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Catafalchi Del Cyber - Il Bis CD (album) cover

IL BIS

Catafalchi Del Cyber

 

Neo-Prog

3.83 | 8 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars More or less the very definition of an obscure Italian progressive music band, Catafalchi del Cyber delivered an addictive subtly King Crimson-influenced Mellotron-laden debut back in 2011, an eclectic collection that couldn't have sounded more modern and distant from anything resembling the more typically expected vintage-flavoured symphonic rock that many Italian groups offer. Having connections to Moongarden, Submarine Silence, Mangala Vallis and The Watch, they're a trio that seem to enjoy completely subverting their listeners expectations of what constitutes a `prog rock' album (for both better and worse!), and their comeback album, 2016's `Il Bis' is the completely mental, unpredictable, schizophrenic, and even frustrating release that the band were no doubt hoping their listeners and "prog-snobs" would find it to be! But it's also constantly thrilling and one of the most welcome surprises of the year.

After brief twitching cut-up sound-bites, `Il Buon Caffe' launches right into a quick punishing cacophony of crashing punk noise, all pummelling drumming, mud-thick bass and a spat out shrieking vocal. It's quickly replaced by the moody `Heavy Love' (sung in English, as are all the pieces on the album), the first proper tune of the disc that in just under eight minutes moves between being a melancholic indie-rocker, later era Porcupine Tree heavy blasting, subtle electronica and grooving funk! Utilising everything from jangling guitars with occasional Marillion-like tones, tickles of Hammond organ, whirring proudly Neo Prog-flavoured synth noodling and programmed beats, Mirco Ravenoldi's shaky and uncontrolled voice also offers fleeting wisps of sweet falsetto escaping here and there. The dreamy (yet still plenty unhinged) `Ti Vengo a Prendere' mixes introspective late night jazz musings, slinking low-key beats and murmuring ruminative bass with a soaring chorus, and demented instrumental `Il Cavaliere Odia' is all doomy infernal Mellotron choirs, heavy King Crimson jazzy explorations, Gong- like honking sax ruptures and dirty funky bouncing bass spasms.

Initially another harder indie-rocker, `112' reveals a haunting Goblin-like Mellotron choir over chiming guitars finale that is impossibly lovely and oddly uplifting, and the Porcupine Tree-like `Happiness' marries a sorrowful lyric and washes of gentle synths to crushing plodding guitars (again, heavy, yet never exactly `heavy metal') and defiant soaring soloing in the second half. In keeping in line with that UK band, shorter instrumental piece `Gladia' presents soothing Mellotron over warm acoustic guitars and searing electric soloing wouldn't have sounded out of place on the recent Steven Wilson albums.

`A Tailor's Sale' (Ooh, King Crimson fans will get a sly laugh from that title!) is an infectious and quite upbeat melodic indie- rocker with a catchy chorus, but it also doesn't skimp on frequent nimble keyboard/Mellotron runs and reflective acoustic breaks. `Prima Republica' is a serene and ethereal ambient interlude that marries into the ever so slightly-off closer `Mouth Shaped Universes', with some wondrous delicate piano and proudly epic guitar soloing to finish the set.

But special mention must go to the biggest shock of the album, the ninth track `Fakoya Ltd', a full-blown hip-hop piece with two guest rap vocals delivering biting social-commentary lyrics peppered with swearing. It's actually very well crafted with a cool production, but it sounds completely out of place on the album and brings it crashing to a halt. It's likely designed to cause exactly this kind of confused reaction, but perhaps if the band still insisted on including it, the piece might have been better served as a bonus track at the end of the disc away from the main album.

Despite the one or two odd missteps and the occasionally challenging vocals that are sure to be a deal-breaker for some listeners, `Il Bis' is definitely one of the `coolest' prog-related albums of the year, the perfect antidote to `old-man prog', and it might also be one of the best kept secrets of progressive rock of 2016. It's a long-awaited but successful return from a skilled Italian group in desperate need of greater exposure and more well-deserved recognition.

Four stars.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 4/5 |

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