When From.uz from Uzbekistan (!) started, they intended to be a band of friends that love to play together without having a leader. This way the first two albums Audio Diplomacy (2007) and Overlook (2008) where made and also the DVD Playing The Imitation (2005) had the same members on stage: Vitally Popeloff (guitar), Albert Khalmurzayev (keyboards), Andrew Mara-Novik (bass) and Vladimir Badirov (drums). However, since the album Seventh Story (2010) the line-up changed dramatically. Popeloff is the only remaining member leading the new members in a slightly different direction. Where the band used to be completely instrumental, Popeloff started to sing and the music drifted from a blend of fusion and progressive rock to a pure progressive rock sound with influences from classical, ethnic and cabaret music.
In 2010, the entire Seventh Story was performed live in the Youth Theatre of Uzbekistan, the same venue where the previous DVD was recorded. Luckily the band didn't use the black and weird translucent curtain they used in 2005, so we can watch the band play their marvellous album in all its glory. People that are familiar with the previous DVD know that the band has a special stage act, a combination of music and visual effects. Here they have chosen for two entertainers, who perform their own art during the concert. This is a nice addition, I think. The new band members of From.uz playing on this DVD are Igor Elizov (grand piano, keyboards), Ali Izmailov (drums, percussion, tubular bells) and Sur'at Kasimov (bass guitar).
Vitally Popeloff opens the show singing Perfect Place accompanied by his acoustic guitar followed by the wonderful melody of Parallels. I just love his playing in the vein of King Crimson. Throughout the entire DVD, most highlights come from Popeloff who also wrote the songs. Watch the part where he plays the acoustic guitar through a synthesizer. By doing so, he creates almost human vocals. In some other tracks he has a perfect David Gilmour-sound like in Perfect Love. In my opinion, Popeloff and his band should be a much bigger name in the musical world since their musicality is huge. The interaction between the people on stage is great, Izmailov is a fantastic drummer that keeps the music adventurous and fresh and when Kasimov doubles the guitar lines with his bass, it just sounds awesome. In the smoother parts you can see the classical trained keyboard players perform some very emotional piano work.
The sound quality of this DVD is great and the visual aspects are very enjoyable. Sometimes you get a part where the colours turn sepia or black and white and sometimes there are some fashionable cracks and errors digitally placed in as in the DVD's of Porcupine Tree. The DVD also contains some additional features like an almost fifty-minute impression of a sound check and how the stage is getting set for the concert. Another feature is The Christmas Interview: over twenty minutes of conversation about From.uz and their music. Those two features are nice to watch, but just for once. However, more interesting is Working Episodes containing over seven minutes of footage about the band rehearsing in the studio.
From.uz makes perfect music and great entertainment on stage which is all brought together on this marvellous DVD. Please give these guys a chance to play outside of Uzbekistan! We need to see this band in the flesh!
****+ Pedro Bekkers (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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