Il Tempio delle Clessidre - s/t. 2010 Italy

Il Tempio delle Clessidre - s/t. 2010 Black Widow

CD issue: 2010 Black Widow

Il Tempio delle Clessidre's debut is one of the finest retro Italian progressive rock albums I've heard to date. Lead by the beautiful keyboardist Elisa Montaldo, Il Tempio delle Clessidre is the classic five piece Italian band working its way through increasingly complex compositions, but with melody and passion. The crowning touch was the recruiting of Museo Rosenbach's front man Stefano “Lupo” Galifi, who pretty much sounds the same here as on Zarathustra (37 years ago!).

There are no weak tracks on Il Tempio delle Clessidre, though the album starts more measured and stilted, before it slowly morphs into its own creative genius. By the time of 'La Stanza Nascosta', the album has found its footing. And it peaks on the frenetic 'Danza Esoterica di Datura'. From there it maintains its intensity and brilliance. If you miss the spontaneous creativity of the original Italian progressive rock scene of 1973, and can't get enough of the analog sounds of the era, then Il Tempio delle Clessidre is a no-brainer pick up.

Frob - s/t. 1976 Germany

High energy jazz rock with fuzz guitar, organ, electric piano, and Moog as the lead instruments. More energetic than Morpheus or Release Music Orchestra for example. A less funky Munju perhaps. Every track smokes, and there's quite a bit of variation in the jams. The guitar work is unreal and I think the raw production helps. Great atmospheric organ too. There are no weak tracks, nor is there anything that particularly stands out. It's remarkably consistent.

Personal collection
CD: 2004 Garden of Delights

Frob is a very obscure mid 70s LP and I'd never heard of it until this CD surfaced, which I bought immediately. Usual first class job by Garden of Delights with full liner notes and excellent sound.

Mandragora - Temple Ball. 1994 England

Mandragora - Temple Ball. 1994 Mystic Stones

CD issue: 1994 Mystic Stones

For my money, Mandragora were one of the top UK festival / space rock bands of the 1980s and 90s, perhaps only bested by Ozric Tentacles and Omnia Opera (though really obscure bands like Crow and Blim were just as outstanding, but those are more recent discoveries for me).

Mandragora's trajectory was a bit different, however. On album at least, they started with hard rock, moving ever slow slowly to space rock, then onto ethnic tinged electronic rock, some techno, etc... I like all of their albums, but it was on Temple Ball that the band finally unleashed their ferocious guitar fronted space rock style. Like many of the bands of their era, Mandragora mix in recorded TV and radio bits to add to the ominous atmosphere, before launching into another intense jam.

The monster track here is Talking to God (Part IV), but other great pieces include Zarg, Inside the Crystal Circle, Rainbow Warrior and the title track. The album claims to be recorded live "in the Crystal Feb '94", but I don't think it's an actual concert. If it was, then it's been completely edited like a studio album and there's no audience noise. I prefer it this way myself.

This is definitely the best album on the excellent Mystic Stones label, and sadly, very close to the label's last release.

Vos Voisins - s/t. 1971 Canada

Vos Voisins - s/t (aka Holocauste à Montréal). 1971 Polydor

CD reissue: 2011 ProgQuebec

Packaging details: The PQ CD features two bonus tracks, liner notes, photos. Usual great job from ProgQuebec. There are two album covers for this title. The original "wanted poster" rendition had to be pulled, due to Polydor not receiving permission from the Allo Police tabloid to use their logo. So they went with the other brick building cover. I've had both LPs in the past, and honestly I prefer the replacement cover (and that's what I currently own). Both of these covers are presented in the CD booklet.

Notes: Vos Voisins is a really good example of the heavy organ styled, blues based, progressive rock. This seemed to be a somewhat popular breed of music in Quebec in the early 1970s, and can also be found in other fine groups like Champignons or Dionysos. Some wonderful fat guitar leads too. High quality French vocals as well. A couple of the tracks are piano lead introspective numbers. Best track is 'Le Monstre de la Main'.

Elektrum - Live at the Opera. 1998 Denmark-England

Elektrum - Live at the Opera. 1998 private (CD)

This is guitarist Claus Bohling's band - post Hurdy Gurdy and Secret Oyster. The music presented here is surprisingly a very modern space rock, as in what Ozric Tentacles might have done in the same era (late 90s), but played by a veteran of the 60s and early 70s. Also hear some Frank Marino, at his most hard rock and melodic. This is a fantastic release and one of the classic under the radar albums from the 90s.

The Word of Life - Dust. 1995 Sweden

The Word of Life return with their sophomore, and ultimately last effort, Dust which is somewhat different from the predecessor. There'...