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LOS JAIVAS

Los Jaivas

 

Prog Folk

3.68 | 53 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars During their early years, the interest on expanding the musical possibilities of folk music to new sonic domains drove Chilean ensemble Los Jaivas to assimilate the prog thing and use it as a strategy to realize their artistic vision. Their eponymous third album is a turning point, since the prog thing stops being just a mere strategy and becomes the main structure of their compositions and performances. With a momentarily new bassist in the fold (it wouldn't be long before Mutis returned to the band) and a renewed sense of energy, Los Jaivas conceived an amazing repertoire for an amazing record. The opener 'Pregón para Iluminarse' starts with some delicious recorder lines that soon give way to an up-tempo Paraguayan folk based number: what takes place here is an exulting combination of jungle colours and the fire of rock, specially during the explosive guitar solo that appears in the closing section. By now the listener must be hooked, to say the least. 'Guajira Cósmica' finds the band traveling northbound, to the rain forests of Central America. After a brief, delightful acoustic interlude in 6/8 tempo, a guajira explodes in exaltation, with a whole lot paraphernalia of tropical percussion, enthusiastic chanting about the order of the universe, and eventually a recorder that flies around like a bird of truth - while this sequence fades out, a sustained distorted organ chord announces the reprise of the intro motif. In perspective, what we witnessed was the sudden emergence of a cosmological revelation that for a while filled our ordinary dull lives with an irresistible touch of joy and celebration. 'La Conquistada' goes somewhere else: a place of introspective reflectiveness where melancholy rules the soul and obliges the heart to face its own pain. The endless piano flourishes draw captivating images with mesmeric flows of classically oriented precise lines and jazzy painting; meanwhile, Alquinta's guitar leads perfectly complement the passion condensed in his singing. This is perhaps the most overtly emotional number on the record. Tracks 3 and 4 are the most directly focused on the folkish roots. 'Un Mar de Gente' is a delicate acoustic Andean ballad that soon incorporates a massive spectrum of percussive elements, giving the track a high- spirited tropical twist; 'Un Día de tus Días' is a romantic huayno, tender, evocative, nothing special but full of simple beauty. Had both these numbers been further developed, I imagine they could have become as attractive and explosive as the previous three ones. The three-part instrumental suite 'Tarka y Ocarina' closes down the album with full splendour in an amazing display of electric fire and magical intensity. Despite the title mentioning two typical woodwind instruments from the Andes, this is in fact a piece where the electric stuff is the predominant one. Of course, there's lots of Andean woodwind and drums here and there, bur it is the jams which take the leading role in this epic: the hard rocking parts where Alquinta's guitar comes to the frontline, and the jazz fusion passages where Claudio Parra's piano floats energetically and exquisitely are simply unbelievable. Despite the fact that I have mentioned and praised just a couple of specific factors, the thing is that this whole repertoire should be valued as an ensemble effort. The rhythm section is simply astonishing, since it sensibly captures both the ancient magic of Latin American folklore and the various nuances of jazz and rock; and the way that all five musicians share their woodwind and percussion duties is a symptom that these individual minds basically work as a whole unified one. "Los Jaivas" (also commonly known in the Latin American prog fan circles as "El Indio" and "El Indígena") is a quintessential in the context of South American 70s prog: though not a masterpiece, sure it is very good and essential.
Cesar Inca | 4/5 |

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