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From.uz: Inside Seventh Story (DVD)

Earlier this year I reviewed Seventh Story, From.uz's latest CD and my first exposure to the band. It was one of the best CDs released in 2009 so I had high expectations of the band's latest DVD Inside Seventh Story.

The band formed in Tashkent, Uzbekistan and has quickly made a name for themselves in the world of progressive rock. Their unique mixture of complex progressive rock with elements of fusion and symphonic rock has turned plenty of heads and the new DVD will surely do the same as it is simply outstanding.

The concert was recorded at the Youth Theatre of Uzbekistan, September 19, 2008. The atmosphere is quite intimate and seems like a great place to hold a prog rock show. It all begins with an actor coming onto the stage and turning on a radio. Throughout the performance the actors play a role (there are two of them), often between the songs. Although I am not sure what they are actually trying to accomplish during the show, they do help give the concert a cinematic feel and add to the concert's conceptual nature. The band accurately produces the entire Seventh Story CD and play flawlessly throughout. These guys are perfectionists when it comes to their music and do a tremendous job of recreating the album in a live setting. Although most of the music is instrumental, Vitaly Popeloff does a great job on lead vocals when called upon. When he does sing, the words are shown on a visual backing screen. Sampled voices are used to recreate the spoken word parts from the album and musically the band doesn't miss a beat which is all the more impressive when you consider just how complex the studio versions are. From.uz are an incredibly tight band and no tune demonstrates this more than the twenty plus minute epic "Parallels". The Rush-like rhythms opening this song had me thinking of the Rush classic "Yyz" and the entire band really starts to cook. From.uz returns to these riffs at various times which helps connect the music in a thematic way.

Popeloff's guitar work is one of the concert's main highlights as he gives us riff after delicious riff and can solo with the best of them. Yes he can play fast but can also slow it down and play with incredible feel and emotion, often reminding me of David Gilmour. You can tell he is having a good time as he is quite animated, especially his facial expressions, squeezing every last ounce of emotion out of his guitar. Like Vitaly's guitar, the band can be intense or delicate and it comes across great in a live setting. The ambient/dream-like moments, of which there are many, are crystal clear and the sound quality is excellent. You could probably hear a pin drop - the sound is that clean.

The video footage is also well done and many different camera angles are utilized focusing on all the band members. There are also lots of close-ups so we can actually see what the musicians are playing. Often the video alternates between black and white and colour, which only heightens the drama. Split screens are also used which is a nice touch. My only gripe is the lack of footage of the audience. I would have liked the cameras to have panned the audience more after all, this is a rock show. This is, however, only a small complaint and did not affect my enjoyment of the concert.

The special features section includes some interesting footage of the band setting up for the show (man these guys have a lot of gear) and an interview of the band led by producer Igor Iosis. Although at times a little hard to understand, even with subtitles, there is no doubting this band's passion for the music they create and it is interesting to hear what they have to say.

Overall, this is an excellent DVD and the best I have heard so far in 2010. There are few bands out there today who can match From.uz's sense of melody and musical complexity. Hopefully we will not have to wait too long for new material as From.uz are one of the most exciting bands in progressive rock right now.


Track Listing:
1. Perfect Place
2. Parallels
3. Desert Circle
4. Bell of the Earth
5. Taken
6. Influence of Time
7. Perfect Love

Added: June 7th 2011
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Score:
Related Link: Band's Official Site
Hits: 1944
Language: english

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From.uz: Inside Seventh Story (DVD)
Posted by Jordan Blum, SoT Staff Writer on 2011-03-18 10:12:14
My Score:

Hailing from Uzbekistan, FROM.UZ exemplifies how progressive rock has spread across the entire world. Their mixture of jazz fusion/symphonic prog rock is at once familiar and fascinating, and they add a bit of theatrics to the formula on their newest DVD, Inside Seventh Story. It's a fine collection for genre fans.

The group formed in 2004 and has had several line-up changes since. On Inside Seventh Story, the quintet consists of Vitaly Popeloff, Albert Khalmurzaev, Igor Elizov, Ali Izmailov, and Sur'at Kasimov. So far, the band has released three albums: Audio Diplomacy, Overlook, and Seventh Story. This DVD captures the band performing their third album in its entirety (plus a few extras).

After introductory photos of the band and B&W/brown footage of a mysterious man (who appears throughout the film), we see Popeloff sitting alone on stage performing the opening verses of "Perfect Place." Ominous, spacey music adorns the band as they set up. After some syncopated drumming, the group launches into "Parallels," a progressive metal instrumental very similar to Rush's classic, "YYZ." This combination of melodic singing and complex music makes up the majority of Inside Seventh Story.

Allowing atmospheres to permeate, "Desert Circle" begins as a calm showcase for Popeloff to play some Gilmore-esque emotive guitar lines. However, it doesn't take long for some playful acoustic guitar duets (with unique timbres) to evolve into more complex jamming. "Bell of the Earth" illustrates FROM.UZ's brilliant dynamical shifts; xylophone, piano, bells and cello paint a solemn portrait behind Popeloff's robotic voice. It erupts into a dreamy, synthesized majesty that acts as a perfect intermission between the more hectic pieces.

And the fury certainly returns with "Taken." Once again, the band weaves around time signatures and spiderlike riffs, taking the audience on an intense ride. After dancing around key changes, they reach a wonderful crescendo. "Influence of Time" is perhaps even more technical as it mostly follows the same style as the other instrumentals (save for the futuristic break in the middle). By the end, the guitarists are having an impressive duel.

FROM.UZ brings the affair to a wonderfully cohesive conclusion by reprising "Parallels" for a bit before venturing into "Perfect Love." As you may have guessed, it's a direct continuation of "Perfect Place," and with the strike of a gong once Popeloff finishes singing, the performance is over and the audience cheers.

The extras include a photo gallery, some studio rehearsal, almost an hour of backstage footage, and an interesting Christmas interview. The band speaks in their native tongue while subtitles are displayed. Overall, the bonuses are extremely worthwhile, making Inside Seventh Story great value.

Inside Seventh Story is a superb concert film, first and foremost. While there is some video manipulation and odd theatrics (the mysterious man does something odd between each track), the camera stays focused on the band the entire time. What their repertoire lacks in diversity (every instrumental sounds alike) it makes up in passion and concentration. FROM.UZ perform Seventh Story flawlessly, which, coupled with the extras, makes for an exceptional musical document. Inside Seventh Story is the ideal introduction to a rising genre favorite.



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