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MIA - Transparencias CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.95 | 69 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars M.I.A. was the first band in the Argentinean rock circle to pursue an integrally independent procedure for the dissemination of their musical art among potential audiences eager to hear and enjoy an eclectic, experimental approach to rock music, i.e., what we usually label as progressive rock. Released in 1976 in a homemade album package, "Transparencias" is this ensemble's first statement, and the only one with the two keyboardsmen Lito Vitale and Juan del Barrio sharing and/or alternating role on the keys and drum kit. While not as perfectly crafted as the band' third effort "Cornonstipicum" (their ultimate masterpiece), "Tranparencias" manages to convey a very inventive and amazingly colorful mixture of art-rock sources: symphonic, Cantebury-related jazz-prog, pastoral, sheer classicism Baroque-style, fusion and symphonic-friendly psychedelic rock. It is a pity that at this early point of M.I.A.'s career, the ensemble's musical vision is not as fluidly amalgamated as on the aforesaid third album, since the album's repertoire in itself is heavily benefited from the combination of Vitale and Del Barrio's writing talents (let alone their refined performing skills, which serve as leading forces for the tracks' instrumental developments). 'Reencontrando el Camino' is a lovely yet arguably too short introduction to the dynamics of symphonic melodic drive merged with Cantebury dynamics: the opening motif, reprised at the end, is very joyful, while the interlude brings an effective aura of contemplative serenity. 'El Casamiento de Alicia' bears a similar formal structure, but it is more properly expanded (lasting almost 7 ˝ minutes), in this way developing a more epic feel than on the opener. Here is the first appearance of the ARP Odyssey synthesizer in the album: being as young as he was back then, it is unbelievable how well Vitale could find and handle this instrument's potential to provide a magical sound that somehow stands between Emerson's prototypical Moog excursions and Gowan's soaring solos in the Gilgamesh albums. This is what a keyboard-based power trio is all about in a prog rock context - through their evident influence, these guys nailed it instantly! The interlude, based on a quotation of one of the most popular sections from Elgar's "Pomp and Circumstance", brings a schematic moment of sonic repose among the muscular vibe provided by the main motif. This one might be the album's highlight, but again, there is much more to enjoy as the album goes on. 'Imagen II' is a delicate instrumental with a Baroque foundation - after all, this is a pastoral translation partially inspired by the original ceremonious spirit of Bach's Prelude No. 1. Daniel Curto's classical guitar and Liliana Vitale's chanting/recorder duties manage to handle the tranquil mood very efficiently. 'Contrapunto Rítmico' is the most openly jazz-oriented piece in the album, including bass and drum solos strategically located in the flow of the jamming procedure. The namesake track is a 20 minute epic that occupies the vinyl's B-side. It is constructed in a symphonic space-rock mould, giving preferential room to the expansion of ethereal motifs and introspective developments (a standard traced by Pink Floyd from their "Meddle" days). The two keyboardists are cleverly joined in a fluid alternation with Nono Belvis' acoustic guitar, while Liliana goes wandering around with her chanting (she plays drums on this on, too). Some bass and percussion ornaments add bits of controlled tension before a certain chorale section and recorder lines bring back the dreamy atmosphere. At first listen this epic may sound like a not-so-ordained collage of various melodic ideas, and the impression of being a bit flawed doesn't really disappear with further listens. But what further listens can create is the awareness of a tight harmonizing sense that leads the epic's delivery and prevails through its variations. Passing the 12 ˝ minute mark, a rock section emerges on a taciturn tempo, very Floydian indeed. Belvis' guitar lead is properly constructed, powerful enough to bring a moment of emotional enhancement, yet not overblown with exaggerated flourishes as to kill the epic's overall spirit. You can tell that there is much technical skill there, joined with a sense of texture and atmosphere. Once the drumming stops, the guitar becomes more relaxed, yet retaining the conquered center stage. For a minute, the rockier motif remerges with a final lead guitar expansion, before the last passage brings a dreamy combination of organ, piano and female chanting. This climax is clearly the moment for which the first 12 minutes of languid introspection had been working on. The CD edition includes some Vitale piano pieces plus a power-trio track, all of thm recorded live: great bonuses, indeed. "Tranparencias" is an excellent starting point for one of the most creative bands of 70s Latin American prog rock. M.I.A. - all collectors, note down this name on a preferential spot on your lists.
Cesar Inca | 4/5 |


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