La Maschera Di Cera - La Maschera Di Cera - 2002
I often ask myself how much could a single individual (musically) accomplish in a short period of time before either burning out or losing the creative edge that makes for good music? Of course some individuals are very productive and can seem to go on forever. I’m now a believer that Fabio Zuffanti is one of those people.
Zuffanti’s influence on his main band, the Italian avante-proggers, Finisterre, is probably limited due in part to the talents of the other people in the band. However, as a soloist, he’s the main person behind superb musical projects such as Hostsonaten and the 2 CD concept “Merlin”. La Maschera Di Cera is yet another project – amongst others – that Zuffanti has helped create. Along with Zuffanti on bass, acoustic guitar is Marco Cavani on drums, timpani, percussion and compressor, Alessandro Corvaglia singing, Agostino Macor playing superb mellotron, piano, prepared piano, organ, moog, Harpsichord, VCS 3 and Andrea Monetti on flute. Nadia Girardi guest sings on “Del Mio Abisso E Del Vuoto”. The idea is not surprising – an Italian homage to old, classical 70s prog. The CD has the typical vinyl configuration – one long, 20 minute track (side one) and then a few tracks for another 20 minutes. In short, this is not a long 70 minute opus with 30 minutes of fill – just a regular length work that gets right to the meat.
The self-titled first song is superb, never losing it’s intrigue and punch within its 20 minutes and 7 movements. It’s filled with passionate singing and brilliant keyboard work. “Del Mondo Che Crolla” follows with Jethro Tull-like flute and layers of moog and mellotron. After a dense, moody, bluesy instrumental, the song breaks into 70’s riff rock with blazing Hammond. The melody sounds somewhat reminiscent of earlier pieces. Perhaps if this CD can be faulted it is that it seems very similar – especially the vocal parts – throughout.
Zuffanti’s bass and Monetti’s flute revisit Tull on the opening of “Del Mio Abisso E Del Vuoto”. Along with piano and acoustic guitar, there’s a sedate, ethereal quality to the piece. The many influences of classic Italian prog are seamlessly blended here – jazz, blues, classical, folk and the opera rock of bands like Banco. A lovely building moog theme begins and before long we’ve heard harpsichord, Clearlight-like spiraling Mellotron, and all out blazing fusion AKA King Crimson as it all escalates into a space horror reverb sonic boom. In short, this song does it all.
“Del Mio Volo” closes things with a gentle folk intro, which slowly builds, climaxing with the revisited Moog theme. Even though it’s short track, relatively speaking, it’s mounting power and overwhelming conclusion leaves us desiring more – and ultimately cursing the CD’s relatively short play (but Y2K’s standards).