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0.720 Aleacion - 0.720 Aleacion

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0.720 Aleacion is an excellent album from the 1980's Mexican progressive rock scene. The album is loaded with influences from traditional Mexican folk(neither Mariachi or Banda that most people are familiar with) that I was not aware of until reading a little about the leader of the band. The musicians tend to jazz up their folk influences giving their music that progressive quality that we all enjoy.

Compositions: 9/10
Vocals(in Spanish): 8/10
Recording Quality: 7.5/10

Caja De Pandora - Caja De Pandora

If you are familiar with the Mexican prog scene from the 80s, you probably know that many of the bands produced music characterized by short, but intense, tracks ranging between 3 to 4 minutes in length. The music, for the most part, owed alot to Iconoclasta's first album and the quality also reached the levels of that incredible album. Caja De Pandora were no exception, and the band released an album of high-quality prog. Caja De Pandora rates up there with Iconoclasta's first album and Delerium's Primer Dialogo. The music here is quite intense and emphasizes energetic interplay between the guitarist and keyboardist. If you are a fan of any of the classic bands to come out of the Mexican prog scene, I'm sure you will enjoy this band.

Compositions: 8.5/10
Vocals(in Spanish): 8/10
Recording Quality: 8/10

Cast - Castalia

Cast are one of the top modern Mexican prog rock groups. Most of the musicians in the band today have been playing together for the past 20 years, but, thanks to the internet, Cast has built a loyal following around the world since the early 1990s. Cast are also quite prolific when it comes to album releases. They average a new album about every year, and have also put out numerous live and solo albums. Castalia is a new live album from a recent gig in Italy. It also ranks as one of the best Cast CDs I've heard. A few years ago I got a chance to see Cast play live in San Diego. That night I quickly realized that they were better live than in the studio. And this new CD proves that they have gotten tighter since the San Diego gig. Castalia consists mostly of newer material from the past 4 studio albums(although I'm not familiar with a couple of tracks). Alot of that material was rearranged into "medley" form, with a few tracks even sung in Spanish, for the Italian crowd. The new listener is quickly greeted with a busy form of symphonic prog that lightly tilts towards 80s neo-prog. The piano playing from Al Vidales stands out immediately. Al reminds me of the piano player from Locanda Delle Fate, due to the amount of notes coming from his fingers, yet, somehow, he adds depth to a composition without taking the spotlight. His synth work is really what reminds me of 80s neo-prog due to its bombastic nature. Vocalist Dino Brassea does a wonderful job live. Especially on the Spanish tracks. I've never had a problem with Dino's English vocals, but, man, the Spanish vocals are wonderful. The warmth, and confidence in his voice when he sings in Spanish is striking. I can't forget to mention drummer Antonio Bringas, who is one of best live drummers I've seen. For some reason, this musician's drum work doesn't stand out at all on the studio albums, but he is a different monster live. Instrumentally, these guys kick some serious ass. The amount of changes, time-signatures, and melodies during some of the instrumental passages is jaw-dropping. But most of the vocal sections might also only appeal to neo-prog fans. Overall, Castalia is Cast at their best. I would love to see them release more live albums like this that span most of their compositional catalog, and a totally Spanish studio album in 2002 would definitely be something to look forward to.

Delirium - Primer Dialogo

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Delirium released their excellent debut album in 1985. The music here reminds me of Iconoclasta(especially the guitarist, who has the same tone as the Ricardo Moreno), but these guys were determined to create something more intense. The tracks tend to be kept short and fast, and they feature multiple solos and classical-inspired duels(many times counterpoint) between the guitarist and keyboardist. A couple of the tracks also feature violin. My only complaint here is that the CD is very short, at 31-minutes of length. The music is quite good, but maybe a 2-for-1 CD with both Delirium albums would have been a better deal.

Compositions: 9/10
Vocals(none): N/A
Recording Quality: 7/10

Iconoclasta - Iconoclasta/Reminisciencias

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Iconoclasta's first album is one of the most influential albums from the Mexican prog scene. Bands like Delerium, Praxis, and Cast have based a least some of their sounds from Iconoclasta. For example, the fuzzy guitar-tone in bands like Delerium and Cast seem influenced by the electric guitar work on these two albums. Also, some of the compositional styles on Iconoclasta seem to have influenced albums like Primer Dialogo. I tend to prefer Iconoclasta's self-titled debut album over their second LP. The music on the first album tends to be intense, and low on repetition. Reminisciencias sounds a bit less inspired, features more repetition and less complexity. Anyway, this CD is a great deal, so you have 80-minutes of excellent prog rock to look forward to.

Compositions: 9.5/10
Vocals(in Spanish): 7.5/10
Recording Quality: 9/10

Praxis - La Eternidad De Lo Efimero

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La Eternidad De Lo Efimero is another great 80s Mexican prog album which features Ricardo Moreno from Iconoclasta. The music, as you might expect, is similar to Iconoclasta, but even more intense than Delirium. The guitar and keyboard duels are jaw-dropping, and the band never slows down for too long. Fans of 70s progressive rock might be bothered by the digital keyboards, but the music certainly makes up for the coldness of the digital synths. The drums also have an 80s sound that might bother some listeners. I sometimes imagine that if this album had been done with Moog synths, and Hammond organ, it would have been considered a minor masterpiece. Unfortunately, the 80s style sounds rather odd today. Rumor has it that this entire album was recorded live in a TV studio(possibly for a TV show). If that's the case, the musicians are proven virtuosos and not just studio whizzes.

Compositions: 9/10
Vocals(none): N/A
Recording Quality(1980s production sounds terrible today): 7/10