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(64:03, Vaso Music)
TRACK LIST: 1. Chinatown 4:30 2. Genio Sin Techo 5:45 3. No-4 4:45 4. Intimo 5:00 5. Tu Sourisa 5:20 6. No Pensar 5:11 7. Intimo-II 4:42 8. Duelo De Animas 5:02 9. Dos Mundos 7:45 10. Amantes 3:15 11. Agua Live 8:00 12. Dulce y Claro Live 4:35 LINEUP: Juan Olmos – keyboards; vocals Nacho Ortiz – el. guitars Ernesto Sanchez – drums Javier Del Palacio – bass
Prolusion. The history of ZYCLOPE, from Spain, began a decade ago. However, six years passed before the band’s first official CD, “Uno” (“One”), saw the light of day. This disc, “Tres” (“Three”), arrived without any supporting material, and although I was almost sure that the title of its predecessor is directly linked with numeration as well, the web search on the matter gave “Contracorriente” as a result.
Analysis. I think the fact that I haven’t heard one of Zyclope’s outings doesn’t exempt (or prevent, if you will) me from making comparisons between the two that I’m familiar with. Originally a sextet with a couple of specific musicians on board, namely violinist Yasia Shevchenko and flutist Jorge Calvo (both of whom left in 2005), the band is now a quartet of a traditional prog rock orientation, er, instrumentation. Along with the acoustic players, gone are elements of chamber music as well as classically-inspired motions, and although the violins have their synthetic analogs-counterparts in this recording, they will be a poor consolation for anybody who enjoys the living sound of the band’s first effort. Steering somewhere halfway between the mellower side of Art-Rock and the style’s veritable substance, this time out Zyclope enters an area that lies quite far from their previously explored realms and which has been covered before them, to say the least. Unlike (in all senses) original guitar player Javier Mira, newcomer Nacho Ortiz sounds a lot like Andy Latimer’s apprentice in absentia, having his hand in co-writing most of the twelve tracks presented. Either way, instrumentally “Tres” has quite a good deal in common with late-‘70s/early-‘80s Camel, though I find the performance and, proper, command of this style to be less advanced here, besides which a few of the compositions have a sense of sketchiness in places. Lacking in distinctly vintage colorations (whose main provider here is organ), the songs, Chinatown, Genio Sin Techo, No-4, Tu Sourisa, No Pensar and Intimo-II, are fairly rich in string arrangements instead, additionally revealing a few typically hard rock moves. To a greater or lesser extent, all these remind me of an average song from “The Single Factor”, and it is only Juan Olmos’s vocals that, while generally challenging the ear with their versatility of shades and intonations, impart a distinct sense of identity to each. Unfortunately what’s going on, say, behind Juan’s singing can hardly be regarded as a rich backdrop, and in most cases only the string arrangements add variety to the basic plot there. The instrumental interludes aren’t too progressively saturated either, rarely finding two, let alone three, players sharing the leads at their fore. However, this long recording contains a couple of tracks that are below average: Amantes, which is a straight, vocals-heavy ballad, and Agua – an instrumental evoking Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” at its most simplistic. The other two purely instrumental pieces, Dos Mundos and Dulce y Claro, as well as both the remaining songs, Intimo and Duelo De Animas, are structurally similar to the six tracks described first, but all abound in organ leads and are noticeably more diverse in general, evolving in the manner of “Nude” (1981) – one of the best recordings from Camel’s entire discography in my view.
Conclusion. It is the four last-named tracks that raise Zyclope’s latest release above mediocrity, though only the last of those, featuring a guest female singer with a wonderful operatic soprano, is a truly outstanding piece of music. The rest (two thirds) of the material leaves much to be desired, at least from a classic progressive standpoint.
VM: September 17, 2008
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