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La Torre Dell'Alchimista - La Torre Dell'Alchimista CD (album) cover


La Torre Dell'Alchimista


Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.90 | 86 ratings

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3 stars I purchased this debut album, liked it but sort of got lost in various shuffles, both personal and among other prog priorities, so it took a long drive through Tennessee today to chuck this into the car CD player and push volume to the hilt ( car's rented, so damn the woofers!). The Alchemist's Tower is an eclectic combo from Bergamo that doesn't follow the standard prog line-up in terms of musicians, even though keyboardist extraordinaire Michele Mutti is the outright leader (By the way, the lads stumped everyone on the booklet by spelling their names Chinese/Hungarian style: last name coming first (Fooled ya!), so I'll set it right). His dexterous style seems to favor laying down tons of the Hammond C3 organ but unlike maestros John Novello of Niacin or Keith Emerson, who like to thicken the sauce somewhat, Mutti sounds more like Focus' Thijs Van Leer (very apparent on the title track!) and the illusion is compounded by the massive use of flute courtesy of Silvia Ceraolo as a co-lead instrument. So they do sound like an Akkerman-less Focus because there is no electric guitar (lead or rhythm) anywhere, only a few distant chords on acoustic guitar on a couple of tracks. My PA colleagues also have correctly cross haired Le Orme as a possible reference (their early material had no guitar also) but these guys are way jazzier as witnessed by the deft, solid but never heavy drumming of Norberto Mosconi and the nimble bass four finger magic by Davide Donadoni. But what really sets these wonderful musicians apart is the smooth vocal work by Michele Giardino, owner of a warm voice that elevates the specific qualities of the Italian language, displaying emotion, control, fluidity and tone. The opener "Eclisse" illuminates the road through this impressive debut, laying down thick slabs of whirling organ and piano tinklings offering barometer counterpoint in the finest Emerson/Fritz tradition. The agile flute and the effective vocals veer this composition into a highly original space, especially as the bubbling synths add a little further coloring. "Delirio" features ripping piano waltzing jointly with the flute over some jazzy pastoral horizons, setting the table for another seductive Hammond melodic sortie. The cracking title track (also the bands moniker) starts out with mellotron and gentle flute before bursting into a Van Leer-like C3 excursion with a rapid-fire main theme that gurgles passionately (Hammond fans will pee their pants!), all juiced up by a gentle mid-section showcasing some beautiful melodies both on vocals and on breezy synths, remindful of my friends the legendary Consorzio Acqua Potabile. The effortless and hyper-melodic "Il Volo" is a majestic vocal piece about the sea that, while seemingly too plain for some other reviewers, fulfill my angst ridden needs (of course, understanding Italian helps me). All Italian prog bands owe at least one track to their tradition of "canzione", simple folk-popular songs, decorated with minimal proggy artifices, a bit like PFM's "Just Look Away". The next track returns to the jazzy flute-organ duet program, a little ho-hum IMHO and my least favorite track here. "I Figli della Mezzanotte" is a short, tension-filled organ romp that purveys tortuous flute and zippy synths thus combining some more of the same ingredients that give this recording its unique flavor. The next one is a delightful grand piano etude that hints at Wakeman, Tout or Jobson, a two-handed tour de force that will please fans of this tremendous instrument to no end. The good-humored nature of the C3 is displayed once again on the "Lo Gnomo", your knickers maybe dry by now but as Peter Gabriel once so correctly stated, "Here comes the flood"! The hooker in you will love his organ, for sure! (oops! Censors!!!). The 8 minute finale "Acquario" does labor a bit, veering off into various moods that could of benefited from some much needed Sturm und Drang, showing up briefly near the end with a Greenslade-ian multi keyboard barrage (wobbly synth married to heavy organ) that suddenly dies on an e-piano ennui. Ending a prog album on a high note is "vewy, vewy" important but hey, it's a debut that deserves praise, applause and 3.5 powderboxes.
tszirmay | 3/5 |


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