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Cesar Inca
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "El Regreso" is the accurate title for Ibio's comeback album: this was one of the most remembered bands from Spain's 70s progressive scene, having the peculiarity of being the main act from a particular Northern region, Cantabria. This is the land of the Caves of Altamira, and Ibio created a solid prog-folk style that, from the rock point of view, absorbed influences from Yes, Pink Floyd and the IItalian standard (PFM, Apoteosi,... or was it just coincidence?). Now, how do they sound like? Pretty much the same but with a heavier use of digital sounds on modern keyboards and an usually major presence of the guitar. It is not exactly that the band is now rockier and less folkish: it is equally folkish, but the global ensemble's sound is fuller and more vigorous, with a more thorough work on the arrangements when it comes to exploit the symphonic possibilities of the track's main motifs. Anyway, the fact remains that the typical Celtic vibe of Spain's Northern folklore shines brightly all through the album's repertoire. The namesake opener is a delighful instrumental that bears an enchanting catchiness, a reasonable dose of symphonic pomposity properly lead by the synths and cleverly accomplished by all musicians, who effortlessly keep things under control. The next two tracks are patently rooted on the folkish factor, with 'En el Monte' including a featured guest on bagpipe. The sense of joy is a replication of the usual flair of naivety so typical of all Spanish folk traditions. Perhaps these three tracks are symptomatic of Ibio's two main trends, the symphonic and the prog-folkish, with any of the tracks leaning closer to one or the other. 'A Dos Mil Años' bears an evocative tone that turns aout to be quite appalling, especially due to the sumptuous keyboard layers and the emotionally charged guitar solo: the perfect score for these particular lyrics, reflectively critical of humankind's history of constant destruction. After spending some time in this harbour of solemnity, naivety returns to its ruling place with the overwhelmingly playful 'Estratagema'. Other demonstrations of serene candidness in a playful guise are 'De Altamira a Puente Riesgo' and 'Los Ventolines'. 'Bosque Encantado' is the album's longest tracks, with its 7+ minute span: here we find what is arguably the most impressive guitar solo in the album, besides a dreamy keyboard led interlude that screans pure symphonic prog through the porse of each and every note. A zenith of the album, indeed. 'Romería' follows the folkish structure of other preceeding tracks, but this one stands out for preserving a certain density that shies away from any manifestation of naivety: this time, the ambience heas a more introverted tendency. This melancholic vibe is further explored in 'Mar Cantábrico', which brings back the solemnity of 'A Dos Mil Años', only this time the lyricis are not about what's been going on in the outside world but about the hopes and expectations of our inner selves. The progressive expansions of the main motif and the presence of a guest musician on cello crucially help to create a splendour surrounding for the meditation portrayed on the lyrics. Here's another highlight of the album. The album is closed down by a new version of the firts album's opener: the original's essence has been preserved, but it is fair to say that the modern sonorities and the more professional sound production take the song to a different level. My fave tracks are 1, 6, 7 and 8, but looking beyond my own personal ranking, I must say that this whole album works integrally as an excellent prog item. Devoted collectors of Spanish prog and followers of symphonic prog in general should love this album - Ibio's El Regreso is almost mandatory in a progressive shopping list.
Report this review (#160710)
Posted Sunday, February 3, 2008 | Review Permalink
erik neuteboom
3 stars

Again good news from Spain, this time no Prog Andaluz but Ibio their progfolk. I was a bit surprised to notice that Ibio had returned to the progrock world with a new CD entitled El Regreso in 2006, 28 years after their one-shot-effort Cuevas De Altamira (1978). To be honest, I am more impressed with El Regreso because the band sounds more mature and they use a wider range of instruments (from synthesizers and clarinet to bagpipes and sitar), what a variety and what a pleasant, melodic and very harmonic sounding album.

Most of the 11 songs (including 5 instrumentals) are a blend of classical, folk and symphonic rock featuring cheerful climates that contain beautiful interplay between guitar and keyboards, fluent mid- tempo rhythms and wonderful Spanish vocals with strong ethnic undertones. These vocals and the subjects of the songs (often tributes: to the sea, a landscape and singing old fishermen or the abundant local festivities, the battle against the Romans and an imaginary train) add a special flavour to the climates, very distinctive and I am sure that the fans of progressive folk will be very pleased. My highlights are the alternating and inventively composed Romería (great keyboard sound, raw and propulsive guitar riffs and a beautiful grand finale with moving guitarwork), Mar Cantábrico (intense interplay between guitar and keyboards, wonderful vocals and melancholical violin and an accellaration with subtle play on keyboards and guitar) and the excellent final composition Cuevas de Altamira, to me this new version sounds more lush than the original titletrack from 1978: first a slow rhythm with sensitive electric guitar and a church organ sound, then a surprising duet between sitar and Hammond organ and finally a splendid, very good build-up guitar solo with howling runs, this is Prog Heaven! My rating: 3,5 stars.

The CD release I got is a 2-CD version: CD-1 Audio Multicanal 5.1. and CD-2 Audio Stereo.

Report this review (#179191)
Posted Friday, August 8, 2008 | Review Permalink
2 stars Their debut album released some ... thirty years prior to this one (yes 30) was a fine work in terms of prog and definitely very special for those days in Spain. I can tell you that in 1978, it was not easy to produce rock music over there. So, let's be grateful to bands such as Ñu or Triana and of course Ibio.

Now, to be honest their debut was much more in the symph genre than this one. This album is looking more into some Spanish folklore traditions and I can't say that this work makes a lot of impressions on me especially during Los Concanos and the dreadful A Dos Mil Años (at least during the vocal parts). Don't get me wrong, Spanish is almost my second language but it is difficult to bear these vocals. Still, there is a wonderful guitar break in here.

IMHHO, only the instrumental numbers are worth (but not all of them). One of the best tracks from El Regreso (the return, in English) is the opening number. Estratagema is just decent, but really too childish. Still, Bosque Encantado is full of passion: great keyboards, symphonic moments, melody: everything is there to make it a highlight. But, these vocals are pretty weak and dull. They sound akward all the way through.

I was probably expecting too much of this come back. This album is just a pale effort in comparison with Cuevas De Altamira. Same vocal problem is featured. Time should have told (twenty eight years should have been sufficient to aknowledge this and look for another vocalist...). There are no such track as the great La Baila De Ibio which closed Cuevas. Clichés as Mar Cantábrico and its dreaful vocal section should have been avoided.

The band should have stuck to fully instrumental pieces like the excellent De Altamira a Puente Viesgo. More than a reference to their good old album. When I listen to Los Ventolines, there is only one feeling that comes up to my mind. Awful: press next.

This is a major disappointment, there are some fine instrumental moments but the vocals ruined them all. Two stars.

Report this review (#181837)
Posted Friday, September 5, 2008 | Review Permalink

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