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Cesar Inca
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The debut album by this new prog band from Spain has certainly caught the attention of many fans, as it is noticed from the different web sources where reviews for this recording are submitted. Psicotropia's good fame has only been increased via their praised live performance in BajaProg 2004, in which they reportedly exhibited their aggressive energy in a most convincing manner: this is basically what is expected from almost every power trio, pure energy. Energy is indeed the key word when it comes to defining their prog style - an incendiary combination of 73-75 KC and early Primus, with touches of modern psychedelia, some clear hints to prog metal, and even some occasional minimalistic nuances on synthesizer (as in the opener 'Negro' and the initial section of 'Oigo Voces'), courtesy of bass player Jaime Mariscal. The recurrent use of powerful guitar riffs and chord progressions, as well as cleverly crafted mood shifts, bear the signal of the Crimsonian thing: but all in all, Psicotropia manages to create a voice of their own. The band's line of work is framed in a unitary strategy: the threesome obviously feeling at ease as a well- oiled ensemble. Yet, they don't conform to the rules of the guitar/bass/drumkit sound all the time: guests on flute, cello and additional lead guitar add musical colours of their own in order to help the band expand their sonic spectrum. In my opinion, 'Madre Tierra', 'Oigo Voces' and 'Discotropia' are the most featured examples of the album's overall statement; but it is on the 10 minute 'Suite Urdalia' where Psicotropia accomplish their most ambitious facet, with total progressive splendour, may I add. The more ethereal 'Viaje en Re' shows the band's ability to work with subtleties in an inventive way, while 'Pqtq' states a compromise between the ethereal and the rocky. The album's closure 'Delicada Sal Titánica' is just a recitation delivered over a background of piano arpeggios, and dreamy synth and guitar layers: a proper moment for meditation after the rocking outburst that had been taking place in most parts of the previous repertoire. I only wish the ensemble in itself sounded more cohesive, but I guess it's just a matter of maturity and experience: these guys are right on track, and the album is very good, almost excellent -- 3 1/2 stars.
Report this review (#33299)
Posted Tuesday, November 16, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Spain is not best known for being a place with excellent conditions for progressive rock band. Nonetheless every now and then I discover very promising bands off the beaten tracks of common neo/retro prog hailing from there, AMAROK being the other one. Now here we have PSICOTROPIA who had to go to the Mexican label Luna Negra which luckily works together with MUSEA to bring back their CDs to Europe. Well, that's what we call globalised madness! When I first listened to their CDs (got them both together) I was immediately fascinated by and addicted to their experimental yet very accessible approach I've to say. Though their music is as well rooted in the seventies it's anything else what we usually know as retro prog and actually it sounds completely unique and different from any band I've heard before. Most obvious influence is KING CRIMSON, mainly in their guitar style. But beyond this there isn't any similarity present with this seminal band. I'll try to describe what's their debut album alike by doing a brief track-by-track overview:

"Negro" is a rather short instrumental and very atmospheric piece which does an excellent job to introduce into the music of the band. (6/10)

"Madre Tierra" is one of the few ones with vocals which are surprisingly in English language despite the Spanish title. It's a very hard edged song in early 70's vein with TULL-inspired flute ,intricate guitar playing and a good measure of oddity and time shifting. By the way singer Nacho Cuevas has an excellent voice without any accent and a great blues/soul/rock feeling. (8/10)

"PQTQ" is a very melodic instrumental played on guitar/bass/drums with some keys and though being easily accessible it's a very interesting and versatile track. Revealing the excellent musicianship of all band members it's a highly entertaining one for me. (8/10)

"Suite Urdalia" is the longest one here with ten minutes and brings in some cello as an additional instrument. Starting as well very melodically the track shows a really nice and interesting development within six different parts from atmospheric to hard psyche rock with complex rhythm changes. We can enjoy Nacho Cuevas' vocals in Spanish here for the first time. So far the best track of the album. (9/10)

"Cinco Mundos" is a short quirky instrumental with highly intricate and virtuoso bass play by Jaime Mariscal. This one shows the strongest KC-resemblance. (7/10)

"Viaje en Re" with some guest appearance of Iván Caramés playing cello is again all instrumental and shows with a running time of less than three minutes that it's possible as well to compose excellent prog songs with such a rather uncommon length. (8/10)

"Bajo el Oceano del Sueńo" is another one of the few having vocals (in Spanish) and could be specified as complex and hard psyche rock, again with some great flute play. Great one as well! (8/10)

"Discotropia" is as the title suggests obviously meant as a dancing song and therefore very rhythmic. Most probably one of the heaviest moments of the disc with awesome guitar/bass interplay. (9/10)

"Oigo Voces" starts in a mellow vein with acoustic piano, nice flute play (by guests Elisa Puerto and Iván Orosa) and acoustic guitar before it enters into a more fiery part with vocals sung in Spanish language. Then piano and flute are returning and the latter one leads over to another more hard-edged section with sombre chorus and dominated by electric guitar. (8/10)

Last track "Delicada Sal Titánica" is a narration accompanied by piano and though my knowledge of Spanish language is not sufficient at all to follow it I would say it's a worthy closure for this CD. (7/10)

Overall rating: 78% and an excellent addition to any prog collection. Music lovers looking for something different than the usual prog diet shouldn't be disappointed by this band. Highly recommended!

Report this review (#83722)
Posted Friday, July 14, 2006 | Review Permalink

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