Zuffanti: La Quarta Vittima

Exceptional concept piece from this Italian artist.

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The fourth solo album from Italian prog stalwart Fabio Zuffanti is a dark, audacious and truly remarkable collection. Based on Michael Ende’s book The Mirror In The Mirror, it questions human perceptions of reality and while it may take time to digest, it’s worth it. Yes, there are tunes, guitar and keyboard hooks, and lovely vocal sections, but you sense Zuffanti eschews mainstream acceptance or songwriting conventions: each track goes wherever he feels it should.

Floyd-like crescendos merge into jazzy Soft Machine sax workouts in crazy odd times, with keyboard and vocal distractions too. Sparse ambience presages PFM style riffing, leading to flashes of Zappa-like woodwind, and spiky Crimson-guitar resolves to gentle flute and clarinet.

In less able hands this could verge on messy pastiche, but there is vision, integrity and honesty to the album, infusing it with a strong identity. With numerous virtuoso Italian musicians involved, terrific performances abound (notably the visceral guitar solos on La Certezza Impossible and album closer Una Sera D’inverno).

Zuffanti embodies the true spirit of progressive rock, and sets the bar high here.