Distillerie Di Malto - Il Manuale Dei Piccoli Discorsi

Year of Release: 2001
Label: Blue Point
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 48:58:00

Distillerie Di Malto are an Italian prog band that have been together since 1988, but released their first album, the live Live In Temple Bar in 1999. Live is Distillerie Di Malto playing Genesis, King Crimson, and Jethro Tull covers along side their own material. They followed this up last year with the all-studio, all-original -material album Il Manuale Dei Piccoli Discorsi. The Genesis influence is very much in evidence, though on "Phoebus" I also thought of IQ and very early Marillion -- think of "Grendel" basically. Which might make you think I'd be all over this track like...like a Marillion "fan-girl." Well, no. This is the weakest track on the album and is a like a very bad version of IQ/Marillion. They get much better as the album progresses and they stick to Genesis. Though, we do get some of that in "Phoebus" -- I'd cut out the first three minutes and the last 2 minutes or so, and leave what remains. Like classic Genesis, we get pastoral sections with various chirps and squeaks, simulating nature. The main portions feature a churning, punchy rhythm.

The opening piece, "Allegro Con Brio," will, towards the end, make you think of "Watcher Of The Skies" (and no, not the Mellotron opening). "Melodia Di Fine Autunno" is a beautifully arranged instrumental piece that doesn't shy away from its Genesis-ness, though here it is more characteristic of the band's post-Gabriel, pre-pop days -- Wind And Wuthering/Trick Of The Tail. One of the better pieces on the album. Keyboards and guitar take the lead here, though there are times when drums, percussion and bass come into the mix. Speaking of mix, the production is just a little muddy, so when the full band comes in, there's a bit of sound-bleed, giving everything a hazy feel. Perhaps because of the artwork on the cover (which is one panel of the fold out booklet-poster), I thought of Monet. Though the album cover is much less impressionistic than Monet, there is a similar use of flat, dry colour. The painting used for the cover/booklet is by René Magritte (1898-1967), a piece called La Condizione Umana I (1933) -- Magritte was a surrealist.

All this art-talk isn't meant to distract me away from reviewing the CD. One finds themselves of two minds -- do we lament that the band isn't more original, that they have made Genesis (I hardly hear Crimson or Tull, here) the core influence and launching point, or do we cheer that someone is making prog of this nature again? It's a tough call. I have to say that, despite some less than stellar production, this is a pretty good CD. At least, I should say, I like it and enjoyed listening to it.

The instrumental pieces are more interesting than the rock pieces, but of the rock pieces, those sung in Italian are more interesting than the one English-language track, the above mentioned "Phoebus." Not that I don't like Fabrizio Pelliccaro as a vocalist, as he does sound better singing in his own language, but the instrumentals and instrumental passages give them more to work with and more to present. My saying that about Pelliccaro, may sound like a "un-P.C." thing to say, but he approaches the material differently in Italian, a lighter touch and frankly, he sounds less like Peter Nicholls. Which, I suppose I must add, I like IQ, but not always Nicholl's voice. And no, except stylistically, he doesn't sound like Peter Gabriel -- well, just a little bit, at times.

The rest of the band are Fabiano Cudazzo on keyboards, Marco Angelone on electric and classical guitar, Maurizio Di Tollo on drums, percussion and vocals, and Salvatore Marchesani on bass (since replaced by Guiliano Torelli), with Luca Latini guesting on flute. By the way, I mentioned Marillion earlier - the clear, shimmering guitar lines often remind me of what Rothery was doing on Script For A Jester's Tear.

"5/5/1555" is the centerpiece of the album. At 11-plus minutes, this suite of three movements tells the story of Carlo De Barberis, who is in love with Griselda, but who is to be married to the daughter of the King of France. His father's advice is to think with his head rather than his heart. The segments are "Mattina" (Morning), "Pomeriggio" (Afternoon), and "Sera" (Evening). This is the most varied piece, with lots of beautiful moments, most in those that are the most subtle. These are in contrast to some very dark and gloomy passages, involving mainly the bass. Keyboards are very much part of the mix as well, often parpy. I suppose, too, we might mention a hint of King Crimson. One segment, at 8 minutes in, has a more medieval feel. Some of the percussion at this point though has a sort of wet, squelchy sound that doesn't sound quite right.

If you liked Selling England By The Pound-era Genesis, Wind.../Trick...-era Genesis, then you will like Il Manuale Dei Piccoli Discorsi.

Allegro Con Brio (5:56) / Phoebus (9:24) / Melodia Di Fine Autunno (8:42) / Aria E Vento (13:24) / 5/5/1555 (11:32)

Fabrizio Pelliccaro - vocals, electric 6 & 12 string and acoustic guitars, flauto dolce
Fabiano Cudazzo -keyboards
Marco Angelone - electric and classical guitar
Maurizio Di Tollo - drums, percussion and vocals
Salvatore Marchesani - bass


Luca Latini - flauto traverso

Live In Temple Bar (1999)
Il Manuale Dei Piccoli Discorsi (2001)
Suono! (2009)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin IT

Added: October 20th 2002
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website: www.distilleriedimalto.it
Hits: 787
Language: english


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