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Sintesis - Sintesis [Aka: En Busca De Una Nueva Flor] CD (album) cover



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Steve Hegede
5 stars Wow! Prog from Cuba that is as good as the best from England, Italy, and Spain. The music on 1979's "En Busca De Una Nueva Flor" reminds me a bit of the Spanish prog band CRACK. The listener is treated to tons of classically-inspired themes led by Moog, piano, and even Harpsichord along with guitar, bass, and drums. There is a romantic Latin-American feel to many of the themes that will mostly appeal to fans of Italian prog. The Spanish vocals, both male and female, are also excellent and vary from solo, to choir (never annoying), to male/female unison. SINTESIS produced one of the top albums from the late-70s prog scene.
Report this review (#29035)
Posted Monday, March 22, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Recorded in 1978, this album is a very interesting mixture of traditional prog and folk elements and some of "Nueva Trova", an epic Cuban revolutionary songs style. Soft, elegant and beautiful, a sort of a very melodic prog music. Very nice interplay between male and female voices (in Spanish), chorus, electric guitars, classic piano, Moog and organ (the first track is a good example of the band's potential). A couple of songs are not really progressive, but very enjoyable too.

The song "Poema" has beautiful lyrics from Pablo Neruda (Chilean Nobel Prize winner), and the highlight is the homonymous "En Busca De Una Nueva Flor", almost seven minutes of piano and synth lead music.

Both long bonus are quite interesting: "Variaciones Sobre Un Zapateo" has influences from Italian symphonic rock blended with Cuban folklore, and "Elogio De La Danza" is a space- atmospheric-ethnic track.

A recommended album, not extremely complex but very nice, delicated and full of Cuban colours.

Report this review (#29036)
Posted Tuesday, May 4, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars It´s incredible. A mixing of traditional cuban folklore with elements of PINK FLOYD, YES, QUEEN, RUSH, THE DOORS, POLICE, etc. Imagine yourself a mixture of bata drums, congas, tumbadoras, marimba and guiro with electric guitars, electic bass, drums, Moog, clavinet, electric piano, solina and Hammond organ. It´s interesting.
Report this review (#29037)
Posted Saturday, January 22, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars I was so glad to find this on Prog Archives - I was looking in the G's for it - as in Gruppo Sintesis but found it here and with a different cover to mine. My copy is part of the La Nueva Trove Cubana Coleccion of CUBAN Progressive rock. So what is it like - this was my first taste of South American prog - I later got into Iconoclasta and Espiritu - but Sintesis are still my favourites. As witht he East European records the S. American pressings suffer from a distinct lack of audio quality but the music makes up for it. this is a beautiful melange of progressive and folk musics, pulled together by the scintilatting female vocals and mutliple male/female harmonies. Often sounding like a Latin version of Trees or Mellow Candle this is prog-folk at its finest. A nice warm atmosphere - lots of acoustics and piano and quite ancient sounding moog synths which never sound out of place. The cover lists the major prog names as influences: ELP, Tull, Floyd, yes and er.....Cat Stevens!!! It makes sense however as a folky vibe does dominate on most tracks but there is some dextrous instrumental playing also from the band. Opener "Nueve ejemplares" is a fine piece of prog, all acoustic arpegios and moog coursing thru the melodies: sublime - the LP is also quite diverse containing some shorter song-based material like a femal CSN&Y singing in Spanish like on "Ven a encontrarnos" and Poema - wiht some spoken word-ish vocalisations. This is a great Sunday morning Lp - know what I mean - a smooth start to that most proggy of days - i.e are day off!! Mellow, folk-prog - femal vocal led - shiny, sun- kissed harmones and phat moogs, and warm organs, that fizz away. ACE!!!
Report this review (#29038)
Posted Monday, January 24, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars I'd read that this was full-on prog rock, but I didn't believe it until I heard it for myself: with endless running times, classical motifs, and tons of ostinato piano, it really could be Emerson, Lake and Palmer (the ponderous if ornate "Nueve Ejemplares, No Tan Raros"). Except that the band is years behind the times, with loads of grating early 70s synth ("Somos La Flor"), and their instrumental prowess is not overwhelming. And most tracks follow a loose formula of alternating piano-led vamps with mostly a capella choral sections. If you can get past that, there are some indicators of the band's future triumphs: the atmospheric chorus of "Primera Noche"; the controlled tension in the lengthy title suite. And most importantly, vocals from Ele Valdés, who gives the sound some sorely needed distinctiveness and emotional force ("Ven A Encontrarnos"). (DBW)

Aquí Estamos (1981) I've heard two of these tracks: the neo-classical "Variaciones Sobre Un Zapateo," very much along the lines of Nueva Flor, and "Elogio De La Danza," which is jazz fusion a la Weather Report except for a vocal chant and handclaps midway through the tune. (DBW)

Hilo Directo (1984)

Ancestros (1987) Only in Cuba: religious chants and rhythms brought by slaves from Africa (still widely practiced in the country, defying Catholicism and Communism alike) interpreted faithfully - but with synthesizers, guitars and drum machines stacked on top of them. It's an interesting experiment, but the chants are consistently more attention-grabbing than the fusion backing, which tends to sound the same on every track. Santero singer and priest Lázaro Ros watched over the recording, and also contributes lead vocals on "Titi-Laye." Half of the tunes are by Carlos Alfonso, the other half are by Huergo. (DBW)

El Hombre Extraño (1989) All the lyrics here are by Silvio Rodriguez, who also drops by to sing the title track, and as usual for him, they range from totally opaque ("Parte Del Tiempo (Nuevo)") to very straightforward ("El Día Que No Importaba"). Valdés uses her clear, full voice to excellent effect ("Voy y No Es Todo"), and the tunes (all written or co-written by Carlos Alfonso) are effective and cleverly arranged: dreamy synths, cutting guitars, and plenty of open space. (DBW)

Ancestros II (1992) Another volume of santería chants, and the blend is much better realized, with the sophistication of the arrangements a match for the gut-level impact of the chants. Recent arrival Esteban Puebla writes about half of the tracks, and they stand out: they're tuneful and spacious, leaving room for the vocalists. This works best on Valdés's features, particuarly the powerful "Aguanileo," which momentarily makes me wish I weren't an atheist. (DBW)

En Los Limites Del Barrio (1994)

Orishas (1997) Really, this is Ancestros III: same Bat-chanting, same Bat-fusion. But there are some significant differences, such as louder and more distorted guitars ("Asojano Mawe"), surprisingly funky R&B/jazz piano ("Ogun Mariwo"), and a number of guests (mostly percussionists) making for a fuller sound. There's even a rap vocal by Charli 2 Ner, which makes one think of related efforts in African diaspora integrationism by Steve Coleman. Though some of the tunes aren't particularly exciting ("Oshishe Iwa Ma"), this is perhaps the best effort of the trilogy from an instrumental perspective. Unfortunately, all the busy playing detracts from the chanting, which is often reduced to backup vocal status. Only a couple of tracks ("Ayabba," "So Sa So") manage to reach the spiritually moving heights of the previous discs. By comparison to those, this often sounds like a professional but soulless exercise. (DBW)

Yoruba Celebration (2000)

Habana A Flor De Piel (2001) Essentially the same Ancestros approach - vocal chorus and low-key, tasteful synth fusion - is applied to new band compositions (though "Iroko Ma Karere" is based, like Ancestros and Orishas, on Yoruba chants). The more contemplative numbers sound like late 90s Silvio ("Si Yo Fuera..."), while the seductive "Conmigo En La Clave" (with Chucho Valdés on piano) sounds like NG La Banda on downers. Though the band sticks close to its trademark sound - as usual, vocals are split between Ele Valés and Carlos Alfonso - there are experimental moments: successes include wah-wah guitar battling Táta Guines's percussion on "Fifty Fifty," while the Manhattan Transfer-style vocals and trumpet on the title track is a bit on the tacky side. Other guests include Pablo Milanés ("Un Poco Mas De Fé"), Carlos Varela and Mayito ("Dilo Como Yo"). (DBW)

Report this review (#39704)
Posted Monday, July 18, 2005 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Putting Cuba on the map of prog

Released in 1978, this was Cuban rock band Sintesis's first album. Here we have an eclectic mix of various prog styles, including the harmonies of prog folk, the synth based atmospheres of symphonic prog, and hints of fusion and other genres.

The main basis for the tracks tends to be classically influenced piano or harpsichord with vocals in Spanish delivered by both male and female vocalists, sometimes in a choral setting. Tracks such as the opening "Nueve Ejemplares... NO Tan Raros" feature wispy floating synth among the diversity of sounds and styles. The general atmosphere of the album is relatively light and melodic, sometimes rooted firmly in traditional or pop styles. "Van A Encontrarnos" for example may well have been a successful hit single in their home country.

The mix of styles is perhaps most evident on "Primera Noche", which features a combination of Wakeman and Emerson like keyboards and Pentangle like vocals. This unique blend, together with Renaissance like harmonies, can be presented in a rather clumsy way at times, but the overall sound remains pleasing.

The partly instrumental "Somos La Flor" is a more confident synth driven number with a looser opening section leading to a harmonic vocal piece. "Poema" is soft piano and vocal number with synth strings. It is a more orthodox song but features some incisive guitar and pleasant harmonies.

The closing " En Busca De Una Nueva Flor" opens with an "Abaddon's bolero" like fanfare, before the ubiquitous piano signals the introduction of soft melodic vocals. The track is essentially a mix of orthodox ballad and prog synth. It sounds like it should not work, but the reality is it not only works, but works well.

In all, a rather unique album which blends what might appear to be disparate styles nicely, creating some interesting and enjoyable soundscapes.

At time of writing, Sintesis are one of just two bands from Cuba listed on this site. On the evidence of this album, we can hope for more fine music from that country.

Report this review (#159812)
Posted Saturday, January 26, 2008 | Review Permalink
Prog Folk Researcher
3 stars There aren’t a lot of opportunities to hear progressive music from Cuba (unless you live in Cuba I suppose). Sylvio Rodriguez, Anima Mundi and Sintesis are about the only examples I’m aware of, and only Rodriguez has put out anything new in the last several years. Too bad, because like most Latin musicians all three of these acts offer an opportunity to here music which, like that of other Caribbean artists, shows the influences of the Latin, native, African and European roots of the people there.

But we’re talking about Sintesis at the moment, and this (their debut release) is an interesting collection of Cuban music with the rare twist of showcasing European-leaning sounds much more than the areito, rumba and related styles that one tends to associate with Cuban music. Or perhaps the influences aren’t roots at all, but simply a reflection of the stuff the band members grew up listening to. The broad strumming of guitar (three or four of them on most tracks) calls to mind American west-coast folk, while the pensive piano and harpsichord and chamber-like harmonizing vocals seem as rooted in classical European music as they do in anything from the western hemisphere.

The range of instrumentation here is surprising limited for a Latin band. As I said there are several guitars, both acoustic and electric as well as an electric bass. Vocalist Silvia Acea also plays a Hammond organ while Ele Valdes adds a moog, and Jose Maria Vitier (one of the few non-singers in the band) mans the piano and harpsichord. Add conventional snare drums and that’s it. No marimbas, congas, shekerés, maracas or anything like that. Like I said, except for the fact the vocals are in Spanish you might think this record had come out of England or Canada. Hopefully if someone from the band reads this they don’t consider that a disparaging remark or anything; it’s not meant to be. It’s just surprising to hear a band full of Hispanic musicians sound so European.

The opening “Nueve Ejemplares…” is easily the outstanding track on the album, with a promising intro of piano and moog mixed with layers of harmonizing vocals that gives way to an extended instrumental foray of soft, fat bass, brooding moog and intricate piano offset by some more of that west coast acoustic guitar strumming. This is a long track that doesn’t seem to be in a hurry to get to the point, which of course is something almost all progressive music fans award style points for. And I’ve no idea what the point is, except maybe to simply celebrate the fact that they have the talent to put out such a well-articulated piece of music. Bravo for it.

“Ven a Encontrarnos” is a bit of a letdown after the opener, although there’s nothing necessarily wrong with the track. It just emphasizes the female member’s vocals over the music, and comes off sounding a bit like and eighties soft-rock tune that just happens to have decent keyboards. “Primera Noche” is marked by maybe a bit too much in the female vocal department as well, but here as in the opener the harpsichord, moog and organ are dominant and provide a lengthy passage of great keyboard-driven music. It just gets diluted slightly by the ladies singing in my opinion. This would have made an exceptional all-instrumental piece.

“Somos la Flor” gets back to the prog music again like the opener with a long and wandering guitar/ organ passage that is well accompanied by Valdes’ moog experimentation. Again toward the end the vocals come in, but here there is more of the multi-voice harmonizing that seems to fit this music better than the all-female vocals.

“Poema” seems to be just that – a poem set to music. Not my kind of thing really but if you’re into soft, subdued and largely music with folk vocals (some a capella) the you might take to this one.

The original release closes with the title track, which has lots of keyboards again but all male vocals for a change and some of the moog passages don’t quite seem to fit the music. The vocals are folk or even pop while the synth sounds more like space rock, which ends the album on kind of an odd note. Not quite sure what the band was trying to accomplish with this one.

This is a very interesting album from a country whose progressive music isn’t all that accessible to most of the world, so in that respect it is worth listening to if you get a chance. But I think the band shows its lack of experience in the rather uneven offering. The opening track shows great potential and “Somos la Flor” is also very strong. But the over-emphasis on female poppish vocals from time to time and some of the gratuitous keyboard noodling are examples of a lack of experience in putting together a tight sound. I’m assuming the band improved over time since they went on to put out several more records, but this one doesn’t rise quite to the level of being excellent. It’s pretty good though, so three stars and a recommendation to most fans of prog music (as long as you’re not looking for something heavily Latin).


Report this review (#165753)
Posted Saturday, April 5, 2008 | Review Permalink
Avant/Cross/Neo/Post Teams
4 stars Listen! We can see full of brilliant stardusts, or bright moonshine in the sky of Cuba!

Very amazing in their sound, especially their chorus, there's much confidence and completeness, we can hear definitely. Spanish is their mother language and, as most of bands' songs are, their Spanish is well suitable for their melody and tune. (If they sang in English, they couldn't construct such a streamin' wave, I guess.) The first track has almost all of their essences...gentle and concentrated chorus, mellotron, keyboard, rhythm section, and guitar. (Well, wow-wow guitar play I'm very pleased!!!) Their percussion and bass play are not heavy & loud but strict & well-done. :-) Mix and dub with sound effect are not so good I feel, but I'm sure the no-good mix and dub should make their character and identity greater and larger.

What is their background? By one of the reviews of the group SINTESIS, they've got influenced much by British progressive rock e.g. Pink Floyd, Genesis, Yes, and so on...but personally I think that the music style of The Moody Blues, with mellotron and synth like orchestration, would give some influences to them.

Indeed we can't feel any Latin Cuban beat in this product, but please listen to the third track Primera Noche and we can feel the Latin flavour gently and slightly. The song has harpsichord's brilliant kicks and zamba-like voice, so smells like Cuban beats I suggest. The Fifth track Poema is the highlight of the album, with female beautiful voice flying over our mind and male bright and streaming voice making the song and listeners relaxed.

Rarely there're lots of songs with faded-out and it seems not like typical progressive album. But each of the songs in this album is fantastic and dreamy.

I wanna say Great SINTESIS is another Cuban gem.

Report this review (#202015)
Posted Saturday, February 7, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Just a few notes for this album:

The songs listed here actually are from 2 albums: the great debut album EN BUSCA DE UNA NUEVA FLOR from 1978 and the sophomore effort AQUÍ ESTAMOS from 1981 (the last 2 songs are from the latter album); so it's kind of a bundle of the bests songs from Sintesis in the late 70's.

Actually, this first line up just lasted a few months, soon José María Vitier went on his way to start a successfull solo career with his own group, Fernando Calveiro after the 1981 effort joined AfroCuba (a latin-jazzy outfit that supported singer/songwriter Silvio Rodríguez during most of the 80's and recorded with him such a great album like Causas y Azares from 1986).

Also, not credited in this edition is guitarist Pablo Menéndez (coming from the GRUPO DE EXPERIMENTACIÓN SONORA DEL ICAIC and actual director of the latin-pop-rock group MEZCLA), as he played in the AQUI ESTAMOS album, making it a 2 lead guitar group for the time being (with Calveiro) and keyboard player Juan Carlos Valladares who replaced Vitier. . . Absents to the second effort would also be Mike Porcels and Eliseo Pino, both practically disapeared from the Cuban music scene for different reasons.

For the songs, what can I say? Very good vocal arrangements, as Sintesis comes from a vocal quartet called Tema IV and lots of experimentation as that was their time to do it, to find their own sound. . . we have to forgive, of course, the quality of the recordings, just bear in mind that this album was made in the mid 70's in a revolutionary Cuba in conflict with the US, very poor recording technolgy and gadgets available in the country at that time.

For me, it's just OUTSTANDING that a Cuban rock group could produce this type of effort in those years. . . it's history in the making. . . this album you can say it's were all started for Cuban Rock.

Up the Progs!!!

Songo (Alfredo from Havana, Cuba)

Report this review (#225805)
Posted Friday, July 10, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Grupo Sintesis from Cuba emerged as one of the most popular acts to mix Afro-Cuban rhythms with Jazz and Latin Music.But theie first steps were definitely into a different sound.They hailed from Havana and were formed by director/guitarist Carlos Alfonso and his wife Eve Valdes,initially named Tema IV,along with five more members on vocals, guitars, bass and drums.In 1976 Alfonso decides to collaborate with guitarist Miguel Porcel and keyboardist Jose Maria Vitier in order to explore new sounds and the group was renamed to Sintesis.Their debut ''En Busca de una Nueva Flor'' came out in 1978.

The album is a very rare case of Cuban progressive rock and an excellent amalgam of Symphonic Rock and Folk with heavy doses of acoustic passages and warm vocals.There are plenty of keyboards around,creating magnificent soundscapes,from the romantic use of harpsichord and light organs to the melodic moog synth solos and the Classical-influenced piano parts.These deep atmospheres are constantly supported by numerous acoustic explorations,sometimes in long, demanding, complicated instrumental passages.The use of electric guitars is careful and recalls the best of GENESIS and PREMIATA FORNERIA MARCONI.But what really explodes this album are the fascinating and unique polyphonic arrangements,especially the female choirs are so dreamy and ethereal,you can't get enough of them.Male vocals are more expressive and certainly in the same level.The albums holds plenty of similarities with the Spanish and Italian Prog scene,more precisely bands in the vein of MAXOPHONE,PREMIATA FORNERIA MARCONI and CRACK.

''En Busca de una Nueva Flor'' is an absolute winner among the monster names of 70's prog.Delicate harmonies,professional interplays and top notch vocal arrangements guarantee a fantastic journey into the world of Symphonic Rock.Highly recommended.

Report this review (#517379)
Posted Thursday, September 8, 2011 | Review Permalink

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