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4th by DFA

I will boldly state that DFA’s fourth outing is its finest achievement to date. Those words might be a tad audacious since the Italian progressive/jazz-rock’s legacy is a mighty impressive one at that. And it’s the unit’s first presentation of original music since the 1999 epic release titled Duty Free Area. The band’s more recent productions; Work In Progress Live, recorded at the 2000 NEARfest prog gala, and the two-CD Kaleidoscope effort which is the anthology of its first two recordings, loom as influential and powerful musical statements.

The musicians have day-jobs, therefore they are not road warriors and pick their spots rather judiciously. Here, the artists place compositional fortitude as a qualitative framework. Sure, guitarist Silvio Minella and keyboardist Alberto Bonomi tear it up on occasion. However, this is no free-for-all or technical gymnastics type session. On the contrary, the group renders melodically shaded primary themes that occasionally spark memories of Britain’s fabled, ‘70s Canterbury prog-rock era.

The musicians chart musical terrain that goes from the sublime with ethereal backdrops, to highly resonant jazz and prog-rock on "Flying Trip." On that note, Bonomi augments his keys by performing on flute. Here and on other tracks, he takes the edge off via whispery lines and lyrically rich textures. However, the band works through a myriad of pulses that intertwine and flourish. Then on "The Mirror," the ensemble generates drifting themes amid drummer Alberto De Grandis’ appeasing vocals, where Minella raises the temperature with a soaring guitar solo. Yet the tide calms down some with the finale "La Ballata De S’Isposa ‘e Mannorri, as guest vocalist Andhira chants atop sweet-toned strings within a variable rock pulse. And the strings performers add sonorous treatments throughout the multi-phased eighteen-minute work titled "Mosoq Runa." In sum, DFA’s fourth release projects an all-encompassing outlook of a very classy unit. It may indeed signify one of the top two or three albums of the year, regardless of strict genre classification inside the broad spectrum of jazz/prog-rock.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: DFA
  • CD Title: 4th
  • Genre: Progressive
  • Year Released: 2008
  • Record Label: Moonjune Records
  • Rating: Four Stars
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