Album Remarks & Appraisals:
"Despite being around for over 20 years with an underground fan base in the progressive rock world, it's only been since Cinque (2002), released by the intrepid Cuneiform Records, that Deus ex Machina has begun to garner broader attention. Cinque set the standard for an Italian group that combines the best of Gentle Giant's contrapuntal idiosyncrasies with a distinctive fusion jazz bent, an unmistakably Mediterranean sound and a vocal concept that may take some getting used to, but is equally definitive. Imparis, recorded over two days in 2006, is a generous double-disc set that combines a CD of largely new material with a live DVD from Paris' Le Triton club, also including 70 minutes of bonus material that traces DeM back to 1993 and its second, self-titled album.
Pared down from Cinque's nonet, it's a leaner six-piece featuring bell canto singer Alperto Piras delivering lyrics in Latin or Italian. An operatic voice in a progressive rock context may be an acquired taste, but on Imparis Piras' occasional over-the-top tendencies are tempered, making it a better entry point for the uninitiated. Hearing Piras bending notes in powerful, bluesy fashion on "Cosmopolitismo Centimetropolitano," first heard on Equilibrismo da Insofferenza(Kaliphonia, 1998) and the only track to appear on both the CD and DVD, is a strangely compelling experience.
DeM's references are so varied that it's sometimes difficult to know exactly what it wants to be, yet that very eclecticism gives Imparis its weight. Episodic writing makes it possible to combine knotty, riff-based passages, near-funk and open-ended improvisation within the confines of a single tune, with "La Diversita di Avere un'Anima" moving seamlessly through numerous landscapes while providing ample opportunity for violinist Buonez Bonetti's vibrant solo - a unique blend of Jerry Goodman's visceral energy and Jean-Luc Ponty's sophisticated melodicism. Guitarist Maurino Collina takes a brutal, metallic solo that leads into a brief feature for keyboardist Fabrizio Puglisi, where his predilection for analog synth textures is clear; equally so during his fiery trade-off with Collina on the dramatic "Il Testamento dell'Uomo Saggio."
Bassist Porre Porreca and drummer Claudio Trotta rarely get solo space - though Trotta gets an extended workout on his five-minute intro to "Cosmopolitismo Centimetropolitano" on the DVD - but they're fundamental to DeM's forceful and often knotty rhythms. Whether it's the gradually building dynamic of "Giallo Oro" or the fiery, fusion-centric "Il Testamento dell'Uomo Saggio," they stoke DeM's engine with the ideal confluence of groove and complexity.
Everyone in DeM is a virtuoso, yet they curiously manage to avoid bombast, despite there being no shortage of high velocity playing throughout. Traces of King Crimson, Giant, PFM and other '70s prog demi-gods come together in DeM, and what's perhaps best about the DVD is the opportunity to follow Deus ex Machina's from its more prog-metal beginnings to the more sophisticated group it is today. The buzz has been out about Imparis for a couple of years, and the mix of strong new material and energetic performances - live and in the studio - makes it well worth the wait." -AllAboutJazz
Deus Ex Machina (Italy): Alberto Piras (vocals); Maurino Collina (guitars); Buonez Bonetti (violin); Fabrizio Puglisi (keyboards); Porre Porreca (bass instrument); Claudio Trotta (drums).
Audio Mixer: Luigi Savino.
Recording information: Le Triton, Paris, France (05/30/2006-06/01/2006).
Deus Ex Machina -- quite honestly -- is one of the most forceful and legitimately expressive bands on the planet. Wielding forces of nature, humanity, and electricity, this group exhibits one of the most stunning displays of musicianship that cannot be harnessed, filtered, or told what to do. Mixing early prototype jazz-rock with head banging metal and the God-like Italian vocals of Alberto Piras, they create an amalgam of sound and fury unlike any other band, and while that is a strong statement, you'd be hard pressed to find another group even remotely like them. Comparisons to the Mahavishnu Orchestra are easy to hear, as the electrified violin of Buonez Bonetti lays claim to stylistic references via Jerry Goodman, Papa John Creach, and Jean-Luc Ponty. Fabrizio Puglizi's amplified armada seems all at once a phalanx of his own, pushing the band through heavy terrain whether on vintage electric sounding modern keyboards, the Fender Rhodes, or organ. There's a staunch discipline to making unified music, as the absolute individualism of these artists is left behind for a new future of hopefulness breached from hopelessness. Somewhat angry, always outspoken, Deus Ex Machina somehow mixes Roman or Greek renaissance with kickass bands like Queen, Kiss, or even Alice Cooper, while ever mindful of their place as an in your face, complex, brilliant, instrumental fusion band. Piras is an amazing singer, somehow able to combine the soul of a Robert Plant or Paul Rodgers with the high pitched scream control of Slash or Geddy Lee. The difference between him and those great rock icons is that his lyric content is based on sheer poetry, not visceral or sexual songs of love. "La Diversita Di Avere Un'Anima" ("The Diversity of Having a Soul") speaks to the precept that differences make us humane, as the band underscores the sentiment in a hip and heavy, jagged edge assault of mixed meters and metaphors -- part King Crimson, Yes, Krautrock and Canterbury jazz. "Giallo Oro" ("Yellow Gold") addresses the aspects of change, perhaps for the worse, as a dark 7/8 riff builds and swells into a repeat Mahavishnu type theme, cooled and heated up again in an improvised base. Over nearly 15 minutes, "La Fine Del Mondo" ("The End of the World") signals impending doom instrumentally, as if it were a road song, as Piras projects the plight of mankind ahead, the band utilizing more solo space and a muted rhythmic stance with retro organ and Rhodes piano. "Il Testamento Dell'Uomo Saggio" ("The Testament of the Wise Man") is more along the lines of Focus meets Led Zeppelin, with crazy synthesizer and guitar riffs from Maurino Collina merging, while "Cosmopolitsmo Centimetropolitano" is an ultra-dramatic depiction of life's abstract ups and down, with a dense, fat, and R&B-like foundation underneath a heavy metal jazz overview. There is one love song, "Cor Mio" that shows the completely toned down, acoustic side of the sextet. These in-concert sessions were recorded over a three-day span in Paris, with an accompanying DVD showcasing added and subtracted music tracks, a five-minute drum solo by Claudio Trotta, interview segments, backstage clips, extra material from a concert in Spain, Italian television, a 1996 appearance in Chapel Hill, NC, and a video clip from way back in 1993. Those of you who are already fans know the unique qualities of this powerhouse group, but those who are not would be wise to pick up on this item, made by one of the most extraordinary bands in the entire music universe. ~ Michael G. Nastos