Maschera Di Cera, La - Il Grande Labirinto

Year of Release: 2003
Label: Mellow Records
Catalog Number: MMP 443
Format: CD
Total Time: 65:33:00

No doubt the many talents that rule the mind of Fabio Zuffanti are so diverse that many different projects have been launched in order to team up with his speed of working. Maybe the debut album by La Maschera Di Cera didn't get the worldwide recognition it truly deserves but this hasn't resulted in Fabio quitting this particular project, thank god. Instead, this second album continues where the first one left off although more experimental textures have been added. Obviously there are still hints of Finisterre and Hostsonaten to be found, but also the pure essence of true Italian prog with hints of Il Baletto Di Bronzo, Museo Rosenbach, Osanna, Locanda Delle Fate, Biglietto Per L'Inferno, and Rovescio Della Medaglia that are woven throughout the compositions. That authentic seventies feel comes floating in by means of flute and mellotron, creating a contrast between the fragile and the bombastic. Then organ and guitar lay down some bluesy licks whilst piano and mellotron re-introduce the symphonic path. The voice of Alessandro Corvaglia perfectly embodies the theatrical Italian school, the harsch parts nicely contrasting with the fine flute.

The album begins with "Il Viaggio Nell'oceano Capovolto Parte 1" which illustrates Fabio's perfect studio knowledge from the very beginning. Again wonderful mellotron delivers the needed dramatic effect whilst the flute (played here by Andrea Monetti, once a member of German band Embryo), introduces a musical change towards spooky interludes and studio trickery. The crystal clear production enables the band to go from heavy parts right down to very silent passages, enabling Corvaglia to fit his voice accordingly. Certain changes in the music also go back to the early days of King Crimson, where melodic parts would entertwine with heavy outbursts. During the title track the guitar sounds distorted, delivering kind of an atonal sound when blended with the eery sounding mellotron as if thick, dark clouds are gathering over an unsuspecting town. Meanwhile the piano plays some weird licks and through tons of different changes the song ends in true experimental fashion. That same avantgarde feeling continues with the short keyboard solo "Il Canto Dell'inverno" which sounds pitch black, as if all the leaves fell of a tree in two seconds flat!

Imagine Wakeman's funky clavinet from his "Merlin" period mixed with Ian Anderson's flute and you get the spine for what is called "Ai Confini Del Mondo." That's before the song changes to a more straightforward structure, enabling Alessandro Corvaglia to once again shine. Towards the end the rhythm speeds up similar to "Los Endos" with piano, synths and flute creating one big melting pot of influences. Those who are familiar with the band's debut album certainly know that this CD only sported two long tracks. Delivered in true vinyl tradition they each filled an imaginary A-side and B-side. To be honest this second album contains a similar situation as "Il Viaggio Nell'oceano Capovolto" comes spread in two parts. The second, final part however is the longest, containing every possible prog element you can imagine. Again the solitary voice of Corvaglia clearly rubs shoulders with artists such as Fabrizio De André, getting close to a folky approach at times. But as said before, the music changes constantly, as if you were sailing on a flat surface one moment and the wildest seas the next. To make things even more spooky, Zuffanti uses a repetitive bass pattern that becomes addictive, yet which virtually overrules all other instruments. The music swells leaving behind all possible melodies in order to become one big cacophony before it all explodes and the calm is introduced once again, bringing piano into its slipstream. Then a solitary oboe kind of repeats the major theme, definitely leading towards a grand finale as time after time extra instruments are added.

Right at the very end of this album the band has added a bonustrack called "La Consunzione," which with its 3:35 length probably is the song most suited for radio airplay. Although the fact that this is indeed a rather short track it nevertheless gives a clear idea about what La Maschera di Cera is all about. For sure you don't get the long improvisations but it perfectly illustrates the quality of the individual members. Maybe the band's debut album could be seen as a one-off, but with this second album and some tour dates coming up, La Maschera Di Cera (the wax mask) proves to be a band to be reckoned with. For all of you who have never witnessed the splendour of the many outstanding Italian prog icons in the seventies, La Maschera Di Cera delivers a similar feeling yet with the technical advantages of today. All you can do is benefit from it!

Il Viaggio Nell:oceano Capovolto Parte 1 (13:28) / Il Grande Labirinto (9:32) / Il Canto Dell:inverno (2:54) / Ai Confini Del Mondo (12:39) / Il Viaggio Nell:oceano Capovolto Parte 2 (22:16) / Bonustrack : La Consunzione (3:35)

Alessandro Corvaglia ? vocals
Agostino Macor - keyboards, guitar
Andrea Monetti ? flute
Fabio Zuffanti - bass, bass pedals, acoustic guitar, percussion
Marco Cavani - drums, percussion


Nick Le Rose ? guitars
Antonella Trovato - oboe
Nani Tudor - 'flessibile'
Crescenzo Amodio - 'martello pneumatico'
Robbo Vigo - protools, sounds

La Maschera Di Cera (2002)
Il Grande Labirinto (2003)
Lux Ade (2006)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin IT

Added: May 4th 2003
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

Artist website:
Hits: 869
Language: english


[ Back to Reviews Index | Post Comment ]