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Opa - Goldenwings CD (album) cover



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RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
4 stars This album could be described with just two words: good fusion, but there are some remarkable things in each of the 7 tracks taht it contains.

"Goldenwings" is a good fusion piece on which the bigger effort is given by orchestral keyboards and electric piano, then after a short interlude of percussions, the keyboard sounds as Vangelis in Albedo 0.39 (Nucleogenesis). Not so chaotic as the Vangelis song, also because of the jazz guitar and the orchestral accents.

"Paper Butterflies (Muy Lejos Te Vas - Very Far You Go)" Is a surprise. The athmospheres of Caravan with an impressive Hastings-like flute on a base that sometimes reminds to Pat Metheny, sometimes to Vangelis, but with a strong Canterbury flavour.

"Totem" reminds me to the Soft Machine of Land of Cockayne. Again the big work is done by keyboards. An excellent guitar with a good choice of sound effects, even if very 70s, drives the track. The music is easy enough to be enjoyed also by non-fans of the genre, but never trivial.

"African Bird " Effectively it's very African in voices and percussions, then a Fender piano riff occupies the central part of the track until the flute is back giving again a touch of Canterbury, more Soft Machine than Caravan, this time. The flute work is very impressive.

"Corre Nina" doesn't remind me to anything particular: it's a very original track with a touch of world music (indian percussions). It's the only song with lyrics, not only jazz choirs. Very South-American in the rhythm. It's technically speaking the best song of the album, even if I prefer Paper Butterflies that's closer to my personal tastes.

"Pieces" Is a 5 minute track in four parts...very progressive indeed. The opening is a slow Fender piano solo followed by keyboards. Once bass and drums join them, it goes closer to Weather Report or Pat Metheny.

"Groove" is again close to Vangelis Nucleogenesis in the keyboard's sound. More jazz and less chaos, but I see many similarities between the two tracks. The flutist effort in is remarkable. Drums and percussions are also in evidence.

In brief this is an excellent jazz-fusion album, without any weak moment. Dominated by keyboards but played by very skilled artists so that each instrument, apart perhaps guitar, has enough room. The vocals and choirs also are very well arranged.

Report this review (#296861)
Posted Tuesday, August 31, 2010 | Review Permalink
The Quiet One
4 stars Latin America spreading its fusion Wings!

Just imagine Return to Forever mixing perfectly their first two Latin albums with their later fusion ones like Where Have I Known You Before, also a bit of Weather Report's more worldly fusion affairs (Mysterious Traveller and Tale Spinnin'), the result would be something very similar to the debut offering of Uruguayan band, Opa.

Hugo Fattoruso's keyboard playing, mainly Rhodes and synths, is highly reminiscent of Corea's style of playing, lot of elegancy and latin-esque grooves but you can add to it Zawinul's stunning atmospheres, all in all making Opa an incredible band from the keyboard point of view.

The rhythm section, as you should expect from a Latin American band, is formed by drums and percussion of the highest quality: Airto Moreira, Ruben Rada and Hermeto Pascoal. The bass is good typical fusion, entertaining grooves but not something stunning.

What about the compositions? The seven of them are excellent; some are more tranquil, like Paper Butterflies and Pieces, with dominant Rhodes and chilly vocals while others, such as Totem and Groove, are funkier and even have some cool wah-wah/talk box guitar.

Yeah I know, Opa is not incredibly inventive when it comes to Fusion, since: a) it's a rather accessible fusion style, though with a latin feel that makes it more exotic and b) for its time this may have been done already before (hence the already mention Return to Forever and Weather Report). But still, that doesn't take that this debut is a really fine Latin Fusion record with enough great musicianship and compositions, and it's far from being a fusion clone band.

4 stars: Highly recommended if you are a fan of the more accessible, less inventive, kind of fusion, as well as to fans of Latin-infused music and of Return to Forever (not Romantic Warrior-period) and Weather Report (Alphonso Johnson period).

Report this review (#329170)
Posted Sunday, November 21, 2010 | Review Permalink
2 stars Mediocre at best cheesy at worst.

Until African Bird I was thinking 3* as the first three tracks are plain standard Jazz Fusion fare, however Africa Bird mixes it up.

African Bird is a track with percussion opener that sets down a groove over which terrible old latin pop happens. The vocals have this awful aged quality to them sounding very dated, in a bad way. Anyways, Jazz fusion occurs after the admittedly brief vocal work and it is pretty solid with some nice flute. Unfortunately, the vocals return with their cheerful poppy dee da bum da de da harmony falsetto. From here a new annoying percussion groove takes the over, which is bad as it sounds like cans being slapped wildly. Over this the vocalist adds some needed car chase sound effects?

The next track in conjunction with African Bird solidified this album as 2* tier. Corre Nina has these irritating eastern sounding vocalizations, chanting and other atrocious vocals displays. Then the track gets worse as the song gets faster and an accordion introduces a new section. This section has the songs highlights, some good keyboard playing that finally meshes with what the singer. There is also some nicer Spanish singing, romantic and powerful.

Aside from these two tracks the other four are acceptable, they aren't what I'd consider great, but just good jazz fusion work with very Latin vocals. Really, this album lacks anything standout aside for negative reasons, ergo 2/5 would not recommend. (Also with they didn't use the string synth, gives the music an extra cheesy sound, completely unnecessary.)

Report this review (#2577943)
Posted Saturday, July 10, 2021 | Review Permalink

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