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4 stars Review Nº 303

Tantra is a Portuguese prog rock band formed in 1975. Tantra was put together by two musicians, the guitarist Manuel Cardoso and the keyboardist Armando Gama. With two other musicians, the bassist Américo Luis and the drummer Tó Zé Almeida, they established what would be Tantra. Tantra released their debut studio album "Mistérios E Maravilhas" in 1978. The album did bring them to public as the only Portuguese prog rock act to be able to put out albums and back them up with live concerts all over the country. It was in this context that appeared the famous live show at Coliseu dos Recreios in Lisbon where thousands of fans were present. It was followed two years later by their second studio album "Holocausto", released in 1979. The album was an instant success both to the critics and the public. It even received a best record of the year award. However, two years later the band decided to move away from their progressive roots and released their third studio album "Humanoid Flesh" in 1981. You know, those were the terrible times for the prog rock music. Due to the lack of success of the album, Tantra decided to suspend their existence in the same year, 1981.

More than two decades later it appears that Tantra has climbed out of the history books to begin a new chapter that appears to be very much a return to their roots. The idea for the new beginning came several years ago, when Manuel Cardoso decided to re-master the band's first ever concert from 1977, that he had taped on an old two- track recorder. Through this re-mastering process, the passion for Tantra's music returned and he decided to continue the project that had been suspended in such a sudden way. Finding that none of his previous colleagues shared his desire to do it all over again, Manuel Cardoso decided to look for new musicians that would fit the spirit and technical needs of Tantra.

So, "Terra" is the fourth studio album of Tantra and was released in 2002. The line up on the album is Manuel Cardoso, Bruno Silva, Luis Ramos, Guilherme da Luz, Pedro Condinho and Bébé. It has also the participation of Pedro Sales, Patrícia Almeida and the members of the Tunas Masc. & Fem do Instituto Superiot Técnico da Universidade de Lisboa.

"Terra" has eleven tracks. The first track "Kali" is divided into three parts, "The River", "The Garden Of The Lady" and "The Tiger's Portal". This is a very mysterious emotional track with a warmth atmosphere, very beautiful melodies and that is sung with great passion. The second track "The Sensible Road" is another good track with a nice bass playing and a delicate piano work again sung in a very emotional way. The third track "Edge Of Oblivion" is a new version of the track "À Beira Do Fim" of their first album "Mistérios E Maravilhas". The music is very symphonic with tasteful keyboards. The vocal melody is of an unbelievable beauty very well combined with a melodic and soaring guitar solo. The fourth track "Solitude" is an instrumental track with very emotional guitar work. Besides the guitar work , we have also a nice synth solo and some nice pastoral female vocals. The fifth track is the title track "Terra". It's divided into four parts, "The Vision", "The Cavern", "War" and "Victory And Celebration". Here we have the typical 70's sound with church organ, spacey vocals, nice keyboards and a good guitar solo. We also have here an angelic chorus, some chaotic music aggression that soon evolves into some striking female vocals in the end. The sixth track "Return" has a very special industrial atmosphere. I like the combination of keyboards and electronics. The beginning and ending are a little bit freaky but the melodic guitar work in this track makes the song not to difficult to catch. The seventh track "Drowning Dawn" is a short track with a delicate acoustic guitar, some classic keyboard sounds and piano. Sometimes have tasteful vocals but others are a bit more aggressive. The eighth track "Scorpio" begins with a slow piano melody but soon the spacey electronics are changing the atmosphere of the piece that gets freakier towards the end. The ninth track "Vertigo" starts with spacey sounds and develops into a delicious melodic piece with a lot of keyboards and some guitar solos. The tenth track "Burlesque Theatre" has also spacey sounds but sounds a little bit darker. The long guitar solo is delicious. This is a very beautiful track. The eleventh track "Zephyrus" is the closing section of this album. And it ends with sounds from a tropical forest, like if we were in the "Garden Of Eden". This is a nice way to close the album.

Conclusion: For fans of the prog rock music of the good old days like me, the 70's, "Terra" is an excellent album. It represents, fortunately, the return of this great Portuguese prog band to their original roots. Manuel Cardoso decided to revive the musical concept of Tantra even picked up the main motif of their debut album, "À Beira Do Fim" ("Edge Of Oblivion"). I'm amazed by the tension, emotion and passion of "Terra". They're playing a kind of a symphonic prog rock fusion with a warm Latin touch, mainly due to the Portuguese vocals. "Terra" has a fantastic sound. This music is for the adventurous prog fans that aren't afraid to try music outside of the traditional Anglo- Saxon prog music with its lyrics in English. Of course this album has a natural target audience amongst Portuguese/Brazilian progsters. The lyrics would help to paint the full picture of "Terra". "Terra" is an album that needs some patience to be fully appreciated.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

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Posted Thursday, December 19, 2019 | Review Permalink

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