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Blezqi Zatsaz - Rise and Fall of Passional Sanity CD (album) cover


Blezqi Zatsaz


Symphonic Prog

3.27 | 27 ratings

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3 stars ".please tell us what the Hell does BLEZQI ZATSAZ mean?" So say the sleeve notes for this album by Brazilian keyboard wizard Fábio Ribeiro and the three other musicians (guitars, bass and drums/percussion) he gathered together for this project, recorded in 1990 and 1991 (bonus track recorded in 1995).

I'll tell you what BLEZQI ZATSAZ means: 54 minutes 35 seconds of keyboards-dominated instrumental music with soaring guitars in places that should leave many synthesizer aficionados impressed. Putting aside the instruments used by the other musicians, just consider the equipment Fábio Ribeiro used on this album: ARP Odyssey, Casio CZ101, Casio CZ1000, E-MU Proteus 1XR, Kawai K1M, Kawai K3M, Kawai K4, Korg M1, Korg T3, Korg DSS1, Minimoog, Oberheim Matrix 1000, Roland D70, Yamaha DX7, Yamaha SY77, Yamaha QX5, Eventide H3000SE, Atari 1040ST (C-Lab Notator), Korg 01/WFD, Korg 01R/W, Korg 03R/W, Korg X, Yamaha DX7S. The sleeve notes thank, amongst others, Bob Moog ("for everything") and RICK WAKEMAN, although it's not clear whether the two actually helped Ribeiro or whether the former is simply being thanked for inventing the Minimoog and the latter for inspiration.

This is bombastic symphonic Progressive Rock with melody; we're not talking psychedelic 'electronica' here. Fans of RICK WAKEMAN and VANGELIS may find this album of interest. The album is Music (Ribeiro even includes some Bach in one piece) but, as synthesizer fans might expect for such a project, a host of interesting synthesizer-generated sounds are scattered liberally throughout the tracks. The 2000 release has a rather unexpected bonus track: 'Snowman', Ribeiro's synthesizer-driven instrumental interpretation of the song 'Walking In The Air' written by Howard Blake and covered by Ritchie Blackmore's RAINBOW as 'Snowman'. The song was written for the animation of Raymond Briggs' story "The Snowman", first shown on TV on Christmas Eve 1982 (I remember it well!).

The album starts off with 'Dawn', tinkling sounds giving way to wailing synthesizer, breathy 'pipes' and chirps, and then courtly, medieval-sounding 'trumpets' and 'strings' make a majestic entrance.

'The Last Wisdom' initially has a very electronic sound in the vein of VANGELIS, but then bops along with drums and guitar accompanying, again with synthesizer sometimes sounding like orchestral strings. The 'buzzy' synthesizer in this track is not always so pleasant to my ears, but overall the track is not bad.

'Mind' is a short track with haunting, tinkling 'piano' and 'owl hoots', leading into the track 'Heart and Soul' which is reminiscent of VANGELIS (and Greece) at the start but then ups tempo and bops along with foot-tapping drums and percussion supporting some quite fast synthesizer, dreamy guitar, 'strings', 'flute' and 'clavichord'. A good track.

'Shine' is a very short piece with 'horns', leading into the 'piano' of the track 'In A Flash': a calm piece with 'flute' and 'horns'. It sounds a bit twee, but only for a minute, because then the guitar comes in briefly to rescue the track and it then mutates into 'piano' and 'soprano saxophone' à la KENNY G! It's slightly corny, but very laid back.

'Friday Twilight' starts with some 'cymbal', lovely acoustic guitar, and then comes tambour, the creaking of the deck of a wooden boat (the 'boat' rolls from side to side if you've got headphones on!) and in comes a good beat and synthesizer that, to me, is again reminiscent of VANGELIS. The 'deck creaking' sound is very evocative and I like this track. Apart from the creaking sound, there are all sorts of other synthesizer-generated sounds such as clanging ship's bell and bow waves as the 'ship' ploughs through the 'water'. Then comes some oriental-sounding synthesizer and nice 'flute', then more synthesizer which this time reminds me of JAN HAMMER, then 'trumpets' heralding some excellent, soaring guitar licks followed by some buzzy synthesizer emulating the soaring guitar. Surprisingly, it just fades out at the end. Still, it's a super track and probably my favourite of the album.

The start of the short track 'Haunted Recollections' again reminds me of VANGELIS. There are many interesting sounds: 'seagulls' and echoey 'whales'.

'The Wrath' is a boppy track, again with 'horns', 'flutes', 'chorus' and a marching, slightly medieval feel at the beginning but feeling more modern about a third of the way through, at one point lapsing into jazzy barroom 'piano' with guitar, fat synthesizer and various synthesizer sounds in the background.

'Void, The Partner' is a short, sombre track with all sorts of echoey noises in the background, synthesizer dancing around like rats, then Arabic 'pipes' in the foreground. Anyway, think Edgar Allen Poe. But then the tinkling 'bells' come in, followed by 'clavichord' to kick off 'The Rising', with a thumping backing and catchy key-tapping rhythm underlying fast synthesizer, followed by Bach 'organ' (which does sound good: the reverb!). The second part of 'The Rising' kicks off with a catchy thumping drum, 'clavichord' and 'harpsichord' on top and 'trumpets'. Damn good track, with a majestic 'organ' and 'xylophone' ending.

And then comes the bonus track: 'Snowman' (see earlier) to nicely round off the album, with a slow, thumping KRAFTWERK/VANGELIS beat.

The production is excellent, the recording is as clear as a bell, and the large mix of sounds (predominantly synthesizers) is impressive. The stereo effect and all the nuances are especially pleasing when you listen using headphones. In my view it's more background music than foreground music though - perhaps the sort of thing you would have playing at the beginning of a big event in a stadium for effect (hope that does not sound critical). I think this album would be simply *adored* by some and regarded as derivative by others. The musicianship and attention to detail is unmistakable: a myriad of sounds carefully woven into the music by Fábio Ribeiro. He wrote all the music except for 'The Last Wisdom' and 'Heart And Soul' on which he was co-author, 'Shine' and 'Snowman' (well, and the snippet of Bach in 'The Rising'). The album is very much a showcase for Ribeiro - the guy is a wiz of the synthesizer and clearly loves what he does. As a taster, you can check out a couple of the tracks from this album on the BLEZQI ZATSAZ official Web site - the MP3s take a bit of finding, but they're there: 'The Last Wisdom' and 'The Rising'. I enjoy listening to this album and am glad to own it but, even though I am a big fan of keyboards, have to say that, in my opinion, it's a 3-star album (Good, but non-essential). But it's a very good non-essential album!

Fitzcarraldo | 3/5 |


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