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Témpano - Selective Memory CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

4.23 | 57 ratings

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5 stars Well I don’t know much about this band but I do know just a few things about progressive rock music, and this is the real deal. Wow – talk about a flashback to the seventies! Everything a proghead could want is here: complex and ranging arrangements; detailed and complex instrumental passages; heady themes that are sometimes mildly spiritual, often abstract and nearly always thought-provoking; and musicianship that is absolutely superb and nearly flawless in its execution.

Well, ‘nuff said – go buy it. Even better, download it from the band’s website if it’s still there, or do both.

I take it from reading some biography information that Tempano were a Venezuelan symphonic rock band who had the misfortune of forming as the progressive monuments overlooking the musical sea were collapsing into flotsam and being swept away under the currents of punk, disco and later New Wave. The band persevered during the eighties, but only through drastic lineup changes that left just the drummer as an original member and with a repertoire that seemed to be comprised of mostly contemporary rock and even dance music.

Enter the 21st century though, which found the band’s original quartet reunited and back to putting out their version of the kind of music so many of us grew up on some 30-40 years ago. But this isn’t nostalgia, even though all but the opening track are remakes of older Tempano tunes. No, these tracks have been resurrected, dusted off and re-recorded with new interpretations that seem as fresh as the day they were first played, back when nobody was paying attention.

There are a handful of middle-aged guys running around these days making modern progressive rock that strikes deep to the heart of the sounds of the giants they grew up with: Yes, ELP, King Crimson, Genesis, VgGG, Pink Floyd and Gentle Giant, among others. The Tangent, Salem Hill, Flower Kings, Glass Hammer, IQ, Ezra and Proto-Kaw all fall into this category. They are dudes approaching middle- age (or are already there), yet with enough youthful exuberance (and more than enough musical talent) to put together modern prog music that is both approachable and majestic at the same time. This is talent, and Tempano belong in that group.

There’s not much point picking through every track, and to do so would either require me to make extensive notes or shift focus from listening to the music, so I choose to do neither. I will say that the keyboards and guitar are particularly stunning here, as is usually the case with excellent progressive rock. The odd and complex timing and tempo shifts of drummer Gerardo Ubieda combine with Giuglio Cesare Della Noce’s wall of keyboard sounds to paint a gorgeously lush musical landscape for the lead guitar and other instruments to play within. This is truly grand music.

Della Noce seems to have made it a point to collect just about every type of keyboard ever used in the seventies, from farfisa organ to a B3 to a Wurlitzer electric piano to mini-Moog to a Rhodes MKII to a Rhapsody string synthesizer and even to a clavinet. This guy either spent a ton of money at yard sales or had to dust this stuff off when he pulled it out of some long-term storage facility. Either way there are few bands still around today who put this kind of authentic detail into their sound.

There’s a mellotron too (woodwind sounds and possibly some strings), played by guitarist/violinist/ vocalist Pedro Castillo. All these guys are multi-instrumentalists, with even drummer Gerardo Ubieda getting in some keyboard work on “Cristalizado”.

Despite being Venezuelan there is very little that sound Latin here; possibly some of the guitar soloing on “The Farmers” (which also features the most prominent clavinet passage), but that’s about it. The rest is clearly in the vein of the European masters. “The Farmers” also has some vocal and moog parts that could pass for early seventies Pink Floyd outtakes, and “The Blind Crow” bears more than a passing resemblance to something Peter Gabriel might have arranged, and that Dave Gilmour might have played guitar on (how’s that for a dream combo?).

This whole album is a joy from start to finish. There really are no weak tracks, and for fans of traditional and full-frontal pretentious prog rock, you won’t do much better than this, at least in this century. I can’t think of any reason not to give this album five stars, although like some modern prog bands there’s always the chance their appeal could wear thin when subjected to the test of time. I doubt it (and hope not), but if necessary will revisit the five stars assessment if it becomes necessary. In the meantime, highly recommended to just about any kind of progressive music fan, but especially neo-prog, symphonic, eclectic, crossover and heavy prog fans (I guess that’s just about every kind of prog fan now that I think about it – Zeuhl nuts might want to take a pass I suppose). The rest of you will all find things to love here.


ClemofNazareth | 5/5 |


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