Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso
Darwin!


5.0
classic

Review

by ProgJect USER (31 Reviews)
September 8th, 2011 | 93 replies


Release Date: 1972 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A work beyond the boundaries of form, genre or medium, where complexity and beauty are taken to their highest reaches.

Along with Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM) and Le Orme, Banco del Mutuo Soccorso, or Banco for short, was among the most representative and accomplished groups of the Italian progressive rock scene that flourished in the country during the early 70’s. The ‘Big Three’ received worldwide attention and defined the classic Italian symphonic-progressive sound that so many after them would follow. The genre is notable for the prominence of classical influences, often providing the driving force behind the music; their sound was mainly influenced by neo-classical and Mediterranean folk themes, as well as the psychedelic, melodic and experimental British bands of the time (e.g. Genesis, Van Der Graaf Generator, The Nice, which were all popular in Italy) and it flirted quite a bit with jazz as well. While other Italian prog bands had a predilection to play a softer, more Genesis-related style, or a dramatic sort borrowing from Van Der Graaf, Banco decided to concentrate on the heavy Hammond organ riffs and Moog synthesizers, closely related ELP’s characteristic sound. In comparison, Banco were however notably more lyrical, and put much more emotion into their songs than ELP did, not wasting time with self-indulgent instrumentals.

Banco experienced a blast of creativity early in their career, and left a golden mark in prog history with several excellent albums. After a very promising start with their first three records, the group followed up strongly with their self-titled album and the even more impressive Darwin!; a concept album based on Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution. Banco apparently featured some interesting lyrical notions on the subject...in Italian, that is. Darwin! remains one of the best albums to come out of the Italian progressive scene, which is by no means a small achievement. Along with its predecessor and Banco’s next entry Sono Nato Libero, together considered a trilogy, the album is a finely crafted piece of virtuosity, diversity, power and beauty. It shows a band in the midst of a period of nearly unmatched consistency, on par with any of the more renowned English bands.

Banco managed to create a very distinctive sound due to the unique, unconventional interplay between the two Nocenzi brothers on keyboards, which is a prominent feature in the mix, since both classically-trained musicians were in charge of the orchestrations and the basic harmonic writing. The songwriting was bolstered by the advanced compositional abilities of Vittorio Nocenzi, achieving a perfect balance between symphonic prog-rock splendour, classical beauty and sheer bombast, all sustained by a strong rhythmic section. On Darwin!, even if there isn’t much emphasis placed upon the guitars, the discrete but effectively soaring instrument is played with flair and tastefulness. Additional ornaments are provided by other instruments, such as vibraphones and clarinet; Banco’ music remains truly a keyboard-oriented style with many multi-layered sounds. The Hammond organ assaults, alternatively dazzling and delicate piano runs and fire-breathing Moog themes are constructed in unison to create moments of unimaginable climax. These are the key elements of Banco’s music, providing a foundation for instrumental and vocal flights.

It’s a passionate, stirring, thundering sound that characterizes Banco, and much of Darwin!’s material has quite a dark, dramatic atmosphere and intense feel, surrounded by complex arrangements and dynamic progressions. The band had an uncanny ability to include huge sections of tension and release in their music, shades of light and dark that compete with each other, all complimented by Francesco DiGiacomo’s outstanding vocals, who sings his heart out and comes crashing in with his near-operatic, powerful and bold vocal prowess, with frequent ventures into theatrical territory. It is safe to say that he adds a completely new dimension to Banco’s musical universe.

Overall, Banco's music varies from light jazz to organ-driven hard rock, symphonic, mellow passages, piano balladry, Mediterranean folk, and a mind-blowing spectrum of synthesizer sounds. Like most of their contemporaries, they have an amazing sense of melody, combined with just the right measure of complicated passages: complex but not incomprehensible, energetic yet not overblown, full of appealing musical ideas which are cleverly intertwined through thoroughly crafted mood shifts and tempo changes. Banco owes nothing to any of the more popular bands of the era, or to any of the genre’s most influential groups. Their creative period lasted for over a decade. After their golden days, Banco continued to impress with some other respectable LP’s, particularly Come in un Ultima Cena and the instrumental Di Terra. A delight for all keyboard fans, and above all, symphonic prog lovers.



Recent reviews by this author
The Moody Blues In Search of the Lost ChordLe Orme Uomo Di Pezza
Maxophone MaxophoneRenaissance Turn of the Cards
Museo Rosenbach ZarathustraLocanda Delle Fate Forse le Lucciole non si Amano piu
user ratings (41)
Chart.
4.4
superb

Comments:Add a Comment 
ProgJect
September 8th 2011


37 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Rest assured, fellow proggers: ProgJect is very much alive and kicking.

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
September 8th 2011


21047 Comments


Great job guys.

I've been meaning to check this out after seeing it on one of your lists Jethro.

Irving
Staff Reviewer
September 8th 2011


7312 Comments


And as always, ProgJect has my support =)

Tyrael
September 8th 2011


20901 Comments


Great job guys!

ProgJect rules

Jethro42
September 8th 2011


12484 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Always exciting for me to see a new ProgJect review being posted. Always pleasantly surprised to notice how Nag rearranges it and makes it shine review after review. Thanks a bunch for your magic touch on the review once again, Nag.
@Jamie; thank you man. I wouldn't be surprised if Banco speaks to you. Here's couple of samples below;
@Irving, thank you my friend, your loyaltie is really appreciated. Today I intend to visit your couple last reviews, cowboy, starting by your last one Bran Van 3000...If its reading is not too demanding for a francophone haha =]
L'Evoluzione;
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7YixdxW0rMc
Cento Mani E Cento Occhi;
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iAZnf-Pb8qM
750,000 Anni Fa ... L'Amore?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l9WuhyigROw&feature=results_main&playnext=1&list=PLC16D1258C49E9F9B

Jethro42
September 8th 2011


12484 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Mucho appreciado, Tyrael.

Irving
Staff Reviewer
September 8th 2011


7312 Comments


J'ai beaucoup de loyaltie, Jethro ;)

greg84
Staff Reviewer
September 8th 2011


7421 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3

*(last paragraph) it should be: Overall, Banco's music varies from...

Other than that, excellent write-up. Pos'd.

Digging: Dope Body - Lifer

Jethro42
September 8th 2011


12484 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

@Irving, no doubt about it. C'est une très belle valeur. A quality as good as gold =]
@Greg, thanks a lot, mate. Also, fixed.

Nagrarok
September 8th 2011


8259 Comments


Thanks a bunch for your magic touch on the review once again, Nag.


Cheers Jethro, glad to know you're happy with my editing every time, but while I may spend a little while doing that, most credit for the knowledge and writing of these proggy projects is as always deserved by you. This little account has indeed proven to be a great combination of strengths. Perhaps we should do Le Orme sometime to complete the Italian circle, hm?

And cheers to our loyal readers, taking the time once more to read and comment on ProgJect!

AngelofDeath
Staff Reviewer
September 8th 2011


16137 Comments


Great review fellas. I'm not sure I've listened to this particular album from these Italian gents, but they are an awesome band indeed.

Jethro42
September 8th 2011


12484 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

@Nag, I'm flattered thanks bro. And yes it's true that we form a solid team. Long live ProgJect!.. Le Orme should be lot of fun to do indeed. Right before Voyage of the Acolyte, why not. Uomo di Pezza it will be. Oh, and you're back with a Duane Allman avatar. Mine is the great Shawn Phillips, no one seemed to notice. Ahhh, sputnik...
@Angel, thank you my friend. I think you've heard Sono Nato Libero by them. Man, do yourself a favor and get this and the s/t.

Nagrarok
September 8th 2011


8259 Comments


He's back indeed, been listening to that godly Fillmore East stuff again lately, and his work with Derek and the Dominos, he had such a great sound. I must say I noticed your avatar but even the name doesn't ring a bell.

Jethro42
September 8th 2011


12484 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Ah really?? Duane Allman is a guitarist behind Layla and the Dominos?? I'll put that album after I'm finished with Le Orme. Damn. As for Shawn Phillips, I grew up with a classic of his, called 'Second Contribution'. A influential folk rock masterpiece.
And yesss, Live at Fillmore East is the shit, like English people say haha.

Nagrarok
September 8th 2011


8259 Comments


Eric Clapton heard him play and asked him to come in while he was recording it, he worked on all but the first three tracks. The best part about the famous Layla hook is actually Allman's playing, not hard to recognize; he really pushed Clapton to make one of his best albums there, which makes it all the better.

AngelofDeath
Staff Reviewer
September 8th 2011


16137 Comments


Alright, I'll make sure to check this out.

Jethro42
September 8th 2011


12484 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Whoa, I will never listen to Layla the same way again!
What a loss, that Duane.

TheNotrap
September 9th 2011


8109 Comments


As I expected the instrumental performances are better than the vocal harmonies however we find here some cool prog moments.

Good review mon chere Jethro

mykeedee
September 9th 2011


26 Comments


Only got "Io Sono Nato Libero". Adding this to the list, cheers!

Jethro42
September 9th 2011


12484 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

@Notrap; thanks!
@mykeedee; Io Sono Nato Libero is fantastic but I perso prefer Darwin and the self titled, so yes, get both asap! Cheers!



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2014 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy