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Semiramis - Frazz Live CD (album) cover

FRAZZ LIVE

Semiramis

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

4.00 | 1 ratings

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Matti
Prog Reviewer
4 stars SEMIRAMIS, consisting of very young musicians at the time, were one of the several RPI bands that managed to make just one album in the early/mid seventies, Dedicato a Frazz (1973). I wrote about it roughly like this in my Finnish-language book on international progressive rock:

"Already the cover art gives some ideas about the style and possible influences, and more than to the front cover I refer to the gatefold's inner painting of dark, autumnal atmosphere, which I find in spirit somewhere between In the Court of the Crimson King and Nursery Cryme. But one cannot blame Semiramis for imitating anyone. In the highly dynamic and occasionally very intensive music there's not a single moment that would directly point at a certain band. Well, maybe the clinging percussion on the instrumental 'Uno Zoo di Vetro' resembles the Larks-era King Crimson. For the intensity the album can be compared also to Van der Graaf Generator, even if the sound per se hasn't got a lot in common -- with the possible exception of the occasional aggressive edge on the vocals.

Guitars, drums and bass are being played quite heavily without plainly falling on the heavy rock side. On the more central role are keyboards, varying from harpsichord and church organ flavours to thick synth carpets and jazz-nuanced electric piano. Here and there the intensity of the music is broken by more delicate passages, but perhaps in the end the album suffers from sameyness to a certain degree."

In retrospect, I think I didn't listen to the album as dedicatedly as it would have deserved, when I wrote that last, somewhat reserved sentence. Perhaps I was just a couple of further listening sessions away of naming the album as one of the finest RPI classics, at least on the heavier end of the spectre (as opposed to the pastoral end, which is closer to my heart). I could have re-listened to the studio album also, before writing this review, to find out how my reception might have changed. But even without doing that, I firmly believe that this concert performance from April 2017 simply sounds better. The sound is, how to put it, more open and nuanced, ie. the live factor does really good for this music. The line-up is missing the original vocalist Michele Zarrillo, which may be another reason for slightly more amiable impression. Now, don't start thinking this performance would be less dynamic or 'weaker' than the original 1973 recording. -- Actually I wish someone who's admired the album for ages would review this DVD, just to get another point of view and a closer look on the sonic differences. Anyway, for me, SEEING the band performing the music live often brings the music closer to me. This is exactly what happened now.

This is a DVD+CD set, with identical contents on both, except that the CD contains one bonus studio track, 'Mille Universi'. It's closer to the electric guitar oriented hard rock than the progressive finesse of the concert, which performs the original album Dedicato a Frazz in its entirety plus nearly 9-minute 'Morire per Guarire' not found on the album. Very powerful prog song it is. The DVD extras are a brief picture show and interviews of the band members. This leads us to one remarkable minus on this release: there are no English subtitles (although English language is used on the leaflet), which means non-Italian speaking viewers won't get much out of these interviews. Sad.

Another feature that I'm not quite convinced of, is the way each track is preceded by a near-minute narration, written and spoken by Giampero Artegiani (not listed on the band line-up). The leaflet contains Italian words for both these narrations and song-lyrics. Again, I would have appreciated English subtitles -- or printed translations -- at least for the narrations. On the first viewing of the show these narrations felt quite OK, but most likely they start irritating me on further viewings (on the CD these sections are separate tracks and therefor can be skipped, unlike on the DVD). Sonic level is faultless, and also from the visual point of view the concert film is very good. Several camera angles, a good balance of close-ups and broader scenes, and a fairly good lighting. Close to the ending a human-like, finely dressed doll is hanged up from its neck. Otherwise there are no theatrical aspirations on behalf of the stage settings or the band.

Despite some minor negative remarks I strongly recommend this set if you're interested in the Rock Progressivo Italiano of the classic era, whether you already have the original album or not.

Matti | 4/5 |

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