Friday, March 13, 2015

Los Jaivas - 1999 - Mamalluca

Los Jaivas 

01. Alumno
02. Uva Madura
03. Chaski
04. El Tambo
05. Camino Estrellado
06. Cerro de la Virgen
07. Gabriela
08. Interludio
09. Elqui
10. Mamalluca

- Gato Alquinta / guitar, vocals
- Juanita Parra / drums
- Claudio Parra / piano, keyboards
- Eduardo Parra / moog synthesizer, keyboards
- Mario Mutis / bass, guitar, vocals

"Mamalluca" has a special meaning in the history of Los Jaivas, being a concept-album based on a poem book written by the band's second keyboardist Eduardo Parra about man's appreciation of the cosmos around him (initially motivated by some poems by Vileta Parra around a similar subject). This is Los Jaivas' first full recording with an orchestral back-up... although it would be more fair to say the the walls of sound created by the strings, woodwinds and reeds are powerful partners of the band. This is also the album in which teh band decided to return on full swing to their artsy folk rock roots, which in turn signifies a return to their progressive oriented aspect. The album's title is the name of a Chilean valley in which there's an astronomic scientific building full of telecopes and other devices to watch the stars and stuff - a proper specific place that incarnates mankind's universa struggle to discover and admire the beauties of the universe. In this album, the academic colors brough in by the orchestra and choir are really abundant (not unlike Renaissance's or Procol Harum's live albums), and that really helps to enhance the inherent magnificence of the materialm but of course, the main textures (or should I say, exclusive?) come from South American folklore. The weird yet natural beauty resulting from this combination between the candor of folk and the splendor of symphonic rock gives birth to a most amazing farewell to the 90s from Los Jaivas. The most predominant ambience is one of ethereal emotion and spiritual evocation, and this works particularly fine in the most explicitly hypnotic passages - three examples are 'Uva Madura', 'Interludio', 'Elqui', in which you can tell that the academic visions of Grieg and Prokofiev can be compatible with Andean folk. 'Chaski' is a brief yet patently intense ad libitum instrumental in which the intrepid pace set by drummer Juanita Parra is magically accompanied by random notes on strings, lead guitar and Andean woodwinds: the instruments portray the way things seem to fly while the oral messenger runs across valleys and mountains to deliver the message. More structured are 'Cerro de la Virgen' and 'Camino Estrellado', which are arguably the most beautiful tunes in the album: the folk thing is really exploited in a most inspired manner by the band and the orchestra married in a divine unity of sound and harmony. The namesake piece that fills the final 15 ¾ minutes of the album kicks off as a Venezuelan joropo, with added adornments that come from other Latin American sources. The orchestral interlude slowly sets the mood for the last section, a malambo (a typical dance of Argentinean horsemen), in which the percussion section and the string orchestration encapsualte the remaining instruments in a moderately eerie sonic landscape. A great ending for a great album - "Mamalluca" is the ultimate expression of genius at mixing chamber and rock in a strongly installed prog folk context. A must for all Los Jaivas collectors, to say the least!



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