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TRACK LIST: 1. Hades 12:00 2. Legal Identity 3:40 3. El Quimerista I 2:36 4. Memory 7:46 5. Fire 14:54 6. El Quimerista II 5:10 7. Mirrors 7:51 8. Fragments of Light 3:11 9. El Quimerista III 2:21 10. Children Suite 11:58 All music: by Plaza, except 3, 6, & 9: Garcia. All lyrics: based on the poems by N. Engelke. LINE-UP: Carlos Plaza - string ensemble, piano, organ, - Mellotron, harpsichord; bass; drums Cesar Garcia - electric, acoustic, & classical guitars; - percussion; synthesizers Omar Acosta - flutes With: Carolina Prieto - vocals (on 1 & 8) & vocalizes (4) Juan Olmos - vocals (5) Produced by Plaza. Engineered by Garcia at "Kotebel Project".
Prolusion. Kotebel, which, in my honest opinion, is one of Spain's very best contemporary progressive outfits (along with >Amarok), is back with the new album "Fragments of Light". The reviews of the previous two albums by Kotebel can be read by clicking >here.
Synopsis. I don't know why the classically influenced, exclusively piano-based Children Suite has been divided into eight separate tracks (10 to 17), but I can't perceive it differently than as a single piece due to its clearly monolithic nature. Having taken this into account, I feel free to present the contents of the album as follows. The 72-minute "Fragments of Light" consists of ten tracks! Only three of them contain vocal parts with lyrics: Hades, Fire, and Fragments of Light (1, 5, & 8), but then, the first two of these are the longest tracks on the album. In any case, the presence of real songs here is a remarkable event, and not only because both of the previous Kotebel outputs are free of them. Carolina Prieto is such a brilliant operatic singer! Her wonderful voice is one of the brightest pearls in the crown of this album. Which is despite the fact that she sings on only three tracks: the aforementioned Hades and Fragments of Light, and also Memory (4), the only instrumental composition here that features vocalizes. Juan Olmos, who sings on Fire, is also an outstanding vocalist, even if his voice isn't operatic. Thus, the tracks featuring a voice as an additional instrument cover nearly a half of the CD playing space. This is of no consequence since the album is brilliant from the first note to the last. The music is highly complicated, yet, is immediately attractive. It is full of beauty and is intricate and eclectic, too. The sound is very rich and colorful, and the number of virtues of this recording is too large to list, as well as that of the instruments used here (see above, but you won't get the whole picture anyway). Most, if not all, of the contents of the third Kotebel album are linked with Classical Academic Music, and I salute multi-instrumentalist and composer Carlos Plaza and his band mates, guitarist Cesar Garcia and flutist Omar Acosta, for their ability to constantly transform the band's style. All three of the songs and two instrumental pieces: Legal Identity and Mirror (2 & 7) offer the listener a highly unique, outstandingly innovative and intriguing, dramatic, lushly-orchestrated Symphonic Art-Rock performed by dints of Classical Music, though of course, Hades and the album's title track contain also elements of Opera. Besides, each of the said tracks contains a few episodes of a pure Chamber Music, which, in its turn, is what Memory is about it in its entirety (at least instrumentally). The first and the third parts of El Quimerista (3, 6, & 9), composed by Garcia, represent an intricate guitar Art-Rock with elements of Symphonic Progressive, and part II consists of up-tempo, constantly developing interplay between passages and solos of classical guitar. This is one of the best acoustic guitar-based pieces ever composed and performed in the history of Progressive Rock.
Conclusion. I see I have to once again update my >Top-20 for 2003, as Kotebel's "Fragments of Light" isn't a mere masterpiece. The music is so profound and impressive that most of the Titans of Prog would've been happy if they had created something like this after their heyday became part of the past.
VM: February 25, 2004
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