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La Torre Dell Alchimista - Neo CD (album) cover

NEO

La Torre Dell Alchimista

Rock Progressivo Italiano


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Andrea Cortese
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Well, there are few words to describe this wonderful experience into some of the most passionate and intriguing keyboards' driven albums from the recent years!

La Torre dell'Alchimista loudly proclaim a strong connetcion with the tradition of the seventies, especially for the instrumental set. The album, basically, is based on powerful hammond organ excursions enriched by strong mellotrons waves, synthesizers, acoustic and electric pianos. It obviously recalls ELP, but not only. Some strong typical italian flavour such as Le Orme and Rustichelli e Bordini, for example, is well evident. Not a Banco inspired band, tough. At least to my warning. Drums and bass lines are very convincing and remark vehemently the many shifting moods. The atmosphere is not completely vintage, though, due to the more soft, singed romantic parts that are wisely spread all along the running time. Classical mythological creatures such as "Cerbero", "Medusa" and "Idra" are, simply, the icing on the cake!

The album appears more mature than its well acclaimed predecessor (the self titled debut), possibly with the help of guest musicians on flute, violin and soprano sax. Moderately longer tracks (between 6 and 11 minutes) and two shorter tunes. While the long ones evokes stunning atmospheres of pompous symphonic prog, the shorter ones aren't simple at all, but more acoustic oriented with classic piano as in the awesome "Idra" (1:51) that's the intro to "Riseglio, Procreazione e Dubbio pt. I" (11:31).

Not a masterpiece (I'm still waiting to hear on in 2007) but another fabulous contribution to the world, an useful proof that the italian contemporary prog scene is alive and well! Probably the best from Italy, until now.

Highly recommended! 4.25 stars, at least.

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Send comments to Andrea Cortese (BETA) | Report this review (#124671)
Posted Monday, June 04, 2007 | Review Permalink
erik neuteboom
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Since their eponymous debuut album from 2001, this Italian band has turned from a five piece formation into a quartet, on this new CD accompanied by guest musicians on flute traverse, violin, saxophone and guitar. The last years La Torre Dell' Alchimista has performed on several festival like Nearfest 2002 in the USA and The Gouviea Art Rock Festival 2005 in Portugal, I notice this has boosted their experience and compositorial skills if you compare Neo with their debut CD.

The new album contains seven compositions (running time around 50 minutes), most sound fluent, melodic and accessible, especially the parts with vocals. I had to get used to the vocals in the first song but gradually I started to appreciate the singer and in the end I was pleased with his contributions. La Torre Dell'Alchimista their sound is drenched with a 'vintage' keyboards like mainly the Hammond organ (with obvious hints from Keith Emerson and Rick van der Linden during Trace) but also synthesizers (like the Minimoog), the Fender Rhodes electric piano, the Mellotron (often the violin-section) and the Grand piano. The interplay between the instruments is wonderful and colours this album very tastefully like the 'Liturgic organ' and violin in Medusa, a sensitive piano and violin in Risveglio Procreazione E Dubbio pt. I and flute traverse with Fender Rhodes piano and fluent synthesizer flights with intense violin in de final song Risveglio Procreazione E Dubbio pt. II. Two tracks deliver solo pieces on Grand piano: sparkling and compelling in Idra and dreamy, quite romantic in L'Amore Diverso. But I am most impressed by the lush keyboard sound featuring bombastic Hammond organ, majestic Mellotron waves and lots of fat sounding synthesizers, almost every track contain exciting keyboard work, this reminds me of fellow Seventies Italian prog legend Rustichelli & Bordini (bombastic use of Hammond and Moog) and Trace (fast Hammond runs and a wide range of vintage keyboards).

La Torre Dell'Alchimista has made a lot of progress on their new album and especially the vintage keyboard aficionados will be delighted!

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Send comments to erik neuteboom (BETA) | Report this review (#126149)
Posted Sunday, June 17, 2007 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I like their debut album quite a lot and this is no deception.

Of course, the title is really depicting what you'll get here. In the way that neo-prog walks on the paths of "Genesis", "Yes" etc. , this one is deeply exploring the world of ELP as well as the symphonic Crimson (ITCOTCK) thanks to the use of the mellotron.

There are extremely touching mellotron lines on this album ("Risveglio Procreazione") which reminds me the fabulous "Epitaph". What differentiates this band from, let's say "Glass Hammer" is that vocals are very good, there are some guest artists who add value (flute, sax and violin) and the mellotron is a definite plus as far as I'm concerned. Song writing is also more refined and personal.

The whole album is a nice journey back in time. If only ELP could have been recording such type of music nowadays! Still, purists should stay away from this album since it really borrows a lot. There are even two short piano instrumentals which could have been played by K.. I guess.

I have enjoyed this album very much. A great mix of the seventies combined with modern Italian melodic prog. A fine combination.

Four stars but the band should try to be more inventive for their next album.

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#170454)
Posted Saturday, May 10, 2008 | Review Permalink
andrea
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars The second studio album by La Torre dell'Alchimista was released in 2007, six years after their beautiful debut eponymous work. The line up has slightly changed and now it features Michele Mutti (keyboards), Michele Giardino (vocals), Davide Donadoni (bass) and Michelangelo Donadini (drums, percussion). During the recording sessions they were helped by some guest musicians that enriched the sound of the band providing guitars, sax, violin and flute and the result is definitively good. La Torre dell'Alchimista sound is definitively "keyboards driven" (Michele Mutti plays acoustic and electric piano, Hammond C3, Minimoog, organ, synth and Mellotron) and blends strong classical influences with prog-rock and Italian melody. Good also the art cover (painted by Michele Mutti) and the booklet containing some peculiar pictures and the lyrics. This work could remind of bands like Le Orme, PFM and BMS but it's not too derivative and it's really worth listen to. "Neo" is conceived as a concept album describing the end of a love story in an original way, through a continuous parallelism between personal feelings and images taken from ancient myths. Lyrics are not banal and it would be very unfair define this work as just dealing with Greek mythology...

The opener "Dissimmetrie" (Asymmetry) condemns conformism and hypocrisy. Jumping keyboards and sax play joyfully around while lyrics compare people who do not dare to fight for a change in their everyday life to the Golem, an artificial monster with the form of a man created from clay by magic charms or sacred words, an image taken from Jewish folklore. "You are like a shapeless drop of water / You are evanescent / Invisible fade-out / You don't leave traces of yourself... You are just souls of clay / Who fly away without dignity / You are just souls of clay / Who live into hypocrisy... I look at you and I can see / The curtain of noise / That shelters you / From the external world / Sounds of plastic / Words and shouts". If you disregard the opinion of the hypocrites and their false smiles, you can dare and fall in love with a beautiful and dangerous woman... And get troubles!

The dreamy outro of the first track leads to "Medusa", a complex piece in four parts (Faith, Fugue, Chorale, Samba V) that was inspired by the mythical character of an unfortunate woman raped by Neptune into Athena's temple. After the rape, Medusa's long hair were turned into snakes by the goddess and she was given the power to turn everyone who dared to look directly at her into stone. According to the myth, the head of Medusa was cut off by Perseus who looked at her through a mirror- like shield. Once cut off, the head maintained its power and was at last placed at the centre of Athena's Aegis as a symbol of her power. The music perfectly fits the lyrics with well balanced changes of moods and rhythms that blend prog rock, classical music and melodic vocals... "You, who confound my thoughts / On the shield of knowledge / Reflected imagine, You don't scare me / You, who confound my thoughts / You turn into stone the stupidity / Of the people who stare at you / The men who lived with you are stones by now / The heart that loved you don't beat anymore... I won't follow you, I'm free by now...". Well, a complex, dangerous and charming woman indeed! One who can drive you crazy dancing samba and that could be very difficult to forget...

"Idra" (Hydra) is a short instrumental interlude for piano solo that leads you to the first part of the long and complex "Risveglio, Procreazione e Dubbio" (Awakening, Procreation and Doubt) where, after an amazing instrumental prelude, nice melodic vocals come in changing atmosphere. Lyrics depicts some experiments to overcome the split up where you can find shadows and wasted days fading out until your arms will fall and wings will take their place to let you fly on the horizons just before falling back with your doubts... "So I feel like the father of an unknown son, scared by these signs / If the giant rides the dwarf / How can his arms carry that weight?... Idra, Cerbero and Medusa were born from waking-hours not from sleep / And they devour the remnants of my greatness... And suddenly, I lose myself".

"L'Amore Diverso" (The Different Love) is another short instrumental for piano solo that leads to "Cerbero" (Cerberus), an intricate track in three parts (Promenade, The Three Heads, The War To Hydrogenous). The sound of a piano leads you softly to the gates of madness... Cerberus is the name of the three-headed monster hound guarding the entrance to the Greek Underworld. No-one can enter or leave without getting past him... "Six eyes, six shouts, you are everywhere I turn my eyes / Six times you promise, but seven times you disappoint / You are blood, you are tears but no sweat!...". The music is haunting, swinging from frenzy keyboards rides to calm and romantic violin melodies... Well, the nightmares that rise when a love story comes to an end can really haunt you like omnipresent ghosts. Trying to fight them could bring dangerous side-effects and for your soul it could be destructive like an atomic war... "It's my rage, it's your craziness / To win, to lose, what's really important? / A hot wind blows by now / My breath is dying / My way to think about the future is dying...".

The last track "Risveglio, Procreazione E Dubbio Pt. II" is another beautiful complex piece in three parts (Epilogue, Coda, Farewell) where you can some find a nice flute passage and even some echoes coming from "the court of the Crimson King". Lyrics deals with the awareness of past errors and the condemn of arrogance, haughtiness and pride... "Time that has joined us is already splitting us / But how moves slowly the time of the split up! / Like a leaf into the wind / You are going away from here / Leaving my body naked / It remains the image of your diversity / You are like a wave, you slowly worn out / You used to confound my thoughts / Now you're going away / Leaving a void and a closed speech". A beautiful farewell for an excellent album!

I think that this is album should be a must for every Italianprog lover!

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Send comments to andrea (BETA) | Report this review (#213476)
Posted Sunday, May 03, 2009 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars There's no accounting for taste is there. I was blown away by their debut but I knew after one listen that "Neo" was a different beast. It's been 6 years since their debut and they now have a new drummer, but more importantly their flute player has left. So that's one big difference, a lot less flute. The mellotron is more prominant though but the vocals and songs for me aren't as good as on the debut. Now understand that by far the majority feel that "Neo" is an upgrade over the debut. So big surprise that my thoughts and feelings about this album are in the minority.

"Dissimmetrie" is keyboard led and a little jazzy to start. Vocals 2 minutes in.Lots of organ in this one. It settles before 6 1/2 minutes with reserved vocals and mellotron. "Medusa" features some great sounding mellotron which is contrasted with the keyboards. Vocals and piano after a minute. Themes are repeated. Nice bass after 4 minutes. I like the mellotron that comes and goes. "Idra" is a piano laden track. "Risveglio Procreazione E Dubbio Pt.I" is led by bass, drums and keyboards in this uptempo intro. It settles with mellotron and acoustic guitar.It kicks back in. Vocals and a calm before 2 minutes. It gets fuller. Another calm after 6 1/2 minutes and before 9 minutes. Some guest violin and piano here. "L'amore Diverso" features laid back piano melodies throughout.

"Cerbero" is uptempo with keyboards and drums. Mellotron comes and goes.Theatrical vocals and violin follow. Crickets after 2 minutes. I thought it was my phone 'cause my ring-tone is the sound of crickets. Ok maybe I shouldn't have said that (haha). I like the synths 3 1/2 minutes with organ and drums. Themes are repeated. A calm after 6 minutes before kicking back in a minute later. "Risveglio Procreazione E Dubbio Pt.II" opens with drums, bass, mellotron and keys. Great sound. Synths and drums lead before 3 minutes. A calm with flute 4 1/2 minutes. Synths are back with drums and bass. Vocals are back after 6 1/2 minutes. Mellotron follows then synths and violin.

If I hadn't heard the debut I might have given this 4 stars so maybe 3.5 stars isn't fair, but i'll stick with the debut thankyou.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#245427)
Posted Tuesday, October 20, 2009 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Is the title of the second Torre Dell Alchimista album a nod to the neo-prog scene? Well, if it is you'd never guess from the music, which aside from a few keyboard textures doesn't draw very much on neo-prog. Instead, what we have here is more symphonic-derived RPI gorgeousness along similar lines to the band's first album, which perhaps a few more jazzy touches here and there as well as some nods to Emerson Lake and Palmer (with main keyboardist Michele Mutti referencing some of the same classical pieces that Keith Emerson turned his hand to in days gone by). It's a pleasant and enjoyable RPI album that keeps the flame alive for the style of prog practised by the likes of early Banco.

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#722902)
Posted Wednesday, April 11, 2012 | Review Permalink
apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Neo Prog Team
3 stars The following years were quite busy for La Torre Dell' Alchimista.Adding Elena Biagioni on keyboards they were invited to the 2002 Nearfest in New Jersey, a performance captured in the 2005 live CD ''USA ... you know?''.The group was part of another major Prog event, the 2004 Gouveia Art Rock Festival in Portugal, opening the gig of Isildurs Bane.Meanwhile Biagioni, flutist Silva Ceraolo and drummer Noberto Mosconi left the group and were replaced by Michelangelo Donadini on drums and Mauro Donini on flute and sax, while, as the Kaliphonia had folded, they found a new home on MaRaCash Records.Preparations for a second album begun in 2006, but soon Donini also quit for personal reasons and the album was recorded as a quartet with a few guests on guitars, violin and flute.''Neo'' was released eventually in 2007.

Despite the busy programm and the line-up changes, this new work finds La Torre Dell' Alchimista in great shape.They insist on playing a melodic Symphonic Rock with dual and triple keyboard fanfares, combining the drama of GENESIS' compositions, the extreme technique of KEITH EMERSON and the romanticism of LE ORME's delicate approach.Everything in the album is well-composed and nicely executed.From the very good, crystal-clear vocals of Michele Giardino to the melodic passages and the bombastic acrobatics of Michele Mutti.The music is quite amazing with impressive breaks and good melodies, based mainly on the vintage organ washes and the dreamy Mellotrons of Mutti.As with their debut guitars are used sporadically and the style of the group is led by Classical-inspired themes, very dense keyboard interplays and a heavy dose of ethereal movements.Mutti's performance on synthesizers is pretty limited and he uses them exactly when needed, while the instrumental parts are quite extended with a high technical level, always delivered in memorable compositions.The material is not exactly original, as traces of the past legends are always waiting in the corner, but the combination of romantic soundscapes with more grandiose atmospheres is more than welcome.

Simultaneously the group was in search of an additional member and finally multi-instrumentalist Matteo Mondini joined them shortly after.However the inactivity of La Torre Dell' Alchimista gives birth for the questionable future of the group.

Very good Symphonic Rock with influences both from the Italian and British scene of the 70's.Again this is not very original stuff, but the nice compositions of ''Neo'' are certainly more than rewarding.Strongly recommended...3.5 stars.

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Send comments to apps79 (BETA) | Report this review (#1028651)
Posted Wednesday, September 04, 2013 | Review Permalink

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