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Companyia Elèctrica Dharma - L'Oucomballa CD (album) cover


Companyia Elèctrica Dharma

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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4 stars L'Ou Com Balla (The Dancing Egg) is an old catalan tradition by which on the day of Corpus Christi an emptied egg is placed on the water jet of the fountain in monastery cloisters and the egg stays "dancing on the water" without falling down. Nowadays it can be seen mainly in the cloister of the cathedral in Barcelona city, you can Google images "l'ou com balla" to see it. It has no special meaning, it was meant to be a sign of festivity and to attract people to the monasteries on that sacred day for christians.

This was the 2nd album from La Dharma and the one which started to shape their sound. La Dhama's debut Diumenge was an excellent Fusion record but not too personal apart from the dominant soprano sax. As from this sophomore album the band started crafting what would become their unique trademark style integrating more catalan traditional influences in their music, a process which would mature as from their 3rd album Tramuntana.

Following the way of albums such as Queen II, vinyl side A has the title Balls De Nit (Night Dances) while side B has the title Tocs De Festa (Festive Sounds) although in this case the musical style is not noticeably different between the 2 sides.

The music is still excellent Fusion dominated by the melodies and solos of the soprano sax, with plenty of Rhodes as well. The guitar does not take much leading role which is good because Esteve Fortuny was stronger as a rhythm guitar player than as a lead soloist. The melodies have often that special feel of coming from traditional mediterranean music rather than from the standard scales found in classic Jazz-Rock / Fusion, which gives this music a very distinctive and interesting sound, often with a festive mood.

The strongest features of this album are on one hand how dynamical it is, the songs visit multitude of tempos and intensities and nothing feels like dragging, and on the other hand the great drumming by Pep Fortuny.

I will not make a song by song review but just a couple of comments on some of the ones which are most different from the album average sound.

The opener Adeu, Estrella Del Dia is a short lullaby with a sweet melancholic mood. Mitjanit is a very good song on acoustic guitar and soprano saxo melody which also explores several dynamics even if it's just over 2 minutes long.

Ball LlunaTic-Toc would become one of the band's classics thanks to its catchy melody hook. The closer Titu-Tiru-Ritu is a very short rendition of a catalan traditional tune which in the next album Tramuntana would be revisited in a much more electrified and fast arrangement, becoming also a classic of the band despite of it's short length.

All the other tracks follow a similar style of dynamic blend of standard Fusion with tradional catalan floklore music, and they are all great. Really recommended for those who like Fusion but want something different and personal.

Report this review (#813026)
Posted Friday, August 31, 2012 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Despite its very good sound ''Diumenge'' went rather unnoticed by the authors at the time because the style of Companyia Electrica Dharma was considered unoriginal.Slowly the group deeped into the music of Catalan composer Joaquim Serra and started adding different influences in their music.Relative success would follow after the win at Trobada de l'Ona Mediterrania held in Barcelona next to names like Toti Soler, Orquestra Mirasol or Jordi Sabates.Several other gigs would encountered and another album was recorded at the Gema 2 Studio in January 76', entitled ''L'Oucomballa'' and released again on Zeleste.

This one marks a new era for the Catalan group, leaving behind the tight Fusion of the debut for a more Jazz/Folk-oriented debut, where the Ethnic vibes meet the loose performances of Jazz Music.The WEATHER REPORT source of inspiration is however more than evident in the longer tracks, presenting an improvised Jazz Rock with extended individual performances on guitars and electric piano, while the saxes sound ethereal.The sound is very smooth and laid-back with light interplays and mellow improvised jams, while the level of technique is quite excellent though not acoustically conveincing.Some of the shorter tracks sound more interesting, somewhere between the solid Fusion of their debut and the new approach of the band with the obvious Mediterennean flavor around, especially when the acoustic guitars take over.''Ball Llunatic-Toc'' is propably the best of them with a fiery and dramatic Jazz/Fusion with fantastic sax and energetic grooves and ''Mater Maritima'' contains some really interesting guitar solos.The rest of the material is a bit confusing with the group trying to keep a balance between their early and more recent stylings, but failing to offer trully imaginative and personal arrangements.

''L'Oucomballa'' is a pretty nice album for anyone who wants to gets mystified into an amalgam of Jazz Rock and Folk.But it actually fails to impress next to Companyia Electrica Dharma's stunning debut...2.5 stars.

Report this review (#1029241)
Posted Thursday, September 5, 2013 | Review Permalink

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