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Phoenix - Cantofabule (Cantafabule) CD (album) cover

CANTOFABULE (CANTAFABULE)

Phoenix

 

Prog Folk

3.99 | 93 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
4 stars 4.5 stars really!!!

Still not sure whether this album is called Cantofabule (fabulous song) or Cant Of A Bule (as the disc label being called so) or as my Romanian stepsister said Cantafabule, but the track listing is correct. The artwork being similar but monochromic red and carrying the cat # Fanny 100, it is most likely a bootleg, but this was the only way to get to listen (outside the PA's samples) to a full album. This sextet's third album is maybe the best appreciated by progheads, but apparently the last one before the fled the Ceaucescu regime.

The original double album was a concept based on some traditional Romanian themes based on adaptation of poets Seban Foarta and Andrei Ujica and inspired on a Dimitri Bolintineanu book called Istoria Ieroglifa (speaking of a "bestiaire" of fantastic mythical creatures), this almost 70 min-long piece is indeed one of the best thing to come from the old Dacian province. If I speak of Dacia (relating it to the Roman Empire times instead of Valachia or Moldavia-Bessarabia), it is because the general feel relates a bit to Italian prog (this is greatly due to the similarity of both languages), but the Timisoara (in Transylvania where the revolt started) group developed a very ambitious project that mixed some medieval folk with hard rock fronted by a fuzzed-out guitar.

The two-parts lengthy opening track Invocatie gives out right away the main dimension of their music, a fairly hard prog dominated by a fuzz-guitar, where all musicians hold their own. Surprising how modern for the day they sounded apparently having a moog synth. During this track, the group moves to different moods and passages including a "folk" one and there is a harpsichord thrown in there too and the track is a very captivating intro. Moving from the Harpsichord/flute piece Unicorn (sung in Old French) to the mediocre beat-rock of the sacred beetle (Scarabeului), the albums moves quickly to another highlight about dolphins (Delfinul), where the group shows the extent of their considerable talent in this folky ballad. Going through the dragon (semi-hard rocking), the snake (with a terrible sounding violin), a special kind of bird (Calandrinon) that's supposed to accompany you into the underworld (another highlight in my book with superb bass work), the moose and the mongoose, the siren and a few other mythical creatures, the group continues tirelessly (even if you do, partly due to the length and the repetition of tracks that hammer on the same nail and the Romanian singing) until another pure psych-beat-RnR (track 11, a bit of a filler really) breaks the cycle of prog/folk tracks alternating.

The album gets back on track with the splendid Cintic-Lu (hawk) track which definitely seals the fate of the concept as excellent (just short of brilliant), followed by another fabulous Zoomahia (starting with the same electronic sounds that you found on the start of the album, but much longer and sounding like Gong) and the album closing on their fetish Phoenix, rising from the ashes.

Overall this album holds very few flaws (given its communist era background), few fillers and a bunch of superb if inhabitual prog folk tracks, which makes this album a masterpiece of its own. Clearly this album should get the honours from a full remastering and mini-Lp treatment, as it stands in the top 10 of the ex-soviet block.

Sean Trane | 4/5 |

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