Review Summary: A heavy, melodic slice of Italian prog enriched by haunting mellotron.
Museo Rosenbach were a short-lived Italian progressive band, best known for their 1973 release Zarathustra
, a concept album freely inspired by the controversial works of philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche and ‘Thus Spoke Zarathustra’. Unfortunately, at the time of its release, the album was widely disregarded because of the far right-wing views found within the Nietzsche-inspired lyrics. The band suffered for their political ideals, which prevented them from getting the kind of attention they deserved. Museo’s musical palette contained a dash of Banco, ELP and Van Der Graaf Generator. Comparisons to early King Crimson are also inevitable; this is symphonic progressive rock with a rough edge. While the group’s particular brand was less experimental than a lot of Italian prog, their compositions were equally challenging constructions, filled with time changes and eccentricities. Something is always happening.
Though the music is generally dark and heavy, it still manages to remain melodic and fluid; the only time it really softens is during the excellent Superuomo
. The traditional rock ensemble of electric guitar, bass and drums has plenty to offer, with the mellotron and Hammond organ capable of taking on both lead and supporting roles. The continually captivating interplay is a result of wicked distorted electric guitar (reminiscent of Focus), varied and beautifully arranged keyboards, a versatile rhythm section (featuring solid bass guitar in tandem with propulsive and perfectly timed drumming), and strong, expressive Italian vocals. It all comes together into a constant tension, topped by majestic outbursts of the mellotron. Stefano Lupo Galifi’s singing is bold and passionate, elevating the rest of the music to a higher level.
The side-long title epic is an absolute killer, starting in moderately lush and melodic form, until it slowly becomes more and more intense. Despite the notable King Crimson and ELP influences here, Museo came up with something fairly original and ultimately very strong, the track seeming much shorter than its actual twenty-minute length. The other three cuts, Degli Uomini
, the grandiose Della Natura
(dramatic in a more typically Italian way, mixed with some ELP/Banco moods and riffs), and Dell’Eterno Ritorno
, are all of the same quality, although not as focused as the record’s main theme.
Dead spots are hard to find, as the quick transitions from loud and powerful to soft and melodic playing are quite amazing. If there’s anything to complain about at all, then it might be the slightly varying consistency and a few transitions that aren’t entirely cohesive. For fans of harder-edged 70’s progressive with no lack of spectacular moments, these are however minor issues. Zarathustra
is an epitome of what heavy symphonic prog is all about, an achievement that transcends the particular time in which it was made.