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(62 min, Musea)
TRACK LIST: 1. El Ausente 4:28 2. Kazmor 4:57 3. Mi Cancion-I 4:44 4. Lluvia Cosmica 7:19 5. Askgriglam 7:46 6. Yellenik 3:17 7. Inocentes Perdidos 3:04 8. Mi Cancion-II 2:12 9. Sudyenin 10:04 10. Tempestad 3:20 11. Mirando al Horizonte 3:05 12. Campanas al Viento 4:23 13. Volver 2:56 LINEUP (1 to 8): Marco Chacon - lead guitars; vocals Carlos Serga - rhythm guitars Arnoldo Serga - bass, acoustic guitar Guillermo Gonzalez - bass; flute; vocals Elena Prieto - vocals Laurcano Rangel - drums LINEUP (9 to 13): Guillermo Gonzalez - guitars; flute; vocals Arnoldo Serga - bass Jacinto Gonzalez - ac. guitar Jorge Ayala - drums; vocals Endyork Moroldo - keyboards Gabriel Adreu - violoncello
Prolusion. Venezuela's EQUILIBRIO VITAL (Vital Balance) has been in existence since the late '70s, the first period of their truly fruitful activity falling in the next decade, during which the outfit had time to release four albums - two on vinyl and two on cassette. After the death of the band's founder Marcos Chacon back in 2001, the other members found that the mission of Equilibrio Vital still wasn't fulfilled. So they've set themselves a task to reissue all four albums on CD with the addition of newly composed and recorded songs to each. The group's eponymous debut LP (1983) was the first in this series, though its expanded CD version (2003) has received a different title, "A Tribute to Marco Chacon". According to the band, the time of their two cassette creations, "The Human Heat" (1987) and "'90" (1990), is yet to come.
Analysis. The "Kazmor The Prisoner" LP was brought out in 1984 and featured eight tracks running about 40 minutes. Its second incarnation, now in the shape of a CD, contains five more pieces (those from 9 to 13 in the track list above), all of which were composed, performed and recorded in 2004 and 2005. Each of the sets, old and new, is musically a mixed bag where genuinely progressive works adjoin proto-progressive ones and even those AOR-like, though the number of such is little thankfully - two on the entire CD, only one of them being, say, radio-friendly throughout. This is Mi Cancion-I, a Rock ballad made with a simplistic 'verse-chorus' approach to the construction of a vocal storyline and, therefore, abundant in repetitions. That said, all ten of the songs on the CD (three tracks being instrumental) contain vocal sections that have an AOR feeling. However some vocal themes are supported by inventive instrumental passages, plus there are those that are diverse and interesting themselves, most of such being performed by the female singer Elena Prieto. Let me continue commenting on the other tracks from 1984, which is not only because they follow one another on the disc's first conditional half, but mainly due to the distinction between them and the new compositions, which is striking on many levels, though above all in style. On El Ausente, Inocentes Perdidos and Mi Cancion-II, the musicians combine traditional and proto-progressive Hard Rock, although their frequent use of odd meters make the songs' overall sound complicated enough so to perceive them in some better way. While being not too long in duration, Kazmor contains several instrumental interludes. This is definitely the best among the earlier songs, developing from acoustic guitar- and flute-driven Art-Rock to genuinely progressive Hard Rock bordering on Prog-Metal. The instrumental Yelenik is a kindred work, although the heavy component is much less distinct, plus there is some flavor of minstrel music. The interactions between flute and acoustic guitar remind me of those in Jethro Tull everywhere they are (also on a couple of new songs), but otherwise the music is beyond comparison to my understanding. Anyhow, my ears prompt:-) me Elena Prieto is the most original voice in this ensemble. She just works wonders while doing vocalizations on the other two instrumental pieces, Lluvia Cosmica and Askgriglam, the former being the band's magnum opus, at least judging by their first two albums. Well, these two are brilliant already compositionally, and nevertheless they would have lost some of their power without Elena's vocal extravaganza (sadly she is absent on the later songs.) The music remains within the idiom of Prog-Metal even at its most atmospheric, and by the way Lluvia Cosmica has something in common with classic Fates Warning, although the music of the American Prog-Metal heroes found its classic outlines two years after the appearance of this composition. The five recent songs, Sudyenin, Mirando al Horizonte, Tempestad, Campanas al Viento and Volver, all have a strong acoustic sense throughout and not even the slightest trace of heaviness so typical of the older stuff. Two endlessly dueling acoustic guitars form the progressive nucleus of each, either alone or in conjunction with flute (as is in the case of the former two). However, only the largely instrumental 10-minute Sudyenin can be regarded as a work of fully-fledged Art-Rock, while the others are just exquisite ballads in the end. The concluding track Volver features no drums. Finally I'd like to remark that two more musicians (a keyboardist and a cellist) are mentioned in the booklet in a way you'll think they're some of the primary musicians here until you hear the CD. I didn't include them in the lineup above, because their contribution to the sound approaches zero, figuratively speaking.
Conclusion. Having mentally counted all the pros and cons of this CD, I give it a 'good' rating, though if I were responsible for compiling it I'd have shortened its content almost by half. As it is, this is still rather curious material, so it comes recommended to the curious. Overall, Equilibrio Vital are comparable with their countrymen Ficcion, but are considerably inferior to another well-known Venezuelan ensemble Tempano.
VM: July 19, 2006
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