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Congreso - El Congreso CD (album) cover

EL CONGRESO

Congreso

 

Prog Folk

2.97 | 25 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
3 stars First album by the second-most important Chilean group (from the suburbs of Valparaiso) after Los Jaivas, (El) Congreso is just as long-running as LJ is and had roots well in the 60's, even if their birth dates from 69 and their self-titled debut dates from 71. The double Gonzales guitar attack quintet presents the particularity of having a drummer that plays piano (also a Gonzales) and the singer some flute. Their early music presented some psychedelic folk with strong local (Andean) flavours and the debut is filled with fuzz guitar and sports the ever-present El Condor Pasa (correct version, not too much dramatics), and the group even managed a major label EMI-Odeon, reissued on Cd with Record Runner. It was recorded Live In The Studio for the most of it.

The group obviously intended to have something important in their lyrics (or else the wouldn't have called themselves Congreso) and in the first couple tunes, they speak of Neruda and other meaningful subjects in soft folk rock song with flutes, gentle fuzz-guitar, a bunch of typical Andean instruments like the tarca and quena and use some not-always straight-forward tempo shifts. The flow of track is relatively smooth, and superb instrumentals like El Errante interrupt the succession of folks songs that are all rather lovely, but nothing worth writing home about (or describe accurately in this review ;o)p) but still remain vaguely psychedelic. Some other tracks (like Mirale Al Espejo and its wailing fuzz guitar) take on a rockier form or dramatic feel like Rompe Tu Espada or La Roca, but the album never leaves the folk realm, something El Condor Pasa reminds us, just before a long (11 mins) instrumental (AAR) which starts out on a fuzz-lead tune, but goes on dissecting itself and end up with a bass and drum duo, before getting an overlong drum solo ends the album in its vinyl form. A bit too bad to end so weirdly

The Cd re-issue comes with two bonus tracks in the form of the non-album single of the next year, which goes on to bring back their pop side and more local instruments, with the Como Vas folk ditty, and its flipside, the delicious flute-lead Nuestros Es El Momento. Two valid tracks that add to the album's overall value, without sounding out of context, which has its importance. Somehow this album remains fresh and doesn't sound dated for the folk-minded progheads and if it wasn't for that weird drumming death, it might have garnered enough impact to go further up the rating scale.

Sean Trane | 3/5 |

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