4Front - Radio Waves Goodbye - 2001


American trio formed by Joe Bergamini (drums), Zak Rizvi (guitars, keyboards and vocals) and Frank LaPlaca (bass) .

I think I won´t write too many lines regarding their music if I inform you that two of the members of the band also play in a Rush tribute band called Power Windows. But we won´t only find here references to the golden Canadians (well... after listening their last CD I´d say silver Canadians), as we can also observe details influenced by soft-AOR, powerful jazz fusion, and high skilled instrumental level with attitude.


I´ve read somewhere that this album is divided into two parts but I didn´t notice too many differences between them, but for a line in the tracklist. The album starts with two tracks ("Airtime" (1:59) and "Tunnel vision" (5:53)) that shows us 4Front´s style, mainly inspired by Rush´s "Power Windows"-"Hold your Fire" era. The musicians are incredibly high skilled: Zak is a brilliant and imaginative guitarist although sometimes the keyboards sounds aren´t the most accurate; Frank is a bassist with lots of personality; and Joe is more Peart than Peart himself. The third track "Hideaway" (3:31) doesn´t fit here because it is a sort of country with a nice guitar solo. It´s not bad and the arrangements are great but... why here?. Fortunately it doesn´t last too long and quickly starts the best song of the whole CD, the fast "Special Patrol Group" (3:00), a high voltage discharge, a musical thesis. Frank and Joe knit a sonic website and Zak plays over it riff after riff. Try to imagine the most powerful instrumental tracks by Rush... this is even better!. Now is time for me to forget Arjen Lucassen´s "Space Oddity" cover because the following song is... another version!. "Space Oddity 2001" (6:34) is the name and 4Front divide it into two separate parts... the first one is similar to the original song and the second part is more energetic with a sharp electric rhythm guitar. The ending part of "Major Tom" by the 80´s pop star Peter Schilling serves as a bridge between those two parts and the song ends with strange sounds and the ending vocals of "Rocket Man", by the king of unbearables: Elton John. I like the cover a lot and it has been very interesting to observe how one song could originate two different points of view: the oppressive and terrific version by Lucassen and the optimistic and spacey version by 4Front. By the way, this is the only track with vocals. The first part of the CD ends with "Burial at sea" (5:13), another highlight, very calm, very soundtrack-like and with a great violin courtesy by Karl Kessler.

At this point is where supposedly begins the second part of the album. Hmmm... perhaps here we can find more collaborators (alto sax, congas, bongos, claves) and a "jazz jam" feeling, I don´t know. The music is still highly influenced by Rush in tracks like "Fuse" (4:05) but now we can also find some influences of the earliest Chicago in tracks as "Learning to crawl" (5:53) and some R&B feeling. If I avoid talking about the horrible sound of some keyboards and the old fashioned sax sound, the song is very good. "747" (2:21) has a frenetic drum rhythm. A good work with the percussion and a great guitar but again the horns impoverish the arrangements. Another great song is "Memories of Kansas" (5:54), with a nice violin. I think there´s no need to say the main influence of this song. "Descent" (5:23), with high skilled arrangements, and the soft and hymnal "Radio waves goodbye" (4:32), close this good album.


In short, this is a good instrumental CD released by very good musicians. The only negative point I´ve found are the keyboards arrangements and a lack of overall coherence in the styles, although if I am optimistic I could also say that it gives the CD a feeling of variety. Anyway if you enjoy with the music of Rush you´ll be fully satisfied with this album.

author - date - rating - label

Alfonso Algora - May 2002 -   - Spec Records