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Controtempo - Controtempo CD (album) cover

CONTROTEMPO

Controtempo

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

2.97 | 6 ratings

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Finnforest
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Luxurious and appealing 90s prog

Controtempo were a band from Naples Italy who began working together in 1995, when many Italian bands were experimenting with neo-prog. Indeed the group enjoyed Marillion but also wanted to blend in the luxurious classic sound of favorites like Genesis as well as RPI legends PFM. They were able to record a bunch of tracks in 1998 which were not released until 2013, when Psych Up Melodies rescued them. In 2005 Controtempo went on indefinite hiatus but there may be a chance they'll record again.

The six tracks of the debut range from 5-9 minutes in length and comment nicely on the band's illustrious influences: there is the grandeur of Trick-era Genesis with the 90s sheen of neo-prog, there is the well rounded RPI vibe of PFM and a bit of the diverse spirit of Pino Daniele whom the band were fond of. I love the dual keyboard attack with modern synths and piano side by side ("Gente"), punctuated by a warm pulsing bass guitar, complex, sophisticated drumming, biting yet melodic lead guitar, and romantic vocals. They also have a strummed acoustic behind many busier sections which again, adds to the richness of the sound. The tracks are largely upbeat and sunny, very little in the way of darkness. They are well arranged and have some nice changes to keep things interesting.

"Guerra" has a lovely classic prog progression of songwriting with big and bold themes, capped off with a gorgeous Howe-like guitar solo. There is a frisky folk-pop influence to "Jesce O Sole" and a crossover appeal to "Tiempo" that reminded me of Moongarden. The nearly 10 minute "Nun Dicere Niente" attempts a more dramatic and ambitious feel, with plenty of emotional variation, and varying sections like a suite. In the middle it stops and begins again very slowly and deliberately, each musician playing with great thoughtfulness and gelling wonderfully with each other. Good stuff. The closer "Vierno Vene" throws a lounge-ish curveball that sounds like a prog version of the Love Boat theme song-this is the only track that fell short (and way short) for me. It sports a relaxing vibe with some nice guitar work all the same.

This is a surprisingly solid album that snuck up on me after repeated plays, despite my tendencies to be disappointed by many 90s bands. For an "underground" band they are well recorded, they are excellent musicians, and the songwriting should have wide appeal to prog (excluding those who like it dark, metal, or avant influenced). 3 1/2 stars.

Finnforest | 3/5 |

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