Clepsydra is a Swiss neo-progressive band that was formed in 1990 by Aluisio Maggini (vocals), Lele Hofmann (guitars), Philip Hubert (keyboards), Andy Thommen (bass) and Pietro Duca (drums).
In 1991 Clepsydra released their first album 'Hologram', which was followed by the EP 'Fly Man' in 1993. Clepsydra then signed to InsideOut, who released their second album 'More Grains of Sand' in 1994. This CD included the song “Moonshine on Heights”, which by many is regarded as neo-prog classic. 1994 also saw them performing two songs on national Swiss TV, a rare occurrence for a progressive rock band at that time.
The one thing I want to know is how come an old prog-head like me had never heard of Clepsydra? I knew Andy Thommen, of course, because of his work with Zenit; their album The Chandrasekr Incident was one of my favourites in 2012, and following my first conversation with Andy he sent me the other Zenit 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 which 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.
Alone is their fourth album, released after Andy had left the group for a while. Markwin Meeuws writes:
Alone is a concept album which has, for convenience, been divided into seven "songs", even though the CD indicates a total of 13 tracks. It just indicates that the CD should be listened to in its entirety and believe me: you want to.