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Rodrigo San Martin - There's No Way Out CD (album) cover


Rodrigo San Martin

Crossover Prog

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Tarcisio Moura
4 stars Rodrigo San Martin is a young artist from Argentina, who plays with prog rock outfit De Rien and is also involved with another project called Souls ignite. There´s No Way Out is his second solo CD and you can download it free on his website. He plays all the instruments himself, and he does that very well. But unlikely many other do-it-yourself artists, he probably knows his limitations at the vocal department and decided to ask real fine singers to enhance his songs. In this case he chose serbian singer Jelena Persic and USA-born Craig Kerley to performe that job. All lyrics are in english giving it an overall international feel.

The CD, actually it´s more like an EP, has only three tracks and 42 minutes of playing time. The opener 4378th Day is surely my favorite here: a real melodic, laid back symphonic tune with several changes and moods, fine retro keyboards, excellent acoustic and eletric guitars parts and, above all, Persic´s warm vocals. To me this is the record´s highlight and this track alone justifies having the CD. The second track shows a total change of musical path, with a more rocking approach featuring driving bass, good mellotron, Kerley´s strong vocals and a very interesting slower middle section. The AOR-like chorus sounds a bit out of place here, though.

The record´s third track, War Part 2, is the most elaborated and challeging of them all. In its 20 minute time we are facing almost death metal guitars and drumming, some dissonant parts and mostly calmer moments where again San Martin´s guitar playing and Parcic´s vocals are a highlight. Some people may get annoyed by the programmed drums, but I really think those are not intrusive and they work well inside the musical frame of the CD. Aside from the few noisy heavier parts, I liked this epic a lot for it shows not only San Martin´s skill and versatility, but also his knack for writing great tunes.

All in all I found this CD to be pleasant and interesting. Its short time is the only real fault, since it makes you longing for more. I hope next time he record more stuff. Argentina has a long and prolific musical tradition and has produced some real fine prog works. Rodrigo San Martin proves that the young generation has learned a great deal from the classics. Certainly this is a very promising work from this very promising artist.

Rating: something between 3.5 and 4 stars.

Report this review (#442183)
Posted Tuesday, May 3, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A great and ambitious album by Argentinean talent!

His name is Rodrigo San Martin, a young musician who despite his short age has a vast experience. Besides his (so far) two solo records which were released last year (2010), he has been composing and collaborating with other progressive rock acts, such as the band "De Rien". He is an artist who is willing to let people know about their music, and what a better way to do it than creating high quality albums.

His second solo effort, entitled "There's No Way Out" was released only some months after his debut. It is a very ambitious project in which we can appreciate San Martín's talent and skills, he is a multi-instrumentalist, and of course, the composer. We may be witnessing the rise of a south-American prog icon.

This album features three compositions that make a total time of 42 minutes, so as you can imagine you will find long songs here. It kicks off with a fifteen-minute epic entitled "4378th Day", which is a very interesting, well-composed and challenging track full of atmospheres and emotions. It starts with a beautiful and calm sound, a delicate guitar and colorful keyboards, it follows like this for three minutes until the sweet voice of Jelena Perisic (a guest singer) appears (the lyrics are in English); drums also enter and create a charming sound. At half the song, a new passage begins with keyboards making a symphonic sound, the bass and drums are very well played and placed, and the quantity of images and emotions that a single passage can create is what makes music so great.

There are moments where you are listening to heavier guitar and drums, but at the same time beautiful flutes and orchestral arrangements, in this time is where I say wow, he really is a talented man. A parenthesis I must do, denying the prog content of this work, is simply ridiculous, so before judging, listen complete to the album, or at least, to the song, because it is a truly progressive rock record, believe me. Well, the song ends with a beautiful and charming mood, it softly fades out.

The second track is "No", it is the shortest one with almost six minutes, and this time the guest singer is a man named Craig kerley. The song begins with nice bass notes, cool drums and a kind of tense and dramatic keyboard sound as background, a minute later vocals appear and start to build up a structure. The sound is heavier than the previous song at least for the first half of this one, because later Jelena's voice appears, and with it the music calms down and creates a very different atmosphere. The last minute returns with great heavier guitar sound and male voice. It explodes and creates a sense of power which is very cool.

Now, the song that closes the album is a 21-minute composition entitled "War, Act 2", a challenging song that sounds really mature for someone that young. This track has the heaviest moments of the whole album, the introduction is very powerful, leaving aside the symphonic and delicate sound, in order to open the gates to a heavy, even metal-oriented sound. After a couple of minutes it drastically changes, calms down as Jelena's voice appears; great keyboard atmospheres and a lovely acoustic guitar playing.

After six minutes the song takes another rhythm, the bass sound is really great, drums always accurate and the keyboards creating different textures and nuances, later the electric guitar adds its disarming sound, and all together creates a strong composition, which once again shows Rodrigo San Martín's huge skills and capacity to create intelligent and complex music. Well, the song changes several times, I may say the track is divided in several passages, each and every one of them well-crafted and interesting. After eleven minutes, there is a moment I love that reminds me to Hatfield and the North, I don't know if he is aware of that, he might have done that as a tribute, I don't know.

I love how it changes from an aggressive and powerful sound, to a gently and charming one, not anyone has the capacity of doing such a thing, and success. Well, with this giant track, this excellent album finishes. Worth mentioning that the two voices were correctly chosen, both are great singers. Please go to San Martín's site and download the album, you will have a great time, and a proof that progressive rock is alive with fresh musicians who want to add their grain of sand. My final grade will be four stars.

Enjoy it!

Report this review (#443287)
Posted Thursday, May 5, 2011 | Review Permalink
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars This is another fine album by Argentinian multi-instrumentalist Rodrigo San Martin. Like his first album, here he plays all of the instruments himself. He does bring aboard Jelena Perisic and Craig Kersey to perform the vocals this time. That wasn't really necessary, as San Martin proved on "1" that he was quite capable of handling the singing.

While most of the instrumentation on this album as just as good as on his first album, I feel tha San Martin overreached on his drum progranmming. Where the first album was natural sounding, here he tries to add some fills that are obviously impossible for a human drummer, making the synthesized percussion all too obvious. And at times, the drums don't seem to be playing in the same groove as the other instruments.

The songs, dums notwithstanding, are prog heaven. There seems to be a Pink Floyd feel that permeates through the three pieces. But the best is the last piece, War, Act 2, which at times seems to draw inspiration from King Crimson's "The Construction Of Light" album, or even tool.

San Martin's albums are presently available to download from his web site, and I urge anyone looking for some great new music to check them out.

Report this review (#447518)
Posted Friday, May 13, 2011 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
4 stars Amazing musicianship with beautiful vocals and emotional soundscapes.

Argentine multi instrumentalist Rodrigo San Martín has produced a wonderful album of emotional, beautiful passion. He is joined by the talented lovely and hauntingly sweet voice of Serbian singer Jelena Persic and Craig Kerley from the US. Immediately on the epic '4378th Day' the symph prog music may remind one of Pink Floyd, especially the chord structures, namely the opening track reminds me of 'Shine On You Crazy Diamond''s intro. However the great thing about Rodrigo San Martin's style is that he does not shy away from his home culture, and the passages of music are unreservedly his own, with Argentinian nuances. Having said this, the vocals are English and exude a power that strikes me on every listen. Jelena's vocals are multi tracked into a high and low part. There is a sadness in the tones but it tugs at the emotional level augmented by some genuinely moving lyrics; "You're the leader, You're the light, You will be the one, The end is near, now it's time to change, open up their eyes, and set them free, The end is near, no matter what it takes, sacrifice your life, that is your fate." The violin is complimented by sweet flute that has the power to bring tears to the down in heart. Music somehow plays on the emotions when it is played with such passion and I had watery eyes when I heard this. There is so much heart and soul poured in to this album that it never ceases to lift my spirit. The spacey keyboard solo on this track resonates with me at a deeper level, it is high class musicianship and builds to an excellent fast paced tempo and blistering guitar solo. It breaks into a symphonic flute and violin concerto. Distorted guitar blasts break the ambience and I was mesmerised by the beauty of dark distortion clashing with light rays of beauteous keyboards and ethereal vocals. This is a master class performance blending ingredients of controlled progressive tension and chaotic release of musical forms, a myriad of emotions encased in a tumultuous soundscape- the best song on the album.

'No' begins with a pulsating bassline and strong drum beat. Craig joins Jelena on vocals this time. He sounds great, putting a lot of inflection into the phrasing. The distortion of guitar is welcome, breaking up the beat over sustained keyboard pads. Craig and Jelena blend well together and this has an infectious melody that grabs hold quickly; "this is the last time, I surrender to you". The wah wah guitar solo is terrific on this track. Overall it is perhaps the most accessible of the three tracks due to its structure, length and melody. The lyrics are compelling, especially Jelena singing; "Do you wait all day, like I always, Do you laugh like mad, to and you, And I'd like to tell you what's going though my mind, But I'm afraid". This is a bit more radio friendly but that is okay as a break when the rest of the album is so wildly inventive.

'War, Act 2' is a 21 minute prog epic. It has a killer metal riff that crunches among the blastbeats of very fast percussion. The heavy section breaks into a King Crimson style guitar passage that builds to pitch into the aggressive distorted riffing. I already love this and we are only 2 minutes into the epic. It grabbed my attention and constantly surprised me with new detours into styles of music that compete against each other, light wrestling with dark. The lyrics are sung by Jelena quietly and with melancholy beauty; "This empty feeling inside me, Expands and corrupts and destroys and consumes, Where do we go from here?" A lot of the power of the piece is the consistent building towards darker emotions, the inner voice that may haunt all of us at some stage in our lives, the feeling of emptiness that strikes us at our lowest moments. The music echoes these feelings with sporadic drumming and sustained keyboards under complex guitar soloing. The acoustic flourishes are effective at 8 minutes in, lending a splendorous emotion to the music. The tranquillity of this passage is augmented by Jelena's pleading vocals; "I have become everything I despise, I have become the same thing I always fought, This is goodbye, this is not what I wanted, this is goodbye, I'm out of here." The King Crimsonesque guitars return over chaotic percussion and the sound is so reminiscent of "Disciple"-era Crimson that I was forced to take notice. The lengthy instrumental section is masterfully played by Rodrigo. The lead solo simply takes off into full flight over layers of bass, guitar, keys and great programmed drumming; sheer prog bliss. At 13 minutes in there is a booming bass solo over strange guitar chords. The drums move into an odd metrical pattern as twin guitars solo and trade off, then there is a great raucous section that breaks suddenly into some folk acoustic. Suddenly a burst of insane guitar crunches in that is soon returned by soft acoustics again. One never knows what to expect next as the music is always progressing and experimental. At 16 minutes a killer riff grounds the ambience to pulp, and the metal prog sound is joined by impossible hyper speed double kick drumming and a fast tempo locks in with incredible raging speed. This explosive section slows into a quiet passage as if anger is overcome by the melancholy of regrets after a fight. Perhaps the music is personifying the rollercoaster of emotions experienced by the protagonist. The lyrics seem to echo this sentiment; "the end has come, now it's time to change, "The time of men has ended, And now's the time for individuals, No one to follow only ideas to share". It ends on a very nice instrumental passage focussing on keyboards. What an amazing epic; outstanding structure and musicianship. The image of the maze with blood spatters in the booklet may be echoing the sentiments of the obstacles we face in life's difficulties, the maze we are trapped in entombs us, the sacrifices we make to get out of the maze are necessary, and the pain we have to deal with after the trials changes us internally.

I end this review by recommending this to anyone who loves to hear music that blends into light and dark, acoustic and distortion, symphonic and metal. The vocals throughout are lovely thanks to the talented Jelena, and Craig adds just the right aggression and passion in 'No'. Rodrigo is a virtuoso who structures his compositions with detours into heavy rage that leap out into sudden rays of light with keyboards and acoustics. He injects moments of break neck speed riffing and drumming and then launches into complex lead breaks and keyboard solos. The overall feel apart from these metal blasts, is more akin to the symphonic vibes of Pink Floyd or the polyphonic guitar work of Fripp in King Crimson. I was pleasantly surprised that the album delivered so much in only three songs. Perhaps it is a bit short for an album and I wanted more, but that is better than wanting it to end of course. Each song is completely and delightfully different, and Rodrigo's music is some of the most dynamic and exciting I have heard from a multi instrumentalist.

Download now on Rodrigo's website - it is free and it is excellent music!

Report this review (#451676)
Posted Tuesday, May 24, 2011 | Review Permalink
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
4 stars After the first minute of the first listening I was alread oriented to the four stars. The symphonic keyboards with no percussions are very close to my tastes and also the acoustic guitar, if just a bit less "acoustic" could remind to Andy Latimer. When the singers enter it goes close to prog-folk. Imagine Heather Findlay singing here.

Rodrigo San Martin, from somewhere in Argentina is a multi-instrumentist. The only thing that he doesn't play is his voice, for this reason the arrangements so cured in detail and the good level of the composition is amazing. I think he's a bit weaker in drumming, probably using a human instead of a machine at the drums could bring getter results. He's an excellent keyboardist, instead and absolutely not bad at guitars, too.

The first of the 3 tracks of his album: 4378th Day, is quite an epic. Its defect is a little lack of continuity, but we have forgiven Marillion's Grendel for more than this. Each single part is very good, but they lack of "connection". As counterpart the sung parts are between Mostly Autumn and Renaissance. The two singers are good enough even if far from Haslam/Dunford.

From the symphonic opener to the funky-fusion that opens "No". Just few seconds and we have a sort of Ian Anderson converted to hard rock. The chorus is quite pop, so we have three genres in the same song. Arjen Lucassen should like this track. Very nice synth-guitar solo.

"War, Act 2" opens like Black Sabbath, then when the distorted guitar goes somewhere else, the acoustic that replaces it seems coming from King Crimson. This is only the intro of this long epic. It starts effectively after two minutes, when keyboards and voice are still Crimsonian even with a touch of blues enhanced by the acoustic guitar. This sound reminds me to a great newage guitarist, Phil Sheeran or sometimes to the bluesman "Snowy White" but the melody has the little dissonances that are characteristic of this kind of music. I think also to bands like "Akt", but less experimental.

So an excellent album. I keep the first impression.

Report this review (#518934)
Posted Saturday, September 10, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars This sophomore effort from multi-instrumentalist Rodrigo San Martin, while definitely still an incredibly impressive album, I think falls a bit flat compared to the excellent debut album "1". The sound has been varied from that album, featuring guest vocalists and containing an overall heavier tone than "1" had. While there are definitely great moments, "There's No Way Out" doesn't feel quite as consistent to me as "1" did.

"4378th Day" starts off with some great, cinematic synth chords that help set up the feeling of the track very nicely. Some awesome, jazzy acoustic guitar comes in over this and solos for a little while before the roles swap and the synth takes a melodic lead while the guitar puts down a nice, picked background. Gorgeous vocals from featured guest vocalist Jelena Perisic come in soon after this, and San Martin proves that his ear for vocal melody hasn't faded since his first solo album "1". It's about this time that percussion joins in as well, and the track continues for a while in the very laid back, relaxed vein that it started in. It's not until about the 8th minute that the tone of the track changes, with electric guitar coming in and a series of wicked keyboard solos serving as a bit of an instrumental break in the song. To me it feels like this ramping up of intensity could have come a bit sooner: the first 8 minutes of the track feel a bit homogenous, even if they are very pretty. Once the break comes, however, there's no looking back: the aforementioned synths solos are matched by guitar, and there's some really excellent orchestral parts toward the end of the track as well. As with the previous album "1," I can hear a lot of similarity to IQ in parts of this track. In the last few minutes of the track there's a reprise of the vocals, followed by a frantic final two minutes with plenty of guitar soloing and orchestral parts that make for a great finale.

"No" is significantly shorter than the opener, and it starts off on a completely different vein, with an almost funky bass line and only minimal keyboards. It's a much heavier track as well, with near constant guitar riffing behind the vocals. "No" is a drastic departure in style from anything San Martin has done up to this point, with a sound far closer to AOR then to the delicate, folky symphonic music he's mostly made before this. There is a softer middle section of the track that again features Jelena Perisic, but to be honest, I feel it sort of clashes with the heavier beginning and ending of the track. All in all "No," while an interesting change of style, ultimately leaves me kind of cool.

"War, Act 2" is the epic closer for the album, and it, like "No," begins on a heavier note, with distorted, riffing guitars that almost sound like they could have come from a Dream Theater release. After about 2 minutes the track drops into a far more relaxed vein, with minimal, almost ambient music behind the repeated vocal mantra "where do we go from here?" It's a haunting, mysterious way to begin the track, and the acoustic guitar lines that join in only help to add to the effect. The vocals stay low as well, even as they move away from merely the repeated mantra of the beginning of the track they remain remarkably restrained and low key, which serves this section of the song very well. After another minimal instrumental break, the arrangement fills out a little bit, with acoustic guitar, bass, and percussion setting up a jazzy, open atmosphere that would sound carefree if the accompanying lyrics weren't so bleak. A very strange, almost avant-garde section follows this, with some faintly atonal synths very faintly soloing before an equally off-kilter guitar solo takes over. This is a far cry from the delicately beautiful melodies of the first album, and it's a very interesting change of pace, though I must confess it doesn't do as much for me as most the first album did. After this a more conventional metal section begins, interspersed with sparse, folky acoustic guitar sections. It's an interesting juxtaposition, if a bit jarring, and I applaud San Martin for inserting such drastically different sounds into his music. Towards the end of the track the laid back vocals return, as do the dreamy, mysterious guitars, and it's on this note that the track fades out and ends.

I really hate to criticize an artist for changing their sound (we do claim to like PROGRESSIVE rock, after all), but "There's No Way Out" just doesn't strike me as being as strong as the first album. Where "1" was dynamic, fluid, and delicately beautiful, "There's No Way Out" feels a bit more disjointed, and while the heavier sections are a nice change of pace I don't think they're as effective as they could have been. Nonetheless, this is still a good piece of work that certainly has its moments; I'd simply recommend starting with "1".


Report this review (#644917)
Posted Saturday, March 3, 2012 | Review Permalink

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