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Congreso - Gira Al Sur

Click on the album cover to hear a RealAudio sample.

Comments:
Congresso's career spans 30-years, and the band is rather well-known in Chile. With 14 albums behind them, Gira Al Sur is a long-lost live recording from their 1987 tour. Now, one would think that by 1987 a 1970s prog band would have completely given up on complex song-structures and fancy playing, but these guys were still firmly within the prog genre. The sound-quality of the recording is excellent, and the listener is quickly treated to musical interaction by a rather large band. The musicians tend to mix prog, jazz, modern classical, improvisation, Andean folk, latin rock, and pop into a catchy, and optimistic sound. We find the traditional bass, guitar, and drums augmented by flute, clarinet, marimba, piano, and various local instruments. Try to imagine the Pogues if they were originally from Chile, and were less inclined to pop. Overall, this 70+ minute CD is recommended to those exploring the South American experimental/prog rock scene. A couple tracks drag a bit here and there, but this was an excellent concert performed by an impressive group of musicians.

Compositions: 9/10
Vocals(in Spanish): 8/10
Recording Quality: 9/10



Los Jaivas - Alturas De Macchu Picchu

Click on the album cover to hear a RealAudio sample.

Comments:
What would it sound like if you combined symphonic prog with Andean folk influences? Well, Alturas De Macchu Picchu by Los Jaivas answers that question. This album is an incredible find for anyone who enjoys both progressive rock and traditional Peruvian, and Chilean, folk music. If you can imagine electric guitars, bass, drums, piano, and the Moog interacting with instruments like the cuatro, quena, and zamponia then you're in for a treat. Alturas... combines epic-length symphonic prog tracks, with shorter traditional Andean songs. In my opinion, the keyboardist really stands out when playing acoustic piano. He tends to mix pentatonic-based melodies with local rhythms, yet those melodies sound closer to Chinese classical folk more than American blues, or Eastern European folk. His style is unique in the world of rock. The other musicians are equally impressive, but I think most listeners will focus in on the excellent vocals. Anyway, this is one of the top 5 prog rock albums to come out of South America.

Compositions: 10/10
Vocals(in Spanish): 9/10
Recording Quality: 8/10


Los Jaivas - Cancion Del Sur/Acongagua

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Comments:
Here we have a 2-on-1 CD consisting of Cancion Del Sur and Aconcagua from Los Jaivas. These albums came out before(Cancion Del Sur) and after(Aconcagua) the band's classic Alturas De Macchu Picchu. Alturas De Macchu Picchu is well-known to most prog collectors as an album that mixes symphonic progressive rock with local Andean folk influences, and instruments. The music is stunning, and unique in the world of rock. These two albums, though, are a bit different, yet still of interest to most prog collectors. The listener is treated to a musical voyage through various Indian cultures in South and even North America. Andean melodies and rhythms appear on most of the tracks, but the band also explores American Indian music, folkloric music from Mexico, and African polyrhythms common in parts of South America. Although the symphonic-prog influences found on Alturas... are harder to find here, these two albums are still quite complex. Cancion Del Sur starts off with a sound similar to Alturas De Macchu Picchu. The pentatonic piano lines, emotional electric guitar work, and melodic singing are intact, but, the band soon starts to explore local Indian sounds, and moods. The energy level here is also mellow and sad, in a way. Aconcagua is easily my favorite album out of the two. The energy level is increased again as the band focuses on combining Andean folk(except for one track that explores Mexican trumpet music) with a bit of the old prog spirit. Each track features multiple parts, counterpoint, memorable themes, and catchy singing within rather short song structures(except for the last 10-minute track). Overall, this CD is quite a deal and comes highly recommended.

Compositions: 9/10
Vocals(in Spanish): 8/10
Recording Quality: 9/10


Los Jaivas - Obras De Violeta Parra

Click on the album cover to hear a RealAudio sample.

Comments:
Los Jaivas struck gold with their 1984 release, Obras De Violeta Parra. This mature prog album features the band in top shape, and free from any 1980s-related influence. One would think that by 1984, a prog band would have toned down their experimental nature for something more commercial, but Los Jaivas decided to become even more progressive. F--- off MTV, these guys could have cared less about the cold one-hit wonders that you were promoting at the time. Obras... takes elements from Modern classical(Bartok, and Ravel especially), 70s sympho-prog, Andean and Spanish folk, and is light-years away from their well-known classic, Alturas De Macchu Picchu. At first, I couldn't really hear the Peruvian/Chilean folk influences in the music, but then realized that these influences were naturally combined with the overt prog/modern classical sound featured in the music. The band, of course, still enjoyed to play catchy Andean/Spanish pop-folk, but the overall emphasis here is on seriously complex music. 6 of the tracks here range between 8 to 11 minutes each. The rest of the tracks are between 1-5 minutes, adding up to a double-LP sized album that today fits on one CD. If you've been interested in Los Jaivas I would recommend Alturas... as a great place to start. But if you are ready for some serious prog with modern classical influences, and a friendly South American sound, you will be in for a treat.

Compositions: 10/10
Vocals(in Spanish): 10/10
Recording Quality: 10/10


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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