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Fabio Zuffanti - La Foce Del Ladrone CD (album) cover


Fabio Zuffanti

Crossover Prog

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Honorary Collaborator
3 stars A return to early inspirations

In a way Fabio Zuffanti is something of an Italian Steven Wilson, a major player on the Italian alternative music scene as an artist, producer, songwriter, and performer. He is probably in as many different band projects as Wilson, from prog to pop, electronic, folk, post-rock, trip-hop, jazz, chamber, pastoral, you name it, he's been there. Like Wilson he may sometimes spread himself a bit too thin in my opinion, both are virtual product machines in their dedication to the craft. While his work has never reached the commercial audience to the level of a Porcupine Tree, his fans are able to choose from so many different quality works as a result of his work ethic: Finisterre, Hostsonaten, La Maschera di Cera, Rohmer, Aries, Lazona to name some of them, not to mention an active and growing solo career. With the release of his third official solo album, 2011's "La foce del ladrone," Zuffanti had the goal of making his most fully realized Italian pop album as a way of revisiting early inspirations, people like Lucio Battisti and Franco Battiato.

"I felt it was time to create an album that is finally (almost) pure pop. The pop for me is a major point of arrival and also re-start.....I can join with many of the worlds of music that I feel I belong, compress them and return with eight original songs." [forgive me if this translation is imperfect!]

The music is pop or art-pop but like Battisti there is much here for the fans of Italian progressive rock (RPI) to enjoy. The lyrical inspirations are very personal and touch on memory, surreal moments in life, and dreams. The base tracks feature accessible and typical structures but there are adventurous and delectable dressings throughout. The sound choices made are not always predictable and not what you would consider "pop" by today's commercial standard, instead they are typical of the Italian school of pop which features such beautiful presentation. Zuffanti's rather average vocal prowess is often improved by lush harmonies. The main tracks will segue into dreamy territory where you may encounter voices laughing, sunny, twanged guitar chords ringing out over pulsing bass, creative percussion, and levitating synth atmospheres. One of the nicest touches is the collaboration with the Formus String Quartet who enrich several tracks with fantastic violin, viola, and cello. Fantastic! And of course when he brings in the traditional piano to compliment the modern edge the contrast is warm and splendid. Only the last tracks fails to engage me, lacking the spark of the others and unfortunately bringing English vocals to the party (which to me, on an RPI album, is the equivalent of a rude party guest....unwelcome, clumsy, spills his drink on your rug, etc.)

I've not always been Zuffanti's biggest fan but this is a solid and highly enjoyable work which easily takes its place in the rich tradition of intelligent Italian pop albums, while crossing over enough to please those who enjoy his more overtly progressive projects. I really prefer the simple beauty and personal nature of this album to the acclaimed Hostsonaten album I have. 3 1/2 stars. Recommended.

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Posted Sunday, July 17, 2011 | Review Permalink

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