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Los Jaivas - Alturas De Machu Picchu CD (album) cover


Los Jaivas


Prog Folk

4.22 | 311 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is one of the most celebrated prog albums to come out from the South American Continent, and one of the definitive highlights of the Chilean band Los Jaivas. Conceived and recorded while the fivesome were residing in Paris, the lyrics were taken from an evocative poem collection written by Pablo Neruda (also Chilean), inspired by the amazing and mysterious beauty of the ruins of Macchu Picchu - located in Peru -, and expressing a mystic reflection upon the contrast between the power of that ancestral beauty and the weakness of human nature, perpetually trapped by temporality and death. This dramatic appreciation, full of alternating joy, sadness, exaltation and melancholy, is properly conveyed by the colourful compositions: these musical ideas are based on a perfect amalgam of Andean folk (lots of Andean pipes and hand drums in many places) and an eerie symphonic prog, mostly influenced by WYWH- era Pink Floyd and vintage Genesis. The performances are tight, with the band working as a whole unit at keeping a sense of enthusiasm that can be perfectly perceived even by those who don't know Spanish and/pr are not familiar with South American folklore. The duets of Alquinta's guitar and Eduardo or Claudio Parra's synths are really outstanding, and so are the grand piano parts played with superb elegance by Claudio Parra. After the brief intro 'Del Aire al Aire' (a sequence of Andean woodwind and percussives displayed on a background of synthetic wild wind), the 11-minute long epic 'La Poderosa Muerte' exhibits a series of varied passages that epitomize the maximum level of splendour contained in this album: a long eerie intro that leads to the cueca-based first sung section, next a stylized diablada, followed by a second cueca section that eventually leads to the explosive prog climax, ended with the sound of synthetic thunder. All diverse sections are fluidly intertwined. A special mention goes to that brief moment in which the ocarina and the Moog indulge in a game of responses until they almost melt into one single sonic source. Later on, the same epic ambitions of 'La Poderosa Muerte' remerge in the shorter 'Antigua América', although this time the chamber element is a bit more prominent, due to the stylishly Baroque use of clavinet in some passages. Between these two tracks, there are 'Amor Americano' (basically, an exciting Andean folk piece played with rock instrumentation) and the mesmerizing symphonic ballad 'Águila Sideral'. 'Sube a Nacer Conmigo Hermano' is the most popular tune: unlike the preceding repertoire, it is not based on Andean folklore, but the tropical lands of Venezuela - more exactly, it's a joropo reconstructed under the frame of rock and jazz fusion. The inclusion of this number doesn't break up the album's musical cohesion: on the contrary, it helps the band to make their point about human finitude as a genuine universal concern. The sensual joy that is inherent to the joropo allows the track 'Sube a Nacer.' to state an optimistic view about the destiny of all Latin American nations (back in the early 80s there were still lots of cruel dictatorships functioning there). But then again, 'Final' closes down the album with a resumed sense of melancholy: Alquinta's whispering vocal and the flowing piano arpeggios remind us of the fact that the river of one man's life is destined to end up in the immense sea of death. In conclusion: an excellent addition to any good prog collection.
Cesar Inca | 4/5 |


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