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La Maschera Di Cera - Il Grande Labirinto CD (album) cover


La Maschera Di Cera


Rock Progressivo Italiano

4.07 | 185 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars La Maschera Di Cera's sophomore effort remains my personal favorite up to this day, and let me add that their most recent release "Petali Di Fuoco" pleased me dearly. Anyway, now I'm in the mood for reviewing "Il Grande Labirinto", the album that incarnates LMDC's nuclear sound firmly established at its most epic pinnacle: in many ways, this item should be regarded as the definitive epitome of retro-progressive rock album since it brilliantly combines the loyalty to the standards of the most creative 70s Italian prog and the inspiration for great tunes and splendid arrangements, and this combination in turn benefits from the resources of solid musicianship and fluid connection among the musicians involved. There is pretty much an attitude of reverence and homage to the major old points of reference (Biglietto, Alphataurus, Museo Rosenbach, a bit of PFM and BMS as well), but mostly there is a creative reinvention of the quintessential Italian symphonic prog all through every note, beat and mood accomplished in this great labyrinth ("grande labirinto" in English). One thing you can notice in comparison with the eponymous debut album is that the instrumental scheme comprises the presence of guitar in some calculated spaces, either provided by bass player Fabio Zuffanti (the Italian Steven Wilson) or by keyboardist Agostino Macor (or by an occasional guest). Also, there is a strategic utilization of spacey moods that are patently inspired by the spirit of post-rock (a genre that Zuffanti loves so much that even he would form a post-rock unit not too long after this LMDC album). Anyway, all in all, the main role at elaborating melodic developments continues to be assumed from the keyboard and flute departments, and Zuffanti's bass guitar remains the most powerful stringed sonic source. Well, now we'll go and take a look at the tracklist, shall we? 'Il viaggio ne'll océano capovolto' is the album's central opus, distributed in two separate parts that complete a 36 minute span together. Part 1 starts with the chaotic sound of a machine that is just being turned on, with the first main motif revealing a slow, ceremonious example of dramatic density. Next is a creepy section featuring wild flute and unquiet mellotron washes, which in turn leads to a succession of symphonic ambiences and creepy jazz-rock dominated by synth, flute and mellotron. Sea sounds fill the track's dark coda. The 10- minute long title track initially features brutal bass lines that effectively steal the limelight from the other instruments. Even though this track has similar dark moods to those of track no. 1, it contains a more fluid management of the motifs' variations and tempo shifts, which means that the running symphonic splendor bears a more "natural" architecture. 'Il canto dell'inverno' is a brief interlude that starts with an avant- garde piano motif and distant mellotron layers (very much a-la Pierrot Lunaire), and then a beautiful oboe melody appears which many will fall in love with immediately (don't be frustrated when it ends, it will resurface greatly later). 'Ai confine del mondo' kicks off with an agile funk-rock dynamics; things will remain this warm all the way toward the end, even benefitting from jazz-oriented embellishments somewhere in the middle. Part 2 of 'Il viaggio ne'll océano capovolto' is the album's perfect climax: many have pointed out this notion and I absolutely agree with them. I always smile whenever I remember portions of this epic while I'm preparing a class or correcting an exam or just watching a landscape or thinking about nothing? The track starts in a lovely melancholic mood, with Corvaglia delivering the gentler side of his gigantic vocal style. Then, a sustained crescendo leads to a post-rock inspired motif displayed over a pulsating rhythmic framework, which serves as a bridge to boost the musical development toward an alternation of bombastic slow passages and enigmatic languid moods: this ambitious series includes an explosive moment when the band states a RIO-oriented refurbishment of Bliglietto-meets- Alphataurus-meets-Crimson. Bizarre!! ? both the whole thing and each individual passage, I mean. After the intense last sung section, a beautiful 6 minute litany closes down the epic, based on the oboe motif that we had previously met in track 3. This time, we can enjoy the melody in a recurring scheme that builds a powerful crescendo where fuzzed bass, rhythm guitar, flute, mellotrons, synths and piccolo come joining in over a gradually louder drum kit. The dramatic ending brings the chaotic sound of a machine being turned off with flying colors. This is how the "Il Grande Labirinto" experience should end, but if you want to move to the (fake) bonus track, that's OK: you'll be treated with a brief reminder of a motif from the opener's main body. I bet that I'm smiling while I'm finishing this review's draft: I'll let that hypothetical smile and my 5 star grade express this review's overall conclusion.
Cesar Inca | 5/5 |


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