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Il Tempio Delle Clessidre - Il-Lūdĕre CD (album) cover


Il Tempio Delle Clessidre

Rock Progressivo Italiano

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4 stars ITDC is Back!

After three years from "AlieNatura" the wise band from Genoa, now enriched with the (not only) drummer Mattias Olsson (ex-Anglagard, Necromonkey, White Willow), is out with its third studio album.

As the preceding album, also in this case the title is a word game. The union of latin verb "ludere", that means 'the act of playing', with the italian article "il" generates a dualism between "il giocare" (the act of playing) and the verb "illudere", that means 'to deceive' or 'to generate expectations that will never be satisfied'

Actually, along the lyrics find place the sweet illusion to have the world at your feet when you're very young, the sad reality to face when you're adult, the tricks, the games, the consequences of love and the need to come back to act and think as a child, to go beyond obstacles otherwise insurmountable, if faced with an adult mind.

All is supported by ITDC's Music, every time rich and refined in arrangements, but here a bit different with the respect of past albums: now all the musicians are involved in composition, not only Fabio Gremo and Elisa Montaldo. This leads to more heterogeneus sounds, more rock oriented, though the lovely presence of Gremo's classic guitar works moderates the effect. There is more electric guitar, but Giulio Canepa takes away the usual RPI jazzy polite register, substituting it with more opened and distorted effects, very near to heavy rock. In the meantime Elisa Montaldo's great work of searching new fascinating sounds, unusual harmonizations and atmospheres sometimes ethereal, sometimes sumptuos and anxious takes place. The searching of new effects is extended also to vocals: always warm and emphatic the one from Francesco Ciapica, always sweet and touching the other from Elisa Montaldo, helped in the chorus line from Canepa and Gremo. Also Mattias Olsson, with his huge amount of percussion and samplers has given his contribution to the new aspects of ITDC sound.

In my opinion the best moments are "La Parola Magica", "Prospettive", "Nuova Alchimia" and "La Spirale del Vento", while "Manitou", with its evoking melodic line and the wise Olson's drumming, gives me a pleasant sensation of ethereal melancholy. I've heard both versions of this song: one sung in Italian by Ciapica (on CD) and the other sung in Japanese by Elisa (Live) and I prefer the second one because feminine voice and Japanese language render it more evoking and ethereal. You may find the Japanese version of this song only on CD Japanese edition. "Spettro del Palco" is the single come out to anticipate the album. The lyrics, the music and the video pay their tribute to Tim Burton and Danny Elfman and has the virtue to be quite catchy, but not too easy. "Gnaffe' " is the bonus track: it's inspired by Boccaccio's Decameron novels. It's a music trick, as to refer to album title.

Track by Track shivers

"Le Regole del Gioco" The album opens with sounds and atmospheres which bring you away, a nice piano arpeggio that seems to anticipate something unnamed, and footsteps with english conversation...

"La Parola Magica" Powerful track, but what has given me shivers is that crazy synth effect which jumps from right to left at the beginning of the second verse! If I know a bit Elisa Montaldo, she could have lost her sleep until she has found it in the right way!

"Come nelle Favole" It's an heavy rock song, quite unusual for ITDC. Here Francesco Ciapica shows his great vocal range. Great strong ending with two powerful solos: guitar and keys.

"Dentro la mia mente" It has a long coda (ending part), widely used in RPI. In this case it's enriched with histrionic Ciapica's vocalism who experiments a double voice effect as in the second track.

"Spettro del Palco" It's a good single song. It takes place in your mind even if it's not easy-listening as well. Once more I have to remark Ciapica's great interpretative vein. Please notice how does it change the sense of the words "nella mia mente" in the two different situations: in the first he is sweethearted in love, in the second he is hoplessly desperate! The piano coda anticipates the main theme of "La Spirale del Vento" ... and also this means "to play with music"!

"Prospettive" Starting from this song until the end of "La Spirale del Vento" in my opinion there's the best part of the entire album. Starting with an intro with classic guitar and piano, after the keys crescendo (with that bass chords I truly love!) the music seems to spirally close into itself to give space to Canepa loud screaming guitar, very inspired along the whole track. After the 6/8 bridges his solo is powerful and full of feeling. The coda is heart breaking. Very beautiful!

"Manitou" is ethereal, spiritual and sweet. The continual but suffused Olsson's percussion and his almost tribal drumming render this song a priceless musical pearl.

"Nuova Alchimia" is the track less easy to bear in mind. It practically hasn't an intro, almost showing an urgency of expression. The up-tempo singing, the solemnity of keys and the unbelievable atmosphere that lingers in the whole track find their fulfillment in the opera-symphonic ending, with the astonishing Elisa's chorals which give us pure emotion. Great!

"La Spirale del Vento" Beautiful piano intro with Olson's delicate cymbals work. The lyrics are almost autobiographical and talk about the choices we make, that seem crazy to others. The powerful synth solo opens the incredible epic and overwhelming ending. I must confess that I'd have preferred that the album would come to end with this track, because the bonus track misrepresents the fulfilment sensation that lets you to play the entire CD another time.

"Gnaffe' " It's almost a goliardic game, as mentioned before. Well played in mediaeval way, as it is.

At the end, "il-ludere" is a very good album. It takes a bit distance from typical RPI stylistics (we don't find long epic songs and continuous tempo variations) but still chained to it by the enriched arrangements (instrumental and vocal) and the search of unusual rhythm solutions and in something new or unexpected, which is the vital lymph for music REAL lovers. ITDC original and characteristic sound remains almost untouched, even if it pays a great tribute to past glorious prog bands

Please don't miss to listen to this album, you would bitterly repent!

Report this review (#1724185)
Posted Sunday, May 21, 2017 | Review Permalink
3 stars The tradition of Rock Progressivo Italiano has been very vital in recent years. Numerous classic bands of the 70's have re-activated and released new music, and several new bands carry on in the retro style. Il Tempio delle Clessidre was formed in 2007 but it had a link to the classic era: the original vocalist Stefano Galifi sung on the milestone album Zarathustra (1973) by Museo Rosenbach. He was replaced by Francesco Ciapica already on the second Tempio album AlieNatura (2013). I'm not familiar with the preceding albums, so I can't say anything about the way the group may have matured or maintained/updated their style. But perhaps I could say that the recent output of Black Widow Records is very interesting and diverse, and against that background this album, for me, is not among the ones to write home about.

My early impression is that while the slightly heavy sound is pretty much what one expects from RPI (well, maybe not quite as keyboard oriented as with many other bands), the compositions have a bit too much emphasis on the vocals. The brief opener is basically an instrumental (featuring some distorted voice-over) but frankly it functions only as a prologue. If it manages to raise some expectations of a dynamic and epic album entity, they are not fulfilled. There's not a single proper instrumental which certainly would have done good. 'Dentro la mia mente' is over 7 minutes long and I hoped to get some more symphonic instrumental passages, but instead there are again spoken words. I'm not fond of Ciapica's low-ish voice.

I'd lie if I said there aren't a lot of dynamic playing within the tracks, even fine solos, without forgetting some acoustic, delicate moments amidst the powerful band sound. But in the end the songs (mostly 4-6 minutes long) fail to make a deeper impression on me. Perhaps the best one is the longest, 'La Spirale del Vento' (8:43). Yes it is, thanks to the instrumental, symphonically inspired final part. This is not a bad album. It's well produced, and doubtlessly it will please many friends of Italian prog scene, especially those who like also the heavier, less pastoral side of it (Il Balletto di Bronzo, Museo Rosenbach, ...). It just isn't MY ideal RPI album.

Report this review (#1730214)
Posted Monday, June 5, 2017 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
Honorary Reviewer
4 stars I was quite a fan of this Italian progressive rock band's previous album, 'alieNatura', which was released in 2013: this was their second release, but the first with singer Francesco Ciapic. Again, there has been a change in membership between albums, as drummer Paolo Tixi has been replaced by Mattias Olsson (Änglagård, White Willow, Necromonkey), while Anna Holmgren (also of Änglagård) adds her delicate flute to one number. This is a progressive rock album that is dominated by the vocals, and to my ears it works incredibly well. Musically this has a lot in common with the early Seventies progressive rock and hard rock scene, and the use of a strong singer in the hard rock style certainly provides this music with some additional edge. Which is sadly often missing from the progressive scene.

Too many bands seem to forget the "rock" section of "progressive rock", and they can concentrate too much on keyboards and delicacy, but here ITDC are using plenty of dynamics, with light and shade emphasising both areas. But, these guys are still first and foremost a progressive band, it's just that they are refusing to be bound by what many feel is the sort of music that should be coming out of the RPI scene. I really enjoy Francesco's singing style, as his vocals carry emotion and although he can sing higher when he wishes to, he generally stays in the lower registers and this allows emotion to really shine through.

My one regret is that I don't understand Italian, so have no idea at all what he is singing about, but feel that if this had been in English then it would have diminished it somewhat. Yet again this is an incredibly strong release from Black Widow, and well worth investigating.

Report this review (#1734979)
Posted Saturday, June 17, 2017 | Review Permalink
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars Italy's Il Tempio delle Clessidre instantly made a grand entrance with 2010's self-titled disc, a confident debut fronted by vocalist Stefano `Lupo' Galifi of legendary Seventies RPI band Museo `Zarathustra' Rosenbach. Come the Museo reunion in 2013, Lupo was gone, with the young band giving the unenviable talk of replacing him to singer Francesco Ciapica, with them all delivering the worldly follow-up `Alienatura' also in '13. After the superb double DVD performance `Live in Seoul' (worth it alone for the way to band reinterpret the above-mentioned vintage Italian classic album) a year later, we now arrive in 2017 with their third and latest studio work, the classy `Il-Lūdĕre', and it might be their most subtle, dignified and deceptively complex work to date, even if it's perhaps more obviously song-based (but not commercial) than their first two studio discs.

If you're a listener who prizes sumptuous arrangements that hold tightly written tunes, delivered by a dynamic vocalist backed by the precise playing of skilled musicians, then Il Tempio delle Clessidre once again deliver the goods here. After an amusing voice-over introduction, `La Parola Magica' arrives with all the theatrical bombast, heavier energy and ravishing vocal prowess expected of the Italian prog bands, yet still wrapped in a punchy tune. Italian prog's divine First Lady Elisa Montaldo's peppy keyboards and sparkling electric piano dart rapidly, Fabio Gremo's murmuring bass and Giulio Canepa's attacking guitars race with fire, Francesco Ciapica's charismatic voice purrs with raspy flare, and Swedish musician, ex-Anglagard and White Willow drummer Mattias Olsson's drums, filling in for the departed Paolo Tixi, rumble with expertly controlled power.

It might not be the greatest moment of the album, but `Come Nelle Favole' grows more hair on its chest for a tougher hard- rocking snarl, while the spiralling keyboard outro may remind some of young British prog-poppers Muse. `Dentro La Mia Mente' is a slinking poppier melodic rocker with a smoother vocal and smart catchy chorus, but darker edges hide within. There's a sprightly playful energy with dancing keyboard interplay around nicely drawn-out and urgent runaway guitar soloing from Giulio before the piece culminates in a dreamy spoken-word montage. Elisa then outdoes herself on `Spettro Del Palco', a purer RPI spectral pantomime that oozes sophistication and an eerie atmosphere. A ghostly army of keyboard goodness haunts the malevolently creeping vocal piece, be it veils of Mellotron sheen or pristine piano tiptoes, and classical guitar fancy rings throughout.

Despite being book-ended with warm acoustics, soaring guitar runs smoulder throughout `Prospettive' bringing plenty of raging symphonic bursts here and there. `Manitou' is an album highlight, a stark ballad with Francesco's voice full of wounded dignity bringing a real `hair standing on end' soulful honesty, and some gorgeous weeping guitar strains in the middle that call to mind Pink Floyd pierce straight to the heart.`Nuova Alchimia' holds fleeting moments of infernal heaviness and shadowy symphonic touches amongst its whirring keyboards and catchy huffing chorus, and album closer `La Spirale Del Vento' effortlessly darts back and forth in tempo with some nicely wilder and dangerous touches peppered throughout, as well as some tasty jazzy touches. The band twist through manic eclectic little soloing fills, and the final minutes sweep beautifully with the grandest of themes to ensure the album closes in as elegant and uplifting a manner as possible.

There are minor issues that might perhaps restrict the album for a large majority of listeners. This more song-based album would admittedly be even stronger if it offered a few additional extended instrumental breaks here and there or even one or two voice-free pieces, as it is quite vocal heavy the majority of the time, even if Francesco's range is stronger and more varied than ever. There's also a richness to the lyrics that will absolutely resonate more with Italian speaking listeners in this particular instance that can sometimes be overlooked on more instrumental-heavy Italian works for people who don't speak the language. There's also an uncompromising defiance to this work that might mean `Il-Lūdĕre' will more impress long-time fans of the group as opposed to being a suitable introduction to newcomers (who should probably explore the debut album to start off with).

But considering many of the Black Widow releases are very retro-flavoured or overtly heavy, `Il-Lūdĕre' proves to be one of the most dense yet subtle works to appear on the label. There's plenty of flashier, more obvious Italian prog groups around at the moment, and no doubt the band could deliver paint-by-numbers material that darts off into endless frantic keyboard soloing at every opportunity. But instead Il Tempio delle Clessidre have crafted a work of highly intelligent, weightier and more challenging material here that demands constant time and multiple re-listens to grasp the subtlety and intricate details, which is far more satisfying than instant thrills that don't maintain over time. It ultimately means that `Il-Lūdĕre' is another first-class effort from one of the shining stars of modern Italian progressive rock in Il Tempio delle Clessidre.

Four stars.

Report this review (#1872294)
Posted Monday, February 5, 2018 | Review Permalink
4 stars Genovese band Il Tempio Delle Clessidre released their third studio album four years on from AlieNatura. Il Ludere is another excellent piece of music that fits nicely in the progressivo Italiano canon. I've followed them since 2014 but their journey began in 2006, when keyboard player Elisa Montaldo met former Museo Rosenbach vocalist Stefano 'Lupo' Galifi in the Black Widow record store in the heart of Genoa. They assembled the group Il Tempio delle Clessidre, named after a subsection of the 1973 Museo Rosenbach classic Zarathustra with the notion to perform that album live ? with the inclusion of Giulio Canepa on guitar, Fabio Gremo on bass, and the 19-year old Paolo Tixi on drums. There's a DVD of a 2011 performance in Seoul with extras including footage of their 2009 debut performance from Genoa's Teatro della Gioventu, which acts as a documentary of the Galifi era (Black Widow Records BWR168). Part of the Seoul gig was the modern recreation of Zarathustra in its entirety which, though technically challenging was hailed as a resounding success.

My introduction to the band was at the Fiera Internazionale della Musica in Genoa in May 2014. I'd specifically gone to see La Maschera di Cera but was struck by the stellar range of the line-up, a testament to the healthy state of Italian progressive rock in general and the importance of the host city in particular. Il Tempio delle Clessidre played on the first day and, because I had seen drummer Paolo Tixi play with Fabio Zuffanti's Z-Band a few weeks before, I was intrigued by their inclusion on the bill. I'd looked up references to them before seeing them and was delighted to hear their style of melodic symphonic prog. Afterwards, I could fully appreciate their tag as a successor to Museo Rosenbach. Vocalist Francesco Ciapica replaced Galifi for the second album, AlieNatura (2013) and his voice has a similar quality to Galifi, full and rich with a good range. The entire performance was very assured and impressed me sufficiently to visit the Black Widow stand and buy a copy of their first CD. I bought my copy of AlieNatura in Black Widow in 2015 and it has proved difficult to decide which of these first two albums I like better; both are of an amazing quality, best exemplified by Il Centro Sottile from the first album and the multi-part suite Il Cacciatore from AlieNatura.

Il Ludere includes another change of personnel, with former Änglagård drummer Mattias Olsson replacing Tixi. As with the preceding album, the title Il Ludere is a pun combining the Latin verb ludere (to play) with the article il to generate a double meaning: the act of playing and, from the verb illudere, deception or illusion. The cover illustration continues this theme and the first track Le Regole del Gioco (The rules of the game) spells it out. What is immediately striking is that this is more conventional rock-sounding than the full-on symphonic prog of its two predecessors, although it remains firmly in the prog camp thanks to great playing, intelligent writing and, to a greater extent, a rejection of straightforward form.

Le Regole del Gioco owes something to musique concrète: an instruction to the listener how best to enjoy the stereo effect before segueing into the upbeat, jazzy La Parola Magica (The Magic Word) where the first hints at a different sound can be detected. The organ tends to follow the vocal melody, the guitar is distorted and the concluding electric piano seems to be influenced by the Canterbury scene. If that isn't hint enough, Come Nella Favole (As in the Fables) begins like a heavy rock track and Ciapica even pulls off a high register vocal. What separates this track from a multitude of early 80s metal bands is a fiendishly tricky break, though I can imagine this being a new live favourite. There may be a hint of guitar hero about the soloing on next track Dentro la Mia Mente (Inside My Mind) but this is a fairly lengthy, more complex piece which reminds me of some of Finisterre's experimentation featuring tape effects. After that the rest of the album is undeniably proggy.

Spettro del Palco (Stage of the Spectrum), which was selected as a single, is the tale of an unrequited love with a tragic ending. It's set in a theatre and comes across as suitably dramatic, with themes picked out first by delicate acoustic and ending with a crescendo of passionate electric guitar. The coda provides a prelude to the theme running through the penultimate track La Spirale del Vento (The Wind Spiral.) Prospettive (Perspectives) opens with an acoustic guitar figure and builds slowly with piano and synthesizer before a Mellotron like break and some striking electric guitar. The vocals are full of feeling and most effective, producing some high quality prog. One of the most achingly beautiful moments on the whole release is the Gilmour-like guitar on Manitou where the percussion, similar to the recording of Peter Gabriel IV, is played out on the bottom kit, without cymbals. This provides an earthy, world music feel which is fitting for a song about a fundamental life force. Nuova Alchimia (New Alchemy) flows on almost seamlessly, initially with sparse percussion, though it's very riff-driven. There's an interlude with a sort of carnival atmosphere before Montaldo plays a fast synthesizer solo in classic RPI style; the vocals form an important part of the song, adding immediacy, but unfortunately it doesn't really develop.

Perhaps it was the influence of their new drummer, but there are some distinctly angular lines that call to mind Olsson's former band Änglagård or even Fragile-era Yes on La Spirale del Vento which, at 8'43 is the longest track on the album and closest to the material from the first two albums. This is my favourite track; there is plenty of space between the vocal passages to allow Montaldo to shine with some excellent lead synthesizer and the whole piece is well-constructed. One of the biggest surprises is Gnaffe, included as a bonus track on the CD. Based on the 14th Century Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio, a collection of stories ranging from the tragic to the erotic, it includes tales of wit and practical jokes. The song, at times medieval and at others what I would regard as traditional Italian popular music (during the duet between Ciapica and Montaldo), offers the contrast between almost scholarly classical guitar and outright playfulness during the storytelling.

Despite being a little uncharacteristic of progressivo Italiano, this album has grown on me the more I've listened to it. To be fair to Il Tempio delle Clessidre, they have produced a more homogeneous work because they've widened the pool of creative input. This may seem counterintuitive but it's the distorted, riffing guitar that has pulled them towards rock. On the other hand, there's still a huge variety of textures that would never get represented in the mainstream and the inclusion of Olsson has provided the impetus for utilising a variety of effects. It's unfortunate that my grasp of the Italian language is so poor, because I'm sure that there are more musical and lyrical puns at play throughout the release.

Despite my inability to pick up nuances in the language I think that though it may be a little atypical of the genre, from the atmospheric to the dramatic, this is an excellent addition to any prog collection.

Report this review (#2381329)
Posted Wednesday, May 13, 2020 | Review Permalink

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