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(57:03, Black Widow Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Verso l’Alba 2:52 2. Insolita Parte di Me 7:20 3. Boccadasse 5:20 4. Le due Met di Una Notte 5:18 5. La Stanza Nascosta 5:10 6. Danza Esoterica di Datura 6:12 7. Faldistorum 6:02 8. Insolita Parte di Me 4:36 9. Il Centro Sottile 10:39 10. Antidoto Mentale 3:29 LINEUP: Elisa Montaldo – organ, piano, synthesizers, concertina; b/v Giulio Canepa – ac. & el. guitars Stefano Galifi – vocals Fabio Gremo – bass Paolo Tixi – drums
Prolusion. IL TEMPIO DELLE CLESSIDRE, a quintet from Italy, presents its self-titled debut release. The band is led by songwriter and keyboardist Elisa Montaldo, who is fond of ’70 English as well as her native progressive rock music.
Analysis. Overall, it can easily be stated that this album is unified in terms of style, as its ten tracks-components only vary in their degree of complexity. Six of those, Insolita Parte di Me, Insolita Parte di Me, Il Centro Sottile, Verso l’Alba, Faldistorum and Danza Esoterica di Datura, all feature a colossal dose of analog keyboards, enveloped in the familiar fabrics of ‘70s classic Progressive Rock. To be more precise, all these compositions promote a sound that skillfully integrates and balances vintage art-rock melodies and harmonies and a heavy rock sensibility with prominent King Crimson, Genesis and PFM-styled symphonic elements, albeit the latter two pieces both also contain a fairly long interlude, where there are only solo piano passages, done in the manner of classical music. All in all, with dramatic organ motifs, strong guitar leads, a driving rhythm section and pleasing vocal melodies (on the first three of these tracks, as the others are instrumentals), each of the compositions is excellent and can be chosen as the recording’s highest point – save, maybe, disc opener Verso l’Alba, as it’s relatively short, compared to the others. One may argue with me that the disc’s longest track, Il Centro Sottile, should also be removed from the list of the winners, as it’s heavier in singing than any of the other song nominants. However, only at first the vocals might seem to be something more than merely an integral part of the epic, and if we explore it carefully we will find that about a half of it is free of those and that there is a distinct contrast between the song-based and purely instrumental arrangements. Okay, once the musicians return for a recapitulation of the opening vocal themes, but they do so in a slightly different way, interpreting those, thus helping them avoid sounding repetitive. Anyhow, the music is strong throughout. All the same words are relevant to Boccadasse, which I didn’t list along with the above six tracks only because the singing here is too romantic for my taste. Le due Met di Una Notte slowly builds from a skeletal theme, featuring a piano, vocals and a rhythm section, to the full bombastic grandeur of the best Sympho-Prog in its finale. Finally, La Stanza Nascosta and Antidoto Mentale are both art-rock ballads, the first of which is better for my taste, as it’s largely acoustic in nature and isn’t overloaded with singing.
Conclusion. Il Tempio Delle Clessidre is definitely one of the best female-led progressive rock acts to appear in the last decade, if not ever. Despite the evident and frequent nods to the genre’s past its self-titled debut album has probably everything to be liked by anyone who enjoys vintage-style symphonic Art-Rock. Top-20-2010
VM=Vitaly Menshikov: April 12, 2011
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