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Arco Iris - Agitor Lucens V CD (album) cover


Arco Iris


Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.30 | 68 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars In 1974, Arco Iris released their magnum opus "Agitor Lucens V", a double concept-album regarding a cosmic-oriented appreciation of the nuclear origins of South American culture. Since its inception, the band had been clearly focused on the delivery of a solid, experimental rock fusion, which eventually would lead them to the progressive area: "Agitor Lucens" is the manifestation of this musical metamorphosis. This album turned out to be a real pioneering cornerstone in the introduction of prog in Argentina, and it's simply great that this seminal phase of Argentine art-rock should be catapulted by such a mature album - definitely, Arco Iris was a league on their own. Ara Tokatlián enhances his versatile input with a more increased use of keyboards, mostly on the psychedelic side of things, together with his ever growing arsenal of saxes, flutes and folk woodwinds, while the rhythm duo displays a more varied set of structures and frameworks as the repertoire progresses on. This was the last album with co-funding guitarist Gustavo Santaolalla and drummer Horacio Gianello in the band, was premiered in a performance heavily aided with visual ornaments. The opener 'Intro - La Nave Madre' is an epic prologue in which the soaring guitar lines and the organ layers create an eerie mood accompanied by languid ornaments on bass and drumkit: something like a more lyrical version of "Ummagumma"-era PF's excursions. 'Lucero Andino' is a beautiful acoustic piece that sets a nice contemplative mood before the following three tracks go to more experimental places: 'Vientos Celestiales' is an instrumental mysterious prelude to the colorful set of motifs contained in 'Bas Bus - Si el Señor Me Dio Estas Manos' and 'Bas Bus', in which the band alternates frantic jazz-rock and fusion with seamless fluidity. 'Príncipe del Alba' brings back another moment of bucolic introspectiveness in a folkish scheme, something quite pertinent before the 14 minute track 'Las Luces Eternas'. This number sounds pretty much like early Caravan refurbished with blues-rock tones: the sense of energy is properly complemented by a touch of class that prevents the musicians from going too wild on their well-ordained jams. Tokatlián's sax solos are awesome, and so are his organ harmonies, which at some point lead him to attempt a Thijs-van-Leer-like solo, although it is not as much a solo as it is a complex resolution of the preceding progressing harmonies; at some point, bassist Guillermo Bordarampé brings some effective responses to the organ phrasings. The band won't take too long after the sax dominated section to take advantage of the track's tempo and turn it into a more Creole thing, clearly inspired by the cadence of malambo (a typical dance from the pampas): this is where Santaolalla takes action and assumes a starring role with a mesmeric set of highly articulated lead phrases, very Santaolalla, indeed. The dramatic closing portion finds Santaolalla incorporating some unmistakable touches of Gilmour and Hendrix in the twist of his guitar lead while the other three members create a slow, bombastic sonic landscape. 'El Regreso del Pájaro Dorado' takes the jazz thing further than on any preceding track: it features a ritualistic percussive quartet in the last part, really acid, and also you can notice that Santaolalla feels particularly inspired by Zappa on this one. 'La Nave Madre' finds the band returning to the Canterbury thing, a factor that they handle with added candor under their own vision. The sequence of 'El Arcángel Miguel', 'Agitor' and 'Sendero de Marcahuasi' shows a chain of fusion folk elements delivered in a stylish way. 'Paraíso Sideral' is a slow psychedelic rocker that bears a mesmerizing meditative atmosphere all the way through toward the end, which is when a military snare seems to announce that something big is about to happen. And big is what is displayed in this work's last quarter, arguably the best side of the double vinyl. 'Un Tiempo y Tiempos y La Mitad de un Tiempo' is a catchy prog-jazz excursion (something like a Canterbury-meets-Weather Report kind of thing) that comprises varying moods and tempos, as well as an electrifying drum solo, in its 7 ½ minute span. Meanwhile, the 18 ½ minute three part suite titled 'Lucens V' closes down the album with flying colours. Part I is introverted and dense, a piece whose foggy ambience is mostly built on the Spartan chords on acoustic guitar. Part II mixes the edge of psychedelic jazz- rock and the natural sensuality of Latin American fusion, including an ad-lib battle between sax and percussion in a particularly exploratory middle section. Part III kicks off immediately after the previous Part's closing thunder, with a set of demented pipe organ layers that stand somewhere between the cosmic and the creepy, with Tokatlián out-Wrighting Wright (of PF). When a more academic mood is set, the ambiance shifts into a sort of medieval liturgy, an impression enhanced by the emergence of a beautiful solo chanting. This ceremonious ending serves as a very pertinent spiritual epilogue for such a very spirit-inflicted album: "Agitor Lucens V" is a pioneering masterpiece that should embellish every decent progressive collection.

(I dedicate this review to Pablo Wally, with my deepest appreciation)

Cesar Inca | 5/5 |


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