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La Maschera Di Cera - La Maschera Di Cera CD (album) cover

LA MASCHERA DI CERA

La Maschera Di Cera

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.99 | 157 ratings

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tszirmay
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The Italian School of Prog has a long and storied tradition of excellence and diversity and after nearly 40 years, it's still providing goose bumps to avidly passionate fans the world wide. While the classical period from 1968 to 1979 has institutionalized some of the main artists (PFM, Banco, Le Orme, Area, Arti+Mestieri, ...), truth is there is so much more to this genre than meets the ear, undoubtedly inspired by the complex and multi-faceted aspects of Italian character, history and culture. A myriad of lesser known groups as well as some one shot wonders have recorded legendary albums that continue to be discovered through these pages and beyond. The original ISP had nevertheless two clearly defined sounds, one a predominantly heavy sound, with a very rock presentation (Il Balletto di Bronzo, Museo Rosenbach, Osanna, .) and another more gentle almost folkish or even jazzy approach (Celeste, Il Volo, QVL, Picchio dal Pozzo, Loccanda delle Fate, Alusa Fallax, Latte e Mielle.), both providing legions of fans impressed by the sheer audacity of their craft. Today these values continue to exist, sometimes even within the scope of the same group of musicians! The lads from Finisterre started out in the late 90's, deeply enamored by the romantic style of their idols, crafting symphonic recordings that were well received, branching out into pastoral settings (Höstsonaten) and ultimately exploring the harder keyboard-heavy sound discussed above with La Maschera di Cera. Led by ultra- fuzz bassist Fabio Zuffanti (a musical gourmet who has recorded experimental, opera, folk, pop, jazz, ambient and techno albums as well!), this band resorts to a guitar-less configuration that therefore relies heavily (I cannot use the word er. lightly) on Agostino Macor's undeniable talent on a multitude of keyboards, mostly rollicking Hammond organ, majestic Mellotron and sibilant Moog and VCS3, with occasional piano and electric piano adornments. He is aided by flutist Andrea Monetti, who spreads some lighter touches to the rather dense arrangements. Original Finisterre drummer mans the kit and keeps ferocious time, propelling the themes onward. Lead singer Alessandro Corviglia has that raspy voice associated with so many ISP bands, certainly echoing the harder, bluesy variety. Acquiescing to the revered legend, the CD is broken down into 2 sides just like an LP, Facciata A is a massive 6 part title piece kicking off the proceedings with a whirlwind of brutal sound with sweeping synthesizer and whirring organ contrasting with soft piano musings, wistful flute and Corviglia's initial gentle lament. But when the wildly distorted bass (that would make Squire, Hopper or Babbington proud) enters the foray, the sonic steamroller begins! Get out of the way, only the flute adding prettiness to the engine roar. The third mini-section ("Il Tuo Riffugio") veers into more traditional soundscapes , an acoustic guitar accompanied by some superb whistling synth and piano, with passionate singing adorning a rich melody, almost into PFM territory but quickly evolving into a bass propulsion that takes an almost John Wetton era KC sonic holocaust direction, with some very heavy, very dark passages. The voice howls powerfully, the marshalling beat relentless, the Hammond purring like a horny cat. The finale is some of the most ardent prog you will ever hear, a superlative synthesizer exit leading the cheering. The "alleged" Facciata B, also commences with the same fuzzy bass onslaught but the Mellotron takes the lead here, at least until the racing vocals kick in with a huge melody that glues itself to your brain immediately, an unmistakable hint of "The House of the Rising Sun" in the sung chorus. Oooh, I like this very much! "Del Mio Abisso e Del Vuoto" is even superior, suggesting a jazzier inflection, with foraging bass, piano noodlings, subtle stick and cymbal work and fascinating flute, all there to present a whopping melody that inspires, masterfully sung by the highly capable Corviglia, (with a direct quote from ELP's "Take a Pebble") the overall fury diving into the musical abyss as the fuzz-bass and the swooshing 'tron combine to sweep in and elicit the feeling of a free fall into the tectonic depths of the earth (the backing vocals wailing are insanely perfect), all put to rest with some delightful harpsichord (Clavicembalo). Applause! The final piece is the supremely gentle "Del Mio Volo", as pastoral and bucolic a tune you will ever hear, a flute gilded with string synths and an imperial VCS3 solo that leaves no doubt, the crescendo slowly building in power, an rousing organ solo closing out this lush recording. The tradition continues, the flame still burning brightly. 4.5 masked wax.
tszirmay | 4/5 |

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