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FABIO ZUFFANTI

Crossover Prog • Italy


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Fabio Zuffanti biography
Italian multi-instrumentalist and composer FABIO ZUFFANTI is a well know name for those with a keen interest in Italian progressive rock. After starting out as a musician in 1994, he's worked with and been a member of a score of bands: Aries, Finisterre, H÷stsonaten, laZona, Maschera Di Cera, Quadraphonic, Rohmer and R.u.g.h.e.

In 2008 he also started working with Tommaso Labranca on a project where Zuffanti supplied music to spoken words, another side project besides his bands. But despite Zuffanti's rather busy schedule with bands an projects of various sorts, he's also found the time to venture out to create some solo projects.

The first of these may perhaps be regarded as another one of his side projects, but the release of the double CD "Merlin - The Rock Opera" in 2000 may also be regarded as his first solo venture. Victoria Heward wrote the lyrics and screenplay for this production, but Zuffanti supplied all the compositions used in this project, looking towards ventures such as "Jesus Christ Superstar" in terms of scope and ambition. Live performances in Italy and France followed the CD release, and catered to audiences with a taste for rock opera's of the bombastic variety - with symphonic progressive rock as the musical foundation.

It took a few more years before Zuffanti ventured out as a standalone solo artist though, but in 2007 he issued the EP "Pioggia e luce", a 5 track effort where he handled all aspects pf the album himself. In 2009 two full albums followed, at first the self-titled "Fabio Zuffanti", followed by the ambient effort "Ir", a venture containing two long suites, released on Danish label d'Oorhinge l'Orange Recordings as a CD-R.

2011 sees the release of his most fully-realized solo album, the delightful and personal homage to Italian pop "La Foce del Ladrone."

Fabio Zuffanti official website

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Merlin the Rock OperaMerlin the Rock Opera
Import
Ams Italy 2012
Audio CD$31.85 (used)
Fabio ZuffantiFabio Zuffanti
Import
Btf 2009
Audio CD$16.84
$15.99 (used)
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FABIO ZUFFANTI top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.76 | 13 ratings
Merlin - The Rock Opera (with Victoria Heward)
2000
3.00 | 2 ratings
Ir
2009
2.29 | 7 ratings
Fabio Zuffanti
2009
3.14 | 7 ratings
Ghiaccio
2010
2.79 | 15 ratings
La foce del ladrone
2011
3.77 | 116 ratings
La Quarta Vittima
2014

FABIO ZUFFANTI Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

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FABIO ZUFFANTI Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

4.50 | 2 ratings
Pioggia e luce
2007

FABIO ZUFFANTI Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 La Quarta Vittima by ZUFFANTI, FABIO album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.77 | 116 ratings

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La Quarta Vittima
Fabio Zuffanti Crossover Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

5 stars The Fabio Zuffanti legend just keeps on growing, continuously subjecting fans of Italian prog (and not necessarily only RPI) to wondrous delights. His previous tour de force, duly noted by an adoring list of reviewers here and abroad, was being mentor to the ridiculously brilliant Unreal City, whose debut disc "La Crudelta di Aprile" was met with stupendous applause. Guiding 4 young, handsome (and one sexy lady guitarist) and accomplished musicians, providing them with production and advice is testament to Fabio's incredible dedication to progressive music. His accomplishment are not given enough credit, so I will right that wrong subito! In 1995, bassist and co-leader of Finisterre became an influential motor in the revival of RPI that was blossoming with bands such as Germinale, CAP, Calliope, Il Castello di Atlante, Mad Crayon, Divae, DFA, Malibran, Mary Newsletter, Secret Cinema and countless others way too long a list to name them all. He then created Hostsonaten that featured a unique series of four albums that illuminated the 4 Seasons concept so dear to Vivaldi and classical musicians worldwide. That not being enough, he contributed to a slew of other interesting projects such as the prog-folkish Aries, the avant- jazz Zaal, the dissonant experimental La Zona, the ultra-modern Rohmer, the spooky L'Ombre della Sera, the magnificent La Maschera di Cera and a series of solo albums that have not been very popular. Being the Italian Steve Wilson or Roine Stolt means that there have been, in all fairness, a few hit and miss duds such as the ambient Quadraphonic (not his best foot forward) and the rather unpolished Merlin mini-opera with Victoria Heward. I have all of these albums, save for the solo stuff, so I do possess an appreciation for this man's obvious talents. Fabio is the type of self-imposed slave master who constantly has a few pots boiling and loves stirring the sauces, adding spices and aromas to his various recipes.

So, now we come to this 2014 masterpiece, the sensational adaptation of Michael Ende's classic novel Der Spiegel im Spiegel (1985) The Mirror in the Mirror in English, a fantasy collection of short stories for adults (he wrote children's books as well) that examine the ever so frail human condition. As usual with Zuffanti, the packaging, artwork, photos (including a humorous wink at Floyd's Animals shot of the Battersea nuke plant, one of rock music's iconic pictures) and production are truly first-class. Despite being an exceptional rock bass player, he has delegated that role to jazz bassist Riccardo Barbera while he concentrates on keys, samples and voice. Unreal City's stellar Emmanuelle Tarasconi is the main keysman, with help from Alberto Tafuri and Rossano Villa, three magnificent drummers as well as the lovely Laura Marsano on electric and acoustic guitars. Throw in some mellotron, sax, theremin, glockenspiel, violin, cello and flute and the kitchen is set.

A nearly 12 minute epic raises the curtains , "I promised you a great secret and I will not disappoint you" arrives with that cute Italian accented English we all love and admire! Nasty trembling bass threatens the skies with dark shadows, incredulous guitar riffs and mellotron blasts that are more Zeuhl than Tony Banks! Punching hard is Il Tempio delle Clessidre stickman Paolo Tixi, a manic pummeller if there ever was one, calibrated by sensual flute flutterings, Fender Rhodes e-piano liquidly pooling in a gloriously tranquil mid-section, an achingly profound lead vocal from the Z-man, doused in Villa's mellotron wake. 'Non Posso Parlare Piu Forte" indeed cannot speak louder, sliced by a Laura Marsano lead electric solo that will shiver ye timbers! Tarasconi then urges his Hammond along (a feature that did not go unnoticed on La Crudelta di Aprile!). Barbera carves hard and fast, relentless in Tixi's pursuit, I am sure the two must have been smiling at each other. Call it RPI, prog, symph, neo, I call it bloody fantastic piece of dynamic music!

Check my heartbeat, yeah okay! Need to chill, so up comes my revelation, the charmingly elegant "La Certezza Impossible" (the impossible certitude). Just as smooth and velvety as a well decanted vintage Barolo, the suave Italian voice inspires, intoxicates, hypnotizes until Marsano does her George Benson imitation guitar solo (you have to hear this mofo!) , simply gorgeous as it glides over the mighty mellotron carpets, suddenly exploding (and I mean Ka-Boom!) into a million guitar strings exertions. To then finish off with bombastic symphonic orchestrations (yeah, that bitchy mellotron again) is just pure heaven.

"L'Interno di Un Volta" is a straight forward rock song that actually winks at La Maschera di Cera, typical Italian prog song, loaded with passion and a sense of exalted emotion only the Ragazzi can dare to concoct. Drummer Saverio Malaspina rolls with the punches as the sensuous sax makes a cameo appearance full of playful romance and enticing allure. Is it me or do Italians really like sax? Just wondering, darling! The raging torrents reappear in a convulsion of erupting sound, cacophonous, grandiose and expansive.

You want movement, you admire pace and speed, the title track is another killer, a devastatingly bopping bass, hip-hopping drum patterns and flute mania galore is what you are in for. There is warranted sense of playfulness and modernism, sampled voices and supersonic Mini-Moog flurries, clavinet flirtations and lots of sax. Guitar solo? Va bene, signore, Marsano lets one rip for the ages, sounding like Holdsworth on amphetamines. A vibraphone outro will remind one of that other glorious Italian icon, Franco Zappa!

The 9 minute "Sotto un Cielo Nero" effectively introduces some blackened clouds, fueled by sermon-like vocals, forlorn drumming and funereal keyboard colorations handled here by Alberto Tafuri. Melancholia sets in, the choir 'tron doing it's seducing again, insistent rhythmic precipitations as the storm clouds come racing in, showing off some jazzy experimentation that is utterly perfected, somber cemetery organ and rifling drum fills from madman Enzo Zirilli . I thought I was listening to some old Ange instrumental section! This veers into an outright jazz improve, with sensational piano work that would make Corea, Hancock and company drool in delight. Another twist into vocal oddness and then the violin shoulders the mellotron, as if there was a finer combination then piping in a melody that will drop you jaw into the Trevi fountain. I need to catch my breath!

No respite in sight, as this is no soft album, quite the contrary, very muscular and rambunctious. A Lark's Tongues-like guitar riff and Easy Money beat scours the sonic horizons on the aggressive "Il Circo Brucia" which will spank your prog bottom with some KC fueled backhands! Brooding, heavy, chaotic and screechingly effective, the sheer creativity will keep the listener on the edge of some improbable precipice, like riding a Roller coaster without any restraint! Abruptly, tchaka tchak guitar, pooling e-piano motifs and string mellotron, beep-beep bass and tight drumming take this monster into cosmic overdrive. A final explosion and I mean, wow!

This exhausting and multi-faceted masterpiece ends on a sublime note. The sad violin and the depressed piano do a little initial coupling, as Zuffanti's tired voice intones "a Winter's Night", a simple song where time and space have vanished, blurred by the sheeted snowflakes and blanketed by cooler winds. Serenity and tranquil acceptance of nature's dominion where bass, guitar and mellotron join gloved hands in harmony, giving Marsano one more opportunity to make her axe howl, scream and cry. Someone please call 911. "Real life awaits us".

Not four but 5 victims of life !

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 La Quarta Vittima by ZUFFANTI, FABIO album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.77 | 116 ratings

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La Quarta Vittima
Fabio Zuffanti Crossover Prog

Review by ProgShine
Collaborator Errors & Omissions and Crossover Team

4 stars Fabio Zuffanti is one of the most prolific musicians of our time. In 2013 alone he released two albums with La Maschera Di Cera, one with Finisterre, one with H÷stsonaten and towards the end of the year he recorded this album here, La Quarta Vittima (2014).

Fabio could transform itself into a kind of Neal Morse or Dream Theater and release the same album year after year. But he doesn't and that's what makes him interesting, you never know what's going to be the next one!

Released in January 15 by the Italian label AMS La Quarta Vittima (2014) is a very interesting album by Fabio Zuffanti. Especially in the instrumental territory as we can see in the first track 'Non Posso Parlare Pi¨ Forte'. Resuming, all instrumental parts on La Quarta Vittima (2014) are strong and very interesting. My problem with La Quarta Vittima (2014) are the vocals. Most of the time on the background and kinda uninspired, I'm pretty sure it was on purpose, but for me they don't work and thats my one and only complain.

In general La Quarta Vittima (2014) is a hell of a modern prog album with touch of retro sounds. Go for it!

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 La Quarta Vittima by ZUFFANTI, FABIO album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.77 | 116 ratings

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La Quarta Vittima
Fabio Zuffanti Crossover Prog

Review by YoshiPK

4 stars This album is like a jewel box with various gems inside.From the intricate jazz topaz to baroque pearls, Fabio Zuffanti skillfully created a dark, gloomy, but sometimes iridescent necklace with these gems. The fourth track 'La Quarta Vittima' baldly demonstrated the future dimension of this Italian master composer. You hear the essence of Zuffanti's past production scattered elsewhere throughout this album. Still, the overall impression is refreshing and shows the new direction for all musicians participated. The variety of the guest musicians are worthy to note. His fellow musicians from Hostsonaten and La Maschera di Cera did their 'usual' master works; in addition global jazz musicians added a flair of 'gorgeous' jazzy mood. I recommend to listen to this album in sequence to appreciate the climax and the chilling down at the epilogue to find the 'answer' to the question of the opening track.

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 La Quarta Vittima by ZUFFANTI, FABIO album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.77 | 116 ratings

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La Quarta Vittima
Fabio Zuffanti Crossover Prog

Review by Second Life Syndrome
Collaborator Post/Math Rock and Crossover Teams

4 stars "Real life awaits us".

As the accent-laden voice fades in on Fabio Zuffanti's new album, "La Quarta Vittima" (The Fourth Victim), a sense of foreboding and reality are bestowed upon the listener. This album is somber, and maybe even a little scary on a mental level. And, see, I get all this even though the album is almost entirely sung in Italian.

Fabio Zuffanti is one of my favorite songwriters, and this new album showcases why that is. This album is delicate, with flutes and RPI keys. It's also terrifyingly powerful with trombones and excellent drumming. This album is almost bipolar in a way, and I mean that in the best manner possible. One moment will be quiet, surreal, and full of vertigo, and then the next moment will be soulful or possibly powerful and bombastic. All the while, Fabio's quiet, reserved vocal style marches on and on. It's a dark, jazzy sound, for sure. Lots of RPI influence, obviously, but also many pure jazz elements are present, too.

This album is dark for a good reason. It is based on the book "The Mirror in the Mirror" by Michael Ende. I've never read this book, but now I think I might need to do so. This story is bewildering, confusing, and full of loneliness and cycles of time and space. Most appropriately, then, Fabio has constructed a blackened, sorrowful album full of tarnished beauty, longing, and loss. It is incredible in the quiet, contemplative moments, and mesmerizing in the louder, excited passages.

I think my favorite track is certainly the opener, "Non Posso Parlare Pi¨ Forte" (I Cannot Speak More Strongly). Its vast array of flute passages and writhing keyboard torrents is just unmatched the rest of the album, but this album is certainly not weak at any point. From the dark saxophone lines to the surreal keys to the meaningful horns, this album is very diverse and arranged masterfully. In fact, I don't think I've heard such interesting song structures in a while.

"La Quarta Vittima" shows Fabio Zuffanti doing what he does best: crafting incredibly unique songs with a vast array of instruments and guests. His dark emphasis this time is a new thing for him, but it doesn't harm his grasp on beauty and melody even a little bit. While this isn't the best album Fabio has ever written, it certainly is up there with his best. 2014 is off to a strong start.

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 La foce del ladrone by ZUFFANTI, FABIO album cover Studio Album, 2011
2.79 | 15 ratings

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La foce del ladrone
Fabio Zuffanti Crossover Prog

Review by Finnforest
Special Collaborator 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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 Merlin - The Rock Opera (with Victoria Heward) by ZUFFANTI, FABIO album cover Studio Album, 2000
2.76 | 13 ratings

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Merlin - The Rock Opera (with Victoria Heward)
Fabio Zuffanti Crossover Prog

Review by ZowieZiggy
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Fabio Zuffanti can be compared to Roine Stolt from "The Flower Kings". He is leading an awful lot of projects at the same time and this will partially ruin this double CD set. I am just found of "La Maschera Di Cera" and "Hostsonaten" also pleases me a lot. And while "Finisterre" is only good to my ears, I was keen on listening to this "Merlin" rock opera stuff.

After having listened to the "Overture" of this "rock opera", I was just even more interested in discovering this work because it is really a good start. My high enthusiasm was just filled when I listened to the next song : "As It Was in the Beginning". A jewel of prog music with such great mellotron, subtle piano and beautiful melodies. Vocals are also very well performed here. This song has some definite "Renaissance" flavour and should please any prog lover.

But after these two very good songs, what a disappointment ! It sounds as if I was listening to a musical in Broadway or the London West End. These vocal duos just remind me this feeling. Of course, you might say that since it is a concept album about Merlin, Arthur and all that mythical story, it is almost normal. But I do not agree. There are ways to avoid falling into this trap.

The only great number after those two openings is "The Wedding March". Full of great keys and with some passionate vocals. It is also somewhat borderline to release a double CD which lenght lasts for ninety minutes (and not eightY one as mentioned). The band would have been inspired by cutting some of these short tracks which might maybe have some sort of signification in the whole history but in terms of musical interest they are just short and useless. By doing this, we would have gotten a one CD work which would have sound less boring.

Just for die-hard fans of Fabio's work (like me) who would like to discover another aspect of his personality.

Two stars.

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 Merlin - The Rock Opera (with Victoria Heward) by ZUFFANTI, FABIO album cover Studio Album, 2000
2.76 | 13 ratings

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Merlin - The Rock Opera (with Victoria Heward)
Fabio Zuffanti Crossover Prog

Review by Greger
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This is a 2 CD concept album that tells the story about the adventures of Merlin the Wizard. The album is an Italian production but the lyrics are all in English, so there's no problem to follow the story. "Merlin The Rock Opera" have musical reminiscences to John Miner's rock opera "Heaven Cafe'". From time to times there's also some similarities to the musical "Chess". - There are eight characters in the rock opera, performed by eight singers. Alessandro Corvaglia who does the vocals of Merlin has a voice that's quite reminiscent to Denis Quilley who's doing Molokov in "Chess". The musicianship is very good. One of the highlights on this album are "Tricked / Must You Leave So Soon?" where I instantly get to think about a part in "Chess". - I guess that the live performance of this rock opera must have been really something to remember. Imagine 8 singers, 17 choir members, 11 musicians, 7 dancers and 5 additional performers on stage and very strong compositions. It must have been quite overwhelming. - If you were lucky enough to be in the audience on this rock opera, I guess that you've already bought the album, and if you weren't there, this album is perhaps the closest you'll ever get. Recommended!

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 Merlin - The Rock Opera (with Victoria Heward) by ZUFFANTI, FABIO album cover Studio Album, 2000
2.76 | 13 ratings

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Merlin - The Rock Opera (with Victoria Heward)
Fabio Zuffanti Crossover Prog

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

2 stars Mr Zuffanti should let Mr Wakeman or Mr Lucassen worry about these grand and pompous projects that have brought ridicule to prog by just about everybody outside that precise progworld.Instead, Mr Zuffanti might want to do more Hostsonnaten, or better yet restart Finisterre or better still Marschera Di Cera but really he should concentrate on LaZona as this post-rock is one of the area of further groundbreaking for prog (listen to Tarentel , Tortoise or Godspeed You Black Emperor and its side-projects)

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