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(54:58, AMS / BTF Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Non Posso Parlare Piu Forte 11:56 2. La Certezza Impossibile 7:28 3. L'Interno Di Un Volto 6:43 4. La Quarta Vittima 4:38 5. Sotto Un Cielo Nero 9:03 6. Il Circo Brucia 7:29 7. Una Sera D'Inverno 7:41 LINEUP: Fabio Zuffanti – keyboards, pedals, loops, samples; vocals With: Luca Scherani – vibraphone; glockenspiel Saverio Malaspina – drums Paolo Tixi – drums Enzo Zirilli – drums Fabio Biale – violins Laura Marsano – guitars Riccardo Barbera – bass Alberto Tafuri – keyboards Emanuele Tarasconi – keyboards Rossano Villa – keyboards; trombone Gian Marco Pietrasanta – sax, flute Agostino Macor – theremin Simona Angioloni – vocals Carlo Carnevali – vocals
Prolusion. The Italian project ZUFFANTI is the creative vehicle of composer and musician Fabio Zuffanti, a name that will be recognized by just about anyone with more than a passing interest in Italian progressive rock. He has been involved in more than a dozen different bands and projects over the years, and the total number of albums he has participated on makes out a fairly impressive list. "La Quarta Vittima" is the fifth album he has issued as a solo artist, although the first where he has chosen to use only his surname as the artist moniker. It was released through AMS/BTF at the start of 2014.
Analysis. I have to admit that this is a CD that really impressed me, and on a number of different levels. The main summary of all my impressions is that this is a production that can safely be sorted under high quality in each and every department really, a thorough and well made recording through and through. The production is, as far as I can tell, impeccable, and whilst perhaps too smooth for some, the mix is balanced, all the instruments come to their right whether they have a dominant or supporting role, the overall sound is crystal clear yet with a warmth to it that is often missing in contemporary productions, and even the vocals are top notch. Zuffanti may stand quite a few places behind the great rock singers in history as far as range and ability is concerned, but the manner in which he uses his vocal talents is flawless on this album. As for the compositions I'd say that they most likely can be placed within the symphonic part of the progressive rock universe. Not because there are keyboard cascades as the sole dominant feature throughout, as this is a production with quite a bit more variation to it than that, but because the keyboards remain the most vital ingredient in these compositions, and because it's easy to tell that there are lines that can be drawn back to classical symphonic music in the way the keyboards are used. Keyboards in plural, as there are plenty of them, from smooth, elegant piano motifs to jubilant keyboard and synthesizer cascades, and with plenty of frail, nervous and melancholic Mellotron action to boot. The organ is very much present as well. Underneath and in between the various keyboards acoustic and electric guitars are given lots of room too, with dark toned riffs combining with keyboards for powerful sequences, dampened funky guitar details that add a jazz rock oriented vibe to the proceedings, with or without appropriately smooth piano or keyboard motifs as supplemental features, and the bass and drums are used for powerful and distinct rock oriented backing as well as for more careful, archetypical and distinctly jazz-oriented foundations. While not all that dominant in terms of length a defining trait of this production is fairly frequent inclusions of jazz and jazz rock oriented passages, if that isn't obvious by this point, which does add a nice contrast to the often more powerful symphonic progressive rock oriented main sequences. Even if regarding this production with a critical eye there's nothing here I really can point my finger at. The concluding piece Una Sera d'Inverno may arguably be somewhat less alluring than the other tracks due to its slow and fragile opening and the somewhat expected development into a slow paced, majestic construction, but the manner in which this one unfolds also makes it a natural song to conclude the disc. Still, this is a very minor weak point, still a magical experience I might add, just not quite as astounding as the rest of this album.
Conclusion. As long as you don't mind Italian language vocals, Zuffanti's fifth solo album "La Quarta Vittima" comes across as one of the must have albums of 2014. A taste for symphonic progressive rock is needed to be able to enjoy this CD, as that is the core foundation of this production, and you'll need a soft spot for recordings of this kind that include a bit of variety and then especially the inclusion of jazz rock and jazz-oriented passages. If this sounds intriguing as a whole, chances are high that you'll love this album. Highly recommended, obviously.
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