Exposé Online banner

Picchio dal Pozzo — Picchio dal Pozzo
(Si Wan SRMC 2005, 1976/2000, CD)

by Mike Grimes, 1995-11-01:

Picchio dal Pozzo Cover art

Slight changes in style between albums is common for most all groups, but Picchio dal Pozzo is not like most groups. Upon listening to their second CD after hearing the first, I did a double take and checked to see if I was listening to the same band. Rarely, if ever, have I heard a band change their sound so much between two consecutive releases. The core lineup is essentially the same for both releases, but the focus of the songwriting is quite different. On the self-titled effort, most of the songs are very rock sounding. There are even a few "slow songs" which are quite pleasant. Most tracks are based upon an ostinato with improvisation and melody development on top. Wind instruments, especially saxophone, are quite prominent and provide much of the sonic depth of the recording. Interesting use of stereo panning, multi-tracking, and processing often gives the saxes an unusual ethnic sound. The opening cut, "Merta," provides a good example of both the ostinato format – a cool alternating 15/8 and 17/8 part – and the processed instruments, and is one of the best tracks on the album. Vocals are used sparingly, which is too much for this band IMHO.

The second album has few characteristics in common with the first. Abbiamo Tutti i Suoi Problemi is much more arhythmic and polytonal. It is very reminiscent of Frank Zappa's jazzier works and similar to Tipographica in other places. Woodwinds are still relied upon heavily on Abbiamo, but the focus here is quite different. Instead of harmonizing with each other in normal modes, the winds are often playing in different modes and in different keys at the same time, creating a complex patchwork of sound. The results of this are often exceptionally complex and interesting harmonies. For example, one of the songs on Abbiamo recaps many of the melodies from the first album, but it's almost unrecognizable because of the difference in compositional style between the two releases. Unfortunately, this album has even more vocals than the first. For the most part, they are outright annoying. With these guys, there's a strong correlation between the amount of vocals, and how much I like the songs, so it's not surprising that I like the self-titled album better than Abbiamo. Jazz rock and polytonal fans would probably enjoy both these Picchio dal Pozzo releases, but fans of strong rhythm and melody won't like the second as much. For saxophiles, both of these are a must.


by Mike McLatchey, 2018-05-10:

In the Berenstein Bears side universe, it wasn't Stormy Six on the original Rock in Opposition documents, it was Picchio dal Pozzo (the Henry Cow albums also all had mittens on them). While a lot of Italian progressive rock bands of the 70s can be traced back to the Moody Blues, King Crimson, and Vanilla Fudge, Picchio dal Pozzo seemed to draw more from Soft Machine and Robert Wyatt, Yet, other than some tonal similarities, the results were very different with Picchio dal Pozzo in many ways, creating something of a musique concrète / progressive rock hybrid, what's often called soundscapes these days. These were pulled together by the usual combination of instrumentation and studio trickery, but with not so much of the latter that you can't hear lots of musical sequences within. It's interesting to hear the influences at work used to develop a new whole, it often sounds like what might have happened if Daevid Allen had returned to Soft Machine after Third or Four and spent the night in the studio with the tapes. The whole album has a great warmth to it due to a lot of pleasant droning — vocals rise and fall, winds refrain passionately like they're part of the air and there's really only a light percussive presence to go along with all the keyboards creating much of the middle. It's really an endlessly fascinating album, a work that they'd even move away from by the time their second album was released.


Filed under: Reissues , 2000 releases, 1976 releases

Related artist(s): Picchio dal Pozzo

More info

Latest news

2018-07-09
Soft Machine Set to Release New Music – It's been 50 years since The Soft Machine changed the face of music with their first album. Their blend of psychedelic rock and jazz was unique, and while the band went through many changes before disbanding in 1981 — by which time there were no original members remaining — they remained an innovative force with a style all their own. » Read more

2018-07-01
7d Surfaces Happy Rhodes Back Catalog – We've covered singer Happy Rhodes before, both for her solo work and recently with The Security Project, but her 11 albums have been hard to track down. Until now. 7d features high-quality downloads of all her releases, and several of them are also available on CD. » Read more

2018-06-25
Fred Chalenor RIP – We have news of another sad passing in the world of creative music. Bassist Fred Chalenor, whose creativity featured on albums by Tone Dogs, Caveman Shoestore, and many more, died on June 23, 2018 after a long battle with Alzheimer's. Tributes have poured in from the many musicians and fans whose lives he touched. » Read more

2018-06-13
Jon Hiseman RIP – One of the great drummers of the rock era has died. Jon Hiseman was a veteran of such ground-breaking groups as Colosseum (I and II), Tempest, John Mayal's Bleusbreakers, and was a founding member of the innovative large band United Jazz + Rock Ensemble. » Read more

2018-06-05
Koenjihyakkei Seeks Funding for New Album – It's been quite a few years since the last new studio album by the amazing Koenjihyakkei. Now they are preparing Dhormimviskha for worldwide release, and they're asking fans to pre-order via a Kickstarter campaign to help it happen. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Klaus Schulze - Silver Edition – Silver Edition is a limited edition of 2000 boxed sets of 10 CDs sold on a subscription basis with the unsold sets finding their way to the mail order houses like Eurock and Ultima Thule at a much...  (1994) » Read more

Steve Tibbetts - Steve Tibbetts – At long last! Finally the eponymous first album by Minnesota guitarist Steve Tibbetts has been reissued. Folks familiar only with his work of late may be a little surprised by the flowing acoustic...  (1996) » Read more

Thork - We-ila – The French seem to have a lock on dark symphonic prog these days (see Nil elsewhere this issue) – or maybe it’s just those two guys named Maurin (David on guitar and Samuel on bass and...  (2006) » Read more

Clogs - Lantern – The high finish that contemporary chamber and smaller scale orchestral works exude in their discipline, precision, delicacy, and complexity has typically received only a cursory and sideways glance...  (2007) » Read more

Periferia del Mondo - Periferia del Mondo (3) – Their third album, my first to hear. There’s a good variety of tones and influences here, not really like anything else I can think of. Some of the heavier parts remind me of the heavier moments...  (2008) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues