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La Maschera di Cera — S.E.I.
(AMS 312/159, 2020, CD / LP / DL)
by Henry Schneider, Published 2021-02-08
It has been seven long years since La Maschera di Cera’s last studio album, La Porte del Domani (also released in English as The Gates of Tomorrow), a reinterpretation of Le Orme’s classic Felona e Sorona. S.E.I. is a great comeback by one of Italy’s key neo-progressive groups. The three tracks, “Il Tempo Millenio,” “Il Segno de Comando,” and “Vacuo Senso,” feature warm symphonic atmospheres, Italian lyrics, and vocals that recall 70s groups such as Museo Rosenbach. S.E.I. is an acronym for Separazione / Egoiatria / Inaganno or Separation / Self-worship / Deception. The music is very complex, combining tense and dark moments with atmospheric sections full of the unmistakeable Mellotron. Today the band is Alessandro Corvaglia (lead vocals and acoustic guitar), Agostino Macor (keyboards), Fabio Zuffanti (bass guitar), Martin Grice (sax and flute), and Il Tempio delle Clessidra’s ex-drummer Paolo Tixi (drums and percussion). The absence of electric guitar, which was one of their main features, is offset by imaginative keyboards, constantly changing rhythms, wind instruments, and distorted bass. In point of fact, you don’t even notice the absence of the electric guitar. Fusing together influences of Museo Rosenbach, PFM, Balletto di Bronzo, Banco del Mutuo Soccorso, Biglietto per l’Inferno, Jethro Tull, Hatfield and the North, Yes, and Van Der Graaf Generator with a strong dose of personality, S.E.I. is an excellent addition to their discography and firmly establishes La Maschera di Cera as the best of today’s Italian neo-progressive bands.
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