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TRACK LIST: 1. A Model to Build 9:37 (J. Alvarez) 2. Ochre Blue 4:14 (A. Marquez) 3. Suite Antonia-1 2:11 (E. S. Millan) 4. Suite Antonia-2 7:25 (=) 5. Banda One 7:33 (R. Morales) 6. Three Pieces-1 4:28 (H. Paredes) 7. Three Pieces-2 1:18 (=) 8. Three Pieces-3 3:30 (=) 9. Allen Toy 5:51 (G. Ortiz) LINE-UP: Juan Alzate - saxophones David Barret - saxophones Guillermo Portillo - flutes & saxophones Guillermo Gonzales - electric & acoustic guitar Sosimo Hernandez - bass Luis Migeul Costero - drums & tabla Jose Navarro - marimbas & percussion Produced by Navarro. Recorded mainly by A. Gamah at "Hangar". Mixed by Navarro & Gonzales at "Churubusco Azteca".
Prolusion. "Ai Tencargo"(Leaving It to You), Banda Elastica's sixth official release, is their first album in six years and consists of pieces written by several of Mexico's contemporary composers especially for the group. Previous albums: "Banda Elastica" (1985), "Banda Elastica II" (1990), "Los Awakates De Nepantla" (1994), "Maquizcoatl" (1996), and "Catalogo Del Tiraderos" (1997). The latter of them is also > reviewed on ProgressoR.
Synopsis. Although I've heard only two albums by Banda Elastica, I am almost sure that the band follows the same style (which is definitely their own and highly unique) already for many years, if not from the start. In this context I am basing the fact that "Catalogo del Tiraderos" is stylistically quite a uniform album which represents a compilation of unreleased tracks and outtakes from a few of the band's previous outputs. And although the new Banda Elastica album is at every respect better than its predecessor, the band's general musical direction remains unchanged on it - at least on the whole. The interpretation of the band's style as free jazz is groundless, to put it mildly, and is the result of either the reluctance or, which is more likely, inability to grasp the essence of it. In fact, Banda Elastica's creation is dedicated to incorporating Classic RIO with Classic Jazz-Fusion, Avant-garde Jazz-Fusion, and Jazz Classical Music. Henry Cow worked in a similar way, and their last (and best, in my view) album "Western Culture" is one of the earliest and brightest examples of jazzy RIO with wind instruments, among others. (Whereas such bands as Univers Zero and Present unite RIO with Avant-garde Academic Music.) If not counting the ritual-like vocalizes on track 8, "Ai Tencargo" is a full instrumental album, five out of the nine compositions on which are about that unique confluence of RIO and Jazz-Fusion, which is the 'trademark' of the band's creation. These are A Model to Build, Ochre Blue, Suite Antonia-2, Banda One, and Allen Toy (1, 2, 4, 5, & 9), though the first of them features also some quantity of elements of Minimalist and ethnic music. With the exception of Banda One, which has a couple of 'atmospheric' episodes, all of these consist of quite intensive and highly eclectic arrangements that are always in the state of constant development. In such a specific music as that of Banda Elastica, all the involved instruments (marimba, saxophones, flutes, electric, acoustic, and bass guitars, and drums) are at the forefront of the musical events, so the sound is always rich and polyphonic. Suite Antonia-1 (3), which is actually an intro to Banda One, and all three of the parts of Three Pieces (6 to 8) quite notably differ from the other compositions on the album. Mysterious and very imaginative, the music on each of these pieces represents a highly innovative and, unexpectedly, very successful combination of RIO and Space Rock and opens new perspectives for the further development of the most adventurous forms of contemporary progressive music.
Conclusion. Undoubtedly, Banda Elastica is one of the most unusual and original RIO bands ever existed in the history of Progressive. Their music is incredibly complex and, at the first listen, may seem to be indigestible - especially for Symphonic Prog lovers. But if you're generally into RIO and are adequate enough to appreciate any manifestations of the genre, you'll quickly comprehend that "Ai Tencargo" is just your taste.
VM: October 2, 2003
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