Friday, March 29, 2019

Gotic - 2016 - Gegants i Serpentines

Gegants i Serpentines

01. Gegants I Serpentines (3:17)
02. Funky (4:18)
03. Suite (6:22)
04. La Noia Que Tenia Els Ulls Verds De Tant Mirar El Mar (8:42)
05. Record De Rosa (1:02)
06. Carnaval (2:12)
07. Variacions (7:14)
08. Gotes De Gel (5:28)

- Eugeni Gil / guitar
- Jordi Vilaprinyó / keyboards
- Agustí Brugada / concert flute
- Rafa Escoté / bass
- Jordi Marti / drums

Releases information
The 1978 Unreleased LP revised and remastered by the group with Enric Catalá;
With different titles and track order from the previous bootleg releases.

Gotic's 1977 Escenes is one of the most praised symphonic prog albums from Spain, and for some 30 years the only available release by this band. There had always been talk that they had recorded a 2nd album which never saw the light of day, but it remained quite a mistery, for many just a myth.

Somehow a couple of years ago the japanese label Tachika got hold of those tapes and released them under the name Maqueta, spanish word for "demo recording". A dream come true, what all fans considered already a secret treasure forever buried in lost history finally became available to the world.

And fortunately the material is much more than just a demo, it's clear that the album was practically ready to be released, the sound quality is not amazing but I have heard official albums sounding worse, the tracks are completely arranged and they all have their proper names in catalan language. Only the last bonus track is actually a demo with clearly inferior sound quality.

Like Escenes, Maqueta is entirely instrumental but it is more energetic and less pastoral, more jazz-rock but still a very symphonic kind of jazz-rock. Some people found Escenes too mild and pastoral, well they should love this one. The closest well-known reference would still be Camel, in big part due to the prominent flute. The recording is credited as being from 1978 and there are a couple of line-up changes, flutist Jep Nuix had moved to Mirasol Colores (together they would release their great fusion album Linea 5) and was replaced by Agusti­ Brugada who plays with perhaps a bit less personality but still very proficiently, and they got reinforced by a full-time guitarist Eugeni Gil which undoubtedly contributes to the rockier sound.

The first 3 tracks are excellent symphonic jazz-rock, upbeat with some interspersed calmer section. By the way a version (unfortunately without flutist) of the 3rd track Juventut Audac played live at the spanish TV show Musical Express can be seen in YouTube, just search "Gotic 70's progressive fusion from Spain".

4th track Amanda d'Estiu is soft and 5th track Bulerias is again upbeat. Like in Escenes, the flute takes a starring role, but keyboards are also prominent and there is much more guitar. 6th track Somniant is a short keyboard interlude and the last album track Pluja Sabatina is a beautiful song played in piano solo which reminds me of some songs by Chucho Valdes (albeit less virtuoso). The bonus demo track Jugant Amb El Gat has a clearly worse sound quality which is a shame because it's another great symphonic jazz- rock track and in terms of arrangements it feels as good as nearly finished.r

Gotic - 1977 - Escenes


01. Escenes de La Terra en Festa I de La Mar en Calma (4:02)
02. Imprompt I (5:53)
03. Jocs d'Ocells (3:33)
04. La Revolucio (4:08)
05. Danca d'Estiu (3:30)
06. I Tu Que Ho Veies Tot Tan Facil (5:39)
07. Historia d'una Gota d'Aigua (10:14)

- Jep Nuix / flute, piccolo flute, handclaps
- Jordi Vilaprinyó / piano, Fender electric piano, clavinet, Mini-Moog, violin, Hammond, handclaps
- Rafael Escoté / bass, gong, handclaps
- Jordi Martí / drums, percussion, handclaps

- Jordi Codina / Classical guitar (7)
- Josep Albert Cubero / acoustic & electric guitars (2,6,7)
- Jordi Vidal / effects

"Escenes" is an album that never ceases to amaze me, revealing more intricate beauty over the years every time I hear it. It is one of the very best melodic instrumental Symphonic albums and it has a bit of a jazzy flavor as well in spots. This is a flute lovers dream as the flute and keys are the prevailing leads whereas guitars are used mostly as relish but to great effect when present. Drumming is crisp and inventive without ever being showy and the bass playing is solid.

Emotion is every bit as important as technical prowess and Gotic exude emotion in melody even though they have a rather clean, reserved style on the surface. There is SO much care taken to crafting intricate and delicate melody you feel that nothing has been left to chance. This is one of those albums that just make me feel great joy at being alive and I can lock in directly with what the musicians were expressing, meaning they are successful with the prime objective.

I De La Mar begins in a very upbeat moody with energetic flute and strong bass before calming into a dreamy sequence. "Escenes" is mostly an upbeat album but there are moments of calm reflection like here. It picks up again at close and then Imprompt continues with this theme of playful sparring by the musicians and these perfectly timed and very bright cymbal crashes. At about 4 minutes in we get a nice electric guitar solo before the flute and piano take over again. Jocs D'Ocells explores a haunting melancholy but also never lets the bright side get too far away. "Escenes" will show you brief glimpses of the dark side but it never wallows there, it wants to keep your heart joyful. The 10 minute closer Historia is the icing on the cake. It begins with lovely Steve Howe (circa TFTO) style acoustic guitar and soft, mournful flutes playing harmonies over each other. Beautiful. At 3.5 minutes we get some subdued aching electric guitar. Half way through the most effective and stunning part begins, this melody that is uplifting and telling you to have hope that all will be OK. That while the world is imperfect there are reasons to believe that life can be happy and secure again. This passage is pure joy that is right up there with the best moments of Camel or anyone else for that matter. What a finish!

I experience many feelings listening to Escenes. There are passages that make one nostalgic for happy moments in the past, that make one remember old loves or childhood or a magical place. The artwork in the Fono tri-fold digipak is nothing short of stunning and perfectly compliments the music. This is one of those albums on my special shelf and one of the reasons why I love music so much. Quite recommended especially to flute fanatics and 70's Camel fans.

The music on GOTIC's 1977 release "Escenes" surprised me at first. While I was expecting prog rock with strong Spanish influences and a dark "Gothic" sort of sound, what I got instead was optimistic-sounding instrumental music with a strong French-prog sound. GOTIC's light, yet complex, style of jazz-prog is mostly led by flute and Rhodes piano. Once in a while I hear Hammond organ, violin, and Moog synth, but the majority of the music is led by flute while the Rhodes piano sketches out countermelodies and jazzy chords underneath. After my second listen, this band reminded me of a less complex version of the French-Canadian band MANEIGE mixed with the flute-heavy riffs from French band DÜN (without the Zeuhl factor), and the jazzy sounds from Spain's ICEBERG around the time of "Coses Nostres". GOTIC put out one of the best albums from the Spanish prog scene of the late 70s. I wouldn't rate it as high as MEZQUITA, or ICEBERG's "Sentiments", but something about this music pushes it above FUSIOON's MINORISA and IMAN CALIFATO INDEPENDENTE..

Catalonia - 1981 - Catalonia


01. Mistela 4:30
02. Lorelai 6:30
03. Una Mica De Res 6:09
04. Bolero 5:21
05. En Un Reco Del Cor 5:06
06. Un Sueco En America 8:22

Bass – Rafael Escoté
Drums, Percussion, Vibraphone – Angel Pereira
Piano – Lluis Vidal
Saxophone – Antonio Peral

Obscure Spanish fusion-progressive band from Barcelona founded in 1978 by musicians previously in Gotic, Musica Urbana and Pegasus: Rafael Escoté (bass), Ángel Pereira (drums, percussion), Lluís Vidal (piano) and Antonio Peral (sax).

Group formed in Barcelona in 1981 after the disintegration of its previous band, Gotic. Its components were Rafael Escoté (bass), Ángel Pereira (drums and percussion), Lluís Vidal (piano) and Antonio Peral (saxo). 

If Gotic drank in the sources of symphonic rock, Catalonia would do so in the avant-garde jazz promoted by the German record label ECM and musicians such as the Norwegian saxophonist Jan Garbarek or the guitarist Path Metheny, but he assumed his own idiosyncrasy and expressiveness. 

At the dissolution of Gotic, Catalonia is formed, but temporarily overlapping. In fact, Lluís Vidal and the guitarist Josep Albert Cubero were on the verge of entering Gotic, for which nothing else to separate a group, the walking of another new one began.

They published an LP of the same name in 1981 through the Cúspide label (discophon subdivision), recorded in the Gema 1 studio in Barcelona, ??where they exhibited highly developed instrumental pieces as exclusive as 'Mistela', 'Bolero', 'En un recó' del cor 'and' A Swedish in America '. They completed the album 'Lorelai' and 'Una mica de res', all composed between Vidal and Escoté at fifty percent. 

During this time (1981-82), Escoté was part of the big band Factoría Musical.

For no apparent reason, they split up in 1982. Rafael Escoté continued making recordings as a session musician with Santi Arisa (Tribu), Max Sunyer and Josep Mas "Kitflus", which gave rise to the idea of creating Pegasus. After the experience of Pegasus, he joined forces again with Rafael Escoté, Santi Arisa and Kitflus to assemble the group Aldebarán, with whom he records an album in 1989. After several years retired from active musical life, but fully immersed in the teacher In 2002, Escoté reunited with Kitflus in his Kitflus Kuartet group and in 2007 he participated in the Pegasus meeting to mark his 25th anniversary.

Lluís Vidal formed the group Onix in 1983 and in 1987, another band known as Ictus. In 1985, together with Josep Pons and Jaume Cortadellas, he founded the Orchestra of Cambra Teatre Lliure, a training aimed at the interpretation of twentieth-century music with which he has performed at the most recognized festivals in Spain and Europe. In the 2001-2002 academic year, the Escola Superior de Música de Catalunya (ESMUC) was created, joining the teaching team as a professor in the department of Jazz and Modern Music. 

Solar Plexus - 1974 - Det är inte båten som gungar - Det är havet som rör sig

Solar Plexus
Det är inte båten som gungar - Det är havet som rör sig

01. Det är inte båten som gungar - Det är havet som rör sig 6:51
02. The Girl of the Dawn 3:37
03. Man skall tala idag 3:51
04. Fåglarna i Nam Dinh 7:57
05. This is the Place 3:51
06. Jorden är ett underbart ställe 17:17

- Tommy Körberg / vocals, guitar, percussion
- Bosse Häggström / bass, vocals
- Tommy Borgudd / drums, percussion, vocals
- Carl-Axel Dominique / keyboards, flute, sax, vocals
- Monica Dominique / keyboards, vocals

As some of you may already know many bands of the Swedish progressive scene in the 70's were highly political. The politics sometimes mattered more than the music.The songs were simply a means to an end, to get the word out so to speak. By way of a socialist and communist struggle on all fronts, be it through the media of art or protest in pther forms, the main goal was hopefully overthrowing and demolishing all capitalist structures of power, bringing forth a new society buit on equality and void of the stock market.
There are quite a few stoies that by now seem comical. Tomas Bolme, a well known actor in Sweden who took part in the movement, told story once of such a story. He and others of the FNL- movement was collecting Money or the people in Vietnam, then struggling during the war with the USA. A colonel (or something of that kind) in the Swedish army approached them, intending to give some Money tothe cause. When he approached Bolme he put away the Money-box, saying "You can't give any money". Well, that was all in the past and what's left are the remnants of an era, still echoing out it's views. Sometimes it's good and sometimes outright bad.

Solar Plexus is one of those great bands to whom he music mattered just as much as the lyrical content. This was my first venture into the world of Solar Plexus and to me it still is their greatest achievement.

The band consisted of very well known, no less today, members. The singer is a very eclectic performer who has crossed the borders of all genres and done it with exceptional brilliance. The couple Dominique are very well known jazz and classical figures in Sweden. All still active. With two keyboard players in the band it is safe to say that there are alot of great electric piano and organ to enjoy. The Wurlitzer electric piano is often distorted and played through a wah-wah pedal, giving it a very distinct and powerful sound. The organ is superbly played.

This album consists of jazz rock of a typical Swedish kind, which also brings in quite a big dose of folk and that is really enjoyable. (They kept this course throughout, before and after this album.) The opening track, however, is a storming piece of hard jazz-rock, driven by a powerful riff and awesome keyboards. The title translates "It is not the boat that's rocking, it is the ocean moving", meaning the People ae getting ready to overthrow the Ship (i.e. the capitalist forces). Quite a statement. Regardless of your political point of view, the song remains as powerful as ever. Equally powerful is "Man skall tala idag", translated into "One must speaktoday". Also political it is in similar vein as the opening title track.

The tracks "Girl of the dawn" and "Fåglarna i Nam Dinh" (The birds of Nam Dinh) are very beauiful pieces. Dreamy and spacious I love those tracks, giving the listener some time out from the very powerful tracks I have reviously mentioned.

The epic of the album is the 17 minutes long "Jorden är ett underbart ställe" (The world is a wonderful place), which is made up of several sections. It covers every aspect of the Solar Plexian vision of what music ought to be, a perfect blend of lyrical importance and musical perfection.

This album is very dear to me and remains a staple in my collection of Swedish progressive music. The lyrics are almost entirely in swedish but that ought not discourage anyone from discovering this piece of superior jazz-rock. A pinnacle of it's genre.

Solar Plexus - 1973 - Solar Plexus 2

Solar Plexus
Solar Plexus 2

01. Buddah Sade (0:54)
02. Don't Believe (5:15)
03. Diktens Port (2:50)
04. Mercy, Mercy, Mercy (8:49)
05. Sommarsång (Vad P.-B. Slapp Se) (2:50)
06. La Folia (4:05)
07. Tankar (2:35)
08. Smackwater Jack (3:48)
09. Silent Worship Ur Ptolemy (1:47)
10. Dance Russe Ur Petrusjka (7:23)
11. Spider (1:44)

- Tommy Körberg / vocals, acoustic guitar, congas, electric guitar
- Bosse Häggström / bass
- Tommy Borgudd / drums, congas
- Kerstin Bagge / backing vocal
- Gunnar Lindqvist / flute
- Carl-Axel Dominique / organ, flute, electric piano, backing vocals
- Monica Dominique / organ, electric piano, backing vocals

George Wadenius left after recording their fantastic debut and it was obvious he took most of what was good about this band with him. This time the music is far less challenging with annoying cover versions (especially the horrendous rendition of "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy") and horrible English lyrics. Very depressing, especially since the first one is so good. Buyer beware, the cover of this one is almost identical to their debut, just with an orange cover and a small sticker denoting this as their second album. The Stravinsky cover (Danse Russe) is about the only interesting and inspired moment on this album.

Solar Plexus - 1972 - Solar Plexus

Solar Plexus 
Solar Plexus

01. Bouillabaisse 6:52
02. Polska Från Orsa 0:38
03. Den Tanklöse Spelmannen 3:27
04. Sköna Låten 8:20
05. Wallenberg 6:07
06. Odins Öga 4:59
07. Jag Är Glad Jag Är Svensk 0:58
08. Som Ett Klarblått Klot 6:13
09. Concerto Grosso För Popgrupp Och Symfoniorkester 24:03
10. Dom Bygger En Stad 6:00
11. Frygisk Samba 4:41
12. Tänk När Vi Bor Allihopa 2:57
13. A Real Goodun' 3:48

English version released under the name "Concerto Grosso"

01. Bouillabaisse
02. A Polska From Orsa
03. My Song Is For Her
04. Loveliness
05. Wallenberg
06. The Eye Of Odin
07. Like A Spinning Sun
08. Concerto Grosso For Pop Group And Symphony Orchestra
09. Phrygian Samba
10. Think When We Live All Toghether
11. They´re Building Their Cities
12. A Real Goodun´

- Monica Dominique / organ, vocals, electric piano
- Carl-Axel Dominique / electric piano, piano, flute
- Georg Wadenius / electric guitar, electric bass, vocals, Spanish guitar, tambourine, maraca
- Tommy Borgudd / drums, tambourine, temple block
- Norrkoping Symfoniorkester / orchestra on track 9
-Tommy Korberg / vocals

This is the debut double album from Sweden's SOLAR PLEXUS released in 1972. The band featured the drummer and guitarist from MADE IN SWEDEN along with vocalist Tommy Korberg who was very well known in Sweden, as well as Monica a very accomplished keyboardist and vocalist and finally Carl-Axel also on keyboards. You know I was reminded of "666" by APHRODITES CHILD not because the music is at all similar or that both are double albums but because this is unique and all over the place and for some strange reason I'm blown away by it all. I have the English version which I'm thankful for because the vocals are not forced and I detect no accents.
"Bouillabaisse" is one of many standout tracks on this recording. The electric piano, drums, bass and organ sound amazing to start and the guitar joins in before a minute but it's brief. It settles down and the contrasts will continue. Some cool bass lines in this one and the guitar does return late. "A Polka For Orsa" is less than a minute of flute. "My Song Is For Her" is my favorite. Tommy on vocals kills this and he reminds me so much of another Prog vocalist that I can't put my finger on and it's been driving me crazy. The lyrics are so meaningful in this smoky, jazzy tune and I really dig the guitar style. I can play this over and over. "Loveliness" sounds pretty amazing with all the atmosphere with the cymbals clashing slightly and the bass and flute. Beautiful stuff. It's slowly building and the guitar becomes prominent after 4 minutes. It calms right down before 6 minutes like the beginning right to the end. Great track!

"Wallenberg" is one of those songs that you have to move to, so catchy with those vocal melodies. Check out the distorted keys before 2 minutes after the vocals stop. So good as drums and pulsating organ support. A change 3 1/2 minutes in as it settles down and male and female vocals arrive. This reminds me of Canterbury even the humerous lyrics. It kicks back in with those vocal melodies around 5 1/2 minutes. "The Eye Of Odin" has shimmering keys, bass, percussion and a relaxed horn. Gorgeous sound here. It does pick up and turn fuller but not by lot. Piano to the fore after 3 minutes as the horn stops temporarily. "Like A Spinning Sun" opens with piano and I think Spanish guitar as Tommy comes in on vocals. When it picks up at 1 1/2 minutes it's so catchy and uplifting. It's like this band has a gift for being melodic and funny and experimental, they do it all so well. I like the pulsating keys and the guitar after 2 1/2 minutes. Back to the opening soundscape after 3 minutes.

"Concerto Grosso For Pop Group And Symphony Orchestra" is the over 23 minute orchestral piece with an actual orchestra helping out. I'm not really into orchestral music but they add enough "Rock" elements to keep me happy. I like the bass after a minute and the picked guitar and flute around 3 1/2 minutes all while the orchestral sounds lead the way. A change before 7 minutes as the orchestral stuff stops and drums and organ lead the way. Check out the bass solo 8 minutes in then the organ leads as the brass and strings come and go. It turns classical before 10 minutes then the drums and distorted keys join in. Nice. A drum solo is fairly brief then the strings return after 11 minutes. Guitar around 14 minutes. A change after 18 minutes as the guitar stops and strings take over. Dual keys only before 19 1/2 minutes then it kicks back in to an orchestral mode at 20 minutes with bass and piano too as drums follow. Many aren't thrilled with this suite but it adds to the charm in my opinion.

"Phrygian Samba" is another killer track with bass and electric piano to start as drums and more join in quickly. Great sound! Guitar joins in before 2 minutes. Catchy is the word. "Think When We Live All Together" is another silly song sounding like it's out of the thirties or something especially the male and female vocals that are channeling that vibe. The laughter to start the song is a clue what's to follow. Piano support the vocals. "They're Building Their Cities" is another memorable song that opens with mono- tones female vocals and an experimental backdrop bring RIO to mind right away. It does change before 1 1/2 minutes as it picks up with drums, organ and bass as the male vocals join in. Electric piano too. An instrumental break before 3 minutes and the guitar joins in as he starts ripping it up. Male vocals are back after 4 1/2 minutes then it ends like it began. "A Real Goodun'" is the jazzy closing number with bass, drums and organ leading the way as the guitar joins in around 2 minutes.

Sure this isn't perfect just like "666" isn't perfect but I'm a sucker for electric piano and it's played by two of the members so it's prominent, but also the talent that is featured in this band just boggles my mind. The compositions, playing and singing all clicked with me from the very first listen.