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La Maschera Di Cera - S.E.I. CD (album) cover

S.E.I.

La Maschera Di Cera

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

4.07 | 136 ratings

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BrufordFreak
4 stars Fabio Zuffanti is back with another release from his most successful prog project. While the band's previous release, 2013's La Porto di domini was, to my ears, a flop (especially for being the successor to LE ORME's highly acclaimed 1973 release, Felona e Sorona), the compositions, recording, and performances here are fairly strong.

1. "Il tempo millenario" (21:43) opens with a very familiar heavy feel and sound la their previous album, La porto di domini. At 1:20 it moves into a prettier, more laid-back pastoral flute-centric passage before reverting to bare bones for the vocal section to begin at the end of the third minute. The vocals are pretty good! At 4:00 we move back into an up tempo, rather ominous section until 4:30 when everything takes a surprising turn into a pulsing, PINK FLOYD-like jazz-rock passage--with even the saxophone and organ perpetuating the PF vibe. The toned down section beginning in the seventh minute is pretty with its sparsely populated drawn out instrumental spaciousness. I like this very much. Imagine a pregnant GENESIS passage with Peter Gabriel performing his theatric storytelling and then the instruments bursting out from their hiding places to punctuate the drama of PG's epic story. Piano and harpsichord lay out a new and different (more Il Balletto di Bronzo-like) motif in the twelfth minute before we move into a clavichord-supported and Mellotron-drenched vocal section. I don't care for these heavily affected vocals--but they quickly withdraw from these for a spell before shifting at 13:30 into high speed romp into Hammond and sax rock and roll. The power vocals here try to be theatric but feel a little over top (as the music is a bit under-the-top). Just weird Hammond play and solo (more like a Halloween parody). Even when the pace and sax redouble at the 16:00 mark I am distracted by the weird, almost comical Hammond--which, unfortunately, detracts from the power and force being attempted in the vocal in the early eighteenth minute. The pensive passage that follows is better--great drums and sax help to almost drown out the Hammond. At 18:27, then, we downshift into a floating soundscape that lends itself to the sensitivity of Alessandro's vocal--but then once again it breaks into a kind of triumphant celebratory passage at 18:20--very RPI and Genesisian (think La Coscienza di Zeno and Supper's Ready's As Sure as Eggs Is Eggs). There are definitely some great parts to this song--and a mastery of "classic" prog and RPI forms and palettes here--but not enough to make the whole stand out on its own as a new classic. (35.25/40): - i. L'anima in Rovina - ii. Nuvole Gonfie - iii. La Mia Condanna - iv. Scparazione - v. Del tempo sprecato

2. "Il cerchio del comando" (9:57) a very strong, stereotypic RPI song whose good quality and appeal, unfortunately, for me, drop significantly once the vocal joins in; the melody and performances in the choruses are just weak. The TULL-like passage around the 6:00 mark is its only saving grace. (17.25/20)

3. "Vacuo senso" (13:30) (27.25/30): - i. Prologo (3:35) (8.5/10) - ii. Dialogo (1:50) - gorgeous slow section with one of Alessandro's best vocals. (5/5) - iii. Nella rete dell'Inganno (3:05) - RENAISSANCE meets & plays COLTRANE's "My Favorite Things" (literally) and then turns into TRAFFIC jazz! Don Pullen! (4.75/5) - iv. Il risueglio di S (1:30) - some powerful IL BALLETTO bravura. (4.5/5) - v. Ascensione (3:10) all bass & 'tron Neo Prog cheese. Bring it home, boys! (even though it's been done a hundred times before). (4.5/5)

Total Time 42:41

Trying to overcome my usual biases against this band due to their past inconsistencies is a challenge--especially when the music on this album only serves to reinforce those biases. One GREAT song, two okay, all three long playing, two epic suites (my bandcamp version of "Vacuo senso" is 13:30.) Still, I have to agree with other reviewers that this band keeps getting better.

An excellent addition to any prog lover's music collection.

BrufordFreak | 4/5 |

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