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(51:21, Viajero Inmovil Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Reyes en Guerra 5:20 2. Kamala II 4:07 3. Kamala 4:11 4. Nocturno de Enero 3:30 5. Matinee 8:01 6. Tristes Noticias del Imperio 9:20 Bonus tracks: 7. Parche Amonica (Live, 1977) 3:39 8. Despues de un Mes (Live, 1978) 9:12 9. Tristes Noticias del Imperio (Live, 2003) 9:59 10. Matinee (Live, 2003) 10:01 11. Parto (Live, 2003) 5:58 LINEUP: Luis Albornoz – guitars; vocals Esteban Cerioni – bass; Mellotron; vocals Juan Escalante – drums; keyboards; vocals
Prolusion. The Argentinian trio REDD was formed in 1977, and "Tristes Noticias del Imperio" was to be the first of two albums they issued before disbanding. While they were a highly talented act, a disease affecting the hearing of drummer and keyboardist Escalante, diagnosed a few weeks after the completion of this debut effort, caused an abrupt stop to the further development of the band, and while a new formation recorded a second album, this constellation fell apart and it wasn't until 1996 that this production saw a belated release. This reissue from 2009 of their initial album comes courtesy of Viajero Inmovil Records, and features 5 bonus tracks. It was released in the memory of Juan Escalante, who passed away due to cancer in 2005.
Analysis. The late ‘70s weren't the best of times for artists taking on art rock, and it took something extra to be noticed when exploring this style of music. Perhaps more in the traditional "western" countries than in South America, I assume, as this band managed to establish both a cult following and positive critical responses for their initial effort. Well earned as well, I might add, as this is an effort that has stood the test of time pretty well. In terms of specific stylistic placement Redd is something of a conundrum though. Opening effort Reyes en Guerra takes on more of a Pink Floyd-inspired sound, featuring staccato guitar riffs, contrasted by lighter wandering acoustic guitar textures and ethereal yet rich keyboard patterns. The soloing is of a gentle and dreamy variety, while the vocal passages are distinctly harmonious in nature. Escalante adds many deft percussion details to the proceedings, while Cerioni supplies an energetic bass groove that fits in perfectly – a stellar opening effort. The next three songs are of a gentler nature, with acoustic guitars playing a more dominant place in the arrangements, paired off against electric guitars and both sets of six-stringers supplying gentle psychedelic touches to a more folk-oriented stylistic expression. The last of those, Nocturno de Enero, heads off to a more art rock-oriented expression in the second half, with a subtly dissonant piano theme and stellar rhythms courtesy of Escalante, yet again making this arguably the most interesting of these efforts. Ending the original album are two longer creations. Matinee reveals an additional dimension to the exploits of this talented act, a laidback jazz-oriented affair with extensive vocal parts and a neat wandering piano motif as key features, with instrumental passages diverting the composition into dreamier psychedelic-tinged territories; the pace and intensity increase towards the end, basically building up to a well-made and fulfilling dramatic ending sequence. The final effort and title track Tristes Noticias del Imperio takes this production full circle, at least at the onset, as Redd revisits the Pink Floydian territories that opened this album, this time with a higher intensity and more distinctly driven by the bass guitar. When the vocal parts kick off a couple of minutes into the track, the tempo slows, and the guitars take on a more dissonant expression, crafting a musical landscape many King Crimson fans should feel right at home with. The opening theme is revisited for the final part of this composition, bringing a brilliant song and the album to a most satisfying end. The bonus material is, for a change, rather interesting as well. The first of the additional tracks is a low quality recording from 1977, mostly of interest to fans only, but the rest of the bonus material is much more satisfying. Despues de un Mes blends non-verbal jazz-inspired vocals on top of a guitar-dominated composition that made me think of ‘70s Rush more than anything, switching back and forth between slightly distorted staccato guitar riffs and a wandering clean guitar theme – slightly repetitive, but an intriguing musical mix. The last three bonus tracks are live recordings from a 2003 reunion concert, featuring Albornoz and Cerioni from the initial version of Redd with additional musicians from the MKII setup. Their modernized take on Tristes Noticias del Imperio and Matinee are fascinating encounters both, with a richer sound and somewhat more elaborate rhythm arrangements adding a vitality to these songs that arguably makes them even more interesting to listen to than the original versions. The final bonus track Parto seems to consist of a 3-minute energetic rocker, followed by the band saying their goodbyes to the audience, the former much more interesting than the latter for most people outside their fan base, one might assume.
Conclusion. "Tristes Noticias del Imperio" is a very good quality effort through and through, a production that has stood the test of time very well indeed. And while perhaps not exploring the most advanced fields of the progressive rock universe, it is an effort that merits a listen by those who have a general fondness for art rock, with followers of artists like Pink Floyd and King Crimson as a likely key audience. Existing fans should find most of the bonus tracks to be worthwhile as well, as this is one of those rare instances where the additional material is just about as interesting as the rest of the release.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: November 8, 2010
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