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D.F.A. - Duty Free Area CD (album) cover

DUTY FREE AREA

D.F.A.

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.09 | 57 ratings

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tszirmay
Special Collaborator
Crossover Team
5 stars Duty Free Area's second release is self titled, kind of anomalous as the debut was "Lavori in Corso" (Work underway) which I smeared with unflinching praise as a factual "chef d'oeuvre" and it has progressed even further along the road to recording maturity, now possessing more depth and breath as ever.. The same musicians are here to take this next step into the "gagazone" (even sounds Italian!). Surprisingly, the icebreaker "Escher" has an overt Ozric Tentacles meets Djam Karet feel to it, with twirling synthesizer modules, rubbery bass flurries allied to heady drum patterns, responsive guitar rhythmics and sibilant synth soloing that exudes speed and resilience while the patented Hammond keeps the linear sound well furnished and ready to devastate. This is exhilarating music bursting with adventure and technical prowess, drive to reach a certain state of supreme excellence that is undeniable. "Caleidoscopio" weaves a spiritual enchantment, with serene vocals and wispy arrangements, slowly morphing into an exalted symphonic statement, flush with assorted detailed restraint and composure, like the sweet vibraphone flutter in the onset as well as the judicious use of mellotron dashes to enhance the pomp. The jazz leanings certainly make their presence felt as Silvio Minella's guitar in particular stretches into new horizons, soaring and plaintive, curious and raging but the general feel here is way more misty and ethereal than the debut chopfest! Luca Baldassari's thrusting bass wobbles intensely, assertively leading the way, providing the solid spine for De Grandis' intense drum and cymbal festival , as well as Bonomi's luscious keys to splash intense colourings where needed. "Esperanto" is a jumbling, bumbling and slippery workout, very "free for all", unendingly swift technical brake-jobs, with a jazzy and quirky vocal roller coaster courtesy of the incredible Deus Ex- Machina lead singer Alberto Piras , all this to highlight a series of solos, guitar first and foremost, somewhere in the McGill/Goodsall/Holdsworth realm. That whistling synthesizer takes another bow before giving way to some rather sumptuous e-piano noodlings, with that ultra-cool vocal theme returning ("Hasta la Vista"and "Wunderbar" mixed in with some genuine Esperanto). "Ascendente Scorpione" wallows in dense atmospherics, a vehicle for drummer De Grandis to show off his considerable talents, gentle when needed as well as assuredly complex and powerful, while the soloists shoot laser guided volleys into the ether. Groovy, man! "Ragno" is another extended folly, with some cybernetic electronic explorations on a variety of synth tones, a slight return to the Ozric groove, with a slight Pierre Moerlen's Gong feel (mostly due to the drummer's supremacy), all trying to hold back the tense guitar explosion that bursts through the fog, torching everything in sight., all soloists weaving some dense series of notes but Bonomi's Hammond plays its part in the devastation. Midway through, the pace ebbs briefly to a sensational e-piano crawl, full of Crimsonoid effects, Michael Giles'-like cymbal work, and suddenly zips forward as if a turbocharger was activated , plowing ahead like some foaming missile. Prime example that technical prowess needs to be thought out and gutsy to really hit the mark. The organ solo is simply gorgeous, a classic romp down the ivory trail, replete with vim, vigor and vitality. The pastoral, almost Devadip Carlos Santana-like "Malia" is the finale, introducing Giorgia Gallo's trembling voice into the mix, a charming romantic journey through the jazzier confines of sonic peace, fluttering with simplicity and serenity. DFA have now a reputation of RPI giants, allegedly their live shows are incredible, certainly one to watch intently in the future. Without even the slightest hesitation, this deserves another 5 orange pylons.
tszirmay | 5/5 |

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