Corry Knobel & Eliano Galbiati

Waterfall

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Progressive rock in the 1970s was always much more popular throughout Europe, which has often taken a more intellectual approach, or at least been more receptive to a brainier approach, to music. But it is also nice to hear progressive artists who remember the roots from which rock & roll emerged, as Corry Knobel and Eliano Galbiati do on the opening song on Waterfall, an obscenely rare Swiss LP from 1972. Knobel's maniacally strummed acoustic guitar segues with drummer Galbiati's complex, suite-like tempo shifts, just as you would expect from art rock, but just over three minutes in, the duo abruptly transitions into an earthy, funky soul groove, topped off with Cesco Anselmo and Oscar Bozzetti's bluesy piano runs, that would certainly do Booker T. & the MG's proud, and rides it to the song's conclusion. The wistful ballad "What Will We Become" has a similar jarring juxtaposition, exploding toward its end into a tribal percussion jam, and the slide guitar on "Mother Nature Says," sprinkled over another deep-dug Galbiati groove -- like John Bonham with more country swing and less thud -- makes a pretty strong case that prog rock can, indeed, be soulful. And yet there is still plenty of space for intricate musicianship and epic musical ideas. "Play Hiding" is a whimsical manifesto of youth, a call-to-arms of a new resilient, "classless, self-sufficient" counterculture, and the long title track swoops through an ominous, invented fantasy landscape while sailing through psychedelic and European folk idioms, as well as fusion, straight jazz, symphonic, and more typical (and occasionally tedious) prog rock territory. The very welcome CD reissue by Swiss label Black Rills Records also adds a pair of bonus tracks, alternate versions of "Mother Nature Says" and "What Will We Become" that don't deviate appreciably from the LP versions.

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