~ LATIN AMERICA ~
(SERGIO) ALVAREZ - Naturalezas Disonantes
After the great keyboardwork by Seventies Argentinian progrock bands Crusis and MIA, here’s the current Latin-American answer to Seventies Symphonic Rock keyboard wizards like Tony Banks, Keith Emerson and Rick Wakeman: Sergio Alvarez. He was born in the Argentine city Necochea in 1967 and grew up in a musical family, his father was a bandonion player and conductor of his own Tango Orchestra in the Fifties. In his early childhood he started to play piano, together with his elder brothers. In 1987 he founded the formation In Extremis that existed 10 years and produced one album entitled Solo Seduccion (1995), a blend of rock, pop and progressive. In the late Nineties Sergio his music is firmly rooted into the Classic Symphonic Rock tradition like Genesis, Yes and ELP, to be heard on his acclaimed first solo CD Pasaje A La Revelación in 1999. It was voted as the best Argentine release in that year and received lots of positive reviews by the progrock press in many different countries, from Progression Magazine and Exposé (both USA) to Progressive Newsletter (Germany), Wonderous Stories (Italy), Background Magazine (Holland) and Mellotron(Argentina). In 2000 Sergio made his second album called Escenas De Ficción. At the same time Sergio made a live show as support-act of the legendary English keyboard wizard Rick Wakeman in the Gran Rex Theatre in Buenos Aires, in front of 4000 spectators on the occasion that Wakeman was touring South America. In 2003 he performed a small tour in Europe playing in different stages in Barcelona (Spain), Metz and Paris (France) and Amsterdam (Holland) and three years later Sergio released his third solo album called Naturalezas Disonantes, in the same year he performed on the annual Baja Prog Festival in Mexico. In January 2007 Sergio released a DVD entilted Sergio Alvarez Live At Auditorium Theatre Necochea and recently he is working in a micro musical project for television and beginning to compose his next album, organizing future shows in Argentina and preparing international concerts for 2009.
On his third solo album entitled Naturalezas Disonantes, Sergio half of the ten compositions (7 instrumentals, running time 55 minutes) contains tradional keyboard driven symphonic rock (often obviously inspired by Banks but also Emerson and Wakeman) with flowing shifting moods like in the tracks Leaving Of The Urban Territory (fluent synthesizer flights, strong break with a guitar solo – produced by his keyboards - and swinging piano and a slow synthesizer solo, culminating in a compelling atmosphere), Absurd Promises (great keyboards, from tender or sparkling piano to pleasant synthesizer work and moving guitar runs), When The Road Is Far Ahead (bombastic organ and synthesizers), Without Time (powerful organ sound, classically inspired synthesizer work and wonderful interplay between electric guitar and piano) and the titletrack (tasteful jazzy Fender Rhodes electric piano sound, a swirling organ solo and fluent synthesizer flights). But in comparison with his two previous efforts, Sergio has broaden his musical horizon, the other half of this album contains a lot of varied songs: a dreamy ballad with warm vocals and pleasant synthesizer runs (but a bit irritating rhythm box sound) in Let’s Wake Up Now, a sultry climate with ominous keyboards, the sound of Indian tablas and a captivating Morish sounding synthesizer solo in Travel From Orient, New Age oriented atmosphere with dreamy piano and soaring keyboards in the a bit smooth The Landscape Of The Sensibility, a beautiful solo piece featuring Grand piano (from tender to sparkling) in The Fragrance Of The Good Air and majestic classical orchestrations in the final track The End Of The Revalation.
My conclusion: I prefer Sergio to make interesting musical experiments like Travel From Orient rather than smooth New Age but in general I am very pleased with Sergio his accessible sounding keyboard driven album. This Argentine keyboard virtuoso knows how to arrange tasteful and varied songs with a good balance between the keyboards and the rest of the instruments.
LINKS: Not Available
ALY – Hypotesis Ubicua
Aly is a musical project of Alonso Romero, he was born in Mexico (1979), started to study piano when he was 8 and he is playing guitar since his 13th. He has a varied taste: with the band Toccata he released the album entitled Circe (2005) on which he plays guitar in the progmetal vein but he also made a classical album with flute and guitar.
We can find back this captivating contrast between rock and classical on Aly their instrumental debut album Hypotesis Ubicua. Alonso has invited a wide range of musicians featuring drummer Adolfo Ramundo who recently toured with the new line-up of Italian progrock legend Il Balletto Di Bronzo. On most of the nine compositions Alonso delivers heavy guitarwork with obvious hints of Steve Vai and Joe Satriani, fueled by a thunderous rhythm-section evoking Metallica and Opeth, very exciting and I am impressed by Alonso his furious, blistering and biting guitar runs and propulsive fat guitar riffs. The most interesting element of Aly their music is in my opinion the way he blends the sound of varied keyboards with the powerful guitarwork, often this evokes a lot of tension in the Aly sound: dazzling interplay with synthesizers (El Aspecto Sombrío De La Desinhibición and Sirenas Poseídas En La Mente De Omicrón), lush organ waves (Necesidad Ilimitada), dreamy piano work (Instinto En La Nostalgia) and orchestral keyboards (Ocular). Another wonderful contrast on this album is the short track Ocaso Inesperado that contains classical guitar, it sounds very warm. But the highlight is the ‘magnum opus progressivus’ Meh - Lahn - Coh - Lih – Ah, a 25 minutes composition that is divided into six alternating parts: from a majestic violin-Mellotron intro, soaring keyboards with howling guitar runs and an interlude with dreamy keyboards to an exciting wah-wah drenched guitar solo with populsive drums, powerful Hammond organ with heavy guitar work, a bombastic prog metal climate and a beautiful final part delivering acoustic rhythm guitar and a choir-Mellotron-like sound, goose bumps!
What an exciting debut album, I am sure the progmetal – and Heavy Prog fans and heavy metal guitar freaks wil be delighted about Aly their music!
LINKS: Website | MySpace
ANGULART - Donde Renacen Las Horas
I remember two things very well when I received this debut album (2004) by the captivating Chilean formation Angulart when I worked for the Dutch progrock magazine iO Pages. First I was impressed by the dark cover art. And second the development of the music after the first minutes of this album: it begins with with average progmetal (thunderous rhythm-section and biting guitar) but then the music turns into very interesting: many captivating changes of accelaration, surprising breaks and great solos on guitar and keyboards. At that moment I got the idea that Angulart had very unique progrock to offer. And I am still blown away by the alternating and spectacular sound of senor Poblete on his synthesizers (dazzling runs), piano (swirling play), strings (orchestral), organ (heavy floods) and even accordeon. He gives every song a special flavor, topped by the strong and biting guitarwork. The 10 compositions alternates from heavy, up-tempo and jazzy to bluesy, bombastic and dreamy, Angulart keeps your attention for the full hour! If you are up to a compelling, varied musical trip and typical Latin-American vocals (an emotional undertone) this sensational debut-CD will please you!
ANIMA MUNDI - Jagannath Orbit
In 2002 the promising Cuban formation Anima Mundi delivered thier debut album entitled Septentrion, a very pleasant and melodic album that scouts the borders between neo-prog, symphonic rock and progfolk. We had to wait six years at this new album (2008) and I can tell you it was worth waiting that long, very worth! On Jagannath Orbit the sound is more in the 24-carat symphonic rock tradition, blended with subtle contributions by guest musicians on clarinet, bassoon, bagpipes and didgeridoo. The long and varied first compsoition We Are The Light (close to 18 minutes) turns out to be the way to Progheaven: first mellow with piano and soaring keyboards, then alternating between swinging, bombastic, dreamy and a mid-tempo featuring wonderful work on vintage keyboards (Hammond, Mellotron, Minimoog), wah-wah guitar, Yes-like bass and vocal harmonies and a breathtaking final part with sumptuous choir-mellotron and sensitive electric guitar, goose bumps! The other six compositions (two instrumentals) also deliver lots of excitement like the strong guitarwork (including biting wah-wah) in Toward The Adventure, a majestic church-organ sound, moving guitar and beautiful Mellotron waves in There's A Place Not Faraway, a spectaculair break with guitar and keyboards, again wonderful vintage keyboards and wah-wah guitar in the long and compelling instrumental Rhythm Of The Spheres and splendid Minimoog flights, choir-Mellotron and a Progheaven Grand Finale with fiery guitar and lush keyboards in the final track Sanctuary. A big hand for this Cuban progrock formation, these guys have perfectly used the six years between their first and second album, highly recommended!
APOCALYPSE – Live In Rio
In the Nineties the Brazilian five piece formation Apocalypse released four studio-albums (their eponymous debut CD in 1991), then there was a long silence until Apocalypse released a new album (as a quartet) in 2003, 3 years later followed by a live CD entitled Live In Rio (recorded in 2005). It starts with very Floydian inspired guitarwork but then it’s mainly early Marillion as the inspirator. Especially the English vocals are mighty close to the sound of Fish on albums like A Script For A Jester’s Tear and Misplaced Childhood, just listen to the songs Cut and Tears, is this the Brasilian twin brother of the singing Scottish giant? Most of the 11 compositions contain a fluent mid-tempo featuring mutiple exciting Minimoog synthesizer flights and lots of strong, often howling electric guitar runs. I am impressed by the crafty musicians and how tight, dynamic and enthousiasticly Apocalypse plays but some tracks tend so sound a bit similar. My highlights are Refuge (beautiful flute work, sparkling keyboards, powerful Hammond sound and expressive vocals), Waterfall Of Golden Waters (fine Hammond and Minimoog excertitions), Tears (alternating with a wonderful intro by twanging guitars and choir-Mellotron and great work on Minimoog and guitar) and Coming From The Stars Medley (van moving and compelling to propulsive with howling guitar and again great work on Hammond and Minimoog along a cheerful band presentation). I am sure this pleasant and dynamic album will delight the neo-prog fans, especially the early Marillion freaks!
ASTRALIS – Bienvenida Al Interior
From Brazil to Chile, here is Astralis, rooted in 1999. The musical brainchild is guitarist and singer Patricio Vera-Pinto who also composed the six tracks on Astralis their debut entitled Bienvenida Al Interior (2006). The music scouts the borders between symphonic – and neo-prog with the emphasis on the latter genre, especially the early Marillion and Pendragon fans will be pleased. The varied, modern sounding keyboard work is wonderful and the guitarplay powerful and often moving. The Spanish vocals sound warm, it is a pleasant Latin-American flavor on this beautiful album by the very promising Chilean progrock band Astralis. The climates in the six compositions shifts from a kind of ‘symphonic blues’ with moving guitarwork and ‘choir-Mellotron-like keyboards’ in Nocturno Urbano and a very moving guitar solo and a captivating break with an impressive church-organ sound in Bajo El Domo De Cristal to the splendid final track Kinnara (10 minutes): in the first part a blend of dreamy parts with soaring keyboards and sumptuous pieces with sparkling piano and sensitive guitar. Then we can enjoy a Brian May inspired guitar interlude with echo and fiery runs, culminating in a final part featuring an up-tempo with flashy keyboards and propulsive guitar, how compelling and exciting! This CD is highy recommended to all early Marillion and Pendragon freaks, when will Astralis deliver a second effort?
LINKS: Website | MySpace
BAUER - Astronauta Olvidado
The first time I listened to this album - Astronauta Olvidado - (recommended: late and dark hours) I was blown away by the very moving and compelling sound, the music often sounds as an Argentine answer to the prog side of Radiohead. Most of the songs on this album have a great build up: it starts cosmic, then gradually the music swells and finally Bauer features bombastic eruptions with howling electric guitars and floods of Mellotron. The Spanish vocals fit perfect to the often melancholic climates and the integration of organ, twanging electric guitar, acoustic rhythm guitar, piano and synthesizer is subtle and tasteful. This very compelling music is a mindblowing experience, for sure progrock has emotion! Although Radiohead is the main influence, other obvious references are pink floyd (Gilmourian slide guitar), Porcupine Tree (cosmic climates) and Landberk (fragile guitarplay and violin-Mellotron). The final composition “Un camino a traves del airs” is the highlight: lots of Mellotron, hypnotizing vocals, suddenly heavy guitarplay and an ominous, almost claustrofobic climate (evoking King Crimson, Red-era) with splendid choir-Mellotron, I’m on cloud number nine!
CRONICO – Delirium Room
Now we are going to visit the country of the Aztecs, here’s the Mexican formation Cronico that was founded in 2004 by the youth friends Daniel G. Köppen and Gabriel Eguiluz. They started to make a demo CD and then presented their music on a festival in the capital and during several cultural activities. In 2007 Cronico released thier debut CD entitled Delirium Room as an own production. From the very first listening session I was delighted about Cronico their exciting blend of symphonic – and neo-prog: lots of fluent songs featuring a lush, varied and modern keyboard sound, pleasant female vocals (some in Spanish, most in English) and wonderful work on acoustic – and electric guitars. The 10 compositions deliver many tasteful and captivating moments, from a compelling atmosphere with howling guitar (Long Way), a psychedelic sounding organ solo (Delirium) and an intense guitar solo with volume-pedal (Without Reasons) to exciting interplay between organ and guitar (Mood Swing), flashy synthesizer flights (Floating, Delirium, Don’t Be Afraid and When I Try) and a sensational blend of lush organ, fat synthesizers and propulsive drums in the final track Intrepid Nightmare, goose bumps! The band also treats us on some mellow moments (with twanging guitar and warm vocals or acoustic rhythm-guitar and sensitive piano) and lots of tension and dynamic by changing the moods from dreamy to compelling and mid-tempo to bombastic like in the highlights Delirium, Without Reasons and especially When I try (breathtaking final part with strong interplay between moving guitar and lush organ). I hope we will hear more from this promising new band very soon and that the vocals are all in the Spanish language in order to add more emotion and expression to the music.
DIAPASAO – Opus 1
Here’s a winner for the classically oriented progheads. Diapasao is a Brazilian trio in which the band members play keyboards, bass and acoustic guitar and drums, with guest musicians on violin and cello. Their debut CD has strong classical overtones, mainly due to the frequent work on the Grand piano. I am often blown away by Rodrigo Lana his skills on the keyboards, what a virtuosic and what a variety: sparkling work on harpsichord, flashy synthesizer flights and swinging jazzy piano play in Diapassao, a duet with the acoustic guitar in Som Do Brasil, orchestral keyboards, melancholical piano and powerful Hammond organ in Sonata, a harpsichord and classical guitar duet in Fuga, a swirling solo piece on piano in Rock Espanol and swinging jazzy piano in Jazz.
If you like keyboard-driven prog like ELP, Trace, Triumvirat or Ars Nova, this great debut CD by Brasilian band Diapasao will delight you!
LINKS: Website | MySpace
FLOR DE LOTO — Madre Tierra
I have a fascination for the Peruvian Inca culture since my early Childhood and I have also become a fan of their ethnic music. So when I read about the Peruvian progressive folk rock formation Flor De Loto and their eponymous debut CD (2005), I got very excited. I am very pleased with the blend of Andean flutes and rock with fiery guitars and dynamic drums. But in my opinion the songs sounded a bit too similar in the end. Listening to this successor entitled Madre Tierra (2007) I notice a huge progress in the ten compositions. From the very first moment we can enjoy the very distinctive, quite melancholical Andean flutes. The atmospheres range from dreamy with mellow flute and acoustic guitar to rock with fiery electric guitar and a propulsive rhythm-section. My highlights are Danza Celta (captivating contrast between sparkling flute traverse and raw guitar), Andaluces (great Andalucian climate with excellent work on flute and acoustic – and electric guitars and lots of dynamics) and the alternating La Ley De La Vida (strong echoes from Jethro Tull with heavy guitar, swirling flute traverse and bitin guitar solo in the final part). I am delighted about this captivating Flor De Loto sound evoking Los Jaivas (without keyboards) and bands like Jethro Tull and Focus, unique prog that deserves wider attention!
LINKS: Website | MySpace
JAIME ROSAS CUARTETO - Viajero Astral ~ Live in Brazil
If you like dynamic progrock with exciting work on harder-edged guitar and spectacular keyboard work, this band is one to discover! Their story: after 3 studio-albums under the different names Jaime Rosas (Virgo, 2003), Jaime Rosas Trio (Extremos, 2004) and Jaime Rosas Cuarteto (Creciendo, 2005) and in 2007 the Chilean keyboard-wizard Jaime Rosas has released this live CD that was recorded during the Creciendo-tour in 2005.
You can divide the CD Viajero Astral – Live In Brazil (running time more than 70 minutes) into two sections. First ten shorter tracks between 4 and 6 minutes featuring mainly mid-tempo rhythms and sumptuous climates with dazzling synthesizer flights, exciting interplay between keyboards and guitar (from propulsive riffs to fiery runs) and a powerful and adventurous rhythm-section. One of the highlights on this album is the sensational ‘Rush meets Gerard’-like track Gravedad that contains splendid keyboard work and a wonderfully build-up guitar solo. But I was also delighted about the church-organ sound in Odisea and Un Volcan En Las Nubes (strong duet with fat synthesizer runs) and the twanging acoustic guitar and classical orchestrations in Despertar. Second two long compositions that deliver more variety and shifting moods: El Mito Del Eterno Retorno (around 17 minutes with a spectacular Hammond solo, fiery guitar and strong Spanish vocals) and my favorite Viajero Astral (at about 12 minutes): from soaring keyboards with sensitive guitar and classical piano with warm vocals to mid-tempo parts with harder-edged guitar and lush Hammond organ or compelling atmospheres featuring flashy synthesizer flights and propulsive guitar riffs, supported by a swirling rhythm-section. On this live CD the Jaime Rosas Cuarteto often reminds me of the Japanese keyboard oriented progrock band Gerard but because of the passionate Spanish vocals and the more elaborate compositions the Chilean formation sounds more varied and emotional so highly recommended!
JAEN KIEF – Las Hadas No Vuelan Mas II. El Agua De Frente
In an interview on the Internet the guitarplayer Juan Carlos talks about Jaen Kief (from Colombia!) their music and he notices that the music press has difficulties to classify their very varied and experimental progrock sound, he says “it is rock and something more”. We could enjoy this on their debut album Las Hadas No Vuelan Mas / 1. Vagas Nubes (from 2003) and I finished my review with the sentences “This makes listening to Jaen Kief to a pleasant musical journey” and “Do they still exist?”.
Well, in 2006 this new album was released and in 2008 the French progrock label Musea has distributed it worldwide. To me it sounds more mature and elaborate than their previous effort and I am delighted about the typical Latin-American touch: that melodic and pleasant blend of several styles, presented by very good musicians. The climates range from dreamy to up-tempo rock, from classically inspired to folky and 24-carat symphonic rock and the instrumentation is very lush: plesant and often warm Spanish duo-vocals (male/female), swinging acoustic rhythm guitar, powerful saxophone, cheerful flute-traverse, tender Grand piano, fiery and moving electric guitar solos, an adventurous rhythm-section, Spanish guitar and wonderful classical keyboard orchestrations.
I repeat my words that Jaen Kief their music is a pleasant musical journey, on this album even more exciting and varied, the 10 beautiful compositions deliver lots of variety, emotion and excellent skills on a wide range of instruments (especially the long track Tus Suenos De Tul is top notch progrock from Latin-America), a sound to discover!
LINKS: None Available
JINETES NEGROS – Omniem
Another overlooked progrock formation with an unique sound: Jinetes Negros (Spanish for ‘Black Riders’) from Argentina and was founded in 1999 by Anima keyboard player Octavio Stampalia and singer Marcelo Ezcurra, along with other musicians. In 2000 the band released their debut album entitled El Jinetes Negro, a year later followed by the album Chronos, then it took 5 years until Jinete Negros released this new album in 2006.
On the CD Omniem I hear a melodic and dynamic mix classical, rock, symphonic, folk and prog metal in which a wide range of instruments, from organ and guitar to ethnic instruments like the quena (small flute) and charango (between a guitar and mandoline with 5 double strings). At least half of the tracklist contains fluent and bombastic mid-tempo songs delivering sumptuous classical orchestrations and choir, blended with swinging ‘slap’ bass, guitar and soaring flute (Signo De Los Tiempos), with flute traverse, sparkling Grand piano and exciting solos on guitar and and synthesizer (Epico) and with flute traverse and wah-wah guitar (El Hombre Del Bosque). But we can also enjoy more dreamy tracks like El Canto Del Noctambulo (bluesy with wonderful Grand piano, followed by a slow rhythm with saxophone and a sensitive electric guitar solo), Jean Jaures (beautiful play on violin and flute and some bombastic eruptions) and Un Sabor Amargo (melancholical violin-section, warm vocals and a mellow saxophone solo). And in some compositions Jinetes Negros plays straighforward rock like in 16 Lirios De Eternidad (fiery guitar) and especially Pagaras Por Mi (intro with choir, then prog metal, a swirling Hammond organ solo and a biting wah-wah guitar). All songs contain powerful and pleasant Spanish vocals except the final track Against The World Again, I think because of the universal message in the lyrics: ”Who Do You Think You Are, Mr. President?”! It starts with twanging acoustic guitar and warm vocals, then a slow rhythm with bluesy guitar and harmonica, blended with the sound of an Inca flute and an orchestra and cloncluded with a sensitive electric guitar solo, accompanied by Grand piano, wonderful! I needed a few listening sessions to get into Jinetes Negros their varied sound but then I was delighted, what a stunning new band from Argentina, worth to check out!
LINKS: Website | MySpace
POÇOS & NUVENS — Província Universo
Brazil is the winner in Latin-America, here’s another band from the land of the “Canaries” named Poços & Nuvens, they released two albums, this is their second effort entitled Provincia Universo (2001). I'm pleased with the very alternating sound and wide range of instruments: a fluent rhythm with fiery electric guitar, violin and soaring keyboards in "Copla", twanging acoustic guitar, flute and a break with great interplay between keyboards, flute and electric guitar and in the final part slow synthesizer solo in "Víndima e Ventania", lots of breaks, shifting moods and splendid soli on guitar and keyboards in "Vega", a wonderful intro with twanging guitar, followed by a romantic climate and howling electric guitar in "Canção" and metal guitar and bombastic keyboards, many changing climates with splendid work on flute and violin in "Poços e Nuvens". The best composition is the very alternating and exciting "Incenso e chuva" featuring an intro with tablas and Fripperian guitar ("Discipline"-era), followed by a psychedelic atmosphere and lots of good musical ideas, very dynamic and captivating, I hope more progheads will try to discover this overlooked Brazilian progrock band.
LINKS: Website | MySpace
R-U KAISER – Ocelos
In 2007 Angulart their manager Marco Guerrero released this debut album by the sensational new Chilean formation R-U Kaiser (a German visionary in the Seventies) on his new progrock label Watcher Records, I hope he will release more of this exciting new progrock albums! Five-piece band R-U Kaiser comes from the Northern part of Chile and is rooted in 2002, it took a while before they got the opportunity to release this debut album entitled Ocelos (2007). It is a concept album about the experiences of the phases into the band and contains four movements.
1. Dioscuros (The Genesis) : a very alternating piece with spectacular work on keyboards (from a soaring choir-Mellotron sound to a flashy synthesizer solo and powrful organ runs), ‘angelic’ Spanish female vocals and fiery guitar runs, it sounds very dynamic and exciting!
2. Letargia (The Flight) : after the sound of the sea and birds, the atmosphere is first mellow with thin vocals and tender piano and then more hypnotizing with a slow rhtyhm delivering twanging guitar and a choir-Mellotron sound, a majestic piece of music that contrasts perfectly with the previous song.
3. Semjases (The Encounter) : this is also a very alternating track, from dreamy with wonderful female vocals to mid-tempo featuring propulsive guitar/drums and flashy synthesizer flights and a compelling final part with the focus on sensitive and fiery guitar work, very moving!
4. Ocelos (The Future) : this is their ‘magnum opus’ (at about 11 minutes) with lots of flowing shifting moods, sensational work on keyboards and guitar and a splendid bombastic final part with awesome interplay between sparkling piano, propulsive and fiery guitarplay, beautiful, often thin female vocals, an adventurous rhtyhm-section and spectacular synthesizer runs, symphonic prog at its best!
To me this sounds as a very strong debut CD. You can hear that this band plays together for many years. If you are up to the often thin and high-pitched, ‘angelic’ Spanish female vocals, this will be an excellent symphonic prog experience!
LINKS: Website | MySpace
SETI – Life Signs
More new (and overlooked) promising progrock from Chile: Seti, in fact a side-project of the musicians of SUBTERRA, led by the keyboardist-bassist Claudio Momberg. Its name is taken from the famous NASA program: Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence. The brainchild of the Seti project is Claudio Momberg, he is a multi-instrumentalist, producer, lay-out and composer and has surrounded himself with seven other musicians to found Seti. The climates in the eight songs on their debut CD entitled Life Signs (2005) are melodic, pleasant and tasteful arranged compositions (five instrumental) that alternate from spacey and dreamy to mid-tempo but mainly compelling and bombastic delivering lush keyboards and howling guitar runs, very moving. The keyboard sound is varied, from warm piano and orchestral layers to fluent organ runs and fat synthesizer flights. The English vocals are decent with a bit melancholical undertone. My favorite on this CD is the guitar player, this man knows how to push the rights buttons with lots of very moving soli! The highlight on this wonderful CD is the final track entitled The Ship Of Joy (almost 18 minutes, five parts). It contains lots of flowing shifting moods with strong vocals, sensitive guitar and Mark Kelly inspired synthesizer flights. Halfway the music turns from mellow into more and more lush, culminating in a splendid ‘grand finale’ featuring propulsive drums, powerful bass notes, bombastic keyboards and a strongly build-up, very moving guitar soli, goose bumps, this is Progheaven! At those moments Seti reminds me of early Marillion with closing sections like in Chelsea Monday and Forgotten Sons. Check out this promising new band!
SLEEPWALKER SUN - Sleepwalker Sun
The very first moment I listened to this Brasilian musical project (featuring violin player Marcus Viana from Sagrado), I was delighted about their heavy sound, this is a very good blend of several styles, including prog metal. Their eponymous debut CD contains seven alternating and dynamic compositions (between 4 and 15 minutes): from dreamy or compelling to bombastic and propulsive with often a great tension between the majestic violin and heavy electric guitar. The music delivers many shifting moods and accelarations, most of the time fluent and bombastic and loaded with great guitar work (fiery and biting soli and heavy riffs) and a huge portion of sumptuous keyboards. The female singer Giana Araujo does a good job but I prefer her singing in the more mellow parts. My highlights are the exciting opener Blindfold (great contrast between the classical violin - and electric guitar sound), Russian Roulette (wonderful Mellotron waves), the mellow Jalen’s Eyes (beautiful classical violin and piano) and the dynamic, a bit Rush-inspired Nocturnal (great bombastic sound and strong soli on guitar and keyboards). Very interesting music!
LINKS: Website | MySpace
SUPAY – Confusion
Earlier in this article I told you about my fascination for Peru, here is a new Peruvian band that can compete with my excitement about the legendary Los Jaivas! Supay is a new band that consists of six members, four are playing the ‘quena’ (an often used Andean flute) and two of those also play the ‘zampona’, a double panpipe from the Incas. Most of you will know these instruments from the Andean street musicians playing in Europe. The debut CD entitled Confusion is from 2004 but later re-released by the French label Musea and the Chilean label Mylodon Records with a different cover. It contains seven pleasant and melodic compositions that sound like a progressive blend of Andean folk and rock music. In general the songs deliver fluent rhythms with an adventurous rhythm-section with the focus on the flutes and electric guitar. This results in a great tension between the cheerful ‘quena’ sound, the melancholic ‘zampona’ sound and the fiery and harder-edged guitarwork, in my opinion inspired by Hendrix and Blackmore. The guitarplayer makes impression with his frequent soli, often biting and howling and the duels with the flutes are great like on the first track when he uses wah-wah while the flute sounds like a nightingale! The keyboard player sounds a bit subdued: in Avanzado he delviers a bit jazzy organ solo, in La Nueva he plays a fine duet with a flute and in most of the other songs he accompanies on organ in a very tasteful way. That is also the strong point of Supay: the band sounds like a band despite the frequent soli and instrumental adventures. Excellent and unique prog folk!
TARKUS - Ao Vivo Em Niterói
This is a Brasilian six piece band rooted in 2000, they have released two studio albums: A Gaze Between The Past And The Future (2002) and Mundus Novus (2006). In December 2006 Tarkus also released the live CD entitled Ao Vivo Em Niteron. Listening to Tarkus I am carried away by their wonderful symphonic prog compositions featuring a lush keyboard sound (two members are keyboardist), strong and warm female Brasilian vocals (at some moments similar to Bacamarte), a dynamic and fluent rhythm-section and a crafted guitar player (from acoustic rhythm guitar to propulsive riffs and sensitive soli). The most remarkable element is the sound of the Minimoog, the music contains lots of spectacular soli with strong hints from Seventies Rick Wakeman. The climates on the ten compositions shift very flowing from dreamy to often bombastic and some songs deliver solo pieces on classical piano (very sparkling) and classic guitar (with flageolets that remind me of Steve Hackett). My highlights on this very compelling CD are O Portal (pleasant changing climates and a great build-up that culminates into an exciting ‘grand finale’’ with Minimoog flights in the vein of the final part of Starship Trooper by Yes), Vida Nova (warm intro with classical guitar and piano, then lots of shifting moods and again exciting Minimoog runs and sensitive electric guitar) and A Danca Escolhida (wonderful twanging guitar, than first a dreamy atmosphere and then a strong build-up to a bombastic final part with powerful organ waves and propulsive guitar riffs). The final track Ensaio Dos Ventos delviers a pleasant atmosphere with a rock element (swinging piano, R&R guitar and powerful vocals) but it ends with a symphonic prog finale that delivers sparkling piano and sensational Minimoog flights, goose bumps!
TEMPUS FUGIT - Chessboard
In the second half of the Nineties this Brazilian formation released their debut album Tales From A Forgotten World (1997), an official bootleg live album (1998) and the second effort The Dawn After The Storm (1999) so 3 albums in 3 years but then .... there was a long silence. Tempus Fugit performed at the USA Progfest festival in 2000, in Copacabana in 2002 and actually around that time all compositions for new album were ready. But unfortunately it took six years before Tempus Fugit released their third studio album entitled Chessboard in 2008. Was it worth waiting for so many years? Well, I am delighted about Tempus Fugit their melodic sound on Chessboard: very tastefully arranged and scouting the borders between modern symphonic rock and neo-prog featuring wonderful work on keyboards and guitar and lots of flowing changing climates. My highlights are the lush Vangelis-like synthesizer sound in Pontos de Fuga, many shifting moods, an acoustic guitar solo with a violin-Mellotron sound and exciting guitar solos in The Princess, splendid interplay between fiery guitar and fat sounding keyboards in the alternating Chessboard Part A and a beautiful blend of acoustic guitar and piano and fiery wah-wah drenched guitar and a compelling grand finale with howling guitar and fluent synthesizer flights in the wonderfully build-up in Chessboard Part B. I am sure this new album will please both the symphomaniacs as the neo-progheads, highly recommended!
UNDER LINDEN – Under Linden
This Argentine five piece band was founded in the late Nineties and consists of experienced musicians who played in several bands. In 2003 Under Linden released the live album Festival Sinfo-Prog La Plata uit 2003 and in 2007 the first studio CD entitled Under Linden. During the more than 50 minutes of running time we can enjoy progrock that is driven by violin (both acoustic as electric) and electric guitar (with hints from early Hackett solo). In general the atmosphere alternates between dreamy and slow rhythms but in some songs deliver mid-tempo beats with lots of fiery guitar solos and sparkling violin work that often remeinds me of JL Ponty. The rhythm-section plays fluent and is a perefect starting point for the frequent solos on guitar and violin. The keyboards sound pleasant and tasteful but in my opinion a bit too subdued, I had preferred a more dominant keyboard sound as a contrast to the omnipresent guitar and violin in order to sound more varied.
My highlights on this very melodic and tasteful album are the alternating El Conducto (exciting final part with strong interplay between guitara and violin), the fluent Gravitaciones
(excellent and varied work on guitar), the compelling Tiburon En Marcha (sensitive violinplay and howling, often wah-wah drenched electric guitar) and the captivating Linden (dreamy intro with melancholical violin, lots of fine shifting moods and a final part with blistering violin and fiery guitar). To me this sounds as a promising debut CD that will not only please the violin aficionados but also many symphomaniacs.
LINKS: Website | MySpace
WILLIAM GRAY – Living Fossils
Here’s one of my favorite progrock albums of the last 10 years, what an awesome muscial experience! William Gray is an Argentine musical project featuring 10 musicians and focussing on three subjects: an album, an audio-visual show and a multi-media website (still under construction). The story on this concept album - Living Fossils - is about a person called Virgilio who is walking on the streets of Buenos Aires and lives between sane and insanity. During my first listening session I got more and more excited, this is a very alternating and captivating blend of different styles, from compelling and bombastic with some progmetal climates (evoking Ayreon), powerful Hammond runs and fiery guitar to mellow pieces with classical piano and violin, impressive church-organ intro's or folky oriented songs with acoustic guitar and warm English vocals, what a splendid musical adventure! I give you some of the many highlights on this CD. First Darkest Side: it starts compelling and bombastic with heavy guitar riffs, orchestral keyboards, violin and fiery guitar, then a mid- tempo with fluent Hammond runs, wonderful violin-Mellotron and powerful guitar followed by a short mellow part with melancholical violin play and in the end a slow rhythm with sensitive guitar and violin. Then the track Fading Points: lots of shifting moods and great ideas with bombastic interplay between Hammond and heavy guitar, blended with sparkling classical piano and heavy guitar runs, very exciting and dynamic! Another great composition is Urban Battle II: after a church-organ intro the atmosphere is compelling with fat guitar riffs and powerful Hammond waves along fiery guitar runs. The parts with dreamy piano, violin and the distinctive bandoneon turn the music into a very captivating experience. Finally the song Urban Battle III: the climate is bombastic with progmetal hints featuring great keyboard work (church-organ, Hammond, Mellotron) and thundering drums. The final track from this breathtaking album is in Argentine style delivering a tango atmosphere with piano and bandoneon, how beautiful with a very moving, melancholical undertone! I am sure that many progheads will be delighted about this excellent debut CD, highly recommended!
LINKS: Website | MySpace