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D.F.A. - 4th CD (album) cover

4TH

D.F.A.

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.20 | 82 ratings

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Finnforest
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Italy continues to lead

Across the progressive landscape, the bands of Italy continue to help lead the way providing some of the most exciting and vibrant releases of recent years. In a music world where too many corners succumb to formula many Italian bands continue to thrive while releasing material that thumbs its nose at the rules. With their 4th album D.F.A. has delivered an album sure to thrill the fusion fans in their audience and perhaps further out across the genre spectrums. The band comes off a long break in new studio material that they attribute to domestic demands and real-life creep, something many musicians deal with at one time or another. But unlike the many artists who begin to lose their touch after domestic bliss takes over, D.F.A. have delivered an album that sounds completely alive and refreshed.

Giving my usual disclaimer, I'm not a jazz expert and frankly not the biggest fan of fusion and jazz in general.and still I enjoyed this quite a lot. I always appreciate musicians in this area for their technical ability but often find their type of jamming to get old fairly quickly. Some of these bands can get pretty cold and dry emotionally despite their supercharged instrumental proficiency. D.F.A. finds the sweet spot by breaking out of the shred rut long enough to involve us emotionally and by incorporating traditional progressive elements into the mix. In the album's second half, they begin to try some different things that were really intriguing to me and I hope they pursue that kind of approach more in the future. But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Their 4th album, already being hailed as one of the year's best albums by some is a very friendly and accessible instrumental (largely) album. The material is written by keyboardist Alberto Bonomi and drummer Alberto De Grandis. A good portion of the album is the adventurous forays of these two, along with guitarist Silvio Minella and bassist Luca Baldassari, as they balance the tight and the ferocious with the delicate and measured. Rather than catering only to the shred-hounds, D.F.A. masterfully measure the bombast and deliver the fireworks thoughtfully. Often times my favorite moments of jamming would be enhanced by their decision for a space with some piano, flute, or strings. These guys have the chops of groups like Karcius but they soften the approach like my namesake Finnforest did back on their '70s albums. But the highlight of the album for me is the last track "La Ballata De S'isposa E Mannorri." According to the band's notes this is an adaptation of a Sardinian oral poem about real life events from the 1700s where a woman betrayed in love led to a blood feud and the eventual disappearance of a village. The band skillfully incorporates the superb vocals of a band called Andhira and intentional or not, these rhythmic female vocals for me had the feel of what Oldfield used to do back in the Ommadawn-Incantations period with voice, even though obviously the two artists are miles apart in sound. Really some neat stuff. So imagine rocking through nearly an hour of inspired and joyful interplay to be treated to such a finale. A great touch and it tells me this band should try more melding of other styles into their jazzy rock in the future. Not a masterpiece to me personally (though it will be to many fusion fans I predict!) but a fine record in any book.

The one gripe I'll mention (I have to find something.) is the digipak release and rather underwhelming artwork. Digipaks are just the worst but I'll save that rant for the forums. Congrats guys on a solid and enjoyable album. A true must for all of the fusion and jazz/rock prog fans out there. 7/10

Finnforest | 4/5 |

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