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Los Canarios - Ciclos CD (album) cover

CICLOS

Los Canarios

 

Symphonic Prog

4.13 | 145 ratings

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Finnforest
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Spanish prog epic you need to discover

The story of this little known progressive rock gem is almost as interesting as the music itself: a true, sprawling four sides of pure symphonic grandeur of the scope and ambition of "Tales from Topographic Oceans" or "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway." The Spanish band started out as the pop/rock group Los Canarios and had several releases which did well, but were of little interest to prog fans. Then around 1973, leader Teddy Bautista split with his bandmates and retained the name, shortening it to just Canarios. He surrounded himself with all new people and decided to create an epic work for the ages. Today, "Ciclos" is little known and rarely discussed, but I think this is likely the most significant Spanish progressive rock title of its time. As Hugues points out, even the fact that such a project could come to fruition given the political/social oppression of Spain in this period makes it very existence incredible. The high-minded plot themes deal with the circle of life and the history of humanity.

"Ciclos" contains only four songs, each covering an entire side of this double album. The music is a free reinterpretation of Vivaldi's "The Four Seasons" and a serious attempt to meld together classical music with symphonic progressive rock. I say reinterpretation because this is not purely a rock band covering a piece of classical music. Everything is subject is change here and the four pieces show a wealth of creative writing and arrangements. The band brings in all various styles to play with: symphonic prog, jazz rock, avant-garde, operatics, and melodic pop/rock. The end result ends up being something not far from the Italian prog of the same period: ambitious, bold, a bit na´ve, and sometimes a bit over the top. The "everything but the kitchen sink" approach is on display here. It's a complex album and in my view a great success, but it takes time to reveal itself to the listener. Like some other reviews I've read, the album did not appeal to me at first. Had I written a quick review it would not have been complimentary. But the more you play this one, the better it gets, which is why I rarely write quick reviews. Sections of the album are beautiful beyond belief, other sections rock hard, and other sections leave you scratching you head at what you just heard. Not bad at all!

"this album is much more than just a cheesy rock adaptation. The band put a lot of effort to mix elements from jazz, blues, opera, and even the modern avant-garde classical into Vivaldi's original. Listeners are treated to harpsichords competing with blues and jazz-infected electric guitars, moog synths that let loose a flurry of notes from Vivaldi's original composition before jumping into funky seventies fusion, classical guitars that gently play melodic interludes as the drummer bangs away inspired by John Cage's compositions for percussion. These guys simply loved to mix different genres of music together." -Steve Hegede

As some have pointed out, it can be a bit garish and cringeworthy at times-this is a fair criticism. The keyboard sound choices in particular can be a little cheesy and may make the album too dated for some. In a pure sound sense it does not hold up quite as well as the Yes and Genesis titles mentioned above. But, for those who don't insist on refined restraint in their prog adventure, "Ciclos" is a pure roller-coaster ride that may leave you breathless with listening pleasure. It is certainly not the least bit ashamed to wear its heart on its sleeve. Tightly performed and with reasonably deep, punchy sound, the album lays out a convincing and jamming rock base over which it displays incredible window dressings: I most love the oodles of unique instruments, the little baroque elements, the occasional operatic vocals and choirs, and the adventurous avant-garde excursions. The album can seem inspired by Topographic Oceans although Yes were more seasoned, and Oceans final product more "musically mature" than this one. My personal guess is that most people who like classic era Yes, Genesis, or Banco will be very happy to have acquired Canarios. I consider this title nearly essential to a deep prog-rock collection.

The vocals are in English which pains me, but will no doubt make this title more accessible to some proggers who don't like non-English vocals. Try to get the Japanese mini-lp sleeve CD which will give you a beautiful gatefold presentation, great sound, and the reproduced inserts.

Finnforest | 4/5 |

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