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Ibio - El Regreso CD (album) cover

EL REGRESO

Ibio

 

Prog Folk

3.11 | 13 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "El Regreso" is the accurate title for Ibio's comeback album: this was one of the most remembered bands from Spain's 70s progressive scene, having the peculiarity of being the main act from a particular Northern region, Cantabria. This is the land of the Caves of Altamira, and Ibio created a solid prog-folk style that, from the rock point of view, absorbed influences from Yes, Pink Floyd and the IItalian standard (PFM, Apoteosi,... or was it just coincidence?). Now, how do they sound like? Pretty much the same but with a heavier use of digital sounds on modern keyboards and an usually major presence of the guitar. It is not exactly that the band is now rockier and less folkish: it is equally folkish, but the global ensemble's sound is fuller and more vigorous, with a more thorough work on the arrangements when it comes to exploit the symphonic possibilities of the track's main motifs. Anyway, the fact remains that the typical Celtic vibe of Spain's Northern folklore shines brightly all through the album's repertoire. The namesake opener is a delighful instrumental that bears an enchanting catchiness, a reasonable dose of symphonic pomposity properly lead by the synths and cleverly accomplished by all musicians, who effortlessly keep things under control. The next two tracks are patently rooted on the folkish factor, with 'En el Monte' including a featured guest on bagpipe. The sense of joy is a replication of the usual flair of naivety so typical of all Spanish folk traditions. Perhaps these three tracks are symptomatic of Ibio's two main trends, the symphonic and the prog-folkish, with any of the tracks leaning closer to one or the other. 'A Dos Mil Años' bears an evocative tone that turns aout to be quite appalling, especially due to the sumptuous keyboard layers and the emotionally charged guitar solo: the perfect score for these particular lyrics, reflectively critical of humankind's history of constant destruction. After spending some time in this harbour of solemnity, naivety returns to its ruling place with the overwhelmingly playful 'Estratagema'. Other demonstrations of serene candidness in a playful guise are 'De Altamira a Puente Riesgo' and 'Los Ventolines'. 'Bosque Encantado' is the album's longest tracks, with its 7+ minute span: here we find what is arguably the most impressive guitar solo in the album, besides a dreamy keyboard led interlude that screans pure symphonic prog through the porse of each and every note. A zenith of the album, indeed. 'Romería' follows the folkish structure of other preceeding tracks, but this one stands out for preserving a certain density that shies away from any manifestation of naivety: this time, the ambience heas a more introverted tendency. This melancholic vibe is further explored in 'Mar Cantábrico', which brings back the solemnity of 'A Dos Mil Años', only this time the lyricis are not about what's been going on in the outside world but about the hopes and expectations of our inner selves. The progressive expansions of the main motif and the presence of a guest musician on cello crucially help to create a splendour surrounding for the meditation portrayed on the lyrics. Here's another highlight of the album. The album is closed down by a new version of the firts album's opener: the original's essence has been preserved, but it is fair to say that the modern sonorities and the more professional sound production take the song to a different level. My fave tracks are 1, 6, 7 and 8, but looking beyond my own personal ranking, I must say that this whole album works integrally as an excellent prog item. Devoted collectors of Spanish prog and followers of symphonic prog in general should love this album - Ibio's El Regreso is almost mandatory in a progressive shopping list.
Cesar Inca | 4/5 |

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