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Nil & Maschera Di Cera - 2004 - "Live at Gouveia Artrock"
(Portugal, 78 min DVD)

TRACK LIST:                             

1.  Soundcheck 2:43
2.  Quarante Joiurs Sur le Sinai-1 12:31
3.  198 9:19
4.  Derives 4:21
5.  Abandon 8:40
6.  Band Credits 1:14

Machera Di Cera: 
1.  Soundcheck 2:43
2.  Al Confini del Mondo 13:12
3.  Il Viaggio Nel l'Oceano Capovolto-1 10:23
4.  Dal Caos 7:07
5.  Band Credits 1:09

Bonus: Memories of Gouveia Artrock 2003 4:38 

Director & designer: Luis Loureiro.

Prolusion. This DVD is produced in Portugal, but it presents foreign artists: Nil and Maschera Di Cera, hailing from France and Italy respectively. They were part of the Gouveia Artrock festival held in this country in 2003, and their performance there is documented in this production. As far as I know, the festival has become annual since then. (As for Portugal's native progressive performers, I am acquainted with the creation of some of them, and at least four of the related albums are reviewed on Progressor: here, here, here and here.

Analysis. The show has been filmed in a nice, cozy concert hall to a sold out crowd, and most of the audience are solid middle-aged people. There are youngsters among them, but they are looking exclusively solid, too. All this is more than merely logical for today's situation with progressive music. Just visit a chamber concerto or a ballet: you'll see the same picture.

NIL: Nil was a dark horse to me, although they have three CDs to their credit. Well, then the more pleasant was my meeting with them. This female-fronted band plays a highly inventive music, which is beyond any comparisons, even though stylistically, it is not unrecognizable. In all, Nil presented four compositions, one of which, 198, was performed for the first time (it will be on the band's new album, coming soon). This is the only instrumental in their set, though it needs to be mentioned that most of Nil's music is largely instrumental. Bassist Samuel Maurin, guitarist David Maurin and drummer Frank Niebel are at the helm of the arrangements throughout the first two compositions, and I think they can be considered the main driving force of the band in general. The music is always intricate and eclectic, even at its quietest, most atmospheric moments, and is Space Fusion either in pure form (1) or being blended with Space Metal (2). The third number is Samuel's benefit performance, showing his capabilities to play Stick. The other musicians are in a subordinate position here, with Roselyn Berthet singing literally a couple of lines at the end. She came to the fore on the following song, as well as keyboardist Benjamin Croisy, who switched over to piano. I like all of Nil's compositions, but Abandon is my favorite. All the band members shine on this, and the flight of their fantasy is here directly linked with the power of their performance mastery. The music is dense, intensive and is in some ways abandoned indeed. In all, this is one of the most intriguing Space Rock / Space Metal works I've heard in recent years. Great music, great band!

MASCERA DI CERA: Unlike that of the first act in the show, the performance of Maschera Di Cera didn't take me by surprise:-), as I often listen to their works and I heard them play live as well. Keyboardist Agostino Macor, bassist Fabio Zuffanti, singer Alessandro Corvaglia, flutist Andrea Monetti, and Maurizio Di Tollo, who recently replaced Marco Cavani behind the drum kit, played two long compositions from their second album, "Il Grande Labirinto". Both of them, Al Confini del Mondo and Il Viaggio Nel l'Oceano Capovolto-1, represent classic symphonic Art-Rock of a mixed Anglo-Italian school with a lot of fresh sounding quasi Jazz-Fusion (kudos to flutist Monetti), but also with some hints to Cast, Marillion (in some parts of keyboards) and, therefore, Genesis as well. So Fabio Zuffanti was a bit cunning when, in the blitz-interview to the festival's organizers, said: "Our music is based exclusively on the traditions of Italian Prog". Nevertheless, the band's music is by no means devoid of originality and is very inflammatory, judging by the audience's reaction to it, which was certainly brighter than before. As the curtain fell, guitarist Manuel Cordosa joined the band to perform Dal Caos, an intricate Jazz-Fusion instrumental from the repertoire of Finisterre, which, as you might know, is another band with Fabio Zuffanti's direct participation. As to Mr. Cordosa, I am inclined to think he is a new guitarist for Finisterre, who, by the way, are now recording their new album, fourth by number, to be released by the US MoonJune Records later this year.

The DVD features subtitles in English everywhere it is necessary - when Roselyn presents the following songs in their set (Alessandro was speaking in English), when members of both of the bands shared their (highly positive) opinion on the organization of the event and the audience, and also during the footage of the people buying the CDs and associating with the musicians in the lobby.

Conclusion. Do you think I forgot to mention something? Well, the quality of the sound and screen image is, to be honest, quite excellent. Generally, the joint effort of the event's organizers and the participants, resulted in this DVD, is just beyond praise. Please support it even if you are well acquainted with both of the bands and saw them playing live as well. In any case, the DVD gets my highest and sincerest recommendations.

VM: January 6, 2005

Related Links:

Gouveia Artrock Records
Portugal Progressivo Associacao Cultural


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