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Marchesi Scamorza - La Sposa Del Tempo CD (album) cover


Marchesi Scamorza

Rock Progressivo Italiano

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Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Boy, did Italian band Marchesi Scamorza and their debut album `La Sposa Del Tempo' give our RPI group some trouble! Not so much a case of confused identity, rather a new band incorporating a large range of genres and styles all worked in together on their promising debut album, for all the standard RPI features such as classical grandeur, charismatic Italian vocals that weave through the music, wild acoustic elements and darkly gothic leanings, there's endless Neo-Prog and Symphonic touches throughout as well. The sound of Genesis, Camel and Pink Floyd frequently pop up to sit alongside Banco and PFM. Yet somehow the band have managed a very successful first album, with a number of truly great tracks, that only suggests even better things to come.

After an eerie floating ambient intro with pulsing electronics and fragments of voices, the forceful mid-tempo electric `Sentieri di Carta' kicks in. Listen to it's skillful mix of the Symphonic and Neo Prog genres made even more interesting by the addition of typical fiery RPI acoustic guitars and call-to-arms heartfelt Italian vocals. It moves through grand Genesis-like majesty with ghostly Mellotron, racing acoustic playing and charismatic vocals while maintaining classical Italian grandiosity.

The highly dramatic `Lo Schiavo di Babilonia' is even better, with plenty of Banco-like tension ingrained throughout. The piece constantly snaps at the listener, speeding up and slowing down throughout. The gentle gothic fairytale elements that permeates a lot of the album starts to show up here. First it's present in the somber piano that darts around much of the piece, then it really hits home in the striking middle section with a very Fish-era Marillion influenced guitar solo from Lorenzo Romani that tears through the bombastic classical majesty. It's quite a schizophrenic piece that has hints of that aggressive energy and recklessness that all great Italian progressive rock bands should have.

`L'uomo Dall'ombra Lunga' opens and ends with achingly beautiful electrical guitar work that sounds just like the hazy psychedelic tones of early 70's Pink Floyd/David Gilmour and nicely romantic vocals. The middle throws in an obtrusive Neo-prog styled harsh organ run with wailing guitar soloing that kind of detracts from all the dreamy atmosphere set up in the beginning. Shame the band didn't restrain themselves on this one, it was fine just the way it was!

What a fascinating mess `Un Passo Ogni Parola' is! A odd mix of racing IQ-styled keyboard/bass/drum snappy sections, spacey keyboards, wild acoustic/piano moments, crooned vocals and a surprisingly upbeat and joyous chorus that's really catchy! It doesn't hold together too well, but all the individual ideas are really rather good.

Here the album hits a run of more purely RPI pieces, although Neo/Symphonic fans will find much more for them a little nearer the end again! The strident `Quelle Volte' reminds me a lot of RPI band Il Cerchio D'oro, and it works really well for not diverting in a dozen directions. Uplifting guitar soloing, commanding synths and a memorable melody overall make for a very pleasant track that serves as a break from all the complex pieces. More of this cohesion and simplicity would be greatly appreciated on their next album!

What a stunner bombastic classical `Il Castello Delle Stagioni' is! It's got everything - A moody acoustic guitar/Mellotron flute intro, whirring synths, dazzling piano, background noise/sound effects all set to a manic Banco-like aggression. There's a heavy gothic unease all the way through, with nasty brooding guitar soloing and singer Enrico Bernardini sounding better than ever. Overall the band shows so much much talent and conviction on this one, and they really earn their RPI stripes for it. They should really look to this track to see what worked so well and focus on that for future releases. Top stuff.

The gothic drama carries on into the restrained `Nelle Notti Piu Lontane', a sad and haunting classical piano/vocal piece with. Again the relative simplicity works exceedingly well here, and it's a deeply moving and reflective pause from the longer epics.

`Autumno' is a schizophrenic conclusion for a great album, once again we're reminded of Banco with alternating crooned/boisterous lead vocals, swirling keyboards and wild guitar/church organ passages with an odd quirkiness that comes of nowhere every now and then too. The very final passage is a Neo/Genesis styled galloping keyboard melody with plenty of showing off from bass player Paolo Brini - mix him even louder next time, fellas! This last section really ends the album in a very positive and upbeat manner that's appreciated.

The album is far from perfect. In some spots there's probably too many vocal sections, and Bernardini occasionally has a monotonous and flat range. Sometimes he nails it, other times he's a bit strained, but it shows a refreshing honesty and says a lot about how the band support eachother. I have no doubt he will keep improving, because on his best tracks here he's extremely effective. Some listeners will find the mix of different genres a bit frustrating, but most likely their next release will hopefully focus a little more on one particular style and really offer us more on an idea where they're headed. But I also have a feeling some will really love the diversity and range the band has shown here and greatly enjoy the album.

To my ears (and despite being part of the Prog Archives RPI team, this is coming from a purely unbiased opinion), the album and band achieve far better results in their RPI stylings than the Neo/Symphonic sections, and it's here they sound most at home and convincing. But for now, this is a very worthy and impressive release that shows a band with plenty of charisma and talent to make them one to keep an eye on.

By the way, take a look at that beautiful album cover - pure prog rock surreal beauty. Marchesi guys, please put this one out on vinyl!

Three and a half stars for a great new band and album - but the four star rating makes it look better!

Report this review (#900529)
Posted Sunday, January 27, 2013 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Marchesi Scamorza started out in 2009 as a covers band but nowadays operate as a fully self- sufficient prog rock act. Last year they recorded their first full-length album 'La Sposa Del Tempo' in the countryside around their native Ferrara in northern Italy and I somehow imagine the band standing on the hump of a hill as they survey the surrounding landscape - with an open view in all directions to different topographical features representing the accumulated musical experiences of the boys in the band. As the songs unfold we are confronted with asymmetric structures and Neo-Prog excoriations, flickering tints of Trespass-era keyboards and Hackettian guitar elevations, the cantautori tradition harbouring alongside mellow West Coast vibes, and even some electronic shading to provide real diversity. All are rolled out like a map across the album's nine tracks but its natural essence is the RPI.

This empathy for the RPI of the seventies clearly drives Marchesi Scamorza but while their list of influences reads like a who's who of Italian prog rock one might wonder if they can walk the walk themselves. Well, typical Italian eclecticism is a key principle in their music, as is spontaneous self-expression - vocalist Enrico Bernardini may not be to everyone's taste but he can't be faulted for his passion and his voice has a wistful quality that I find appealing; and he undoubtedly leaves a lasting impression, just ask the boys in the Den - but the combination of dynamism and changeability they so readily embrace can at times result in a disjointed rawness, a certain earthiness that nonetheless makes this every inch an RPI album. For sure there is scope for some improvement but no major surgery is required, just minor tinkering, because there's some great music packed away in here. And if these guys can sustain their current efforts they should have a very healthy prognosis.

Report this review (#900555)
Posted Sunday, January 27, 2013 | Review Permalink
3 stars I Marchesi Scamorza come from Ferrara and began life in 2009, mainly influenced by Premiata Forneria Marconi and Fabrizio De André. After a first demo EP in 2011, in 2012 they self-released a début album titled La sposa del tempo (Time's bride) with a line up featuring Lorenzo Romani (electric guitar), Alessandro Padovani (drums), Paolo Brini (bass), Enrico Bernardini (vocals, acoustic guitar) and Enrico Cazzola (keyboards). The overall sound is good and the band showcase good musicianship and song-writing skills although the vocal parts in my opinion are not always convincing. The influence of the Italian prog masters of the seventies and Italian canzone d'autore are apparent but there's no plagiarism and the band managed to add original ideas to their musical fabric. According to an interview with the band, La sposa del tempo is a concept album sui generis where all the tracks are linked by a common thread: Time. The lyrics are hermetic and their meaning is open to many interpretations but the album cover by Giulia Pasetti and Jacopo Regulti tries to offer some clues.

The short opener "Intro" in some way sets the atmosphere with experimental sounds and words that remind us that Time is nothing but hope. It leads to "Sentieri di carta" (Paper paths), a ballad that starts with a strummed acoustic guitar pattern. The lyrics conjure up the ghost of a mysterious, proud knight without a mouth to breath. His words get lost under his steps, ancestral fears begin to rise while you think of flying free in the night. Dull eyes are burning but everyone has got his cross to carry along his way... "Words of lead, words of of flesh / Under the churches, under the soles...". The music is not bad but, to be honest, this track fails to strike a chord on me.

The following "Lo schiavo di Babilonia" (The slave of Babylon) is better. It begins by a delicate piano intro and features many changes in rhythm and mood. The lyrics draw powerful, poetical images of redemption and hope. Babylon here is a metaphor for a life of sin. What kind of sin? Maybe pride, adultery, blasphemy or perjury... But even a damned life can be redeemed by love! A soul that burns as paper, a lost path on the side of a huge golden tower, silent clocks inside a church... Images can speak more than a thousand words... "The balance is broken on the weight of the heart / Time is just a hope...".

"L'uomo dall'ombra lunga" (The man with a long shadow) is reflective and melancholic. It draws the imagine of a man lost in his thoughts, ready to challenge his fate at every crossroad, following his meaningless dreams while his life slides away and stretches out behind him like his shadow.

The following "Un passo ogni parola" (One step on every word) begins softly with a mysterious atmosphere, then the rhythm rises and every now and again reminds me of Premiata Forneria Marconi. The lyrics depict an imaginary dialogue between a man and a poet about pain and fear, shadows and lights, good and evil. It's getting dark and they're walking along a solitary road, carried away by their feelings... "Poet, do not cry / There's already someone who's crying for you... Step after step you'll see the sun again along with me...".

"Quelle volte" (Those times) is a simple, melodic track about hope and dreams. The lyrics invite you to never give up when you're feeling blue. When you're waiting in vain for a saviour, you have to open your heart and try to imagine a better world and follow your dreams... In my opinion this is the weakest track on the whole album.

"Il castello delle stagioni" (The castle of the seasons) is definitely better. It's a long, complex piece that begins with a nice acoustic guitar passage and the sound of a storm in the background. The lyrics tell about a young woman who lies in a castle where Time stands still and memories run free... "In a distant place lies a bride / Golden tears and dancing lights / Love thoughts of a thousand colours...". Just a beautiful, timeless dream!

"Nelle notti più lontane" (In the most distant nights) tells of another dream where you can see a white ship sailing across the ocean. It's a piano ballad that fades into the more complex final track "Autunno" (Autumn) forming a kind of beautiful suite... Very brightly did the moon shine on the night I answered the call, and I walked out over the waters to the White Ship on a bridge of moonbeams. The man who had beckoned now spoke a welcome to me in a soft language I seemed to know well, and the hours were filled with soft songs of the oarsmen as we glided away into a mysterious South, golden with the glow of that full, mellow moon... Well, I think that this quote from a short story by H.P. Lovecraft, The White Ship, in some way can help to describe the content of the last two pieces, a kind of fairy tale where you can find madness and fear, hope and dreams... "Who knows what's the light of the world / This purity that turns around us / Please, take me away with these Autumn leaves...".

On the whole this album is not flawless but features some really good tracks and it's worth listening to. In my opinion, this young band have a great potential and I'm looking forward to their next album.

Report this review (#1140999)
Posted Monday, March 3, 2014 | Review Permalink

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