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(67 min, Musea)
TRACK LIST: 1. The Party of the Planets 7:49 2. Innocent 6:23 3. Yv 005 Fly 7:52 4. Stars Stress 4:03 5. 43 Doors 5:25 6. The Nomads 9:23 7. Angel's Alarm 8:46 8. God's Garden 9:44 9. Wake Up 4:06 All tracks: by Ubieda. Produced by Ubieda & A Lope-Bello. LINEUP: Gerardo Ubieda - drums; keyboards Angel Echevarreneta - bass Pedro Castillo - guitars Solomon Lerner - keyboards Ricardo Tirado - bass Santos Palazzi - guitars With: Hector Bastardo - sax (5) Luis Blanco - trumpet (5)
Prolusion. Tempano is the flagship of Venezuela's Progressive Rock movement. ODRAREG should probably be considered the first solo album of Tempano's drummer, Gerardo Ubieda, done with the help of two of his band mates, Angel Echevarreneta and Pedro Castillo, along with some native musicians. By the way, Odrareg is just Gerardo, written back to front. Those interested to read my reviews of the latest efforts of the project's maternal band, please click here and here.
Analysis. To the person listening to Odrareg without knowing of the people behind the project, this experience will certainly become a pleasant surprise, at least regarding the high professionalism with which the musicians master their instruments. As to those acquainted with Tempano's creation, everything sorts itself out already upon the first spin. The music immediately signals a different approach in composition and is mainly a kind of cyber Prog blended with jazz, avant-garde and folk music (of Latin and Oriental origin), with a lush, vivid sound, notable for the careful recording registration of all of the instruments involved. Some of the music shows that Gerardo isn't in his element when the matter concerns compositional refinement and melodic beauties. The Party of the Planets, which opens this set of nine tracks, is abundant in asymmetric structures; there are changes of theme and tempo; present is a rapid guitar solo. In spite of this however, I can't perceive the composition otherwise than being two-dimensional in structure, so it leaves me rather cold. The next three tracks, Innocent, Yv 005 Fly and Stars Stress, follow in a similar direction, but reveal more interesting ideas. There are the imitation of chimes, rather harsh and masterful guitar solos, periodic changes of tonality and elements of native music. Nevertheless, the general compositional construction remains pretty plain, leaving a certain sense of disappointment. The picture changes, beginning with the fifth track, 43 Doors, which vastly distinguishes itself from the previous ones, above all by the active use of brass instruments and the appearance of fast, energetic improvisations, which strongly enliven this and most of the additional tracks. The Nomads is the most ethnic sound here. The oriental coloring is stressed by highly virtuosi guitar playing; the introduction of acoustic piano, wordless vocals and angular structures helped out the composition to become one of the most impressive tracks on the album. The emotional, melodically pronounced title track is notable for a unique vocal part and the unexpected appearance of Space Rock-like themes, reminding me of Pink Floyd. Wake Up closes the album with a quiet and peaceful note, the vocal part being nearly whispered, and the overall picture resembling early Pink Floyd, too. This is a decent composition, surpassing the first four tracks, though it's not as good as the four that immediately precede it. Finally, it needs to be said that the work on the sound was done on the highest professional level. Many would envy the richness and the diversity of timbre beauties typical for "God's Garden".
Conclusion. "God's Garden" would've been an excellent album had it been half as long as it is (running 67+ minutes). Of course, I blame the first four tracks. No, they aren't bad, but, lacking improvisations and a thematic diversity, they are certainly less interesting than the others. Recommended, but you, the adventurous, have been warned of the pitfalls that may mar your impression.
VM: October 19, 2005
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