Banco is one of the household names in classic Italian progressive rock, so it comes as a surprise to find no reviews about this superb symphonic Italian band.
A good place to start with this band would be Darwin! which is considered by many to be their best effort.
Being their second record it comes as a big breakthrough from the first one (elf-titled) mostly because of the heavy use of imaginative analog keyboards (which are not specified in the remastered edition) and the addition of Marcelo Todaro as electric and acoustic guitarist.
The whole album is structured by some very complex and intricate use of keyboard and piano interplaying sections ( the Nocenzi brothers) with the powerful, dramatic (almost operatic!) voice of Francesco Di Giacomo and Todaro's high pitched often-yielding but very tasty guitar arrangements. Donít be mistaken: this is a very original prog group from the 70's.
The standout tracks are the first two: "L'Evoluzione" (the evolution) and "la conquista della posizione eretta" (the conquest of the straight position), both of epic proportions.
In "L'Evoluzione" starts with sinister organ sounds and a very eerie guitar, from then the band works marvels at evoking scenes of a swollen dark Earth not fully formed, giving birth to the first life forms.
Taking full advantage of analog synthesizer technology, Vittorio Nocenzi (the mastermind behind Banco), gives us some of the most fascinating distorted sounds those instruments could produce, and with the song clicking at almost 14 minutes this becomes truly a voyage through evolution.
"La conquista della posizione eretta" kicks with a fast and heavy tempo, very percussive 8/8 rhythm. There is a magnificent moment when the piano "transforms" into keyboards while keeping the mood. It could be interpreted as the moment the homo erectus gains the ability to walk on two legs. One of the best tracks by Banco, with lots of keyboard solos, very imaginative and percussive use of piano and keys with symphonic overtones.
"Danza dei Grandi rettili" (Dance of the great reptile) is a very good jazzy instrumental; still the symphonic elements are present through the whole track.
"Cento Mani e Cento occhi" is a track very reminiscent of their first album, with very powerful keyboard solos.
"750,000 Anni fa...l'amore?" and "Ed ora io domando tempo al tempo ed egli mi risponde...non ne ho!" are the ballads of the album, the former soon became a live favorite by the group, mostly because of the strong Italian popular tendencies, and amazing vocals by Di Giacomo.
Banco is one of those great Italian bands that are sometimes overlooked because they are very popular, still there is lots of serious stuff here and itís no wonder that this album is considered second only to Per Un Amico as the Top Italian prog album in our poll.