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Rafael Pacha - La Tierra Permanece CD (album) cover


Rafael Pacha


Prog Folk

4.05 | 3 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Before reviewing Rafael Pacha's retrospective-natured recent album A Bunch of Forest Songs that was released on CD by his close collaborator and my countryman Kimmo Pörsti (whereas Pacha's other solo works are digital albums on Bandcamp) I wanted to have a closer look at one of his earlier recordings. La Tierra Permanece is, according to the Spanish composer and multi-instrumentalist himself, "a transitional album between the old and the new". I understood that his earliest works, starting from the threshold of the turn of the century, are more clearly folk- dominated and that the prog aspect increases: Going Ahead (2009) he sees as prog, not folk.

In a nutshell, this is organic instrumental music mixing folk and prog. Pacha's gifts as a multi-instrumentalist are truly remarkable. The acoustic-electric instrumentation is delightfully varied and fresh-sounding. On acoustic guitar he rivals big prog figures such as Anthony Phillips, and as the electric guitarist his style is sometimes reminiscent of Steve Hackett or Mike Oldfield. Pacha's use of various flutes is much folkier than of Ian Anderson or Camel's Andy Latimer, and his old love for Celtic music is felt here.

Some notes on individual tracks. The opener 'Absent' is gorgeous as it starts with a Phillips-reminding jingling guitar sound and grows bigger. And what's most important, also the melody is emotionally powerful. In a way this is better than Steve Hackett's 'The Steppes'. On 'Carpe Diem' the arrangement evolves very beautifully from a moody ac.guitar, piano and synth interplay to the dominance of electric guitar and flutes. I'd like to think there's a mystic fairytale-like spirit in this music. On 'Folía para una Dama' that spirit has a Medieval hint due to recorders. If you're familiar with the multi-national THE GUILDMASTER project, you know how Pacha likes to mix sonic elements of Old and New.

The only guest appearance on this album is Manoel Macía playing Ovation acoustic guitar on 'Hiroshi's Picks / Hiroshi Speaks'. A nice tune but not among my favourites here. Perhaps the album slightly loses its steam towards the end. I don't like the heaviness in 'The Hammer', and also 'Earth Abides' is a bit weak composition compared to many others. The brief closing track 'El viejo en el puente' is an earthy, moody, small-scale piece mainly for stringed instruments, percussion and recorder.

I was charmed by this album for its airy and fascinating atmospheres, the heartfelt melodies and the nuanced, dynamic instrumentation. Warmly recommended if you enjoy folk-oriented instrumental prog of e.g. Mike Oldfield, Tom Newman, Anthony Phillips, Jade Warrior, and Breton artists such as Alan Stivell. I'm glad and proud of having brought this wonderful artist to ProgArchives.

Matti | 4/5 |


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