If you are a fusion fan, then do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of 4th, the latest and fourth studio release from Italy's D.F.A. (short for Duty Free Area), out now on MoonJune Records. This is stunning stuff folks, and for those who are familiar with the band that statement should come as no surprise, given the super track record these musicians have paved so far. The line-up here includes Alberto De Grandis (drums/percussion/vocals), Alberto Bonomi (keyboards/flute), Silvio Minella (guitar), and Luca Bladassari (bass), plus a few guests on cello, violin, and vocals. Though the band has managed to change their sound seemingly with every release (1997's Lavori In Corso had a certain Gentle Giant feel, 1999's Duty Free Area hints of Zappa, and 2007's Kaleidoscope with full blown fusion with plenty of classic Italian prog), each avenue has been spectacular, and 4th is no exception.
From the opening bombast of "Baltasaurus", a near 15-minute behemoth of tasty fusion and symphonic prog, you know that you are in for a real treat. With tons of ripping guitar & keyboard work, plenty of melody, and weaving instrumental passages, this is just a classic piece and a great way to start off this CD. "Flying Trip" reminds of classic Camel, gorgeous mellotron flute, guitar, and keyboard lines creating sumptuous melodies, while jazzy rhythms keep your toes tapping. The band lurches back into more aggressive territory on the complex progressive fusion burner "Vietato Generalizzare", Bonomi's Hammond really tearing it up alongside crunchy riffs and booming bass grooves. To say this one's a scorcher is a real understatement! From there we go to the majestic "Mosoq Runa", a beautiful 19-minute track of lush sounds, especially from the flute, piano, and strings. Simply a great example of Italian prog rock with a fusiony flavor. "The Mirror" is darker and more laid back, jazzy electric piano playing the foil to melodic vocals, Minella's guitars providing just enough fire, especially on his Zappa-meets-Holdsworth styled solo. Closing number "La Ballata de S'isposa 'e Mannorri" is a vocal oriented prog tune, one that would please fans of Banco or any of the great classic Italian bands, featuring some lovely female vocals. Though it's a good piece, I'd rather hear D.F.A. strutting their instrumental abilities instead of tackling vocal songs like this one, but regardless, it works.
There you have it, another extremely solid offering from D.F.A. that touches upon many styles and pretty much delivers on all of them. Though the first half of the CD really kicks and tends to lose a little steam towards the back end, it's all enjoyable no matter how you look at it. End result is 4th is a must have if you love modern fusion or Italian progressive rock.
1) Baltasaurus 14:19
2) Flying Trip 7:51
3) Vietato Generalizzare 6:40
4) Mosoq Runa 18:57
5) The Mirror 10:16
6) La Ballata de S'isposa 'e Mannorri 6:16