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Album review: Christadoro - Christadoro (2017)

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Christadoro

Christadoro is a project which brings together a bunch of highly proficient musicians from varied backgrounds, united by their love of progressive rock. Joining Mox Christadoro (drums and percussion) and bassist Fabio Zuffanti who was at least partly responsible for the idea, are Pier Panzeri from the reformed Biglietto per l'Inferno (guitars), Paul 'Ske' Botta who I'd seen with Not a Good Sign at the Riviera Prog festival in Genova in 2014 (keyboards), and vocalist Andrea 'Mitzi' Dal Santo. The core band is augmented with some renowned guests including Franco Mussida, formerly of PFM.

The concept, hinted at in a quotation from Richie Havens printed on the inner sleeve:  I really sing songs that move me / I'm not in show business / I'm in the communications business is a presentation of seven popular Italian songs written by some of the biggest names in Italy during the 70s, largely from the Italian 'canzone d'autore' singer-songwriter movement given a progressive rock makeover in the same way that Yes performed Simon and Garfunkel's America. Another track Ricercare nel mare dell'Inequitudine della paura (Searching the sea of anxiety and fear) is a Franco Mussida solo acoustic guitar prelude to L'ombra della luce (The shadow of the light) by Franco Battiato and uses some unexpected musical intervals. This pair of tracks (I couldn't detect the transition between the two) are my favourites from the album, though I'm impressed with each of the interpretations and how neatly they have been turned prog.

There may not be the complexity associated with progressivo Italiano but there's some great playing; when the needle hit the groove on the first playing I was struck by the excellent-sounding organ of L'operaio Gerolamo and the driving guitar riff. The great organ work continues on Il sosia (The Lookalike) but we're also treated to an archetypal Zuffanti trope, the reading of text, in this instance the recital of lines from the 1971 TV series Il Segno del Comando, followed by a brief jazz-rock workout before getting a little heavy-psyche.

L'ultimo spettacolo calls to mind Pink Floyd's Fat Old Sun with its slide guitar and laid-back tempo, and despite an interesting instrumental break in the middle of the song and a more rocking ending, I feel this is the weakest track on the album.

Figli di... is guitar-driven heavy rock but the vocals are clear and good. There's more dynamic range and a healthy dose of drama in the side two opener Lo stambecco ferito which verges on Van der Graaf Generator territory. Solo begins with a cello section provided by Zeno Gabaglio, electric piano features heavily but there's also some good Mellotron work.

Overall it's a rewarding LP, though not straightforward prog - the band are playing songs that move them.