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La Maschera Di Cera

Rock Progressivo Italiano

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La Maschera Di Cera La Maschera Di Cera album cover
3.98 | 178 ratings | 13 reviews | 27% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
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Studio Album, released in 2002

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. La Maschera Di Cera (19:21)
- a) Il Tuo Volto
- b) La Tua Gente
- c) Il Tuo Fugio
- d) La Tua Irrealta
- e) La Tua Guida
- f) La Mia Fine...
2. Del Mio Mondo Che Crolla(6:00)
3. Del Mio Abisso E Del Vuoto (9:41)
- a) Il Vuoto
- b) L'abisso
- c) E Senza U Peso Io Salgo
4. Del Mio Volo (7:07)

Total Time: 42:09

Bonus tracks on 2010 reissue:
5. La Tua Gente (Edit) (3:10)
6. Del Mio Mondo Che Crolla (Demo) (7:23)
7. Del Mio Abisso E Del Vuoto (Demo) (9:46)
8. Del Mio Volo (Alternative) (6:47)

Line-up / Musicians

- Alessandro Corvaglia / lead & backing vocals
- Agostino Macor / Mellotron, piano, prepared piano, organ, Moog, harpsichord, VCS 3 synth
- Andrea Monetti / flute
- Fabio Zuffanti / bass, acoustic guitar, vocals (6,7)
- Marco Cavani / drums, timpani, percussion

- Nadia Girardi / vocals (3)

Releases information

Artwork: Jean Delville

CD Mellow Records ‎- MMP 428 (2002, Italy)
CD Mirror ‎- MRL 1002 (2010, Italy) With 4 bonus tracks

LP Mirror ‎- MRL 1002LP (2015, Italy)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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LA MASCHERA DI CERA La Maschera Di Cera ratings distribution

(178 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(27%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(47%)
Good, but non-essential (22%)
Collectors/fans only (3%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

LA MASCHERA DI CERA La Maschera Di Cera reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by loserboy
5 stars La MASCHERA DI CERA (The Wax Mask) are a new Italian five piece band who definitely play a vintage 70's replica with total originality and deep musicianship. Hate to overuse this expression, but here it goes. This is a total masterpiece IMHO. La MASCHERA DI CERA blend powerful vocals, piano, mellotron, organ, moog, 'clavicembalo'-VCS 3 synths, flute, bass/acoustic guitar and drums and create some of the best sounds I have heard out of Italy for a long time.

The first side is a sole magnificent 20 mins epic track which carries the "Attack-Decay" style of Sweeden's ANGLAGARD with the symphonic beauty of classic PFM and jazz elements of ECHOLYN.. totally unpredictable and totally creative song writing. The second side is 3 tracks which continue right where side 1 left off.. Musically these guys play some pretty sophisticated and deep music with tons of vintage keyboards, flute and guitar dominating. I must also tell you that the drummer is very good and so too are the bass and guitarist. Hard to exactly peg this album in terms of comparison but I would say musically a dead mix of STANDARTE, PFM with FINESTERRE.

Overall a fantastic album and one of those albums that after you hear you will not be able to put down.

Review by lor68
3 stars OK this work is well performed and arranged too, but is it a true work in progress or actually is it a work in regress?Don't get me wrong, I have been appreciating bands such as Museo Rosembach or Il Balletto di Bronzo for some years;nevertheless I need to hear something really innovative or anyway a bit original at least, nowadays!!...So a 3 stars score is due to the cleverness of F. Zuffanti alone, involved into such diverse project and -also as a co-founder of Finisterre- his effort is noble.Nevertheless- after all- I like to be honest: I think that each prog band can be (if necessary) a derivative ensemble (the Swedish Anglagard and the US bands such as Glass Hammer or if you prefer in some circumstances Echolyn as well, are a stunning example), but unlike these latter just mentioned to you (and as you know there are also other great bands like for instance After Crying and Isildurs Bane, able to work in progress continually!!), L.M.C are clever to duplicate a lot of "seventies" symphonic breaks-through only, by using a vintage instrumentation, despite of giving their imprinting;but of course this is disturbing me a bit at the end, thinking of the next fact the new attempt by Zuffanti does not represent a true look into the future, because probably his purpose now consists of a very good emulation of the old stereotypes (especially that one of the 70's best Italian Prog genre!!). Finally you can also use some vintage instrumentation, but for me- as a keyboardist- it should be important availing ourselves of a new modern technology,just a little bit at least...but this is my personal idea and- as I don't want to affect your opinion- as usual make your own choice!! know what I think about it!!
Review by Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The ever prolific bassist/composer Fabio Zuffanti founded La Maschera di Cera together with other four musicians who were also devoted to regenerate the essence of 70s Italian hard prog rock. This band is the most ballsy musical project Zuffanti has been involved in so far, but never letting things get out of control - their eponymous debut album served as a proper presentation medium for their musical ideology. The band's basic sound is profoundly inspired by the heritage of old powerful acts such as Museo Rosenbach, Biglietto per l'Inferno and Alphataurus, refurbishing their amazing energy and melodic sensibility, although with a bit less of Baroque and a major emphasis on the elaboration of Impressionistic colors. You can also notice traces of Balletto di Bronzo's the delirious drive and the magical splendor of Metamorfosi, although LMDC does not intend to match their level of aggressiveness; as I implied before, this band is more into the subtle use of moderately complex melodies and harmonic layers in an atmosphere of controlled display of rocking energy. The massive use of old fashioned keyboards (Hammond, Moogs, VCS3, mellotron) and the augmentation of flute in the melodic department aim to draw a faithful portrait of all aforementioned bands gathered together in a joint prog Parnassus. Both the namesake suite and 'Del Mio Abisso e del Vuoto' are the longest and most accomplished numbers in the album. Meanwhile, 'del Mio Mondo che Crolla' keeps things more concise, albeit the complexity is still there, functioning through the transitions from 5/4 to 6/4 rhythm patterns and back again. All there pieces are terrific showcases for the individual member's abilities; for starters, Macor displays an exquisite taste in his deliveries of solos, textures and orchestrations, and so does flautist Monnetti every time he delivers a solo or complementing lines to those created by the keyboardist. Meanwhile, the rhythm section of Zuffanti and Cavani keeps an ever resilient level of resistance in order to comfortably support the overall wall of sound; it is particularly helpful that Zuffanti keeps providing a high level of fuzz for his precise bass interventions, which makes him sound like a bassist and a rhythm guitarist at once most of the time. Last but not least, Corvaglia's harsh timber and powerful vocal technique complete the sonic spectrum by filling the air with his own passion during his sung parts. The closure 'Del Mio Volo' is mostly a well developed prog ballad with a slightly 'heavy' twist. Anything really new? Certainly not, but this album's repertoire actually manages to revive an old sound and give it new life, a new life capable of generating excitement in the hearts of those who, like me, just can't have enough of that typical Italian hard prog trend. In the year of its release, I used to think that "La Maschera di Cera" was one of the most important prog albums for the new millennium; a few years later, not only this idea stands firm in my mind, but also my admiration for this band has been increased. In conclusion: this is a superb addition for any good prog collection.
Review by ZowieZiggy
5 stars La Maschera Di Cera is one of the many project of Fabio Zuffanti. But even if he is the most experienced, I wouldn't say that he has the most predominant role in La Maschera.

This band is really extraordinary. Most of their compositions are long and complex numbers with passionate vocals (that I do not, unfortunately, understand) and superb keys and flute moments.

The intro of "La Maschera di Cera" is truely Crimsonesque. One is transported back to 1969, and the wonderful ITCOTCK for about a minute. This number is simply FABULOUS. It is by far the most inventive, intricate, subtle, melodic of the band on this album. It is a beautiful indicator that the band is able to deliver the most brilliant epic with all the Italian extravaganza and skills. It is not melodious during those 19'21" but almost.

The addition of the flute only brings me with such joy ! This instrument adds a marvelous flavour to their entire work. Of course, at times, it will remind of the Tull but mostly because of the flute not because of the structure of the songs (although the complexity of the title track could be compared with "TIAB".

This number is a pure symphony. A delight for your ears. If ever, you are a bit depressed, get a listen to this one and it will fill your heart again with enthusiasm, positive feeling and optimism. Really. It is an absolute masterpiece. A true jewel. The lead vocal is so nice and vibrant.

One can only applaude when confronted to such a maestria. I just hope that these few words will convert you into a fan. This masterpiece is on par with all the greatest epics you can think of. AND I MEAN ALL OF THEM.

You can imagine that after such a number, it is impossible to equal, by close or by far to its bombastic feeling. The long and weird intro of the first "movement" of "Del Mio" makes place of a riff pretty much similar to "Watcher" (but how many times was this incredible Genesis number a source of inspiration, even fragmentary). This number is more incoherent, less catchy : it is sometimes very close again to KC.

The second movement of "Del Mio" is more classical. We are brought back in the same extraordinary sound of "La Maschera". The music delivered here is again, sublime. The lead vocalist brings so much emotion in his play, than even if you do not understand him (and that's really something I am missing here : to be able to understand their lyrics, although I have no clue how profund they are). I should maybe start learning Italian ...

This song sounds weird at times, even scary. But that's Maschera's universe. Full of poetry but at the same time full of evil. This wonderful song ends up in a chaotic maelstroem. Unique.

I think that "Del Mio volo" is even more grandiose. This is probably one of the musical moments I would praise the most. I have already written that to my burial party I would like to "hear" some songs of which "Stairway To Heaven" (obviously), "Shine On You Crazy Diamond", "Firth Of Fith" etc. This one will definitely be on my list as well. Just beautiful.

I have started to love Italian prog in 1974 : at this time, it was just referred as "Eurock" in my country (Belgium); PFM being almost the only band to be known. Very few times in my life, I have felt such feeling and passion (I am a passionate man) sweating from the music. I am really thankful to La Machera to have brought this to me.

If you like ELP, Tull and the passion of the Italian symphonic genre, this band will lead you almost to heaven (it sounds lyrical, but this is how I feel). This first album is extremely good and they will produce another one of the same caliber, believe me. You should give La Maschera a try. Once you'll have done so, you won't be able to escape. At least, it is my case.

I am not a specialist of Italian prog. I just love it through about thirty bands I appreciate (at different levels). La Maschera is IMO far much superior to many historical bands from this genre.

This first album is so brilliant and I feel so terribly in love with it that I can only think of one rating : five stars.

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars I had an older Italian man come in the store the other day when this album was playing. I told him about my love for Italian music, and went back to get the cd case in order to show him what I was listening to. He looked it over and said "This is sort of morbid, but "La Mascera Di Cera" means "The wax mask", in ancient Roman history the people used to make wax masks from the faces of loved ones who had died, and would put them in a prominant location in their homes". He went on to say "they used to really revere the dead, and would often have shrines in their homes that were dedicated to their dead loved ones. Later in history, they would have artists paint portraits of their loved ones and hang them on the wall".

The first song "La Mascera Di Cera" is divided into 6 parts and is almost 20 minutes long.The very first sounds you here are the waves of mellotron from Agostino Macor. Nice.There are many mood and tempo changes in this fantastic song.The piano and vocals early in the song are slow paced and beautiful. 4 minutes in we get a variety of sounds as piano, organ, drums, synths and flute help out. There are some sinister sounding vocals briefly as the flute, drums and organ follow.There is way too much in this song to describe but it's all quite amazing.

"Dol Mondo Che Crolla" opens with flute out in front leading the way. Synths, drums and waves of mellotron follow. Vocals and organ come in and more fantastic mellotron ! "Del Mio Abisso E Del Vuoto" is divided into 3 parts. Flute and light drums open. Nice. Vocals become passionate later as the song gets louder. The song becomes haunting with mellotron and dark sounding vocals. The guest female vocals are haunting as well. Flute with mellotron and vocals to end the song. "Del Mio Volo" opens with mellow flute and fragile vocals. Mellotron comes in as the sound becomes fuller. Synths add to this as well. And the organ and vocals are quite uplifting to end the song.

What a debut ! The vocals are so well done and in Italian. This is really faithful to the seventies Italian masters. Well done ! The next one will be even better.

Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The Italian School of Prog has a long and storied tradition of excellence and diversity and after nearly 40 years, it's still providing goose bumps to avidly passionate fans the world wide. While the classical period from 1968 to 1979 has institutionalized some of the main artists (PFM, Banco, Le Orme, Area, Arti+Mestieri, ...), truth is there is so much more to this genre than meets the ear, undoubtedly inspired by the complex and multi-faceted aspects of Italian character, history and culture. A myriad of lesser known groups as well as some one shot wonders have recorded legendary albums that continue to be discovered through these pages and beyond. The original ISP had nevertheless two clearly defined sounds, one a predominantly heavy sound, with a very rock presentation (Il Balletto di Bronzo, Museo Rosenbach, Osanna, .) and another more gentle almost folkish or even jazzy approach (Celeste, Il Volo, QVL, Picchio dal Pozzo, Loccanda delle Fate, Alusa Fallax, Latte e Mielle.), both providing legions of fans impressed by the sheer audacity of their craft. Today these values continue to exist, sometimes even within the scope of the same group of musicians! The lads from Finisterre started out in the late 90's, deeply enamored by the romantic style of their idols, crafting symphonic recordings that were well received, branching out into pastoral settings (Höstsonaten) and ultimately exploring the harder keyboard-heavy sound discussed above with La Maschera di Cera. Led by ultra- fuzz bassist Fabio Zuffanti (a musical gourmet who has recorded experimental, opera, folk, pop, jazz, ambient and techno albums as well!), this band resorts to a guitar-less configuration that therefore relies heavily (I cannot use the word er. lightly) on Agostino Macor's undeniable talent on a multitude of keyboards, mostly rollicking Hammond organ, majestic Mellotron and sibilant Moog and VCS3, with occasional piano and electric piano adornments. He is aided by flutist Andrea Monetti, who spreads some lighter touches to the rather dense arrangements. Original Finisterre drummer mans the kit and keeps ferocious time, propelling the themes onward. Lead singer Alessandro Corviglia has that raspy voice associated with so many ISP bands, certainly echoing the harder, bluesy variety. Acquiescing to the revered legend, the CD is broken down into 2 sides just like an LP, Facciata A is a massive 6 part title piece kicking off the proceedings with a whirlwind of brutal sound with sweeping synthesizer and whirring organ contrasting with soft piano musings, wistful flute and Corviglia's initial gentle lament. But when the wildly distorted bass (that would make Squire, Hopper or Babbington proud) enters the foray, the sonic steamroller begins! Get out of the way, only the flute adding prettiness to the engine roar. The third mini-section ("Il Tuo Riffugio") veers into more traditional soundscapes , an acoustic guitar accompanied by some superb whistling synth and piano, with passionate singing adorning a rich melody, almost into PFM territory but quickly evolving into a bass propulsion that takes an almost John Wetton era KC sonic holocaust direction, with some very heavy, very dark passages. The voice howls powerfully, the marshalling beat relentless, the Hammond purring like a horny cat. The finale is some of the most ardent prog you will ever hear, a superlative synthesizer exit leading the cheering. The "alleged" Facciata B, also commences with the same fuzzy bass onslaught but the Mellotron takes the lead here, at least until the racing vocals kick in with a huge melody that glues itself to your brain immediately, an unmistakable hint of "The House of the Rising Sun" in the sung chorus. Oooh, I like this very much! "Del Mio Abisso e Del Vuoto" is even superior, suggesting a jazzier inflection, with foraging bass, piano noodlings, subtle stick and cymbal work and fascinating flute, all there to present a whopping melody that inspires, masterfully sung by the highly capable Corviglia, (with a direct quote from ELP's "Take a Pebble") the overall fury diving into the musical abyss as the fuzz-bass and the swooshing 'tron combine to sweep in and elicit the feeling of a free fall into the tectonic depths of the earth (the backing vocals wailing are insanely perfect), all put to rest with some delightful harpsichord (Clavicembalo). Applause! The final piece is the supremely gentle "Del Mio Volo", as pastoral and bucolic a tune you will ever hear, a flute gilded with string synths and an imperial VCS3 solo that leaves no doubt, the crescendo slowly building in power, an rousing organ solo closing out this lush recording. The tradition continues, the flame still burning brightly. 4.5 masked wax.
Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars After the millenium happened what the whole prog rock community was wishing for : the rise of a modern italian symphonic prog wave.The legend of bands like PFM,BANCO DEL MUTUO SOCCORSO,METAMORHOSI,LE ORME and some later ones like EZRA WINSTON,NUOVA ERA and ERIS PLUVIA is nowadays carried on by acts like NOTABENE,RANDONE and MANGALA VALLIS...MASCHERA DI CERA belong to this latest group of italian bands trying to rebirth the 70's italian sound and they are considerd as another project of the mastermind and multi-talented musician Fabio Zuffanti.The band made their debut in 2002 with an excellent self-titled album...

It's more than evident that this time Zuffanti wants to show his admiration for MUSEO ROSENBACH.Almost everything in this album seems like it's been dedicated to MUSEO ROSENBACH's masterpiece ''Zarathustra''.The work is full of vintage keyboard sounds through the magnificent work of Agostin Macor on Hammond AND melltron.Alessandro Corvaglia contributes on vocals and tries to sound as close as possible to the dark voice of Stefano Califi,vocalist of MUSEO ROSENBACH.Even the structure of the album is similar to ''Zarathustra''.The album is about 40 min. long,consist of only 4 songs,the epic of the album is about 20.min long,comes first in line and has the same title with the album!!!Reminds you of something?...Last but not least comes the production.A very good job is done so the sound of the band closes the spirit of the 70's italian classic releases...

However,there are also some slight differences between the two bands.The most obvious is the unstoppable and heavy use of flute,represented by the great flutist Andrea Monetti.That is what makes me think that MASCHERA... could be also influenced by QUELLA VECCHIA LOCCANDA's works...Additionaly some really nice female vocals pop up here and there and give a different colour to the music...

In terms of musicianship the band is simply amazing.''La maschera di cera'' is a great piece of music.Alternating mellow and hard prog moments,dark musicianship,haunting vocals,amazing Hammong organ work and rhythmic flute passages deliver a beautiful experience of italian symphonic rock...The spirit of ''Zarathustra'' lives on indeed!''Del mio mondo...'' is dominated by the heavy bass lines of Zuffanti,the flute improvisations of Monetti and the darkened vocals of Corvaglia...''Del mio abisso...'' is the most dark track of all.It spins off with some smooth piano but soon the track transforms into a ROSENBACH-like haunted piece of music with dramatic vocals and a ghost-like atmosphere created by the keyboards,flute and the female vocals...''Del mio volo'' comes like a cross between BANCO and MUSEO with atmospheric vocals,mostly acoustic guitars and back-round keyboards.A great end for a great album...

MASCHERA DI CERA have done it very well.Everything we missed from the 70's italian scene and especially the heavy symphonic rock sound is included in this album.Despite not being the most original release of all times,this work contains some trully amazing vocals/music performance and anyone who enjoys italian progressive rock must listen to this...Personally I liked this a lot!...4 full stars!

Review by Menswear
4 stars The band that made me appreciate the genre.

When it comes to italian progressive rock, you can pinpoint many clichés that defines the type: emotionnal, passionnate singing, melancholy..well, bigger than nature. For some who do not like our songs with the emotion-detector in the red all the time, italian prog could (and can) be painful to endure.

Well, you can tell by now I'm not a super fan, but la Maschera di Cera made me change my point of view and broaded my horizons. Okay, they play passionnate and intense music, but the thing that clicked for me is the brute energy injected in the playing. The band alternates soft and harder moments, like a harmonic blend of King Crimson power and Jethro Tull frenzyness but with space to breathe and to appreciate the mood. But in the end, the energy is taking the lead, so expect more wind gusts coming out of your PA than a gentle breeze.

Other seducing things are both the intense use of analog keyboards (no Casio plastic sounds in here!) and the fuzz bass giving a strong stepping stone to the songs. Fuzz bass is not always used as much as I'd like, but bands like Muse and this one are giving a great model of how to use it's potential. It's always a pleasure to hear the new mixed with the old and la Maschera di Cera is doing it almost perfectly...and I was reluctant at first.

This band has to be a priority for any Mellotron/ Flute/ Bass combo lover. Topped with a superb passionnate voice, this band concquered my cautious heart and made me hungry for more albums.

Great discovery.

Review by kenethlevine
2 stars Fabio Zuffante has so many side projects that it's become difficult to tell which, if any, is the main event. If one regards him first and foremost as a lover of retro Italian prog and its Emersonian ilk, then LA MASCHERA DI CERA might best meet the qualifications.

This debut effort is clearly an ode to the innocent days of analog synths, organs, mellotrons and bombastic vocals and flutes, and indeed at times they seem to take on a life of their own, much like the robots in sci fi tales of the period, and with about as much emotion. At other times, however, the music simply soars with doting affection and divine melodies, and effects marvellous transitions to rough edged passages. Unfortunately, each of the 4 tracks contains all of these warring qualities, such that my sentiments for Zuffante continue to run hot and cold no matter how hard and often he and I try.

The best/worst example of my dilemma is "Del Mio Abisso E Del Vuoto" that features expressive woodwinds, piano, acoustic guitar, mellotrons, and Alessandro Corvaglia's heartfelt vocal expressions, but also drawn out and virtually unlistenable passages with faux-choir and overly massed multilayered keys.

It's a hard one for me to rate, as it epitomizes the best and worst of RPI, but ultimately I have to ask, after over a half dozen listens, is there a track that I am likely to keep in heavy rotation, or is LA MASCHERA... only worth an annual spin? At the risk of masking the undeniable talent and motivations of this project, I must wax practical and round down from 2.5 stars.

Review by Conor Fynes
4 stars 'La Maschera Di Cera' - La Maschera Di Cera (8/10)

Perhaps it's largely been due to my focus on the modern era of Italian progressive rock, but I somehow keep running into albums involving Fabio Zuffanti. Although he is not the main star of La Maschera Di Cera ("The Wax Mask" in English), my existing experience with his other bands like Hostsonaten were an early indication that this would be a great slice of Italian prog. Indeed, this self-titled debut hits the spot for Italian progressive rock. Although La Maschera Di Cera locks their sound in the niche of the 1970's 'vintage' style, the impression is nothing short of convincing, and with some of the better musicianship to be heard within the scene, this band has created a debut that would not feel out of place with the classics.

Although La Maschera Di Cera's music is locked in the era of their parent's generation, the music is fresh and engaging. Although the 'go-to' Italian progressive acts like Premiata Forneria Marconi and Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso first come to mind when attempting to describe their chosen style, this quintet brings in a generous share of flute solos, as if it were tipping the proverbial hat to Jethro Tull. Although 'La Maschera Di Cera' is a work of detailed musicianship and imaginative composition, it should be noted that seasoned proggers will find little of surprise within the band's formula. It is as warm a tribute as any to their influences however, and what better way to pay homage to the old greats than by starting things off with a twenty minute epic?

The mammoth title track of this self-titled album takes up an entire half of the album's length, and it's very well spent. 'La Maschera Di Cera' (the track) is filled with dynamic between introspective symphonic orchestrations and dramatic climaxes. Singer Alessandro Corvaglia really capitalizes on the highs and lows within the music, taking his voice through territories both soothing and sinister. Unlike my favourite epics of the genre, 'La Maschera Di Cera' does not cut fine divisions within parts of the suite, and it's easier to see it as a running circus changing up acoustic lamentations for heated flute explorations, and a harder rocking contrast to the majority of the piece, which tends to take its time to soak up new ideas.

The epic is excellent in regards to the musicianship that drives it, but in terms of composition, it sometimes feels as if 'La Maschera Di Cera' would have made for an even more powerful experience, had the composition been made a little more concise and faster paced. Fortunately, the second side of the album leads the band into more eventful territories. Although most albums blessed with epics may be seen to have the epic as the highlight, the song-based side of La Maschera Di Cera's debut is where the band are lifted into excellence. The closer 'Del Mio Volo' is especially tender, featuring some of the most beautiful synth work I have yet heard in Italian progressive rock. Although I would usually prefer to hear a progressive band making music for the future over the past, La Maschera Di Cera manage to keep this trip back in time fresh. It's very nice to see musicians of the new millennium who can rival the classic masters at their own game!

Review by andrea
5 stars La Maschera di Cera began life in Genoa in 2001 with a line up featuring Fabio Zuffanti (bass, acoustic guitar), Agostino Macor (piano, organ, mellotron, moog, harpsichord, synthesizer), Marco Cavani (drums, percussion), Alessandro Corvaglia (vocals) and Andrea Monetti (flute). Their aim was to re-discover the sounds and the dreamy atmospheres of the Italian progressive rock from the early seventies writing new original stuff with a vintage taste. In 2002 La Maschera di Cera released an eponymous debut album on the independent label Mellow Records with a beautiful art cover taken from a drawing by Jean Delville, a Belgian symbolist painter, writer and occultist. It's a concept album built upon a science-fiction plot: under the ruins of an ancient garden an archaeologist discovers a mysterious mask of wax dating back to 10.000 years B.C. Then, in a near catacomb he discovers an armour of tin...

The opener, 'La maschera di cera' (The mask of wax) is a long suite divided into six sections. It begins softly, the atmosphere is dreamy and full of mystery... 'Face of wax / I saw you in the wide garden / On the day of the beginning / I couldn't hear your voice / But there was something in you that was telling of a thousand hopes...'. The warm voice of Alessandro Corvaglia perfectly interprets the feelings of the protagonist in front of the astounding discovery of the ancient mask of wax and something magic happens... 'Now I'm here / I'm walking on a tightrope suspended on the void / I can't go on...'. On the second part the rhythm rises, there's tension in the air. There's a kind of empathy between the archaeologist and the mask, he can learn from the mask something about his own life, he can see through it many things but he mistrusts these visions... 'Your people wear strange masks / I look at them / I can hear them / I can feel them inside of me...'. The third part is more relaxed, in the dark silence of a catacomb the protagonist discovers an armour of tin. As under a spell he can't wait, he has to step into his visions, in this new world... 'I looked at my soul / I couldn't come back...'. The fourth part features an acoustic guitar arpeggio and a dreamy mood, the protagonist has made up his mind and at dusk an unknown peace pushes through his heart... 'I'm trying to learn / I'm trying to understand...'. Then the rhythm rises again, there are organ rides and fiery flute passages while the mysterious mask becomes the master of a new reality, a guide that the protagonist has to heed and trust to walk along the ways of this unreal dimension... 'In your silence I chose something that does not exist / You will show me a new ego, a different world / But different from what?'. On the last part there's a reprise of the initial theme, the protagonist can't go on while burning dreams blend with reality... 'I can clearly see your face / Now I know who are you / The future is in your hands...'.

'Del mio mondo che crolla' (Of my world that is crumbling) begins with a nervous, pulsing rhythm section and a swirling flute solo, then the synthesizers bring on a sense of an uneasiness. The world of the protagonist is melting and what is left is nothing but the dark game of Death... 'Everything has been written / Everything has been told / And I have lost your light...'. He's drawn in a fiery vortex of shadows and lights, he's in a nameless desert now, his heart becomes numb, he can hear the voice of the mask fading out, he does not recognizes it any more, he feels like a nocturnal animal trapped in the house of the rising sun... 'My wide wings have vanished / I want to see my fate...'.

'Del mio abisso e del vuoto' (Of my abyss and of void) is divided into three sections. It begins with bass and flute in the forefront, there's an electric calm all along and you can perceive an impending turn of events. The protagonist looks at the sundown, he can still feel the breath of the mask on him, he feels lost, tired, defeated. He has been looking for that lymph inside himself for years and now realizes that he has burnt his freedom in the wind, crying. On the second section the atmosphere becomes darker and you can imagine figures of bronze dancing in a game of shadows on a lost island while the protagonist falls down in the abyss. Here the female vocals provided by the guest Nadia Girardi add a touch of colour to some passages. Then the rhythm rises and brings back a bit of optimism. Suddenly the protagonist can see that the world is changing, the face of wax has melted and now it is shapeless, he can see a light in the dark, reflected in the eyes of some statues, something is shining down in a deep well and above him in the cosmos. Now he feels weightless and he's able to come back up from the abyss... 'Maybe it's late / Maybe I've lost / Please, wait still for me / I can walk / I can see / I can fly...'.

The conclusive 'Del mio volo' (Of my flight) begins with a delicate acoustic guitar arpeggio and soaring flute notes... The atmosphere is dreamy and Alessandro Corvaglia's vocals seem to emerge from the early fogs of a September morning. The protagonist has wasted all of his words in pointless speeches, deceived by the flames of a false love, but now he's ready for a new start... 'A sudden light reveals the truth / I wake up as a little child / In a circle that will never be broken...'. Well, a magnificent album where the lyrics, art work and liner notes provide suggestive imagery and the music flows away without weak moments compounding beautiful melodies and complex arrangements. Even if it's a throwback of early seventies Italian progressive rock I think that this work should be a must for every prog lover!

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A side project of Fabio Zuffanti, in my opinion, La Maschera di Cera has produced the best music Zuffanti has made. The songs are lushly created with lots of classically-influenced forms and structures using the sounds and instruments the electronic age has given us. Keyboard artist Agostino Macor is a true master of his trade, incorporating piano, Mellotron, organ, Moog, harpsicord, VCS 3, and "prepared piano" like a junior Wakeman or Banks. Vocalists Alessandro Corvaglia and Nadia Girardi do a wonderful job while not being mixed too far forward so as to dominate the music. Most of the time there is so much going on, so many layers in the songs' tapestries, that repeated listens reveal many, many nuances that are difficult to pick up upon first or cursory listens. This is good: the weaves are all beautifully orchestrated; I am never put off or overwhelmed by them. If there are weaknesses to the album they are 1) in the odd mix of individually-recorded sounds (a problem I find common with other Zuffanti projects) and 2) in the bass play: it's either cheezie pseudo-jazzy or over-the-top loud, distorted, and chunky.

1. "La maschera di Cera" (19:21) is a six-part suite introducing the band and its old-instrument symphonic approach to prog. Italian, retro/neo, but really classic RPI. At 1:30 a gentle piano and acoustic guitar section supports Alessandro's gentle, passionate vocal. At the four minute mark a chunky bass and organ-led upbeat psychedelic section ensues (kind of like a STEPPENWOLF/ BLOOD, SWEAT & Tears sound) over which synthesizer and flute trade solos. Alessandro and piano get into the mix in the seventh minute. At 7:12 we fall into a little musical 'waiting room' in which the world seems at a standstill. At 8:16 strummed guitar and organ lead us back into a forward direction. Synthesizer and piano mirror their pretty playing while Alessandro begins a new section, new theme of his story. Flutes and synth posit some nice soli in this section. Then, at the 12 minute mark, things slow and soften again before Alessandro's big voice leads us into a heavier, more dynamic section--which becomes taken over by the repetition of a plodding distorted bass riff. Then at 13:54 another STEPPENWOLF kind of section with organ and flute screaming away takes us away. The shifts toward softer, gentler melody at the end is predictable and a little anti-climactic. The song is good, polished and straightforward, but nothing very extraordinary. (32/40)

2. "Del mio mondo che crolla" (6:00) opens with some very ehavy, distorted bass and clear, precise drumming before flutes and keys join in. The first keyboard soli are from "older" keyboard sounds (Casiotone?). The instrumentalists each sound like they are in their own recording studio, in their own worlds. Finally at the two minute mark things gel before a pause after which Alessio and Hammond organ take over. The slight shift back at 4:40 brings the music into solo-support mode--in which several brief soli take their turns. If I have one serious complaint with this song it's with the way the drums were recorded and mixed so that they feel totally 'isolated' from the rest of the song. They feel compressed or digitized while the rest feel 70s analog. Weird. Otherwise it's a cool little song. (9/10)

3. "Del mio abisso e del vuoto" (9:41) opens with some flute being supported by some drums and cheezy bass playing. Piano and guitar join in to continue the soft jazzy flow. Once Alessandro's voice joins in it is melodic but a little too gritty-scratchy-gravelly to add beauty to this beautiful music. Nadia Girardi's layers of floating, soaring wordless vocals in the seventh minute are an awesome touch. Kind of a cross between Clare Torey's "Great Gig in the Sky" and Irene Pappas' contributions to APHRODITE'S CHILD's 666. The final two minutes have some great Mellotron, flute, bass and vocal cohesion--maybe the best on the album--before chaos and cacophony become the ending of choice. Cool song. (18/20)

4. "Del mio volo" (7:07) opens as a gentle ballad with flute playing counterpoint to Alessandro's vocal. In the second minute a synth gets a chance to solo before the second verse takes over. The Mellotron play really hits some great chords at the beginning of the fourth minute and proceeds to play nicely beneath the ensuing longer synth solo. At 4:15 all instruments save for a gently picked acoustic guitar drop out while Alessandro slowly sings an emotional passage. Then an organ-led full band passage jumps into the fore, playing out a Dylan-esque dirge to the end. Nice song. (13.5/15)

The music and instrumentation are actually rather simple but effective--no wasted notes or noises and plenty of great melodies and chord progressions.

B/four stars; an excellent contribution to the world of progressive rock music.

Review by VianaProghead
4 stars Review Nº 565

Simply trying to play, nowadays, the style of the great prog music from the 70's can go very wrong, especially when the respective interpreters aren't bringing their own ideas. But, fortunately this isn't the case of Fabio Zuffanti. It's really difficult to keep a complete overview of all of Zuffanti's projects. The bassist, who made a name for himself for tasteful retro-Italo-Prog with Finisterre and Hostsonaten in particular, has, in addition to these completely different projects (including the rock opera "Merlin"), another band La Maschera Di Cera. La Maschera Di Cera is another retro-prog project founded in 2001 by Zuffanti. With this new project, Zuffanti wanted to revive the "golden age of the Italo-Prog".

Right from the beginning, it became very clear the band's clear intention to walk on the paths of some of the best and most iconic Italian prog bands from the 70's, such as Le Orme, Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso, Premiata Forneria Marconi, Museo Rosenbach, Alphataurus, Il Balletto Di Bronzo, Osanna, and Metamorfosi, only to mention some of them. But, apart from that, the band managed to develop its own style and originality, playing the retro-Italo-Prog in their way. This is especially due to the influence of Andrea Monetti , who, with his particular flute playing style, enlarged and enriched the band's musical spectrum with influences that bring to our memory one of the best British prog bands, Jethro Tull.

"La Maschera Di Cera" is the eponymous debut studio album of La Maschera Di Cera and that was released in 2002. Besides Fabio Zuffanti (vocals, bass and acoustic guitar), the line up on "La Maschera Di Cera" consists of Alessandro Corvaglia (lead and backing vocals), Agostini Macor (Mellotron, piano, prepared piano, organ, Moog, harpsichord and VCS 3 synth), Andrea Monetti (flute) and Marco Cavani (drums, timpani and percussion). Their sef-titled debut work had also the participation of Nadia Girardi (vocals) as a guest female artist.

In terms of musicianship, "La Maschera Di Cera" is just an amazing work. "La Maschera Di Cera" is a great prog piece of music. The music on "La Maschera Di Cera" goes back to the best symphonic Italian progressive rock music conducted by Mellotron and Moog tracked by bands like Museo Rosenbach or Il Balleto Di Bronzo. All the ingredients are present with distorted basses, guitars, acoustic guitars, an excellent vocalist and some very inspired flute passages that can complete the ensemble. The result is a nostalgic flash-back to the roots of Italian Progressive Rock, alternating the smooth and intense progressive moments, dark musicality, haunting vocals, incredible Hammond organ work and rhythmic flute passages that provide a beautiful experience that only the Italian symphonic prog rock is able to create.

"La Maschera Di Cera" has four tracks. The first track is the title track "La Maschera Di Cera" divided in six parts: "Il Tuo Volto", "La Tua Gente", "Il Tuo Fugio", "La Tua Irrealta", "La Tua Guida" and "La Mia Fine?". The suite "La Maschera Di Cera" is superb, never losing its intrigue. It punches us within its almost 20 minutes long. It's filled with passionate singing and brilliant keyboard work. It can compete with any of the long pieces of 70's Italian prog bands. It has pure symphonic prog rock with totally analog sound, great vocals, flutes, Mellotrons and Hammonds. It has many melodies and positive feeling, energy and some hard moments. The spirit of "Zaratustra" lives on in "Del Mio Mondo Che Crolla". It's dominated by Zuffanti's heavy bass lines, Jethro Tull-like flute work improvisations, layers of Moog and Mellotron and Corvaglia's dark vocals. The melody sounds somewhat reminiscent of the earlier piece. "Del Mio Abisso E Del Tuo Vuoto" is divided in three parts: "Il Vuoto", "L'Abisso" and "E Senza U Peso Io Salgo". It's the darkest track on the album, wonderful and enigmatic with a similar line in sound and quality. It starts with smooth piano, but soon the track turns into a haunted piece of music with dramatic vocals and a ghostly atmosphere created by keyboards, flute and female vocals. "Del Mio Volo" comes as a cross between Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso and Museo Rosenbach with atmospheric vocals, mostly acoustic guitars and perfect keyboards. It has a gentle folk intro, which it slowly builds, climaxing with the revisited Moog theme. Despite it's a relatively short track, this a great ending to a great album, really.

Conclusion: "La Maschera Di Cera" is a great work. Everything we missed in the 70's Italian prog rock scene and especially the heavy sound of the symphonic rock is included on this album. With plenty of retro-like synths, piano, organ, and Mellotron, along with the periodic inclusion of flute, not to mention the numerous and varied song segments, tempo changes, and appealing atmospheres, this is the kind of albums that appeals to me. Although not the most original release of all time, this work contains some truly amazing songs with some truly amazing vocal work. So, I immediately sensed this would be a band that I could savor for a long time to come. It seems incredible that Zuffanti could have given us two albums so good as this one and Hostsonaten's "Springsong", in the same year. Anyone into the Rock Progressivo Italiano should listen to this album and all fans of 70's Italian prog rock, should buy it right now.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

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