Exposé print issues (1993-2011)
St.Tropez — Icarus
(Mellow MMP 105, 1978/1992, CD)
A bit of history. In the beginning there was Il Sistema, an Italian group that recorded what would become a double album, Il Viaggio senza Andata, between 1969 and 1971, the de-facto leader of the band being percussionist, flutist, singer, and keyboardist Ciro Perrino. That album, recording completed but never released, would sit on the shelf until 1991, when it finally saw the light of day. After Il Sistema called it a day, Perrino and bandmate Leonardo Lagorio began their next project with a number of additional musicians, Celeste, whose debut album Principe di un Giorno was released in 1976, a gentle symphonic styled record which to this day remains one of the hallmarks of Italian progressive rock. A second album simply titled Celeste II was recorded at the end of that year, but never released, again the recordings lost to time until their eventual release in 1991, both on LP and, with some additional tracks, CD, along with a soundtrack album that the band recorded in 1974. After the demise of Celeste around 1977, a new band was formed by Perrino, St. Tropez, with some other ex-members of Celeste (drummer Francesco Dimasi, bassist Giorgio Battaglia) as well as some new members, guitarist, bassist and singer Alex Magazzino and female singer Lady Mantide, although by the time the recordings were completed in 1978, there had already been some turnover in the ranks, especially in the rhythm section. Even though St. Tropez grew out of Celeste, the musical styles explored on Icarus couldn’t be more different, moving into a more space rock direction, with an abundance of synthesizers, sequencers, and electronics, as well as flute, marimba, glockenspiel, and other tuned percussion, all played by Perrino (who also sang on some of the tracks), and the addition of Lady Mantide makes for a really interesting sound, her high pitched spacy vocals often treated to whammy and wah effects. Magazzino’s searing guitar leads are a highlight of many of the ten original tracks. Two of the tracks in particular, the opener “Noccioline, Caramelle, Gelati” and “Re Del Deserto” are extended pieces breaking the eleven and twelve minute marks respectively, while the remaining eight tracks settle out somewhere between five and nine, some with more of an edgy space-rock sound, but there is plenty of variety to be found therewithin. As mentioned before, these recordings were completed in 1978, but the album never received a proper release until the 90s, and with fresh remastering and some bonus tracks (two on the LP, one on the CD, and all three if one downloads it) this is now the reissue of the original archival release from ‘92, and certainly Icarus is sounding better than ever before.
by Peter Thelen, Published 2021-08-31
Both of these groups contain percussionist/synthesist Ciro Perrino in their ranks. These groups were both post-Celeste and showed a vast change in style from that group. You may have heard Ozric Tentacles referenced in relation to these, which I suppose is a clever ploy to ride the coattails for sales. This isn't entirely true – like the Ozrics, these two bands were influenced by the space rock of Gong and Steve Hillage, yet both groups were far more original and definitely more complex than Ozrics. St Tropez's female vocalist draws it even closer to Gong, but in reality she sounds less like Gilli Smyth and more like a crazed Italian Jerney Kaagman (Earth & Fire). The music is space rock, but not as spiritually intense as Gong; the jams here are more free and spiraling. La Compagnia Digitale is similar (sans vocals); overall there’s less music, longer tracks, and more overall coherency. The quality on both of these is good for what must have either been demos or personal recordings, yet the bands tend to be a bit shaky and not very tight (not at all like mid-period Gong). Definitely not as sonically rich as Ozrics or Gong yet interesting nonetheless. Start with Icarus.
by Mike McLatchey, Published 1996-08-01
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