Virgil Donati | In This Life
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Over a year in the making, drumming legend Virgil Donati's much anticipated solo record "In This Life" is destined to set the bar for explorations in rhythm. The album was produced, written and arranged by Donati, and mixed by Alex Argento. Virgil s drumming has arguably been at the leading edge for at least a decade, and as this record displays, his compositional and orchestration skills are also coming to the fore. Says Donati: After all these years of playing, I still feel like I ve barely scratched the surface! Virgil has always had a propensity towards a contrarian approach to music and to life. Never one to seek approval or security, he has maintained an introspective, independent mind, transcending traditional boundaries, always alert of the possibilities beyond the norm. The 10 tracks on this album are affirmation of these principles, and along the way, features some of the brightest young musicians bursting onto the scene from all corners of the globe - including Marco Sfogli, Alex Argento, Dennis Hamm, Doug Shreeve, Brett Garsed, Irwin Thomas, Alex Machacek, Paul Sherman, Anthony Crawford, Tom Kennedy, Jeff Babko, Rafael Moreira, Simon Hosford, Evan Marien, Artyom Manukyan, and Ruslan Sirota.
Top customer reviews
On this record he really stretches the limits of my musical sensibilities which by most standards is miles beyond insane to begin with and has of course surrounded himself with the talent to pull off these maneuvers with seamless ease. It is simply mind blowing that someone can conceptualize & compose this kind of stuff let alone perform it to this degree. The compositions on this album are extremely complex and never really lets the listener get too comfortable with the deep grooves before the piece moves to the next tantalizing yet tension filled musical theme. This album is truly a prog-heads dream! After a few times through it all starts to make more musical sense and the ideas start to take on some relative familiarity. So as a colossal prog head I highly recommend this album to all the like minded freaks out there looking for more brain candy. If you think this might be a bit too radical of a place to start perhaps Planet X's Quantum would be a more musically friendly introduction to the world of the brilliant "Thunder from Down Under" Mr Donati.
What's interesting to me about this album is that it seems to offer a look into Donati's contribution to Planet X. This is NOT a Planet X album, but listening to it will give you a good sense of what Donati brings to the table. His compositional style is drum-centric in a way that some other famous drummer/composers are not. Contrast Donati's writing style to, say, Phil Collins, who seems to favor a more layered style, starting with simplicity and then adding layers.
No, Donati does not start with simplicity. He starts with beauty. For some pieces, that means complexity; for others, it does not. Then the other players add their interaction. The result is masterful. It's a wonderful combination of Planet-X-style heat and Carl-Verheyen-ish coolness, of Steve-Vai-esque virtuosity and Allan-Holdsworth-like restraint. (Yes, I did just call Allan Holdsworth restrained. Adjust your interpretation of this review accordingly.)
While the album doesn't necessarily tread new ground, it does offer a refreshing take on the jazz-fusion thing. Can music be smooth and jagged at the same time? Can it calm you and excite you in the very same breath? Somehow, "In This Life" finds a way. Or, at least, it does for me.
Many of the songs on this album are great, and like someone else said it makes Dream Theater sound like The Jonas Brothers. Some of my favorites are "Rhythm Zero", "In This Life", "Red Air", "Voice of Reason", and "The Empire". This album has a lot of great memorable and creative keyboard, guitar, and bass solos.
Check out this album, and support Virgil!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
On piano the left hand plays independent of the right, like playing two instruments at once. I, playing several instruments, have endeavored at this for quite a while, and find it the pinnacle of aspirations as a musician. It is not easily accomplished (nor executed) and requires much -sigh- practice. Needless to say, independence of extremities is even more important on drums, hence why you always hear people saying of Virgil that he sounds like ten drummers playing at once. The solo he did on Steve Via's DVD has got to be the single most outstanding live performance ever of any instrument, and that's saying a lot. My jaw was to the floor the whole time, and that was back when I was a hater of drummers. You know the joke, "what do you call a person that hangs out with musician's..."
Anyway, it is small wonder why Virgil is so much more than just a drummer, albeit the greatest drummer even. I noticed an improvement in my keyboard skills immediately after partaking in learning drums, and vice versa was probably why i was able to pick up drumming in under a weeks time. I still love shoving that in the face of the average drummer --hey, what can i say, I worked with a lot of difficult band mates, that's why i learned the other instruments to begin with, don't need them anymore (except for a real singer, ha ha).
Anyhoot, it's still somewhat of a shame that invariably only other fellow musicians can really appreciate such works of Magnum Opus status. Hence why they never reach the charts, but I don't think we'd prefer it any other way. The rare, the few, the proud, he only gets that much more credit for it--there's always a silver lining. Like most musicians I am sure, I feel it such a gross injustice that so few people play music, for themselves, of course, not us, it only makes us look that much more superhuman. But Virgil will be the first to admit it; It's just an awful lot of hard work (like anything else) and it's almost discrediting to hear people say "you are so gifted," or "I wish I was as talented." there are no free rides.
"It is a mistake to think that the practice of my art has become easy to me." ~Mozart
I hate to say it, but the weight of this work shows on Virgil's face. That in itself is a testament that it's worth many times the price of admission.
In closing I'd like to say, I am equally as surprised as i was relieved that Dream Theater did not accept Virgil Donati as their new drummer replacing Portnoy. Lets face it, Virgil Donati is too good for Dream Theater. The same thing happened when Les Claypool tried out for Matellica. I am relieved because if he was accepted, than we would not have had this mind-boggling suite of compositions only Virgil Donati can gift the world with. Besides, before everyone caught on that D.T. have scholastic degrees to prove their worth as musicians no one really cared to listen to them very much. i mean, i have almost all their CDs and never listen to them. Though i'll watch the heck out of "Portnoy; Sheehan; MacAlpine; Sherinian" DVD --Wow!
That said, Virgils played with a lot of the best of the best, but there are two people I would absolutely fall over with excitement if they'd ever embark on a project with Mr. Donati, they are probably as close to Donati's eccentricity as you'll find: Tosin Abasi and Ron Jarzombek. Oooh you can almost smell the Odd-timings and embellishments!!!