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(61 min, Luna Negra)
TRACK LIST: 1. Loas Albores 6:34 2. El Camino a Casa 4:12 3. Encuentros 5:42 4. Imakinacion 6:23 5. Triste Euforia 8:49 6. Sueno en la Noche 5:50 7. El Reino de la Nada 5:55 8. Recuerdos de Invierno 8:20 9. En Mi Voz 9:50 LINEUP: Ruben Garcia - keyboards Alvaro Garcia - guitar Alberto Mateos - bass Nacho Moran - guitar Arturo Gonzalez - drums
Prolusion. "El Profeta" ("The Prophet", I believe) is the debut CD by the Spanish quintet BIJOU. Their website is under construction, and the page with the band's bio is so far inaccessible.
Analysis. As in the case of Sympozion's "Kundabuffer", I perceive the subject of this review to be one of the finest debuts of the past year, the album being impressive not only for its exceptional originality and compositional intelligence, but also for the musicians' mastery. Besides, Bijou appears to be a group of broad-thinking men, for whom work within the framework of one single direction would probably be a sort of self-isolation. With ease, they manipulate several different progressive styles, now giving preference to one of them, then again bravely intermixing them in different variations. Without exaggeration, each of the instruments credited is a showcase instrument for Bijou, though most of all I am impressed with the performance skills of Ruben Garcia, who, I believe, is a classically trained pianist, and Alberto Mateos, whose bass lines are at times more intricate and compelling than guitar solos. That said, these guys are the primary masterminds in the band in addition, which becomes obvious already upon the first spin, without looking into the CD booklet for credits in the songwriting department. Well, it's one of the guitar players, Nacho Moran, who penned the second track. However, it would've been better if he'd had at least some help from his colleagues, because El Camino a Casa turns out to be the only relatively monochromatic track of the nine instrumentals, representing a 'metallized' Hard Rock - which is tasty and mesmerizing, but only semi-progressive in nature. As implied above, piano is the leading keyboard instrument, while the others, synthesizer and string ensemble, seldom come to the fore. The pieces composed primarily by Ruben Garcia: Loas Albores, Encuentros and Triste Euforia are in many ways close to our traditional conception of classic symphonic Art-Rock, although it would be pointless to search even for rough points of comparison in this case. Each piece has a few piano-laden classical-like interludes and is imbued with a magical flavor of Classical music in general, which remains manifest even when the band goes heavier. Sparkling melodies, complex rhythms and many more essential progressive features are inculcated within each, reflected in the fine textural and dynamic nuances and in the skillful interweavings of different instruments. El Reino de la Nada is Cathedral Metal (or progressive Doom Metal) lushly enriched with symphonic features rather than vice versa. Imakinacion and Recuerdos de Invierno are similar, but while the guitars and bass are also often in the lead, both for the most part display well-balanced arrangements for the whole ensemble. There also are emulated string instruments on the latter, giving a wonderful oriental piquancy to the music. Most of the tracks on the album are gems, but the mesmerizing power of Recuerdos de Invierno is overwhelming. It's like a never-heard-before Eastern fairytale with a dramatic, highly intriguing storyline. The remaining two compositions, Sueno en la Noche and En Mi Voz, are notably different from the others, but are equally impressive. Each has a unique combination of symphonic Space Rock and atmospheric Space Fusion in its basis, but the latter at times returns the listener to the Cathedral Metal realm in addition.
Conclusion. Bijou is definitely a band to watch in the future, and their "El Profeto" is quite close to the status of masterwork in my understanding, though I had to get over the first two tracks to come to this conclusion. In any event, I feel fully confident in highly recommending this album to anyone on a good footing with contrasting, stylistically polymorphous Progressive. Those exclusively into traditional, Genesis- or Yes-like, Art-Rock should look elsewhere.
VM: February 16, 2006
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