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Date Published: 25-01-1998

The one thing I want to know is how come an old prog-head like me had never heard of Clepsydra? I knew Andy, of course, because of his work with Zenith; their album The Chandrasekr Incident was one of my favourites in 2012, and following my first conversation with Andy he sent me the other Zenith albums, which I enjoyed immensely.  But, last night, after my first aborted attempt at telephoning Switzerland, Andy was kind enough to send me the mp3 of the four Clepsydra albums.  I had a joyous experience today, listening to them in full, back to back as I went about my daily business.  Seldom have I been so impressed.

 The thing I think is most impressive is that these albums were made on – comparatively – primitive equipment; the first album – for example - was recorded on 12-track analogue tape, which – as Andy wryly pointed out – is like something out of ancient history technology wise.

I was surprised to find out that, although when the band first arrived they were concurrent with the early 1990s British prog dream which produced bands like IQ, and Pendragon, and our very own Galahad, Clepsydra didn’t even realise that they were part of such a movement.  As Andy told me, they were aware of Genesis, Pink Floyd, and Marillion – three bands that they love very much – but had no idea that a few thousand miles away in the UK other young men and women were mining this rich seam of 70’s prog to produce something new and exciting.  The fact that they evolved along similar lines, but totally in isolation, is – to my mind - extraordinary.

 Andy described the process of recording these early albums as a labour of love.  They made music purely for the innate joy of doing so, with no commercial considerations whatsoever.  I enthused about the record to Andy during our second aborted attempt at recording our call and he told me that he was almost jealous of me; having the experience of discovering these sounds for the first time, and it reminded him of the joy of exploratory creation which produced these four extraordinary records.

Next year they are touring for the first time since the 1990s and Andy assures me that he hopes that they will be able to find a promoter willing to book them to play in the UK.  The limiting factor is their keyboard player who is a college mathematics professor, which means that the band are only able to tour at weekends and in the school holidays.

I have somewhat of a proselytising zeal about me at the moment.  I am playing Clepsydra to everybody who will listen.  This evening, for example, my friend and colleague Richard Freeman who has just returned from a successful cryptozoological expedition to Tasmania, were listening to the second album while we downloaded 3,000 photographs from one of the camera traps.  The music goes surprisingly well with images of inquisitive Tasmanian devils, and the elusive spotted quoll.

Although it is no substitute for my planned podcast, which I intend to do as soon as we can sort out the telephone problems, I sent a few questions to Andy by email, and he was kind enough to answer them.

1. Why did you decide to reform after all these years?

It was the right time. In December 2012 I met Aluisio at the funeral of Paolo "Scandy" Scandella (Shakary). This was the initial spark for me to call the other guys.

2. Describe the re-mastering process.

All four albums span a decade of technology, so the process required different tools and tweaks for each of the albums. Consider 'Hologram', produced in 1991! 22 years ago we hat much more limitations than today. This album has become brilliant and shiny. 'More Grains of Sand' required very little intervention. On 'Fears' and 'Alone' we were able to take away that little harshness. We modified also the track binding on 'Alone'. All songs with parts I/II/III are now single tracks.

Then we added the bonus material. This was a clockmaker job. We wanted to fill as much as possible the discs with the 77-minutes limitations, so the final result is about an hour of additional material.

3. When you started to play together again after all these years, had you changed as musicians?

I would say yes. We're not kids anymore. At least, that's how I remember and feel we were in the 90s. We are still excited about what we do, as we were in the beginning, but there's much more grasp and less rap in the room now. In the past I always said that the eagerness between Clepsydra members is the foundation of our music.

Not that now there's complete harmony, however the discussions are more solution oriented and shorter. 15 years and 8 children, 4 wives and 1 girlfriend later... certainly we have changed. As musicians? Well, not really. We still try a lot of things, variations & alternative versions sounds and solos, watch the details and then choose together the best outcome.

4. Have you played together in public yet?

No. The first step on a stage will be in The Netherlands in April 2014. We'll do a private dress rehearsal with families and friends before that. I was on stage with Zenit several times in the last years, and Marco also with his project, that's it.

5. Are there any plans for new material?

Yes, there are plans for a new album. We're now focussing on the live show, but next year we'll start demo-ing new songs.

gonzo weekly issue #53


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