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D.F.A. - Kaleidoscope CD (album) cover



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4 stars D.F.A. (a.k.a. Duty Free Area) blew me away upon first listen. Jazz rock isn't something I've spent much time exploring, so I wasn't sure what this was going to sound like. One thing for sure is that this stuff is crazy sometimes, and sometimes dramatically beautiful. So it's definitely a ride you want to make sure your buckled down for.

Kaleidoscope is a special re-release of remastered versions of D.F.A.'s first two studio albums, Lavori in Corso and the self-titled Duty Free Area, orginally released in 1997 and 1999 respectively. Moonjune Records took the opportunity to issue this 2-in-1 package to meet the demand of sales, which is always good for any prog group.

I'm not sure exactly how to describe D.F.A.'s music. It has an otherwordly feel to it. There are definitely jazz and jazz/rock fusion influences, but not being a specialist in this area, nor not having listened to enough from this area, I can't really comment on specific artist influences. From the rock side of things, I definitely hear some Gentle Giant and some symphonic prog in numerous places. The musicianship is absolutely amazing.

I love the instrumentals on this, absolutely love them, with highlights including Trip on Metró, Space Ace Man, Escher, Ragno, and Ascendente Scorpione. Now you'll note I specifically stated instrumentals, in order to separate them from songs with vocals. The reason I did this was because the vocals I found somewhat distracting. They really do need some work, even though they're sung in the native tongue.

The only other negative I have to mention is that some of the songs seem to meander off and lose their focus. Nothing terribly bad to complain about, really.

Absolutely wonderful musicianship, and some really crazy, foot tapping music. I love it. Both albums are not quite masterpieces, but they're surely an excellent addition to any prog music lover's collection. I even highly recommend this to those of you who haven't explored jazz rock/fusion. This is great place to start if you haven't. Four excellent stars!

Report this review (#303490)
Posted Monday, October 11, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Kaleidoscope is a double CD box with the albums Lavori in Corso (CD 1) and Duty Free Area (CD 2). Both CDs include some live tracks from 2003 or in total three live tracks to be more precise.

While Lavori in Corso is a more blend of RPI and Jazz, the Duty Free Area is a blend of space rock, jazz, canterbury and symphonic prog. In short; you get two pretty different types of albums here, but both loosely within the fusion/jazz genre. These two CDs are not that different from each other, but different enough to really make this box interesting. So four stars for the music.

The packaging too deserve four star. The booklet is not like a book, but it still contains enough reading material to complement the music.

In short; this is a very good box sold for a reasonable price and an excellent addition to anyone's record collection.

4 stars

Report this review (#398936)
Posted Saturday, February 12, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Whenever a brave band emerges which attempts to recreate some of the excitement of classic 1970s prog (more particularly: the "symphonic jazz-rock" of bands like Bruford and National Health), they deserve to be applauded. D.F.A. consisted of four intrepid virtuosi who recorded EXACTLY what they wanted, without concessions to record company executives.

On their first album, disc 1 of the current set (dating from 1995) they still seem a little lost (the first two tracks are terribly noisy - the band were trying too hard to sound like Gentle Giant) but from track 3 onwards, things just keep improving: there are instrumental tracks which strongly remind me of "The Cinema Show" (with flashy Tony Banks-style keyboard solos) and during the remainder of the album (and especially on "Space Ace Man" and "La Via") lead guitarist Silvio Minella impresses me most. His solos reach for the sky: no bombast but passion, intelligence and ecstasy.

On the band's second album (here represented by disc 2) the National Health/Bruford influences really kick in. At times I felt like shouting: "Wait a sec, you nabbed that riff from ONE OF A KIND!" But the music always moves fast, and usually there's one more exuberant solo just round the corner.

Over all, this collection's disc 1 probably sounds more daring and original than disc 2 (D.F.A. would subsequently take their British-inspired jazz-rock to even greater heights on "4th") but the studio part of the second disc actually ends on a lush ballad featuring female vocals, which proves that D.F.A. were also capable of delivering heart-meltingly beautiful SONGS. As a bonus, there are live performances of 3 of the original studio tracks.

Report this review (#899340)
Posted Friday, January 25, 2013 | Review Permalink

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