Outopsya, "Sum" (Videoradio/Artemis)
Prog hath no bounds, so when a load of Gregorian chantishness gets grafted into the more obvious foliage of Crimson, Utopia and Tangerine Dream and the whole thing gets modernized up to the decade after tomorrow, you just gotta take a deep breath and roll with it. The breath's well worth taking, because this Luca Vianini, who wrote, produced and played most everything on this Outopsya record except bass (Evan Mazzucchi), appears to be some kind of genius. "Sum" means "I Am" in Latin, which is what Jesus said in John 8:58; perhaps Mr. Vianini knows the passage.
The first thing that hits you is Vianini's studio mastery. There's a whole lot going on in terms of synthesizers, guitars and drum-machine rhythms, yet each instrument pops like a weasel from its own discrete hole, bristling with distinctive tone -- he handles the bass frequencies, both punchy and cloudy/drony, with special skill. Listen on good speakers, cuz ear buds and car woofers just won't cut it. This is physical music that demands loudness.
The second impression is of a very active mind -- maybe too nervous half the time, but that is the modern condition. Outopsya might set things up with steam hiss or rumble or throb, then crank into spiky arpeggios or doom riffs, turning several corners in each composition (average time 7 minutes) while subjecting the textures to constant change and bright, bright contrast (grmmmmmmm . . . PING!). More than in most prog, the emotional content varies as well, from mystery to snake dance to amphetamine paranoia.
Oh -- the CD packaging by Michela Eccheli displays a keen, colorful abstract eye and complements the music to a T.
If musicians hear this, it will influence them, and they'll want to hire Vianini as a producer. Then he can quit his Deep Purple cover band. But why would he want to?
Éder Bergozza & Marcos De Ros, "Peças de Bravura" (CD Sul CD/DVD)
Here's what's sweeping the nation of Brazil: An extravagant pianist (Éder Bergozza) gets together with a braid-bearded metallic guitarist (Marcos De Ros), and they wail on every variety of folk dance, tango, rag and fantasia, accompanied by a percussion track from what sounds like a 1980 Casio toy keyboard. Now that is high concept.
Citing among their influences the three P's of modern Brazilian inspiration -- Piazzolla, Prokofiev and Purple -- the duo sure do tear it up with cuddly enthusiasm. Bergozza's dancing digits apply both pomp and circumstance to his resilient ivories; you've heard few faster (if many slicker) axmen than De Ros, who sweep-picks and shreds his way through original instrumentals with such indicative titles as "Paganiniana," "Caprichio Infernal" and "The Little Tramp." By the time they conclude with the 8.5-minute "Funeral for a Friend"-type rave "Ponteio Marciano," you'll be well into your third hankie.
The DVD could've been a bare-bones concert, but the multitalented De Ros himself tarts it up with fake silent-movie titles and enough split screens, zooms and graphic superimpositions to satisfy five Michael Wadleighs. Hilarious!
All this was apparently accomplished with the help of some kind of cultural endowment. Seems we should be looking to Brazil for foreign aid.
Available via http://www.gravadoravozes.com.br.