Sunday, 20 January 2013


La Maschera di Cera are an Italian prog band based in Genoa that came to life in 2001 on the initiative of bassist and multi instrumentalist Fabio Zuffanti. The line-up on “LuxAde”, their third album, also features Agostino Macor (keyboards), Alessandro Corvaglia (vocals, acoustic guitar), Andrea Monetti (flute, sax) and Maurizio Di Tollo (drums). The album was released in 2006 for the independent label Immaginifica and was produced by PFM drummer Franz Di Cioccio. Well, all La Maschera di Cera’s albums are absolutely worth listening to and “LuxAde”, a conceptual work based on the contrast between light and dark as metaphors of good (Lux) and evil (Ade), is my favourite one so far. The sound of the band is deeply rooted in the seventies and the influences of bands as Banco del Mutuo Soccorso or Le Orme are clear, nonetheless they do not lack originality managing to add a personal and up to date touch to vintage sounds with excellent results.

The opener “Porta del cielo” (Heaven’s door) is just a short delicate instrumental introduction for piano solo that leads to “Doppia immagine” (Double image), a complex track describing the urge to leave a dark reality of mirrors and false images and to look for the light and a better way of life. The music features swirling flutes and a jazzy sax solo and there are many changes in rhythm and mood that seem to underline how winding and difficult a spiritual path towards enlightenment might be. “I’m looking for the dawn inside my heart / I’m walking on a rope... I’m still living among the mirages of my dreams / I don’t want to keep on walking on the same steps / I’m wasting every moment of my life...”.

“Un senso all’impossibile” (A sense to the impossible) is a long, complex track in two parts. The first part, “Teatro di follia” (Theatre of madness), begins softly and features acoustic guitar and delicate flute lines. An introspective quest for light and truth could make you lose touch with reality and drive you insane. Blinded by the light and by your desire to fly away like Icarus you risk falling... “When the wind blows further to the North / Towards white and pale auroras / This earth will slowly melt into a mirage, like Atlantis... The horizon broke the border of my world / Closed and still / In a trip, theatre of madness / I was giving a sense to the impossible...”. Pounding bass lines coming out from the fading sound of the blowing wind introduces the second part of the track, “Il ricordo” (The Remembrance), then soaring swirling flute notes come in and the rhythm takes off. Here the music might recall BMS, featuring wild keyboard waves and passionate vocals. Holy passions and vain dreams of glory drive your flight to nowhere and once you have realized that, a feeling of rage rises, then rage gives way to an infinite tiredness... “I run after planets and faint versions of God / But now, all that I was running after is vanishing in the wind / And my soul is tired to start again from zero / To breathe again / To burn again / To fly again...”.

“Orpheus” is a track full of energy featuring a particular dark, bitter-sweet mood. When you lose contact with reality you also risk losing the people you love. Losing love can lead to losing hope... “I look at your face and I can’t find it anymore / I can’t hear your voice / I feel the abyss that is here and I want to take you with me...”. The title was inspired by a character of ancient Greek mythology. You can imagine travelling down to the underworld to take back what you have lost, as Orpheus did to save his dead lover Eurydice, but you know that it would be useless... “I’m not dreaming anymore / I chose to go far beyond / Thousands of errors with me... I’m not looking for the truth anymore / If you are sinking with me...”.

“Nuova luce” (New light) is a complex track in four parts, “Passato” (Past), “Sogno” (Dream), “Presente” (Present) and “Realtà” (Reality). The music features sudden changes in mood and some interesting classical hints. Once you have found a new light you could realize that, all in all, it’s not better than the one you left... “Over there, lost forever / Melted into the dark / This consumed new light will vanish / Other colours / Different reality...”. The end of this track reminds me of Lucio Battisti and evokes some other “thoughts and words”...

Next comes the wonderful suite in nine parts “Enciclica 1168”, the “plat de résistance” of this work. It tells the story, set in the Middle Ages, of a monk obsessed by his faith in God. The first part “Scena I: Preludio (gennaio 17)” describes an abbey and the troubled monk. The abbey is surrounded by a village whose inhabitants don’t care for the “holy hand of God” and live in sin, getting drunk and creating barriers between what belongs to earth and the holy thoughts due to God. In the following scenes the music and words describe the monk killing a blasphemous man, pushed by the vision of a cross of light. Once the crime has been discovered the inhabitants of the village try to track the monk down but he transforms himself into a gigantic wasp with angel wings to exterminate the sinful people wiping them out from the earth... “A blade of light / Was all they needed / To melt the wax of its flight...”. The perfect interaction between all the members of the band help create a Gothic atmosphere where the evil side of religious power is depicted as in a psychedelic dream. 

The last track, the colourful instrumental “Schema (v.s.d.)” is a perfect conclusion for an amazing album. Dark and light have many nuances and I’m sure you’ll discover a new one every time you listen to this brilliant work... 

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