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Deus Ex Machina - Devoto CD (album) cover


Deus Ex Machina


Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.87 | 41 ratings

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4 stars Deus ex Machina is my kryptonite: were it not for the wide universe of prog, I would give every one of their albums 5 stars. Musically and compositionally, they are in the top pantheon. In my sometimes not-humble-enough opinion, they simply can do no wrong.

As part of my regimen for maintaining my sanity while sheltering in place here in NYC, I have been going through all my progressive rock albums alphabetically by group, and chronologically within each group. When I completed listening to the entire DeM oeuvre, I had forgotten how much of a prog "jam" band they were at the beginning. They then...progressed (matured) through their next two albums and ramped up the progressive dial to 11 to arrive at what is almost certainly their peak - Equilibrismo da Insofferenza, one of the greatest albums in any subgenre of progressive rock. With their next effort, Cinque - on which they got rid of some of their most bombastic (radically progressive, which is not a bad thing) tendencies - they produced a more mature, thoughtful album. On Imparis they fine-tuned even a little more. (As an side, I believe Cinque is much better than it has been reviewed. In fact, if Equilibrismo is their Sgt. Pepper, then De Republica is their Revolver, and Cinque is their Magical Mystery Tour. I do tend to think of things relative to the Beatles.)

With Devoto, they have almost come full circle. Actually, Devoto is basically a compilation of all of their various "styles" over the years, though the overall sound is somewhat more "rock and roll" than almost anything since their first album. (In this regard, I agree with Sean Trane's comment that "There's quite a strong Led Zeppelin vibe that pops up at times, especially from the 'Houses Of The Holy' period," except that I don't hear it quite as strongly as he does. There IS definitely a "rawer" rock sound to some of the material here, but I would say they are also wearing other early influences on their sleeve, including Zappa and Gentle Giant.) There is something for everyone here, from the "rawer," "jammier" sound of their first two albums, to the slightly more progressive sound of De Republica, to the radical sound of Equilibrismo, to the maturer sound of Cinque and Imparis. And although many of the compositions are "simpler" than some of their more overtly progressive ones, they are no less thoughtful and deliberative, and the album also contains some of leader/singer Alberto Piras' best, most interesting and complex melodies and rhythms.

I will not go through the album song by song, except the say that the three stand-outs here are Distratto Da Me (the most overtly progressive of the songs), Piu Uguale (progressive with a strong rock and roll heart), and Multiverso, though everything here is worthwhile.

I had great fun listening to their oeuvre, which I have not done in years. My only regret after re-listening to Devoto was that there were no more albums to listen to. I hope they are hard at work on their next one, whatever it may bring.

maani | 4/5 |


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