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Profusion - Phersu CD (album) cover

PHERSU

Profusion

Eclectic Prog


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4 stars After 2012's 'RewoToweR', that took 6 years of line-up changes, writing down and polishing, Profusion return with 'Phersu', named after a man-like creature painted upon some ancient Etruscan tombs. Although all five guys from the previous album are at work here, their art has perceptibly evolved, especially composition-wise.

The album doesn't feel as catchy as instantly lovable 'RewoToweR', but it is quite a grower. Though it is still very colourful, it drops the search of instant appeal in favour of a deeper musical exploration that ultimately rewards. Interestingly, the opening two songs of the album are full with rhythmically interesting, broken-down guitar riffs, which, together with Luca Latini's characteristic vocal delivery, sounds like a progressive correlate of mid 70's heavy-funk Deep Purple, especially when Glenn Hudges used to take the singing spot.

Georgian motives are yet again very prominent (Vladimer Sichinava is a Georgian living in Italy), especially on superb 'Nomen' (with Mamuka Ghaghanidze from a Georgian jazz/rock band 'The Shin' on vocals and Jakub Mietła on accordion as special guests) and 'Free Fall' which samples the poetry of Galaktion Tabidze, one of the greatest ever Georgian poets.

There are couple of very sentimental moments on the album too - brought to the fore with minimally but very freshly arranged closer 'Forbidden' and especially gorgeous 'Wrinkled Maiden', featuring excellent Anita Rachvelishvili and dedicated to people suffering from Alzheimer's disease.

Other songs mostly feature different combinations of piano-led softness and riff-based grandiosity, with 'Forgetful Hero' being the highlight. To sum it up, this is an album that doesn't follow the successful formula established by the previous album ' instead progressing to new sound and compositional expression, while retaining Profusion's trademark lightly essence.

After quite a number of listens, I still prefer 'RewoTower', but 'Phersu' is an excellent follow-up, impressing more and more with every successive listen. Very solid 4 stars for now and warmly recommended!

Report this review (#1474002)
Posted Thursday, October 8, 2015 | Review Permalink
Matti
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars This is among those albums (received to be reviewed in the other, Finnish-language prog site I'm a collaborator in) that don't quite fit into my personal taste but are recognizable as fairy good items of the style in question. Phersu is the third album by the Italian eclectic prog band leaning towards metal. Yeah, if you know me, you understand right away what's the problem for me: metal! But that's only one of the features here. Firstly, Luca Latini who's singing in English and has a clean but powerful tenor-like voice is very much at home in the more delicate expression too, and at least occasionally the arrangement comes down to acoustically oriented sensitivity favouring piano.

There are several guests on the album. One track features a trumpet, a saxophone and a trombone even though they don't much stick out from the band's powerplay. Mezzo-soprano Anita Rachvelishvili takes the reign in the ballad 'Wrinkled Maiden'. Sadly the song is the shortest one of the eleven. 'Nomen' with its guest vocalists (from an ethnic fusion group The Shin) and an accordionist is a fine example of the way Profusion mixes e.g. ethnic and jazzy elements into their metal oriented prog rock. All in all, a bit too metallic to my taste, but I guess a large number of more metal-friendly prog listeners might find this album very good! 3 stars rounded down because of the boring and textually unpractical layout.

PS. Let it be also known that by buying this CD (or 'Wrinkled Maiden' separately) one supports AIMA, the Italian non-profit organization helping Alzheimer's disease patients and their families.

Report this review (#1520961)
Posted Wednesday, January 27, 2016 | Review Permalink
Windhawk
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Italy-based band PROFUSION consists of Italian and Georgian musicians. It started out back in 2001, originally called Mardi Gras Experience, but opting to change to Profusion from 2002 and onward. "Phersu" is their third studio album to date, and was released through Progressive Promotion Records in the fall of 2015.

Eclectic, sophisticated music with half a foot or thereabouts inside the progressive metal spectrum and otherwise with a firm foundation in innovative progressive rock is what Profucion provides us on their third studio production "Phersu", lightly flavored with some subtle jazz and fusion touches and with occasional forays into landscapes drawing in inspiration from world music and folk music to boot. A well made, high-quality CD, well worth giving a spin for those with an interest in accessible yet at times also somewhat challenging and well made contemporary progressive rock of the eclectic kind.

Report this review (#1578033)
Posted Sunday, June 12, 2016 | Review Permalink
aapatsos
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal and Heavy Prog Teams
4 stars Rewotower was a nice suprise back in 2012 and a well-reviewed (and well-deserved) album. At the time of writing, about a year since its release, ''Phersu'', the band's third album, seems to have flown below the prog world radars.

What made Rewotower an exceptional album seems, to a degree, to be repeated here: catchy, yet peculiar, tunes, a multitude of influences, very dynamic riffs and compositions, edging more and more to progressive metal, and that character of a band. The latter possibly emanates from the near-eastern blend of influences brought to the band, which together with the Italian tempo produce something which is difficult to pass by. Even the cover of the album - a mutant mannequin/Persian prince? - tells a story, like it or not.

There is no doubt Profusion are a strange bunch delivering eclectic-yet-pop prog. This time the tunes range from 4 to 6 minutes, each telling its own story with some great narratives, linked pretty much to modern day life and challenges, and well worth exploring. Although acts such as Dream Theater come often to mind, Profusion manage to inject a much more playful approach to their songwriting, aided by the near-cynical vocal melodies. ''Snooze'' and ''Free Fall'' are strong riffy openers with catchy refrains, while ''Nomen'' builds up on this pattern with oriental melodies and accordions and turns into a folksy adventure after 2 minutes in. Then there's the more eclectic, Beardfish-y side of things with ''Masquerade'' and ''Vanity Fair'' and the much more mellow with ''Wrinkled Maiden'' (70's folksy melodies), ''Infinite'' and ''Forbidden'', which although strong lyrically, I would prefer to see less of.

If Rewotower was a 4+ album (and to my ears a more accomplished one), ''Phersu'' is probably a 4- but another worthy addition to your collection, which shows continuity in quality records from this band.

Best moments: Free Fall, Nomen, Veteran.

Report this review (#1593461)
Posted Sunday, July 31, 2016 | Review Permalink
octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
4 stars Somebody thinks that the word "Persona" derives from this strange creature names Phersu which is represented on some painting in the Etruscan tombs. Profusion is a band from the same area, even if the drummer is Georgian. Some Georgian artists are also guests in the album.

3 years fter the excellent Rewotower which contained a masterpiece song like the arrangement of the traditional Georgian "Chuta Chani", the band is back with an album which opens heavy and powerful with "Snooze". This song is catchy, vocals and guitar are remarkable, but the whole band shows an excellent technical skill. In some parts I have heard a little SPOCK'S BEARD or TRANSATLANTIC vibe, but very much harder, and thinking better, also Riverside, mainly in the instrumental parts.

Let's go track by track, then.

"Free Fall" is opened by heavy guitar and keys. Directly in the Prog-metal realm, but the singing is melodic. The main chord sequence reminds to a 60s Italian famous pop band, the EQUIPE 84. Just a concidence, because the song changes theme several times and there is a lot of different stuff inside. I must add that I reallly like the clean high- pitched voice of Luca LATINI.

"Forgettful Hero" is opened by piano, instead. A short moment of relax after two good heavy songs. There's a short intro of Gilmour-ish guitar, but it's just an illusion, as the heavyness returns quickly to introduce a folky melodic part of piano and voice. A great song, also when the heavyness comes back. The melodic lines are always catchy. There's an american band that comes to my mind: the "1974". If you have liked that band, you'll surely like this as well.

Again a piano intro, but this time "Wrinkled Maiden" is sang by one of the guests, the impressive vocalist Anita Rachvelishvili. She's capable of clean and also operatic singing. The song is one of the more melodic of the album and I think the one with the highest commercial potential, even if it can't be considered "commercial" at all.

Back to metal with "Nomen". I don't understand if some of the lyrics are just "scat" or if they are in, who knows, Georgian? There's Jakub Mietła playing the accordion and the song has a very folk vibe, so it could even be another rearranged traditional like Chuta Chani. One of the album's highlights for its complexity. I wonder how they can be on stage. Unfortunately their website doesn't report any incoming gig currently, at May 2017.

Another unexpected instrument: a harp introduces "Infinity". A keyboard maybe? good championing, in case. This song is very melodic, and it makes me think again to RIVERSIDE (I like that Polish band really a lot...is it evident?). Should the band release a single, this could be the one.

Also the speech opening of "Masquerade" is in a perfect prog-metal vein, but the guitar base is leaning more to classic rock. Of course the signature is odd, that's prog folks!

A piano intro for "Veteran". Also this song is catchy, but it's everything but trivial. Frequent signature changes, unexpectable chord sequences, pauses, an everything going ahead smoothly. My compliments to the composer(s). The piano solo interlude deserves a mention even if short.

"Vanity Fair" opening is classic prog-metal, but it proceeds with a teathrical melody. Is it only me or there's a little bit if Genesis influence? Just a little bit before the first chorus. This is another complex song, and let me specify that I have listened to the album on headphones at high volume. I am also used to relisten to the tracks while I'm writing a review, and just now I've had a quick flash of LED ZEPPELIN, too. Really an excellent album without any weakness.

Also the closing track has a piano intro. "Forbidden" has a very melodic slow start. The vocals are important. I've tried to imagine it sang b a female vocalist. It wouldn't have been that good, I think. Latini's voice fits really well in this song. A slow song, without the metal imprinting of the rest of the album is a good choice as closer, but even without distorted guitars, the choir and Latini are enough to give it an impresion of "power".

So, even if the album lacks a materpiece like Chuta Chani, is more consistent than RewoToweR in the sense that all the songs are almost of the same (excellent) level. Another excellent addition, especially if you like prog-metal.

Report this review (#1717925)
Posted Friday, May 5, 2017 | Review Permalink
4 stars Three years and a half after the excellent RewoToweR, Profusion returns with a new album, Phersu. A phersu is a male figure, depicted in painted Etruscan tombs that appears at first sometime during the 6th century BC. The phersu wears a long beard, a conical cap, a short tunic and a mask. The word means "mask" or "actor", became "persona" in Latin and went viral in many European languages. He plays a role in funerary games.

Like on RewoToweR, the music is an eclectic blend of styles on a foundation of melodic progressive metal with complex rhythm patterns and catchy melodies. The line-up of the band has not changed, which is a good thing. These musicians have a high level of instrumental skill and the clear and rather high-pitched vocals of Luca Latini are always a pleasure to listen to. The album kicks in nicely with "Snooze", a powerful song with a catchy chorus. "Freefall" starts in a similar way but moves into more complex territories. It has some lines from a verse by Georgian poet Galaktion Tabidze. Metaphor or meteor?

"Forgetful Hero" starts with gentle piano and a short powerful part before the vocals enter with a very folky melody. Hereafter it becomes heavier with alternating 5/8 and 6/8 time signatures.

In "Wrinkled Maiden" the first guest musician enters: Anita Rachvelishvili, a distinguished Georgian mezzo-soprano who has performed in many venues all over the globe, slipped out of the opera house to take a short break from the plight of the Bizets and Borodins of that world and handle the vocals in this short song. "Wrinkled Maiden" is recorded to support AIMA, an Italian organization which supports Alzheimer's Disease patients and their families.

"Nomen" is the killer track of this album. This song represents the essence of Profusion in six minutes - a superb showcase of eclecticism. Here we have two more guests: Mamuka Ghaghanidze from the Georgian fusion band The Shin on percussion and vocals and the Polish accordion virtuoso Jakub Mietła. This song is somewhat reminiscent of "Tkeshi/Chuta Chani": the first half is a strong piece of Kartvelo-prog. Halfway the song the vocal part is taken over by Luca Latini and there are some lighter and jazzier passages alternated with pounding metal riffs. The accordion adds a strong folky character to this song.

"Infinity" is one of the resting points on this album. This song is featured by the sound of a harp, though I think it's not a harp, but probably keys. And why not? If in one of the YouTube vids that accompanied this release, at some point the vocals of La Rachvelishvili have a striking resemblance to the sound of a theremin, this should be easily possible.

"Masquerade", "Veteran" and "Vanity Fair" are three songs with a length between four and five minutes and catchy melodies that tend to get stuck in your head. Yet they have alternating rhythm patterns. The album ends gently with with "Forbidden" in which the vocals are only accompanied by a piano.

Phersu may have flown somewhat under the radar so far, but it deserves more attention. It may not have the sparkling and instantly conquering charm of RewoToweR, but it sounds more mature and it is definitely a worthy successor. Not to be left for excavation by later generations.

Report this review (#1743454)
Posted Friday, July 14, 2017 | Review Permalink

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