Although most Italian oneshot classics came out between 1973 and 1975 and were at least occasionally heavy, Locanda delle Fate’s sole album came out in 1978 and is very symphonic with nary a trace of hard rock. Lots of folks will call this one of the best albums ever made, and though it’s got a lot of depth and warmth to it, a lot of the album just sounds like solid but unspectacular song-oriented prog with a pastoral flair.
The sound is characterized by lots of keyboards, especially piano and string synthesizer (but no mellotron, amazingly enough), very tight arrangements, and occasional roughness, usually from the vocalist or guitarist, which seems quite out of place at first but does make for some interesting contrasts. The album is very long for Italian albums, at around 45 minutes, and the cover art is world class, with really beautiful colors and textures but actually quite amateurish if you look at it closely (like a lot of Italian prog).
This album is really not amateurish at all though. It’s extremely well composed, arranged, performed, and recorded. The first track is undeniably great. It’s instrumental and contains some subtle but very complex piano work interspersed with lush symphonics and occasionally harsh electric guitar, plus it has some great drumming, a strength of this album that’s often overlooked.
Most of the songs are very much vocal pieces. The second track has some very nice melodies and singing, and might be the best of the bunch. The third one also opens up with some very nice string synths and a really beautiful vocal melody, followed by some triumphant instrumental melodies; this one, “Profumo di follo bianca” is probably my favorite vocal track. Most of the rest of the album just sort of follows this formula, and there aren’t very many surprises; it all just seems to blend together, and it’s hard to remember much about individual tracks. The band doesn’t ever go all out with intense symphonics but instead relies on subtle playing and spacious mixing to make an album that sounds much more “adult” and professional than most Italian prog. The only performer who seems to ever go over the top with his performances is the singer, but his voice is so gruff that at its most intense it seems like quite a mismatch. But that’s part of the charm I suppose.
I might be the only one, but I actually find the bonus track “New York” to be better than anything on the album. It’s got an intensity and very direct melody that most of the album’s songs lack. Although it was allegedly intended as a commercial song, and it isn’t as complex as most of their other songs, I just find its melody and orchestrations far more powerful and effective than anything on the album.
Leonardo Sasso (vocals)
Ezio Vevey (guitar, flute, vocals)
Alberto Gaviglio (guitar)
Michele Conta (keyboards)
Oscar Mazzoglio (keyboards)
Luciano Boero (bass)
Giorgio Gardino (drums)
1 A volte un istante di quiete 6:36
2 Forse le lucciole non si amano più 9:55
3 Profumo di colla bianca 8:30
4 Cercando un nuovo confine 6:44
5 Sogno di Estunno 4:44
6 Non chiudere a chiave le stelle 3:36
7 Vendesi saggezza 9:40
8 New York [Bonus Track] 4:36
Rip from CD 256@ (full artwork included)