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Friday, September 12, 2008

Fromuz - Overlook

Fromuz is a 4-piece instrumental band that hails from Taskent, Uzbekistan. They are a new band to me, having just heard their 2007 release 'Audio Diplomacy' (2007) a few months ago for the first time. 'Overlook' was just released in 2008 on the U.S. label 10t Records. They bill themselves as a Jazz Rock/Fusion band although I personally hear very little fusion in their playing as I would choose to define it. What I hear is an interesting blend of styles ranging from hard-driving chordless melodies that are not far off from Planet X, to progressive odd-metered heavy chordal passages, to moments of synth-driven psychadelia. Fans of Spaced Out, Bolt, Speechless, Von Frickle, Static, Headshear, Planet X, and A Helmet of Gnats should find themselves right at home with this album.

No songs on this album clock in at under 10 minutes, yet a few of the songs themselves are broken down into several smaller 'songlets' that don't seem to really be connected with one another. The first track, for example, contains 4 or 5 smaller songs that are strung together end on end. There's seemingly no logic behind this, except that some of the slower passages tend to be placed in the middle of the songs. So within these songs we usually get a heavy-sounding intro at the beginning, more artistic or experimental middle section, followed up with a bigger finish. For example, the middle section of 'Other Side Of The Water' sounds very Pink Floyd - Animals-era psychadelic rock with lush synths and acoustic guitars. The production on this CD is excellent, especially considering that there are probably not too many state of the art recording studios in Uzbekistan. The band plays very tight throughout the album, proving that they are not only worthy artists but also perfectionists as well. The band have also found interesting cover art to suit both of their albums.

The musicians in this band show that they know their instruments and can really put out some stellar riffs when they want to. "13th August" is a great example of this. The whole track just sizzles with bombastic chops. However the album as a whole takes a more conservative approach with an emphasis on artistic development instead of displaying their technical prowess. The final 17-minute epic 'Return to W.I.T.' shows a more slower paced, artistic side of the band. This track reminds my of another band, Helmet of Gnats, who took a similar approach on their debut album. There is great depth here in these songs, and after several repeat listens now I find there is still so much more to hear on this CD. I hesitate to call this album a masterpiece, because there are definitely a few flaws and more experimental sections. One of the weaker points on the album is near the end of track 1, where the song breaks down and we hear several minutes of jazzy guitar noodling, which is about the only time I would dare to call this CD 'fusion'. Other places on the album breakdown with far more interesting results, such as near the end of 'Crashmind' which features an interesting guitar solo vamp and a soft piano ending with a twist.

Overall this is a great slab of close to 70 minutes of art rock, and I highly recommend that everybody who enjoys good instrumental progressive rock to pick it up for their collection. There's plenty of heavy riffs to keep the metalheads happy, and a more prog rockin' side for the proggers. This is a CD not to be 'Overlooked'.

12 comments :

stringray said...

Hey Lamneth,

would be great if you could tell the differences in their cds.
What I've heard on progulus was really great, I tended to put them in the field of The Gourishankar, which is quite honorable.
On the other hand, I read a statement from Bucky, saying that he has got another cd of theirs, but that wouldn't be something for progulus. And that is quite a crushing statement for me, as I know Bucky's tastes and way of thinking.

Anonymous said...

I would encourage you to visit youtube to watch some of the first album, which is a 2 disk set -- DVD & CD. You can listen to 25 minutes of the new album, "Overlook" at www.10trecords.com (click on the Fromuz banner).
Excerpts from the concert DVD of the first album, "Audio Diplomacy" can be viewed here:
http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=fromuz+prog+fusion&search_type=&aq=f

Anonymous said...

'Audio Diplomacy' is a good CD, quite similar to Overlook but slightly weaker overall because it has more noodling and a few too many artistic liberties taken in spots. The guitar player solos just ok, and it gets a bit dull for me when he's soloing pentatonic stuff forever and just spontaneously pulling riffs out of his ass without really thinking it through first. That kind of stuff bugs me. There's some great stuff on 'Audio Diplomacy' though, and I love the fact that they include a DVD so you can see what the band is all about.

Friend said...

Anonymous,who are you?Are you guitar player or simple the person who likes to chat in vain anything from itself not representing? Listen closely to an album, and then think-is necessary for something to write or not!

artguyken said...

Well, there is Anonymous 1 (sep 12) and Anonymous 2 (sep 13).

I wrote as Anonymous 1, encouraging you to check out the videos. I don't know who the other guy is. You might also want to check out the reviews for "Audio Diplomacy" at progarchives.com, seaoftranquility.com and progressor.net. Sea of Tranquility named AD one of the top 10 albums of 2007.

cheers!

artguyken said...

http://www.seaoftranquility.org/
my mistake in the address. sorry.
here's the review page for the first album.
http://www.seaoftranquility.org/reviews.php?op=showcontent&id=4766

stringray said...

Both Anonymous,

thank you for your responses, both are of help and much appreciated.

Friend,

I try to believe that your post wasn't meant to be offensive.
Everyone is due to have an opinion, whether you like it or not.

Anonymous 2 has helped me with his words, and that's what my question was for. :)

artguyken said...

Stringray and everyone,

The biggest criticism I have of the first album is that occasionally Vitaly Popeloff's pitch is a little off in some of the later guitar solos. The CD is the soundtrack for the DVD, minus the crowd sounds. It was recorded during the performance and they did not doctor it in the studio afterwards. There are 2 additional tracks on the DVD, one of which I uploaded at youtube.com.

Overlook is a bit heavier in tone overall than Audio Diplomacy.

There is a 4 minute section that I do not like on Overlook, where there is this pointless diddling around -- noodling in Stone Salad, the first track. To my ears, it is a jarring breakdown in the musical flow. However, it is only 4 minutes and with repeated listens I've even gotten used to that.

Enjoy!

artguyken said...

I just discovered that you can listen to more tunes from "Overlook" at Broadjam:
http://www.broadjam.com/artists/home.php?artistID=36093

They have "Return to Wax Inhabitants Town," "13th of August" (also on the 10T page) and "Crashmind". So, now you can really decide what you think for yourself.

Oh... and the band has excerpts from all the tracks on "Audio Diplomacy" at their website:
http://fromuzband.com

artguyken said...

Holy frijoles! I spoke too soon! If you click on the link for more 10T Records' artists' songs, you can hear the other two, so you can listen to the entire album, it seems.

Anonymous said...

anybody listen?

BG said...

Just got a chance to listen to the full album and I must say that I'm impressed. This is the best "new" space/psyc. prog/rock I have heard since "Quantum Fantay".