Friday, March 13, 2015

Los Jaivas - 2001 - Arrebol

Los Jaivas

01. Arrebol
02. Milonga Carcelaria
03. Alegría De Mi Amor
04. Todos Americanos
05. Por Los Niños Del Mundo
06. Libre Albedrío
07. Vamos Por Ancho Camino
08. Chile
09. Me Encontré Al Diablo
10. Pololeo por computer
11. Amores De Antes
12. Que Suerte Tengo
13. El Residente Nacional

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

 I’m not really keen on the band’s movement toward a prominent synthesizer and keyboard sound in this era, but there is definite maturity in their songwriting and especially the musical arrangements in the albums nearing the end of the nineties and early in this century.
Los Jaivas had a very long and productive run as a band, and their lineup remained the same on their fourteenth studio album after more than thirty years with the exception of Juanita Parra replacing Gabriel on drums. This would unfortunately be the final recording for Gato Alquinta, who passed away from a heart attack while swimming not long after this record was released. And on that note I feel bad about commenting on his vocals, but they do appear a bit strained at times on this record. Still better than most Latin prog folk singers, but not quite as strong and resonant as in the group’s younger days. Then again, we all have to age sometime I suppose.

Much of the Chilean percussion and ethnic acoustic instrumentation is gone by 2001, replaced as I said with a lot of keyboards including moog and plenty of strident piano. The better songs are those that feature piano over the synthesized keyboards in my opinion, such as with the energetic “Milonga Carcelaria”, “Libre Albedrio” and the title track. Elsewhere the band still manages to insert some trademark flute sounds from time to time, but I believe most of that is synthesized as well.

The band has long had a tendency to include at least one song with multi-part vocals, and this album is no exception with the choral and spoken-word passages courtesy of a children’s choir on “Por los Niños del Mundo”, a feel-good anthem for kids everywhere that reminds me just a bit of their debut album. Bassist Mario Mutis delivers vocals here and there as well, although as in past albums where he’s sung the mood is more subdued and less grand than that of Alquinta.

The second half of this record is quite a bit more modern and fast-tempo than the first few songs, beginning with the torrid “Chile” and not really winding down until near the end with “Que Suerte Tengo”. The closing “El Residente Nacional” is a slow, jazzy song that in retrospect almost sounds like a requiem for the group’s longstanding leader.

This is certainly not my favorite Los Jaivas album, but as Gato Alquinta,’s final release it has some sentimental value. And because of that I’m going to say it deserves three stars, especially with consideration for its timing in the band’s career. Modestly recommended to Los Jaivas and Chilean folk fans especially, but this one may have some appeal to those who enjoy a more lively brand of progressive folk as well. Worth seeking out if you haven’t heard anything from the band since their seventies heyday.

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