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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso: Banco


BANCO DEL MUTUO SOCCORSO: BANCO (1983)

1) Ninna Nanna; 2) Lontano Da; 3) Moby Dick; 4) Pioverà; 5) Allons Enfants; 6) Velocità; 7) Moyo Ukoje; 8) Trac­cia III.

Stuck in between two of Banco's worst excuses for existence, this eponymous release from 1983 is marginally better — at least every once in a while it tends to veer into long forgotten «art-pop» territory, with occasional baroque vocal flourishes and flashes of intellectualism: I mean, how bad can an album with direct references to Herman Melville, the French national anthem, and a phra­seological expression in Swahili really be?

Well, it can be pretty bad, for sure, but not entirely hopeless. Granted, the audacity even to sug­gest that there may be some feeble continuity with Banco's classic legacy — as evidenced by the inclusion of a short bookmarking instrumental called ʽTraccia IIIʼ — is hardly permissible, parti­cularly in view of the fact that the song in question is a bland piece of post-New Wave dance mu­zak heavily struck with synthesizeritis. But if we bring ourselves to forget that there ever was a ʽTraccia Iʼ or ʽTraccia IIʼ in the first place, Banco has its better moments.

ʽMoby Dickʼ, in particular, is a tolerable, at times even jubilantly infectious, chunk of Euro-pop, laden with catchy choruses, decent slide guitar and ʽDancing Queenʼ-ish piano patterns, maybe the best track to stem from Banco's pop period in general — see, it isn't really that hard: all one needs is not sound too stupid and include some instrumental work that does not value flashiness and rhythm above subtlety and melodicity.

And make that a big emphasis on «not sounding too stupid» — throughout the album, the atti­tudes and tonalities are significantly shifted towards a melancholic, autumnal mood with a little bit of old-timey romantic idealism carried over from the progressive days. If only the rhythmic pulses here weren't so utterly flat and predictable, ʽNinna Nannaʼ could have been a passable jazz-rocker, and ʽPioveràʼ could have been an okayish fusion ballad. There is even an attempt at jumping on the «world music» wagon with ʽMoyo Ukojeʼ, even if its Swahili title is more or less the only «world» element to it... still, it's a bit of an improvement over ʽBacciami Alfredoʼ, if you know what I'm talking about.

It's not as if any of these observations constituted sufficient reasons for the album to exist — it is quickly and easily forgettable — but, at least, in the general context of the band's history it comes across as a weak muscle convulsion from what already seemed like something that «ceased to exist». One could even hope that, had things continued to unfurl in the same way, Banco could have been the beginning of a resuscitation. Unofrtunately, the Eighties were only beginning — Genesis, too, released their best «pop-era» album in 1983, as did Yes, and look what happened later. Could we expect anything radically different from their Italian brethren? I don't think so.

2 comments:

  1. It isn't truly the 80's until the Garden Gnome shaves.

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  2. "synthesizeritis"
    This doesn't bother me most about the 80's. I am not sure if Pete Townshend made a better use of them (OK, on We won't get fooled again he did) and Jon Lord from Who do we think we are on certainly didn't.

    "If only the rhythmic pulses here weren't so utterly flat and predictable"
    This is my main problem. Where have the old values gone? What happened to the standards set by (pick your favourite) Moon, Baker, Bonham, Paice, Palmer and/or Bruford? And what happened to the idea that the bass guitar is a fine (counter)melodic instrument? Like (again, pick your favourite) Entwistle, Bruce, Jones, Lake, Thain and/or Wetton showed?
    Pardon me, I'm not going to check if this album suffers from these flaws indeed. There is only so much I can handle.

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