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Rodrigo San Martin - A Lullaby For Mankind CD (album) cover

A LULLABY FOR MANKIND

Rodrigo San Martin

Crossover Prog


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4 stars Se here we have Rodrigo San Martín's fourth album in four years. What first drew me to this album was the weirdness of the concept, something about the cloning of Jesus that I still can't figure out.

Rodrigo's compositional skills are growing and he's surrounded himself with an all-star team to record this one.

01 A Lullaby for Mankind I (Intro): just like the title implies it's an instrumental intro to the album, featuring many of the motifs that would appear later. The Hammond Organ solo steals the show in my opinion!

02 A Lullaby for Mankind II: now the music goes into a -kind of- pop terrain, featuring the singing of Jelena Perisic who sounds like a mother singing to her child to get him to sleep over some acoustic guitar. The composition reminds me of Neal Morse.

03 The Sky Falls Down I: Osvaldo Mellace, a great male singer, makes his appearance for this one bringing a lot more energy. If I have to compare it with something I would name the heavy section in 5/8 on Thick as a Brick. Great guitar work!

04 The Masterplan: here we have some lovely melodies sung by Osvaldo over a guitar arpeggio. The melodic bass lines from Robert Lynch are fantastic. The second part of the track is a crescendo with beautiful harmonies from the two singers that leads to...

05 Intermission I: something completely unexpected. A jazzy instrumental piece with an amazing piano solo, this one is nice but feels quite out of place actually.

06 The Dark Ages: this is a heavy piece more familiar with what we have been hearing from Rodrigo on past albums. The best part is the "hindu" cut where Jelena sings with a sitar, in the middle of heavy riffing, that was unexpected. Fernando Refay shows some amazing skills with a very long synth solo at the end of the track.

07 Colonization: and we continue with the surprises. Here we have a flamenco tune sung mostly in spanish. Great spanish guitar work from Rodrigo and Piano from Fernando. Osvaldo proves he's an amazing singer once more.

08 Intermission II: nothing like the first Intermission, this one is used to bring the energy back to the mix. Featuring Hammond and guitar solos over a cool riff.

09 A Lullaby for Mankind III: Jelena comes back with the motif from A Lullaby for Mankind II that leads straight into the repetition of the crescendo that appeared on The Masterplan, this time with acoustic guitar and what I guess it's a xylophone that sounds lovely. They don't interfere with the build up this time and resolve it in an amazing guitar solo that kind of reminds me of the ending of Con Los Ojos Abiertos (from Rodrigo's Eyes album)

10 Two Children are Born: here we have a piano riff quite resemblant to Tubular Bells playing over some Pink Floyd-like sound effects. The rest of the band appears briefly to shock you everytime you feel comfortable enough to relax, be warned!

11 He's Here: Osvaldo and Jelena sing over a clean guitar riff that remids me of Transatlantic's Evermore. The lyrics start to get weirder here, the chorus (sung by the two of them) being "We have cloned our lord, he's here!".

12 No One Knew: every single song in here is quite a surprise but I never thought I'd hear something like this on a Rodrigo San Martín album. The verse is a (kind of)funky bass line over a drum loop and the chorus features an orchestra, there's quite a contrast between the two. Maybe it owes something to Blackfield?

13 Mass: things are getting weirder by the minute. This one is a gregorian chant piece in latin, sung very operatically by Canela Sol. After the vocal section there is a reprise of the Colonization verse, this time played by a very Wakeman-like moog over a church organ.

14 The Sky Falls Down II: a reprise of the track of the same name, this time sung by Jelena instead of Osvaldo. Cool heavy guitar solo and, another jazzy section with a great solo by Refay.

15 For Everyone to See: this is an odd little waltz. The music seems very naive but the lyrics are quite crude actually.

16 We Will Drown in a Sea of Ignorance Until We Evolve Into Something That Can Turn It To Oxygen I: great hammond riffing reminds us of the late Jon Lord.

17 We Will Drown in a Sea of Ignorance Until We Evolve Into Something That Can Turn It To Oxygen II: and here comes the Crimson King, at first at least. This track is a duel between Refay's keyboards and San Martín's guitar, playing over a the great rhythm section of Lynch- Black.

18 Coda: a very melancholic guitar solo playing over the piano theme from "Two Chlidren are Born" close the album as it fades out.

I rate the album four stars because of it's constant surprised to the listener and amazing musicianship. It's free on Rodrigo's bandcamp so give it a try!

Report this review (#1144257)
Posted Saturday, March 8, 2014 | Review Permalink
5 stars After the success of his third album (Eyes), Rodrigo San Martín was in a tough place: how do you follow such a critically acclaimed masterpiece? This might seem like an overstatement to you, but his figure in the argentine prog scene was becoming more and more important, specially after his breakthrough album Eyes, and the formation of the super group Vanished from Earth (which had released a fantastic album the year before)

San Martín chose to rely on his strenghts: the long songs. And he wrote his longest to date. A Lullaby for Mankind is a one song album much in the vein of Thick as a Brick, but it was divided into 18 shorter tracks.

To back him up on this ambitious project he chose a few recurring figures from his latest album (Jelena Perisic and Fernando Refay) and a few new faces: Osvaldo Mellace on vocals, Robert Lynch on Bass and Michael Black on drums.

The result is fantastic but the album was, mostly, overlooked even on the argentine prog scene and I can't understand why. Maybe the attention was drawn into Vanished from Earth. Maybe it was because the album was never presented live (and up to this day San Martin has never performed any music from A Lullaby for Mankind). Maybe it was because of it's deeply antireligious content. Or maybe it was just because the promotion was non existent. Playing the whole album on a radio station was impossible, and the 18 tracks in which it was divided where not really independent enough to work well on their own. Eyes, on the other hand, has very strong short songs that were completely independent of the bulk of the album and that worked fantastic as singles.

1 - A Lullaby for Mankind I (Intro): instrumental introduction to the album featuring some amazing keyboard passages by Fernando Refay, as well as guitar solos and riffs by Mr. San Martín. This is a typical Sanmartinian overture (like Chao's Obertura and The Veil is Broken's Before my Eyes), featuring many passages that would be developed later on the album. At least it seems that way in retrospect, but it's the first time this compositional technique (which would be much more polished on future releases) appears on a Rodrigo San Martín album.

2 - A Lullaby for Mankind II: the first vocal piece (sung by the lovely Jelena Perisic, one of San Martín's main partners in crime) is a nice acoustic section with a slown buildup and a steady rhythm. The melodies, as expected, are deeply beautiful and are the focal point here.

3 - The Sky Falls Down: the electric guitar and hammond organ make an entrance, followed by the powerful vocals of Osvaldo Mellace (who is considered the Argentine Greg Lake, in my country). Here the album starts taking a metallic Jethro Tull sound and we are presented with a great guitar solo.

4 - The Masterplan: after the storm we are faced with the calm once more. A beautiful guitar arpeggio over which Mellace sings a heartfelt melody. The melodic bass work by Mr Robert Lynch is the centerpiece of the first section of this track. The second part of it is comprised of a crescendo revolving around a vocal line sung by both Mellace and Perisic that is breathtaking.

5 - Intermission I: when we think we would have a resolution to the beautiful crescendo of the last piece we are interrupted by this short jazzy interlude which the band pulls with grace and groove. San Martín guitar sounds like Pat Metheny and Refay's piano solo puts him up there with the best keyboardists in Argentina. Nice Walk section in a weid time signaure at the end.

6 - The Dark Ages: this section sounds like San Martín's first albums. It's dark prog metal, filled with strange time signatures and mellotron, the hindu vocal intersections by Perisic and the synth solos have the trademark Sanmartinian sound. It's odd that the chorus itself, sung by Mellace, was chosen to be calm rather tan continue the power that came before and after. Great track, one of the best parts of the album. Kudos to Mr Refay once more for his excelent moog solos.

7 - Colonization: how can you follow such an epic number? By doing something completely different. Colonization is a flamenco piece sung in spanish by Mellace (about the conquest of the Americas) and has San Martin kick ass (Paco de Lucia style) on the nylon string guitar, as well as a terrific piano solo by Refay.

8 - Intermission II: a nice bass riff by Mr Lynch is followed by another grand hammond solo by Fernando Refay. This is a great rock intermission before...

9 - A Lullaby for Mankind III: the reexposition of the themes from track two. The crescendo from track four comes as well, but this time it's not interrupted by anything and flourishes beautifully into a Grand Prog Climax featuring San Martin´s trademark epic guitar sound (reminiscent of his own Con los Ojos Abiertos). This is the moment of the piece we have been teased and when it actually arrives is just fantastic.

10 - Two Children are Born: Pinkfloydish ambient sounds, Oldfieldean piano riff and crazy interruptions by the band in full power that make you jump off your seat.

11 - He's Here: this one reminds me of pre-The Yes Album Yes. Verse sung by Perisic and Mellace over a moving rhythm, chorus sung by both. There's a flute intersection presenting one important melody that would become recurrent on the album, and a terrific solo, once again, by Rodrigo San Martín, where he showscases both his clean and distorted sounds. There is also a Tull vibe somewhere in there.

12 - No One Knew: ALL CHANGE. Groovy bass, electronic drums and rhodes chords over which Mellace sings sensually. The chorus is completely different: acoustic guitar, string arrangements, mellotron and Jelena Perisic singing a precious melody. What's keeping this giant song together since it features so many different styles? The fantastic development of the core themes, that appear thruought all the album, giving logic and consistence to the Song as a whole.

13 - Mass: a perfect example of what I was saying. Rodrigo manages to pull of a gregorian chant section, sung by Canela Sol (who will appear much more in later albums), how does he does this? Well the main theme from Colonization appears, not in a flamenco style this time, but played in a moog synthesizer and backed by a church organ (making it sound completely logical after the gregorian a capella chant).

14 - The Sky Falls Down II: the vocal piece from track three appears, this time sung by Jelena Perisic instead of Mellace, and it's followed by crazy solos by San Martín and Refay.

15 - For Everyone to See: A weird waltz (in an odd time signature) sung by the always lovely Perisic. The polyphonic section at the end sounds like Queen.

16 - We Will Drown in a Sea of Ignorance Until We Evolve Into Something That Can Turn It To Oxygen I: the track turns rockier once more witha strong guitar and flute riff. Nice vocal line delivered by Perisic.

17 - We Will Drown in a Sea of Ignorance Until We Evolve Into Something That Can Turn It To Oxygen II: All the intensity that has been building since the beggining finds it's climax here as the bands let's all it's power loose in an instrumental track featuring the virtuosic duel between moog and guitar.

18 - Coda: after the progressive explosion of the previous track we are left in creepy fade out where San Martín plays in his trademark Gilmour style over the piano riff from track 10. The album ends in a sad manner and it's beauitiful.

So, did San Martín manage to beat his own Eyes? I don't really know. He did manage to pull off the one song album and showed a remarkable inspiration to do something so different but still being in touch with his own sound (that had come to perfection in the preevious album)

Like all this guy's discopgrahy, it's free on bandcamp.

Report this review (#1702225)
Posted Wednesday, March 15, 2017 | Review Permalink

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