Tugs — Europa Minor
(AMS AWS 221, 2013, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2014-01-09How many times have we heard about Italian bands who were active in the 1970s, but failed to get any recordings out before the musical styles changed and progressive rock was no longer fashionable; then years later the band reunites and gets back to business and releases some reworked material they were playing back in the day. Tugs is another such band, a five-piece fronted by singer Pietro Contorno who were together from 1978 to 1982, then split, eventually reuniting after a long hiatus with three original (Contorno, guitarist Nicolo Melani, and bassist Bruno Rotolo) and two new members on keyboards and drums, plus a handful of guest players (flute, violin, cello, mandolin, mandola and percussion), to record the concept piece Europa Minor that they were performing in their early years. Following some radio sweeping and the sounds of an air raid, the first three cuts “Waterloo,” “Il Re e il Poeta” (the king and poet) and “La Brigata dei Dottori” (the doctors’ brigade) set a folky European, almost Celtic tone, supported by tasty arrangements and superb playing all around. Contorno’s commanding and unique voice leads the show while he’s singing, but allows the players plenty of room to work their magic in numerous lengthy instrumental sections. By the fourth track “Pietroburgo 1824,” the band is in full-on symphonic rock mode, comparable to the work of Banco and Le Orme of just a few years earlier. The guest strings (including the mandolin) add beautiful textures to the basic five-piece sound wherever they are utilized, while the guest flute seems to bring a Jethro Tull and PFM influence into the mix. The six minute instrumental interlude “Il Sogno di Jennifer” led off by acoustic guitar and piano breaks up the album’s heavier pieces nicely, eventually building to a full band piece. All taken, Tugs’ long-overdue debut ranks right up there with the best of the classic Italian symphonic progressives.
Related artist(s): Tugs
Asia Minor Third Album on the Way – On January 29, AMS records will be releasing the long-awaited third album by classic Turkish-French band Asia Minor. Released last year in Japan, this will be the widespread debut of Points of Libration. The album features original members Setrak Bakirel (vocals, guitar) and Eril Tekeli (flute, guitar). » Read more
Harold Budd RIP – Harold Budd, one of pre-eminent American composers of avant-garde and minimalism, has died of complications from the coronavirus. Budd came to prominence in the 70s, championed by Brian Eno on his Obscure Records label, with music that blended academic minimalism with electric jazz and electronic music. Much of Budd's best known work was done in collaboration with other artists, including Eno, Daniel Lanois, Robin Guthrie, Andy Partridge, John Foxx, Jah Wobble, and many others. » Read more
Audion Is Back in Business – Our esteemed colleague Alan Freeman has restarted Audion Magazine after a seven year hiatus. The new incarnation is available online on their Bandcamp site. Audion's history goes back to 1984, and included 58 issues up to 2013. Issue #59 is available now, and #60 is in the works. » Read more
Romantic Warriors IV – Krautrock (Part 2) Is in the Works – Zeitgeist Media, the people who have brought us the great series of documentary films chronicling the history of progressive rock, are working on the second installment of their examination of German music. Krautrock 2 will focus on artists from Münich such as Guru Guru, Amon Düül II, Xhol Caravan, Kraan, Witthüser & Westrupp, and Popol Vuh. » Read more