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(53:29, Karisma Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Um Brilho Fragil No Infinito 5:13 2. Caravela Escarlate 4:39 3. Atmosfera 6:29 4. Gigantes Da Destruicao 6:53 5. Toque As Constelacoes 5:22 6. Futuro Passado 4:45 7. Cosmos 8:34 8. Planeta-Estrela 11:34 LINEUP: David Paiva - bass, guitars, vocals Ronaldo Rodrigues - keyboards Elcio Cafaro - drums
Prolusion. Brazilian band CARAVELA ESCARLATE was formed back in 2011, and I understand that the main composer and creative force in the band is keyboardist Ronaldo Rodrigues. The band released an initial album back in 2016, "Rascunho", while they were still a duo. With all members onboard this album was self-released in 2017. The band have now signed to Norwegian label Karisma Records, who will reissue this production for the international market.
Analysis. In this age of YouTube, Bandcamp, Spotify and a steadily growing number of people preferring to enjoy their music in a digital manner, as well as music being international rather than regional, reissuing an album is, perhaps, a bit of a gamble. Especially when the album in question was originally released just over a year ago. But it doesn't take long to understand why Karisma Records felt that this album deserved to be given more attention. As this is most certainly an album that deserves to be a bit more than a self-released album aimed at a presumable home market. Symphonic progressive rock is the name of the game here, and performed by a trio consisting of a drummer, a bassist and a keyboardist. Which actually doesn't translate into a band being directly comparable to ELP actually. Nor to Atomic Rooster or SBB when it comes to that. The music is undeniably progressive rock though, and delivered with some panache as well I might add. The keyboards are the stars of this particular show, from the first note kicks off until the final note dies away. Often layers and cascades of keyboards, but with more of an orientation towards the melodic and the harmony-oriented than towards the dramatic, intricate and challenging. References to both classical music and earlier eras of progressive rock can and will be found I presume, but this isn't one of those bands that wants to be the middle men between classical music and rock music as far as I can tell. This is jubilant progressive rock with a heavy emphasis on keyboards, drawing in influences and inspirations from multiple places, but without trying to be anything more than that. Thankfully. Their approach is one founded in the traditions ofd yesteryear I guess, at least to some extent, but the threesome go about it in a rather modern manner. The keyboards sounds good, fresh and modern, while the vintage oriented sounds used are included in a natural and organic manner. Cue organ and Mellotron as far as the latter is concerned. Of the two, the organ is used most liberally, and to good effect too. But my main impression is that modern and more timeless sounding keyboard sounds is the dominating part of this production, which gives it a contemporary feel in spite of the music and approach as such arguably heralds back to an older era. Vocals plays a small part on this album, at least for a non-Portuguese speaking audience, and are well delivered without being in the way in any manner whatsoever. They have their natural place in the proceedings, to the point that I suspect also those who prefer music of this kind to be instrumental really won't mind the presence. Backing it all up is a tight knit bass and drum partnership, and other than being the steady keel of this particular ship they also add and emphasize a subtle jazz-oriented undertone that makes this album very much a flowing experience. They get their select moments to shine as well, amidst all the keyboard cascades and fluctuations, and as bassist Paiva also handles guitar duties he gets a few more moments using that instrument as well. Without any of them ever really getting a spotlight position, at least not for long. With an excellent production as the icing on the cake, the end result is a very well made album, by a band that appears to have the qualities to become a household name within the progressive rock scene.
Conclusion. Brazil is one of many South American nations where I suspect a lot more is going on in their national music scene than we ever get to know about, including their progressive rock bands. Caravela Escarlate is a fine example of that, as I suspect not all that many fans were aware of this band until Karisma Records decided to pick them up. And for just about anyone with an interest in symphonic progressive rock, this is an album that deserves to be given a spin or three. This is music made with a similar approach as classic era bands of the genre, but with a more contemporary mode of delivery, arrangements and production making it a subtly different and all the more enjoyable total experience. If they continue to develop, this is a band with a bright future in progressive rock circles.
Progmessor: February 24th, 2019
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