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DFA : Work in Progress Live
This new CD by Italy’s DFA is a live document recorded from the bands set at the NearFest 2000 festival in Bethlehem, PA. Comprised of songs from both of the groups’ excellent albums, Work in Progress Live is a testament to the musical prowess that these four Italian virtuosos possess. The fact that this show was DFA’s first ever gig in the United States makes it even that more incredible.
The almost jazz-fusion aurora that this band gives off, especially when guitarist Silvio Minella and keyboard player Alberto Bonomi are trading off scathing outbursts, is extremely refreshing. Most of the CD’s six tracks exceed ten minutes in length, so there is plenty of room for the band to stretch out for some tight ensemble playing, like in the fiery opener “Escher” or the epic “LaVia.” Vocals, in Italian, are kept to a minimum, so if you are a fan of red-hot instrumental music this is most definitely for you.
It’s nice to hear an Italian band go for this style, which differs a bit from some of the more vocal oriented, folk flavored prog coming out Italy these days. This is definitely one of the better live recordings released this year.
Added: October 15th 2001
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: MoonJune Records
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|DFA : Work in Progress Live
Posted by Anonymous on 2001-12-09 21:51:21
All About Jazz Italy
This young progressive rock/fusion band known as "DFA," performs selections from its previous releases, "Duty Free Area" and "Lavori In Corso" with this live set recorded on June 17, 2000 during "NEARfest." Simply put, this outfit instils a distinct sense of motion, thanks to a robust brew consisting of sustained momentum, pastoral interludes, and vicious soloing. Sure, some of these pieces may rekindle notions of early 70's style space rock, or perhaps the fabled British prog-rock Canterbury scene, however this quartet surges onward via a modernistic approach amid polyrhythmic fury and multihued silhouettes. Essentially, the musicians' bespeak a sense of ownership thanks to commanding control of their instruments and a tightly woven group sound, while incorporating jazzy riffs and cascading chord progressions into the grand scheme of things. Here, melody is utilised as a vehicle for the ensemble's ambient-electronic passages and sonorous tapestries of keys and guitar based developments. Thus, "DFA"'s emergence might be analogous to newfound gold within a sometimes stagnant progressive rock genre. Recommended! 4 stars.
Glenn Astarita , All Music Guide, USA
Lurking along the line between progressive precision and fusion experimentalism, DFA are without doubt, masters of their respective instruments; you can only sit back and admire the marvel that is masters at work. There is a lot to admire here, and if your penchant is for extended improvisation, then you really ought to be getting a hold of this. Another top quality release from the enterprising and innovative MoonJune Records.
Stuart Hamilton, ZeitGeist, Scotland
DFA's sound exists in the elusive vapor trail of fusion, that not so justly maligned school of jazz, but don't let the "Fusion" word throw you. This is a cogent band with more than just chops to get out of their system. Work In Progress Live is a bold showcase for the four-member band from Verona, Italy, giving each one a pivotal role in the structure creating a seamless blend of progressive rock interwoven with resonating vocals and enigmatic jazz. This Live recording is, in essence, a celebration of the soul supported by flawless grooves improvised with exceptional freedom and fluency. Generous rhythmic sweeps of free-flowing tandem and blistering runs ebb and flow from beginning to end. With the inclusion of several vocal selections, the hypnotic vitality and emotional connection with listeners is still compelling and strong. DFA engages the listener as if under the spell of a rich box of dark chocolates, yet never subjects the sampler to a diabetic coma. What's most interesting here is how the music reflects the times, as jazz fusion represents an opportunity for creativity, not just sales. Fans of the genre will need no prodding.
Carla Archuletta, The Global Muse, USA
DFA specializes in a highly complex but richly melodic compound made of equal parts symphonic progressive rock and jazz fusion. Far from being the solo-happy wankfest it might appear to be from the description, the album is a testament to the band's strong ensemble work. The epic compositions, written by drummer Alberto De Grandis and keyboardist Alberto Bonomi, leave plenty of room for improvisation, but hew closely to tuneful outlines. Bonomi and guitarist Silvio Minella weave in and out of each other's virtuosity, creating a lush fabric of rich musical colors that never fails to engage. When either man solos, the break is equally impressive for its restraint as for its skill. De Grandis keeps the rhythm at a constant boil, with his jazzy cymbal work driving the sound as much as the kick drum; bassist Luca Baldassari holds steady, the pole off which the flags fly. "Trip on Metro," a piece that dates back to the group's early demos, shows a subtle Mahavishnu Orchestra influence, while "Pantera," "Caleidoscopio" and "Ragno" perfectly balance the blend of jazz rhythm, classical melody and rock firepower that is the hallmark of Italian progressive rock. Equally impressive and accessible, if this music is merely a work in progress, the final version will be drop-dead astonishing.
Michael Toland, High Bias, USA
One of the best live CDs ever heard from a prog group and one of the top releases for 2001.
Steve Hegede, Zoltan's Progressive Rock Webpage, USA
Kudos to Moonjune Records for releasing this magnificent live cd! Guitarist Silvio Minella possesses a shredder's heart and a jazzman's discernment, a precious combination. Likewise, Luca Baldassari's bass lines are solid, complex yet unobtrusive. While the keyboards have often been relegated to a textural position in fusion over the last decade, Alberto Bonomi isn't afraid to let his smooth washes and jagged lines step right out and sing. He has the good sense to choose appropriate tones and techniques that don't date the music before the band can even get going, while the drummer Alberto De Grandis is a fine master of surging, crashing rhythmic power.
Todd Jenkins, All About Jazz, USA
On "Work In Progress Live", DFA delivers a healthy dose of synthesized madness, completely insane time signature changes, and precision tested drumming. The musical prowess displayed on this incredible live album is far out of the reach of most popular bands nowadays, and even by progressive standards, these guys are standout musicians. The band flows freely from mellow vocal passages into gigantic jazz improvisational jam sessions and back again. This is an album that can be appreciated by musicians and non-musicians alike, but all should be prepared for something quite different from your everyday live album. Flawless musicianship and innovative arrangements are the rule. The degree of accuracy with which DFA plays often makes it difficult to believe that this is a live album. DFA. is truly a musician's band.
Shelby Rushing, AMZ Music Zine, USA
DFA is relentless in its pursuit of the proggy truth. It hits you in the head, makes you wake up and take notice. Whenever I hear dadaesque riffs, whenever I don't know where the music is going to take me next, I think "this is original." Original this is and highly recommended for the prog fan.
Fredd Barrett, Beyond Coltrane, USA
DFA solos have a very organic way of growing out of the root chords of the melodies. They have chops to burn and emotional baggage to keep the fire going.
F.W., Tone Cluster, USA
DFA plays funky beats topped with creative improvisation. They play what they feel and the combination of metallic guitar, pyrotechnic keyboards, bass and drums leaves rockers feeling good!
D. Oscar Groomes, O's Place Jazz Newsletter, USA
'Work In Progress' is an album of fine progressive fusion that is complex and convoluted yet, at the same time, is highly melodic and easily assimilated.
Marisa Hill, New Horizons, UK
DFA swings, crackles and bumps, demonstrating that they can handle live music just as well as in studio. DFA preys on energy, with mostly instrumental album-length epic songs that roll on and on, ever heavenly upward, proving once again that all the really GOOD prog is European flavored. The synth/key work is especially vivacious with killer guitars and the brilliant, continuous bass/percussion rhythm that outlines entire songs, taking you back sometimes to the Yes' "Tales from the Topographic Ocean". A flawless performances pretty star struck, pretty amazing. The audience is up on their feet at the end of every sparkling track. This is the sort of cd that never dates itself. Listening to it over and over again and you're going to find new tunes, original subtle details that escaped your ears the first time.
Ben Ohmart, Muse's Muse, USA
Their music builds tension with lots of ambient bits, and the proggy jazz fusion, a trademark of the band's sound. Killer guitar work and some great 70's keyboard sounds with a jazzy fusion ELP sound. Things get a bit freaky at times too indicating these guys can say the hell with control and get wild and crazy when they want to. An excellent progressive rock and fusion band.
Jerry Kranitz, Aural Innovation, USA
What's even better…the sound of the album is impressively solid and huge, and the drummer Alberto De Grandis' razor-sharp talent sends the band into a spiraling attack just as quickly as into a jazzy improvisation, while his bandmates challenge each other in a frenzied flurry of notes that spell "quality" at every step. Those who were at NEARFest that day better be grateful; they got to see and hear something that most people spend their entire lives waiting for.
Marcelo Silveyra, ProgFreaks, Mexico
What a brilliant album! Epic and sophisticated. With their complex progressive rock DFA unite old schooled 70's bands with modern sounds and jazz influences to a very own sound.
Thorsten Gürntke, Progressive Rock Pages, Germany
DFA's music really tends to burst out of your speakers, due to the fantastic songs, with lots of changing moods, surprising breaks and multiple changes in pace.
Piet Michem, Prog-Nose, Belgium
Phenomenal. The strong and steadily thumping bass pulses from the speakers like the blips of electronic light on a heart monitor, in this case indicating definite signs of new musical life. Streams of synthesizer and dancing keyboards quickly join in. Muscular guitar notes ring out above it all. The steady beat of drums then joins the sonic party, rounding things out and creating a cacophony of sound. A live masterpiece.
Progressive Ears, USA
DFA is one of the bands with a major international projection among all today's progressive bands.
Hector Aravena, Rockaxis, Chile
DFA plays a modern explosive symphonic fusion with incredibly tight playing, that draws on many elements to produce a dynamic sound that can be blistering symphonic one minute and quiet and spacey the next. While they can easily blow you away with their intense sound, their excellent compositional skills and sense of dynamics always keeps the music fresh with plenty of breathing room. DFA are one of the brightest stars shining in today's murky progressive scene. While great on their studio albums, this band is especially at home in the live element and this performance is certainly indicative of that. 5 stars.
Mike Prete, The Giant Progweed, USA
Smoking live set recorded at Nearfest 2000. Anyone who was in attendance witnessed one of the hottest prog bands around. A complex blend of Gentle Giant influenced prog laced with long, long jazz rock heavy instrumental passages.
Ken Golden, Laser's Edge, USA
Utterly fantastic mostly instrumental jazz/rock fusion from one of the current top bands out of Italy. Highly recommended!
Richard Stockwell, Cranium Music, New Zealand
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