> Review: Dali Mraz – “Level 25”

Dali Mraz is a young drum virtuoso from the Czech Republic constantly making a name for himself in the international drumming world. He is a band leader (Dali Mraz Group), has appeared in video materials made for Vic Firth (a renowned drum sticks maker) and the educational website Drumeo, travels the world doing drum clinics, and his musical C.V. includes collaborations with the likes of Scott Kinsey or Susanne Vega.

Review: Dali Mraz - "Level 25"

A natural follow-up for a musician whose career is oriented towards building an independent brand and making a name for himself in the music business is a fully fledged solo album showcasing the author’s instrumental, writing and arranging skills. It is enough to listen to “Level 25” to see that they are all very significant. The album comprises 14 tracks, mostly instrumental ones, some featuring guest appearances by female folk singers from the group Ludove Mladistva as well as vocalizations by Veronika Stalder and Elis. The leader also played the piano and a number of other instruments, as well as arranged and produced the album.

Although it is a lot, it may not be enough. Realizing that, Dali Mraz invited a galaxy of guests to the studio, including keyboardist Scott Kinsey, amazing Hungarian drummer Gergo Borlai, the ladies from Ludove Mladistva, who embellish the crazy fusion track titled “Trip to G” with folk vocals of Slovak origin, and bassists: Russian Anton Davidyants (drummer Virgil Donati’s band) and the Italian master of four and five strings – Federico Malaman.

All the other musicians get enough space to shine on their own, which is not only audible in the guitar and keyboard solos, but also in bass arrangements. The bass players don’t always take the low profile (on the other hand, they do all the time 😉 ), which is only natural on an instrumental album. The listener can count on some fat grooves as well as tasty solo parts. Both are provided by Mat’o Ivan (in the opener titled “November“) and Anton Davidyatns (“atoN“), while Federico Malaman lays very strong foundations for the drummer’s rodeo on the track titled “Attack“. Romain Labaye serves a beautiful bass line in the style of Jaco (“21st Day“), Junior Braguinha, Gergely Kolta and Gergo Borlai (an excellent drummer) add lots of colour and drive to the music as well. The remaining tracks feature the return of Mat’o Ivan (a tasty fretless line in “You Know“), Romain Labaye, Anton Davidyatns and Federico Malaman, and are certainly worth getting acquainted with as well.

Fusion is not for everybody and we understand this album will not conquer the hearts of mainstream listeners. Regardless of that fact, it simply contains excellent material in its genre with lots of interesting and perfectly executed instrumental and vocal parts (hats off to all the guest performers!). The album is very well recorded, mixed and produced. It is a release not only worth the attention of any bass guitar maniac out there, but the same also refers to guitar, bass or keyboard fans. There is no lyrical content in the tracks, but it turns out there is room for that on the record too. The booklet included with the album tells an elaborate story divided into fourteen chapters. However, the listener must discover on his or her own how the story ends.

We should also note that a campaign to raise money for the album happened with the help of a crowdfunding portal. The campaign brought in 130 per cent of the originally requested amount. Congratulations, Dali Mraz!