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Gualberto - A La Vida / Al Dolor CD (album) cover

A LA VIDA / AL DOLOR

Gualberto

Prog Folk


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3 stars Gualberto Garcia Perez was born in 1945 in Sevilla and one of the original members of the legendary Spanish psych/hard rock band Smash.After the demise of Smah,he travelled to USA for music studies and even composed a rock opera entitled ''"Behind the stars".During his trip he came in touch with musicians from different music approaches (jazz,classical,folk etc.) and in 1974 he returns to Spain along with two American musicians,Arthur Volh and Todd Purcell,with the help of whom he records his debut solo album ''A la vida, al dolor''.Notice the guest appearance of Carlos Carcamo of Granada on flutes.

The album is an amalgam of Gualberto's studies,an intense trip through the different fields he came in touch with,an eclectic mix of various civilizations,based mostly on Gualberto's flamenco guitar.''Cancion de la primavera'' is a pastoral acoustic/flamengo ballad with romantic vocals,while ''Cancion del agua'' is a blend of Folk and Classical Music with nice violin passages.''Cancion de las nieves'' is a big surprise,a soft orchestrated piece reminding of early KING CRIMSON and ''Cancion del arco iris'' comes like a sitar seminar,showcasing Gualberto's Eastern Music influences.''Cancion de las gaviotas'' is actually the first trully Progressive Rock track of the album,a beautiful number of Classical,Folk and Prog Rock with a fine second part where violin scratching,pounding bass and jazzy guitars offer some cool interplays.Notice all above five tracks are sung in English.

From now on Gualberto present his Andalusian roots more.''Terraplen'' is actually a constant slow jamming between flamenco guitar,sitar and violin with TRIANA-like Spanish vocals.The follower ''Prisioneros'' has some SMASH vibes with long guitar solos,before returning to a flamenco/psych-based drama with expressive vocals,this time in English.''Tarantos'' is more of a symphonic piece in structure,a great instrumental with fantastic violins again,passionate guitar playing and a smooth rhythm section.''Dialogo interior'' closes the album in a classical way with (no surprise) a constant dialogue between Gualberto's guitar and Arthur Vohl's violin,maybe this one is a bit too long.

Gualberto's debut offers some trully interesting and adventuruous moments and will easily appeal to fans of Progressive Folk,Acoustic Prog and generally the softer side of progressive music.The only negative point dominating the album is the absence of some trully masterful tracks,but again it has plenty of good material to be purchased.Recommended.

Report this review (#483516)
Posted Saturday, July 16, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Gualberto's name might not tell much to non-conoisseur of Spanish rock music. Even the fact that up to that point he'd been the leader of Spain's arguably the best hard-psych band's Smash, won't rise his credit in the eye of a casual foreign music lover too high. When this kind of musician attempts to do folk-rock album sung in English, one can mostly expect a mere Celtic folk-approximation with second-rate lyrics; and if he or she is good enough, we usually give the musician extra courage by saying something like "it's a lot better than expected". But when a listener meets something like this album, this slightly cynic approach falls at the seams.

Gualberto, after having left Smash, traveled to USA to take some advanced music classes and upon returning to Spain commenced his solo career. He took two American musicians with him and one of them could sing very well, so the English-vocals-problem was easily solved.

But what about music? It's excellent. The album consists of two song cycles. Songs, despite mostly being sung in English, are named in Spanish. First song cycle features soft, pastoral and sunny music, sometimes reminiscent of Anthony Phillips' best output, but adding more Classical continental European folk-approach. This kind of music is enjoyable anywhere and anytime, from summer day to winter night. Melodies are complex and beautiful. Also typical patterns and clichés are avoided. In one song even a sitar is used, without sounding Indian.

The second song cycle is more diverse, bringing heavy-psych (but more progressive than Smash) and Flamenco music into apposition. Again all stays on Top level here and when Enrique Morente (one of the legendary Flamenco singers, who sadly died in 2010) steps in, it just takes your breath.

Album ends with two instrumental pieces. The first one is dedicated to Jimi Hendrix, and features some heavy Symphonic Prog built on repetitive but dramatic violin theme and presenting excellent electric guitar work. And the last one is beautiful Classical piece (by this I mean progressive musicians approach to classical form), which in the end has many very beautiful violin lead melodies, one of which will be featured in a piece on Gualberto's second album, and given more Rock decision.

I was the one who heard Gualberto's second album "Vericuentos" prior to this one and I thought nothing in his discography (sadly not very big one) could top that instrumental masterpiece. Now it seems I was very wrong, as this debut work is at least on par. My rating to this would be 4,5 from 5. But 4 stars would seem too low, so I'll round up to 5 ? it deserves that!

Report this review (#644860)
Posted Saturday, March 3, 2012 | Review Permalink

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