Many years have passed, but Erik Neuteboom has not lost his love for the combination of prog-rock and flamenco, or the progressive side of Rock Andaluz, or as he calls it: Prog Andaluz! 13 years after his Prog Andaluz article here on DPRP (republished in three parts during the past couple of weeks: #1, #2, and #3), he wrote a sequel, the first part of which is here: #4. Here is the second of two parts. Enjoy!
In 2009, DPRP published an article I wrote about the Prog Andaluz scene, my self-proclaimed sub-genre of the Rock Andaluz. This has been my musical passion since I listened to the pivotal formation Triana in the late 1970s.
Over the years, I discovered many Prog Andaluz gems, from Medina Azahara and Alameda to Mezquita and Cai. Last year, I stumbled upon the website 5Lunas, dedicated to the Rock Andaluz movement, I was very pleasantly surprised to notice that my beloved Rock Andaluz is still “alive and kicking”.
I ordered a bunch of albums, and I was delighted after a first listening session: what an excitement and quality! This inspired me to write an update for that first Prog Andaluz article from 2009. I have many interesting new Prog Andaluz bands to tell you about!
Alpesa — Renacer
Alpesa is rooted in 1993 and during the early years, the band released cassettes and vinyl. In 2017, the band released its first CD entitled Renacer, a compilation of old and new songs. From that moment on, Alpesa became more active with concerts and festivals.
Alpesa reminds me of Zaguan, but more adventurous and varied, and the lead vocals by Antonio Lozano are more passionate.
Another strong element is guest musician Eduardo Trassierra on the flamenco guitar, showing hints from the legendary Paco De Lucia. Most of the eight tracks contains slow rhythms with a melancholic undertone, fuelled by the excellent, flamenco-inspired vocals and the exciting flamenco guitar.
In the two songs Enamorado and Dinero, the band surprises with a reggae rhythm featuring captivating interplay between an omnipresent organ and flamenco guitar, embellished with strong, while wailing vocals offer a nice contrast with the swinging reggae sound.
Fantasia runs between mellow with tender vocals and intense acoustic guitar runs on the one end, to more dynamic with emotional vocals, wonderful piano runs, virtuosic flamenco guitar runs, and propulsive electric guitar riffs that rock on the other end. The song is then moving interplay between the flamenco guitar and vocals (with that wailing overtone, the blues from Andalusia).
After the dreamy first part of Fuego de ti featuring a slow rhythm with emotional vocals and delicate flamenco guitar, the music turns into more lush with sparkling piano and propulsive electric guitar riffs. The vocals sound very passionate, topped with awesome work on the flamenco guitar.
The final track, Para ti sounds unique. A duet from the singer and the keyboard player, with a grand piano sound. The interplay is outstanding, loaded with emotion, featuring sparkling piano work and passionate vocals. I am delighted!
Qamar — Todo empieza aquí
This is a new Andalusian band who released their debut album entitled Todo empieza aquí in 2020 on the Chilean prog rock label Mylodon Records. This album was reviewed here on DPRP in 2020.
Qamar comprises four musicians (drums, bass, keyboards, and guitars), and for the album they have invited a wide range of guest musicians for contributions on saxophone, flute, vocals, flamenco guitar, and violin.
From the first track till the last, the musicianship and interplay are purely awesome. The sound has a strong and compelling Arabesca flavour (blended with elements from blues and hard-rock to symphonic rock and neo-prog). The music is very dynamics, and loaded with tension and strong and varied work on guitar and keyboards. I am very delighted about Qamar, what a promising Prog Andaluz band!
The highlight on this album is the instrumental epic As bruxas. A dreamy intro with sparkling grand piano and flamenco guitar. Then a propulsive mid-tempo with rock guitar and exciting play on guitar, keyboards and saxophone, with an obvious Arabesca undertone. Next up are flamenco guitar and flute, evoking the Paco De Lucia sextet), followed by fragile electric guitar and swinging piano with flamenco guitar reminiscent of Iman. The final part has some moving violin and exciting flamenco guitar, culminating in a short sumptuous eruption to end. Just wow!
Anairt — Nuestro tiempo
Anairt was founded in 1995 by five musicians that listened to classic rock like Deep Purple and Pink Floyd, and Rock Andaluz, especially legendary Triana (read Anairt from right to left you get... Triana!), Alameda, and Medina Azahara.
Over the years, Anairt played a lot of gigs but there was a long period of inactivity (almost 20 years), due to family priorities and other dedications. Ainart re-united to record songs the band wrote and arranged between 1995 and 1999. After recording and mixing, they performed some more concerts, after which, in 2021, the band finally released their debut album, entitled Nuestro Tiempo.
Many of the tastefully arranged ten tracks are mid-tempo, strongly evoking Triana and Medina Azahara, especially due to the excellent native vocals. The music is embellished with lots of flashy synthesizer flights, heavy work on the electric guitar, and organ and piano play. The rhythm section does an outstanding job, from tight to dynamic.
The flamenco guitar and handclapping (palmas) by guest musicians Juan Espinosa and Raúl Rivas in four of the songs evoke that special Rock Andaluz flavour. Another guest musician, Ángel Ruíz, guitarist from the Spanish heavy prog legend The Storm, delivers a long and fiery solo in the very Triana-inspired Una fiesta de colores.
More mellow tracks are Escaparme de ti (from dreamy to bombastic, with warm vocals and pleasant work on piano, flamenco guitar and synthesizer, along a heavy guitar solo in the end), Ya no queda nada (embellished with slightly distorted guitar, romantic vocals, sensitive electric guitar, tender piano play, and another howling guitar solo closing the track), and the wonderful track Quiero, featuring guest Pepe Roca, the legendary singer of classic Rock Andaluz band Alameda (from classical piano and intense vocals by Pepe to excellent work on flamenco, and electric guitar and synthesizer). Goose bumps alert!
Sherish — El candíl
This debut album by the very promising and Arabesca sounding new Prog Andaluz four-piece formation Sherish was recorded in 2017, but it lasted 4 years before 5Lunas, in cooperation with the Chilean prog rock label Mylodon, finally released the seven tracks on a CD, entitled El candíl.
When listening to this album, I immediately am in the Prog Andlauz mood. The first track, Quiero vivir has the handclapping, sumptuous Arabesca sounding synthesizer layers, and passionate, distinctively wailing vocals, blended with powerful rock guitar (including heavy, wah-wah-drenched electric guitar solos) and a tight rhythm-section. The other compositions are also firmly rooted in the Arabesca-oriented Prog Andaluz, often evoking Medina Azahara.
Sigue tu camino has expressive vocals, sumptuous orchestral keyboards and a blistering guitar solo. Busco en tu mirada has propulsive interplay, emotional dual vocals, and a moving harder-edged guitar solo, in a bombastic and compelling atmosphere.
A spacey electronic intro introduces Sé la verdad, followed by heavy guitar-driven section, that sumptuous orchestral Arabesca sound on synthesizer. The strong vocals give it an extra dimension. There is a wonderful final part with tender piano, celestial female vocals and a sensitive guitar solo, all culminating in accelerating bombast. Here be goose bumps!
Rock Andaluz is a bombastic mid-tempo song, featuring a heavy guitar solo with thunderous drums, bombastic keyboards, expressive vocals (by Randy Lopez, from Medina Azahara and Mezquita), and a sensational flashy synthesizer solo, evoking El suicidio by Mezquita. Marvellous track!
Back to some up-tempo heavy Prog Andaluz with blistering guitar runs on the title track. Halfway through, the music turns into a slow rhythm with a moving guitar solo and soaring keyboards. Another flashy and sultry sounding synthesizer solo. This is some spectacular Prog Andaluz.
Closing track Libertad is a typical Prog Andaluz, mid-tempo melodic rock song, like post-Eighties Medina Azahara, with expressive vocals and heavy guitar.