CD Review – Tillison Reingold Tiranti – Allium: Una Storia

No, Tillison Reingold Tiranti aren’t a firm of solicitors and commissioners of oaths, but a new modern prog supergroup featuring Andy Tillison from the Tangent, Jonas Rheingold from The Tangent, The Flower Kings, Karmakanik, and Steve Hackett band member, and Roberto Tiranti of Labyrinth and New Trolls. Together they have created the album Allium: Una Storia. It is a conceptual work which, the story goes, takes as its subject a real band, Allium, that Andy had stumbled across and jammed with in Italy whilst on a family holiday when he was a teenager in the mid-1970s.

“One afternoon spent with this band was enough to decide my career for the rest of my life” explains Andy, who has apparently spent a long time searching for any information about the group. “It was the first time I saw and touched a synthesiser; it was the first time I ever saw an electric band play. It was a golden moment on a holiday camp in Italy that has been an influence on every recording I have ever made in the past 46 years.”

The album is an imagining of the kind of record Allium might have made, written in the manner of the music that they played. Tillison, Rheingold and Tiranti invited Italian lyricist Antonio De Sarno, who has worked with Moongarden, Barock Project, and Mangala Vallis, to participate and who, in keeping with Tillison’s original music, created the kind of lyrics that might have been written by Allium at that time. The album was recorded during lockdown restrictions in the UK, Austria and Italy.

The resulting music is very much steeped in the Rock Progressivo Italiano style, with its leaning on classical styles, particularly symphonic and a little opera, but drawing in elements of psychedelia, Italian folk music, and jazz, with tendencies towards improvisation. There are three tracks on the album, presented twice, firstly as Andy’s 1970s style mix, and secondly Jonas’s modern contemporary mix, which still takes into account the needs of being retro. As you might expect, the modern mix is a clearer and sharper listening experience, whilst the 1970’s styled mic is fuzzier and maybe more romantic. The album is of similar length to those released in the mid 1970’s at about forty minutes. The opening track, Mai Tornare, is a long track that would have filled a side of a vinyl album in those days. The two other tracks are obviously shorter in length and would have filled the second side. The lyrics are sung in Italian, you would imagine partly as that is how they were written, and partly for authenticity. Although the songs are very definitely much in the RPI style, Andy’s swirling, flowing, ever shifting keyboard style is dominant, while Jonas’s fluid, agitated bass playing is key. Roberto’s vocals sound authentic and melodic. The trio are joined by guest saxophonist Ray Aichinger, who provides some atmospheric and colourful playing from time to time. A surprise on the album is Andy Tillison’s drumming abilities.

The highlight of the album is undoubtedly the band interplay, especially considering that due to Covid related restrictions this had to be done remotely. To hear how they shift from the mellow melancholic sections to the more urgent jazzy sections on Mai Tornare emphasises this group interaction. Ordine Nuovo wouldn’t be out of place on a Canterbury styled album with its languorous, relaxed feel. Nel Nome Di Dio is a little more of a rock song but still in keeping with the RPI style.

This is a really good album that should be listened to in one sitting, as was typical back in the 1970s. A weakness would be that the concept and its presentation comes over as a little too contrived at times. There is a back story that Allium gave Andy a cassette of their recordings which were subsequently lost in a burglary Andy suffered some years later. The music could fall into pastiche without care and attention to detail, but the band just pulls this off with aplomb. The rigours of maintaining the veracity of the idea and thus producing an authentic 1970s sounding album is met by possibly limiting the personalities if the musicians themselves. A positive for the album though is that all the band contributed to the writing process from the outset. For all the eccentricities, this is still a good, joyful, enjoyable album to relax with, and listen to, allowing yourself to be immersed in the 1970s. As Allium released no albums themselves, we can indulge ourselves in a little make believe.

Andy Tillison’s 1970s style ‘Original Mix’

1 Mai Tornare

2 Ordine Nuovo

3 Nel Nome Di Dio

 Jonas Reingold’s contemporary ‘2021 Mix’

4 Mai Tornare

5 Ordine Nuovo

6 Nel Nome Di Dio

Andy Tillison: Keyboards and (Real) Drums. 

Jonas Reingold: Electric Guitar and Bass Guitar 

Roberto Tiranti: All Vocals 

Antonio De Sarno: Lyrics 

with guest 

Ray Aichinger: Soprano & Tenor Saxophones

Release date: 1st September 2021

Record Label: Reingold

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