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Kotebel - Concerto for Piano and Electric Ensemble CD (album) cover

CONCERTO FOR PIANO AND ELECTRIC ENSEMBLE

Kotebel

Symphonic Prog


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rdtprog
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Heavy / RPI / Symphonic Prog Team
5 stars The title of that cd left me worry because of his first part. I said, is Kotebel are becoming a classical band? But when i listened to samples, i was relieved that it's still the same band, only that they added piano to their sound. Their music is a kind of fusion sound that mix together prog, avant-garde, classical and jazz. All the compositions are top notch with complex parts, but not difficult to get the grip on. The songs are well developed in a very interesting atmosphere, and a attention to the quality of the arrangements and the production are clear on this cd. All instruments including xylophone and saxophone create some beautiful sounds with the rest of the usual rock instruments.

I was touched specifically with " Dance of Shiva" , who starts with techno effects and change in a beautiful atmosphere of a kind of soundtrack, peaceful and intense song coming from a Sergio Leone movie. The use of xylophone and chants are lifting the melody to a higher level.

This is a instant classic cd for me that already enjoy instrumental music, this band don't stop to amaze me with the quality of their music.

Report this review (#688688)
Posted Monday, March 26, 2012 | Review Permalink
J-Man
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Though its title may indicate that we're dealing with a cross between classical music and Kotebel's usual style of instrumental progressive rock, Concerto For Piano and Electric Ensemble is much more than what you may initially expect. Rather than tacking classically influenced piano sections onto their already solid sound, Kotebel manages to masterfully integrate this new dimension into their approach in a coherent and delightful manner. Concerto For Piano and Electric Ensemble sounds very much like a Kotebel album in almost every way - those who enjoyed the zany avant-garde madness and lush symphonic soundscapes on albums like 2009's Ouroboros should not expect anything radically different this time around. Rather, Kotebel expanded even further upon their already eclectic sound, resulting in an excellent example of a band that manages to successfully evolve while still staying true to their core sound.

Kotebel is a Spanish progressive rock band, and although they've only been brought to my attention recently, I've taken quite a liking to their unique approach to modern prog. Concerto For Piano and Electric Ensemble is a fully instrumental album that, for the most part, stays true to the progressive rock pioneers of the seventies' - with that said, however, Kotebel blends the ideas of so many old school prog bands into one coherent mix that they sound totally unique. Acts like Emerson, Lake, & Palmer, Frank Zappa, Renaissance, Le Orme, Gentle Giant, and King Crimson are referenced quite a bit throughout the course of this lengthy observation, but Kotebel never sounds particularly like any other single band. They are their own beast, and on Concerto For Piano and Electric Ensemble this is more true than ever before. Adding in numerous classical piano bits over their intriguing mix of symphonic prog, avant-garde, and jazz fusion makes for one hell of a listen in my opinion!

This is simply a stunning tour-de-force of impeccable musicianship, clever arrangements, and well-composed instrumental progressive rock, and I'd highly recommend that all fans of eclectic prog check out Concerto For Piano and Electric Ensemble. Although it will probably take a few listens to sink in due to the decidedly inaccessible nature of these lengthy and complex compositions, the gorgeous melodies and stunning displays of high-quality musicianship make this album well-worth the price of admission. If you haven't listened to Kotebel yet, Concerto For Piano and Electric Ensemble is not a bad place to start!

Report this review (#747745)
Posted Wednesday, May 2, 2012 | Review Permalink
BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars I fell in love with Kotebel with 2006's Omphalos (one of my Top Ten favorite albums of the Naughties). At that time the band had, IMHO, the finest female vocalist in modern prog music (Carolina Prieto) and arguably the greatest flutest ever in prog history (Omar Acosta). By 2009, with the recording and release of Ouroboros they both had left the band (or, perhaps, they were not asked back). Thus my expectations for Ouroboros were quite low and were, accordingly, duly rewarded. (The music just couldn't draw me in.) Now for 2012's Concerto for Piano and Electric Ensemble I was willing to give them another chance; I figured that six years is long enough for such creative and virtuosic artists to compose something fresh and mature. And how right I was! This is an amazing album of melodic jazz-rock constructed within classical symphonic structures. The pianist, Adriana, daughter of band founder Carlos Plaza Vega, while no Hiromi, stands quite strongly with the rest of the band and within the setting of the four-movement 43-minute Concerto does quite well both leading the ensemble as well as supporting it in an orchestral way. In song after song drums, bass, electronic keyboards, and a great variety of guitars (pleasantly, a lot of wonderful acoustic guitar playing) together weave the fabric of wonderful music. At times I find myself reminded of ELP, King Crimson, Return to Forever, Weather Report, SBB, Nil, and After Crying.

While I absolutely love the "Concerto," the "Hippogriff" series takes one on a very nice journey. Part 1 takes off at top speed--to the point of reckless abandon in which the players often feel as thought they are just on the edge of losing control, losing their coherence. Then "The Dance of Shiva" and "Part 2" carry one into more tranquil, visual sonic soundscapes using lots of synths and space to tell their story.

The finale, "The Infant," establishes itself kind of slowly with a piano sound/melody/feel similar to early TOTO. The rhythm section eventually informs the listener that this is no TOTO (fine group that they were) but a much more classically-oriented band. But, wait! The jazzy sax seems to draw us back into a more cinematic place. Crossing genres so seemlessly, effortlessly is what makes this album, IMO, a sure fire masterpiece of progressive rock music. Well done Kotebel! This will be a tough album to beat for 2012 Album of the Year!

P.S. Just curious: Does anyone know where Carolina Prieto and Omar Acosta are now?

Report this review (#768325)
Posted Saturday, June 9, 2012 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 'Concerto for Piano and Electric Ensemble' - Kotebel (7/10)

Classical music has been an integral part of progressive rock since its inception, not to mention one of its greatest influences. For a band like Spanish veterans Kotebel, a "Concerto for Piano and Electric Ensemble" is not such a far stretch, despite the surprise and shock this artistic shift seems to have instilled in their fans. Although Kotebel are best known for the virtuosic skill of their flutist and Carolina Prieto's vibrant vocal skill, "Concerto" has neither, instead opting to reinvent the band's sound anew. The result is surely impressive, although some aspects most loved about Kotebel seem to have been lost in the transformation.

Although I've certainly never known enough about this band to write a doctoral thesis regarding their contributions to the progressive rock sphere, I have known enough to respect what they have done, and also to know that "Concerto" is a bigger departure than I would have expected from this approach. As far as the 'classical music' angle is concerned, Kotebel do not tread into the sort of full-blown orchestration that one might expect from a symphony, nor do they actually use many classically-oriented instruments. Instead, as the title suggests, things are built around the piano, an instrument that Kotebel have never used so profusely before. Although the handful of songs that follow the main course pursue more eclectic ends, the forty-odd minute epic is a keyboard tour-de-force, with other instruments performing a supportive role. Adriana Engelke is the most important part of this concerto, and while the electric guitar occasionally gets a chance to pull off a solo, a listener had better get used to having the piano in charge. From a compositional viewpoint, Kotebel skirts the border between classical bombast and jazz chords, with the occasional jump into avant-garde dissonance. There are constant shifts in tempo and mood, and the music is performed brilliantly to boot. Engelke is a gifted pianist, and though the production does not capture the full resonance I would hope for in a grand piano, there are no major complaints regarding how this ambitious effort has been executed in the studio.

Kotebel have certainly accomplished something quite complex and in-depth, although I cannot help but feel something meaningful is missing from their melting pot. Specifically, it is the sense of melody that has suffered the band's ambition. Of course, Kotebel have always been about this more composition-oriented prog rock, but "Concerto" runs the risk of becoming monotonous, despite its brilliant writing and arrangement. The interplay between instruments and work with harmonies is excellent, but there is not a moment- not even on the song-based second half- that instantly stands out as being memorable. "Concerto for Piano and Electric Ensemble" does bear fruit to a listener with enough patience to see it through, but it would have been nice to hear some recurring themes, or hooks involved in it, not so much that they lose the class and sophistication of such an ambitious project, but enough to keep the music engaging without begging a listener to sit intently and focus on every note.

"Concerto" won't appeal to all listeners despite its ambition and complexity, but patient listeners will reap the rewards that come with several listens.

Report this review (#775653)
Posted Friday, June 22, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars The first thing I have to say about Kotebel´s last release is that is my favourite album from 2012. The concerto, regarding composition, is as complex as the finest classical music pieces and is by far superior to 99% of the prog we can find these days (i'm trying to be objective and I state that not because I love these guys, but because every item in the Concerto is interrelated and is very progressive in itself, growing and developing each musical idea). I really don't understand why we can't see that in the prog world more often, it would be great to see how ideas are unified in groups that proudly release "conceptual albums", being the lyrics the only dragline. I really think this album is a labour of love and , in fact, I think it must be a present from Carlos Plaza to his daugther, because is so full of details, complexity and "keyboardness" that is the only thing it crosses my mind. I have to acknowledge that the rest of the album is not as complex, detailed and awesome as the Concerto, but it is done on purpose, because Carlos Plaza wanted to slow down the emotions at the end of the CD. I recommend this album strongly, I discovered them in "The European Pesperctive" radio programme and it got stuck in my mind since then. One of my favs from all time, at the same level of the classics!!!!
Report this review (#780806)
Posted Sunday, July 1, 2012 | Review Permalink
Progulator
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Kotobel's Concerto for Piano and Electric Ensemble is a fierce and elegant trip into progressive territory. While the piano is given the sufficient number of moments to justify this as a piano concerto, the prog band definitely does not just hang out in the back. The arrangements are at times pulverizingly heavy and aggressive (in the prog sense, not the 'metal sense) and at times mesmerizingly gorgeous. One thing that immediately caught my attention was the very in your face approach of the album in the way drums, bass, and dissonance are used to create an effect. Kotobel tends to lean a bit towards the dark side of prog, but includes a variety of influences, including both jazzy and avant-garde moments. This is a recording that doesn't leave you behind or allow you to daydream as you listen. Carlos Plaza Vega's composition does not only solicit your attention, it demands it.
Report this review (#1287578)
Posted Saturday, October 4, 2014 | Review Permalink
5 stars I don't really remember how I got to this album, but I can't really say that I ain't glad for this discovery. It is a magnificent album, spanning 61 minutes of almost pure perfection. It is made of 4 pieces. The first one is the concerto itself, while the next three are much shorter and not even nearly as good. I mean their great and all, but? not like the concerto.

The concerto itself opens with Adagio Maestoso, beginning with an amazing Hammond before the grand piano enters. A little bit darker and it could have been extracted from a Univers Zero album. 56 seconds and the guitar enters. It sounds ethereal, like a soundtrack for a very grim original Grimm fairy-tale. 1:30 and it picks a pace, growing rockier and a bit happier. It even grows warm. The piano in here is amazing, and then the electric guitar answers, before they're starting to "talk" with each other. The synths join as well. A short bass line leads to a new section, reminiscent a bit of the earlier ones, and yet completely new. 2:46 and we are getting a bit melancholic, like something real bad has just happened, but then we get over it and the band picks up the pace again. The grand piano in here does no less than wonders, especially while dialoging with the guitar. So many ideas are explored during those moments, playing with rhythms while doing so. The ending section of this first part is amazing, so emotional that it hurts. What a great opener!

Lento Cantabile opens with a sorrowful piano line. The bass that accompanies the piano is no less magnificent, and that says a lot during those early moments of the track. The synths join in, and a nice fingerstyle guitar is showing underneath. We're building towards something, and around the 2:20 marks we're presented with a great motive from the first part, explored a little bit differently. The electric guitar shows some sparks of genius from the 4 minutes mark onward, before the pianos- electric and grand- answer together. 5:36 and we're getting back to the opening section of this second part, almost finishing a full circle. Something has changed, something has been explored without us noticing it. We're drawing to a close.

Vivo Scherzando opens so differently. It opens quickly, with the entire band, already picking the pace, already utilizing the ability of the musicians to create and maintain suspense. The bass line is great, and the electric guitar that plays over it is wonderful. 1:55 and the grand piano takes the lead from the guitar, showcasing some other abilities, before clearing the stage a bit for some bridges. The electric keyboards, the grand piano and the electric guitar just build on each other amazingly. 2:54 takes us to a different station along our journey in this concerto. The next sections travel a bit between exploring motives from earlier parts to presenting some new ones, moving from place to place with such fluidity.

Allegro Moderato opens the way one expects Spanish classical music to begin, with some quirky transitions and wicked passages. The music in here is energetic, jumpy, and even joyful. 2:28 and we're back to the moments of sadness, with the grand piano taking the lead, and the other instruments answering the grand piano's call. 3:17 and it picks itself a rhythm and everything starts to seem brighter. The guitar solo is amazing, and the synth's answer is even more so. The grand piano takes third place, granting them a great base and a magnificent stage to talk, before everything goes a little bit Gentle-Giant-like. Around the 6th minute it changes again. Around the 9th minute we go rock-ish again. But something can be felt, though- we're beginning to wrap up, we're beginning to close the circle. 12:20 and the real wrapping begin- with the pace slowing down and long-emotional cries come out of the instruments. The concerto ends.

And then comes the next 3 pieces, and as much as I'd like to talk about them, to say how wonderful and great they are (and they truly are), for me they feel a little bit out of place, like adding the song Wish You Were Here to the end of Dark Side- the song is amazing, but it is just out of place, making the whole less good because of that. All I can say is that for me, I always give myself a break between the concerto and the next pieces, in order to fully enjoy them.

So, how should I rate this album? I don't really know, as the concerto itself is a five star piece for me, but the next pieces just detract from everything. So, I'll go for the 4/5, rounded up because of the amazing concerto, but with some doubts about it all.

Report this review (#1335011)
Posted Friday, January 2, 2015 | Review Permalink

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