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Il Tempio delle Clessidre - Il-Lūdĕre CD (album) cover

IL-LūDĕRE

Il Tempio delle Clessidre

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.74 | 47 ratings

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Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars Italy's Il Tempio delle Clessidre instantly made a grand entrance with 2010's self-titled disc, a confident debut fronted by vocalist Stefano `Lupo' Galifi of legendary Seventies RPI band Museo `Zarathustra' Rosenbach. Come the Museo reunion in 2013, Lupo was gone, with the young band giving the unenviable talk of replacing him to singer Francesco Ciapica, with them all delivering the worldly follow-up `Alienatura' also in '13. After the superb double DVD performance `Live in Seoul' (worth it alone for the way to band reinterpret the above-mentioned vintage Italian classic album) a year later, we now arrive in 2017 with their third and latest studio work, the classy `Il-Lūdĕre', and it might be their most subtle, dignified and deceptively complex work to date, even if it's perhaps more obviously song-based (but not commercial) than their first two studio discs.

If you're a listener who prizes sumptuous arrangements that hold tightly written tunes, delivered by a dynamic vocalist backed by the precise playing of skilled musicians, then Il Tempio delle Clessidre once again deliver the goods here. After an amusing voice-over introduction, `La Parola Magica' arrives with all the theatrical bombast, heavier energy and ravishing vocal prowess expected of the Italian prog bands, yet still wrapped in a punchy tune. Italian prog's divine First Lady Elisa Montaldo's peppy keyboards and sparkling electric piano dart rapidly, Fabio Gremo's murmuring bass and Giulio Canepa's attacking guitars race with fire, Francesco Ciapica's charismatic voice purrs with raspy flare, and Swedish musician, ex-Anglagard and White Willow drummer Mattias Olsson's drums, filling in for the departed Paolo Tixi, rumble with expertly controlled power.

It might not be the greatest moment of the album, but `Come Nelle Favole' grows more hair on its chest for a tougher hard- rocking snarl, while the spiralling keyboard outro may remind some of young British prog-poppers Muse. `Dentro La Mia Mente' is a slinking poppier melodic rocker with a smoother vocal and smart catchy chorus, but darker edges hide within. There's a sprightly playful energy with dancing keyboard interplay around nicely drawn-out and urgent runaway guitar soloing from Giulio before the piece culminates in a dreamy spoken-word montage. Elisa then outdoes herself on `Spettro Del Palco', a purer RPI spectral pantomime that oozes sophistication and an eerie atmosphere. A ghostly army of keyboard goodness haunts the malevolently creeping vocal piece, be it veils of Mellotron sheen or pristine piano tiptoes, and classical guitar fancy rings throughout.

Despite being book-ended with warm acoustics, soaring guitar runs smoulder throughout `Prospettive' bringing plenty of raging symphonic bursts here and there. `Manitou' is an album highlight, a stark ballad with Francesco's voice full of wounded dignity bringing a real `hair standing on end' soulful honesty, and some gorgeous weeping guitar strains in the middle that call to mind Pink Floyd pierce straight to the heart.`Nuova Alchimia' holds fleeting moments of infernal heaviness and shadowy symphonic touches amongst its whirring keyboards and catchy huffing chorus, and album closer `La Spirale Del Vento' effortlessly darts back and forth in tempo with some nicely wilder and dangerous touches peppered throughout, as well as some tasty jazzy touches. The band twist through manic eclectic little soloing fills, and the final minutes sweep beautifully with the grandest of themes to ensure the album closes in as elegant and uplifting a manner as possible.

There are minor issues that might perhaps restrict the album for a large majority of listeners. This more song-based album would admittedly be even stronger if it offered a few additional extended instrumental breaks here and there or even one or two voice-free pieces, as it is quite vocal heavy the majority of the time, even if Francesco's range is stronger and more varied than ever. There's also a richness to the lyrics that will absolutely resonate more with Italian speaking listeners in this particular instance that can sometimes be overlooked on more instrumental-heavy Italian works for people who don't speak the language. There's also an uncompromising defiance to this work that might mean `Il-Lūdĕre' will more impress long-time fans of the group as opposed to being a suitable introduction to newcomers (who should probably explore the debut album to start off with).

But considering many of the Black Widow releases are very retro-flavoured or overtly heavy, `Il-Lūdĕre' proves to be one of the most dense yet subtle works to appear on the label. There's plenty of flashier, more obvious Italian prog groups around at the moment, and no doubt the band could deliver paint-by-numbers material that darts off into endless frantic keyboard soloing at every opportunity. But instead Il Tempio delle Clessidre have crafted a work of highly intelligent, weightier and more challenging material here that demands constant time and multiple re-listens to grasp the subtlety and intricate details, which is far more satisfying than instant thrills that don't maintain over time. It ultimately means that `Il-Lūdĕre' is another first-class effort from one of the shining stars of modern Italian progressive rock in Il Tempio delle Clessidre.

Four stars.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 4/5 |

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