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2007 : VOLUME 68
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REVIEWS IN THIS ISSUE:


The Pineapple Thief - What We Have Sown
The Pineapple Thief - What We Have Sown
Country of Origin:UK
Format:CD
Record Label:GFT Cyclops
Catalogue #:CYCL 164
Year of Release:2007
Time:57:23
Info:The Pineapple Thief
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: All You Need To Know (4:19), Well I Think That's What You Said (5:24), Take Me With You (5:07), West Winds (8:52), Deep Blue World (6:08), What Have We Sown? (27:33)

After the heartfelt and very personal album that The Pineapple Thief's last album, Little Man, turned out to be, Yeovil's finest have returned with a vengeance. Whereas Little Man could be viewed as more of a Bruce Soord and friends album, What We Have Sown is definitely a true band album. Harking back to the earlier releases of the group (which in effect were solo efforts from Soord) but with tighter arrangements and more incisive writing, this latest release raises The Pineapple Thief high into the echelons of modern progressive music. Instead of taking influence from the past, the album is replete with a more modern style of progressive rock. Second track, Well I Think That's What You Said, has a dash of Radiohead within its groove although taken one step further by the addition of an Eastern flavoured violin riff. Indeed, the vocal delivery and lyrical style of subsequent track Take Me With You can be compared with Thom Yorke but the musical backing is a lovely combination of acoustic guitar, waves of keyboards, gliding electric guitar and a distinctly mellow bass line. A change to a minimalist approach midway through creates a lull before a final chorus bashed out by the band.

All You Need To Know also features acoustic guitar which sets out the meter of the song. Overall it is a rather jaunty and upbeat number until perusal of the lyrics which are imbued with a degree of sadness and uncertainty: "I never want to know what you mean to me. All I need to know, I need to know that you are here with me". A well judged electric guitar solo rounds the song off nicely. West Winds is an instrumental number, although given that Pineapple Thief songs are in themselves often largely instrumental it is not obvious! Here Soord has really got to grips with the difference between writing instrumental music and songs. Without an over-riding vocal melody the music has to carry the whole weight all the way through and West Winds achieves this with aplomb. The end has a darker twist with pounding percussion and synths providing not only the bass lines but also the rhythm which is soon matched by the electric guitar. Just as it sounds like it is going to break out, things are reined in and a piano provides a contrast in the denouement.

Penultimate track Deep Blue World is classic Pineapple Thief with a rather more orchestrated arrangement that winds its way as a peaceful precursor to the final track What Have We Sown? (note the crafty re-arrangement of the album title from a statement to a question). An epic in every meaning of the word, this is a most compelling piece of music. Rather like Pink Floyd's Meddle there are various sections that flow in and out of each other, changing tempo, mood and atmosphere. Impossible to take in immediately and all in one go, this song requires listening to on numerous occasions and in numerous environments in order to grasp every nuance. Well structured and beautifully produced it really defies description, one needs to hear it to understand it. Needless to say, this is half an hour that is well spent and shows that The Pineapple Thief can take on and easily surpass some of the more popular leading lights of the current progressive music scene.

Hopefully with a supposed resurgence in live music and more venues being opened (or re-opened), it may give bands such as The Pineapple Thief to chance to play more and spread the word. I for one would leap at the chance to see the band live without having to travel several hundred miles to do so. Easily a recommended release and sure to be a contender for best of the year polls.

Conclusion: 9+ out of 10

MARK HUGHES



Shay Tal – Tambourina
Shay Tal – Tambourina
Country of Origin:UK
Format:CD
Record Label:Falling A Records
Catalogue #:MJR010
Year of Release:2007
Time:57:09
Info:Shay Tal
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: Open Your Windows Wide (4:15), The Bottomless Blue (4:23), Born in the Winter (4:18), Kingfisher (2:39), Justine (3:57), Deadly Nightshade (4:50), Train [If I’m Dreaming] (5:03), Eagle (3:10), All Of Your Friends Have Changed (5:09), The Fair (7:11), Sea Blue Dreams (4:11), If I Knew You Now (2:51), We Dream of This (5:12)

This band’s secret weapon, greatest asset, and perhaps greatest liability is vocalist Finn Millar, so I think I need to begin by talking about her voice. I guess if I had to choose one adjective for it, it’d be “ethereal,” but that doesn’t fully describe it. And it’s even hard to find singers to compare her to. In places, she sounds like Kate Bush, though without some of Bush’s histrionic excesses; in places, like Björk, about which similarity the less said the better, so far as my tastes are concerned; and in some places very much like Marianne Faithful in a higher-than-usual register. As those (admittedly loose) comparisons might suggest, this is not an album for everyone; and add to the timbre of the singing the genre of the music, which I’d call, I guess, “progressive folk” but which the band calls “Indie/Experimental/Psychedelic,” and you can probably already decide upon your own tolerance for the kind of music Shay Tal performs. As for myself, I have to say that I like it and think this band has a lot of talent.

Having called Shay Tal a “band,” though, I should back up and acknowledge that, except for a couple of guest bass players, Shay Tal is actually a duo; the other half is Stephen Robson, who’s responsible for percussion and autoharp (Millar takes care of guitars, clarinet, and piano as well as vocals). On this, the group’s second album, the fullness of the sound belies the paucity of musicians. Each song is a carefully conceived entity, the album unified mostly by Millar’s unique vocals and inventive, searching lyrics. That’s why I said at the outset that her voice is the band’s greatest asset and liability. If you like her voice, the album is a resounding success. But if you don’t, you’ll find it hard to get through the whole thing, because, although there’s quite a bit of variety in the songs, that voice is always there.

Despite the album’s length (thirteen songs and almost an hour), the band manages something new in each track. I might mention a few standouts, but most impressive is the fact that there isn’t a weak song in the set. Open Your Windows Wide is an excellent opener, a lovely slow-ish song that displays the group’s gift for melody. And Eagle, perhaps my favourite, encapsulates the band’s virtues all in one song. A simple repeated lick on electric guitar underlines lovely multi-tracked vocals, later replaced briefly by a clarinet solo. The effect of the whole reminds me more than a bit of that of the gorgeous Yes song Onwards – even that guitar lick, though I wouldn’t say it’s derivative or even a quotation. The album’s most ambitious track, The Fair, is also what I’d call its most progressive, flirting with difficult time signatures and stretching to more than seven minutes. It does get a bit monotonous, and the slowed-down ending drags out too long, testing the listener’s patience, but it’s a nice experiment. And Sea Like Dreams, the one song in which Millar’s vocals remind me most of those of The Dreaming-era Kate Bush, somehow manages to be both perky and haunting. Take my word for it.

This is an album hard to describe but easy to enjoy – again, given my caution about the style of the vocals. I’d guess that fans of Steeleye Span (not to make a comparison, though such a comparison could distantly be made), for example, would find a lot to like here, but I’d also recommend it to anyone interested in good, inventive music on the softer side of progressive rock but a good long distance from the mainstream.

Conclusion: 8 out of 10

GERALD WANDIO



Miosotis - Risco
Miosotis - Risco
Country of Origin:Portugal
Format:CD
Record Label:Independent
Catalogue #:-
Year of Release:2007
Time:71:15
Info:Miosotis
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: Marcha Tosca (1:27), Oqsv (5:36), Teia De Aranha (4:33), Bicicletas (4:35), Outra Gaveta (6:24), Desencantos (5:06), O Gordo E A Geleia (3:10), Porto D'areia (4:33), Penteia-te (4:52), Hip Hop (8:28), Onde Foi (3:42), Azul Muito Claro (4:41), Amarelo Muito Claro (5:18), Mediterraneo (4:06), Melhor Sorte (4:44)

Risco is the second professional release from Miosotis. I reviewed their previous effort entitled O Monstro E A Sereia, and since it was something interesting but also not totally satisfying, I decided to give them another try to see how much has changed with this inspired Portuguese group. First of all, there are rather significant line-up changes, and the band now has a new drummer, guitarist, bassist and keyboardist. However, the main driving forces of the band are still here, namely Alvaro Silveira on voice and guitar , and Paulo Chagas on flute and sax. Ah, they also have a new female lead vocalist (Carla Delgado), who as I will explain later contributes a lot to the improvement of the final product. Miosotis still plays a mix of 70's driven prog with folk and avant-garde, but this time the stress is much more on the first element than the other two. And this is the main reason why I find this release better than their first one.

The flow of the tracks from the beginning till Desencantos is striking, and so is their quality. We are really in the domain of the 70's influenced prog, with either detached and laid-back parts, like the Wyatt-flavoured Marcha Tosca, either symphonic moments in the vein of Yes or VDGG (Outra Gaveta), atmospheric melancholia as in the very beautiful Bicicletas, or Camel-like tender ballads (Teia De Aranha). The latter features an acoustic guitar and flute duel very reminiscent of Latimer, and then the spotlight falls on the jazzy and enigmatic saxophone, accompanied by a wah-wah guitar, which in turn will give us a Rothery-like background. Still, the star of the track is the girl singing and the utterly gorgeous melodies. A pure pop voice with a lot of imagination and originality. This track is the highlight of this excellent first part of the album and I can't get it out of my head...

The three tracks that follow (O Gordo E A Geleia, Porto D'areia, Penteia-te) remind me more of the style of the first album, lacking a bit in focus and meaning. Avant-garde sax-led rhythms, fanfare spirit or hip-hop like passages do not contribute anything and brought me down to earth when I was extremely excited with the preceding material. Hip Hop is tricky: the name has nothing to do with the content which is the most challenging and possibly, the most interesting track of the album. What makes it so interesting? First thing to mention is the incredibly memorable and catchy vocal lines sung in turns by Alvaro and Carla, that many pop songwriters would envy. Then, the extremely rich musical repertoire featuring jazz-inspired passages and even reggae towards the end. Definitely one of the most witty tracks I've heard this year, full of ideas and improvisation, while maintaining coherence and flow at the same time. With Onde Foi and Azul Muito Claro we return to more classical arrangements, with piano/voice or violin/voice duets and the band sure does well when playing with such tools. Pity that we then are presented with the boring at its start and annoying at its end (due to unjustified extreme and aggressive vocals) Amarelo Muito Claro, and the Caribbean/Japanese flavoured (or sth) with the unjustified title Mediterraneo. The album should have closed after Amarelo Muito Claro with the folky and dreamy at the same time Melhor Sorte.  An acoustic guitar, a glockenspiel and a wonderful female voice...What more?

Miosotis managed to put together a collection of songs that range from tender emotional ballads to jazzy improvisation with a folk element. They are not afraid to experiment, even though there is still room for improvement concerning their most daring moments. Concluding my review of their first album I wrote that it was too tough to listen to. This is no longer true with Risco. There are amazing songs in here, and it is a pity their MySpace page and their website do not offer Teia De Aranha or Hip Hop, which would convince even the most suspicious. Anyway, the band is almost there: the talent, the inspiration and the ideas are there. And what we have here is a captivating and charming album full of little moments of magic. Had they omitted some tracks that break the symmetry in Risco, they would have given us an album of unmatched beauty. Maybe next time?

Conclusion: 8 out of 10

CHRISTOS AMPATZIS



Rare Bird – Rare Bird
Rare Bird – Rare Bird
Country of Origin:UK
Format:CD
Record Label:Esoteric Recordings
Catalogue #:ECLEC2001
Year of Release:1969/2007
Time:44:59
Info:Rare Bird
Samples:N/A

Tracklist: Iceberg (6:58), Times (3:26), You Went Away (4.40), Melanie (3:30), Beautiful Scarlet (5:44), Sympathy (2:46), Nature's Fruit (2:38), Bird On A Wing (4:19), God Of War (5:35), Bonus Tracks: Devil's High Concern (2:50), Sympathy [mono single version] (2:35)

Rare Bird – As Your Mind Flies By
Country of Origin:UK
Format:CD
Record Label:Esoteric Recordings
Catalogue #:ECLEC2002
Year of Release:1970/2007
Time:48:06
Info:Rare Bird
Samples:N/A
Rare Bird – As Your Mind Flies By

Tracklist: What You Want To Know (6:00), Down On The Floor (2.41), Hammerhead (3:34), I'm Thinking (5:40), Flight – Part 1 As Your Mind Flies By, Part 2 Vacuum, Part 3 New Yorker, Part 4 Central Park (19:44), Bonus Tracks: What You Want To Know [Mono Single Version] (3:35), Hammerhead [Mono Single Version] (3:24), Red Man [Previously Unreleased] (3:29)

Way back at the beginning of the 70’s when the burgeoning progressive rock scene was still in its infancy Rare Bird had a European hit on their hands with the song Sympathy ensuring the band cult status almost from the outset. A welcome reminder of a time when music’s appeal was not blighted by the narrow minded apathy that exists today. The reminder in this instance comes courtesy of Esoteric Recordings, a new label from the same people behind Eclectic Discs. That particular label you may recall was renowned for their excellent catalogue of re-releases which included Barclay James Harvest amongst others. This latest collection of reissues follows in the same footsteps with bonus material and comprehensive liner notes in addition to the remastered sound. The two albums featured are from the original quartet of musicians who got together in 1969 before going their separate ways at the end of 1971. Further albums would appear under the Rare Bird banner but without the same critical success.

Sympathy appeared on the bands December 1969 self titled debut album and also included here is the mono single version originally released the following month. The song is a melodic plea to racial tolerance which struck a chord at the time helped by a bluesy organ solo. The opening cut Iceberg is more representative of the band with its staccato keyboard riff demonstrating that Rare Bird had more to offer than the average run of the mill guitar driven rock band. Their unique sound was based around the unusual pairing of organist Graham Field and electric pianist David Kaffinetti. In sometimes lengthy instrumental workouts they blended elements of rock, free form jazz and sublime classical moments. Although the bands range of keyboards may seem skeleton compared with the excesses rigs that were soon to follow, they created an expansive sound. Another major asset was the soulful vocals of Steve Gould, also a gifted bass player aided by the inventive drum work of Mark Ashton. Their sophisticated sound although quite unique came from the same stable as label mates Van Der Graaf Generator and The Nice. In terms of presentation, they were also forerunners of Emerson, Lake and Palmer and Greenslade.

In addition to the aforementioned Sympathy and Iceberg, Beautiful Scarlet and God Of War are both standout tracks on the first album. Gould gives an especially fine bluesy performance in the former whilst the latter incorporates moments of pomp and melodrama that had yet to become a staple ingredient of 70’s progressive rock. Gould’s bass playing here is a showcase for all budding Squire and Lake enthusiasts. The poppy Bird On A Wing demonstrates that the band maintained a foot in the late 60’s psychedelic camp. Devil's High Concern, the ‘B’ side of the single is a worthy bonus inclusion featuring a manic keyboard duel between Field and Kaffinetti.

The band’s second album As Your Mind Flies By followed in September 1970, opening with What You Want To Know a ballad if anything stronger than their hit of the previous summer. Sadly on its single release it didn’t sell in the same quantities. I remember the song very well as it appeared on the Charisma compilation One More Chance, which I acquired mainly as it included Genesis’ Happy The Man and VDGG’s Theme One. Gould provides another compelling and powerful vocal set against Field’s sublime organ backdrop contrasting with Kaffinetti’s spikey electric piano adopting a guitar tone at times. Down On The Floor is a subtle harpsichord drenched lament whilst Hammerhead rocks with Gould’s vocal reminding me of GenesisLooking For Someone. I'm Thinking has a haunting chorus and a stunning arrangement that sways from classical to Small Faces influenced rock and back again.

Although the bands sound is more focused this time round, dispensing with the jazzy diversions, they stretch out with the 20 minute epic Flight. This took up one whole side of the original vinyl release. Throughout I was especially reminded of ELP’s Tarkus, and also Hamburger Concerto by Focus came to mind. It also borrows liberally from the classics including an un-credited section of Ravel’s Bolero during Central Park. The concluding and memorable Red Man was actually recorded by a different line-up in 1971 following the departure of Field and Ashton. Although it’s less proggy and the drums lack the dynamics of Ashston it’s an excellent song all the same making it difficult to understand why it was never released before now. Field went on to form the short lived keys led trio Fields, which also included ex-Crimson drummer Andrew McCulloch who later joined Greenslade.

Had I been reviewing these albums first time round then a rating of 8 or 9 out of 10 would have been justified. 37 years on it’s difficult to assess how they will appeal to a modern prog audience so I’m going to opt out. Suffice to say that for lovers of late 60’s/early 70’s classic prog rock, both discs come highly recommended. They excel on all fronts, but if you needed one single reason to check them out then it would be Field’s organ work. If you thought that the sound of the Hammond began and ended with the likes of Emerson, Lord, Banks, Wakeman and Moraz then Field’s total command of the instrument will come as a revelation.

Conclusion: Not Rated

GEOFF FEAKES



Paladin – Paladin
Paladin – Paladin
Country of Origin:UK
Format:CD
Record Label:Esoteric Recordings
Catalogue #:ECLEC2005
Year of Release:1971/2007
Time:37:32
Info:Paladin
Samples:N/A

Tracklist: Bad Times (6:53), Carry Me Home (3:26), Dance Of The Cobra (7:42), Third World (3:56), Fill Up Your Heart (5.42), Flying High (5:06), The Fakir (4:47)

Paladin – Charge!
Country of Origin:UK
Format:CD
Record Label:Esoteric Recordings
Catalogue #:ECLEC2006
Year of Release:1971/2007
Time:73:19
Info:Paladin
Samples:N/A
Paladin – Charge!

Tracklist: Give Me Your Hand (6:53), Well We Might (5:06), Get One Together (2:40), Anyway (4:21), Good Lord (6:49), Moonbeams (6:04), Watching The World Pass By (9:42), Bonus Tracks: Give My Love To You (2:33), Sweet Sweet Music (2:49), Anyway [Alternate Version] (4:20), Sweet Sweet Music [Alternate Version] (2:50), Well We Might [Alternate Version] (6:12), Fill Up Your Heart [Instrumental] (5:44), Bad Times [Instrumental] (7:16)

I, along with many others I’m sure was first drawn to Paladin through the striking Roger Dean artwork that graced the cover of their 1972 album Charge! If the image of the alien knight suggested an album of progressive rock the assumption was only partly true. Whilst the band had incorporated proggy elements into their sound when they came to record this second album, their 1971 self-titled debut was a different animal altogether. Founding members Peter Solley (keyboards and violin) and Keith Webb (drums and percussion) put the band together in 1970 following their departure from Terry Reid’s backing band. Enlisting Derek Foley (guitar), Pete Beckett (bass) and Lou Stonebridge (piano and vocals) they recorded the first album virtually live in the studio. Incorporating rock, jazz and Latin influences especially, this recording method proved to be both its strength and its Achilles heel.

Bad Times is an effective opening statement, demonstrating where the band was coming from at that time. The vocal melody recalls The ZombiesShe's Not There although the lengthy organ solo and Latin rhythms display a closer allegiance to Santana. The easy going Carry Me Home with its solid harmonies captures the sound of The Band whilst the instrumental Dance Of The Cobra is driven by a Bossa Nova rhythm and a lengthy Carlos Santana flavoured guitar solo. Webb displays his world class drum credentials with a flamboyant solo that echoes Ginger Baker, but unfortunately no one told him when to stop and it drags to the point of boredom. Third World is a bizarre excursion with an almost rap style vocal before playing out with a jazzy piano solo.

Fill Up Your Heart is a very lively song with glorious animated bass work from Beckett and exotic Cuban rhythms. Guitar dominates once again in the instrumental second half. In contrast the melodic soulful ballad Flying High is a total departure complete with a schmaltzy vocal from Stonebridge. They close with a version of The Fakir penned by Lalo Schifrin, better known as the composer of the Mission Impossible theme. It’s a reasonably faithful cover including authentic Middle Eastern flavoured violin from Solley. To be honest despite the impressive musicianship, I found this album a tad one dimensional with the bands penchant for Latin rhythms taken to the extreme. With a move to Apple Studios they broadened their sound on the follow-up considerably, producing an altogether more ambitious and expansive release.

The mid-tempo rocker Give Me Your Hand opens promisingly with a cascading drum pattern followed by a solid bass line that propels the song along. Well We Might follows in the same vein and is a good time rocker featuring a snappy organ sound, sharp harmonies and a honky-tonk piano solo ala Jools Holland. A very tasty slide guitar solo wraps things up nicely. The instrumental Get One Together includes a neat jazzy organ solo and a keys led proggy ending but the disco style wah-wah guitar backing sounds a tad dated. Anyway is for me the albums highlight with a low organ, pulsating drums and bass riff intro reminiscent of Argent’s Hold Your Head. Stonebridge’s vocals have more than a hint of John Lennon and the strong chorus incorporate rich harmonies and smooth strings making effective use of the Apple recording facilities.

A busy guitar and organ intro to Good Lord lays the path for a superb shuffle rhythm with a low-key electric piano section leading to a dramatic guitar coda. Certainly one of Foley’s better solos. The near psychedelic Moonbeams is one of the albums catchiest songs with a strong melody and a classical organ motif that brings Gary Brooker to mind. Original album closer Watching The World Pass By is the longest track but the disparate blend of styles fails to gel convincingly. A moody harmonica and smooth organ sound provides a late night ambiance before dissolving into a manic Emerson style organ fanfare, which in turn launches a mid-tempo sing-along rock chorus. This gives way to a fiddle led jig complete with stamping feet and handclap rhythm before morphing into a lengthy heavy rock guitar solo. This is extremely well played continuing at a furious pace but goes on far too long for its own good, ending with self-indulgent Hendrix style histrionics.

30 minutes of additional material are included although for me it’s mostly of marginal interest, especially the two original songs Give My Love To You and Sweet Sweet Music. Both sound like contrived stabs at single success in a Faces 70’s rock and roll vein with dire lines like “the boys are gonna drink sweet, sweet wine, won’t be home till late”. Of the alternate versions Anyway is hardly distinguishable from the original although the strings seem to have more presence, whereas the bluesy vocal in Well We Might this time reminded me of Paul Jones. The two closing tracks are instrumental versions of songs from the first album. Given that there are no bonus tracks on that release, it would have been more logical in my view to have included them there. Fill Up Your Heart has a sharper, more refined performance with a gutsy organ part from Solley that replaces the guitar solo in the original. Bad Times brings this collection full circle although it lacks the oomph of the first albums original opening track. The melody lacks the strength to sustain the absence of vocals despite the superb jazzy organ work from Solley and an excellent drum display from Webb.

Sadly, despite the encouraging sales of Charge! improving on the debut release, it wasn’t sufficient to satisfy Paladin and they went their separate ways the following year. Although an extremely talented band that could pen a decent tune it could be that their lack of commercial success resulted from the incongruous blend of styles which confused and ultimately alienated their audience. Both albums have their merits although the sound, especially the first, has a dated ‘you had to have been there’ feel. I would have difficulty in recommending these releases to a contemporary prog audience; this is more ‘classic rock’ than ‘classic progressive rock’. For those reasons I’ll again pass on a DPRP rating. If however you have one or both of the original vinyl releases in your collection the reconditioned sound provides an excellent opportunity for an upgrade.

Conclusion: Not Rated

GEOFF FEAKES



Litto Nebbia - Bazar De Los Milagros
Litto Nebbia-Bazar De Los Milagros
Country of Origin:Argentina
Format:CD
Record Label:Viajero Inmovil
Catalogue #:MELO024VIR
Year of Release:1976/2005
Time:51:00
Info:N/A
Samples:N/A

Tracklist: Bazar De Los Milagros (7:52), El Nuevo Testamento (3:40), Bituca (4:31), Para Daniel (4:27), Transeuntes (3:00), La Muerte Y La Mirada (6:32), La Caida (7:48), Reflexiones Sobre La Soledad (3:43) Bonus Tracks: Tema De Amor (2:23), Tema De Los Titulos (2:17), Tema De Amor (B) (1:24), Tema Del Final (3:22)

Litto Nebbia? I hear you think, "did I miss another obscure new prog group or so?". No in this case you didn't and it's probably a one-off unique happening that this artist is featured here on this site. In fact Litto Nebbia is an Argentinean guitar player who was the leader of the pioneering Argentinean tango rock band Los Gatos in the early '60s and later he experimented with a variety of musical genres, both as a soloist and as a member of the experimental music group Huinca in the early '70s and with his own jazz band, the Litto Nebbia Trio and he even recorded a Brian Wilson tribute album. When you browse YouTube for him you mainly will stumble on clips that qualify in the aforementioned musical categories and none that come any near some progressive or symphonic rock. But in the early seventies Litto Nebbia showed a preference for keyboards which are present on this album in some quantity, giving this album a slight prog feeling, so we decided to spent some words on it, even though apparently this album's predecessor Fuera Del Cielo was a bit more symphonically orientated. Strangely enough, although this artist is making music for over four decades now and released dozens of albums I couldn't find a website solely dedicated to him, but Googling on his name resulted in plenty of hits (most in Spanish though).

This album (Bazar Of Miracles) was already his eighth solo album and was originally released in 1976; in 2005 it was re-released on CD. On this one he was (again) accompanied by two other artists, Daniel Homer and Mirtha Defilpo. They divided their contributions as follows: Litto Nebbia: piano, electric Fender piano, organ, synthesizer, mini-moog, 12 string guitar, drums and vocals; Daniel Homer: Spanish guitar, 12 string electric guitar, electric bass, percussion and choirs; Mirtha Defilpo: lyrics and vocals. Besides these three people there were a further mentioned number of seven people that contributed in some way to this album, either by playing electric piano, contrabass, percussion or choir on some tracks or by making pictures or artwork or with another kind of assistance. A small quotation from the record labels' website:

"This is a record comprising very personal songs of a certain melancholic touch, and under the obvious influences of Brazilian sounds and rhythms. The project came together during a prolonged period of several months of rest, which the trio had taken in order to re-think its future and next studio output."

The four bonus tracks on this CD come from the film score of the Argentinean cult film "Bobeta, ilusión y despertar" for which Litto wrote the music; other musicians than on the original album play on these tracks.

You can shortly describe this album as melodic, moody fusion-like music with clear South-American bluesy vibes and some jazzy influences. The vocals regularly take a prominent role and are clearly mixed to the foreground, thus pushing the fine music often in a more background role, which is a bit sad since the strength of this music lies in the intricate combination of the used instruments that produce a mellow, relaxing and a bit exotic (to Western ears) atmosphere. But it's not so that the vocals, sung in Spanish, diminish that effect since they are not bad at all, nor incompatible with the rest. On the other hand I also must say that occasionally there is room for a short instrumental intermezzo, mostly of the organ that produces a warm sound (reminiscent of Camel), which are to my opinion the most pleasing moments here and listening to the whole album you get the impression the vocal and non vocal parts are well divided and intermingled in each other.

The first track is the one and only instrumental track (apart from the bonus tracks) with some nice organ bits, reminding a bit to some atmospheric Doors tracks, but then with a merrier feel. This is directly one of the best songs on the album; the mellow mood and keys truly give the song an almost ideal atmosphere to chill-out on, even though it's also groovy. The next songs all breath the same relaxed atmosphere, they are basically simple songs (a bit poppy) with a pleasant optimistic melody line, melodic and relaxed vocal lines and some occasional smooth keyboards to spice the song up. It truly is these organ, synthesizer and mini-moog additions that not only qualify this album for a review on this website, but also lift it up from an average pop songs album. For instance the organ bit on Transeuntes sounds like it's been ripped off directly from an early Camel album. Most songs are really slow-paced, just here and there the tempo goes up. The four bonus tracks from the film soundtrack clearly differ from the album itself; these bonus tracks are short, simple instrumental songs in which the trumpet and violins play the more prominent role and that are clearly intended to enhance the mood of a certain film scene.

The amount of keyboards in all sorts and certainly electric guitar on this album is too limited to please any hardcore prog fan; for musical fireworks you should not go here. De Los Milagros is truly meant for everyone interested is broadening their musical horizon, especially to those who prefer easy laid-back music with a merry and exotic tune with a fusion sauce. The album actually sounds a bit like a soundtrack of some happy-go-lucky careless summer movie. This music will most likely bore some and really please others, but musically seen there really isn't much to criticize other than perhaps the lack of true excitement. But this album probably won't annoy anybody and so I don't think it was a wasted effort to extract this music from the vaults of the Argentinean musical history.

Conclusion: 7 out of 10

JORIS DONKEL




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