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3.91 | 118 ratings

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Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
4 stars 'Quartus Artifactus' - Fromuz (7/10)

Although music has opened me up to other cultures and countries like nothing else, I cannot say I had yet heard a band from Uzbekistan before hearing Fromuz, a talented fusion rock quintet from Tashkent. With 'Quartus Artifactus', the band introduces themselves to me through a sprawling hundred minute exploration of guitar-based jazz fusion, and folkish instrumentation. If anything, Fromuz is a band with a great deal of skill and potential in their sound, as can be heard clearly with this, their third full-length album. Although much of this mostly instrumental album presents some very interesting ideas and even gets great chemistry going on in parts though, Fromuz could do with some editing in their sound. Make no mistake, 'Quartus Artifactus' is a long album- arguably too long for its own good- and had they condensed this hundred minute foray by cutting out the less necessary aspects of the music, I would have even more great things to say about the band's music.

Being from a part of the world that is steeped in folk music tradition, Fromuz takes alot of influence from their roots as people of Uzbekistan, and merges those local musical flavours with jazzy band chemistry and longform instrumental noodlings. With the exception of a short interlude song towards the beginning of 'Artifactus' called 'A Perfect Place', Fromuz is entirely instrumental here, and although the vocals at work there are nothing special, it can feel somewhat awkward to have an aspect of the band come and go within a percent of the record. Fromuz does have a tendency to take up interesting ideas and discard them before long, but while the band's use of ideas is not the greatest, the little musical concepts throughout 'Quartus Artifactus' keep the music engaging. The music generally flows through what largely sounds like a mix of improvisations and triggered cues, but having something like an Indian raga breakdown fall in the middle of a jazzy section is not usually expected.

If Fromuz has one thing going for them, its their abilities as musicians. Especially in terms of the adept guitar work, the band manages to fashion melodic and pleasant solos, merging them very nicely into the sometimes very complex rhythm section. Sadly, the production here- while clear-sounding enough- feels incredibly dry, and does not do well to convey the emotional intensity that the musicians quite clearly have with their music. It would be excellent to hear Fromuz edit and refine their sound somewhat, in order to capture the great things about them without having to make such a longwinded trip to get there. At a hundred minutes, 'Quartus Artifactus' can often feel as if it takes two or three times longer than it should to make a statement, but while not everything this album has to offer is a winner, there are enough excellent musical ideas to look into the record.

Conor Fynes | 4/5 |


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