Tom Hayes 24-Feb-2001 Semiramis

So it's an established fact that in Italy during the period between 1971-1974, a music movement existed where bands would challenge each other to see who could be the most imaginative, who could create the album for the ages. They were all painters and sculptors just as in Renaissance Italy. Dedicato A Frazz is Michaelangelo's 'David'. At one point in time, utter genius struck five men and the masterpiece has been laid down for future generations to discover. Most missed it the first time around. Lemmings.

Organ, synthesizer, vibes, electric/acoustic guitar, bass, drums, and a vocalist. And with that Semiramis was able to create an album unlike any other before or since. Combining elements of Italian folk, circus, hard rock, Baroque church music, jazz, classical, and a good dose of insanity, Dedicato A Frazz pounds every sense, challenges every synapse in a flurry of ideas. After literally hundreds of listens, I still hear a different album each time. There is no weak link, no attempt at copying others works, no tries at banal commercialism. Just uninhibited reckless abandon of the imagination combined with musical expertise and each member is a master of his instrument. Most tracks have a few hundred ideas and change moods faster than a bipolar woman left in the cold. Acoustic moments are quickly offset by heavy electric ones. Quiet moments of solitude are blasted away by militaristic might. It's never enough to have one striking contrast. No, Semiramis pile it on from every angle. Synths go awry, voices scream, guitars go a hundred miles a second, drums jettison you across the room. How could a group compose so many ideas? There are literally 15 albums on this! It's hard to pick one song, but "Distro una Porta di Carta" has to be the clincher. Starting unintrusively with a nice Moog sequence and guitar melody, the vocals are impassioned but not extraordinarily so. Then the music stops. A little acoustic strumming, voices, and a more violent return to the opening movement. But it's faster this go 'round. Then an insane break - guitars, drums, and bass in step but at a very odd meter, keyboards rotating overhead. Then another wild break with layered keys and the previous guitar trio performing metronomic acrobatics. From here the guitar solos on top with chromatic scales at a blistering rate. Then the organ plays an odd sequence with heavy guitars following along. All this leads to the climax: Swishing acoustic guitar going speaker to speaker and swirling organ that leads to a dramatic and melancholic ending. Whew! One track. Imagine seven like this. For the dedicated listener the rewards are endless. One of the greatest albums ever and the pure embodiment of everything that made the Italian prog movement so special.

Readily available on CD, though the LP is tough to find. The gatefold cover of the odd facial figure (Frazz?) is as discomforting as the music and a must for vinyl collectors. The original is quite expensive but there exists an exact duplicate pressed in the late 80's which is also very hard to locate and is pricey. The reissue is hard to distinguish from the original except the subtle differences in the feel of the material.

Sjef Oellers 25-Feb-2001 Dedicato A Frazz

Semiramis is one the many "one-shot" bands of 70's Italy. Their only album, , is one of my favourite albums of 70's Italian art rock. There are fantastic, heavy progressive passages (especially in the middle of the album) with heavy, intense guitar riffs and guitar leads close to Osanna or Balletto di Bronzo. There are more symphonic, keyboard-led parts as well where Semiramis may sound closer to Yes, Genesis or Banco. Short acoustic interludes form brief resting points in the endless stream of scorching guitar riffs, melodic keyboards lines, beautiful symphonic themes, etc. Although the musicians of Semiramis may not be as accomplished as some members of the bands above, they make up for it with their relentless energy and amazing intensity. A fantastic album.

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