4 out of 5 Stars!
Ys, the second (and last from the ’70s) album by Italian band Il Balletto di Bronzo, is somewhat of a “freak show” when it comes to the Progressive Rock genre.
I can’t think of another band quite like this one—except for perhaps Jumbo, another Italian group with similar strangeness from the same era, or the modern-day band Regal Worm.
When it comes to “Introduzione”—the opening track, for instance—the listener is confronted by so many outlandish and eerie atmospheres, rhythm shifts, zany Moog, piano, and organ solos, fiery guitar fills, peculiar bass guitar melodies, and unorthodox vocal passages, all hurled at you seemingly at breakneck speed, that it’s virtually impossible to wrap your mind around, and savor, any one element of the music, requiring numerous replays in order to absorb the pure Avant-Prog insanity that passed by in the eleven-minute stretch.
Each one of the other three tracks delivers more of the same. The music is also heavily laced with Psychedelic effects, making the use of headphones/earbuds a wild, almost life-altering experience.
And the even stranger thing is that, for the most part, it works! Sure, some aspects of the eccentric performances, musical arrangements, and instrumentation take some getting used to—such as the almost demented lead vocals—but once your mind settles into the uniqueness of it all, the album actually grows on you.
Perhaps Ys is not a masterpiece, but it’s nearly so.