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Tantra - Mistérios E Maravilhas CD (album) cover



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5 stars When in my youth and heard for the first time this album I was fan. Tantra its a band that plays a symphonic rock that we can say to the style of Yes, Genesis or others, but not equal, because its a unique sound because of Portuguese roots.
Report this review (#7174)
Posted Saturday, March 13, 2004 | Review Permalink
Steve Hegede
5 stars Well, here is the CD release of TANTRA's first album for the Musea label. TANTRA were considered to be Portugal's best progressive rock back in the 70's. And this CD sort of proves that statement. The music, although very well composed and executed, will probably not blow you away, but is well worth the money. And, I have to hand it to them, they really don't sound like any other band. The booklet mentions that they loved bands like YES, GENESIS, GENTLE GIANT, and KING CRIMSON. However, the music is free of those influences. Tantra had an excellent and unique drummer who played acoustic drums, and some of the first electronic drum pads released on the market. He isn't as mind-blowing as Furio Chirico from ARTI E MISTIERI, but rather his complex drumming is subtle. "Misterios E Maravilhas" seems to be hyped in the prog community, but don't expect a monster masterpiece. I would rate this more as a classic that has plenty to offer.

Report this review (#7175)
Posted Sunday, March 21, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Without a question TANTRA's "Misterios e Maravilhas" is a classic and rightfully considered by this progressive rock fan as one of those albums which you must own if you are a lover of 70's Prog rock. Songs are truly wonderfully written and performed with the greatest of precision and emotion. Instrumentation is full with heavy analog keyboard/piano flavours and dreamy - chocolate layered symphonic landscapes, guitars both acoustic and electric and just dripping with expression and cloud soaring aspects. Bass and drum interplay is just too clever with some lovely supportive runs and even a spotlight on a fantastic percussion/drum interlude. Stunning and highly emotional music.
Report this review (#7176)
Posted Sunday, March 21, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars Portugal was never a country flooding with prog rock. Likely because the country was under two right wing dictatorships, that is Antonio Oliveira Salazar and Marcello Caetano. But one of that country's big pop stars, JOSÉ CID made good with prog rock in the mid to late '70s with the last efforts of his old band QUARTETO 1111, and his two solo efforts (the EP Vida and the LP "10.000 Anos Depois Entre Vénus e Marte", from 1977 and 1978 respectively). TANTRA was also wanting to explore the world of prog rock, and they gave us "Mistérios e Maravilhas" in 1977 on the EMI label.

The album gets more hype than it really deserves. A lot of the album is that tiresome fusion-influenced noodling that bothers me, often just to show off the talents of drummer Tózé Almeida. But there are two killer cuts with mentioning, "Á Beira do Fim" and "Sempre Partir". The former features some great keyboard work and goes through several changers. The later features some great drumming, phased keyboards, and a totally mindblowing middle passage. The vocals only appear on those two cuts, and the rest in instrumental. If you like fusion-influenced prog, get this album, if you don't at least you'll like the two songs mentioned. Not essential, but still worth having.

Report this review (#7178)
Posted Friday, May 7, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars I'm not sure about the first Portuguese progressive rock band... I think that would be Tantra! Only a few know that in Portugal exist progressive rock... only a few heard about Tantra... In 77, the recording conditions in Portugal were near to bad! Tranta has one of the best sound recordings at the time! Armando Gama starts his career in Tantra, but art brings no bread and he's still falling... ...Great names like Pedro Ayres Magalhães worked in Tantra, and many other!... The economy and music industry didn't support them! Talking about music: Great drummer, good keyboard lines (Armando Gama had classical formation), interesting guitar parts and good bass work! I'll not say that Tantra's music is a wonder... but it's a must for any Portuguese rock fan! (and any prog fan). Very turned to Genesis stuff but with a special feeling, the lyrics are in Portuguese which is a victory to the country! Is difficult to sing in Portuguese cause the poems should be in the highest level (no one will accept "I love and I love you"), the phonemes are more difficult to pronounce in melody (the words are longer)... They were constructing the rock scene in Portugal!

As a prog musician/composer I'm interested in research for prog roots in Portugal... this kind of art must be known "outside ghetto". We can not let the dreams and geniality of many musicians fall in time and disappear!!!

That's why we have prog archives! Thank you!!

Report this review (#103948)
Posted Thursday, December 21, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars A very promising point score in PA meant a purchase from me.

Unfortunate, I do not come to the same conclusion. A rather tiresome first sympho pop track leads into a more fusion landscape. The latter is pretty good music with a lot of references to Return To Forever, Gilgamesh and Soft Machine. This fusion landscape is lead by a bass which has been pushed pretty much to the foreground of their soundscape. The fusion is good though and the best thing about this album. There are also some references to symphonic prog on this album with the typical grandeur sound and gusto. This is an unusual album which does not go home in my world. Listen without prejudice and take my views as what they are. I do not like this album as much as I wish I did. The sound too is not great and it passes me by. Not my cup of tea, I am afraid.

2.75 stars

Report this review (#238665)
Posted Friday, September 11, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars The highlight here is the first track. What a great moment of beautiful symphonic prog! A five star song for sure! Unfortunately the rest of the album simply doesn't mantain that high level, the remaining the tracks being listenable but not really captivating (they are too unfocused IMO). The other above average feature of Misterios E Maravilhas, apart from the beautiful fantasy cover, is track 2 ("Aventuras De Um Dragao Num Aquario") which, despite being very very short, connects very well with track 1, making a sort of perfect ending to it.

In sum, "À Beira do Fim" is great (a must-have indeed) but the rest of the album, apart from some short sections (like track 2), seems quite unispired (well, of course, not necessarily bad). 3 stars it is. Make it 5 if you're talking about lusitanian prog only, because you really can't find anything better than this, excluding Jose Cid's 10000 Anos Depois Entre Vénus e Marte.

Report this review (#256935)
Posted Saturday, December 19, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars Tantra effortlessly and effectively combine a symphonic prog foundation rooted in their love for Yes and Genesis with aggressive, energetic, and loud as hell playing of a sort more usually found in the more volcanic regions of fusion - Mahavishnu Orchestra and that sort of deal. The whole package is shot through with some individual twists unique to the group and some mild influences from other traditions of Portuguese music. The production quality is, unfortunately, a little rough - not to the extent that it obscures Manuel Cardoso's furious guitar work, which is the major draw of the album for me, but enough so that the release feels more like a competent demo than a fully accomplished debut. Three well-earned stars for the Portuguese contestants.
Report this review (#557107)
Posted Tuesday, October 25, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Tantra was one of the few bands/artists (and I really mean few, maybe less than five) that where able to produce progressive music in Portugal in the 1970s. If up to 1974 music in general was highly constrained by the Fascist regime, after that progressive/avant-garde efforts were taken as revivalist expressions of right wing elitism and voted to ostracism. I can't tell you the impact this LP had in the music scene at the time (too young for that) but the name Tantra survived as a reference, even during the long 20 year period of inactivity between their third and fourth alba. If not very popular, Tantra were highly regarded for achieving an uncommonly high degree of musicianship for a rock band in Portugal.

This début album perfectly portraits the band's influences from the early 1970s symphonic rock, especially Genesis, but at the same time lending itself to a certain experimentalism, that well, do not always turns out right.

Á Beira do Fim

This a great track, typical of the transition period from the classical British symphonic rock to the Neo-Prog of the 1980s. Heavy influenced by Genesis with brilliant moments of lyricism and risky vocals creating great dramatism. The execution is impeccable and the melodic structure maintains good congruence throughout the track, despite deep changes in tempo and volume. I find this particular track relatively close to what Babylon was doing at the time; it easily leaves your mouth watering for what may be ahead.

Aventuras de um Dragão

A small intermission with an acoustic guitar including some interesting moments.

Mistérios e Maravilhas

An instrumental Fusion piece lacking a definitive direction and including some sloppy bass playing that doesn't fit very well in the overall album style. An awkward end to the A side.

Máquina da Felicidade

Starts with a collage of small instrumental pieces that don't really have much in common. After an uninteresting drum solo at midway, the songs seems to start taking shape with better defined melodies, but doesn't manage to live to the promise. This track is a sort of anti-climax with the brilliant opening of the LP now feeling very distant.

Variações sobre uma Galáxia

Soft piano melody matched by nice synthesized effects. It sounds like an intro to some epic piece, but it all ends in less than a minute and a half. The best about this track is really its title.

Partir Sempre

Finally another track with vocals, that undoubtedly brings the direction lacking in the four instrumental tracks. Good interplay between the leading instruments: guitar and synths, again recovering the musical style introduced in the first track. But this track doesn't match either the promises made at the opening. A not so bad close to a bewildering record.

The Verdict

This record certainly isn't a masterpiece due to its great unevenness, but it is very hard to rate nonetheless. There is a great a track, some fine moments, but the listener spends long minutes trying to make sense of musical phrases that are neither capable of building up into a congruent symphonic piece or to be agreeable as fusion excursions. I feel mostly lost in tracks like Mistérios e Maravilhas and Máquina da Felicidade.

All in all a non-essential LP if you don't have a special interest on Portuguese Rock.

Report this review (#561249)
Posted Wednesday, November 2, 2011 | Review Permalink

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