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(54 min, Musea)
TRACK LIST: 1. Dawn 3:44 2. The Last Wisdom 6:30 3. Mind 1:08 4. Heart and Soul 11:24 5. Shine 0:57 6. In a Flash 4:09 7. Friday Twilight 6:38 8. Haunted Recollections 1:15 9. The Wrath 6:12 10. Void, the Partner 1:30 11. The Rising 6:30 12. The Snowman 4:33 All tracks: by Ribeiro, except 2 & 4: Ribeiro & Luiz; 5: Luiz; Final Segment on 11-a: JS Bach, & 12: by R Blackmore/H Blake. LINEUP: Fabio Ribeiro - electric keyboards Luiz Sacoman - electric guitars Chico Mocinho - drums & percussion Ronaldo Lobo - fretless & fretted bass With: Jose Renato Luiz - guitars
Prolusion. BLEZQI ZATSAZ is a solo project of Brazilian keyboardist, Fabio Ribeiro, who has also played with Angra, Shaman and currently Hedgear. Blezqi Zatsaz released "The Rise & Fall of Passional Sanity" in 1992, followed by their second album, "The Tide Turns", eleven years later.
Analysis. "The Rise & Fall of Passional Sanity" is a keyboard driven instrumental album in the classic Symphonic Prog style, strongly influenced by classical and baroque music. The sound is light overall and long on synthesizers. Dawn rises slowly and builds with synth horns in the distance, like an oncoming procession. The emerging theme is heroic and triumphant. Although not at all a retro-sound, the influence of Rick Wakeman is evident, especially from the Criminal Record and White Rock era. Mind is mysterious and rather eastern in its sound and instrumentation, with keys that sound like hammered strings, wooden wind chimes and Chinese flute. It is also painfully short, leaving the listener wanting more. Heart and Soul shifts moods with each of its subtitles. This is the first time that the guitarists do some soloing. Unfortunately it is way back in the mix behind the bass and percussion. There is a very pretty passage with piano and flute, followed by more guitar work, this time more satisfactorily present and even some nice fretless bass work. In a Flass is a beautiful piece with piano, flute and strings, eventually joined by a slightly fuzzed electric guitar solo. The piano work is beautiful and a sax solo brings the work to a close. All the instruments mentioned are of the synthesized variety, which could be considered a shortcoming of the album overall, too much synthetic sound when the genuine instruments would have added so much more depth. Lovely acoustic guitar opens Friday Twilight; drums and the sound of creaking wood (as if onboard a sailing ship) fill the background. This track is the best showcase for Sacoman and Luiz's guitars as they trade licks. Haunted Recollections is filled with clanks, clunks and whines. A Mellotron chorus "sings" softly behind the string-like hammered melody, which is another in a minor key. The Wrath contains some more spooky elements, but also some very cheerful, chirpy synthesizer passages and organ reed voicing. The mood playfully alternates between a mock spookiness and jaunty, devil-may-care attitude, including a honky-tonk piano section with what could have been a sax solo. Haunted Recollections and The Wrath could easily have been a soundtrack for a Halloween cartoon, which I do not mean derogatorily, but rather to indicate the lightness of mood. The Rising makes frequent tempo and instrumentation changes, including some pipe organ and a quotation from Bach's Toccata & Fugue in Dm, which is the richest, fullest sound on the album. This would be my other main criticism, the overall sound is lacking in the low middle range. Although there is bass covering the low register, most of the keyboard and guitar playing is covering the upper register, leaving a bare mid-range. The Rising ends with a nice bit of glockenspiel. The bonus track is Snowman. This has synthesized percussion that echoes in the background, sounding much like the theme to Chariots of Fire. Vangelis has undoubtedly been another influence on Ribeiro, particularly the use of heroic themes, synthesizer and in this last track, hammered chimes.
Conclusion. "The Rise and Fall of Passional Sanity" is a very competent and enjoyable bit of Symphonic Prog with classical tinges. There is nothing particularly innovative here, but not all musicians are innovators. I find the compositions to be all very enjoyable, if not especially unique. Lovers of early Wakeman or Vangelis are likely to find Blezqi Zatsaz enjoyable. This is a synthesizer heavy album, which is either its strength or its weakness, depending on your tastes. Although I find the compositions enjoyable and the musicianship excellent, I would prefer a fuller sound and more actual instruments, with a bit less synthetic sound. I found an audio clip online for a track called Ways of Control from the album, "The Tide Turns", which has that fuller sound: http://www.hedgear.net/ENGLISH/main%20pages/downloads.htm
KW: June 12, 2005
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