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Tracklist: 1. Casapuerta 7:48 2. El Vals de Los Duendos 9:57 3. Ronda de las Dunas 10:55 4. Rompeolas 7:21 5. Como la Noche y el Dia 6:56 6. Charco la Rana 5:46 7. Faro de Trafalgar 2:55 8. Mexicali 4:16 All tracks: by Omni. Line-up: Jose Luis Adaba - bass guitar Pepe Torres - flutes & saxophones Alberto Marquez - keyboards Michael Starry - lead guitar Salvador Velez - rhythm guitar (+ backing vocals - on 2) Ismael Colon - drums & percussion With: Rocio Pina - vocals (on 2 & 4) Produced by Omni. Recorded & mixed by Ricardo Rodriguez at "La Bodega" studio, Jerez de la Frontera, Spain.
Prologue. "El Vals de los Duendos" ("The Waltz of the Little Elves") is the second album by the Spanish band Omni. Eleven years passed by since the band released their debut album on LP. To read the review of its CD version, click here.
The Album. Nothing changed about the music of Omni with years. As before, on "El Vals de los Duendos", this band presents a very nice, melodious, and instantly accessible Symphonic Progressive. On this album, I noticed only Camel's influences. They, however, are slight rather than significant and are really evident only in some of the lead guitar solos. Overall, "The Waltz of the Little Elves" is an album of a unified stylistic concept, though there are a few of the little differences between compositions that are featured on it. Precisely half of the tracks of this album, Casapuerta, Charco la Rana, Faro de Trafalgar, and Mexicali (1, 6, 7, & 8), are about a rather original, yet, at the same time, traditional Neo Symphonic Progressive. The last of these, Mexicali, features Spanish and Latin American flavors, most of which were reproduced by various percussion instruments. Faro de Trafalgar (7) is also a melodious and accessible piece, though at the same time, this is the only composition on the album that is out of its predominant stylistics. It features only passages of flute and solos of hand percussion instruments. All four of the remaining tracks, El Vals de Los Duendos, Ronda de las Dunas, Rompeolas, and Como la Noche y el Dia (2, 3, 4, & 5), are the core of this album (in all senses). Each of them is way richer in the so-called progressive ingredients than any of the aforementioned compositions. The arrangements that are present on each of these four pieces are typical for both the Classic and Neo manifestations of Symphonic Art-Rock. Ronda de las Dunas and Rompeolas (2 & 4) are the only compositions on the album that contain the vocal parts (in Spanish), both of which, though, are very short. But then, the instrumental arrangements that are featured on these and the other two core tracks of the album are truly large-scaled and not only. While Como la Noche y el Dia (5) is about a purely 'European sort' of Symphonic Art-Rock, all three of the other best compositions of this album are rich in different ethnic colors. Rompeolas (4), as well as both of the closing tracks of the album, has a Spanish feel to it. While El Vals de Los Duendos and Ronda de las Dunas (2 & 3) are, in my view, the absolute winners. Both of them are just filled with distinct flavors of East and feature the most intriguing arrangements. Michael Starry is a good guitarist, but the technique of his main partner in interplay, keyboardist Alberto Marquez, is higher. However, the most capable and virtuosi musicians on this album are bassist Jose Luis Adaba and saxophonist Pepe Torres. Despite the merits of this production, the uninspiring, straightforward, and rather monotonous drumming of Ismael Colon is actually the only serious drawback of this album. As for Salvador Velez, it was really curious to hear the rhythm guitar on the album of Symphonic Progressive.
Summary. Being both definitely progressive and instantly accessible, Omni's "El Vals de los Duendos" should please a large audience and, thus, get a major commercial success, which is more than merely essential for small progressive labels. Also, unlike lots of the wannabe bands, Omni play a rather original and by all means tasteful music which can become a real revelation for hundreds of the Prog lovers on their way to comprehending the more complex forms of progressive music. All in all, this is in many ways a useful album, to say the least.
VM. July 19, 2002
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