"Cliché" collected a couple of theatre soundtracks, but the real turning point towards a more explicitly experimental attitude was "L'apprendista" (The apprentice), in 1977. With its complex Gentle Giant nestings, its chamber/folk leanings and more easy-going lyrics, it was more than just a prelude to the unique R.I.O. sound of "Macchina Maccheronica" (Macaronic machine).
Being released in 1980 - definitely late for a progressive album - "Macchina maccheronica" was overlooked in Italy, but it was praised by the German critics. Featuring ex-Henry Cow cellist Georgie Born, the LP still focuses on the elaborate inlays of the previous one, but the attitude is much more ludic: fanfare-like passages are spread everywhere, multi-style renditions of the Milanese 30s song "O mia bèla madunina" are used as track separators. The music's anyhow the most experimental ever released by the band until then: unusual scales and harmonies, complex rhythm patterns and instrumental weaves are the key elements of the longer tracks, which particularly shine for the lively wind lines and the Fripp/Frith guitar soloing of Franco Fabbri.
The band would continue their career until the mid-eighties and face some live reunions in the Nineties, but I'll probably write about these events in a second time.
- Macchina maccheronica
- Le lucciole
- Rumbo sugli alberi
- Macchina Maccheronica