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TRACK LIST: 1. Ars Longa Vita Brevis 5:09 2. Roma Atomica 8:59 3. Pinky's Boogie 3:11 4. Reddish Bonfire 3:39 5. Sierra Maestra 1:58 6. Saara 5:07 7. Trianon 3:12 8. San Francisco Bay 2:04 9. Ismalia 3:02 10. Danca das Aguas 8:33 All tracks: by G Haddad, except 7 & 9: L Haddad, 3: Pelissari. LINE-UP: Gustavo Haddad - vocals; keyboards Leandro Haddad - guitars; vocals Paulo Pelissari - lead guitars Sergio Melo - drums Rubinho - bass With: Zezito - sax (on a few tracks) Arranged & produced by G & L Haddad. Engineered by K. Miranda.
Prolusion. HADDAD has become part of the contemporary progressive scene long before I got an opportunity to listen to their music. This Brazilian band existed since 1992, and "Ars Longa Vita Brevis" is their sixth album already. (Well, its title sounds too familiar, but I doubt the guys have even heard of the 'ancient' album of the same name by The Nice.) For more info on the band and its discography, please use a link to their website below the review.
Synopsis. Although Haddad's music isn't very complex from a 'classic' progressive standpoint, it has nothing to do with Neo, and what's most important, it is very well thought-out and is free of any influences. In other words, the band's sound doesn't remind me of anyone's, and it's always good to any upholder of originality like myself. The album contains four songs and six instrumental compositions, one of which is strikingly distinguished from all of the others. This is Pinky's Boogie (3), a very emotional piece consisting of fast and highly virtuosi solos and passages of acoustic guitar. Brilliant stuff! While there are two guitarists in the band's lineup, various keyboards, including a string ensemble, predominate almost everywhere on the album, and most compositions have a lush, pronounced symphonic sound. A dramatic Art-Rock with elements of classical music blended with what I would define as just a classically influenced Symphonic Art-Rock is the style of the longest four tracks here: the songs Ars Longa Vita Brevis and Roma Atomica (1 & 2) and the instrumental pieces Saara and Danca das Aguas (6 & 10). There also are the bits of Jazz-Fusion on the first two and the latter of them, which is exclusively due to the contributions that a guest saxophonist made to them. The rich orchestral arrangements in general and the sounds of various chamber instruments in particular are typical for each of the said tracks. Gustavo Haddad is an excellent keyboard player, though most of all, I am impressed with his classically inspired, highly masterful playing piano. The music on each of the remaining five tracks is more accessible than that on the longer compositions, but is still original, beautiful, and very artistic. Reddish Bonfire and Ismalia (4 & 9) represent Symphonic Art-Rock in pure form, and Sierra Maestra, Trianon, and San Francisco Bay (5, 7, & 8) with some elements of Jazz-Fusion provided by the solos sounding not unlike those of vibraphone. The latter three are instrumental pieces, and they are a bit more to my taste than the songs, both of which are vocal heavy and contain quite a few repetitions.
Conclusion. Haddad's "Ars Longa Vita Brevis" is an album where special emphasis is laid on composition. So if you expect a hard-edged and intricate Prog, you should look elsewhere. While those looking for a warm, heartfelt, and picturesque music, can bravely check it out and put on the headphones.
VM: April 22, 2004
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