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Bernardo Rubaja - High Plateaux (as Rubaja and Hernandez) CD (album) cover


Bernardo Rubaja


Prog Folk

4.00 | 2 ratings

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4 stars Produced by Mark Isham at more or less the commercial peak for the new age genre and its flagship Windham Hill label, "High Plateaux" is something of a different entity. While Windham Hill did tend to focus on solo or duo work, most of it represented a somewhat homogenized Americanized representation of the spiritual search, devoid of any aspect that might offer clues as to the inner nature of the artists. Fans purported to reject of the vapidity of this golden economic era while accumulating all its toys and trappings as enthusiastically as any population before or since. Rubaja and Hernandez hailed from Latin cultures or countries, and were not shy about expressing that connection. It is true that at times they submit to Osterization on this instrumental offering, but fine writing, playing and arranging emerge with sufficient regularity to save this one from ignominy.

As expected, pan flutes are a common part of the mellow blend, and they more than once can't help but suggest "El Condor Pasa" for better or worse, but both of these gentlemen play a variety of keys, chiefly pianos and synthesizers, and Isham's brass contributions add profundity to almost every track, played more for atmospherics than as lead instruments. Harp, acoustic guitar and more traditional charango also weave in and out of the highly visual soundscape. Even the titles conjure nature, color, and fantasy, from the absolutely stunning opener "Puerto Del Sol" to the noble "Indian Woman", the hypnotic "Icebird" and the reflective "Child's Dream". The rhythm section is more than capable and always tasteful.

This may not be the most challenging of albums, but don't let that new age label put you off. In "High Plateaux", sadly the only combined effort by these two gentlemen, we have a first class instrumental prog folk album that is quite on another plain.

kenethlevine | 4/5 |


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