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(167:20, 10T Records)
TRACK LIST: Seventh Story Live (86:20) 1. Perfect Place 2. Parallels 3. Desert Circle 4. Bell of the Earth 5. Taken 6. Influence of Time 7. Perfect Love + Extra Material (81:00) LINE UP: Vitaly Popeloff – guitars; vocals Albert Khalmurzaev – keyboards; guitars; vibraphone Igor Elizov – grand piano, keyboards Ali Izmailov – drums, percussion Surat Kasimov – bass
Prolusion. Uzbekistan’s outfit FROMUZ was formed in 2003, and in the 7 years they have existed they have been an active band, steadily releasing material that has been met with a generally positive reception. "Inside Seventh Story" is their second release of 2010, and covers a live performance of their latest album, "Seventh Story".
Analysis. An intriguing aspect of this production is the fact that it was recorded 2 years ago, and that the studio album whose material is performed live on this occasion apparently had been finished back in 2008 as well. How common it is to have a 2-year time period between finishing productions and releasing them I really do not know, but with the work pace of this band I guess this means that they have one or two more creations awaiting release at this point – which should give their fans quite a lot to look forward to. As for the band itself, they reside within the eclectic part of the art rock universe, where slick jazz-rock and intricate fusion with metal edges form the outer parameters of their stylistic universe. Their main stylistic expression may arguably be described as symphonic progressive rock, and the latest line-up alterations that now see them sporting two keyboard players add an emphasis to that part of their repertoire. All the members are masters of their craft, their instrumental prowess and performance of the highest level. The only weak point of the band is in the vocal department, but as FromUz by and large is a mostly instrumental outfit this isn't a major issue. Live, the band is just as tight as on their studio efforts, and their live performance is flawless, faultless and excellent throughout. The studio production is taken to the stage in all its glory, with playback used for the conceptual dramatic interludes, while the compositions in their live versions are slightly elongated, the added length due to prolonged soloing passages, at times seemingly of an improvisational nature. Personally I was less than thrilled with the dramatic interludes on the studio version, but live they work better – mostly due to two participants given minor acting roles throughout the show. Just what is acted out is hard to tell, but it does add an additional dimension to a live concert DVD. And one intriguing to watch and ponder on, I might add. The technical aspects of this DVD hold as high a quality as one might expect from a production run on what I surmise is a limited budget: sound quality in the very top range and image quality well above average. Sharpness is arguably the weakest point of the video footage, in particular on the distance shots, while colorization and saturation appear to be as close to perfect as one can achieve this side of a blockbuster venture. Careful use of effects adds lots of variety, and in particular a noir-inspired brown-tinged filter adds a surprising level of depth to the proceedings. The footage treated in that manner gives the impression of being shot decades ago, contrasting in a very intriguing manner with the music performed and the musicians performing it, which are both very much of a contemporary nature. In general the video footage has been edited and assembled very well, with the aforementioned dramatic interludes providing welcome distractions from the images of performing musicians. The only reason for me not giving this production an exclamation mark comes down to the extra material. While the amount of it is satisfactory and indeed an extra bonus, watching 50 minutes of concert preparations of various kinds is way too much, especially when this footage seemingly has been assembled with little thought for presentation, apart from being put together in chronological order. Too many minutes of nothing much happening will be of interest to a very select audience, mostly consisting of fellow musicians I imagine. And the section labeled as an interview, which basically is a 20 minute conversation between the band members and their producer, is slightly flawed as well. It is interesting to behold, and the addition of English subtitles makes it understandable to an international audience as well. My gripe is with the translation itself, which is far removed from being professionally made. These are minor issues, but ones that do add up to a production that can't be described as perfect.
Conclusion. If you enjoy the music of FromUz and you found their latest studio effort "Seventh Story" to be an interesting venture, you might want to experience it in a live setting such as this to witness a somewhat more experienced take on that production – and if you haven't gotten round to buying that CD yet, this DVD is a very good and arguably superior version of it. This isn't a venture that will convince those who previously have failed to be convinced of the qualities of this outfit, but existing fans and those curious about them will get an excellent take on what they are about with this concert movie, and one assembled with a very high level of quality throughout. Highly recommended.
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