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Il Bacio della Medusa — Imilla
(AMS 341CD / LP172, 2023, CD / LP / DL)

Imilla Cover art

Il Bacio della Medusa’s fourth studio album is based around the story of Monika Ertl (1937-1973), who was born in Germany to a Nazi propagandist, but ended up joining the leftist National Liberation Army of Bolivia, taking the name Imilla, and famously assassinating the man who had killed Che Guevara. The music apparently started its existence as an acoustic project of singer Simone Cecchini, and it’s been expanded and arranged into a progressive rock tour de force. One of the band’s trademarks has always been a disrespect of stylistic boundaries, a quality which is clearly in evidence on Imilla, with touches of Latin music, psychedelic rock, and more brought in to augment the hard-hitting prog. The album starts with the sound of a typewriter, and the rhythm of the keys morphs into a kind of tango topped with the sound of a kazoo — a singularly odd way to kick off a progressive rock album. “Amburgo 1 Aprile 71” is the first proper song, and it’s a killer (both in a musical sense and in that it commemorates Ertl’s killing of Colonel Quintanilla), with heavy guitar riffs from Andrea Morelli and classic keyboard sounds from Diego Petrini, who also plays drums. Eva Morelli’s sax, Federico Capria’s bass, and the powerful vocals of Cecchini fill out the sound, making for a superb example of contemporary Italian rock. Other tracks tend more toward acoustic guitar and flute, and the band’s skillful sense of drama ties it all into a satisfying narrative (though with the Italian lyrics, I’m left out of the details). For anyone who loves the classic sounds of PFM, Banco, and their contemporaries, Il Bacio della Medusa gives you their own variation on the style without sounding derivative or nostalgic.

by Jon Davis, Published 2023-12-25

Just looking at the cover art, it captures the essence of an early 70s Italian spy movie, which sets the stage for Il Bacio della Medusa’s concept album about Monika Ertl (who died fifty years ago at the hands of the Bolivian security militia) AKA Imilla, a combatant with the Bolivian militia in the 60s and 70s. Imilia is the fifth studio album by this contemporary Italian progressive rock band from Perugia. The nine tracks tell her story from “Un Visto per la Bolivia” (“A Visa for Bolivia”) to “Colt Cobra 38 Special.” In between, they play some exceptional contemporary Italian progressive rock, drawing on the legacy of such 70s greats like Museo Rosenbach and Osanna. Album high points include “La Dolorida,” with its edgy vocals, aggressive guitar, sax, and heavy organ riffs; the excellent “Zio Klaus” with its shimmering chords, metal guitar riffs, heavy organ, a nod to Jethro Tull, and Wagner’s iconic Valkyrie riff on guitar; and “Ho Visto gli Occhi di Inti Virare a Nero,” where they blend urban funk with hard Italian prog, which pauses and then continues as an entirely new urban funk direction. Imilia marks Il Bacio della Medusa’s return to their visceral and multifaceted rock music origins from twenty years ago. Imilia is one amazing album that is sure to please all lovers of Italian prog rock.

by Henry Schneider, Published 2024-01-23

Filed under: New releases, 2023 releases

Related artist(s): Il Bacio della Medusa

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