Acqua Fragile – Mass Media Stars


Italy’s Acqua Fragile delivered a fairly unassuming facsimile of the British symphonic prog sound over the course of two albums. Although their vocalist Bernardo Lanzetti’s future participation on Premiata Forneria Marconi’s English-language albums might make for a greater claim to fame than the music itself, Acqua Fragile demonstrated some excellent musicianship and an ability to capture some of the same pastoral magic as the giants they hoped to emulate. The band’s second album “Mass Media Stars” does nothing to avert or disprove the common criticism of Acqua Fragile as a ‘Genesis clone’, but lively musicianship and fairly memorable songwriting makes the record worth checking out for proggers outside the RPI inner circle.

Although the same could be said for many lesser-known prog acts, Acqua Fragile’s sound seems split between the likes of Yes and Genesis. It’s a comparison that should spark groans from many who have heard the same comparisons made for every ‘typical’ prog rock act, but there are few I’ve heard that follow the footsteps so accurately. “Cosmic Mind Affair” truly sounds like Yes and Genesis met up to collaborate sometime around the recording of “The Yes Album”. The guitars are filled with a bright electric twang you might hear delivered by Yes guitarist Steve Howe. On the flipside, the acoustic guitars here are evidently influenced by Genesis’ Steve Hackett. Although such an explicit lack of originality would normally be a death sentence, Acqua Fragile’s replication of the ‘British sound’ is surprisingly convincing. The musicianship is lively and organic, and though the songwriting isn’t quite up to the par of the bands they try to emulate, there’s clearly been some sincerity and thought put into these pieces. “Cosmic Mind Affair” and the rich title track stand out as highlights.

Bernardo Lanzetti’s vocal contribution to Acqua Fragile is no doubt a reason why many listeners found the band in the first place. Later singing on some of PFM’s late-70′s albums including “Chocolate Kings” and “Jet Lag”, Lanzetti is best known for his similarity to Peter Gabriel. While some might enjoy the comfort and familiarity Lanzetti’s resemblance to Gabriel provides, I never found his performance to be particularly effective with PFM, and the same applies to his work with Acqua Fragile. Although Peter Gabriel is one of my favourite classic prog vocalists, Lanzetti’s voice has a strain and warble to it that wears on the ears. Although the band’s instrumental performance is remarkably solid throughout, there are many times here where it feels like Lanzetti’s voice feels like more of a distraction than a compliment to the rest of the performance. The lilting acoustic piece “Bar Gazing” is especially guilty of this; although there is some very warm acoustic playing that recalls the work of Steve Hackett, the vocals come across as a little annoying, helped no bit by poor lyrics that sound like they were roughly translated from Italian- the ‘dictionary fails’ indeed!

Like Acqua Fragile’s self-titled debut, “Mass Media Stars” shows tact and potential, but it lacks any sort of unique personality or identity. First impressions are certainly brighter than the album’s lasting impact, as some of the album’s weaker aspects- Lanzetti’s vocals especially- tend to wear down the enjoyment before too long. They may be little more than a Genesis clone, but they do manage to recreate the style faithfully.


1. Cosmic Mind Affiar (7:22)
2. Bar Gazing (5:07)
3. Mass-Media Stars (6:55)
4. Opening Act (5:40)
5. Professor (6:49)
6. Coffee Song (5:57)


* Gino Campanini Рguitar, mandolin, guitar (electric), vocals
* Piero Canavera – guitar, percussion, vocals
* Franz Dondi – bass
* Claudio Fabi – piano
* Bernardo Lanzetti – guitar, guitar (electric), vocals, guitar (8 String)
* Maurizio Mori – keyboards, vocals

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