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Jazz Rock/Fusion • Argentina

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Alas biography
ALAS was one of the most exquisite progressive bands in Argentina. The effective way in which they infused airs of Creole Argentinean folklore into their main prog sound - influenced by the massive energy of ELP (30 %) and the exuberant magic of WEATHER REPORT and RETURN TO FOREVER (70 %) - made ALAS a world of their own.

Keyboardist/wind player/vocalist/main writer Gustavo Moretto had been a prominent figure in his country's musical scene. With the idea of forging a new musical direction leaning towards art-rock, he founded the band in 1975 in allegiance with bassist Alex Zucker and drummer/percussionist Carlos Riganti. Their recording debut took place later that same year, with a single comprising the tracks 'Aire' and 'Rincón, Mi Viejo Rincón'. It wasn't until 1976 that they released their eponymous debut album, which gained critical acclaim instantly. Even though the band felt happy with the album's artistic results, Zucker had plans of his own (mostly regarding the enhancement of his academic formation), so he left the ALAS before the band set plans for their following release. Young virtuoso Pedro Aznar replaced Zucker (long before his PAT METHENY days), and with this altered line-up the band started the recording process for "Pinta tu Aldea" in the latter half of 1977. The artistic goal was now focused on the increase of tango colours and a decrease of the ELP influence, as well as in becoming an exclusively instrumental ensemble. Halfway of this recording process, Riganti quit the band: him not being replaced, the two tracks of side 2 were left without a proper rhythm section! A few days after the second album had been completed, in January '78, the band split up for good.

Or so it seemed.In 2004 there was an ALAS reunion concert, featuring all three original members, plus a guitarist, bandoneon player Daniel Binelli, and Pedro Aznar as an extra bass player and lead vocalist for a couple of songs. It has been rumored for a while that there are plans of reforming ALAS: in fact, the repertoire for the aforementioned reunion concert included three new compositions by Moretto.

Particularly recommended for lovers of ELP with WEATHER REPORT flavours, who don't mind the inclusion of PIAZZOLLA-influenced modern tango in their prog. Admirers of M.I.A., ICONOCLASTA, CRUCIS and other patently energetic prog acts from Latin America will be pleased with ALAS, too.

: : : Cesar Inca, PERU : : :

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ALAS discography

Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help to complete the discography and add albums

ALAS top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.85 | 80 ratings
3.90 | 49 ratings
Pinta Tu Aldea
4.03 | 29 ratings
Mímame Bandoneón

ALAS Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

ALAS Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

ALAS Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.04 | 4 ratings
Archivos - EMI
4.20 | 9 ratings
Grandes Exitos

ALAS Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

ALAS Reviews

Showing last 10 reviews only
 Alas  by ALAS album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.85 | 80 ratings

Alas Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Magnum Vaeltaja
Collaborator Eclectic Prog Team

3 stars I've been on a bit of an Argentina binge lately, review-wise, so I figured I may as well revisit this first release from Alas. The band, like most others from Latin America, never got the chance to release very much material during the 70's. Indeed, Alas' classic period only saw the release of two discs, with this being one of them.

As it happens, this is probably only the second best of their classic run. With a humble three-piece setup of keyboards, bass and drums, the ELP comparisons are inevitable, and on this first album Gustavo Moretto certainly makes his appreciation for Emerson a lot more pronounced than on their sophomore "Pinta Tu Aldea". With that in mind, and the fact that the original album contains only two tracks, one sprawling across each side of vinyl, one might be quick to assume that this is a symphonic record. That isn't the case, though; the playing style by all involved is very much rooted in jazz, with a rather non-linear compositional style, each side meandering its way through various instrumental passages, alternating sparse, meditative interludes with energetic outbursts on the keys.

As with its successor, "Alas" is noteworthy in just how deep and multifaceted of a sound these three managed to create with such limited personnel and recording quality. Moretto showcases his talent as a multi-instrumentalist, offering some trumpet touches here and there, and even some brief vocals. So there's really no shortage of creativity and talent on display here. However, I do have a few qualms with the overall product. The music can sound a little directionless at times, and ultimately not that memorable; Moretto's energy and ability would go on to be consolidated much more effectively into a cohesive musical whole on the follow-up album, "Pinta Tu Aldea". That doesn't mean that there isn't anything to enjoy on here, of course. There are still well-done sections and this is an album I'd recommend to any fan of the Argentinian "rock nacional progresivo" style.

As it stands, 3 stars. A good album, but "Pinta Tu Aldea" is the essential release from this South American trio.

 Pinta Tu Aldea by ALAS album cover Studio Album, 1983
3.90 | 49 ratings

Pinta Tu Aldea
Alas Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Magnum Vaeltaja
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!

 Pinta Tu Aldea by ALAS album cover Studio Album, 1983
3.90 | 49 ratings

Pinta Tu Aldea
Alas Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Atavachron
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Argentina's prog and fusion output continues to impress me. From the confident symphonics of Espiritu to the mystical delights of Bubu's 1978 landmark Anabelas, the Argentines seem just a cut above their South American neighbors when it comes to blending the western world's musics. A stronger musical history? A more refined sense of the craft of art? Maybe, though you wouldn't know it from Gustavo Moretto's suspended synthesizers that pull open 'A Quiénes Sino'. But at just past the three-minute mark a glorious organ vamp begins battle with the high-fretted bass of Pedro Aznar and Carlos Riganti's snappy tinfoil drums, morphing into a serious bop peppered by Moretto's ivories with a tight-but-loose power.

'Pinta tu Aldea' treats us to the rich low vibrations of Dan Binelli's bandoneon, beautifully incorporating tango ~ or Nuevo Tango ~ evoking Piazzolla and introducing sounds to progrock that, when recorded in '77, were fairly new. Great unusual time sigs and stop-&-start tempos for the boggling 'La Caza del Mosquito', a successful conjoining of tech-fusion with old traditions featuring Cecilia Tanconi's airy wood flute, and complex refrain 'Silencio de Aguas Profundas' closes this sophisticated show.

These guys found a way to sound thoroughly modern for 1977 and yet allowed their bountiful heritage to remain prominent in the arrangements. Pinta tu Aldea surprised me around almost every corner. Gorgeous stuff.

 Archivos - EMI by ALAS album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2001
4.04 | 4 ratings

Archivos - EMI
Alas Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

4 stars A 2on1 collection that features all of Alas' recorded output from 75 until the close of the decade. This means that their first (and only) single, released in 75, is included as bonus tracks at the back of their (relatively-short) first album on the first disc. As for their substantially longer (and very rare) Pinta album, it fills the second disc, but the whole thing couldn't have been crammed into a ingle disc. See my separate reviews for the two albums, but here I will expand n the single. Although relatively different from their debut album's material, the single Aire track sonically fits somewhat well with it, despite some light wordless vocals, but the ELP inspiration was already well noticeable. As for the quieter and sung Mi Viejo Rincon, it clashes a tiny bit more, almost nearing Italian crooner prog. But overall, if you were not warned of the presence of these bonus tracks, you'd probably not notice too much the different recording seesions between the single and the full album. However, on the second disc, their second album is relatively different.

The major gripe I have against this type of "compilation" is that as usual, the original artworks are sacrificed with something that usually has nothing to do with the albums, and such is the case here. Indeed, both albums' covers are reduced laughably and posted on the back cover. This isn't really a problem for the very bland debut album illustration (almost reminiscent of an early Aerosmith logo) but in case of the exceedingly rare second album, much of the colourful finesse is totally lost here. However, two pictures of the bands are included in the Spanish-only booklet, though I suspect it's the same line-up in both. As a conclusion, this Archives pack is probably the only way to have everything from Alas, and if you can find the separate artworks reduced to CD size and include them in the jewel case, it'll be be everything you'll ever need from this very interesting Argentinean keyboard trio.

 Pinta Tu Aldea by ALAS album cover Studio Album, 1983
3.90 | 49 ratings

Pinta Tu Aldea
Alas Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

3 stars The Buenos Aires KB trio Alas' second album was released in the early fall of 79 (says the booklet), though some sources have dated it (erroneously) from 83, included in the very same booklet's liner notes. It was already quite rare as a vinyl release, but it never received a stand-alone CD version either. The only way (to my knowledge anyway) to acquire it legally is through the 2on1 EMI- Archivos package of 2001. By 79, the trio had been faced with their only change of musician: bassist Pedro Aznar had taken over the four-stringer and he was also toying with synths, since leader Moretto was sometimes busy with the bandoneon (the local tango accordion). One of the most notable differences, compared to their debut album, was the shift to a much jazzier and instrumental form of progressive rock.

Opening on the long synth layers (courtesy of newcomer Aznar) of the 10-mins Quienes Sino, later joined by Moretto's flute and Riganti's delicate bell percussions, the piece finally kicks in after three minutes in a jazzy-prog-fusion that was well in line with the late 70's, but without the questionable late-70's kitsch synths sound, so widely used in the northern hemisphere. The following 10-mins title-track opens on a jazzy bass and features a not-too- annoying accordion, thus sending the mood in semi-tango-esque territory, but we're nowhere close to Argentinian folk stuff either, because the Rhodes gives it its typical 70's flavour.

Over the flipside, the album shortest track (still over 7-mins) Caza Del Mosquito opens very melancholously (is that even a word? ;o)), but soon jumps into a quirky world of happy but frenetic air dance executed by that pesky flying bug that avoids being squashed buy the vengeful humans. A fun track, where the piano, the funky bass (ala Pastorius) and a twirly flute all alternate at the forefront. The album-closing 13-ins+ Silencio De Aguas Profundas (deepwaters' silence) opens on flute and Rhodes interplay, before the accordion takes over languorously (now THAT is a word! ;o)). A bit later on, we even get some guitar laced in with Moretto's piano and then some strange synth passage that would sound like a cheap Tomita. The album ends on a bring late-night bandoneon solo.

A very different kind of album from what Alas had done before, Pinta is still a very interesting album that deserves investigations, though maybe not exactly by the same prog crowds, but it will remain accessible by most, even by yours truly, who generally not a fan (to say the least) of the accordion. I personally prefer their first album, but this one is such a different beast that one could have a hard time guessing it was the same band on both albums.

 Alas  by ALAS album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.85 | 80 ratings

Alas Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

4 stars This Buenos Aires keyboard trio made two albums at the height of Argentina's first prog boom in the late 70's. Formed and lead by multi-instrumentalist (KB, winds and violin) and singer Gustavo Moretto, with drummer Riganti, they later hooked up with bassist Zuker and recorded and released their self-titled debut in the fall of 76, on the major EMI label. They had only released single the previous year prior to that. The album came with a very bland A artwork, and the group was under the influence of Luis 'D'Artagnan' Sarmiento.

Two side-long epics (one aside) make the spine of the present album, the first of which bearing the strange name of Buenos Aires Solo Es Piedra - under which the album is sometimes referred to. Consisting of six movements, the almost 16-mins piece moves from demented ELP-like antics (the opening Tango movement) to gentler Spanish-sung pastures (Sueno) to the more experimental and slightly dissonant (the Recuerdo movement). Despite the many tango references in the suite's subsection's titles, the general feel is not nearly as Argentinean as it might let you think: indeed, if Trompetango features Moretto's trumpet, there is nothing typically tango-esque, at least not the typical dance music. And if the following Tanguito bears a jazzier and crazier feel, like ELP or Le Orme could've done it a few years before them; fear not, because we're definitely not in the usual gaucho clich's.

The 17-mins+ 7-movement suite Muerte Conto El Dinero filling the flipside opens directly with vocals, thus reminding often of Le Orme or other Italian bands (Argentina is over half of Italian descent). The piece moves in many different moods, including a pastoral flute and just after, a passage through a wind battlefield (the Galope movement) and many more. Itend to prefer the flipside.

Only really available in the 2on1 Archivos collection, the first album is followed by the two bonus tracks of the single that was released the previous year. As such this debut album s quite a remarkable first oeuvre, one of the country's earlier masterpiece, and it stands out a bit by not being too symphonic, unlike many of their crosstown rivals (Mia, Crucis, etc'). In some ways they are maybe a tad more reminiscent of El Reloj

 Alas  by ALAS album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.85 | 80 ratings

Alas Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by BORA

3 stars ELP reinvented?

I give it to the band that they do make a credible effort in re-doing and somewhat rearranging what ELP were famous for in their early years.

The Hammond delivers notes that we've all heard before, albeit it comes across as if these passages were drawn randomly from a hat. Good effort nevertheless, but hardly anything new on top of what Keith Emerson has already released.

The bass player deserves special mention as he delivers convincing lines, true to Greg Lake's approach and he dares to take it even further. Full marks to this guy!

The same couldn't be said about the drummer, who can play brilliantly at times, but fails to observe Carl Palmer's innovative technique as a guide.

Still, the music is very pleasing as a sort of ELP tribute - until we get to the vocals. Directionless noodlings, almost devoid of any melody conjuring images of a man bending over in self-pity, his nose almost reaching his knees. Now, I don't speak the language and there could be some serious poetry in the words, hidden to me. But musically these moments tend to detract from the overall enjoyment of the notes played.

I detect very little connection with Jazz-Rock, Canterbury influences here, suggested by some. Maybe on future releases that I am not familiar with?

The music is generally pleasing, but much of it I've heard before. The bits that I haven't are largely forgettable - with the exception of the bass.

It would qualify for 3.5, but a 4 it isn't.

 Pinta Tu Aldea by ALAS album cover Studio Album, 1983
3.90 | 49 ratings

Pinta Tu Aldea
Alas Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Suedevanshoe

4 stars This is an excellent fusion album, very pleasant listening. Genesis - like keyboards abound and the instrumentation is fabulous. There are also traces of tango and South American folk music - but the sound is truly progressive. Lots of dynamic interplay between instruments, and I like the way the fat bass in high in the mix.

The debut album was too far out for my tastes - this is much more to my liking. Progressive, yet accessible and elegant - while sounding aggressive at the same time.

Boy am I glad I stumbled upon this one. I hesitate to call it a masterpiece, because it's not really treading any new ground. However, in my eyes, it is one of the best pieces of progressive rock I've heard from the 1980's, and it will be in my rotation forever. 4.5 stars.

 Pinta Tu Aldea by ALAS album cover Studio Album, 1983
3.90 | 49 ratings

Pinta Tu Aldea
Alas Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by João Paulo

4 stars A beautifull album in Jazz Fusion vein from Argentina. Another great work made in this country. This is an album that have a complex harmony in all instruments that play in this album. We enjoy moments with different contexts, complex sounding accordion that remind us Piazzolla and Argentine tango, but many times sound created with ancient instruments such as the flute, but with contemporary structure. The guitar and flute duets and play the same music context are brilliant. This an album that we can listen some classic momnets with piano, flute, bass and guitars in pure Jazz Fusion vein. Six brilliant tracks that made one of great fusion moments in all Jazz Rock Fusion and mandatory for all Fusion fans. I give 4 stars but really 4,5 stars because it's really a great music work and a great album and to me, one of the most importants albuns from Argentina. Thanks Alas
 Alas  by ALAS album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.85 | 80 ratings

Alas Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Marty McFly
Special Collaborator Errors and Omissions Team

3 stars I know this record for some time, as I've had difficult relationship with it. Love/Hate to be correct. Let's call it jazz psychedelia (derived from word psycho, translated as "crazy"). For example end of second track. For example. All most of this record too. As long as I like this little bit experimental, add improvisation-like jamming and give it flavour of symphonic side, it's sometimes hard to understand, almost impossible to like. Last two tracks provides this much needed balance between our desire to explore new realms, but also back us up with homeland, well known structures, so we're not lost in hazy jungle of hydra-beast prog finding of ourselves. Or something like that.

3(+), but this was clear since first seconds of first track. It's good that they're treating us with original sounds, but sometimes, it's too much and they're pushing limits too far. Sometimes I think that four minus would be more fair.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to easy livin for the last updates

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