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Sergio Benchimol (Brazil) - 2004 - "A Drop in the Ocean"
(77 min, 'SB')


******!
                 
TRACK LIST:                             
                          
1.  Terral 4:26
2.  Janelas do Ceu 3:37
3.  Memorias de Vagens 6:50
4.  Bamidbar 4:21
5.  Toca de Cigarra 3:17
6.  Bossa Rio Jazz Waltz 3:29
7.  Jardim das Delicias 8:09
8.  Maracatu 3:42
9.  Moria 3:52
10. The Hunt 4:15
11. Falling Times 4:06
12. Exodus 2:57
13. A Drop in the Ocean 4:27
14. A Rocha e o Mar 4:29
15. Unpack Bogus 2:38
16. Estrelas do Amanhecer 3:03
17. 49 Centigrade Porta 2:45
18. Carrossel 2:41
19. Jardim das Delicias The Last Call 3:47

All tracks: by Benchimol.

LINE-UP:

Sergio Benchimol - keyboards; guitars, basses, sitar; violin; vocals
David Ganc - flutes & saxophones
Rafael Barata - drums & percussion
Luciano Vaz - violoncello
Carlos Prazeres - oboe
Edu Szjainbrum - percussion 

Produced by F. Francesco, Ganc, & Benchimol.
Engineered by F. Francesco.
 

Prolusion. The full title of this CD is "A Drop in the Ocean - An Ocean in the Drop". To all appearances, this is Sergio Benchimol's first solo album or, rather, first project, for which he wrote all the music, but it's also clear that he is the musician who is well known for a long time in the Land of the Magic River, Brazil ("where there are many, many wild monkeys" as the archaic Russian expression goes).

Synopsis. Like all the true music lovers, I've heard thousands of musical works, most of which, of course, concern Progressive Rock and related genres. While often thinking that there is hardly anything else in these spheres that would astonish me very much, I feel really happy each time it happens, which is, thankfully inevitable, even if it happens not nearly as often as at the time of my youth, which is logical. All this leads me to write the following phrase, regardless of how trivial it would sound. This 77-minute album has in many ways become a revelation for me. Sergio's musical horizons are just exceptionally broad and cover probably all the existent directions of serious music, which, however, wouldn't be enough to surprise me out of the context of originality. But it's here: most of the compositions are marked with signs of innovation, which has always been a signature of >Fifth Element. Indeed, there is the connection between the title of the album and its contents. The first eight tracks consist exclusively of acoustic textures, and the band sounds here like a small Chamber Rock orchestra, while most of the further compositions are made up of mixed, acoustically electric fabrics. However, the album can be divided into two halves only conditionally, and I'll point this out below. The contents of the first half (tracks 1 to 8) have been totally composed and are submitted to the laws of a symphonic harmony. Well, there are some improvisation-like sounding solos, but only in places, and what's central, they concern only quasi-Jazz-Fusion. The basic components are European Classical music, Art-Rock, and kind of a universal folk music with only Indian (on a few tracks with Sitar at the helm), Jewish and Spanish tunes being sometimes perceptible. A very similar situation we have on the last five tracks, even though there also are solos of electric guitar and synthesizer. Another composition on the album's conditional second half that contradicts the aforementioned conception is Exodus, which, as well as Toca de Cigarra, is a pure chamber Classical music. On the other tracks the band presents a full-fledged 'Rock' sound, trying many different things: from a harsh RIO on Falling Times, through Space Fusion on the title track, to Jazz-Fusion, this time of a purely improvisational harmony, on all the remaining tracks. Sergio is a really versatile multi-instrumentalist, and his virtuoso solos on acoustic guitar, piano, and a wide variety of the other instruments take usually the center-stage, around which we have swirling solos by the other musicians playing various wind instruments, violoncello, acoustic drums and percussion. While with many beautiful melodies, the music always remains profound, is alien to any affectation and doesn't condescend to brightness, not to mention flashiness. Finally, it needs to be mentioned that a few tracks: Jardim das Delicias, Estrelas do Amanhecer, The Hunt and Falling Times contain some vocals with lyrics in Portuguese and English.

Conclusion. Sergio Benchimol is from the galaxy of those musicians who keep the contemporary progressive scene honest and, therefore, viable. "A Drop in the Ocean" is a top quality album. Listening to this album tests your ability to comprehend the depth of music regardless of any personal affection towards one or another genre. I wholeheartedly recommend it to all the open-minded connoisseurs of progressive music. (>Top-20-2004)

VM: October 7, 2004


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