Zarathustra, Ricordi Records, Italy, 1973. £1,000.
Museo Rosenbach formed Bordighera in 1972. Zarathustra, a crown jewel of the underground Italian progressive rock scene during its bustling golden era, is a stunning example of the desire to break standard rock boundaries of the time. Italian prog was way more musically explorative (some might say pompous) as a whole than its European counterparts.
Based on Nietzsche’s Superman, the 21-minute title track (split into five parts and taking up the whole of side one) is very classical in its construction, with bold dynamics, superb playing and memorable melodies. It ranges from dreamy and symphonic to heavy, doomy and bombastic. Dazzling use of Mellotron brings to mind early King Crimson, Genesis and, of course, Yes.
Side two consists of three mini-epic tracks, which are captivating in their
‘A crown jewel of the underground Italian prog scene of its era.’
delivery, with raw, distorted guitar blasts making them seem more intense than the work of a lot of their more ‘symphonic’ contemporaries.
On close inspection of the sleeve there’s an image of Mussolini which, mistakenly, sparked controversy amongst anti-fascist groups in Italy. This and lack of commercial success led to the untimely demise of the band.
As with many adventurous cult acts of the time, Museo Rosenbach continued to enjoy cult status over the years. They recently re-formed, and are again recording and performing live. LD
Riches from the rock underground