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D.F.A. - Lavori In Corso CD (album) cover




Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.21 | 49 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
4 stars Of the 90's Italian prog revival wave, very few groups managed to really impress me in the long run; from Finisterre & Germinale to Malibran & Nodo Giordano, they all seemed to be after the elusive quest of finding themselves a niche, their own niche. Among the more complex-music (let's say less symphonic) groups, Deus Ex Machina and DFA were more convincing, though, especially the later. The quartet recorded their debut album during the summer of 96, in their native Verona and released it on the then-unavoidable Mellow Record. Apparently their first release (from 95) is "demo" where all titles are present on this album, but reworked and an added mammoth epic La Via added on this present and official debut, released on the inevitable Mellow records, produced by DEM's singer Alberto Piras. DFA is a standard prog quartet where it seems that Drummer De Grandis and keyboardist Bonomi are the most skilled at their respective instruments, especially the latter's Hammond and mellotron use.

Musically DFA hovers between Gentle Giant in most tracks and a demented guitar-included ELP (even a bit Atomic Rooster) in their more muscular riff-laden moments, due to Minella's crunchy hard rock guitar. In some ways, DFA's musical realm also hovers with the Japanese trio Ars Nova with solid guitars and good Italian vocals (no matter what David says, 4 out of 7 tracks are sung and correctly at that too) plus a very hard rock-type guitar ala Gary Moore or Pat Travers or other 70's hard rock guitar hero. Opening on a demented tempo that Bonomi holds together wit Minella's guitar, the GG-esque Work Machine is an impressive track does cool down for a 2-minute break, which is no way spacey, slowly building it back through synths and the whole shebang thereafter and returning to its normal opening state well before the end. Collage is indeed just that: a collection of musical bits glued together without much sense and appropriate chords (there is even one that's just left with blank as link), but it shows that the group had many ideas, too many too fit in so few songs. The much quieter (at first) and jazzier (in the intro anyway) Pantera is filled with mellotron and is a welcome change, especially later on in the track where Bonomi's Banks-like organ

Trip On The Metro (this was the name of their demo) is an insane and overloaded instrumental, where keyboard excesses abound and the complex guitar give it a GG feel, but it doesn't avoid some clichés and lengths. The inaptly-titled Space Ace Man is a guitar-dominated piece (the track is collectively written) that sounds like Satriani's revenge on PA, but Bonomi won't let that unpunished and his organ give a good answer. If I said inaptly-titled, it's because the supposedly spacey closing-section is not very much .. Space-like. La Via (the road) is the only track added from the band's demo, and it's the only track not really fitting with the rest of the album, the only one to sound more typically-Italian (the modern way), but it's nothing really dramatic a change either, since it's clearlu audible that the production and musicians are the same. I'd say that the songwriting makes the difference. more mature, I'd say. a good track to close a worthy debut album.

Among the dozens of modern Italian prog bands that started out quite well and in view of their first two albums, I'd say that that DFA stands out as well as early Germinale and to a lesser extent Finisterre, but it sticks certainly better a predefined musical direction (the others are hitting left right and centre without a real goal). It turns out that DFA would spend most of the next decade without a studio follow- up (only releasing an uninteresting live album in '01) to Duty Free Area, but finally end '08, their fourth album. Would it be worth the wait???

Sean Trane | 4/5 |


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