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Altare Thotemico

Rock Progressivo Italiano

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4 stars P.s.: I quote here the chat via PM that I did on My Space with the band. And that is present (in Italian) in the band's My Space:

1) At first listen you'd likened to bands like PFM, Le Orme, New Trolls etc... I discover one band much jazz and experimental. After another plays (very certain that I have yet to discover) I must say that this criticism I had to renege. I find this very interesting mix of classic Italian Progressive Rock, Jazz, Blues, Psychedelic, etc ... (Elio e le Storie Tese also in 'L'interessante vita del Topo' you reminded me). In short, I had to listen several times before they understand you, something that other bands did not happen.

2) On the production 70's style... If you tell me you recorded in an analogic studio... It had escaped me. I must say that modern songs as well and that kind of sounds so pasty I had put off the road. After a few plays I had to reverse. Although, in the end, this contributes to the difficulty of understanding, in addition to the charm of your music.

3) Having to be honest... To me the singer of I Nomadi do not like me. 'Il Canto Sprofonda'... Allowed me... This song seemed very 'I Nomadi' because of the vocals. Yet I must admit that this song is one of my favorite (if not my favorite) of the entire CD!

So, in sum: It takes several plays only a minimal understanding your CD. And this is good. When I listen for the first time a composition I sets in motion the mind, and I see something. Often in Prog I imagine to be the drummer. With you I made it only with the second listen and I must say that the more you listen, the more I can get to this stage of pleasure.

Finally, for various reasons, I do not know much about the contemporary RPI scene. But I'm slowly discovering great bands. I am sure that you are among those.

But in any case... Listen to CDs like this!

Report this review (#256419)
Posted Wednesday, December 16, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Saucy, lively, tenacious! This band has heart

Altare Thotemico based in Ancona are the latest band attempting to provide new material in the spirit of the classic RPI sound and they succeed better than many recent efforts-which means they will thrill fans of the real spicy stuff while perhaps being too hot for the casual fan who expects all RPI to sound like a gentle Le Orme passage. The member's different ages and backgrounds have allowed a true amalgam of musical diversity to unfold. Altare's new release is from Maracash Records, another of the fine labels handling Italian prog. The music draws on a variety of styles and influences from psych, blues, avant, and jazz flavored rock, while the generous keyboards and bold vocals get the RPI juices flowing. Most important is the sense of playfulness and passion that was a hallmark of the classic period bands. Often newer bands are very technically gifted but lack that sense of musical mischief and soul-Altare Thotemico have not forgotten. Oh yes, we have a feast here! This is the kind of album which I find thrilling and rare these days. First, it rocks without any noticeable metal influence. Remember when rock could be damn heavy without metal influence or obligatory shredding? Second, it sounds warm and homey on the production side rather than overly slick and coldly mechanical. Third, surprises! Yes, we have songs here that will try anything and everything, even injecting pure weirdness like they used to do in the old days. Thankfully there are almost no English vocals; most singing is fantastic dramatic Italian.

The nine medium length tracks total an hour of interesting prog-rock, and I mean that quite literally: interesting! Not for a second is this album boring. A variety of fantastic keyboards permeate every track, even organ to open the appropriately darker "Demon" which reminded me of Antonius Rex. Gianni Venturi is the bold and outrageous vocalist in the grand RPI tradition, big and dramatic, capable of sounding off-his-rocker sometimes, untamed, imagine a bit of Decamps, Stratos, and Fella (Jumbo)! There are lovely flute sections to give the mellower segments that '70s touch. And the guitars....oh yeah! Some very cool off-color acoustic moments as well as scorching solos, without resorting to unnecessary shredding. I'm impressed very much by the mountains of interesting ideas which are strong and complex while remaining fun. The musicians seem to be enjoying an improvisational approach towards one another, taking plenty of time to develop some really nice jams, while being equally adept at supporting the vocals or experimenting with quieter moments.

The album is instantly enjoyable and moving despite the fact that it pushes away anything obvious or easy. It opens with a gorgeous pastoral swirl of flute and clean guitar, one of the few moments that actually conjure the serene and excellent cover art of Maracash's own Domizia Parri. (Most of the album is heavier and wilder than the peaceful album cover portends). Slowly soft keyboards usher in the passionate vocals of "Il Canto che Sprofonda." Things veer toward vintage heavy psych in "Lo Sciamano" with some great drum playing and guitar that eventually just completely grooves! The groovin' continues into "L'interessante vita del topo" with the vocals going over-the-top wild as the memories of harder-bluesy RPI come to mind: JET, Biglietto, perhaps De De Lind. You'll hear some obnoxious, almost absurdist vocals on "Computer Organico" that will scare your family....I loved every second as the song moves into avant-garde territory. "L'addormato" starts getting jazzy but closes with this cool guitar thing that reminds me of a Steve Howe earth-lava moment from Yessongs. "La mente mia" is maybe the heaviest full band jam but eventually it breaks into a superb guitar solo over keys. "Suite per Marianna" gives us a lovely acoustic intro and outro with flute and gentle bass guitar. Closer "Oltre" again just gets nuts with moments that sound like experimental space jazz channeling the Pholas Dactylus album. They are "out there" on this song! Wow-this album just makes me smile start to finish, that's really all I need to say. I need a cigarette after playing this CD.

Be aware that Altare Thotemico is not especially entry-level RPI. While much of the music is I think universally approachable, the delivery and style of vocalist Venturi demands listeners willing to go to the edge with him. He is a true poet who I sense lives to get beyond the conventional, and while I don't understand the Italian lyrics, goes into a recitation style at times perhaps even channeling characters and such. It gets wild in that Ange theatrical sense so do not expect to chill out to a serene Le Orme vocal. I was told Venturi is a fan of the beat poets and writers ala "Kerouac, Ginsberg, Corso, Cassady, Burroughs, Hemingway and Raymond Carver" and the listener must be willing to embrace some adventure, stop shaving, pick up some hitchhikers and go "on the road" with a lot of wine and dreams. As they say on their website: "....this is where Poetry meets Music and this blend turns into something incredibly powerful, pure ENERGY! Whatever happens, this is our key word, our motto, and we believe ourselves to be carriers of an unrestrainable virus called "Soul!"

The booklet features lyrics in Italian and a series of photos that suggest the band truly enjoys their collaborative experience. Altare Thotemico have made my kind of RPI album: little inhibition, lots of ideas, a joyful approach, and a willingness to offend the mainstream prog fan. Each song is a mini album of its own independent of the others. In another great year for RPI this one is pretty much essential for lovers of the genre. God I hope they make another album someday.

Report this review (#258088)
Posted Sunday, December 27, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Close To The Edge

When I heard of this new Italian band that supposedly had Biglietto Per L'Inferno influences I had to check them out on myspace and was impressed enough to part with my cash and buy it. Having had the opportunity to play the album quite a few times now the BPL influences are clearly evident but by coincidence after one of my listening sessions of Altare Thotemico's debut I happened to choose the album Arbeit Macht Frei as my next choice which really brought home my thoughts that here was a band also influenced Area.

Yes Altare Thotemico are a band tipping their hat to the classic seventies Italian prog bands, yet with enough of their own identity to make this not a totally retrogressive release. Their prog skilfully blends elements of rock, blues and jazz together with an inventive touch of zaniness moving into avant-gardism in places, particularly at the end of the album on Oltre.

The band all have the necessary musical chops to pull it all off effectively and in vocalist Gianni Venturi they have someone who's not afraid to go out on a limb and is more a sculptor of words than a singer. Venturi may however turn out to be a stumbling block that some listeners struggle to deal with as he twists his voice into all sorts of verbal acrobats. For the perfect example of this check out the psychedelic tinged Computer Organico.

I'm really enjoying Altare Thotemico's debut, which while probably not to every prog fans taste has to at least be admired for the fact that they're not afraid to go out on a limb. It's an adventurous ride which loses its way a little on closing track Oltre but in the main a strong cohesive effort. 3 ½ stars.

Report this review (#269657)
Posted Friday, March 5, 2010 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars On the one hand i'm surprised at how many amazing albums have been coming out of Italy the last ten years, on the other hand when I consider the body of work that has come out of this country in the seventies how could these new groups not be inspired to greatness. ALTARE THOTEMICO are an excellent example of a band who has clearly been inspired by AREA and the Avant side of Progressive music and have given us their unique take on it. Don't let the serene cover art fool you.

"Il Conto Che Sprofonda" is pastoral to start including flute and intricate guitar melodies. Beautiful stuff. A TULL vibe appears and leaves quickly when it kicks in at 1 1/2 minutes. Drums 2 minutes in with some nice bass too. Floating organ joins in. This is so good as the vocals arrive. Emotion. Great tune ! "Lo Sciamano" opens with drums and bass then keyboards arrive. Nice. Vocals follow. It settles with piano before 3 minutes and fragile vocals join in too. Drums follow as it builds. Great sound. Everything sounds so amazing here. Powerful too. A spacey calm 7 1/2 minutes to end it. "L'interessante Vita Del Topo" sounds so good when it settles in. Kind of jazzy here including theatrical vocals. A strong AREA flavour before 3 1/2 minutes. A guitar solo after 6 minutes.That AREA vibe is back again to end it.

"Demon" opens with organ then it kicks in before a minute.Vocals too. He repeates "My name is demon" a few times late. A really good energetic track. "Computer Organico" has some killer atmosphere and vocals early on. Insane vocals but amazing (haha). It kicks in after 3 minutes with keyboards, drums and vocals standing out. A calm and a bass solo 5 minutes in then it builds. "L'addormato" opens with keyboards then it settles back when the vocals arrive. It''s DFA-like here.The tempo continues to shift. It's kind of spacey and haunting to end it. "La Mente Mia" starts with synths and flute. Guitar and drums take over as vocals join in. Cool song as it continues to play out. "Suite Per Marianna" is mellow with flute as reserved vocals join in. It's fuller before 2 1/2 minutes.The mood turns darker then we get a mellow final minute. "Oltre" opens with flute and a light beat. Reserved vocals join in. Some vocals outbursts with electric piano and the vocals do get theatrical. It picks up 5 minutes in then settles before 6 minutes and it's sort of spacey too.

Easily 4 stars and an album not only for the adventerous, but one AREA fans should check out as well.

Report this review (#306648)
Posted Monday, October 25, 2010 | Review Permalink
1 stars This album is a typical case of how it can go wrong when the press release insists on making analogy with such BIIIG names as Area and even worst boost the young keyboardist's playing as if it came from Patrizio Fariselli's chest. I also read here people comparing them to Area!?! Well either they pasted what they read in the press release or I'd really like to hear (contact me privately) WHERE they heard this! The only place where there's a twinkle of the eye to Area is on track 3 at about 4' ... and they show such a bad taste in repeating it so many times (like hey did you get it ... did you get it ... ?) that it loses its reason to be! Those guys are not even reaching the lowest part of Area's feet!

Now, what about this band? It is in many aspects SO banal!! They have maybe some ideas that could make a good tune but they don't exploit them efficiently; bad timing, trivial drumming sticking to simple patterns, riffs that stay for ever without getting that f... airplane to fly way up, musical harmonic understanding restricted to the basics, use of worn out clichés in the soloing (simple blues stuff heard by thousand of other bands in exactly the same way), especially noticeable on keyboards .... yeah .... the young hero presented as the reincarnation of Patrizio! Most of the soloing sounds like a jam where the soloists don't know what to say but keep playing until they find out it's better to go back to the cue!

Honestly, I don't dig that people may rate *this* 4 stars! It's one here ..... and I would make it 0,5 if I could! Everything is so average and even under! The only good side to me is the singing! Good powerful voice with guts but here again, there's too big a misbalance between the vocals and the music; the music doesn't back the singer - when he's left in front for some narrating evil speaking, you hear nearly nothing in the background, they kind of freeze and it gets really too much! - and vice versa! It does NOT function good enough. I don't doubt the band may improve in the future (if there is one) but this first outcast is not convincing and actually boring at the end! Of course, my 25 cents, based anyway on more than 30 years playing and listening.

This is not new but it gives me the possibility of reminding you of this: beware the press release adds! They very seldom match reality and try to sell you something by triggering on wide emotionally appealing key words that most of the time are misused!

Report this review (#382315)
Posted Tuesday, January 18, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars A good return to the beat music that preceeded RPI, this album.

Altare Thotemico is an interesting new band and this is their only album so far. Let's hope there will be a follow up pretty soon.

Where most new RPI bands tends to go back to the early to mid 1970s scene, Altare Thotemico has gone a bit further back in time. Their sound is very contemporary though and that makes this album very much a contemporary album. Their sound also has a lot of jazz influences in it and that explains their claim to be Area inspired. Maybe they are, but they most of all sounds like one of those beat bands who borrowed a lot from the jazz scene.

Gianni Venturi's vocals is an acquired taste though and it is gives this album a lot of it's identity. His vocals is pretty aggressive and a bit shouting as in punk vocals. A classic vocalist, he is not. The rest of the band is very tight. In particular the bass and the drums which takes no prisoners.

The music is good throughout. There is no great songs here, but still enough goody things to make this an interesting album. I have to admit the vocals is a bit hard to handle though. But the jazz and beat melodies more than compensate for this discomfort. This album is one of the oddity albums in the RPI scene and worth checking out.

3 stars

Report this review (#462097)
Posted Wednesday, June 15, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Altare Thotemico come from Emilia and are based in Parma, although the members of the band come from different cities. The band was formed on the initiative of vocalist and poet Gianni Venturi and Leonardo Caligiuri (keyboards, flute) with the aim of blending progressive rock with psychedelia and poetry. The line up was completed by Enrico Scaccaglia (guitars), Valerio Venturi (bass) and Davide Zannotti (drums) and in 2009 they released an eponymous debut album on the independent label Ma.Ra.Cash Records. The album features a nice artwork by Domizia Parri while the members of the band showcase a good musicianship and some good ideas.

The nostalgic, heartfelt opener "Il canto che sprofonda" (The singing that makes me crumble) begins softly with a delicate guitar arpeggio and a soaring flute. The lyrics evoke a lost, unforgotten love and powerful memories begin to fill an empty room... "Between a smile and a tear / I feel with my eyes shut a clear image of you / And a thin singing makes me crumble...". Well, here some keyboards passages recall PFM's "Impressioni di settembre" but the result is good. Next comes the bizarre "Lo sciamano" (The shaman), that tries to lead you beyond the doors of perception in a quest for a singing of light while shadows melt in a psychedelic crescendo.

"L'interessante vita del topo" (The interesting life of the mouse) in my opinion is not at the same level of the previous tracks. The music recalls The Doors with a touch of Area but the performance of the vocalist here is not convincing at all. The following "Demon" is better. It starts with a church-like organ passage, then hard guitar riffs come in and the vocals evoke a playful devil who think that Paradise is too boring... "My name is Demon Lucipher, morning star / And on my forehead I proudly bring the mark of Cain...".

"Computer organico" (Organic computer) is another psychedelic track with Oriental influences and experimental vocals drawing neuronal migrations, empty consciousness and the relativity of Time. "L'addormato" (The sleeping man) features a slow, alcoholic pace and seventies echoes and leads to the dark, dreamy "La mente mia" (My mind), one of my favourites track on this album... "The great bard can begin the bright song from the oversea... A wave of love breaks the chains / Of hearts crushed by too many pains...".

"Suite per Marianna" is another good track that could recall Pholas Dactylus with its peculiar, visionary poetry and evocative musical colours... "My mind has roots / That's why sometimes I switch it off...". The spacey "Oltre" (Beyond) concludes the album with some reflections about the relativity of Time and the true meaning of life...

All in all this is an album with light and shadows where you can find some good ideas and less convincing passages. This work is not flawless but I think that this is a band that deserves credit and I'm looking forward to listen to their new album...

Report this review (#826521)
Posted Sunday, September 23, 2012 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Altare Thotemico were formed in 2008 in Parma, led by experienced singer Gianni Venturi and talented young multi-instrumentalist Leonardo Caligiuri.The original line-up was completed by bassist Valerio Venturi (Gianni's brother), drummer Davide Zannotti and guitarist Enrico Scaccaglia.The band recorded the self-titled debut at the Prosdocimi Recording Studio in Carmignano di Brenta near Padova.It was released in 2009 on MaRaCash Records.

On this album Altare Thotemico seem to pay a tribute to the legendary Italian Prog and Jazz Rock scene of the 70's, offering a mixed bag of different tracks and trying to keep a balance between vintage references and more contemporary stylings.Almost every possible style that appeared in Italy during the 70's is present on the album.The first pair of tracks are closer to Classic Italian Prog with influences from P.F.M., BANCO DEL MUTUO SOCCORSO, ALPHATAURUS or MO.DO., having some great flute and organ parts combined with confident guitar work and incredible synthesizers.As the album unfolds more and more different aspects of 70's Italian Prog appear.From the delicate and improvised Jazz Rock of PERIGEO with the loose, jazzy structures to the impressive lyricism of ALAN SORRENTI next to his psychedelic musical experiments, and from the powerful Hard Prog of OSAGE TRIBE with the dynamic guitar riffs and the frenetic grooves to the dark and atmospheric Progressive Rock of IL BIGLIETO PER L'INFERNO with lots of flute and keyboard interplays along with very expressive vocals by Venturi and the pastoral but elegant approach of ERRATA CORRIGE, featuring a strong folky touch among the more proggier moments.The executions and performances of the group are great with plenty of interesting moments among the bunch of tracks, lots of instrumental madness and some of the very best Italian vocals you can listen to.

Maybe a more solid presentation of styles would have worked better for this album, on the other hand this talented Italian act presented so many styles with confidence and comfort.Warmly recommended, especially if you love the Italian Prog scene.

Report this review (#954942)
Posted Monday, May 6, 2013 | Review Permalink
3 stars On their website I read about this Italian band :

"Altare Thotemico are an unconventional band on the Italian music scene. We all have different backgrounds, we're different ages, we come from different towns, but we're sailing through alien worlds on the same ship that crosses the ocean of Life. The kind of music we play? Maybe Progressive, or Psychedelic, Rock, Jazz, Blues perhaps, or something else - who knows! What's for sure - this is where Poetry meets Music and this blend turns into something incredibly powerful, pure ENERGY! Whatever happens, this is our key word, our motto, and we believe ourselves to be carriers of an unrestrainable virus called "Soul"! Laying pictorial matter on a canvas with no preset subject at all - waving your brush or fingers among the colours - in a sort of Action Painting - this is what Altare Thotemico are!".

Well, to me this sounded very welcoming so I was very curious to Altare Thotemico their musical translation of these words. By the way, In 2013 Altare Thotemico released their second effort entitled Sogno Errando, alsofeaturing the two brothers Venturi.

The music on Thotemico their eponymous debut album (2009) is travelling back in time, what an incredible 'vintage' sound: Classic Italian Prog like Biglietto Per L'Inferno, Metamorfosi and Alphataurus come to my mind but also progrock pioneers like The Doors and Pink Floyd. In fact Thotemico their influences are obviously but the band has succeeded to add an own flavour by blending several styles (from rock and jazz to psychedelia) and presenting strong musical ideas.

To me most of the nine compositions sound very pleasant and compelling with a tasteful colouring by the guitar, keyboards and flute, backed by a dynamic rhythm-section and topped by the very distinctive vocals of Gianni Venturi: pretty theatrical, sometimes 'over the top' (like in L'Interessante Vita Del Topo). But at other moments adding an extra dimension, reminding me of Christian Decamps, singer of the French legend Ange.

My highlights are:

Lo Sciamento : from jazzy with Fender Rhodes electric piano to psychedelic with Ray Manzarek inspired organ work.

Demon : church organ intro, then a very catchy heavy guitar riff and strong vocals.

Computer Organico : a kind of jam session with again strong hints of Ray Manzarek.

La Mente Mia : varied instrumentation with excellent slide guitar solo, evoking Robby Krieger, indeed, from The Doors, one of my favourite bands.

What a very pleasant tribute to the Classic Prog era! My rating: 3,5 star.

Report this review (#1931536)
Posted Monday, May 14, 2018 | Review Permalink

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