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Tesis Arsis - Overall Review

Prolusion. TESIS ARSIS is a vehicle for the solo project of independent Brazilian musician and composer Anderson Rodrigues. Here is the view of both of the albums he released so far: "Ilusoes" (2002) and "Estado de Alerta Maximo" (2005).

Tesis Arsis - 2005 - "Estado de Alerta Maximo" (72 min, 'AGBR')
****+

TRACK LIST:

1.  Hiroshima 12:38
2.  Ecos Vibrantes 10:10
3.  Fuga 12:06
4.  Um Azul Celeste 14:41
5.  Estado de Alerta Maximo 22:20

SOLO PILOT:

Anderson Rodrigues - keyboards; guitars; programming

Analysis. The photograph in the CD booklet depicts Anderson Rodrigues working with his colleagues (sound engineer and producer) in a solid looking studio, with a few massive mixing consoles and other gear. Nevertheless, the album has a sense of homemade recording, at least in places, while signs of what is known as the one-man project syndrome are obvious everywhere. Anderson is a masterful guitar and keyboard player, providing also good solos on synthy-bass, but the music never gets a true full-band sound, particularly because of the rubber-like sound of programmed drums. While bearing his influences from Eloy, Pink Floyd and Yes, Anderson successfully intermixes them with his own ideas to create a rather original sonic palette, almost free of derivative features. This remark, however, does not concern the opening track, Hiroshima, which is overtly overextended, in the worst meaning of the concept. The initial synthesizer-laden theme, flowing inseparably from the 'exploding atom bombs', is heavily repetitive in itself. Besides which, it was repeated several times in the course of the piece, with either no or very few variations. All in all, Hiroshima resembles a slightly modified/improved version of Tangerine Dream at the time they crossed the Rubicon between '70s and '80s. Like any of the other so far unnamed tracks, the fast and energetic Fuga leaves the impression of a pretty lively entity, revealing the solid performance capabilities of its maker, but it's rather poor on the compositional level, being for the most part just an alternation of the same three, at most four, thematic sections. Ecos Vibrantes, Um Azul Celeste and Estado de Alerta Maximo are in many ways kindred compositions, each beginning with church organ-like passages of synthesizer and featuring plenty of extended guitar and synthesizer solos, particularly those imitating the Hammond organ. The music also moves back and forth between Art- and Space Rock, but this time out it's often accentuated with heavy, meaty guitar riffs and, what's central, is notably diverse, with vivid differences between sections, although it could have not managed without some unnecessary repetitions on these, too. The riff in the middle of Um Azul Celeste quite directly calls up of the central theme of Machine Messiah from Yes's "Drama", though the matter didn't prevent me from appreciating the piece as a whole. Furthermore, Um Azul Celeste quickly became my favorite track, having removed the epic Estado de Alerta Maximo from that pedestal:-). The title track could have become a progressive culmination of the album had our solo pilot not lost a sense of proportion when working on the finale. The slow, primitive synthesizer chords running all through the last six or seven minutes forced me to forget all the diversity and the magnificence of the music on the first three fourths of the piece.

Tesis Arsis - 2002 - "Ilusoes (66 min, 'AGBR')
****

TRACK LIST: 

1.  Ilusoes 12:58
2.  Cemiterio dos Vivos 15:58
3.  Global 11:11
4.  Num Tempo So 6:03
5.  Hale Bopp 19:17

Personnel/credits: same

Analysis. Accidentally, I've started reviewing Anderson Rodrigues's creation from his second CD, but I believe it doesn't matter. So here is his debut outing, "Ilusoes" ("Illusions" of course). I wasn't surprised to hear that it's notable for nearly the same design and approach as those characterizing the other album. In the case of the opening cut, Ilusoes, the story repeats itself, perhaps down to the smallest details. There are only three thematic sections, the first and the last one being extremely short. The central theme, built around the same, just endlessly repeating synthesizer chords, runs in the course of a whole 11 minutes, only guitar solos contribute some diversity to the overall picture, though the concept of stagnation (very slow development) remains always topical, it seems. In fact, I had all the reasons to describe the title track with the very same words as Hiroshima, but it would haven't been worth it to repeat myself. The next 25 minutes are really good music, though with Cemiterio dos Vivos and Global the number of interesting compositions on the album is over. These two are genuinely diverse in content, with numerous theme, tempo and mood changes, almost in every respect corresponding to the classic canons of the Progressive Rock genre. There are maneuvers directly pointing out the primary source of Anderson's inspiration, which is Eloy in this very case, but much of the stuff doesn't reveal any sense of derivation, particularly in the sections with pronouncedly heavy Cathedral Metal-like arrangements, and also those with the wide use of sampled pipe organ. In the absence of a 'rhythm section' Num Tempo So doesn't have a distinct synthetic feel to it, but its scanty two-dimensional compositional origin, in combination with the listlessness in the performance department (slowly droning synthesizer and guitar solos), arises no interest in the listener who excluded an ordinary space music from his audio ration even at the time of his pretty omnivorous youth. It needs to be said the lengthy Hale Bopp isn't much better. Shifting exclusively between Space Rock and still the same space music all over its 19+ minutes, it features so many repetitions in addition that no one in his senses would call it otherwise than just a pseudo suite. Boring.

Conclusion. I just had another listen to the second Tesis Arsis album, and I must note it's rather noticeably better than "Illusoes"; only the first track there doesn't find any positive responses in my soul. The progress is present. If Anderson Rodrigues will continue on the same lines, his next effort might be interesting throughout, though of course, the engagement of a real rhythm section is also necessary. Otherwise the project's sound will never get a proper dynamism.

VM: February 7 & 8, 2005


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