more with a symphonic ELP meets Genesis kind of vibe. This is a great instrumental that showcases a lot of intriguing sounds, moving into Yes-like territory at times. At almost exactly eight minutes in length, it is the shortest piece on show here.
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