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Deus Ex Machina - Equilibrismo da Insofferenza CD (album) cover


Deus Ex Machina

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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Founding Moderator
4 stars If there is a better, more creative, versatile and just plain incredible European prog-rock band out there, I don't know of it. If I could give this album six stars, I would. (I might give the same to their newest album, Cinque, as well.) This is simply the most well-written and executed amalgam of prog-rock-cum-jazz-rock I have heard in well over a decade. The musicianship alone is so outstanding - across the board - that almost nothing else matters (though, of course, it does). Sure, there are influences. Mahavishnu and GG (including some very Phil Shulman-sounding sax work) come to mind, and even the avant garde jazz approach of Oregon finds itself in the mix. However, little if anything about DeM's music says "derivative"; these guys channel their influences so well that what comes out the other end is almost a completely original sound. From the simple (ha!!) instrumental duo of amazing acoustic guitar and fretless bass ("Amori Difficili") to the almost frightening musicianship and compositional skills in pieces such as "Distrazione Infinita" and "Cosmopolitismo," Deus ex Machina displays a versatility unmatched by any other European prog band. Add to this Alberto Piras' oddball, but appropriately perfect, vocal approach (with lyrics in Latin, no less!), and you'd be hard-pressed to find anything more consistently original, interesting and exciting. (I'd also really like to know who plays the trumpet solos, and who arranged the horn parts.) IMHO, DeM is one of the absolute standard-bearers of current prog (within their subgenre), and deserves a place in the pantheon of the most exceptional prog bands ever to grace the prog scene.
Report this review (#1704)
Posted Wednesday, March 3, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars As with the other Deus Ex Machina album that I have reviewed (DE REPUBLICA), EQUILIBRISMO DA INSOFFERENZA, the unique Italian sextet's fifth release, is decidedly not for the faint of heart! This is wildly original music, with shades of Gentle Giant (especially in the guitar and organ), Zappa, and frantic jazz fusion in the mix. Factor in singer Alberto Piras' trademark Latin vocals (I don't know what the heck he's singing about -- but he's very passionate about it!), and you have a highly original and eclectic musical amalgam. (I, for one, would hesitate to classify the output of DEM as "Italian symphonic progressive." It is indubitably "Italian" and "progressive," but the band's sound bears very little resemblance to that of groups like PFM or Banco, who typify the sub-genre.)

This disc resides more firmly in the jazz fusion vein than DE REPUBLICA, with brass and electric piano figuring heavily in the mix. Overall, I find the songs to be more "accessible" (a relative concept!) than those found on the earlier album. Of the eight "real' tracks (the opener is a mere eight second fragment, and there are only nine, rather than ten tracks, as erroneously listed here), I particularly like "Distrazione Infinita," which has a rather Zappa-esque feel, and features some outstanding violin, trumpet, electric piano, and pseudo-operatic vocals.

My overall favourite, though, is "Cosmopolitismo," which, for me, evokes Gentle Giant (albeit on amphetamine!) in its violin, cutting guitar, and infectious, statacco organ work. The sudden shifts in direction and tempo are unbelievably precise (and would seem to be beyond the ability of mere mortals to execute) and Piras shows that he can hold a high note longer than one would think humanly possible. To draw a visual analogy, this one reminds me of a fast-motion, time-lapse film of a busy city, with the clouds racing across the sky, and the cars and people scurrying around like so many demented ants. Positively pyrotechnic!

The fourth track, "Amori Difficili" ("Tough Love?"), is a surprisingly conventional acoustic guitar and fretless bass duet, which slows down the pace of the proceedings, and offers the listener some breathing room, even as it impresses with its players' obvious virtuosity. (The track times given here are incorrect, by the way; this song runs to only 5:23, and not 10:33, as listed.)

The following "Incomunicabilita," is, for DEM, a more laid-back number, which again sees Piras stretching his vocal cords to their impressive limit; the song also incorporates some tight brass.

Next up is the title track, another slower offering that opens with drummer Claudio Trotta jazzily demonstrating his mastery of his kit, before mutating into a terrific and diverse piece of fusion, with some particularly blistering electric guitar from superb axeman Maurino Collina.

"Dove Non puo Esserci Contraddizione" showcases Deus Ex Machina's amazing ability to repeatedly pull off complex time and mood shifts. This one really encapsulates the group's musical diversity, accomplishment and originality. The syncopation between the drums and organ is especially impressive.

"Trot-tronic" is noteworthy for its frenetic, ELP-like, "computer-gone-mad" synth work -- which might just have you scurrying from the room, in fear that your stereo is possessed, and about to embark on a bloody, murderous rampage!

The final song, "La Fine Del Mondo," is an over sixteen-minute opus that encompasses many themes and moods within its considerable breadth, and finds the brass once more to the fore. Though the longest song on the CD, it is the very antithesis of "plodding" or boring!

Thus, Deus Ex Machina's EQUILIBRISMO DA INSOFFERENZA is a brilliant album that is highly recommended, but -- as with the group's entire output, I'm certain -- suited only to the most adventurous of music fans!

Report this review (#1705)
Posted Thursday, July 8, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars This one is my favourite DEM album in terms of sound production. Bright and clear. The addition of the brass section is so bizarre that I hated it at first. After some hearings I founded it was really unique. From that moment I just can love it. The playing is so fast and outstanding that it can blow your mind. My usual complain to the band is that not the whole album is at the same level of interest. Some tracks are much weaker, the last one a bit too long and derivative. But maybe it is better that way: 80 minutes of top Deus Ex Machina stuff in a row could be too much to most listeners. I use to separate the best 40 minutes away from each of their albums and that is an "strong dose" to me. What I like from this album it really can't really be better. Real must. 5 stars.
Report this review (#147905)
Posted Monday, October 29, 2007 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars I can't say enough about this amazing Italian band. I started with their "Cinque" record and was promptly blown away by the intensity, complexity and sheer power both instrumentally and vocally. Well i'm here to tell you that this album which came out before "Cinque" is just as good in every way. Without question the two albums I mentioned are my favourites from this excllent band. For me it really is a toss up as to which one is better. There is so much to digest here, and like "Cinque" this one is over 70 minutes in length.

After a six second intro we start with "Distrazione Infinita". Keys come and go while violin and drums lead the way. Horns join in. Guitar comes in ripping it up briefly. The bass is relentless. It calms down before the vocals arrive 2 1/2 minutes in. It kicks back into gear before 4 1/2 minutes as guitar lights it up. This contrast continues as we get another calm with vocals before the guitar takes the lead in another uptempo section. "Cosmopolitismo Centimethropolitano" opens with drums before an uptempo section led by organ takes over. Violin joins in and then vocals. The bass lines and vocals are so impressive ! Guitar lets loose 2 1/2 minutes in. The vocals are truly outstanding in this track, they absolutely kill. Pulsating organ comes and goes. It settles after 5 minutes as chunky bass comes in with organ and drums. Nice. Guitar starts to set fire to the soundscape as deep bass lines continue. More excellent guitar and organ. Vocals are back 10 minutes in with passion to end it.

"Amori Difficilli" is over 5 minutes of acoustic guitar and bass. Unless you hear this you won't believe how incredible this is as the tempo and mood shifts throughout. "Incomunicabilita" is led by horns and drums early. Vocals 1 1/2 minutes in as it settles down. Some guitar feedback before 3 minutes. Sax follows in a catchy melody. Vocals are back before 5 1/2 minutes as guitar comes in grinding away. The vocals and horns are outstanding after 7 minutes. So many changes in this tune. "Equilibrisimo Da Insofferenza" opens with a 2 1/2 minute drum clinic. The song then starts over as horns play tastefully with light drums. Vocals after 3 1/2 minutes are reserved but it's all building. Scorching guitar after 5 minutes. Amazing section after 6 1/2 minutes as guitar, organ and drums impress.

"Dove Non Puo Esserci Contraddizione" opens with a full, uptempo melody. Vocals join in quickly. Blinding guitar 1 1/2 minutes in. It settles before 3 minutes as organ, guitar and drums do their thing. This goes on until a fuller sound arrives 5 minutes in. Love the guitar that goes on until after 6 1/2 minutes, then it calms right down again. "Trot-Tronic" again features some killer drumming as bass and synths support. "La Fine Del Mondo" is the closing 16 1/2 minute track. This one has a beautiful jazz flavour to it. Violin is back on this one and horns. Lots of tempo and mood changes. Vocals after 2 1/2 minutes. It's darker 5 1/2 minutes in with bass. Guitar 7 minutes in. A jazzy calm takes over 8 minutes in. Nice. Vocals are back before 12 minutes with violin and horns coming in later.

This is such a joy to listen to. Varied and amazingly played. A must. An adventure that is closer to 4.5 stars really.

Report this review (#181008)
Posted Friday, August 29, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars As I write this today in 2009, more than 10 years after the release of the album presently reviewed, I'm still firmly convinced that this is the best the band has offered to us to date. For the first, they were really in a very mature period; not only was the creativity flowing but all the complex compositional techniques had been proved very well live (the albums "Non Est Ars Quae Ad Effectum Casus Venit" and "Diacronie Metronomiche" are proofs of this) and in the studio ("De Republica"). The players knew themselves perfectly, reaching this kind of telepathic interplay, a big value for a band and music like theirs. On top of that, they decided to add some horns, integrated in further demanding arrangements that also gave the music a very strong jazz-rock feel; not the chops type often wrongly associated to this genre but a very organic and human one, spirited and muscular. The linguistic pyrochechnic acrobacies of Alberto Piras, be it in Latin or Italian, are topping here, having found the perfect vehicle to drive them forth! Violinist Alessandro Bonetti has now a bigger role to play and his often phased melodic lines are vital to the big picture; add some fantastic Rhodes playing, biting and amazing guitar soli and generally a rhythm section in fire and you'll begin to see why I can't but give this album a 5 stars rating. The print was so deep that I was in fact much disappointed when the next album "Cinque" did appear after some years of absence. The fire had been extinguished .... so in case you haven't heard Equilibrismo yet, let's make an experience; throw a match on its ashes and I'm sure the fire would take up again!
Report this review (#246864)
Posted Wednesday, October 28, 2009 | Review Permalink

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