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Alas - Pinta Tu Aldea CD (album) cover




Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.88 | 57 ratings

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Magnum Vaeltaja
Special Collaborator
Eclectic Prog Team
4 stars I've always maintained that Argentina was (and still is) one of the world's hotbeds of creative prog rock nirvana. With Bubu, Arco Iris, and Crucis, among countless others, who could leave any of their English contemporaries in their wake, the 70's Argentine scene is matched in quality by only a select few other scenes around the world. And one of my personal favourite gems that was spawned from this movement is Alas' second effort, "Pinta Tu Aldea", a splendid all-instrumental affair of prog-fusion perfection.

Alas makes a bold statement the very first second after the needle drops. Layers of spacey synthesizers create a tense, brooding atmosphere, like an enshrouding fog, becoming increasingly thicker, taking the listener somewhere far off. Cecilia Tenconi (of Bubu fame) offers brilliant flute lines that heighten the tension, transporting the song into a chaotic, even satanic, direction. The interplay between her and Pedro Aznar, the man behind the ivories, is sensational, weaving together a formidable tapestry of sound. Move over, "Watcher of the Skies": this is THE keyboard intro to end all keyboard intros! But after several minutes of mood-building, out of the mist and wreckage comes a valiant, triumphant organ line, which builds into a lively fusion jam to fill the remainder of the song.

Indeed, gone are the days of bombastic symphonic ELP- clonery that Alas had dabbled into on their self-titled debut. This is a different Alas we're getting into. To quote Pedro Aznar, "...what Genesis and Emerson could not touch, even with all their technical elements, they could not touch because they've never known, haven't sucked in, the sound of Buenos Aires. It was there that lay the key difference between Alas and the English Emerson, Lake & Palmer: the urban sound of Buenos Aires and the search for the rhythms that Buenos Aires has." (translated from original Spanish; quote courtesy of Cabeza De Moog). There's no doubt that this album has, amidst its odd spacey touches, a more urban vibe and a more intimate, emotional feel than the debut, coming as a consequence of its jazzier focus.

Following the dynamic closing of "A Quienes Sino", the album's title track picks up right where the last one left off. A more uptempo number, "Pinta Tu Aldea" is a technical showcase of all involved in the band, including a guest appearance of the accordion-like bandoneon, which features prominently. Not that it steals the show, of course; the bass lines are impeccably played and even the slower, more open-styled keyboard interlude in the middle still manages to keep things interesting, even if the energy level dips down a little. In fact, the more lounge-y style of the keyboard solo reveals just how deep of a sound these guys had with such limited recording technology back in late 70's Buenos Aires. if you listen closely you can faintly hear Gustavo Moretto complementing the keys on his trumpet. In all, side one consists of two powerhouse tracks, which more than make up for any potential complaints that one may have had with their first album.

Side two packs just as much excitement as the first one, with the rhythmic hustle-and-bustle of "La Caza Del Mosquito". Aznar's guitar lines in here interweave so well with the flute parts; this track is just so infectiously lovable. After a lot of stopping and starting, with strong dynamic contrasts to boot, it finally gives way to the softness of the album's closer, "Silencio de Aguas Profundas". With no percussion to be heard for the last 13 minutes, the final song's slowly developing smooth lounge jazz and tango-esque qualities offer a symmetry of sorts to the album, fading off in much the same way it faded in.

"Pinta Tu Aldea" is really quite an overlooked piece of the South American prog canon. I'm struggling to pin down a rating between 4 and 5 stars for this one. On one hand, it isn't necessarily an "essential" buy, but it really is flawless. I can't think of a wasted second on the whole album. As such, I'll leave it with only 4 stars but I won't be able to stress enough just how highly I'd recommend it to fusion lovers and anyone who wants to explore prog from outside of Europe.

Check this one out!

Magnum Vaeltaja | 4/5 |


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