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ALAMEDA

Alameda

 

Symphonic Prog

3.42 | 20 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Formed by five sessions musicians (a couple of them, recurrent collaborators for Triana, while keyboardsman Rafael Marinelli assisted Guadalquivir on piano duties), Alameda turned out to be one of the most refined cases of symphonic prog with a strong Flamenco essence. Their own country's musical press hurried at pointing them as a Triana-clone band, but the fact is that the similarities are only partial. Their refinement didn't get them as far as to equal that amazing magic that Mezquita, Cai and Imán provided to the listener through their astonishing albums, that's true; yet, Alameda's music remains a consistent exposure of Flamenco-tinged romanticism and texturial elegance, all of it seasoned with Latin-jazz inspired flavours every now and then. The fact that the two Marinelli brothers were in charge of keyboards (grand and electric pianos, synthesizers and some clavinet) makes the repertoire enhance its melodic aspect, as well as retain an unmistakable sense of exquisiteness. That becomes clear from the opening track: 'Aires de la Alameda' is a flow of pure musical magic focused on the orchestrations, harmonic leads and layers created on the dual keyboards' input. It's a pity that the fade-out comes too soon: its 4:20 duration feels really too short, especially when you come to realize that guitarist-lead singer José Roca has the most beautiful voice of Flamenco-based prog. It's really true that a well performed and genuinely emotional singing makes the mastery of language a trivial issue: you don't need to speak Spanish to feel touched by the song's structural emotion. The same goes for the album's summit track, 'Amanecer en el Puerto'. This is perhaps the band's most emblematic song in their whole career. Starting with a sonic portrait of a deck (including sound effects of water flowing and seagulls softly screaming) in a subtly mysterious way, the mood changes for the main section, a beautiful celebration for a new era (perhaps the advent of democracy in Spain? I don't know). The continuing piano washes perfectly complement the synthesizers' harmonies and leads, while the rhythm section sustains the overall sound with accurate precision. The most intense side of Alameda is shown in those numbers instilled with obvious Latin-jazz references: those are 'Hacia el Alba', 'Matices' (a great closure) and the instrumental 'A La Veradel 'Jueves'' (featuring "Manglis" from Guadalquivir as a guest lead guitarist). It seems as if the romantic side of Roca's musical ideas were as strong as to lead the band through the path of melancholy, so the adequate counterpart had to come from a more essentially joyful musical source - and joy is what Latin-jazz is mainly al about. These aforementioned tracks are the ones in which the musician's technical abilities become more obvious, since the ambience is set to demand a more thorough use of colorfulness in the instrumentation. There is another instrumental in this album: track 2 'La Pila del Patio' is sheer Flamenco-fusion (hand clapping included), something that might have appeared in any Guadalquivir album with a different instrumentation. Track 3 is really moving, and the only song based on a Flamenco guitar duet [leads played by guest Enrique Melchor], with a subdued keyboard role. The lyrics, passionately and hauntingly sung by Roca, portray an overwhelming oath of loving care and devotion. This is the closest that Alameda gets to traditional standardized Flamenco: a breeze of simplicity among a forest of tastefully adorned stylization. In conclusion: Alameda's debut album, while not genius, is well structured, full of attractive melodic ideas and skillful performances. [I dedicate this review to the memory of Manuel Marinelli].
Cesar Inca | 4/5 |

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