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D.F.A. - 4th CD (album) cover

4TH

D.F.A.

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.10 | 90 ratings

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kev rowland
Special Collaborator
Honorary Reviewer
3 stars Released in 2008, this was the first studio album from Duty Free Area in almost a decade, and still their latest. This is currently available from Moonjune Records on their Bandcamp site at "name your price", so it is a great opportunity to investigate one of the best Italian progressive bands around. Six songs and nearly 70 minutes in length, four of the six are totally instrumental, and while a couple bring in additional strings, the album is based around the core quartet of Silvio Minella (guitars), Alberto Bonomi (Hammond A100, Fender Rhodes, grand piano, synth, flute, vocals), Luca Baldassari (bass) and Alberto De Grandis (drums, percussion, vocals). This fusion album has been hugely influenced by the likes of John McLaughlin, and definitely feels as if it belongs in the Seventies as opposed to the Noughties. Baldassari is probably the most under-stated of the musicians, often staying a long way in the background which allows his rhythm partner to be more bombastic in his approach, often flailing all over the kit. But then at the front are Minella and Bonomi, who back each other up, duet and solo with each knowing their place in the melody and knowing exactly what has to be done to provide just the right emphasis. In many ways this doesn't feel like an Italian progressive album at all, as it feels far more British and American in its outlook which in this context is a very good thing indeed.

I must confess to not being a huge fan of the last track in particular, as the vocal harmonies make it a very interesting piece indeed, especially with the violin, but it is quite at odds with the rest of the album and consequently it jars somewhat. Certainly it isn't representative of D.F.A. as a whole, yet this reflective almost Baroque approach is very well done indeed and it would be interesting to hear an album of this style of music, but for me it just doesn't fit with the rest of it. Given there were 9 years between this album and 1999's 'Duty Free Area' let's hope that this isn't the end of the band just yet. If you have yet to come across them then thanks to the generosity and foresight of Moonjune Records then now really couldn't be a better time to do so.

kev rowland | 3/5 |

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