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Delirium - 2011 - "La Storia 1970-2010"

(248 min, Black Widow Records)


****+

Prolusion. DELIRIUM is from the first generation of progressive rock bands hailing from Italy, initially making a name for itself as a gentle, folk-inspired band with acoustic guitars, harmony vocals and gentle backing by piano and Mellotron being its musical weapons of choice. While popular at the time, its initial line-up wasn't the most stable, and by 1975 Delirium folded. But after a 28-year-long hiatus the musicians decided to have another go. "Il Viaggio Continua" documents this second lease of life enjoyed by this semi-legendary Italian

DVD (170 min) - Il Viaggia Continua
****

TRACK LIST:

1.  Intro / Verso il Naufragio
2.  Movimento I 
3.  Favola o Storia del Lago di Kriss 
4.  Villaggio
5.  Culto Disarmonico
6.  Gioia, Disordine, Risentimento
7.  Jethro Tull Medley 
8.  Preludio 
9.  Dio del Silenzio
10. Dopo il Vento
11. L'Acquario delle Stelle
12. Dolce Acqua
13. La Battaglia degli Eterni Piani
14. Jesahel
15. With a Little Help From My Friends
Bonus material: 
16. King's Road 2007 live footage
17. Viaggio Negli Arcipelaghi del Tempo
18. Archival footage from RAI Television
19. Additional live footage from 2009
20. Interview

LINEUP:

Martin Fredrick Grice  sax, flute; vocals
Roberto Solinas  guitars, vocals
Ettore Vigo  keyboards, vocals
Pino Di Santo  drums, vocals
Fabio Chighini  bass, vocals
With:
Chiara Giacobbe  violin 
Diana Tizzani  violin 
Simona Merlano  viola 
Daniela Caschetto  cello 
Loretta Oliva  voice 
Analysis. The main dish on the menu for this DVD and CD bundle is a concert held in Genoa in February of 2008, recorded a year or so prior to their much-heralded comeback studio production "Il Nome Del Vento", which really made a strong impression well outside of their established fan base also. Rather unlike this particular production I suspect, that does come across as an item that will appeal to dedicated followers to a much greater degree than to any casual fans of this type of music, the stylistic expression of which covers a wide ground, with the main foundation in progressive folk music with occasional excursions in the directions of symphonic rock and fusion respectively, but more on that aspect of this release for the write-up on the CD which forms the other half of this bundle. The concert footage is of decent quality all around. Three or perhaps four digital cameras are utilized to capture the shots needed for the film. Not the absolutely highest quality cameras around, and mostly handheld ones providing close-ups of the individual musicians - and one I suspect had a fixed position to cover the entire stage area: decent resolution, decent color quality, but never truly impressive. Those accustomed to high quality DVD productions by the likes of the Metal Mind Records series of live DVDs will find this part of the package inferior in quality much better than similar productions from the 80's and 90's obviously, but compared to contemporary live concert DVDs this one comes across as something of a tight-budget effort. The editing is of very good quality however, and my total impression of the film footage and editing suggests a professional venture made on a limited budget. The sound quality is superior to the film footage; if not brilliantly captured then at least of a superior quality, as is customary these days for even small-scale concerts. What I did find to be rather curious was the live performance itself, which to my ears appeared to be rather pedestrian and ever-so-slightly rusty, or perhaps even somewhat disjointed. The individual performances never quite manage to gel. Fans will recognize the songs of course, but I was left with the impression that this was by and large a band struggling to find their way. That is, until they are joined by a string quartet to perform some tracks from their then-forthcoming album "Il Nome Del Vento". These songs are performed in a tight and energetic manner, the instrumentalists suddenly uniting and giving a wholehearted performance that showcases their skills both as individuals and as a unit. The additional dynamics the strings provide to the arrangements are obviously a factor at hand there, and perhaps these elderly craftsmen found it inspiring to share the stage with four young, good-looking women too. Or, as I discovered later, it might just be the result of these songs being made by this particular line-up of the band, as the current line-up does sport a few members who weren't around during the band's heyday in the 70's. Existing fans of Delirium will delight in the additional footage of this DVD: black and white archival footage from the early 70's courtesy of RAI Television, a just over 10-minute-long interview taken backstage prior to the concert in 2008, some additional live footage from 2003 and 2007 respectively and an image gallery with shots of the original band and more recent ones from the last few years. Not too interesting for the casual viewer, but the proverbial icing on the cake for all fans who, I suspect, will be the main audience for this production anyhow.

CD (78:21) - One Night in Genoa
*****

TRACK LIST:

1.  Intro / Verso il Naufragio 5:35
2.  Movimento I 5:16
3.  Favola o Storia del Lago di Kriss 6:28
4.  Villaggio 8:04
5.  Culto Disarmonico 4:57
6.  Gioia, Disordine, Risentimento 5:56
7.  Preludio 4:15
8.  Dio del Silenzio 5:40
9.  Dopo il Vento 9:20
10. L'Acquario delle Stelle 4:20
11. Dolce Acqua 5:23
12. La Battaglia degli Eterni Piani 8:00
13. Jesahel 5:07
Analysis. If the mix for this DVD version of Delirium's 2008 concert is ever so slightly different in the CD version or if it is due to the strength of the stereo system and headphone's sound delivery over the TV audio setup, I don't know, but from the point of view of musical enjoyment the concert recording appears to be ever so slightly more enjoyable on CD than on DVD. Better dynamics and richer arrangements, and on several occasions sounds lost while watching the DVD appeared while listening to the CD. The latter most likely a feature of my TV set I imagine, as the audio preferences for that device by default haven't been adjusted to convey music in the best manner possible. The music itself, as performed by Delirium anno 2008, is an amalgam of symphonic rock, progressive folk rock and fusion, with a token few laidback jazz sequences thrown in for good measure. After watching the DVD and the archival clips from the early 70's contained on that part of the production, it would appear that Delirium in its second lease of life had rearranged their older material to some extent, moving away from the acoustic folk aspects dominating their earlier material and opting to blend in jazzy details and enhance the symphonic aspects of the compositions which is fairly successful, with some delightful jazzy escapades courtesy of frontman Grice and keyboardist Vigo as the arguably most successful rearrangements, the flute and sax of the former combining quite nicely with the piano and organ provided by the latter. The symphonic arrangements are a bit more of a hit and miss affair however, in particular when all instrumentalists have a go at these. Ever so slightly disjointed and chaotic passages where the individual instruments compete for space and attention are a feature, one I found rather distracting in these instances, as exemplified in a track like Culto Disarmonico. The overall pace and intensity would also appear to be ever so slightly more pedestrian than they were some 40 years ago: a trade-off of sorts I imagine, the richer and more detailed modern arrangements demanding a slight decrease in momentum and energy most likely. It is when Delirium plays out the gentler parts of their older repertoire that they shine on this production, the elongated version of Dio del Silenzio being one of several enthralling takes on their older material, and as mentioned for the DVD part of this bundle, the new material created by the current version of the band is a strong entity in itself, arguably the most intriguing of these compositions as a whole. Adding a bonus CD with the same contents as the DVD (or in this case slightly less of it, due to format restraints) might seem to be unnecessary, but at least in this particular case I find it to be worthwhile. Experiencing the CD as a stand-alone production did add musical value and merit for me when given my first ever experience of this band, and I would advise buyers to listen to them both for that particular reason.

Conclusion. "Il Viaggio Continua: La Storia 1970-2010" is in many ways a highly impressive production, the total experience clocking in at just over 4 hours or so. That's a lot of material for such a production, giving excellent value for money. And while the main event covered for me is a bit of an uneven ride, the vast extent of additional material and the fact that this most likely will be the only DVD ever made by this band, makes it easy to recommend this production to any existing fan of Delirium. Those unfamiliar with this act might want to check out their classic 70's recordings and their 2009 comeback album prior to this one however, unless they have a particular interest in concert movies, that is.

OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: Agst 20 & 21, 2011
The Rating Room


Related Links:

Black Widow Records
Delirium


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