Album: La Quarta Vitima
Label: AMS Records
Review: Jason Spencer
Thoughts: "Real life awaits us".
As the accent-laden voice fades in on Fabio Zuffanti's new album, La Quarta Vittima (2014) (The Fourth Victim), a sense of foreboding and reality are bestowed upon the listener. This album is somber, and maybe even a little scary on a mental level. And, see, I get all this even though the album is almost entirely sung in Italian.
Fabio Zuffanti is one of my favorite songwriters, and this new album showcases why that is. This album is delicate, with flutes and RPI keys. It's also terrifyingly powerful with trombones and excellent drumming. This album is almost bipolar in a way, and I mean that in the best manner possible. One moment will be quiet, surreal, and full of vertigo, and then the next moment will be soulful or possibly powerful and bombastic. All the while, Fabio's quiet, reserved vocal style marches on and on. It's a dark, jazzy sound, for sure. Lots of RPI influence, obviously, but also many pure jazz elements are present, too.
This album is dark for a good reason. It is based on the book 'The Mirror In The Mirror' by Michael Ende. I've never read this book, but now I think I might need to do so. This story is bewildering, confusing, and full of loneliness and cycles of time and space. Most appropriately, then, Fabio has constructed a blackened, sorrowful album full of tarnished beauty, longing, and loss. It is incredible in the quiet, contemplative moments, and mesmerizing in the louder, excited passages.
I think my favorite track is certainly the opener, 'Non Posso Parlare Più Forte' (I Cannot Speak More Strongly). Its vast array of flute passages and writhing keyboard torrents is just unmatched the rest of the album, but this album is certainly not weak at any point. From the dark saxophone lines to the surreal keys to the meaningful horns, this album is very diverse and arranged masterfully. In fact, I don't think I've heard such interesting song structures in a while.
La Quarta Vittima (2014) shows Fabio Zuffanti doing what he does best: crafting incredibly unique songs with a vast array of instruments and guests. His dark emphasis this time is a new thing for him, but it doesn't harm his grasp on beauty and melody even a little bit. While this isn't the best album Fabio has ever written, it certainly is up there with his best. 2014 is off to a strong start.