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Planeta Imaginario - Optical Delusions CD (album) cover


Planeta Imaginario

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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4 stars Optical Delusions, the 2011 album from Spanish fusion outfit Planeta Imaginario, serves us rich jazz rock with constantly changing rhythmic structures that characterize Frank Zappa and the Canterbury scene. There is an excellent balance between the interplay of instruments, with none dominating the whole song or given the whole share of freedom within the phrasing of the song. While some sections are complex and tightly composed, other sections lay down a steady beat so that all of the instruments can jam and improvise.

Whenever the rhythm gets predictable on this album, there are layers added or there is a flourish that keeps you interested and moving. There is almost a big band sound that comes from the horns playing in harmony. The solo piano and horn interludes that are interspersed throughout the songs provide a relaxing break from the varied instrumentation and complex composition.

The first half of "Collective Action" quickly shows us the layered jazz jams and rich rhythms that are all throughout the album. After another piano interlude, however, there is a tightly composed section with constantly changing time signatures and rhythms which provides a satisfying rest before a steady drum, bass, and keyboard beat accompanies a horn solo. "The Garden of Happy Cows" distinguishes itself after the first few minutes when the band launches into a breakdown which slowly gains layers and complexity until the instruments can unite again with a melody that transitions into a piano interlude. "Hemangioma" and "The Sea...and Later the Sun...and the Reflection" are also noteworthy for their slowly building climaxes. "Xarramandusca" has a much larger number of free jazz sections which provide an atmosphere that breaks up the light upbeat feel of the rest of the album. The opening of "Angioma" shows the compositional characteristics of progressive rock, with changes that are unpredictable but go well with the song structure. "Sidewalk Licker" begins with a meditative piano solo which sets the mood perfectly for the beats to follow.

This album makes it clear that Planeta Imaginario has many influences all across the musical spectrum. Optical Delusions never loses your attention because of the amount of musical variety that is being showcased. Anybody that's a fan of energetic rhythms, rich composition, and layered instrumentation should find a lot to enjoy on this album.

Report this review (#424187)
Posted Tuesday, March 29, 2011 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars A lot of changes in the three years since their last album "Biomasa".They've gone from an eight piece band to a six piece with only three members returning. Mind you there's lots of guests helping out this time around. So yes we get the same style of Jazz / Rock music but without the guitar.This one is a lot longer too at over 78 minutes. Bob Drake mixed and mastered this album so if one thing is better than the previous one it's the sound. Overall though I like "Biomasa" better. By the way they thank OCTOBER EQUUS in the liner notes among others.

"Collective Action" is a laid back jazzy number (get used to it) with horns arriving a minute in. Drums before 3 minutes as the sound gets fuller.The bass throbs as the horns play over top. It's mellow with keys before 5 minutes then it picks back up. I like when it builds late. "The Garden Of Happy Cows" is again light and jazzy. Some brief organ early. The tempo shifts often and the organ is back then the horns start to lead. It's the organ's turn after 7 minutes. It turns spacey around 9 minutes to end it. "Xarmmandusea" has these outbursts of sound that come and go in an almost dissonant manner. Electric piano too. I love it ! A steady beat with piano takes over then the horns and random sounds start to come and go. A calm after 5 minutes then it picks back up a minute later with horns leading. "Good Luck, My Friend" opens with animal sounds then birds as the piano slowly plays. "Angioma" opens with drums and organ as the horns join in then lead after 2 minutes. It blends into "Scalpel" and then into "Hemangioma" where we get some organ along with the prominant horns and drums. Dissonance late.

"Introduction To Sidewalk Licker" is laid back piano that blends into "Sidewalk Licker". Bass and drums kick in after 1 1/2 minutes then the horns join in. Piano then organ follows with intricate drumming. Flute comes and goes. "Imperfect Purity" is mostly electric piano, drums and horns. "Pure And Imperfect Art Element" opens with these spoken words then the sound of a phone ringing then more spoken words.The music kicks in before 2 minutes and it sounds great. Synths after 4 1/2 minutes then a calm with piano a minute later. "Imperfect Persuasive Element" has the sounds of birds before flute, horns and drums take over. It picks up a minute in and we get some dissonance. "The Sea...And Later The Sun...And The Reflection" opens with piano as horns and drums join in. A calm after 4 minutes with piano and drums. Nice. Love the organ before 6 minutes. Flute leads after 8 1/2 minutes then it's the horns turn before 12 minutes, then back to keyboards.

A low 4 stars but I feel this deserves that rating even if I wish they added more heaviness and darkness. Still this is a fine listen that Jazz / Rock fans should enjoy.

Report this review (#452099)
Posted Wednesday, May 25, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars My goodness, the consistency of Planeta Imaginario is very impressive. This newest outing - Optical Delusions - is proof that their output is always changing, and yet their focus remains embedded deep in jazz/rock at its finest.

This time around the horn harmonies are beautiful, reminiscent of almost the "classical jazz" era of American composers. Yet don't think for a minute they have forgotten their Rock Music roots, as the keys are wonderfully jazz rock oriented. No guitar in this outing, and none needed, as the composition and improvisation come from the keyboard, bass, brass and winds sections fantastically rich and full, with enough percussiveness in their playing that any other instrumentation would be clumsy. And the drumming is solid and imaginative.

And as with all great modern recordings, the production is outstanding, as the prolific Bob Drake handles mixing and mastering in his usual professional manner.

If you liked the first two Planeta Imaginario albums, this is a must - if you're new to this Spanish group, this isn't a bad place to start, and work backwards, as all of their music is mature and exciting.

Well done musicians, well done!

Report this review (#784335)
Posted Sunday, July 8, 2012 | Review Permalink

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