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Cast Al-Bandaluz album cover
3.75 | 63 ratings | 6 reviews | 22% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2003

Songs / Tracks Listing

CD 1 (47:42)
1. Viajero Inmóvil (7:09)
2. Jerezcali (Pueblo De Dos Mundos) (8:53)
3. Encrucijada (17:25) :
- a) Ascención
- b) Retorno
- c) Conversión
4. Lamento Del Gato (9:55)
5. Damajuana (4:18)

CD 2 (48:28)
6. Viento (5:01)
7. El Puente (22:02) :
- a) Vida Re
- b) El Puente
- c) Luz Al Final Del Túnel
- d) Valle De Los Sueños
8. La Ballesta (8:46)
9. Ensamble Al-Mayá (5:27)
10. Ansia, Angustia, Desesperación (7:10)

Total Time: 96:10

Line-up / Musicians

- Francisco Hernandez Reyes / vocals, percussion
- Carlos Humarán / electric & acoustic guitars, vocals
- Luis Alfonso Vidales / keyboards, vocals
- Pepe Torres / sax, flute, clarinet, quena
- Flavio Jiménez / bass
- Kiko King / drums, percussion

- Lupita Vidales / vocals (7)
- Michael Dean Starry / guitar solo (5)
- Alberto Márquez / keyboards (2)
- José Luis Algaba / bass (1-5)
- Ismael Cortés / percussion (9)
- Mario Bocanegra / percussion (9)
- Enrique Slim / percussion (9)

Releases information

2xCD Self-released (2003, Mexico)
2xCD Musea - FGBG 4512.AR (2003, France)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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CAST Al-Bandaluz ratings distribution

(63 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(22%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(54%)
Good, but non-essential (22%)
Collectors/fans only (2%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

CAST Al-Bandaluz reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by lor68
3 stars Oh guys, another remarkable and a bit disappointing (in a certain sense) "creation" by Cast!! Don't get me wrong... this is a good derivative work with a strong personality once again, but as this time this is a double album, my expectations have been disappointed: here you find a lot of variations as usual, a kind of virtuosity regarding the keyboards, and at the beginning I was expected to find something original, talking about the composition,instead...the present album is close to their typical emulation of the symphonic stereotype, even though I recognize their good execution, also in their most jazzy variations."Encrucijada" the first instrumental long suite and the other epic number "El puente" represent their best effort;nevertheless the sense of boredom is hidden behind the corner!!To me the right path to be runned was that one traced by means of their pretty original album "Imaginary Window" (released in 1997), whose simple conception has not been repeated it enough to have an idea of their evolution?! Well I don't know, but for sure the sound has been always compact in their recent issues...a fertile band they are, but the risk is always the same: their attempt to duplicate their "symphonic formula", which soon can become tiring...make your own choice anyway!!
Review by Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars After the momentum achieved in their brilliant 'Beyond Reality' album, Mexican symphonic prog ensemble Cast had been approaching a crossroad that seemed to dangerously lead them to ceaseless self-repetition. Even though their posterior albums were all quite good, the prog magic apparently was starting to wane. Alfonso Vidales & co. came up with an excellent solution to their artistic predicament when they conceived the idea for "Al-bandaluz", a proposal of refurbishment based on the incorporation of Flamenco-and-Arabic-oriented flavors into their own vintage symphonic bombast. This double CD is a manifestation of constant musical magic; it may be tiring to listen to this ambitious opus too often, but, the way I see it, each occasion in which you take your time to relax and enjoy the whole stuff comes with an ultimate reward at the end of the day. The typical elegance and melodic pomposity of Cast remains solid as a rock in a storm, but it is clear that the addition of new forms has influenced in the reshaping of the band's core essence. Perhaps the intervention of guests from Spanish band Omni was also helpful, concerning the creation of this renewed magic; what's more, Omni's wind player Pepe Torres became some sort of official new member (or associate?) for Cast. The Arabic stuff is consistently conveyed by the exotic aura of 'Ensamble Al-Mayá', while 'Viajero Inmóvil', 'Jerezcali' and 'Lamento del Gato' lean closer to the realms of stylized Flamenco fusion translated into a prog context (not unlike Omni, or, looking backwards, Imán Califato Independiente before them). By the way, this is the first Cast album to contain Spanish only lyrics in the sung tracks. Besides the aforementioned numbers, there are other prog treats incarnated in the longest compositions: the 3-part suite 'Encrucijada' displays an amazing amount of electrifying energy and colorfulness, while the 4-part 'El Puente' feels more focused on crystalline melodies and straightforward sensibility, although it is not without its dose of bombast in places. "Al-bandaluz' is closed down by the powerful instrumental 'Ansia, Angustia, Desesperación'. Of all Cast albums I own in my collection, this is the one I enjoy more: in a word, excellent.
Review by ZowieZiggy
4 stars Another double CD for this prolific band . So far, they have released an awful lot of material : some very good records and a few other ones...One of their charasteristic is that all of them were extremely long (being a single or a double album). This band is rather anonymous. Even in their own country. I was incidently in Mexico last month and it was very difficult to find any of their releases. Of course I didn't go up to Mexicali to do so (it's about 2,000 km from Mexico city...).

There were lots of changes in personnel for this album. Exit Dino Brassea, their lead vocalist who will be replaced by Carlos Humaran on the lead (he used to be backing vocals and lead guitarist), and they are joined by new members Kiko King on drums, Flavio Jimenéz on bass. A second vocalist (it sounds a bit too much since this album is almost all-instrumental). This change of personnel was due to the wish of the previous members to stop. It was even taken into consideration to change the name of the band after so many departures...

Anyway, so far the band has sung in English, except for "Laguna De Volcanes" a double compilation CD with Spanish versions of original English songs. For the very first time, the band has decided to sing in their mother language, which is fine with me. The direct impact will be that their music will be even more related to PFM while vocals will be involved.

The opening number "Viajero Inmóvil" is extremely varied and complex. During this all instrumental track, the band shows his great musical skills, as they are used to. But this time, they really achieve a superb work. This type of song could have been longer without any problem. Superb, really.

"Jerezcali" has some ELP flavours (another Cast influence) during the intro. It features interesting complex off-beat rhythms and is one of the few songs with some lyrics. It is my least preferred song of CD one. Strong musically, but kind of weak vocally.

The Crimson influence is definitely present in "Encrucijada". This is a long song, divided into three sections : "Ascenso", "Retorno" and "Conversión". Cast has released several long pieces like this but I have to say that the intro section is great. The whole band is very powerful. All members having their part, not only Alfonso who has been used to be somewhat invading.

Cast will transport us from Crimson to Yes along with the song evolution. But there are worse references, right ? On top of this, even if the influence of the masters is noticeable, by no means (at least in this song) can Cast be referred to as being plagiatory. Some real beautiful passages (piano, guitar) are very enjoyable. Antoher instrumental highlight of this album as well as one of the best Cast song. Brilliant.

I have always wondered why this band was referenced in the neo-prog genre and not in the symph one. This song only proves it.

The pleasure goes on with "Lamento Del Gato" (Cat's Lamentation). Less achieved then "Encrucijada". A complex intro will lead to very melodic vocals. Symph prog at its best. During almost ten minutes. An orgy of keys which will fill your heart with joy.

"Damajuana" is another jewel. Very light song, simply structured. It is fully Trespass-esque (as Cast has already produced). A very optimistic atmosphere perspires out of it. I really like it. A very pleasant way to close this beautiful first CD. The best studio one so far for Cast.

I only hope that they won't disappoint me with the second one.

It starts with the short (for Cast standards) "Viento" which sounds almost as a classical piece. A duet between piano and vocals.

Next comes "El Puente" the second suite of songs clocking at twenty-two minutes. It also has a more classical background than the material featured on disc one. I probably therefore do not like it as much as "Encrucijada". Vocal parts are not really convincing either. This song shows some tireness at times. even if Lupita Vidales (another family member) displays some beautiful backing vocals. This number is probably the one that refers the most to the ELP repertoire. The finale (almost five minutes) is much stronger and saves the track, IMO. The guitar solo at the very end is remarkable.

Again, the classical mood is still present during "La Ballesta". A very Wakemanesque piano solo to start, joined by some acoustic guitar a little later. Vocals enter the scene at almost half time. Little emotion filters from these ones. Even if Dino was not the most brilliant vocalist in the rock history, he is missed here even if the timber of voice sounds almost similar. It is the first poor song of the album. The next instrumental "Ensamble Al-Mayá" is fully Orientally influenced. Also a weak number.

"Ansia, Angustia, Desperación" is fortunately better. Crimson is back, the rhythm is great. Finally, Cast is back. This is a solid closing number during which Cast uses all the ingredients from the first CD.

Should Cast have released a single CD with an average amount of music (let's say sixty minutes), I won't have hesitated to rate it with five stars. As such, it is only very good. Four stars for this very pleasant symphonic moments and one of the best Cast studio album so far. Arriba Mexico.

Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars 3.5 stars. All of CAST's album are well done and this is no exception, in fact it's one of the better recordings i've heard from them.This is a double album which doesn't exactly thrill me, but at least each disc is under 50 minutes.

"Viajero Inmovil" has this drum / keyboard intro that is fairly aggressive as sax joins in. Killer sound here. It changes completely though 1 1/2 minutes in when it settles.The tempo does continue to shift though. Good tune. "Jerezcali (Pueblo De Dos Mundos)" has an orchestral vibe as sounds also pulse. A calm after 1 1/2 minutes then the piano leads followed by vocals. It does get fuller as vocals continue. Synths swirl after 6 minutes. "Encrucijada" is a long 17 1/2 minute instrumental. Piano to start then it turns heavier quickly. Horns before 2 minutes start to come and go. It settles with piano before 8 minutes then it picks up again with piano still leading. It's heavier again before 13 minutes. "Lamento Del Gato" is fairly powerful to start then it settles back some after 2 minutes. It settles even more after 3 1/2 minutes then reserved vocals join in. Flute too.Good song. "Damajuana" is an instrumental that ends disc one. Piano melodies to start then flute and a beat arrive before a minute. Other sounds join in. Not a bad track.

Disc Two begins with "Vionto".This is mellow with fragile vocals, flute, piano and a beat. "El Puente" opens with piano and a beat. Guitar starts to lead before 3 minutes then it backs off some as keyboards and drums help out. Piano only before 6 1/2 minuites then reserved vocals join in. It does pick up but the tempo continues to shift. Some prominant vocal melodies come and go late then soaring guitar ends it. "La Bellesta" is piano only really until around 4 minutes when the flute and vocals help out. "Ensamble Al-Maya" opens with percussion as guitar joins in. It's heavier around 3 1/2 minutes. "Ansia, Angustia Desesperacion" is a fairly powerful instrumental song to end the recording. It does settle 4 1/2 minutes in then the guitar comes in as it picks back up.

This is a really good recording and in my opinion one of their best.

Latest members reviews

4 stars The beginning of a new stage. From Al-Bandaluz, Cast became a stable and homogeneous band, IMHO. Strange, when you consider that this is the 11th studio album. It is also true that "Angels and Demons" is a callable work, as well as some parts of the good "Imaginary Windows", especially the f ... (read more)

Report this review (#1351467) | Posted by sinslice | Friday, January 23, 2015 | Review Permanlink

4 stars As my introduction to Cast,this was great. Very modern (non-70's) sounding, with some heavy, almost metal guitar, and a pantheon of keyboard sounds, but great, great songwriting. The melodies are the reason to get this. The high points are the extended epics Encruciada and El Puente. The lo ... (read more)

Report this review (#82173) | Posted by BGrosjean | Wednesday, June 28, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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