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Eclectic Prog

3.58 | 63 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
4 stars Some bands just forsake all that mysterious nebulous nonsense and simply throw it all out there in their band name. It doesn't get any clearer provided you're aware of top level domain abbreviations for nations of the world. And so it should be obvious that the band FROMUZ which started out as FROM.UZ is from Uzbekistan! From the capital city of Tashkent to be more accurate and this quartet has become one of Central Asia's most successful prog acts having not only dazzled the prog fans from the surrounding "Stan" nations but has been a significant player in the Russian prog scene as well as the rest of the world.

FROM.UZ was formed in 2004 by Andrew Mara-Novik (bass), Vitaly Popeloff (guitars), Albert Khalmurzayev (keyboards) and Vladimir Badirov (drums) whose fascination with classic prog acts such as King Crimson, Pink Floyd, Yes, Jethro Tull as well as classic rock, jazz and classical music, helped them decide to form their own band where they began to play live and honed their chops. These guys were serious about their prog and in no time learned how to throw all their influences into a blender and create their own sound. Having gained enough confidence in the 2005 concert that took place in the Youth Theatre of Uzbekistan the band participated in several similar events and quickly caught the attention of the entire region.

By 2006 the band had already caught the attention of 10T Records who signed them up and instead of recording a studio album, the band decided to release its debut as a live concert at the same Youth Theatre. In February 2007 the album AUDIO DIPLOMACY was released as a combo pack that included a CD and an accompanying DVD. Both contain the exact same audio only one has visuals and one does not! The band got it right the first time around with a masterful display of prog chops and creative delivery and although this is a live recording, it's impossible to determine as such since there are no audience sounds and the production is extremely professionally recorded not to mention these guys really know how to craft extended proggy jams that are just bursting with tons of creative mojo flowing from every jittery time signature change. The members occasionally exhibit extraordinary virtuosity in soloing.

Despite the same tracks on both CD and DVD, the DVD is about 12 minutes longer. The CD itself clocks in around the 75 minute mark and although i usually dislike lengthy sprawling prog albums that rely on jamming and improv for its modus operendi, i have to say that i do not get bored with AUDIO DIPLOMACY because nothing and i mean nothing outstays its welcome. In general the tracks provide nice proggy hooks, you know the kind that offer distinct catchy hooks but then progified by adding an ever changing rotisserie of time signature shifts, tempo changes, variations in dynamics and reprises of key elements that keep things from drifting into the great musical void. This is by no means an easy listening experience as you must be able to latch on to the overarching framing of the album but it's also rather loosy-goosy in how things unfold. The music can totally rock out or drift into placid moments of progressive electronica.

The track "Intro" which is over six minutes long starts things off with a series of electronic antics and clever creative interpolations before the guitar oriented prog kicks off the main sounds of the album. Hovering somewhere between Pink Floyd inspired space rock and heavier King Crimson prog of the "Red" era, FROM.UZ also incorporates jazzy segments, funk bass grooves, wild and unhinged electronic outbursts that can be startling as well as elements of classical music moments. There are also moments such as in the middle of "From FROMUZ" where the band just get really weird and delves into extremely experimental motifs as well as pure jazz bop. This is a band i've heard about for years but never explored but upon experiencing this amazingly well performed live debut i am extremely impressed with the band's ability to play at this level in a live setting so the studio albums must be spectacular! Highly recommended for those who love highly complex prog that changes things up often without resorting to extreme genre shifts in the vein of Mr Bungle or Estradasphere.

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |


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