Le Orme: Felona e Sorona (1973)
The very first Le Orme album I’ve ever heard was Ad Gloriam (1969). It was basically a psychedelic album you expect from that time period, with a West Coast feel, but all sung in Italian. My next purchase was Felona e Sorona, which was their fifth album, and I was in utter shock of how drastically different this album is.
The group really had improved vastly in those four years, and now they were a full blown prog rock band. Instead of cheesy sounding organ, keyboardist Toni Pagliuca was now using Moog and string synthesizers, as well as a better sounding organ. Vocalist Aldo Tagliapietra is still very unmistakable.
The album is a sci-fi concept about two planets, Felona being the happy planet, where all the inhabitant lead very happy lives and Sorona being the sad planet where everyone leads a very gloomy, morose life. I don’t know the whole story behind it, since it’s all sung in Italian. From what I understand, was the two planets eventually destroy each other.
The album starts off with “Sospesi Nell’Incredible” which is not only one of the greatest cuts Le Orme had ever done, but one of the greatest in Italian prog. Great use of string synths and organ, and I really dig the end part with bizarre synth effects and insane drumming from Michi dei Rossi.
The next cut is “Felona”, which is an acoustic piece, and in an appropriately upbeat nature giving this is supposed to be a happy planet. The songs segues into “La Solitude di chi Protegge Il Mondo” which is a great piano piece with vocals. For some odd reason, this sounds a whole lot like something Enya did on her self-entitled 1986 debut, even though this album came out 13 years before. “Sorona” has a rather dark, gloomy, and melancholic mood, unsurprsingly given Sorona is the sad planet. Mainly synthesizer and vocals dominate this piece.
The next piece, “Attesta Inerte” sounds rather disturbing, especially the peculiar synth effects. “All’Infuori del Tempo” is another acustic piece not unlike “Felona”, although at a slower piece. The final piece is the instrumental “Ritorno al Nulla” which is largely dominated by synthesizers.
Apparently this album received enough success in Italy to warrant an English language version. The English language version was entitled “Felona & Sorona” rather than “Felona e Sorona”, with lyrics by Peter Hammill of Van der Graaf Generator fame, and released on Charisma Records. Both versions use the same cover. The original Italian album was released on Philips, with lyrics written by members of Le Orme, of course.
The English language version is much harder to find than the Italian version since it was never reissued on CD. The Italian version has been reissued on CD, and even Amazon.com sells the CD reissue. Along with albums like PFM’s Per Un Amico, Museo Rosenbach’s Zarathustra, and Il Balletto di Bronzo’s YS, Felona e Sorona is highly regarded as one of the great albums the Italian prog rock scene has to offer, and I have no argument about that. If you’re wanting to get in to Italian prog rock, this is a great album to start.
Year of release: 1973
– Aldo Tagliapietra: vocals, bass, guitar
– Toni Pagliuca: keyboards
– Michi dei Rossi: drums
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