In the mid-’70s, the Italian progressive rock scene was a strange and mysterious place. One of the most notable groups to come out of it where Sensation’s Fix, which featured Franco Falsini on guitar. In 1975, Falsini recorded his debut album, Cold Nose, which was the soundtrack to an underground film. The three tracks that make up the Cold Nose suite of songs are an intriguing mix of his guitar and various synthesizers. The music is an obscure treasure of sounds, as mysterious and beautiful as anything you are likely to hear.
“Cold Nose 1” (10:30) opens the set with some intriguing synthesizer atmospheres. Then Franco’s electric guitar comes in with an incredibly powerful sound. His leads are amazingly clean, almost poet in fact, but with a deep, and quietly dark statement of purpose. This is the very essence of what I have always looked for in prog, but have rarely found. There is nothing on this recording that even remotely hints at the clichés that would eventually make so many people dismiss progressive or space rock as a joke. Every note Franco Falsini plays has a purpose.
“Cold Nose 2” (6:36) is a bit more accessible than the first track, at least in the beginning. His guitar here reminds me somewhat of that of Steve Hackett, especially on the classic Genesis track “Watcher of the Skies.” I know it sounds strange, and may just be a fluke, but there are times where I swear Jerry Cantrell of Alice In Chains must have studied Falsini. His is the only modern guitar tone I have heard that sounds anything like this. It is definitely unique, and absolutely compelling all the way through.
After the introduction, Falsini uses the synthesizers much more prominently than on “Cold Nose 1.” While the guitar is still very much a dominant force, the synths take the song in a completely different direction midway. As the piece comes to its inevitable conclusion, we are left in a musical pocket that was once termed “space.” It is difficult to describe, but 70’s prog fans will undoubtedly know what I am talking about when they hear it.
On the original vinyl release, “Cold Nose 3” (15:32) took up all of side two, and as one might expect, it is a tour de force. Here Franco gets the time to really stretch out, and the journey is a brilliant explosion of sounds. I mentioned Steve Hackett earlier, and another major progressive guitarist who comes to mind is Steve Hillage. I offer these comparisons only for the sake of illumination though, as Franco Falsini’s style is very definitely his own.
One of the more fascinating bits of trivia about the recording of Cold Nose has to do with another piece of equipment utilized for the sessions. This would be a mechanism borrowed from the Bio-Electronic Meditation Society. The device monitored his brain activity while in the studio, and only when his brain produced Alpha/Theta waves would he write and record.
Cold Nose has been out of print for decades, and this reissue has been remastered by Franco Falsini himself for release on the Spectrum Spools label. There is a beauty to this music that I find incandescent. The washes of synthesizers blend with floating guitar lines and heavy leads in a glorious way. It is an amazing album.
For those interested, Cold Nose may be a little difficult to find at your local record shop. If all else fails, give the good folks at Forced Exposure a try.