zaterdag 13 november 2010

Alas - 1976 - Alas


01. Buenos Aires Solo es Piedra (15:48)
a) Tango
b) Sueño
c) Recuerdo
d) Trompetango
e) Tanguito
f) Soldó
02. La Muerte Contó el Dinero (17:36)
a) Vidala
b) Smog
c) Galope
d) Mal-ambo
e) Vidala Again
f) Amanecer - Tormenta
g) Final
03. Aire [bonus track] (4:35)
04. Rincon, Mi Viejo Rincon*

*Track 4 is only available on reissues after and including the 1997 reissue.

- Gustavo Moretto / keyboards, synthesizers, flute, trumpet, vocals
- Alex Zucker / bass, guitar
- Carlos Riganti / drums, percussion

Alas was one of the most amazing prog bands from Argentina, not only in the technical aspect (all three members were proficient performers) but also in the creative aspect - their style is based on a highly rich amalgam of jazz fusion a-la Return to Forever/Weather report, ELP-tinged prog pomposity, tango-based textures and academic flavours, all of them cohesively gathered in a powerful, original sound. Alas was, in many ways, a world of its own in their country's prog arena, yet their sound portrayed a distinct peculiarity that could only be emanated from the very heart of Buenos Aires' Creole folklore. Their debut album's repertoire consisted of two sidelong suites, both of them bearing a notable predominance of instrumental input. The first one, 'Buenos Aires es Solo Piedra', is the jazziest. The first and antepenultimate motifs sort of operate as the main centers of the whole sequence, providing an air of exuberant mystery for it. The 'Sueño' section is the only sung one, very ethereal indeed: the ethereal stuff is perpetuated in the immediate section, which turns to explore minimalistic places with its musique concrete-inspired tricks. There is another soft section before the arrival of the last one - 'Tanguito' brings some pleasant tango airs, like a dreamy sound that meanders in an unknown place of the listener's subconscious mind. The second suite is the most bombastic, meaning it is the most akin to progressive rock parameters. 'La Muerte Contó el Dinero' is a showcase for ELP's influence on Alas' style, but of course, Moretto's vision combined with the threesome's particular drive keeps them well away from any cloning temptation. The first section is a sung intro based on a delicate electric piano motif augmented by subtle touches of lead guitar and drum kit's cymbals. The lines are really powerful, as if predicting some sociopolitical disaster (which, sadly, came to be around the middle of that year 1976). Check this: "The sky crack up in crusts of lime / Pieces of the high seas cover the tombs / They sow animal birth pains / Children cry their wintertime hunger" - wow!, I understand Spanish and I can't stop my heart from shivering every time my ears listen to these lyrics in the 'Vidala' section. The three following sections determine the suite's nuclear motifs, and that is when things get electrifyingly ELP-ish, indeed: yet, like I said before, never getting to rip-off land. The organ and the synth paint amazing flourishes and leads all the way, while the rhythm section keeps an inventive pace in a most robust manner. After the first sung section is reprised in 'Vidala Again', a series of eerie sounds emanated from the synth, bass and percussive implements arrives like the birth of something new that gets in the landscape and spreads around. The sound of a storm announces a drum solo: what's the point of a drum solo after such an ethereal passage? Well, this drum solo serves as an anticipation of the final outburst, which is the resumed reprise of sections b, c & f: 'Final' brings an air of conclusive splendour to this suite, in this way providing a coherent closure. The bonus track comes from a single the band originally released the year before this album. While being less demanding, it is very neat, indeed, offering a candorous sample of jazzy 'joie de vivre'. If only it hadn't been placed after 'La Muerte.' - it somehow kills its climax. Well, if you program your CD player by locating the bonus between the two suites, the experience will be more rewarding. But even if you don't, Alas' debut album is so good that it can only motivate an excellent emotional experience in the listener's soul: "Alas" is a master opus that any decent prog collector should have.

"Buenos Aires solo es piedra" is the first song of this album and probably one of my favorite songs of the band, it is a 15-minute epic which blends all the necessary to be called a superb song, excellent musicianship, magnific changes throughout the song, and a big creativity, this song reminds me to both ELP in the bombastic moments, and Return to Forever in the Jazz Fusion and fast moments, also let me tell you that somewhere in the song we can listen to the vocals of Moretto and a calm part of the song where trumpet appears with a delicate sound, this song is divided in 6 mini pieces.
"La Muerte conto el dinero" is the longest song of them all, at first we can listen to the part with vocals, sung in Spanish of course, but reminding me a bit to the Italian school. Then again the ELP-inspired music appears, superb keyboard playing and awesome drumming, again, this song was divided in mini pieces or parts whatever you want to call it, and this is the song when the ELP influence is strongly shown, nevertheless Alas doesn´t lose their particular sound and their orientation to tjhe jazz fusion music. There is a part which is beautiful, very soft and calm, an exquisite flute sound, along with some birds singing and also the sound of the air, making a charming moment in this long song, then a drums solo and then it returns to the bombastic music.
"Rincon , mi viejo rincon" and "Aire" are the bonus tracks, both songs make 10 minutes of extra music, being the first one the shortest of them and probably the worst without being bad, and Aire probably the jazziest one, great bass lines and some excellent arrangements, nice bonus tracks.
I really like this album and it´s music, so i highly recommend it to you, have a listen to Alas

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