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Mario Cottarelli - 2011 - "Una Strana Commedia"

(45:30, ‘Cottarelli’)



1.  Una Strama Commedia 10:24
2.  L’Occhio del Ciclone 6:39
3.  Corto Circuto 6:26
4.  Bianca Scia 9:25
5.  L’Orgoglio Di Arlecchino 12:26


Mario Cottarelli – all instruments and vocals

Prolusion. Mario COTTARELLI is a 55-year-old composer and musician hailing from Italy. Since the age of 14 he or, rather, his life has been inseparably linked with music. However his dream to become a real progressive rock artist and release an album of his own stuff came true only recently. In short, following "Prodigiosa Macchina" from 2007, "Una Strana Commedia” is his second solo album. Some of the recording’s compositions were written way back in the ‘70s.

Analysis. The album is quite highly uniform in style. On all five of its tracks, the title one, L’Occhio del Ciclone, Corto Circuto, Bianca Scia and L’Orgoglio Di Arlecchino, Mario shows off his ‘newfound’ approach, grounded on layers of lush symphonic passages in the realm of ’70 Art-Rock, paying homage to a few British acts (often on the same piece), namely Rick Wakeman, ELP, Jethro Tull and Genesis, while also adopting an Italian vocal approach that only draws comparisons to his native progressive rock scene. The sound is dominated by keyboards everywhere on the album, but without the striking virtuosity that typifies any of the above bands, at least in the implying period of their work. To my ears, most of this stuff was played on two keyboards, namely piano and synth – quite a multifunctional one, featuring rather many different registers/pads, of which the drum, organ, bass and (a few) synthesizer ones have been used, all of the ‘instruments’ sounding comparatively-to-pretty natural, save the first of them. Like anything programmed, the drums sound heavily monotonous and have a very synthetic quality to them which, to a certain degree, influences the album’s entire sonic palette. (So there aren’t many shifts in pace here, and no sudden turns into a different direction at all.) Otherwise the pieces are all fairly good, in terms of both composition and performance, albeit the latter point only concerns the vocals (which are often almost operatic in delivery) and keyboards. While Mario also plays guitars here, he does so occasionally and never in a truly masterful manner. L’Occhio del Ciclone and Bianca Scia each contain a brief interlude, featuring passages of acoustic guitar which, although uncomplicated, are at least nice, whereas the electric guitar riff that the latter track reveals at one point is merely rhythmic. On the other hand, that piece has what I find the album’s greatest moment – a grandiose church organ interlude, with the flute later joining the instrument. Not sure whether the flute is real or not here, as well as on the other tracks, whereas the female choir that appears in the middle of the same composition, and also on L’Occhio del Ciclone, is undoubtedly a virtual one. The title piece and Corto Circuto are both strongly reminiscent of Jethro Tull, vocally and instrumentally alike, the first of them most of the time. Finally, the last (and the longest – 12:26) piece on the album, L’Orgoglio Di Arlecchino, is the only instrumental and my least favorite track here. It begins, develops as well as finishes as classic Art-Rock, but what lies between the sections depicts a relatively monotonous landscape, most of which evokes symphonic New Age.

Conclusion. I don’t really know what to add here. Decide yourselves, dear readers, whether to buy this CD or not. I believe there are some, if not many, other reviews of it on the Internet, besides my own.

VM=Vitaly Menshikov: May 15, 2012
The Rating Room

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Mario Cottarelli


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