For the work-up on this extremely articulate group, see my review of 4th (here); Live is a document of the band's first appearance in the US at the NearFest prog-smorgasbord, ca 2000. All the members of 4th appear here and in their usual stellar degree of instrumental overachieving fettle, but there's a bit of a different atmosphere present, an ambiance of wider spaces, stars and planets, as well as the frenetic futuristic metropolises of their studio work (credit keyboardist Alberto Bonomi for much of this, though all are more or less involved). Maybe it's what comes with the live environment as versus studio, but, withal, Work in Progress Live a marvelous dimension of contrast.
The cuts here are very long, allowing the gents to go berserk on solos and extensions, achieving levels not much heard since the 70s and the heyday of the progfusion giants. If I say D.F.A. is a rare ensemble, I don't do so lightly. I witnessed the greats back then, and this group is definitely of the sterner stuff music legends are drawn from. One can only imagine the long hours logged in achieving such a plateau…and it takes no more than the first cut for the crowd to go wild, enthralled by what I'm sure few expected in the fashion delivered. D.F.A. obviously figured out what so many flash-in-the-pan prog groups miss entirely: true greatness is affected only through laboriously self-enforced discipline. This missing factor, droolingly neglected by 99% of the genre's crits (who are idiots) settling for Musea-styled weenie music, accounts for the generally lackluster state of the genre's present great misfortune.
Jazz and neoclassical structures have their place all through Live, the latter less obviously than the former, but, in the hands of such uber-tasty purveyors is where fusion gains its distinction as a mode entirely deserving of a categorization no longer owing its existence in slavish devotions to parentage. Unfortunately, the chances for such cerebral and dauntingly perfectionistic music to thrive in the way it so richly deserves are not good, but, for those whose lifeblood is art of another order, D.F.A. is always a six-course meal of the most nourishing sort.
Oh, and if you dug the Ozric Tentacles, there's a goodly dash of them here as well.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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