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Contraluz - 2011 - "Novus Orbis"

(49:55, Contraluz)


****+
                 

TRACK LIST:

1.  La Manopillacion 6:48
2.  Cajita de Musica 10:22
3.  Llename de Sol 6:06
4.  Trexon 7:37
5.  El M?a Mespues 7:02
6.  O?dos en el Mlma 8:26
7.  Decime Mapa por Mue 8:00
8.  Hijos de America 10:29
9.  Vamos Molviendo a Masa 6:57

LINEUP:

Carlos Barrio  guitars; flute
Nestor Barrio - drums, percussion
Jaime Fernandez Madero  vocals; keyboards
Freddy Prochnick  bass 

Prolusion. The Argentinean act CONTRALUZ was formed way back in 1969, and with their debut effort "Americanos" in 1973 they were among the first Argentinean bands to utilize folk music influences in a progressive rock setting. Due to that they are generally regarded as pioneers and regarded as highly influential for the following bloom of Argentinean and South American progressive rock bands. "Novus Orbis" is their third full-length production since they reformed around the beginning of the millennium.

Analysis. Dealing with bands that have a certified veteran status and that are held in high esteem for glories past can be challenging. Not due to the artists themselves, as they tend to be both humble and understanding, but due to the expectations you have as a listener when approaching their latest productions. Many artists of this kind will be held ransom, to some extent, to their most influential productions, fans and critics alike expecting music that mirrors their most well-known creations in sound, quality or both: expectations that are hard to live up to, especially when a lot of time goes by. In the case of Contraluz I'll have to admit that they were an unknown entity to me, but a bit of research showed that for others this will be a familiar name, perhaps more from description than experience. At least that often seems to be the case for artists with one well-known album to their name issued many years ago and often only available to a restricted area at that time. Musically we're dealing with a band that draws the majority of their cues from folk music and symphonic art rock, with something of a foundation in themes sporting a gentle, mellow sound. The piano and acoustic guitar are used extensively throughout, with lead and backing vocals on top for sparsely textured arrangements with subtle applications of instrumental textures. Not always the dominating trait of the individual track, but on most occasions they function as the main familiar, recurring element, used as the point of entry for compositions sporting sophisticated thematic developments as well as for those that have been crafted with a more subtle approach sporting gradual instrumental additions and nuanced alterations in expression. Flute and accordion cater quite nicely to the folk part of their sound, utilized as dominating instruments in the mellower parts just as much as nuance providers in the movements featuring richer instrumental arrays. The latter is mostly dominated by harmonic guitar and keyboard interactions, which include a fair amount of guitar solos and organ motifs of the kind that should please fans of 70's symphonic art rock. Contraluz does focus on the pleasant and harmonic variety of that sound when they explore it however and, as such, this album should appeal to fans of acts like Camel to a greater extent than to those who prefer the likes of Emerson, Lake & Palmer. When that is said, there's a fair bit of material here that does shy away from the symphonic part of the art rock universe too, limiting that part of their repertoire to brief inserts and dramatic effects, focusing on the flute- and accordion-driven themes instead. Due to that, an appreciation of progressive folk rock in general and the South American variety of it in particular is needed to be able to enjoy this album.

Conclusion. "Novus Orbis" is the fourth full-length production from this semi-legendary Argentinean band, and is a fine display of melodic progressive rock incorporating the musical legacies of folk music and symphonic art rock into a seamless whole; perhaps lacking a bit of an edge material-wise and arguably a tad too pleasant and safe for some, but a finely-crafted creation nonetheless. In particular for those fond of easy-to-grasp melodies and harmonic arrangements set within a fairly sophisticated framework.

OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: December 2, 2011
The Rating Room


Related Links:

Contraluz


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