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Fabio Zuffanti - La Quarta Vittima CD (album) cover

LA QUARTA VITTIMA

Fabio Zuffanti

 

Crossover Prog

3.91 | 152 ratings

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VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Review N║ 459

Fabio Zuffanti is an Italian progressive rock musician, composer and multi-instrumentalist from Genoa. He is a name very well known in the Italian progressive rock scene. He began his musical career in 1994 and since then he has been involved in the creation of over forty albums, as a soloist and with bands such as Finisterre, La Maschera Di Cera, H÷stsonaten, Rohmer, laZona, Aries, La Curva Di Lesmo, L'Ombra Della Sera, Quadraphonic, R.u.g.h.e., besides many other participations in some other musical projects. But, Zuffanti is also a very well know and respected prog artist besides his home country. Due to be a prolific artist he is often compared to Steven Wilson, Roine Stolt, Arjen Anthony Lucassen, Neal Morse, Clive Nolan and Mike Portnoy. All these great musicians belong to the same prog generation.

In 2014, Zuffanti created a modern prog rock work destined to bring the name of the Italian prog scene to the attention of audiences around the world, "La Quarta Vittima". "La Quarta Vittima" is Zuffanti's fourth studio album and is also his first solo work entirely focused on prog. In 2014 the twentieth year of activity of the Genoese artist also falled, who for the occasion conceived a work that is a bit the sum of the numerous experiences that have seen him as protagonist.

"La Quarta Vittima" is a conceptual album inspired by Michael Ende's book, "Der Spiegel Im Spiegel", a Gothic surreal short collection of stories, to which some of the seven titles allude. The different stories of the book apparently seem to have nothing in common with each other, even if a more careful reading it's easy to find a subtle fil rouge combining the different stories. The same thing happens with the album, whose passages aren't formally linked, but present details that unite them. The album has very different musical styles which include symphonic, jazz, hard, electronic, psychedelic elements and much more, in a unique, powerful, labyrinthine musical kaleidoscope. The most suitable term to describe the character of both works is precisely labyrinthine, pervaded by an overwhelming and tormented anguish.

Fabio Zuffanti is one of my favorite songwriters, and this album showcases why. This album is delicate, with flutes and rich keyboard and Mellotron passages abound, these linking effortlessly to searing guitar parts and dramatic shifts of mood and tempo. The bass is an essential component of the whole sensory experience, one moment driving frenzied rhythms, the next providing subtle and melodic waves of low end ecstasy. It's also terrifyingly powerful with excellent drumming. Added to the concoction are male and female vocal parts which perfectly complement the beauty and majesty of the music. This album is almost bipolar in a way and I mean that in a good way. In one moment will be quiet, surreal, and full of vertigo. And then, in the next moment will be soulful or possibly powerful and bombastic. All these ingredients mixed together are added to raise Zuffanti's compositions to a high elevated level of skill and performance.

The album opens with the vibrant "Non Posso Parlare Pi¨ Forte" that features powerful jazz-rock guitars, rich keyboards and engaging flute melodies and improvisations, creating laid back darker and surreal moments. "La Certezza Impossibile" takes the listener into epic territory with delightful moments of bass and sax that lead to dramatic vocals and a glorious mix of Mellotron and guitars. "L'Interno Di Un Volto" presents a great mix of male and female vocals as well as saxophone solos. The keyboards, especially Mellotron passages along with the vocals, are great and epic with a grand finale worthy of the finest prog bands. The title track heads in a jazzier direction with lively keyboard, brass, flute and guitar improvisations. "Sotto Un Cielo Nero" has a dreamy feel. The magical keyboards, vocals and drums are clearly from the great Italian school of the classic prog rock. There are moments of jazz-rock improvisation, as well as straight ahead jazz combo segments. The composition ends with an outstanding violin solo surrounded by a great Mellotron work. "Il Circo Brucia" brings the album to high intensity with a mix of jazz-rock and edgy symphonic rock plus an exquisite section of funk prog. The album concludes with "Una Sera D'Inverno", a beautiful melancholic piano and soaring violin intro that leads into a mesmeric slow tempo and an epic guitar work, ending the album nicely.

Conclusion: "La Quarta Vittima" is a dark album seeming to have lack of connection. But this is for a good reason. It's based on the book of Michael Ende. The 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, disconnected. It's incredible in the quiet contemplative moments, and mesmerizing in the louder, excited passages, a labyrinthine album indeed. Every friend of Italian prog should check it, as it holds just about anything you can dream of from the Italian school of prog. You get lavish soundscapes with beautiful guitar themes, you get complex time signature prog compostions, you get jazzy sequences and you get a load of great musicians. It's an exciting album that grows on you. The occational lyrics are sung in Italian, as usual, but that shouldn't scare any serious prog rock fan.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

VianaProghead | 4/5 |

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