Blue Phantom “Distortions”
Lp - 1971 Italy
All instrumental heavy psych/proto prog exploitation album out of Italy in ’71 – also released in the UK with a different cover in ’72. Blue Phantom was a studio band (or maybe they were a real band playing under a fake name – they shred) playing the compositions of “H. Tikal,” who was in reality Italian film composer Armando Sciascia, who normally worked in a vein similar to later period Nino Rota or maybe someone like Piero Umiliani, but here is taking off from Iron Butterfly, the Stooges, Sabbath, in a not at all subtle way - sometimes the templates are very thinly disguised. Occasionally the material moves in a more keyboard based Italian film direction, but even then the drums are pushing it into the heavy rock zone, & the keys are distorted enough that if you didn’t know Sciascia had composed this, you probably wouldn’t make the connection, especially since this type of thing falls in line with the still relatively nascent & not yet solidified prog realm of the time. “Distortions” is apt enough as a title – the guitars are heavily fuzzed, as are the occasional keys, as mentioned. Occasionally this moves into a stranger, less obvious territory – the closer “Psycho-Nebulous” gets into a creepy, almost proto-Devo thing. This is definitely one of those exploitation records which soars way above its supposed station in life to a much higher place. And this is an entirely different take on prog than what was soon to be the normal Italian m.o. of Vivaldi rock – “Distortions” is basically Trogladytic at heart, despite low level composerly moves. An unlikely convergence producing fantastic results – pure pleasure, front to back.