Hunka Munka – Foreste Interstellari

Posted: 080921

Review Erik Neuteboom

 

Keyboard player Roberto Carlotto from Varese, whose nickname was Hunka Munka, began playing since his childhood, though his musical career was seriously compromised by an aircraft accident that caused him some heavy injuries. His beginnings as a professional musician took him to play in England, Germany and Switzerland, where he even had the chance of supporting artists like Rod Stewart and Colosseum. In Italy he had previously played with Big 66, I Cuccioli and later with Ivan Graziani, before entering a solo career starting with a single in 1971. As a solo artist, Carlotto was easily recognized by his very good technical quality and the high level of his equipment. That included an incredible number of different keyboards, and even the early examples of tape drum machines.

 

His only solo album (1972) entitled Dedicato A Giovanna G. (with that outrageous cover), is a soft-prog album, obviously dominated by Hunka's keyboards (especially his self-customized Hammond organ) and odd tremolo voice resembling Demis Roussos or Bee Gees. Among the backing musicians were drummer Nunzio "Cucciolo" Favia from Osage Tribe and guitarist Ivan Graziani. After the album release Carlotto joined I Dik Dik in 1973, again with drummer Cucciolo playing with him too later as Carlotto & Cucciolo. He has also presumably released an electronic album in 1984 entitled Promise Of Love, under the name Karl Otto. In 2011 Roberto Carlotto joined the reformed Analogy playing with them many concerts. In early 2000's Roberto Carlotto started a collaboration with keyboardist Joey Mauro, talented user and repairer of vintage keyboards. Together they revitalized the Hunka Munka name, and finally released a new album called Foreste Interstellari, in which Carlotto writes the lyrics, plays keyboards and does the lead vocals. Joey Mauro plays keyboards as well, and writes music together with ‘Mr. Hunka Munka’.

 

When I bought the CD reissue in the early Nineties I remember two facts very well: first I was blown away by the amazing digipack version, and second I was pretty disappointed about the music, it didn’t turn out to be keyboard drenched prog. Now, anno 2021, Hunka Munka is back, almost 50 years after the release of its first and only solo album Dedicato A Giovanna G. And this time I am very happy with the music, Vintage Keyboard Heaven, absolutely no soft prog!

 

Most of the 9 compositions deliver bombastic mid – and up-tempo beats, featuring cascades of Hammond, Minimoog and Mellotron, some heavy guitar leads, pleasant Italian vocals, and a powerful rhythm-section. Often Dutch Trace and Japanese Ars Nova and Gerard come to my mind, especially in La Dama Della Foresta (from church Hammond intro and dazzling Minimoog flights to majestic Mellotron choirs, topped with rock guitar riffs and propulsie drums) and the epic titletrack (between mellow and bombastic, from dreamy piano to orchestral keyboards and lots of Hammond).

 

The shorter tracks are instrumental sound collages, with piano and celestial female voices in La Solitudini Delle Stelle, and atmospheric in L'Uomo Dei Trenini and La Stanza Dei Botini.

 

A strong and varied track is I Cancelli di Andromeda (5:19). It starts with a slow rhythm and soaring Hammond, then powerful drums, spectacular Minimoog, in a bombastic up-tempo, and finally a heavy guitar solo.

 

But my highlight is Idee Maledette (8:07). The intro features an awesome Mellotron choir sound, then a sumptuousc mid-tempo with rock guitar, Minimoog and slightly theatrical vocals, next a break with sensational synthesizer sounds, and in the second part again that awesome Mellotron choir sound, blended with rock guitar riffs and flashy Minimoog flights, wow!

 

What a pleasant vintage keyboard drenched return of the classic Italian prog!