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Vytas Brenner - La Ofrenda de Vytas Brenner CD (album) cover


Vytas Brenner

Eclectic Prog

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5 stars Vytas Brenner is one of those rare gems that, despite being one of venezuelan's first progressive icons, is rarely mentioned even in his own country. He was german but never had any contact with his german roots, so he was just another venezuelan, and maybe one of the unfortunate examples that foreigners appreciate more our culture than natives.

His music is rich with images from venezuelan's culture, and applying to them the european symphonic progressive layers to develop the fusion. Rich also in instrumentation it is, from the main instruments of venezuelan folk (cuatro, harp, maracas) and incorporating electric guitars, synths, organ and symphonic instruments to complete the pack. His music also adds influences from afro-venezuelan ethnic music and latin american rhythms; examples of these rhythms may be heard in songs like "Morrocoy" and "La Sabana", with the later having extensive use of atmospherics and percusions, while the former also includes "joropo" rhytms from venezuelan plains, which is also featured in "La Ofrenda de Miguel", with it's blues flavoured bridge; "Canto del Pilon" in a more symphonic surrounding and a drum solo spot; and, in a more pure form in "La Tormenta de Barlovento". "Frailejon" seems to borrow more from western culture. "Tragavenado" and "Araguaney" could be seen as one song, with a certain margaritean feel to them; the latter features the best piano display from Vytas.

Vytas did not only portrayed the venezuelan tradition in the music, but the song titles make references to national symbols from flora, fauna and geography. A well crafted, well produced and well executed album, which, and whilst borrowing from the symphonic movement, sounds nothing like Genesis, Yes or other brittish progressive pillars; it is a pillar on it's own which, unfortunately, made less influence than it's contemporaries. It also fails to be pompous or overblown, making it a light listening experience. 4.5 stars, rounded to 5. A masterpiece of Venezuelan Symphonic Folk music.

Report this review (#101324)
Posted Friday, December 1, 2006 | Review Permalink
Cesar Inca
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "La Ofrenda de Vytas Brenner" is a pioneering album in the prog scene as it was introduced and developed in South America. A few years before the first prog acts from Argentina or Brazil started to record their debut albums, Vytas Brenner conceived and produced a majestic work of prog folk in which the artistic diverse demands of prog rock and the particular colors of Venezuelan folklore (from both the Creole and the jungle areas) were combined in a cohesive amlagam of beauty and mystery. 'Morrocoy' kicks off the album with intense tropical percussive vibrations ornamented with playful guitar leads, until a bridge of keyboard layers soft percussion gives way to teh joropo- driven second section, a section in which intensity is fluidly replaced by serenity. The candid colors of joropo remain a constant point of reference for the musical lines and tempo in the next three pieces. 'La Ofrenda de Miguel' has to be the most beautiful track in the album, leading to a moderate use of intrincacy due to the presence of orchestral interludes and blues-rock bridges led by guitar phrases. The marriage of folk textures and rock washes is just perfect, a real progressive gem. 'Tormenta de Barlovento' is more focused on acoustic sounds, although the progressive element is still present, only in a more subdued manner. The brief piece 'Frailejón' closes down the album's first half, with a light spirited duet of acoustic guitars whose allusions come to fruition with the synthesizer lines and the occasional chorale. 'La Sabana' comprises the most bizarre side of the album. Starting with a dissonant yet delicate orchestral intro, things soon get stormy with a full range percussive display that sets a sonic portrait of the South American jungle while the extravagant synthesizer washes creates some sort of dark, mysterious mood. The last drum beats and rattle shakes provide an effective climax. The dual sequence of 'Tragavenado' and 'Araguaney' digs deep in the jazzier side of the album, in thsi way enhancing the fusionesque trend that up to this moment had remained in a more subtle level. Brenner really shines on piano and clavinet, but guitarist Manavello manages to steal some of the spotlight momentarily with his tasteful guitar leads, adequate for the enhancement of the main motif. Finally, 'Canto del Pilón' recapitulates the more recurrent aspects of the album's repertoire on a joropo tempo, including a jazz-oriented drum solo and a most elegant development of the main motif. "La Ofrenda de Vytas Brenner" is, first of all, a mesmerizing catalogue of musical beauty: it is also a definite highlight of South American prog rock and art rock, even if it was forged in the early stages of the birth of prog in this area of the world. A genius album, indeed.

[Review dedicated to the memory of Mr. Brenner]

Report this review (#107188)
Posted Thursday, January 11, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars GREAT ALBUM, from a super muscian like vytas brenner, his pioneer in the venezuelan prog rock, this album is spacialy my favorite with the ofrenda band, it has great keybord drive ( vytas brenner was a great keybord player), and i think the most influencial in this album is that he mix some great prog some times very aural, somtimes vey hard with some venezuelan music, he use lots of "cuatro" in this album and combined with the keybord, drums, etc... make this album a must have to all progger in the world, highly recommended
Report this review (#135535)
Posted Thursday, August 30, 2007 | Review Permalink
Eclectic Prog Team
5 stars This is my first Vytas Brenner album and one of my favorites... The lineup for this record consists on a standard rock band (keyboards, guitars, bass and drums), a joropo llanero outfit (harp, cuatro and maracas) and an orchestral percussionist (who also plays some Venezuelan percussions). This unusual lineup contributes to give a very distinctive and unique sound to Vytas' music which represents a blend of joropo (the modern symphonic style heavily influenced by Aldemaro Romero), jazz, blues and symphonic prog. + The frequent appearance of a violin mellotron gives somewhat of a Moody Blues feeling to some pieces.

In first place I would divide this record into two main parts:

1.-Tracks 1 to 5: dominated by a mix of symphonic prog (40%) and venezuelan folk.(60%)

2.-The last three tracks: absolute and magestic symphonic prog with Wakeman-esque keyboards and Camel like atmospheres with the usual venezuelan touch.

Morrocoy starts with the right foot with a latin percussion demonstration, keyboard layers and an occasional flute. It continues with what will define Vytas' sound, a display of venezuelan- joropo driven-rhythms and melodies (with a powerful cuatro and a melodic harp accompanied by flute). Lots of virtuosity is shown here

Ofrenda de Miguel continues with the venezuelan theme with the occasional appearance of an electric guitar or a keyboard (mostly violin mellotron). This is basically a beautiful joropo piece (with the addition of the electric guitar substituting the cuatro every now and then)...not much rock going on here but still a great piece of music

Tormenta de Barlovento is a joropo-symphonic piece headed by the sound of the cuatro. Sort of a follow up of Ofrenda de Miguel

Frailejon begins to venture in a more symphonic prog establishment, that will continue throughout the rest of the album.A highlight of the track is a blues section starting at the middle (I've never heard blues played with a cuatro before... Just love it!)

La Sabana displays a more typical progressive sound -without leaving the venezuelan folk territory- starting with a symphonic intro and continuing with another drum and keyboard display as an introduction to the second part of the album.

I will describe the last three parts of the album as a whole because I consider them as one of the most magnificent symphonic suites of the history of prog. This suite exhibits the best keyboards that I have ever heard in latin america (outside latin jazz), that being contemporary to the monsters of European prog could be compared with musicians like Rick Wakeman , Keith Emerson and Jon Lord; these keyboards are then joined by Carl Palmer like drums (with this I mean almost orchestral percussions...) that are going to turn into the initial venezuelan percussions to finish with a summary of the entire album in Canto del Pilon.

This album is a masterpiece of prog and a must have for every prog fan in the world.... added to that it defines a new style of symphonic prog which merges Venezuelan traditional music with elements featured by bands such as Yes, ELP and Camel. A truly groundbreaking album!

This one deserves no less than 5 stars for its quality and uniqueness... perfect to listen while having an arepa....

Report this review (#165798)
Posted Saturday, April 5, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Thanks to all the previous reviewers, you all did a great job commenting on the work of Vytas Brenner. I''m Venezuelan and a musician myself, and a fan of Vytas since my adolescence, back in the 1970s. Also, I had the honor of meeting Vytas in person, and borrowing him some of my keyboards for his last tour in Maracaibo, Venezuela, back in 1981. In retrospective, it is difficult to imagine how an act like Vytas'' was at some point so successful in a country where this kind of music was not exactly popular. However, Ofrenda managed to be the first self-sustaining rock band in Venezuela, something really incredible, when you realize that most of Vytas'' work was instrumental. I will not discuss much more about it as I have already talked about it somewhere else (I was lucky enough to write a brief article for a book on prog rock around the world back in 1999 or 2000 whose name escapes me right now), but the fact that still now, almost 20 years after he did his last recording, in a small Latin American country, gives proof of the timelessness of his work. Personally, he has been a strong influence in my music style, along with Wakeman, Emerson, Jobson, and others. I just wanted to comment a mistake I''ve seen present in all reviews, which is not the fault of the reviewers after all. It''s in regard to the song that has been mentioned as la Ofrenda de Miguel, which is actually Frailejón. That mistake was created in the CD versión of the record. That song is the one that has an intro with Venezuelan harp and cuatro, then a full strings section, not mellotron as can be seen in the original LP sleeve, and a bluesy electric guitar solo with the double basses in the background. The song listed as Frailejón, in turn is Araguaney (Venezuela''s national tree), which is essentially a duet of acoustic guitars with textures on the Arp 2600, which was the synthesizer Vytas was using at the time (he started using a Micromoog from Jayeche on, as the 2600 broke down, as well as an Electrocomp synthesizer). La Sabana on the other hand is driven by harp and piano, with a progressive introduction of the electric guitar from the mid of the song on. La Ofrenda de Miguel actually begins with arpegios on the piano and the band and the orchestra join little by little to create a symphonic atmosphere toward the end. It''s really a pity then that most people out there are enjoying the music, which is great, but with the wrong names attached to it. I''ll try to contact the record company to address this issue, unfortunately, in the highly politicized Venezuela, a correction like this may prove difficult to achieve. I also take the opportunity to invite you to visit my forum in Facebook, Foro Latino de Rock Progresivo, where videos and comments on Prog Rock around the world are posted on a regular bases. Best wishes to all, and keep up the good work.
Report this review (#294970)
Posted Tuesday, August 17, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars The brainwave behind La Ofrenda de Vytas Brenner seems to have been the application of tried and tested techniques of mainstream progressive rock traditional Venezuelan musical forms. The inclusion of Jesús Chinchilla on both classical and Venezuelan percussion instruments sets the album apart from most "proggy folk with plenty of keyboards" attempts, whilst Vytas Brenner himself proves to have a delicate hand with the keyboards. It's a fascinating experiment which might not blow you away like the top-flight prog bands featured on this site, but is definitely worth a listen and is a good introduction to South American musical traditions not usually picked up on by prog bands from the era.
Report this review (#507281)
Posted Monday, August 22, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Born in Germany in 1946 but grown in Venezuela since 1949, Brenner was one of the most important figures of Venezuelean music.During his youth he travelled in Italy, Spain and finally USA, where he studied at the University of Tennessee's Music Conservatory and took post- graduate courses in Electronic music.His early career included several particpations on short- lived acts, but in 1972 he found his own band La Ofrenda.The debut ''La ofrenda de Vytas'' was originally released on vinyl in 1973 by Suramericana and in 1999 Anes Records gave a worldwide opportunity for any listener to catch up with Brenner's music, re-releasing the album in CD format.

With long-time collaborators Pablo Manavello on guitars, Carlos Acosta on bass and Frank Rojas on drums and a few guest musicians, La Ofrenda proposed a fascinating blend of light Symphonic Rock with traditional Folk and what is really incredible is the ability of Brenner to balance two different music worlds in a mix, where the one seems complementary to the other.Delicate folky melodies coming out of the acoustic guitars and ethnic instruments like the cuatro, the maracas and the percussion are combined with some mellow Symphonic Rock passages, responsible for which was Mr. Brenner and his keyboards.Almost throughout the whole album his synthesizers are there to support the Latin-based parts, but he often takes over offering some nice piano interludes or organ passages of symphonic elegance, not to mention his Electronic education is more than evident at moments.The (all instrumental) album is completed with the careful use of electric guitars, when needed, and the beautiful orchestral arrangements appearing in a few tracks with a fine grandiose atmosphere.The only real flaw of the album seems to be the overlong ''La savana'' and the repetitive ethnic percussion sound dominating it from the start to the very end.

Excellent find for fans of adventurous Progressive Folk or Latin-American Prog and still an easily recommendable work for the rest of prog fans, as Brenner's music sounds captivating, partly original and sufficiently melodic...3.5 stars.

Report this review (#747679)
Posted Wednesday, May 2, 2012 | Review Permalink

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