01 September 2010
Last week, I talked about the most recent album from Uzbekistani fusioners From.UZ, Seventh Story. In that review, I mentioned that the band has released a live DVD of the album being played in its entirety (much like the DVD packed in with their first release, Audio Diplomacy, recorded when they were just Fromuz). Titled Inside Seventh Story, it’s the subject of today’s review.
The DVD’s main programme covers the same set of music that was released on the studio album a year earlier. You might think that this means less value for money, but you’d be mistaken. They’ve added little bits and bobs to the songs, and while there’s a lot of accuracy and integrity when compared to the original studio takes, there’s enough more here to make it worthwhile from that standpoint. Additonally, From.UZ is a band that shines live…they imbue their performances with a lot of energy, and there’s a visible sense of enjoyment when you watch them play. Vitaly Popeloff smiles, grimaces, occasionally gurns a little bit, but he’s so engrossed in what he’s playing that you can’t help but smile along as he plays.
Well, I can’t help but smile along as he plays.
And that’s what matters here.
The album is recreated failthfully; this means all the bits of dialogue between and in the songs is recreated as well. I had hoped that a stage show might mean that the various ‘actors’ or vocalists involved would appear, but sadly there’s only recorded dialogue. There is staging, including a pair of younger gentlemen who act out…something. Really, I’m not sure what it is, but they’re there, and at least they don’t detract from the performance. To focal point is the band, and they’re shown very well. Cuts are reasonably long; there’s no huge amount of rapid fire intercuts done so spastically as to induce seizure even in the non-epileptic viewers at home. I could quibble with some shot selections from time to time (a long, lingering shot of a keyboardist as the drummer is going off, or what have you), but those are few and far between.
Video quality is decent. There is an attempt at going a bit arty with the main programme, with sepia toning and post production effects adding an aged look to some segments (I'll be posting a gallery of screenshots later so you can get a feel for the look of the DVD). It doesn’t go as far as Porcupine Tree did on Arriving Somewhere, for example, but it’s there from time to time. Generally speaking, however, this is a mostly straight performance DVD, the type of which is becoming ever more uncommon as time goes on. Sound quality is something I have no quibbles with; the band was recorded clearly and crisply, with plenty of definition from highs to lows. They sound great, and really pull off the intricate parts of their compositions with enviable ease.
A few extras fill things out on Inside Seventh Story. First up we have nearly 50 minutes of the band ‘backstage,’ rehearsing for this performance. It’s a nice behind the scenes look at the band as they pull the show together, dialing in sounds, working out touchy bits, and talking amongst themselves. Even though I’ve had many opportunities to see just this kind of ‘performance’ in the past (that being the rehearsals and set up for shows) I still find myself engrossed by it. The backstage footage is joined by a shorter series of clips of From.UZ working on the material for this album in the studio. I find this a little less engaging, but still interesting for a few viewings. The special features are rounded out by an interview with the band, compèred by producer Igor Iosis. Thankfully with subtitles, it’s an insightful look into the new band, the new material, and everything in between.
I know the review looks short, but it has to be taken in context with the review of the audio CD previously (And you can, once again, read that review HERE. In fact, I recommend 2 tabs open so you can switch back and forth). I could take the time and A/B the performances and tell you just what has changed from studio song to live take, but I’d rather you discover that yourself. If you’re curious what I think of certain songs, look at the CD review…the sentiments remain the same here. What I can say without any feat of inaccuracy is this; having seen the new band play live, some festival here in the US had better do their damndest to bring these guys over here to play. They’d be a revelation, and I am not saying that with any sarcasm or levity. They’re stone cold brilliant, and this DVD proves it. NEArfest, are you listening?
Bell of the Earth
Influence of Time
Backstage (the band rehearsing for the performance captured above)
Working Episodes (From.UZ recording Seventh Story)
Interview (compèred by producer Igor Iosis)
Ali Izmailov: drums and percussion, marimba, tubular bells
Igor Elizov: keyboards, synths, MIDI, grand piano, vocals
Vitaly Popeloff: electric, acoustic, synth and fretless guitars, vocals
Sur'at Kasimov: bass guitar, double bass
Albert Khalmurzaev: keyboards, synths, MIDI, programming, sound design, 12-string guitar, vibraphone, vocals
Directed by Albert Khalmurzaev
Produced by Igor Iosis
Music by Vitaly Popeloff
Lyrics by Evgeniy Popelov