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Los Canarios - Ciclos CD (album) cover

CICLOS

Los Canarios

 

Symphonic Prog

4.13 | 151 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
4 stars Spain was a late player in the prog game because during its peak years in the early 70s, was still under the isolating dictatorship of Franco but following his death in 1975 managed to recover, however a few classics still squeaked in under the radar with the most adventurous prog album of the entire Spanish speaking world to have emerged in 1974 by LOS CANARIOS. The name derived from the fact that this jazzy folk and beat band turned prog formed on the Spanish owned Canary Islands which sits perched off the coast of Morocco.

The group formed in 1964 in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria by the talented singer / songwriter Terry Bautista and after releasing a series of hits in English under the moniker THE CANARIES, finally relished in their own Latin roots from 1970 on by changing to CANARIOS and then for their final and most ambitious release of their career, LOS CANARIOS. While the early hits and first two albums were a mix of beat music, psychedelic pop and soul jazz with stealthy wind and brass arrangements, on their third album CICLOS, Bautista not only joined the prog universe but delivered the Spanish world's equivalent to the pomp and awe of "Tales From Topographic Oceans."

CICLOS is considered the absolute pinnacle of Spanish prog, which is a larger than life concept album that is based on the melodies of Vivaldi's "The Four Seasons" and likewise is divided into four sprawling tracks with each track hovering around or above the 17 minute mark (initially swallowing up entire sides of vinyl) and totaling 73 minutes. While the expected Baroque classical influences are well on board, CICLOS is a loose interpretation of Vivaldi's magnum opus that utilizes familiar aspects and then improvises new creative avenues in full symphonic prog regalia that dishes out the full potentials of mellotrons, vibraphones, electric guitars, a soprano diva and a full classical choir.

The CICLOS era of LOS CANARIOS is in effect a completely different band that Bautista completely reformed with several new members joining the major upgrade in sound including drummer Alain Richard, keyboard player Mathias Sanvellian, bassist Christian Mellies and guitarist Antonio García de Diego. An extra nine performers sat in and the "official" members of the cast expanded their comfort zones by adding the rich sounds of sequencers, lyres, violin, therein, glockenspiel and various percussive instruments to the musical palette. It seems no ambition was too great in the making of CICLOS which Bautista obviously created to put Spanish prog on the map as it was notably absent from the European scene.

While often simply considered a mere symphonic prog adaptation to "The Four Seasons," CICLOS is actually a more complex creation which only utilizes Vivaldi as a loose canvas upon which to paint a rather nebulous plot which portrays the history of humanity from the big bang all the way to the apocalypse, almost primarily in instrumental form with human vocals simply adding more texture to the sonicscape. The music is quite diverse as it traverses through not only Baroque classical and symphonic prog rock but also jazz, soul, traditional folk and straight forward rock. While the keyboards provide the lead role as melodic developer bringing an Emerson, Lake and Palmer feel to the mix at times, the supplemental sounds is staggeringly rich and allows CICLOS to exist in a world all its own.

While touted as some as a veritable masterpiece with others finding it overweening and pretentious, i find it somewhat in between those two extremes. To the modern ears, there are some parts in the beginning that remind me of the Transiberian Orchestra in the transliteration of classical to rock during the unabashed Vivaldi sections, but overall this album really jumps all over the place and offers an interesting journey throughout one of the most ambitious musical journeys of the entire musical universe with excellently executed musical workouts taking LOS CANARIOS to a whole new level of musical complexity.

Much like other albums of such staggering magnitude, this is one that need to be experienced over a period of time to really comprehend. While there are certainly parts of the album that don't quite work as well as others, i can't help but love CICLOS and its unique musical bombast from one of the forgotten corners of the European music scene. If you seek one of the musical giants of the era then you can't ignore CICLOS, which put a lagging Spain, at long last on the prog map in its classic era and sits nicely next to other over-the-top prog albums such as Yes' classic "Tales From Topographic Oceans," Jethro Tull's "A Passion Play" and Aphodite's Child's classic "666."

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |

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