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Kotebel (Spain)
Overall View


Discography:

1999 - "Structures" (49 min, "Tritono")
*****+

2002 - "Mysticae Visiones" (50 min, "Musea")
******


1999 - "Structures"
(49 min, "Tritono")
*****+

1. Structure-1 6:27
2. Structure-2 5:35
3. Structure-3 8:00
4. Structure-4 4:05
5. Structure-5 11:04
6. Structure-6 7:02
7. Structure-7 6:40

All tracks composed, arranged,
engineered, & produced by Kotebel.
Orchestral arrangements by Carlos Plaza Vegas.

Solo Pilot:

Carlos G "Kotebel" Plaza Vegas:
- Synthesizers, acoustic piano, & string ensemble 
- Bass guitar 
- Percussion; MIDI-drums 
- Harp 

Guest Navigator:
- Omar Acosta - flute 

Helpful Passengers:
- Carlos Franco (ethnic percussion) 
- Adriana Plaza (tambourine)

Prologue. As it happened, I've listened to the second Kotebel CD prior to their first (see review below). Certainly, it doesn't much matter, and now, I am going to review the debut album by Carlos Plaza Vegas, whose project is named Kotebel.

The Album. Sometimes, the sound (only!) of Kotebel's "Structures", which is a distinctly original album, can remind one of Rick Wakeman's "The Myth & Legends of King Arthur & the Knights of the Round Table". However, I should warn the fans of the latter work (and the likes) that "Structures" features a more complex music. Compositionally, "Structures" is more complex than even "Trilogy" by ELP, for instance. It's because of most of the tracks on this album consists of two musical (stylistic, to be precise) dimensions. One of them represents a pure Classical Music where there are no repetitions, and another is about Classic Symphonic Art-Rock where some repetitions are just necessary, as always. The alternation of the parts of Classical Music, most of which were performed without Rock instruments (excepting a bass guitar), and those of Classic Symphonic Progressive Rock is typical for three out of the four pieces consisting of mixed textures. And these are all three of the first tracks on the album. The only difference between each of these three pieces and Structures-5 (should I mention here and everywhere in this review, which is the track that corresponds to the corresponding (oh!) part of Structures?) is the absence of any alternations. In other words, the first half of Structures-5 is entirely dedicated to Classical Music, and the second half it… I believe that you understand which words I should have finished the previous sentence with, though it's clear that I would have put there by no means so many words that this very sentence consists of. (Outrage is the word, - yet another superfluous word. My inner voice is already bowling: "Stop talking rot!" Okay, okay…) Structures-4 is a piece of a pure Classical Music marked with the constant development of the arrangements that consist of diverse interplay between passages of piano and synthesizer and lushly orchestrated movements of string ensemble. Although there are many of the lush keyboard passages on both of the remaining compositions on the album, it seems to me that a string ensemble (ARP?) was not used in them. Especially since the music that is present on both of the sixth and seventh parts of Structures is entirely (at least almost entirely) about a real, complex and hard-edged, Classic Symphonic Progressive, as well as all of the Art-Rock parts of the pieces that consist of mixed structures, though. Of course, all the 'classical parts' on the album, including Structures-4 as a whole, were composed and performed by the laws of Classical Music (though today, this term should sound as Classical Academic Music). Apart from the truly masterful performance in general, each of the Art-Rock parts that are featured on the album contains the complete set of those essential progressive ingredients that are typical for Classic Symphonic Progressive. A wide variety of effective and, often, contrasting interplay between fast and virtuosi solos of synthesizers, thoughtful solos of bass guitar, and beautiful passages of piano are present on all of the album's tracks. All of this, raised to the power of rich orchestral arrangements, is featured on the first, second, third, and fifth parts of Structures. (The performing features of Structures-4 I've already described.) A flute is absent only on the first two tracks on the album. But then, the solos of flute, along with those of synthesizers and passages of acoustic piano, are the brightest colors of musical palettes of all of the other compositions. The passages of electric piano and very specific (amazing!) sounds of harp can be heard on Structures-2. Soft interplay between passages of harp and flute, as well as solos of ethnic percussive instruments, are a noticeable part of the arrangements on Structures-7. A few of the excellent solos of electric guitar just cannot be unnoticed on the next to last track on the album, and the hollow sound of tambourine on Structures-2.

Summary. It was a wise decision to release exactly such an album as "Structures" first. Being slightly more accessible than "Mysticae Visiones", "Structures" is nothing else but an essential stage to comprehend Kotebel's further ProGductions - for those who feel they're already ready* to become the connoisseurs of extremely complex music. (*Yet, another couple of consonant words! Where they did appear from, after all? Well, I'd better say the next.) In other words, the appearance of highly complex "Structures" before extremely complex "Mysticae Visiones" was not only justified, but also necessary. It was by all means a right step. Thus, first of all, "Structures" comes highly recommended to the lovers of Classic Symphonic Progressive. I however, would have called this album "Prospection".

VM. August 28, 2002

Musea Records


2002 - "Mysticae Visiones"
(50 min, "Musea")
******

Tracklist:
1. Mysticae Visiones 35:48:
a) Prologue (4-53)
b) Birth & Childhood - The Discovery (2-27)
c) Youth - The Dream (2-09)
d) Manhood - The Construction (1-34)
e) Reflection (1-34)
f) Death (2-35)
g) Transition (3-39)
h) Meditation (5-04)
i) First Heaven - Punishment (3-43)
j) Second Heaven - Reward (3-20)
k) Third Heaven - The Beckoning (1-37)
l) Epilogue (2-54)
2. The River 14:55

All tracks written, arranged, & produced
by Carlos Plaza.

Line-up:

Carlos Plaza - keyboards & piano, bass, percussion
Cesar Garcia - guitars
Francisco Ochando - cello
Omar Acosta - flute
Carolina Prieto - vocalizes

Recorded, mixed, & mastered by Kotebel
at "Kotebel's Project" studio, Spain.

Prologue. "Mysticae Visiones" is the second album by Kotebel. I haven't heard their debut album "Structures", though the reviews that I read of it were very positive.

The Album. Not looking at the display of the CD player, it is most often impossible to fix a moment of the beginning of a new part of Mysticae Visiones. So I wonder why on the CD, this monolithic piece was divided into twelve separate tracks. (By the way, in the CD booklet, the album's track list looks like that, which is featured in this review.) In fact, we have only two long tracks on this album and both of them were created within the framework of a unified stylistics, the best description of which would probably be the next. On the whole, this is nothing else but a blend of Classical Academic Music and Classic Symphonic Art-Rock with a few of the elements of Prog-Metal and Avant-garde Academic Music. However, two parts of the album's title-track represent a pure Classical Music without any mixtures. These are Birth & Childhood - The Discovery & Youth - The Dream (tracks 1-b & 1-c). A pure blend of Classical Academic Music and Classic Symphonic Progressive is presented on the following parts of Mysticae Visiones: Manhood - The Construction, Death, Meditation, Second Heaven - Reward, and Epilogue (d, f, h, j, & l). The same stylistics, but with the elements of Prog-Metal, is featured on Prologue, Reflections, Transition, First Heaven - Punishment, and Third Heaven - The Beckoning (a, e, g, i, & k). Two of these compositions contain also the atonalities that are typical for Avant-garde Academic Music: Transition, and First Heaven - Punishment (i & k). I was amazed to hear very hard-nosed solos of saxophone on Transition, Meditation, and Second Heaven - Reward (parts g, h, j), while this instrument doesn't figure in the list of the equipment that was used on this album. The main soloing instruments on Mysticae Visiones are an acoustic piano, 'synthetic' yet truly sounding string ensemble, and electric guitar. The excellent, diverse and masterful, rhythm-section, all of the parts of which were manually performed on keyboards (in which I am almost sure), aren't featured only on Youth - The Dream, Death, and Epilogue (c, f, l). The passages of cello are clearly heard on Prologue, Birth & Childhood - The Discovery, Youth - The Dream, and Transition (a, b, c, j). The solos of flute are always distinctively noticeable. They are on Prologue, Manhood - The Construction, Transition, and Second Heaven - Reward (a, d, g, j). Surprisingly enough, only the first two parts (a, b) of the album's title track contain the passages of acoustic guitar. The keyboard backgrounds ("pillows"), as well as really notable solos of synthesizers, are present only on the longer compositions with the large-scaled arrangements: Prologue, Transition, Meditation, and First Heaven - Punishment (a, g, h, i). Stylistically, the second and the last track on the album, The River, represents a blend of Classic Symphonic Progressive and both of the European and Asian Classical Music. On The River, I once again hear the instrument, which is not accredited in the instrumental equipment of this album. And this is more than merely an exotic instrument with a very specific sound. The solos of Japanese Koto and their interplay with the parts of the other soloing instruments (flute, electric and acoustic guitar, piano, and synthesizer) are the nucleus of The River, the musical waters of which are full of wonderful Eastern colors. Filled with the diverse and truly hard-edged arrangements of Classic Progressive Rock, all of which flow to the accompaniment of the tight work of the rhythm-section, this composition is in my view even a bit more impressive than Mysticae Visiones.

Summary. In my opinion, such a complex and distinctively specific album as Kotebel's "Mysticae Visiones" should have been released on Musea's sub-label Gazul, which was formed especially for releasing the works of "New Music". Really, until now, almost all of the albums that are related to Neo Classical Music, new forms of RIO, etc were released through Gazul, but not through Musea itself. Well, it doesn't matter much, after all. Finally, I can suggest to you that, "stylistically" speaking, such a polymorphous music that is presented on this album masterpiece is, of course, nothing else but Fifth Element. Or, maybe, you'd prefer to define it with a bulky phrase that I used above to describe its stylistic constituents? "A blend of Classical Academic Music and Classic Symphonic Art-Rock with the elements of Prog-Metal and Avant-garde Academic Music." I doubt that such elephant-like sentences as the latter would ever be used to classify progressive bands by the genres.

VM. April 17, 2002


Related Links:

Musea Records


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