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Amagrama - Ciclotimia CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.95 | 72 ratings

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3 stars A very pleasant surprise out of Argentina, Amagrama delivered a highly symphonic and keyboard-intensive debut album a few years back when most of the band was still in their teens. I don’t know enough about these guys to know if they are still together, but on this release they show a very promising cohesiveness and maturity in producing complex symphonic rock that belies their age.

Seven of the eleven tracks are instrumentals including the first three, so its more than thirteen minutes into the records before anyone gets to hear keyboardist Agustin Amaya offer up any lyrics. He is accompanied with mellow backing harmonies by drummer Juan Amaya (relative? Not sure), and both of them manage to show a restraint in their vocal emotions that is sometimes lacking on Latin singing. The few vocals that are on the album are in Spanish and are some cases are a bit difficult to follow even if you know Spanish (and mine is quite rusty, but I get the impression this is some sort of love song. Anyway, the piano is quite good here and complements the ranging guitar work that begins to manifest itself once the track gets going. Up to this point the album is very keyboard-intensive, with the guitar only becoming apparent toward the end of the third track “El Vacio I” and again on this one.

A few tracks like “Vigilia”, “El Vacio I” and “II” and “Todo lo que Pueda Ser” are mostly instrumental, quite brief, and seem to not be fully developed but rather included as the audio equivalent of shiny objects, meant perhaps to distract the listener from the fact that this album is rather sparse without these bits of filler. The tracks that are fully matured are all quite good, but this sprinkling of half-baked snippets is a bit distracting.

By the middle of the album two of the four vocal tracks are over and the emphasis returns. “Fabulas de un Titere”, like the opening title track and the two that follow it is quite heavy with keyboards and synthesizers, with the guitar playing a somewhat subservient role and the lively bass getting buried for the most part behind the wall of synthetic sound. Don’t get me wrong, this is great music, but one has to wonder if Agustin Amaya and (his brother?) the drummer could have almost done this by themselves and simply synthesized the stringed parts. And I’m not advocating that either, it’s just that the keys and drums are so very dominant that little else stands out.

“La Luz y el Cristal” is a little different as the guitarist is quite prominent here, and the bass player seems to have gotten a favorable mix that doesn’t wash him out in the glare of the keyboards. Another instrumental track, and along with the title track probably among the strongest on the album.

The ‘bonus’ track is a Crucis cover – “Recluso Artista”, a song from that band’s 1975 debut album. This version seems to be more reserved than the original, but it’s a pretty decent tribute interpretation and makes a nice collector piece for Latin prog fans.

This isn’t a great album, although I think this is a band that has real potential to be great in the progressive music arena should they choose to keep at it and make the commitment. This album lacks balance between instruments on the whole, and I think if the band decides to continue on with vocal tracks they may also want to invest in a real singer (perhaps a female one). Other than that this is a decent debut, and three stars are not out of line so that’s what I’ll give it. Recommended to people who would buy a Flower Kings or the Tangent or Crucible record because if you appreciate those then you are someone who can get into modern symphonic rock that may be seen by some purists as derivative and therefore not worthy. Good for you because yours is the attitude that will keep bombastic and symphonic prog music alive.


ClemofNazareth | 3/5 |


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