In 2005, the new Italian formation Ubi Maior pleasantly surprised many prog heads with their debut album Nostos. Their music is firmly rooted in the classic prog tradition including the use of vintage keyboards. Especially the mellotron sound is awesome. At that time, Ubi Maior also performed on a Biglietto Per L’Inferno tribute concert together with legendary Italian bands like Le Orme, Banco and Area. To me this new Italian five-piece was as one of the most convincing acts! Now, four years later, Ubi Maior released their long awaited successor Senza Tempo (timeless). Was it worth waiting that long? Yes, it was! Listening to Senza Tempo I noticed that the band matured during the years between the two albums. The ten compositions on Senza Tempo sound more balanced and structured than on Nostos.
The contribution of singer and electric violinist Mario Moi is important. He has a somewhat raw and passionate voice in Disperazione, Delirio and Destino. He colours the music in a special way with strong theatrical undertones, a perfect match with Ubi Maior’s often dark, expressive and heavy bombastic prog rock. At other times, he sounds warm, almost tender like in the mellow mid-section of Sogno combined with beautiful mellotron-violin sounds. That also counts for the intro of Desiderio, a wonderful duet with sparkling grand piano and, especially in the first part of Distruzione, a subtle blend of warm vocals, Fender Rhodes-like piano and floating keyboards. What impressed me most, however, is the way Ubi Maior succeeds in building up tension in many songs. The long composition Delirio delivers moving guitar pieces and swirling Hammond organ. The exciting and varied Destino has a fantastic grand finale with a strong reference to Pallas due to the melllotron-choir sounds and the fiery guitar runs. Another strong example is Sogno: heavy with a dark atmosphere in the vein of Il Balletto Di Bronzo, sultry with floating mellotron choirs, slow rhythms with howling guitars and inspired vocals, bombastic fragments with protrusive guitar riffs and mellotron-violin waves. In Desiderio, you can enjoy a beautiful grand piano intro with warm vocals, bombastic eruptions with intense guitar and majestic mellotron choirs. In the sultry Distruzione you hear dreamy hypnotizing Fender piano, romantic vocals and melancholic electric violin.
The short track Morte sounds as a PFM-inspired ‘classic meets rock’ song with lots of Moog and Hammond along folky acoustic rhythm guitar. After the long and alternating composition Destino, the band ends with the dreamy Morte Part IV featuring warm acoustic guitar, electric violin and pleasant vocals. This final track is a good example of how Ubi Maior maintains the balance on Senza Tempo. We had to wait four years, but finally we can listen to the second and highly recommended Ubi Maior CD.
**** Erik Neuteboom (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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