Last year's inaugural Gouveia progressive rock festival has been immortalized for the DVD age. I must say, it appears that the Portuguese proggers have themselves a remarkable little festival on their hands.
The main attractions for last year's concert were La Maschera di Cera and Nil. Each band is represented by about forty minutes of concert footage as well as some snippets of sound checks and interviews. The DVD menus are very handsomely designed and easy to step through. One can easily toggle between different parts of the performances or simply let the entire program run.
For those who may not be familiar with the artists, Nil are a French symphonic rock band with just one CD under their belt. It quickly becomes apparent that they've been influenced by fellow countrymen such as Pulsar and Arachnoid as well as British acts like King Crimson and perhaps Genesis. This was my first exposure to Nil and they have a very dark and ominous tone, but the band take their cue from the more accessible side of French progressive rock as opposed to Magma, for instance. I need to get my hands on their CD!
La Maschera di Cera need no introduction to those following the current wave of Italian progressive rock. Sounding like the offspring of Osanna and PFM, La Maschera put on a corker of a performance. They are represented by three lengthy tracks, full of classically influenced keyboards and spitting, breathy flute that will instantly bring all the Italian greats to mind. Manuel Cardoso of the Portuguese band Tantra even puts in an impromptu guest appearance on the last song.
The video quality is very good and the cameramen capture every angle of the concert, from the action of the performers on stage to the humble but effective light show as well as some choice audience shots. The stereo sound mix is fine but it will hardly test the limits of your surround system. There are a couple of detectible instances of audio problems and the sound mix seems to change slightly throughout the DVD, but the distraction is only a minor one and does not take away from the overall enjoyment of the material. Removable English subtitles are provided, which is a real bonus for those of us not fluent in Portuguese, French or Italian!
The Gouveia Art Rock 2003 DVD comes warmly recommended. With the Richard Sinclair Trio and Isildur's Bane headlining the 2004 Gouveia festival (extended to two days), here's hoping we get another quality DVD release.
- Quarante Jours Sur Le Sinai, acte 1
La Maschera Di Cera
- Ai Confini del Mondo
- Il Viaggio nell'Oceano Capovolto, Part 1
- Dal Caos