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Clepsydra - Fears CD (album) cover





3.94 | 170 ratings

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4 stars Fears (1997) is the third album by Swiss Neo-Prog band Clepsydra, not to be confused with the contemporary RPI group of the same name. From the outset I have to admit I'm not the biggest fan of Neo-Prog. Although bands such as Marillion, Pendragon, IQ, etc are all fine and dandy they just don't do it for me personally. So why do I like Clepsydra? Well it's not because they come under the umbrella of some arbitrary label. I guess it just comes down to their songs, which I like... a lot. I also prefer Clepsydra's singer to Fish et al. Although Aluisio Maggini has an Italian sounding name, I would say his accent has a slight North European lilt to it. His rather quaint vocals may not be to everyone's taste but I enjoy them and there are no issues with his English, which he pretty well nails.

Fears kicks off with a couple of killer tracks in Soaked and The Missing Spark. Strangely enough both these songs clock in at 9.02. The last album I reviewed also began with two tracks of identical length, so maybe this isn't such an unusual phenomenon. Trivia aside, Marco Cerulli's guitar dominates on Soaked with solos aplenty. Philip Hubert's keys really only play a supporting role on the song, mainly adding thickness to its texture. Of special note are the lovely choir parts in the background, and although I'm sure these aren't played on a Mellotron they are lovely nonetheless. While the guitar intro/outro of The Missing Spark is dramatic, keyboards are generally more to the forefront and include a saw tooth synthesizer solo around midway. Nice. A series of five shorter songs follows, the first of which, Into My Cartoon, sounds a bit like a Barclay James Harvest ballad... a good one at that. This song segues into The Age Of Glass, which opens and closes with a pleasant Baroque pastiche featuring harpsichord tones and synthesizer. Other than that it's a fairly standard soft rocker. Track 5, Fearless, is a suitably upbeat song with raw guitar and fiery pitch-bend synthesizer competing with Maggini's vocals. The brief acoustic instrumental Daisies In The Sunshine brings to life images of summer, while The Cloister features some delightful little synthesizer flurries and is probably my favourite among these short songs.

The Nineteenth Hole is another lengthy track at just shy of 9 minutes and is arguably the most developed song on the album. The band manages to cram many different elements into this song without it sounding in any way disjointed. Descending synthesizer lines backed by choral effects, guitar and synthesizer duets underpinned by stop-start rhythm section, syncopated drumming with sympathetic bass, there's even a saxophone solo from guitarist Cerulli. Great stuff. The atmospheric Sweet Smelling Wood bridges the gap between the previous song and the album's closing track Fear, and what a song to finish. Maggini adopts different accents on this song and while I enjoy his singing, Peter Gabriel he isn't. However what makes this song is Cerulli's emotive guitar-play. Call me a wuss, but his solos on this song are of such mournful beauty they can almost bring me to tears. Now that, in my opinion, is art. It's possible to listen to an mp3 of this song here on ProgArchives. Fear is very representative of the album as a whole, so if you like this song there's a good chance you'll enjoy the album.

Overall, Fears opens with two great songs and then continues with five shorter ones that, although absolutely fine, don't really match those first two. However the album then climaxes with the outstanding trio described in the paragraph above. 4 rock solid stars for such a beautiful thing.

seventhsojourn | 4/5 |


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