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Rodrigo San Martin - Eyes CD (album) cover


Rodrigo San Martin

Crossover Prog

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RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
4 stars This album is a significant improvement respect to the already very good "There's No Way Out" specially thanks to the effort of Ludmila Clemente at drums and Fernando Refay at synths. The first nice thin is that the album is logically split into two parts of about 20 minutes each, like it was a vinyl. So we have an "Eyes Wide Open" (this is what "Con Los Ojos Abiertos" means) side and an "Eyes closed" one.

Starting with the "Open" side, it's a side long track (it's nice speaking of it like a vinyl) made of seven distinct parts with no gaps and with a little of neo-prog influence. The song features the excellent vocals of Jelena and has some very rocking moments. Also the transitions are very well done. In particular the transition between part two and part three that's very heavy. A piece of music that can be considered progressive metal. Part 4 with the radio voices below a fretless bass starts very floydian, with the vocalists reminding of Mostly Autumn and Rodrigo's clean bluesy guitar like Clapton in Pros and Cons of Hitch-Hiking, just before a very good solo in a prog metal style. However all the seven parts have their good moments and in the complex this is one of the best long tracks that I've heard recently. For its structure and the passages between metal and melodic moments I think it can be compared to some parts of Ayreon's The Human Equation, also because Jelena's voice is not too dissimilar than that of Heather Findlay.

The "Wide Shut side" starts with a melodic piano intro. "The Mask" is another song in 3 parts. It has a structure similar to the epic but there's a lot of piano and classical influences. The second part is an instrumental that reminds to Renaissance until guitar and keyboards enter and change it drastically. Here on Part two the keyboards deserve a mention as the solo reminds to Vitalij Kuprij for the speed and the sound, but there's also an excellent guitar riff immediately after, followed by part 3 which features acoustic guitar and voice. Fans of Mostly Autumn will surely like it.

Now some prog metal. The link that Rodrigo has sent me contains this song in two versions: with English lyrics (Destroy The Signal) and Spanish (Destruye la Señal). The song alternates very heavy instrumental riffs and very melodic singing. A short powerful rock song for all the prog metal fans.

"Amanecer (Dawn)" has a very good "retro" taste. It's a song that if it wasn't for the "modern" sounds and the excellent production could come directly from the 70s. Heavy and melodic on which I hear echoes of YES, Renaissance, and 70s in general.

The minute and half of "Interludio" is a short guitar instrumental on which Rodrigo shows his guitar skill. Listening to it and to its jazzy sequence of chords I think To Pat Metheny and to Phil Sheeran, until guitar and organ start the last song of the album with an intro that could stay on an Uriah Heep album. "Ahora (Now)" has English lyrics despite the Spanish title. It's another melodic rock song with very rocking breaks and pauses. Again, Uriah Heep is the reference that comes to my mind. It's a very good closer.

It's a very good album on which the level of all the songs is constant. There are no weak moments and in its genre together with the last Yesterday's album, is the best thing that I've listened to in the last months.

Strongly suggested to anybody who loves any of the artists that I've mentioned. Rodrigo San Martin is a young artist already at his third full length album. While his second effort was promising, this album confirms all the expectations. Check it out.

Report this review (#627952)
Posted Tuesday, February 7, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars Rodrigo San Martin continues to impress me. After the occasionally shaky "There's No Way Out," I am pleased to say that "Eyes" sees San Martin returning stronger than ever. The heavier, more metallic elements that appeared on "There's No Way Out" are back, but in my opinion they're used much more smoothly here, more seamlessly integrated and less disjointed. All told, then, this is a really excellent album that combines compositional maturity with an excellent ear for melody.

"The Mask" kicks off the album with a wonderfully melodic piano part. An awesome female vocal part quickly joins in, and with it San Martin quickly proves that he can write vocal melodies with the best of them. I feel like a broken record since I'm pretty sure I've written that in all three reviews of San Martin's material that I've done, but it really does need to be driven home. After this, there's a heavier section, which, unlike the heavier sections on the previous album "There's No Way Out," fits in seamlessly. Totally gone is the somewhat disjointed feeling that, in my opinion, marred that previous album. Here instead we have heavy, distorted vocals over pounding guitar riffs interspersed with delicate, chanted sections in a way that works perfectly. A great guitar solo, perhaps one of the best from San Martin yet, leads into a much softer, atmospheric acoustic guitar part that almost has classical leanings. The vocals return, and lead a triumphant crescendo that closes out the track.

"Destroy The Signal" comes next, immediately launching into an extremely heavy, riffing guitar part. Almost as suddenly as it appears however, it drops away, leaving very pleasant harmonized vocals singing over synth, bass and percussion. The heaviness returns for a brief instrumental section in the middle, as well as a vocal reprise at the end of the song. "Destroy the Signal" is definitely a more straightforward track than was the opener, but that certainly doesn't hurt it, and it's a great rocker.

"Amanecer" starts with a very rhythmically interesting bass part that's quickly joined by matched synth and guitar lines. These two duel it out for a while before dropping out and allowing the female vocals plenty of space to return over the bass and percussion. After a brief period of this more minimal arrangement, the guitar starts riffing under the vocals before the vocals drop out entirely for an extended instrumental section. This finally all culminates in a peaceful, Genesis-esque closing section before the riffs return and a brief guitar solo and vocal section close out the track.

"Interludio" is exactly what it sounds like: a calm, acoustic guitar led interlude that sets the mood very nicely for the second half of the album.

"Ahora" begins this second half with guitar and organ playing in tandem to create a very vintage, rock-y sound. This gives way to acoustic guitar and bass as the vocals enter, which this time around feature not only strong melodies but excellent harmonies as well. An excellent instrumental section takes up a good chunk of the track, recalling classic rock with its dueling organ and guitars but also providing a definitively metal edge with the sheer intensity of its riffs. About halfway through the track the acoustic guitar/vocals duo returns, and for the rest of the track these heavy and light sections alternate, complementing each other very well.

Finally, we have the epic closer "Con los Ojos Abiertos," which begins with a soft and atmospheric intro section occasionally joined by some minimalistic vocals. There's also some faint soundclips of people talking present, but they're hard to make out and serve the track very well as background ambience. After a brief but beautiful acoustic guitar solo the vocals proper enter, accompanied by swirling synths and delicate piano. Bass and percussion come in after a while to help build up the arrangement, and after another vocal section the song launches into a crazy instrumental that features solos of all kinds as well as more back-and-forth between heavy and light themes. This is followed by another atmospheric vocal section, with spacey, dream-like synths playing over a similar voice clip to the beginning of the track. More guitar solos follow, leading into yet another vocal section, this one over a more metal instrumentation. After another instrumental section the track concludes with a great, energetic finale, featuring orchestral arrangements and a great closing guitar solo.

While I would still recommend starting with San Martin's debut "1," I have to say that this is probably the most compositionally accomplished album from him yet. The songwriting is much more concise (with the exception of the epic closer), and with that comes a lot of tightness in the composition as well. There's no wasted time on this album, no sections that drag on or feel out of place. A really stellar effort from a great musician and composer.


Report this review (#646414)
Posted Sunday, March 4, 2012 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is the third studio album released by Rodrigo San Martin, a very talented musician from Argentina who has been pushing hard in the last few years, in order to let his music be known and recognized in his country, and of course, in the whole globe. I've had the luck of following his development, and after having reviewed his previous two albums, now I can say he is a very solid artist who has a lot to offer in this progressive rock realm. The title of this new record is "Eyes", and consists of six songs that together make a total time of 44 minutes. It is also divided in two parts, the first one is called "Wide Shut" and consists of the first five tracks; while the second is "Wide Open", and features the last song (an epic) of the album,.

Well, it kicks off with "The Mask", which has a soft beginning with piano and female vocals by Jelena Perisic. The first couple of minutes are sweet, relaxing and with some classical influences, but later the song changes drastically and becomes heavier, with guitar riffs and keyboard fiesta made by Fernando Refay that produce a kind of symphonic metal passage. There is a moment where we can perceive a male backing vocal, while the music keeps its heavy and emotional journey. Just before reaching the sixth minute, the song slows down and returns to its delicate sound with female vocals and soft guitars.

"Destroy the Signal" is a shorter piece but a very heavy and energetic one, here the guitars and drums make a extraordinary work, giving that sense of power to the listener. After that bombastic introduction, the song slows down a little bit and the voice of Craig Kerley enters. Later the instrumental passage is back with its vertiginous tune; and then, vocals again repeating the structure. In the end, we can appreciate a powerful guitar riff. "Amanecer" starts with tasty bass lines, nice drums and some keyboard atmospheres, later a rockish guitar appears and together create a very nice symphonic/heavy prog track. A new guest female voice enters here singing in Spanish and with a mellow tune. When one listen to this music, it is impossible to deny the progressiveness of it, and also, impossible not to realize about the high compositional skills that Rodrigo San Martin has.

"Interludio" as you can imagine is a short track (1:34) that only works as the interlude of the album. It has a soft and delicate guitar sound with an acoustic background while a nice electric leads with its emotional notes. A somber atmosphere is created by keyboards, and later complemented by mellotron. This track leads to "Ahora", which has an explosive beginning with keyboards, guitars and drums, half a minute later it slows down and Tamara Szych's voice returns with the English lyrics. In this track we can appreciate some nice bass lines, great pauses and drastic changes. The music is a nice blend of heavy rock and progressive rock, and though it does have an old (70s) flavor, it springs a fresh and young sound, full of energy and quality. What I love of this track is how it can produce a vast variety of emotions in such a short time, how it can cut the song in pieces and then stick them in order to make a strong and unique piece. This is one of the best of this album.

Now the second part comes with its most complex and ambitious track, a 20-minute song entitled "Con los ojos abiertos", which starts slow and little by little is progressing, we can listen to some voices and distant noises while a keyboard atmosphere is created. Later Perisic's vocals appear and put their mellow and delicate tune that wonderfully complement San Martin's music. A couple of minutes later the song makes a drastic change, turning into a heavy symphonic song with excellent keyboard solos and a powerful instrumentation, then after seven minutes it slows down and creates an awesome passage that seems to be calm but it isn't because guitars, bass and drums play at an unison letting us appreciate the excellent compositional and performing skills of Rodrigo San Martin. In this long track we have a feast of changes, complex passages made of a vast amount of nuances and textures that produce different emotions. All the little pieces are essential for the song's success, so every little jigsaw is necessary to complete this puzzle entitled Con los ojos abiertos. This song is enough to have a fascinating time, and to understand that in South America we have young and talented artists that must be supported by us.

Well, I am once again happy with a Rodrigo San Martin album, he is more mature now and it can be heard in his new compositions. I strongly encourage people to listen to his music, so maybe in the near future his albums can be physical (now they are only digital), because it would be awesome to have them in our hands. This time, my grade will be four solid stars, but I wish we had a .5 system so this album would be rated with 4.5 without a doubt.

Enjoy it!

Report this review (#662550)
Posted Saturday, March 17, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars For his third installment Rodrigo starts experimenting with shorter tracks to great results.

Eyes, when you download it from his website instead of Bandcamp, comes divided into two folders that represent two sides of a vinyl. It's up to you to decide which side is the first (I'll reviews with the side with the short pieces first and the side long piece for the end)

This time Rodrigo San Martín decided to surround himself with full band (unlike his first two albums) and the result is that the music souds much more lively, specially to Sergio López and Ludmila Clemente (bass and drums, respectively). Jelena Perisic and Craig Kerley come back to sing on this one, which is a big plus, and we have two new guests as well: Fernando Refay on keyboards and Tamara Szych on vocals.

(Eyes) Wide Shut:

01 The Mask: The album starts with a song filled with ideas. A pretty waltz sung by Perisic continues to a very good piano solo that kind of reminds me to Emerson's in Take a Pebble (great work by Fernando Refay!), after that we find ourselves in heavy prog territories with interesting solos from San Martín and Refay (this time on synth) and great drumming. The track is wrapped by a buildup ending not unlike the one on The Musical Box.

02 Destroy the Signal (or Anti Bieber Anthem, as it's named on youtube): this one's a Blackest Eyes ripoff (at least in the structure and overall sound), but nevertheless a very interesting short song that features the very powerful vocals of Mr. Craig Kerley (Not Otherwise Specified, a band you should defietly check out). It eludes me how he doesn't sing more on the album since his power would brighten many moments!

03 Amanecer: a great groove by López and Clemente start this song. I find it very hard to categorize it: on one hand it's definetly more pop oriented that San Martín has done to this point but it's definetly a prog number witha lot of ideas thrown in. So let's just call it interesting Prog-pop. Tamara Szych appears on vocals for the first time, singing a (not so cheesy) love song in spanish. Unexpected but very good, one of the highest points in Rodrigo's discography.

04 Interludio: a short and creepy intro to the next track. Very good clean guitar solo over an eerie acoustic riff (followed by a mellotron, to continue the feeling)

05 Ahora: others reviewers have pointed that this one sounds like the 70's but it reminds me (once more) of Porcupine Tree. Acoustic vocal section in between heavy prog riffing and cool ery atmospheric intro that screams early Porcupine Tree (who, to be fair, early 70's Pink Floyd) lead us to a very beautiful vocal part backed with piano that slowly builds to a more rockier section. Fernando Refay's synth appears again with a killer solo that brings Jordan Ruddes to mind. The eerieness from Interlude comes again in the form of a xylophone riff that is constantly interruped by a heavy metal band (actually quite similar to Two Children are Born now I think about it) and this leads to a very good guitar solo. After the guitar solo we are left once more in Floyd territory with a great bass solo by López and interesting vocal harmonies by Jelena. Now Rodrigo San Martín does his best to imitate Dave Gilmour on guitar and suceeds, which leads us to a heavy vocal section that would've benefited from having Craig Kerley sing it instead of Jelena Perisic. There is a very good creepy synth solo over a riff that comes directly from King Crimson's Red and we have a cool instrumental section featuring great bass and drum work by Sergio López and Ludmila Clemente. To recapitulate we have a reprise of the verse in Ahora that leads to my favorite part of the album: a lovely orchestal buildup that , when it explodes, brings us Rodrigo San Martín's greatest guitar moment. solos. Tamara Szych sings again but this time in spanish and has a lovely moment towards the middle of the track that sounds like sirens trying to make your ship sink. There's great moments for every musician on this song and it's a great way of closing the side of the digital vinyl.

(Eyes) Wide Open:

06 (or 01) Con Los Ojos Abiertos: this is Rodrigo San Martín's best long piece (well, not if you count A Lullaby For Mankind as a one track album, which I think is what was intended). I won't take narrate to you what happens here, I will just tell you that everything we love from Rodrigo's music is on fine display on this one: great compositions, lovely melodies (sung by Perisic), fantastic musicianship and an interesting concept to tie it all up.

Report this review (#1032074)
Posted Wednesday, September 11, 2013 | Review Permalink

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