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(74 min, Rock Symphony / Musea Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Vega 9:13 2. Vindima E Ventania 4:15 3. Copla 4:47 4. Balada Outonal 5:15 5. A Sagracao Do Outono 4:04 6. Amanhecer 4:48 7. Danca Ao Crepusculo 3:24 8. Milonguita 3:55 9. Incenso E Chuva 13:01 10. No Inverno 3:29 11. Todas as Estacoes 4:17 12. Geracao Perdida 4:33 13. Pocos E Nuvens 8:50 LINEUP: Gerson Werlang – el. & ac. guitars; flute; voice Savio Werlang – keyboards, accordion; voice Edgar Sleifer – el. guitar; voice Iva Giracca – violin; voice Chico Gonsalves – bass; voice Rodrigo Bernardon – drums, percussion
Prolusion. Hailing from Brazil, POCOS E NUVENS was formed in 1996. Two years later the band released its debut CD “Anovelozoutono Adentro”, which was followed by “Provincia Universo” in 2002. “Clouds on the Road” is their first live album, recorded in the Rio de Janeiro area in 2005, seven years before it was officially released.
Analysis. According to the CD info sheet, the band’s main influences are Yes and Djam Karet, which I find irrelevant, especially in the latter case. The wide palate of instrumentation, including a few analog keyboards, guitars, flute and violin, gives the overall feel reminders of bands like PFM, early Camel and ‘80s Jethro Tull. Working from what is essentially classic symphonic Art-Rock of a moderate complexity, often with a strong ‘70s feel, the group embellishes their material with numerous changes and interesting twists in the arrangements along with many melodic hooks, and they never pass an opportunity to rock when their songs call for it. Well, three of the thirteen tracks presented, Vega, Pocos E Nuvens and Incenso E Chuva (the longest ones, they range from nine to thirteen minutes in length), are basically creations of the first-named genre, involving few elements of heavy music, but are the best compositions here, going through many changes in pace and structure, in addition to theme, all of them containing a lot more purely instrumental arrangements than mixed ones. As the longest track, the last of them may be the centerpiece of the album, but the other two don’t let up the complexity or intensity a bit. It is always pleasing to hear complex meter changes in progressive rock music, and there are plenty of those here, in all cases, helping to keep the long sans-vocals passages flowing and interesting. Most of the other pieces, namely Vindima E Ventania, Copla, A Sagracao Do Outono, Amanhecer, Geracao Perdida and Todas as Estacoes, combine sympho-prog and progressive hard rock structures (with varied degree of distortion), though the last of them – an instrumental piece – is distinctly heavy in places, thus leaning to the prog-metal zone. Save this one, all of the compositions are song-based, with plenty of lyrical content – in Portuguese, as ever – and lots of harmonies as well. On the other hand, the vocals never overpower the music, nor does the music ever seem to exist solely to support them, as might be the case in a more song-oriented style, such as in the case of No Inverno, the sole really straightforward tune on the album. OK, the band periodically jumps into different modes here too, but does so by simply sticking with the standard major and minor. There are also two ballads, Balada Outonal and Milonguita, both of them pretty fine, albeit the former better suits my taste, as it is pleasingly sophisticated. The remaining track, Danca Ao Crepusculo, only features an acoustic guitar, bass and cymbals, and is most likely an impromptu creation.
Conclusion. A la an early ‘70s style, the production has many rough edges, giving the music a positively honest character. However, one shouldn’t forget that this is a live album, recorded at one sitting and never mixed. All in all, it would be unfair to rate “Clouds on the Road” lower than I did, although, despite all its merits, this effort sounds a lot less ambitious than its studio predecessor, “Provincia Universo”.
VM=Vitaly Menshikov: Agst 7, 2013
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