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(38:55; AMS Records)
Conta will probably always be best known for being keyboard player with Locanda Delle Fate on their highly regarded debut ‘Forse Le Lucciole Non Si Amano Piu’. That band broke up, reformed, and broke up again but Michele has now recorded since the first time that happened, back in the early Eighties. Given his history, it is perhaps unsurprising that what we have here is a perfectly formed Seventies album, even down to the running time of just under 40 minutes (for the uninitiated, and young, the best selling cassettes in the UK were 90 minutes long as you could normally get an album on each side of the tape). That this is the first new album involving Conta for more than 40 years is a real shame, as this album is a delight from start to end. The keyboards of Conta are placed perfectly against the superb guitars of Ermanno Brignolo (who also provides vocals), while included in the four drummers are Gavin Harrison (King Crimson, Porcupine Tree) and Lele Melotti (Fiorella Mannoia, Renato Zero, Zucchero). This is a powerful album , and while it is bound to be linked to the RPI scene due to Conta’s history, there is a freshness and lightness about it which is normally missing from that style of prog and there are times when it becomes almost crossover. The cellos make interesting contributions while the rhythm section keeps it all together, but it is the relationship between Conta and Brignolo which really sets the scene. There is a large usage of piano, as well as swathes of keyboards, but Brignolo is also not adverse to layering lots of guitars on top, while he also contributes his classical guitar as well as utilising sounds more often associated with either Hackett or Vai. One can only trust that this is discovered by fans not only of Locanda Delle Fate but by anyone into good honest progressive rock music which is rooted in the Seventies yet has been brought up to date. Let us hope Conta feels inspired to undertake another album in a somewhat shorter timeframe as I want more.
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