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Bacamarte - Depois do Fim CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.29 | 894 ratings

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4 stars Even though 1983 was a God-awful year in music (at least throughout North America), there were a few mildly interesting things going on at the time. One of them was a minor surge of what I guess could be called 'contemporary world music'. I wouldn't really call this a trend, or a genre or anything like that. It was more the record industries struggling to find something to fill the void they had created themselves by introducing new wave and post-disco dance crap in the late seventies and early eighties. There seemed to be a lot more imports available, and quite a few artists found themselves at least briefly in the spotlight for their ethnically unique styles, many of them even managing commercial hits or industry awards (King Sunny Ade, Gipsy Kings, the Kinshasa Sound, Dollar Brand, Los Lobos, Jamaaladeen Tacuma among others).

There was also Bacamarte, who put out this really enchanting symphonic throwback album, and then pretty much disappeared. Many of the others disappeared from music charts and trade magazines as well, but most went on to long and successful careers in music anyway. The group Bacamarte seemed to vanish altogether, although I guess there was a Mario Neto solo project under the name 'Bacamarte' in the late nineties. But from what I understand that was not quite the same or nearly as good.

This album is packed with really elegant music in the finest symphonic tradition, and projects the South American heritage of its musicians in full. Each work is full of flourishing keyboards and piano, real and synthesized chamber-like backing vocals, and precise drumming. There's also some really great percussion, acoustic guitar, and flute which give the album an overall Latin symphonic feel and an airiness that was quite refreshing at the time. Despite its age, this is an album that has worn well with time, and is just as fresh today as it was then.

The opening "UFO" sets the tone for the whole album with its liberal use of ringing percussion and flute. The sparse feminine vocal portions blend well with the music, and complement rather than contrast the instruments.

"Smog Alado" is a bit more formal thanks to the us of organ chords and several slow transitions that sort of wash the keyboards and cymbals over the rhythm in a more symphonic fashion. A short but beautiful work.

The guitar on "Miragem" is electric, but still has that uniquely Latin flourish to it that blends Spanish, Portuguese and maybe Catalan sensibilities together for a really rich timbre. This is an instrumental track that also makes heavy use of the flute and organ, and for some reason reminds me of the moody feel of an autumn afternoon in a nature setting. This and "Último Entardecer" are my favorite tracks on the record.

"Pássaro De Luz" and "Caño" are short works set to almost flamenco-like guitar arrangements and quiet balladic vocals. "Caño" is the more animated of the two, and also features the organ and a faster tempo, but both are more for setting a mood than the longer tracks that are more story-oriented.

"Último Entardecer" is the longest work here, clocking in at almost ten minutes and with extended guitar, piano and keyboard passages. The story I gather has something to do with mythology, something about a 'final ending' - dunno', wish I knew Portuguese. The piano passages are very nice, and the different transitions serve to stretch this out to seem much longer even than it is. This is a great example of some really traditional-sounding symphonic music that blends ethnic, rock, and classical sounds seamlessly. One of the strongest works Bacamarte ever recorded.

The other really short track is "Controvérsia", an instrumental which only lasts a couple minutes but features some interesting fusion-like piano and drums, as well as almost psychedelic keyboards. A nice transition to the final two compositions.

"Depois do Fim" (After the End) I guess is meant to describe some sort of post- apocalyptic world, and is appropriately set to dirge-like organ and dull, synthesized strings and mournful vocals. Amid some of the best guitar work on the album Jane Duboc mourns the carnage left in the wake of whatever it is that has transpired, and the survivors are lamenting the damage and expressing regrets. Or at least I think that's what she's singing about. The stage is then set for the closing "Mirante das Estrelas", which is the rebirth I guess. This is a more upbeat work, with more Spanish- flavored guitar, uplifting keyboards and a lively rhythm, bringing the album to a close on a seemingly positive note. My only complaint here is that an extended poetic vocal track would have really made this song complete.

This is a lost gem in North America, although from many reviews I've read from around the world it seems to have gained its rightful place in symphonic rock history outside the U.S.

I'm glad, because this is one of the classics as far as I'm concerned. I'm tempted to give it five stars, and may come back and do that some day, but it just doesn't quite have that intangible little extra that pushes it over the edge into the realm of essential, so for now I'll stick with 4.49 and recommend it highly to any progressive music fan, especially symphonic aficionados.


ClemofNazareth | 4/5 |


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