Tom Hayes 6-Oct-2006 Campo di Marte (1973)

Campo di Marte (named for a piazza in their native Florence) are representative of the top-tier of one-shot Italian progressive rock wonders of the early 1970s, and weighs in strongly against Museo Rosenbach, De De Lind, Alusa Fallax, Raccomandata Ricevuta Ritorno and others. Amongst the usual instrumentation of guitar, keyboards (mellotron, organ, piano), bass and drums, Campo di Marte add flute and French Horn, the latter being particularly original for the scene. Strong dynamic shifts occur frequently, with pleasant flute and acoustic guitar sections frequently contrasted by psychedelic guitar runs atop some bombastic organ. Vocals are kept to a minimum, and are usually filtered to add to the alienation of the music. The melodies are memorable, and the band has a good sense of the groove during jam sessions, pointing to a stronger than usual jazz background. This latter quality is not always a given when talking classic Italian progressive rock. Like most in the genre, Attention Deficiency Disorder apparently runs rampant throughout the crew – especially when it comes to keeping time. With BTF’s latest mini-LP reissue, the story becomes clearer: The original United Artists release not only has the wrong titles, but in complete reverse order from what was intended. The label wanted the “heavy stuff up front” to grab the listener. So could it be that record executives had worse ADD than the musicians? At the last minute, bandleader Enrico Rosa was forced to do a quick name change, and simply titled each ‘I Tempo’ through ‘VII Tempo’. So the reissue not only provides the best sounding version to date (though it appears the master tapes are lost), but also reorders and re-titles the songs appropriately, making for a smoother listen. The album now flows accordingly: ‘Prologo’ parts 1 to 3, ‘Riflessione’ parts 4 to 5 and ‘Epilogo’ parts 1 and 2 (‘Tempo’ 5 to 7 and 1 to 4 respectively. Put down your drink and you’ll get it). Campo di Marte’s one showing to the world is an extraordinary tour-de-force, and represents one of the finest Italy has to offer. And that’s saying something given the competition.

Greg Northrup    6-August-2001 Campo di Marte

Another excellent Italian one-shot, and one that surely ranks in the upper echelon of the Italian heavy progressive albums, closest stylistically to perhaps Alphataurus or Semiramis. Campo di Marte's album is filled with monstrous fuzzed-out guitar riffs, but also has a definite classically influenced side; for every heavy moment there are also generally pleasant passages with piano, flute and horn. The melodies are, as usual for Italian bands, impeccable. Very catchy stuff here and tons of diverse instrumentation to keep things very interesting: piano, organ, and Mellotron plus the aforementioned horn and flute. One of the highlights of the album for me is the extraordinary bass playing, something that definitely lends to the replay value of the album. The guy is really able to create some very melodic and inventive lines while holding down the fort very well rhythmically, making the monstrously heavy portions much richer harmonically.

The album is divided into seven different "tempos," and tend to flow together quite well. On "Primo Tempo" the the band opens up with an absolutely huge riff that sounds like something from Deep Purple or Sabbath. The vocals are in a typical Italian style, and don't make much of an impression one way or another. "Secondo Tempo" shows the more pastoral side of the group, a pleasant track with horns and Mellotron, as is the beautiful "Quinto Tempo" with a magical flute and choir-like chanting. "Settimo Tempo" closes the album out with a very well rounded approach, expressing many of the band's strengths.

Campo di Marte's album is one of the more obscure Italian albums, probably for the reason that it doesn't have the same sort of distinctive style as, say Museo Rosenbach, Metamorfosi or PFM. Instead it's just extremely good amalgamation of what most of us have already come to expect from that country's great albums. For that reason, it may be a tad underwhelming on the first few listens, as it was for me. However, taking the album on its own merits will definitely prove rewarding, and those who think they've mined all the Itali- prog essentials would do well to check out this album.

Dan Casey 18-March-2001 Campo Di Marte

Campo Di Marte - "Campo Di Marte" (Mellow MMP 181, 1973/1994, CD)

Heaped amidst a surprising number of great 70's Italian prog bands comes this very recent CD reissue, and it is quite remarkable. Perhaps more subtle than some of their contemporaries, this five-piece is unique in their ability to compose pieces of music that are very different stylistically and yet hang together very well as an album. Each of the album's seven sections has its own personality, from heavy and full of dynamic contrast to bittersweet and melodic. Likewise, the music ranges from elegant and simple to moderately complex, invoking PFM's Storia di un Minuto and Il Balletto di Bronzo's Ys as fair comparisons. Noteworthy is the guitarist who employs both styles and tones well ahead of their time. While the CD is mastered from vinyl, it is extremely well done and only noticeable in one or two very quiet passages. In the end, it's the strength of the compositions more than anything else that slowly endears the listener. A very strong album, and a 'must-have' for collectors of Italian symphonic music.

(Originally published in Exposé #3, p. 15)

Links for further information