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Shakary - Alya CD (album) cover





3.44 | 37 ratings

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3 stars With Lele Hofmann on guitars and Aluisio Maggini hired to perform vocal duties, Shakary sounds more than a little like Clepsydra, but at least their debut is weaker than any of the 4 Clepsydra albums for a variety of reasons. Firstly, the most minimal trimming of excess would have shrunk it to a single CD, which is almost always a good idea. Secondly, the theme is overreaching to say the least, whereas those of Clepsydra tended to be more warmly human and emotional. Thirdly, with a few exceptions the additional complexity appears mostly in the form of a few instruments used more as window dressing, such as some trumpet and violin. This contributes to but does not compensate for a fourth weakness, that being in the melodies or general lack thereof. Since this was one of Clepsydra's greatest assets, it is where I find Shakary to falter the most.

Some of the opening, shorter, and more ambient tracks are of little interest, in particular "Sunset", "Pain", and "Dark Kingdom", but I suspect they will appeal to some who like less structured and more free form approaches. I just don't feel it plays to their strengths very well. The initially promising "Time Trap", sound more like Marillion than Clepsydra ever did, and this is to their detriment. At other times, such as "The First Inquisition", Shakary seems to be channeling 1970s Eloy, but not very well.

Luckily, there are many great moments in which Hoffman demonstrates the benefits he brought to Clepsydra and the loss to the group when he pursued this project. Several tracks are reminiscent of what the Swiss-Italian group produced on their excellent "More Grains of Sand", such as the crisp acoustic instrumental "Starless Nights", the lengthy "Seals" with its shifting themes and moods, and "Sentence", where Maggini weaves his plaintive magic especially in the closing sections, supported by Hoffman as well as some hypnotic keyboards. Ditto for "Babylon". The two title cuts are slices of delightful pop-prog.

A good yet flawed effort by established artists of the Swiss-Italian scene, Alya shows some potential for future improvements, but I am not sure I am sufficiently interested in tracking the rest of their career, especially given that future recordings lack Aluisio Maggini's distinctive and sensitive voice.

kenethlevine | 3/5 |


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