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Macroscream - Sisyphus CD (album) cover




Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.68 | 20 ratings

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4 stars The classical myths seem to hold a central place within the corpus of Italian progressive rock and young Roman band Macroscream is one of the latest antiquity-mongers on the RPI scene. At the heart of their self-produced debut album is the legend of Sisyphus, a King of Corinth and all-round dodgy geezer who got busted by the gods for his many misdemeanours, one of which saw him trying to get the better of Death. For his sins, Zeus condemned our hero to eternal and futile punishment - to perpetually roll a huge rock up a hill in the Underworld, only to see it roll back to the ground below just as he approached the top.

The ruthless exercise of authoritarian power, with the gods delivering an Orwellian boot to the face of humanity forever, is not the album's only moral matter. Macroscream's depiction of the tale also takes inspiration from an Albert Camus essay in which Sisyphus personifies the absurd nature of human existence. According to Camus our hero's situation requires passion and revolt, and he concludes that Sisyphus must be happy with his endless affliction: ''The struggle towards the heights is enough to fill a man's heart.'' The broad expanse of the title-track is entirely congruous with the legend and the first-heard sounds evoke the bleakness of the fly-ridden hellhole into which our hero is thrust. During the opening and closing scenes of the 25-minute epic you almost get a whiff of the sweat from his armpits, and the dust rising from his head mingling with all manner of other airborne excrement.

Macroscream encompass the Camus-connection, that spirit of confrontation, through their complementary interplay between opposites. Alessandro Patierno celebrates the album's English lyrics with an artless accent that's as thick as my mother-in-law's lumpy porridge whereas Gianpaolo Saracino's violin melodies flow as smoothly as ichor. This schism between ugly and beautiful, between voice and violin, is an important characteristic of the album. It's a work that bristles with the spirit of the seventies and you may feel you've dropped straight into the midst of antique-keyboards-heaven, as everything is heavily clothed in Mellotron, Moog and Hammond. You'll have come across these attributes many times of course - in the world of prog they're as common as fleas on a flea-bitten dog - but their special quality here is that they're augmented by a perfect interaction between another pair of opposites, the bosom buddies of bass guitar and violin. It might be a wee bit harsh to say Patierno can't sing for toffee, at least not in English, but his bass-playing is singularly sublime.

''Sisyphus'' is a wonderful incursion into Italian symphonic prog that also rests at times in the world of Mediterranean folk. If the old whets your appetite more than the novel you should soak this up like a milky sponge.

seventhsojourn | 4/5 |


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