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(46:33, Union Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Las Semillas 4:14 2. Algo Se Mueve 4:38 3. Galapagos 4:29 4. En la Galaxia 4:58 5. Lucia 3:44 6. El Rompehielos 5:25 7. Un Vasallo 5:11 8. Tal Vez de Otro Planeta 4:25 9. Soles 5:07 10. Diarios 4:13 LINEUP: Sebastian Antola – guitars; lead vocals Alejo Urbani – bass; backing vocals Guillermo Wiemeyer – drums; b/v
Prolusion. GALAPAGOS hail from Argentina. Since this disc arrived with no supporting material, I had to visit the band’s website to learn that, formed in 2003, it has always been a trio and that “1979” is their first studio album (composed and recorded in 2004 and released the next year), a precursor to the Galapagos CD of the same name from November 2007. Thank you for appreciating my getting this info without understanding Spanish :-).
Analysis. So, “1979” is not the reissue of some mysterious LP by some obscure outfit from the ‘70s, though personally I was certain of that from the outset, and even more so after I listened to this disc, which happened before I discovered a link to its makers’ website in the booklet. A lot of new bands from all over the world take their inspiration from English Rock music, and Galapagos is no exception to this rule. It would only be interesting to know why they decided to entitle the recording “1979”, since for the most part it sounds several years older, suggesting the very beginning of the decade. There are no instrumentals among the ten tracks here, but four of the songs are proto-progressive in nature. The sole tune with a sense of the mid-‘70s, the disc’s opener Las Semillas reminds me of an average track from “Fly by Night”, the second recording by Rush, who in turn began as a Led Zeppelin-style band, as evinced on their self-titled debut. With the most detectable influences from early Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, the other three – Galapagos, El Rompehielos and Soles – are heavy almost throughout. All being my personal favorites, these are very solid hard rock creations, only lacking the magic that makes those two bands, well, just what they are. By saying this, I first of all take a poke at Sebastian Antola, who shows himself as a quite resourceful guitar player, but doesn’t shine as a vocalist. Since the lyrics are in Spanish, the vocals are the recording’s only constituent that’s at least partly linked with the trio’s native ethos. So Sebastian’s singing would’ve been the most original voice in this show if it wasn't too ordinary and featureless alike to add any peculiarity to the overall sound. Four more songs, Algo Se Mueve, Tal Vez de Otro Planeta, En la Galaxia and Diarios, blend together classic standard as well as proto-progressive Hard Rock, AOR and balladic stuff. With the guitars, bass and drums all still taking the English cultural air, each of these represents a sort of collective image of early ‘70s British Rock music with a sound that comes across as fairly original and comparable to a wide variety of other bands at once. None contain openly straightforward moves, but anyway, all are inferior to the previously described four tracks, owing to a greater degree exactly to their mixed nature, resulting in a smaller quantity of arrangements that are energetic in all senses. The remaining songs, Lucia and Un Vasallo, both basically consist of straight-ahead Rock / AOR, though the instrumental postlude of the latter track is both fairly long and impressive.
Conclusion. Despite treading a more than merely well covered terrain and showing no original qualities, these South American archeologists aren’t yet another wannabe, sounding derivative for the most part only in terms of style. Unlike a lot of their contemporaries, whose only purpose seems to become the next Genesis, Deep Purple etc and so on, Galapagos indeed remind me of some obscure outfit from the epoch when ideas were just in the air and when probably nobody borrowed anything from anyone else. Nonetheless it’s beyond me why so many modern bands choose, so to speak, retro as their style, Hard Rock in particular, especially since many of the genre’s originators are still alive and active.
VM: May 11, 2008
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