This might be the only progressive band you’ll own from Uzbekistan, that is if you buy it. The band used to be called FromUZ ( all one word) but they changed it to From.Uz ( you can either see it as a dot com type thing or a split of words From Uzbekistan ). No matter the name, this nice double CD and 1 live DVD of all the songs is a very nice package. From.Uz did a collection of songs from their three previous releases “Audio Diplomacy”, “Overlook” and “Seventh Story”), but they did a bit of changing of the instruments and arrangements. The most obvious is the use of acoustic guitars. The band is superb and no one can question their skill level on the instruments.
This is marketed as a prog chamber music and I think that’s about as good a name as anyone could label it. It does have some strong influences from many bands you may be familiar with. For instance the first song (Stone Salad) begins with an almost duplicate King Crimson ‘Lark’s Tongue in Aspic” part, then gives way to lots of other styles. It ends up being one great multi-part song with excellent structuring. With the exception of one song, all compositions are extended and very involved with many changes and surprise style switches on the fly. The only weakness I heard was the two songs that had vocals in them. Needless to say, they should have gotten another singer ( either in the band, or a guest appearance) for those cuts. The band is 95% instrumental here, and seems most comfortable in that mode.
The influences seem to be from an endless well. I heard a few seconds of so many progressive bands from all over. Some that stood out were Passport, Maneige, Sagrado, Mike Oldfield, and many more jazz rock bands with mixtures of folk, classical, and world beat. It’s real easy to hear their own country’s eastern influence throughout as well. They certainly make the most of their instruments and several of the members play more than one instrument on the double set.
The DVD is live at the Ilkhom Theater and they do the entire song list from the 2 CD’s. The quality is really nice and professional. I love the overhead camera shots of the drummer. Multiple angles are used through the show to give excellent views. There is a very long bonus part at end of the roadies setting up the equipment for the gig, and some brief time where the musicians are testing their gear. Then a rehearsal of some music. All that bored me, as I had already watched a very long and super live show by the band, but maybe some people will like the roadie footage. You do get to see more of the brand names and type gear From.Uz use.
Quartus Artifactus is quite a release. Who can complain about 2 CD’s and a full length DVD ? Beautiful artwork too. Although there are just a couple of spots that they touched on some commercial or cliché music, and the vocals detracted a bit from the music on those very short stretches, you get a huge amount of superb music and complex arrangements with more flavors than you can taste in one listen. If you don’t like what you are hearing one second, just wait for the next ten seconds, and you’ll hear something else. You can watch the DVD and get the full picture of the music of From.Uz. If you wish to hear a more aggressive version of all this, check out the three recordings before this. Any way you slice it, this is an impressive release.
Reviewed by Lee Henderson on May 14th, 2011