LE ORME - Italian Progressive Scene

This forum is by no means meant to replace the Alternate Tunes forum but rather is designed to highlight the music of those earlier days when it all started and whose influence can still be heard today. Feel free to start your own thread heralding these ground-breakers and Earth-shakers.
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LE ORME - Italian Progressive Scene

Post: # 114080Post Coffee_&_Cigarettes
Mon Mar 16, 2009 9:03 pm

One of my personal favorites!
lately ive been more into Le Orme than PFM.
Usualy PFM is the first Italian Prog people listen to when they are discovering this genre, then they will end up finding all about Le Orme, Banco, Museu...when it hits that point there´s no coming back.
Once you get used to Italian singing, strange keyboard lines and bizarre concept albums you will never want anything else.
Unlike many music experts and critics, i don´t perceive Le Orme as a Italian version of Emerson Lake & Palmer.
I´m aware they do have a ELP thing going on sometimes but overall the sound is very unique and stands out due to it´s dark atmosphere and strange chord progressions.It´s not as epic as a ELP would be and less Chaotic than ELP.
The Narrow way to view this Italian scene is : PFM = Yes + Genesis + Moody Blues, Le Orme = King Crimson + ELP, Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso = Gentle Giant + Jazz-rock + Canterbury Scene + Magma.
It´s not like that at all.



Le Orme was one of the three major Italian groups, the other two being PFM and Banco, to attain some semblance of international success and sustain a lengthy career that has lasted until the present day. The band began as a beat/pop group with heavy Beatles and psychedelic influences, releasing a number of singles, and two albums, in that vein. By 1970 however, the band having been scaled down to its core trio, Le Orme began to pursue greater ambitions, and met with record company resistance in recording of their Collage album. However, the the increasing success of bands like Genesis and especially ELP eventually convinced the execs to give Le Orme a shot in the Italian market. 1971's Collage would be the bands first step in the direction of progressive rock, establishing the keyboard/bass/drum trio format that would serve them well over their next few albums.

The band's truly classic period begins with their next release, Uomo di Pezza, which was a finely honed progressive rock onslaught, contrasting gorgeous balladry with explosive keyboard bombast, and would attain Gold sales status in Italy. 1973's Felona E Sonora was a grand concept work, fully fleshed out both musically and conceptually, crystallizing the bands vision and undoubtedly establishing them as leaders in the Italian scene. The band was contacted by Charisma label head Tony Stratton-Smith for an English release of the album, and Van der Graaf Generator's Peter Hammill, who was apparently a huge fan, wrote the lyrics and liner notes. This English version is apparently extremely rare, and I'm not sure how it turned out in the end. The next album, Contrappunti, would see the addition of a fourth member, Gian Pero Reverberi on piano, and would facilitate an even more complex approach. However, Contrappunti would effectively close out the band's streak of success, as the band would dabble more in pop and folk for the remainder of the decade, and into the early 80s before disbanding.
The recent resurgence of progressive rock in the 90s has apparently called the members of Le Orme back from retirement, as the band reunited in 1990 for another pop album, Orme. However, upon the departure of Tony Pagliuca, the band decided to rethink their strategy and has attempted a return to their progressive roots. The more recent albums like Il Fiume and Elementi have been praised by many as the bands best output since Contrappunti, and won the band headlining slots at LA's Progfest in 1997 and Mexico's Baja Prog festival in 2000. - Greg Northrup [October 2001]

[size=-2]Source: Le Orme Fan Site[/size]
[size=-2]Felona E Sonora (1973)[/LEFT]

This is probably one of my top favorite Italian progressive rock albums, and definitely in the upper-echelon of the prog releases in general. Le Orme play extraordinary symphonic progressive rock in the trio format; very beautiful and romatic sounding, as Aldo Tagliapietra's vocals have a gentle, earthy quality to them, although the band definitely has the marked ability to rock out, as evidenced in the fantastic "L' Equilibrio" and the closing instrumental "Ritorno Al Nulla".
Emerson, Lake & Palmer is the overused, and not entirely accurate, reference point for Le Orme, though perhaps a decent place to start understanding the basic format of this band for Itali-prog newbies. That is a sound characterized simply by bass, keyboard and drums, with occasional sprinklings of guitar. However, Le Orme is definitely the superior band, rarely sounding at all mechanical, but instead richly symphonic, lush and darkly beautiful. Though there is quite a bit of heavy keyboard soloing, a la ELP, it rarely comes off as pretentious or wanky. Instead, Antonio Pagliuca acts as a master of texture and delicacy, incorporating a wide variety of keyboards, occasionally double tracking, and truly delivering on the conceptual moodieness of Felona E Sonora, though he definitely takes the occasional liberty of displaying his extensive chops. This is a concept album that delivers a full and inegrated story line, though I'm unclear on exactly what it is, due to the obvious fact that the lyrics are all in Italian. It has something to do with two sister planets, one Felona and one Sonora, one of which has a happy and joyous population, while the other's is other miserable and listless. I don't know exactly what happens with the two planets, but the music on this album definitely tells its own story. A great album. - Greg Northrup [2000]


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