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Fabio Zuffanti - La Quarta Vittima CD (album) cover

LA QUARTA VITTIMA

Fabio Zuffanti

 

Crossover Prog

3.90 | 139 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars One of the most notable musicians currently involved in the Italian prog related music scene, Fabio Zuffanti has worked hard to earn his reputation as a figurehead of modern RPI. Most well known for his projects Hostsonaten, Finestierre and La Maschera di Cera, as well as guiding younger bands such as Unreal City, Oxhuitza and others, Mr Zuffanti has also offered, until now, an inconsistent solo career that didn't quite deliver the same sort of potential that all his various projects had suggested. What a difference 2014 brings, as Fabio has somewhat surprisingly delivered one of the standout releases for not only Italian Prog this year, but for his own personal work. Admittedly a showcase for not only Fabio's wonderful bass playing but a collection of musical guests from members of several of the above mentioned bands, `La Quarta Vittima' (`The Fourth Victim') is one of the most instrumentally varied releases of any progressive related genre in 2014, and is a triumph for intelligent music and modern Italian prog works.

Oddly for a solo album from the artist, Mr Zuffanti utilizes very sparing vocals throughout the disc. It's probably fair to say that it seems Fabio has a fairly limited vocal range, and he frequently adopts a very carefully soft-spoken delivery bordering on narration, but at least he makes sure never to overreach vocally or step out of his comfort range. Instead, he offers endless dazzling displays of instrumental variety, these sections taking in both the classic Italian vintage styles yet being modern and contemporary at the same time. Darker brooding gothic touches, drifting psychedelic concoctions, ambient diversions, a little grand classical bombast and even some briefly jagged R.I.O flavours all weave together, and better yet, there's a creeping unease and slight tension bubbling under the background of the work that reveals itself briefly but to great effect throughout the disc in choice moments.

The album instantly grabs your attention with the eleven minute blast of energy opener `Non Posso Parlare Piu Forte' in much the same way the lead track of Steven Wilson's recent `Raven' album did, by way of numerous gutsy instrumental passages each more memorable than the last. Moving back and forth through a range of unpredictable tempos and moods, there's a brief somber vocal, attacking drumming, violent choir Mellotron bursts, darting flute, unhinged and lustful messy saxophone perfectly aided by Fabio's fluid bass work that slinks along the background before leaping out of the speakers with joyful confidence near the end. Lonely sax and a downbeat vocal permeates the percussion driven `La Certezza Impossibile', with a slow-building endless David Gilmour/Nick Barrett- esque soaring electric guitar solo builds in emotion and pierces the heart of the piece. Heavy guitars and choral mellotrons stomp down throughout gothic rocker `L'Interno Di Un Volto', Fabio adopting a sinister croon over a strangled sax solo, and the track probably wouldn't have sounded out of place on Il Segno del Comando's last album `Il Volte Verde'.

The title track `La Quarta Vittima' could be a lost Osanna track, heavy funk and jazz guitar strutting with waffling saxophone, while the delirious keyboard runs sound like they're right off the Unreal City debut from 2013. The eerie `Sotto un Cielo Nero' is a real standout, a mix of freeform and spontanioues disjointed Rock in Opposition elements, moody dark jazz with a subtle hazy psychedelic weirdness. Very Improvisation heavy, dreamy glistening electric piano, weeping violin and booming Mellotron with aggressive sax come together in a very intimidating and malovlenet manner, with smoky late-night jazz/lounge piano tinkling spinning around stream-of-consciousness rambling vocal interjections. Floating sax billowing around menacing King Crimson/Adrian Belew-like electric guitar strangulations throughout `Il Circo Brucia' again reminds of the recent Steven Wilson solo albums. With an ethereal droning other-worldly treated vocal from Fabio, the album again takes on a gothic menace when he's accompanied by female vocals on the more bombastic outbursts, and the shimmering jazzy electric piano and Mellotron wisp outro couldn't be more blissful, before the piece collapses into psychedelic violence in the climax. `Una Sera D'inverno' is a delicate and tasteful ambient closer, with a victorious and powerfully moving extended guitar solo so grand that David Gilmour better bring his A game for the upcoming Pink Floyd album to beat this one!

Soon after this album was released, Mr Zuffanti announced that he would be leaving one of his defining projects La Maschera di Cera, no doubt to focus on more opportunities as a solo artist. Although this news was unexpected, if we have more solo albums in the works to the standard of this, we certainly more many more exciting and sublime albums from the artist to come. Perhaps `La Quarta Vittima' is more of a showcase for a collection of exceptional Italian musicians working together ("Mr Zuffanti and Friends" perhaps?), but it's still evidence of the supreme taste Mr Zuffanti has, as well as being a demonstration of his ear for incredible musical talent and a showcase for his own musical and compositional skills. Along with albums from Logos, Astrolabio and Nodo Gordiano, `La Quarta Vittima' is one of the best and most surprising Italian albums of the year, and it will make Mr Zuffanti's next move a very interesting one to watch!

Four and a half stars.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 4/5 |

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