Apostolis "Retromaniac" Psarros
Another total obscurity, from Italy this time, Controtempo originated from Napoli and were found in 1995 out of the ashes of the group THE ALLEYS OF MIND, led by guitarist/singer Francesco Vitiello. The rest of the crew were Luigi Scialdone on bass, Gianluca Canitano on drums, Davide Smiraglia and Francesco Basso, both on piano and keyboards. Some songs of the band dating back in 1998 were gathered by Psych Up Melodies and released as a self-titled digital download.
This is not among the albums the Italian label is used to release. Far from anything related to Psych/Prog, Controtempo's album is a huge suprise, having a very melodic Neo/Symphonic Rock sound, occasionally colored by romantic folky touches. The suprises continue with the vocal department of this release. During the first listening I thought something went completely wrong, all lyrics sounded very Spanish to my ears. A search through the net would unleash the truth. All Controtempo's compositions are sung in their native language, the Neapolitan dialect, which adds a very personal touch to the album. Musically the band has composed six very strong, well-crafted and melodic pieces, full of inventive keyboards themes, romantic singing parts and nice guitar lines, while the interplays are not absent. The longer pieces even contain a good amount of breaks or some delicate Meditterenean passages with warm vocal work (like coming from somekind of South-Italian traditional tunes) or acoustic vibes. The influences are more than evident. GENESIS' lush orchestrations and MARILLION's edgy synth-drenched soundscapes are the main inspirations of the group, but you should add a strong dose of South-Italian flavor into this very interesting blending. The arrangements of the group are both smooth and passionate, depending on the mood, with full-blown band's collaborations followed by calmer and more downtempo textures.
The story says that Controtempo were put on ice sometime around 2005 with the members spending their time in different projects. Hopefully this release is a good reason for a triumphant comeback.
It would be a crime if this album had never seen the light. Basically it even sounds more interesting than plenty of albums related to the Neo/Symphonic Prog sound, that have been heavily promoted. Strongly recommended, definitely the best among the first releases of Psych Up Melodies.