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jueves, 26 de noviembre de 2015

From.uz - Audio Diplomacy (2007)


Un disco que sorprendió al mundo progresivo en su momento, grabado en vivo pero como si fuese en estudio... Vamos a tratar de dejarles varias cosas en este fin de semana largo, como siempre. Quizás no muchas pero sí maravillosas, en sintonía con otra semana de tremendos aportes. ¿Qué mejor que dejar empezar con la primero obra de estos geniales tipos?

Artista: From.uz
Álbum: Audio Diplomacy
Año: 2007
Género: Rock progresivo
Duración: 74:56
Nacionalidad: Uzbekistán


Lista de Temas:
1. Intro
2. From Fromuz
3. Wax Inhabitants Town
4. Gameplay Imitation
5. Spare Wheel
6. Familiarization Results
7. Harry Heller Theater
8. Babylon Dreams

Alineación:
- Andrew Mara-Novik / bass
- Vitaly Popeloff / guitars
- Albert Khalmurzayev / keyboards
- Vladimir Badirov / drums & percussion




Éste es el primer disco de From.uz, grupazo uzbeco del que estamos dejando toda su discografía y que ya dejó impresionado a más de un cabezón. Es muy entretenido de escuchar de principio a fin, lo cual es muy difícil de conseguir con un estilo de música tan compleja y completamente instrumental. Hay más jazz que en sus discos posteriores, más virtuosismo por parte de los músicos, las canciones son más cortas, con solos de locura e impresionantes improvisaciones.
Para mi basta con decir de ellos que son extraordinarios. Punto. Pero siempre es necesario tratar de decir o describir de alguna manera para los que nunca los escucharon. Empecemos, pues...


Live instrumental rock music from Uzbekistan, not something you come across every day.
The four guys in the band are excellent musicians, and enjoy experimenting with sounds and styles. Here the music flows from bluesrock and jazz to ambient moods, symphonic prog and some metal bits, with what sounds like improvisational playing and distinctly fusion-tinged themes thrown in now and then.
All of it flawlessly performed, all of it flowing smoothly from one theme to the next; and with the important themes being revisited to create a wholeness to each individual song.
Not music for everybody; but orgasmic music for fans of good technical playing in an ecclectic and experimental musical framework.

Poco tiempo dura un amante de la música para convencerse que esta banda se las trae y se las lleva a donde quieran. En este disco están un poco más cerca del estilo de Liquit Tension Experiment. Este disco resultó una verdadera sorpresa, especialmente porque en un "Live" con sonido muy claro y cuando lo escuché sin saber nada de ellos, casi hubiera jurado que era de estudio. Aunque cueste creerlo, este disco está grabado en vivo, y digo "aunque cueste creerlo" no porque se escuche cero sonido ambiental, ni las típicas toses, ni los gritos ni aplausos, pues eso es más o menos simple de conseguir, ya sea en la post-producción (o simplemente teniendo un público demasiado culto o amedrentado... je). Lo digo porque es increíble cómo suena esta banda y cómo estos músicos de Uzbekistán son capaces de desenvolverse tan bien en el escenario. Pero, por lo que se puede ver en los videos que los muestran en vivo, es que simplemente hipnotizan al público por su calidad y maestría instrumental.
Esta banda debuta con este prodigioso disco instrumental, una mezcla de jazz-rock y metal, con algunos pocos tintes sinfónicos. Las composiciones son todas grupales y surgen de la experimentación, por lo que las pistas suenan algo así como un Liquid Tension Experiment pero con mucho corazón. Es toda una experiencia escucharlos y, me imagino, debe ser mayor aún verlos. Usan ademnás un juego ambient, atmósfera suave de sintetizadores que se compacta suavemente en cada tema en algo más heavy, y que se transmuta en un dulce fusión-space. O sea un ejercicio intenso de mezcla estilos de manera muy inteligente, por lo que cuando creemos que vamos a tener momentos tranquilos, empieza a oscurecerse y a pegar con fuerza y cuando no lo esperamos nos sumergimos a lo étnico. De manera que siempre estarás entretenido aunque quizás difícil de escuchar para algunos, y todo un reto para los buenos escuchadores de música.
Los From.uz son sin duda alguna una de las mejores bandas que existen en la actualidad, pero claro, como su música no es en absoluto comercial tienen poco que hacer en el mercado... pero mucho que hacer en el blog cabezón.

Estupendo estreno de esta nueva banda uzbeca, cuyos miembros se presentan en el BajaProg mientras escribo esta reseña.
Antes de convertirse en un quinteto, FROMUZ era un grupo integrado por Andrew MARA-NOVIK (bajo, producción), Vitaly POPELOFF (guitarras eléctrica y midi), Valdimir BADIROV (batería, percusiones, responsable de VLADIMIR BADIROV PROJECT) y Albert KHALMURZAYEV (teclados, secuenciador). Eso fue desde su formación en 2004 y la grabación de su primer álbum en 2006, un par de años donde alzaron vuelo estable luego de su primera presentación en vivo en el Youth Theater de Uzbekistán, en el poblado de Tashkent (2005) hasta que "Audio Diplomacy" terminó de realizarse a finales de 2006. Cuando éste vio la luz hace apenas tres semanas, Evgeny POPELOFF (hijo de Vitaly) ya se había integrado como segundo teclista, comenzando una segunda generación FROM.UZ habiendo apenas iniciado la primera. Esta nueva generación se estrenó internacionalente presentándose en el afamado Festival de rock progresivo BajaProg (Mexicali, México), celebrado entre el 21 y el 24 de marzo de 2007. ¿Algo más fresco.
Pero aquéllo es otra historia. Lo que me coloca aquí es "Audio Diplomacy" (primer álbum de FROM.UZ), primera nominación Manticornio de este año a competir por el título del mejor álbum 2007. Ese “híbrido de estilos musicales que presenta, esa extraña colección de fuerzas creativas, esos elementos de rock progresivo, jazz, fusión y metal colindando de una forma refrescante, esa representación en vivo alejada de lo ordinario” (1), son apenas descripciones adecuadas para darse idea de lo que tenemos frente a nosotros, alejando los silencios atmosféricos con su impresionante fuerza de expresión. Incluso la programación de ritmos, la utilización de secuencias programadas para decorar la música que FROM.UZ hace es opacada (o en el mejor de los casos bien utilizada) por la técnica tan clara y tan precisa de sus miembros. Las intervenciones instrumentales son legibles y armónicas entre sí, los despliegues individuales permiten el lucimiento personal mientras que el resto del grupo soporta fabulosamente esos momentos de independencia y el conjunto grupal —que es la mayoría del disco— suena excelente, demostrando lucimiento y un compañerismo ejemplar, necesario para hacer sonar sencillo movimientos tan complejos que contiene el álbum. Eso, mas la gran diversidad compositiva, el progreso y movimiento constantes a lo largo de la música, pasión y entretenimiento para tocar, un poco de relajo, un renglón de concepto, experimentación, unión de ritmos impensables y una buena producción, hacen de "Audio Diplomacy" un estreno fabuloso y un proyecto que hay que conocer. 9/10.
Alfredo Tapia-Carreto

Vamos con algunos comentarios en inglés y dejemos de gastar tiempo y esfuerzo...

Audio Diplomacy is the initial release from the instrumental quartet from Uzbekistan. The album is from a live performance in 2005 although it really doesn't feel that way. There is no crowd cheering, stage banter or any other live trappings. The recording sounds amazingly clean as well. Actually the performance was recorded as a DVD with the CD being gleaned from that. The video is state of the art and the performance is very well staged. It looks and sounds great and on top of that another great package design by Ken Westphal. OK Enough said for the technical aspects of the CD.
The set starts out with the "Intro" that once you pass the first 2 minutes of electronics, sound effects, including record scratching, turns into a pretty great number. Building from a rhythm platform to more like something you might here on A Trick of the Tail with use of strings to a blistering synth solo to a spacey section with the sound of a church organ that moves into the second number "Fromuz". This piece is a kind of the signature statement the band is making about itself. The song is very fusion like in the beginning moving into a great rock passage and guitar solo by Vitaly Popeloff that I can only describe as Jeff Beck on steroids. There are some really heavy chords in parts that remind me of metal and just when you think they are going to stay in style they move into some bebop jazz with a great piano solo from Albert Khalmurzayev moving back to the original theme to end the song.
The other tracks follow suit. The music never stagnates moving from one theme and style and time signature to another effortlessly and skillfully. There is a lot in this music and it would take way to long to try describing all its richness in words. Many layers of great sounds and pastoral passages as well as steel crunches and blistering solos supplying some of the best and most original instrumental prog I have heard in along time.
I think fans of Focus and other Symphonic bands would like this but also fans of fusion like Mahavishnu Orchestra and Return to Forever. All I can say is WOW. If this is the beginning of this group I can't wait to hear more. 4.5/5 solid stars.
Brian

Audio Diplomacy is an interesting debut for an album: a live recording that sounds sharp and deep enough to be a studio recording, released in the same package as the DVD of the exact same music.
Like the artist description north of here says, the band is focused on creativity and playing what is interesting to them. The music is fairly thick and complex, but once you get into the meat of it, that creativity shines through rather impressively. They released this live album, showcasing their diverse musical talents and interests. In regards to the quality of the recording, it's something like a Frank Zappa live album, where there is no crowd noise, there are no band goofs, the sound quality is excellent, and the music is still expertly contrived wickedry. In fact, if it weren't for the accompanying DVD presentation of the album, It would in truth be quite difficult to pinpoint as an actual live release. In regards to the music, then: this is not Liquid Tension Experiment or Return to Forever or any other band like that. What they lack in relative playing chops (though in truth, they lack very little in terms of speed, technicality, or other forms of virtuosity), they make up with a terrific sense of dynamism. The keyboards are all over the place, sometimes playing the lead lines, sometimes playing the sonic backdrop. The guitars are often at the front, but not always, and the band knows how to tastefully include some crazy playing among the melodic and twisting sounds. The bass is just perfect in the mix, giving it a great bit of punch, often with some heavy funk slapping. The drums are not very flashy most of the time, but they fit the music quite splendidly.
The first track, Intro, is an introductory little collection of sound samples for the first part and then an actual song for the remainder, beginning to show the collective humor and creativity of the band. The first actual song is From Fromuz--a track bordering on metal more than straight fusion, though both are present in full force. Most of this song is centered on the guitar, especially a particularly long solo that last for around half the track while the music shifts and changes beneath it. A little over halfway through, the guitar backs off and gives the keyboards a chance to lead for a while. Near the end the band combines together once more to compose a powerful finale. Wax Inhabitants Town begins with what sounds like some atmospheric keyboards but which the DVD reveals to be heavily toyed-with guitars. The full band comes together at several points to play a very memorable main riff, interspersed with a large amount of soloing, most of it on some effected and jazzy guitars. Strong bass drives Gameplay Imitation, another mellowish track like its predecessor. That is, until some harmonized guitars, tribal sorts of drums, and piano hits turn the song into a more fast paced fusion frenzy.
Spare Wheel is probably the most consistently upbeat and rock-oriented song on the album. Mostly guitar driven, this song is a classic and fun one--with cowbell. Next, Familiarization Results enters with a strong metal presence like on From Fromuz. Again, very guitar-oriented and built around a Liquid Tension sort of riff, this song moves through a few phases of full-band instrumentation, not really dissolving into any solos or jam sessions at any time throughout the song, though there is a period of some strange sampling guitar. Some heavy percussive pianos then turn the song on its head and some odd video samples buzz around the band. Harry Heller Theater begins with some synthesized strings, turning to percussive metal fusion in short order. A short guitar jam walks the song up to a slap-bass riff and some unified music. A little over five minutes in, the song jumps into full gear and the piano/guitar unison segues the song into a different riff overlaid by the piano. Soon, there is another strange sound-effect solo spot, and then the band pulls together once more to wrap it up. Babylon Dreams is a cheerful closer, with a sort of nonstandard vibe to its melody, sounding at some points like an old Egyptian sort of tune and at others like some sort of ragtime piece. The band then closes the album with one of those long jams like The Who is famous for.
In short, I'd say that if you are a fan of instrumental music at all, or are even interested in complex compositions, this is a wonderful band to check out. Their first studio release, however, 2008's Overlook, is stronger on the whole, less oriented on solos and more on band structure, and overall more thoroughly complete. Nevertheless, Audio Diplomacy is a solid release from Fromuz, and certainly worth checking out if you enjoy any of their other releases.
Spence

Now that's what I call eastern jazz fusion. I first get to know this band by prog radio Delicious Agony (thanks guys). Psychedelia mix of these things with something that looks like improvisation & also jamming session results in strangely good music. From modern point of view, really good one. Evolution, you know, you can't stop it. For example Wax Inhabitants Town, third track, tries a little bit different approach. Still doing jazz business, but coming from space rock point of view. It pleases, as it brings new elements, when these genres are combined.
Actually, few my classmates are from Uzbekistan, even I don't talk with them much (nobody does, but they stick together). And see, Familiarization Results is even some kind of symphonic prog, same as next track. I suppose they don't know this band, as they look like pop-listeners (you also can't expect everyone from Czech Republic to listen good old prog music like Blue Effect, or Progres). But still, I'm sad. One should know music of his country, especially when it's one of these small countries (my without doubt is small, just 10.000.000 people - and how many prog listeners I wonder, 10.000 ?)
5(-) and shot me if you please, I'll stick with this "better-than-other-album" rating.
Marty McFly

Having (legally) downloaded the audio tracks, I don't know anything of the DVD. Debuting with a live album is quite unusual. This means that FROMUZ are very confident in their live high audio quality.
The album starts with electronic sounds that after a couple of minutes are muted into a jazzy piece with odd signatures, dark ambient and a flavour of Canterbury. In the middle there's a bit of distorted guitar, that's what makes me think to an "eclectic" mare than to a JR/F band. However "Intro" is a great opener. Its merit is to contain even if in a disordered manner, most of the elements that are typical of the band's sound, from electronic to rock passing through jazz.
"From Fromuz" is a jazz-rock instrumental, at least for the first minutes, before a guitar solo adds a touch of blues. Then guitar and drums remain alone for a very jazz moment. A great number from a technical point of view. The guitar solo grows in a solo that seems coming from the 70s rock. It's amazing how so many different things can be included in a single track without giving the impression of being a patchwork. Bass and piano play another jazz number at minute 7. The jazz side of FROMUZ is fantastic. The guitar interrupts the dialog to return to the main theme and the song goes to its end.
"Wax Inhabitants Town" has an electronic opening that reminds to Vangelis, specially when the melody is driven by the high pitched sound of the keyboard. When the guitar starts the mediterranean mood disappeares and we are back to electronic prog. The drums are electronic, too. At minute 5 it becomes darker with the distorted guitar and the regular drums, but it's just a passage which connects to another slow moment. I feel the Canterbury element present also in this track at least until minute 8. At this point another rock passage leads into another "movement". This is the first time in which the music has a bit of "Middle East" flavour. Far from being ethnic, anyway. The coda is rock. If we don't consider the first 5 minutes we can say that the main recurring theme is the "dark rock connection".
"Gameplay Imitation" is one of the highlights. I really like the sounds used and the rhythmic parts. As the opener, it as many different parts which are connected by "sliding transitions". I mean that there are no holes in the music's continuity. This is not an easy track. It requires the listener's attention, and this is what I like in prog.
"Spare Wheel" is a strange track. The keyboard's "whistle" seems taken by a 70s B-movie, but it's accompanied by a heavy instrumentation. I have in mind the Ryo Okumoto's solo albums. They are on similar ambients. How can I describe it? Eclectic fusion maybe? Spacey sounds and a great guitar work for the second heavier part of the track.
"Familiarization Results" is another example of "heavy jazz". The start is heavy and uptime, then in the middle the tempo slows down, I'm not sure but I think it's 5/4, some stops and go with drums and the heavy part restarts. We can now here vocal effects. I can't understand either a single word but it's part of the track. It comes at the right time in the right way. The coda is a crescendo of heaviness.
Violins are the opener of "Harry Heller Theater". A sort of string quartet that leaves to scene to drum and heavy guitar. If until now what I have heard was reminding me to the late Soft Machine, this track is between Yes and King Crimson (those with Lake). Fantastic guitar and a soft touch of neo-prog, maybe. At least in the less rhythmic parts. I want to underline the fact that mentioning other famous bands is only to try giving an idea of the kind of music. FROMUZ is an original band with its own sound. The fusion between jazz and heavy rock is a distinctive and original tract of the band.
The closer "Babylon Dreams" is a little bit heavier. Here I can't identify a specific band to compare them. For the kind of composition and the musical passages the closer is the Finnish Pekka Pohjola, with a particular reference to his Mathematical Air Display. The Harpsichord interlude is something that can make think to Pekka and his band Wigwam. A short guitar interlude and a short drum solo are there to break the rhythm that suddenly reprises and later gives room to a speacey section of keyboard and drums, very similar to what's done in the "Intro", like closing a circle, followed by a powerful guitar solo to the conclusion.
In brief, this is a very good album full of good music. One that requires attention, but non too much. What is missed is the "li ve ambient". I know that it's a live only because it's written on PA, but there is no public noise or applauses, like it has been recorded in a club, but the sound is too powerful for a club. It sounds like a studio album, effectively.
I'm currently rating it with 4 stars, only because before giving 5 stars to an album I need more listens. In case I'll update this review later. For me it's currently an excellent addition.
Luca

STUNNING DEBUT!
If Uzbekistan has more musicians and bands like this, please... bring them on! I was nicely surprised when saw this band live in March this year on the Baja Prog festival. Most of the crowd was expecting to see the big names like Focus, Tony Levin, Unives Zero and others, but when Fromuz hit the stage it was amazing how hypnotized everybody was. I can say that just a few persons knew something about the band, but from that moment on i´m sure they added a lot of fans to the list.
Audio Diplomacy, believe it or not, was recorded live in their country in 2005, but the production is so fine and the public so quiet that sounds like a studio album. Maybe that´s the effect they create on people, to enjoy and listen carefully rather than screaming and cheering up. I agree with the clasification of Jazz-Fusion band, but this act has way more than that. You hear a combination of Jazz, Space Rock, Electronic, a bit Symphonic and even slight Metal moments.
This album also includes the full show plus 2 extra tracks on DVD. In this performance you can still see the band as a quartet, since they just added a fifth member(keyboards) who happens to be guitar player Vitaly Popeloff´s son. Talking about Vitaly, i think he is a very important piece of the band, like they all are, but you can hear in most of the songs how dominant the guitar is, like in most of the Jazz-Fusion bands.
All the songs are lenghted, being the shortest 7:31 and the Intro 6:09, and the longest 12:33. Just instrumental pieces with lots of keys and special effects like background sounds, chanting and child voices and laughters, electronic spacey sounds like in the "Intro", "Wax Inhabitants Town" and "Babylon Dreams", and as i said before, excellent guitar riffs and solos like the ones in "From Fromuz"(the jazziest track),"Gameplay Imitation"(referring to a chess match, very important game in their country) , "Spare Wheel" (maybe the heaviest and very progressive) and "Harry Heller Theater"(Also heavy but symphonic and jazzy too).
Off course the rhythm section is very important and they do a very good job here, like in "Familiarization Results" and "From Fromuz". Bass player reminds me of Chris Squire, more for the way he looks than how he plays.
All in all, an excellent band with skilled musicians, an album well writen and masterfully performed songs. I really wish these guys have a big succes and keep working together, not only because they make good music, but also they are nice persons, very humble and willing to please fans as much as they can. I was lucky to met them, and believe me they deserve a huge exposure in the progressive world.
I coudn´t give less than 5/5
Viva el Prog!
Fran Muñoz

Un disco en realidad increíble y recomendado para todos. Una joya de musicalidad, potencia y virtuosismo. Otro discazo muy recomendado de esta genial banda. Los tipos son buenísimos a todos los niveles, tanto en conjunto como individualmente, llevan el progresivo (jazz, rock o metal) a su máxima expresión, su música es complejísima, sencillamente genial.
A disfrutarlos!!!




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