Thursday, 26 July 2012


Il Tempio delle Clessidre is an Italian prog band from Genoa that began life in 2006 on the initiative of Elisa Montaldo and Gabriele Guidi Colombi (two musicians who previously had been both members of a band called Hidebehind) who met with veteran Stefano “Lupo” Galifi, vocalist on famous Museo Rosenbach’s album “Zarathustra” and later rock-blues singer in local cover bands. The first line up was completed by Massimiliano Costacurta and Corrado Bronzato. The name of the band means “the temple of the hourglasses” and was inspired by the title of a part of Museo Rosenbach's suite “Zarathustra”. The initial idea of the band was to play on stage the whole album “Zarathustra” with the original singer using vintage sounds and new arrangements, then turn to the composition of original pieces in the same vein. After some line up changes, in September 2010 the band released an eponymous debut album on the independent label Black Widow Records containing only original pieces. The present line up features Elisa Montaldo (keyboards), Stefano “Lupo” Galifi (vocals), Fabio Gremo (bass), Giulio Canepa (guitars) and Paolo Tixi (drums).

The main sources of inspirations of the band are the prog masters of Rock Progressivo Italiano, not only Museo Rosenbach but Banco del Mutuo Soccorso, Locanda delle Fate and Il Balletto di Bronzo as well (just to name a few!), but the album is very rich in ideas and in my opinion sounds fresh an convincing. The art cover by Maurilio Tavormina in some way describes the content of the music and lyrics drawing a surreal panorama where time and space are blended with dreams and hopes.

The short, sumptuous instrumental opener “Verso l’alba” (Towards the sunrise) sets the atmosphere describing in music a restless night and leads to “Insolita parte di me” (Unusual part of me), a piece about the risks of an escape from reality. The warm, heartfelt voice of Lupo Galifi draws a dreamy landscape under a crescent moon, a dark road that drives a struggling soul right down into reality. But reality can be unpleasant and you are tempted to go back into the world of dreams thanks to absinthe or other substances, crossing the doors of perception... “As if my mind was running at light-speed / I go over the present and I enter the unknown...”. Soon you realize that all you can feel is filtered by deception and by the ambiguity of your brain, then the rhythm rises while slapping keyboard waves suggest anxiety and confusion. “I'm overwhelmed by incomprehension / Everything vanishes into the nothingness of empty glances...”. You can't escape from reality and all your efforts are vain. If you can't live you can't be happy and if you keep on trying to overcome reality you risk to loose yourself...

Next comes “Boccadasse”, an amazing track inspired by a beautiful place. In fact, Boccadasse is the name of a picturesque old mariners' neighbourhood in Genoa... “Suddenly the sunrise lights up / The fresh breeze is lightened by the pale sun...”. At dawn you can admire a magnificent landscape and your eyes are caressed by the colours of the tiny houses and of the narrow alleys. A sail on the sea becomes a metaphor of your feelings, then comes the rain and you can listen to its sound and to the cries of the seagulls. Time passes by and you can't move until dusk when the small beach shelters the people who look for an inspiring place to let their thoughts run free... “The sail flows / It ploughs the sea coming up to you / Its wake paints your soul and runs after your memories...”.

“Le due metà di una notte” (The two halves of a night) begins softly. The atmosphere is dreamy and calm. The night is falling down while the last rays of sun shine like slivers of opal in the dark. Reality slowly fades out while sweet dreams start dancing around you... “Now magic keeps the spell of every moment written into the eyes / My heart is shivering inside me...”. The sun rises, it slowly creeps in... “Come on, run fast, follow me / Don't be scared, trust me / We shine like stars in the sky / While we are waiting for the sun, my life...”. Then the rhythm rises and the music brings in a positive energy painting the colours of the day.

“La stanza nascosta” (The hidden room) is an introspective track where memories slowly flow covering time and space. Under an imaginary curtain you try hard to find out what your mind can't discover. Your eyes shine like fire into the mirror while you observe the leftover of your mediocrity fading away. You try to pursue your spiritual experience and your mind takes off running after dark planets of crazy ideas. You can find what you have always been looking for in a hidden room that lies just one step beyond reality... “There are different dimensions / Their doors are invisible / A few people know / Many people dream suffocating in worn-out pages...”.

“Danza esoterica di Datura” (Esoteric dance of Datura) and “Faldistorum” form a Gothic suite that tries to evoke a Sabbath with witches singing and dancing in the night. The first part is instrumental but in the booklet you'll find some verses taken from William Shakespeare's Macbeth that help to explain what the music is about... “Double, double toil and trouble / Fire burn and cauldron bubble / Cool it with a baboon's blood / Then the charm is firm and good...”. The second part features a narrative part provided by the special guest Max Manfredi, a well known singer songwriter from Genoa... “In the end the sky lights up / The dance transform the souls into light... This is the night / This is Samhain!”. An impressive church organ solo concludes the suite.

“L’attesa” (The waiting) is tense and dark. It's about the need to wait for something better. “Lost in time / I live every moment looking for order, lucidity / I'm hanging on, I'm shaking in the void of this darkness without ideas...”. Sometimes a bit of poetry or a dream of freedom that comes true can change your mood and you can see the light of a new day shining in the dark... “A raw torment burns in my heart / My desires feed it / But as if it was rising from the dust / A thought lights up in me from oblivion / It spreads out, it grows with me...”.

The long, complex “Il centro sottile” (The thin centre) begins with a delicate piano pattern. The atmosphere is dark but full of nuances. Time passes by, day after day, night after night. Every time at night the darkness seems to erase the deceptions of reality but after the night there comes another day and nothing changes, there's no way out... “I'm losing my soul tonight...”.

The last track, Antidoto mentale” (Mental antidote), is featured as a bonus track and you can find it on the vinyl version of the album. It's a short, joyful melodic track that concludes this excellent work with a gust of optimism... “I've understood that to run away I have to trust the wind, the music and my soul / Now it's time to live again everything I lost / And to smile at all the things that don't have any power against me any more...”.

Il Tempio delle Clessidre: Il Tempio delle Clessidre (2010) Other opinions:
Jim Russell: This debut should break through the RPI fan community into the wider prog-rock community, because it is a title that will hold appeal for any fan of classic progressive rock. The majority of the music is quite beautiful and I would say holds most appeal for those who love refined and melodic progressive rock, as opposed to the wild and crazy, abrasive stuff. This title has everything in one package: Sweeping, majestic compositions filled with passages of great beauty and dramatic overtones; a vintage sound approach but with great audio quality; highly proficient and energetic performances on bass, guitar, and drums; extended instrumental passages which allow the guitar and rhythm section to work up some gorgeous themes... (read the complete review HERE)
Raffaella Benvenuto-Berry: Blending the warmth and melodic flair of the Mediterranean musical tradition with the driving energy of rock and the artistic ambition of prog, Il Tempio delle Clessidre’s debut deserves to be hailed as one of the standout releases of 2010, and one of the most promising albums to have come out of Italy in a long while. While taking their cue from the music produced in the Seventies – and, thankfully, not pretending to reinvent the wheel – the band manage to sound fresh and up-to-date, and not a mere exercise in nostalgia. A flawlessly performed, lovingly presented effort, Il Tempio delle Clessidre will surely bring a lot of listening pleasure to the many fans of Italian progressive rock... (read the complete review HERE)
Conor Fynes: There's no denying; the album is one of the best progressive rock albums to have come out of Italy since the '70s. One minor gripe I might have with the album is that it is stylistically very similar to much other symphonic progressive rock, but its strength lies simply in how much it is able to do with the sound, on an emotional level... (read the complete review HERE)

Read the interview with Il Tempio delle Clessidre at Progarchives. Click HERE

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