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Miguel Cantilo's Sur Band (Argentina) - 1975/2004 - "Sur"
TRACK LIST: 1. Sur Alabanzas 5:17 2. Naturangel 3:45 3. Musi 3:01 4. Demian 3:14 5. Una Maneria de Ilegar 3:35 6. Le Leyenda dei Retorno 5:46 7. Algo Esta por Suceder 4:52 8. Las Imagenes 4:02 All tracks: by Cantilo & K. Diaz. LINE-UP: Miguel Cantilo - lead vocals; acoustic guitar Diego Villanueva - drums; vocals Alejandro Marassi - bass; vocals Willy Pedemonte - electric guitar With: Jorge Pinchevski - violin Gaston Cubilas - saxophones Isa - tablas Harotium - kemancha &: Several additional singers Produced by Pinchevski. Engineered by C. Priz.
Prolusion. To all appearances, "Sur" is the only album by MIGUEL CANTILO'S SUR BAND from Argentina. It was recorded in 1975, but wasn't released until now. What is notable is that the lineup features the rather well known violinist Jorge Picnhevski, who is also the producer of the album. I well remember Jorge's excellent performance on Gong's "Shamal" of the same year. By the way, his real name is Geiger - yeah, the same as that of the inventor of Roentgen counter. (As for Mr. Roentgen, it's another story, and there would be no end to it if I would be about to tell it.)
Synopsis. The chronicle of Progressive Rock is the organic transformation of simple musical forms into more complex ones with their further separation from each other. (Generally, such phenomenon more than once appeared in the history of music). Like some diffusing galaxy, the genre still continues moving away from the boundaries of light music, whereas once, and you know when, it was widely popular, too, in spite of all. If "Sur" were released at the time it was completed and recorded, it would have a solid success and would've been known to many. As if in accordance with the development of the genre itself, the album unfolds its progressive essence gradually, carefully leading the listener to more difficult sonic regions. Which, I am certain, is the merit of the producer, Geiger, though as a musician he appears only on two compositions. The eight songs on the album present three different directions, distinguishing from each other by many significant aspects. The first four of them are the products of the band staff members' performance, and each of the first three: Sur Alabanzas, Naturangel, and Musi is a driving psychedelically progressive Hard Rock with expressive lead vocals, almost always supported by a big mixed choir, and with high-speed guitar and bass solos crossing the length and breadth of the instrumental interludes. The choir consists of no less than a dozen of male and female singers, creating a highly unique, very polyphonic vocal palette, which makes this primordially original album just one-of-a-kind. I heard hundreds of Hard Rock and related performers, so I believe I am able to tell which is of a genuine originality and inspiration and which is not. The drums are absent on both of the middle tracks: Demian and Una Maneria de Ilegar (4 & 5), and the choir only on the first of them, which is the benefit performance of Miguel Cantilo. There are only passages of acoustic guitar and vocals, all being extremely diverse and impressive, and the whole thing is unforgettable. For instance, it reminds me more of The Battle of Evermore from "Led Zeppelin IV" than Kansas's famous Dust in the Wind. By the way, all eight of the songs, without exception, begin with passages of acoustic guitar, though there also are those inventively interwoven with semi-electric structures. Unexpectedly, the first song with Geiger Pinchevski's participation (5) turned out to be the most accessible. The trio of bass, violin, and acoustic guitar sometimes works miracles, but there are too many vocals (in all senses) and no changes of tempo. The last three tracks: Leyenda dei Retorno, Algo Esta por Suceder, and Las Imagenes feature all the guest musicians and are brilliant by all means. The music - part Prog-Metal, part Art-Rock, part Jazz-Fusion with wildly rapid solos of saxophone and violin - is not easy to precisely pin down and get into as well. The arrangements are quite ambitious in their sudden twists and turns, and the musicians are good enough to match these ambitions. Nearly all of each of the songs is played at whiplash speed, embodying kaleidoscopic changes of tempo and style. These three, and also Demian, are masterworks.
Conclusion. Everything is original on this album, almost everything is interesting, and no less than a half of the contents are just outstanding - I mean, by the highest progressive standards. Cantilo appears on the album as an excellent singer, masterful guitar player, and gifted composer with his own vision of music. All his colleges are great arrangers, while as musicians, they are probably even more virtuosi than him. The sound quality isn't best, but it's all right with me. Art is always over some secondary, attendant matters.
VM: September 8, 2004
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