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(105 min DVD, Musea)
CONTENT: Kenso ******! 1. Sora Ni Hakaru 2. Negai Kanaeru Kodomo 3. Hyoto 4. The Shadow Over Innsmouth 5. Miditerranean & Aryan Mona Lisa ****1/2 1. Captif De La Nuit 2. Les Guerriers 3. Tripot 4. Les Sabots De Lena Tempus Fugit ***** 1. Never 2. Prologue 3. Goblin's Trail Codice *****1/2 1. Bitacora De Suenos 2. Dentro De La Maquina 3. Espiritus En Movimento 4. Epilogo Supersister ***** 1. Judy Goes On Holiday
Prolusion. One of the very first and most important annual Progressive Rock festivals, PROGFEST, is already part of history. Thankfully, Musea Records has recently released Progfest-2000 on DVD. The concert includes the performances of Kenso, Mona Lisa, Tempus Fugit, Codice and Supersister. No extras. DVD format: NTSC, for all regions.
Analysis. I wouldn't say this concert is a specifically spectacular show: no play of lights, no visual effects on the screen behind the scene, etc. But I don't think the material loses anything significant in the absence of these things, which are hardly essential in the case of progressive music. The bands appear in the order I listed them above, though the user can start seeing the DVD from any place, by checking the Menu section. The first 25 minutes are fantastically impressive, both musically and visually. KENSO (quintet: guitarist, two keyboardists, bassist and drummer) play with amazing ease, getting a genuine pleasure from what they do, particularly their bandleader, a dentist by profession, who appeared in his customary doctor's smock. About a year before their appearance at Progfest-2000, Kenso released their most unusual album, "Esoptron", bordering on Prog-Metal. Here however, they presented mainly their more traditional, magnificently complex and unique mixture of symphonic Art-Rock and Jazz-Fusion, virtually comparable with The Gates of Delirium by Yes. Only one of the five compositions they played, Hyoto, is relatively quiet in its entirety. Filled with immediately comprehensible, highly memorable melodies, it was performed without the rhythm section and is more symphonic in character, with some flavor of Classical and Japanese music. Kenso is definitely the highlight of the show, by all means surpassing any of the other participants. It would've been better if some other outfit 'in the range' followed Kenso instead of MONA LISA. The music of this French quintet (vocals & flute, keyboards, guitar, bass, drums) is quite derivative and isn't notable for any particular virtuosity either. In any event, they sounded like children after the Japanese. I saw the group's entire performance at Progfest-2000 (review here), and I must note that not the best of the songs from that set were chosen for the inclusion in the DVD. The first three are heavy in vocals and contain too many repetitions to be regarded as the works of classic Art-Rock, more resembling an average Marillion than Genesis or Ange. Only Les Sabots De Lena is really enjoyable, featuring a long instrumental section with truly large-scaled arrangements. The young Brazil quartet (keyboards & vocals, guitar, bass, drums) TEMPUS FUGIT presented two songs with English lyrics and one instrumental composition, Goblin's Trail, all having much in common with each other. Their music is also Neo with elements of classic symphonic Art-Rock, but without a sense of derivation. All in all, I perceived this act better than Mona Lisa, though it was hard not to notice that they played at the breaking point of their possibilities. (Indeed, it was a fault to open the DVD with Kenso, because it's quite difficult to be properly lenient towards the other participants after seeing that truly brilliant performance.) Well, maturity comes with time. The very next year, Tempus Fugit released a studio album, "The Dawn After the Storm", on which they sound much more convincing. Mexico's quartet (two keyboards, guitar, Stick and drums) CODICE was the only band in the set I had to discover for myself. The first two of their compositions: Bitacora De Suenos and Dentro De La Maquina are a strange mix of Space- and Hard Rock, the former being too monotonous and overextended. But the other two, especially the 8-minute Espiritus En Movimento (featuring occasional vocals provided by a guest singer), are excellent, each representing symphonic Art-Rock at times bordering on Metal with highly intriguing arrangements and a fresh sound. The cult Dutch group SUPERSISTER, which I always found to be overrated, had reformed especially for the event after a long period of silence. The quartet (keyboards & vocals, flute, bass and drums) presented the 10-minute semi-suite Judy Goes On Holiday. The music's fabric is pretty motley, being woven mainly from borrowings from ELP, Focus and Camel, but the delivery is professional, not without a certain charm.
Conclusion. Having re-read the review, I thought I was too severe regarding some of the participants. Please use the Menu 'button' before seeing the DVD (which I highly recommend in any case), select the bands in the next order: Mona Lisa, Supersister, Tempus Fugit, Codice, Kenso, and you will not be disappointed. This DVD is not only an important document of Progressive Rock's history. It's really good to have an opportunity to watch different performers of the beloved genre at any time, just by desire.
VM: Agst 21, 2005
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