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Los Jaivas

Prog Folk

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Los Jaivas Alturas de Machu Picchu album cover
4.22 | 366 ratings | 33 reviews | 48% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1981

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Del Aire Al Aire (Alberto Ledo) (2:14)
2. La Poderosa Muerte (Los Jaivas - Pablo Neruda) (11:08)
3. Amor Americano (Los Jaivas - Pablo Neruda) (5:26)
4. Aguila Sideral (Los Jaivas - Pablo Neruda) (5:19)
5. Antigua America (Los Jaivas - Pablo Neruda) (5:37)
6. Sube A Nacer Conmigo Hermano (Los Jaivas - Pablo Neruda) (4:47)
7. Final (Los Jaivas - Pablo Neruda) (2:33)

Total Time 37:04

Line-up / Musicians

- Gato Alquinta / lead vocals, electric & acoustic guitars, bass, cuatro, siku, quena, ocarina, tarka
- Eduardo Parra / Fender Rhodes, Minimoog, tarka, handclaps
- Claudio Parra / piano, Fender Rhodes, Minimoog, harpsichord, marimba, tarka
- Mario Mutis / bass, electric guitar, siku, quena, tarka, vocals
- Gabriel Parra / drums, chimes, marimba, timbales, bombo legüero, trutruca, tarka, handclaps, vocals

- Alberto Ledo / vocals & all instruments (1): siku, trutruca, trompe, sleigh bells, bombo legüero
- Patricio Castillo / quena (4), tarka (5)

DVD extras
- Pablo Neruda / poetic texts (lyrics)
- Mario Vargas Llosa / presentation of Pablo Neruda's work, in-loco at Machu Picchu

Releases information

Artwork: René Olivares

LP SYM Producciones ‎- SYML 009 (1981, Chile)

CD CBS ‎- CD-80085 (1989, US) Different cover art
CD Columbia ‎- CNIA 2-462057 (1993, Chile) Remastered
CD Columbia ‎- 9-462057 (2004, Chile) Same cover art as original LP
CD+DVD Sony Music ‎- 88697923922 (2011, Chile) Remastered by Joaquín García w/ 2 bonus tracks & DVD containing Live recording directed by Reynaldo Sepúlveda + Video extras (see under Box-Sets)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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LOS JAIVAS Alturas de Machu Picchu ratings distribution

(366 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(48%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(30%)
Good, but non-essential (15%)
Collectors/fans only (6%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

LOS JAIVAS Alturas de Machu Picchu reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by loserboy
4 stars "Alturas De Macchu Picchu" (The Height Of Macchu Picchu) is a brilliant blend of Andrean folk and progressive rock music styles. Essentially Los JAIVAS have taken traditional Peruvian / Chilean folk music and blended it with a heavier Progressive rock style (moogs, guitars, drums...). The end result is something you have never heard before but will definitely learn to love quickly. Lead singer Gato Alquinta has an amazing voice and can really belt it out without ever sound overly overbearing. His vocals are sung of course in Spanish and are done so with high degree of romanticism not unlike many of the Italian prog greats. The band houses 2 keyboardists but are surprisengly not the most dominant aspect of their music and instead ensures the music remains symphonic. A couple of songs are pure Chilean folk but blend beautifully against the more symphonic pieces throughout. Without a question progressive fans will fall off their chair when they hear "La Poderosa Muerte" an 11 mins piece of progressive rock magic. A great album for sure...!
Review by Marcelo
5 stars LOS JAIVAS is a very well-known and one of the most popular bands in Chile. Most of their albums are dedicated to Andean folk, adding occasionally rock elements, but "Alturas De Macchu Picchu" is their closest approach to progressive rock, and... what a majestic approach! The band achieved an unique and wonderful symphonic sound keeping their folk roots, with beautiful and powerful voices (in Spanish) and magnificent instrumentation.

The album highlights for prog fans are -no doubt- "La Poderosa Muerte", a long fantastic song (I dare to say one of the most beautiful in South American prog history) and "Final", the atmospheric end. There are pure folk tracks too -very good indeed-, including the super-classic anathem "Sube A Nacer Conmigo Hermano" (poetry by the great Pablo Neruda, winner of Nobel Prize in literature in 1971; if you don't speak Spanish try to translate, because lyrics are fascinating).

Check it out; even when you wouldn't be into South American folk music this album will be a special surprise!

Review by Steve Hegede
5 stars What would it sound like if you combined symphonic prog with Andean folk influences? Well, "Alturas De Macchu Picchu" by Los JAIVAS answers that question. This album is an incredible find for anyone who enjoys both progressive rock and traditional Peruvian, and Chilean, folk music. If you can imagine electric guitars, bass, drums, piano, and the Moog interacting with instruments like the cuatro, quena, and zamponia then you're in for a treat. "Alturas..." combines epic-length symphonic prog tracks, with shorter traditional Andean songs. In my opinion, the keyboardist really stands out when playing acoustic piano. He tends to mix pentatonic-based melodies with local rhythms, yet those melodies sound closer to Chinese classical folk more than American blues, or Eastern European folk. His style is unique in the world of rock. The other musicians are equally impressive, but I think most listeners will focus in on the excellent vocals. Anyway, this is one of the top 5 prog rock albums to come out of South America.

Review by Sean Trane
4 stars I had always beem wary of South American prog because of the clichés of latino music (carribana - salsa - calipso - mambo etc..) and the fact is that this latino stuff irks me after a few minutes (I think they all sound alike and are extremely commercial but I also admit being almost prophane because of my general ignorance of those musics). Back in 81, I had however done my end-of-secondary-school escapade in S. America starting out in Venezuela and finishing in Chile - the original goal was to go to Tierra Del Fuego but we smoked too much what had to be smoked and chewed what had to be chewed , so we did not keep pace and never managed the last two thousand Kms. Certainly we payed no attention to the music other than the Andean Indian Folklore that we dearly loved and the cassettes in our 4WD. We had no idea that such a band was releasing an album that very year we were there(although they were fleeing the Pinochet regime and were recording from France, I gather) that represent one of the aspects of prog I was waiting for: Folk-prog from the Andes.

This album starts out great with Andean pipes and other flutes and soon we jump in the "pièce de résistance" Poderosa Muerte which is stupendous - read the other reviews. However the waryness I had was confirmed on the third and fifth or sixth number as the Latino rythm and music take over in what I will classify under Mariachi music for lack of better knowledge (I know Mexico is far away from Macchu Picchu , but as I said above, I fully admit to not knowing the intrinsicaties of those styles). The other numbers are much more in the line of the great second number. I only have one tiny critic on thiose two songs is that on one of them they obviously ripped off Hackett with a Latimer sound. The final small numbers echoes off the debut of the album.

This was my first album from that continent (Rael and Cinema Show being clones of you- know-who don't count, and I quickly got rid of them) and this album pleased me enough to want to persue my research. I discovered afterwise that my library has a few albums including this one! I would like to thank YOU , ProgReviewers on this site and Gnosis for helping me guide my research to a good start . Should we call this Mariachi Prog? :-) (Please avoid hitting me below the belt and above the shoulders)

Review by Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is one of the most celebrated prog albums to come out from the South American Continent, and one of the definitive highlights of the Chilean band Los Jaivas. Conceived and recorded while the fivesome were residing in Paris, the lyrics were taken from an evocative poem collection written by Pablo Neruda (also Chilean), inspired by the amazing and mysterious beauty of the ruins of Macchu Picchu - located in Peru -, and expressing a mystic reflection upon the contrast between the power of that ancestral beauty and the weakness of human nature, perpetually trapped by temporality and death. This dramatic appreciation, full of alternating joy, sadness, exaltation and melancholy, is properly conveyed by the colourful compositions: these musical ideas are based on a perfect amalgam of Andean folk (lots of Andean pipes and hand drums in many places) and an eerie symphonic prog, mostly influenced by WYWH- era Pink Floyd and vintage Genesis. The performances are tight, with the band working as a whole unit at keeping a sense of enthusiasm that can be perfectly perceived even by those who don't know Spanish and/pr are not familiar with South American folklore. The duets of Alquinta's guitar and Eduardo or Claudio Parra's synths are really outstanding, and so are the grand piano parts played with superb elegance by Claudio Parra. After the brief intro 'Del Aire al Aire' (a sequence of Andean woodwind and percussives displayed on a background of synthetic wild wind), the 11-minute long epic 'La Poderosa Muerte' exhibits a series of varied passages that epitomize the maximum level of splendour contained in this album: a long eerie intro that leads to the cueca-based first sung section, next a stylized diablada, followed by a second cueca section that eventually leads to the explosive prog climax, ended with the sound of synthetic thunder. All diverse sections are fluidly intertwined. A special mention goes to that brief moment in which the ocarina and the Moog indulge in a game of responses until they almost melt into one single sonic source. Later on, the same epic ambitions of 'La Poderosa Muerte' remerge in the shorter 'Antigua América', although this time the chamber element is a bit more prominent, due to the stylishly Baroque use of clavinet in some passages. Between these two tracks, there are 'Amor Americano' (basically, an exciting Andean folk piece played with rock instrumentation) and the mesmerizing symphonic ballad 'Águila Sideral'. 'Sube a Nacer Conmigo Hermano' is the most popular tune: unlike the preceding repertoire, it is not based on Andean folklore, but the tropical lands of Venezuela - more exactly, it's a joropo reconstructed under the frame of rock and jazz fusion. The inclusion of this number doesn't break up the album's musical cohesion: on the contrary, it helps the band to make their point about human finitude as a genuine universal concern. The sensual joy that is inherent to the joropo allows the track 'Sube a Nacer.' to state an optimistic view about the destiny of all Latin American nations (back in the early 80s there were still lots of cruel dictatorships functioning there). But then again, 'Final' closes down the album with a resumed sense of melancholy: Alquinta's whispering vocal and the flowing piano arpeggios remind us of the fact that the river of one man's life is destined to end up in the immense sea of death. In conclusion: an excellent addition to any good prog collection.
Review by erik neuteboom
4 stars This band from Chile is one of the most interesting blends of folk and symphonic rock. They are playing many instruments including the ethnic tutruka, charanjo, tarka, tumbadore, bongo and maracas. My favorite album is "Alturas de Machu Picchu"" from '81, featuring Nobel prize winning poet Pablo Neruda, responsible for the lyrics. Highlight is "La poderosa muerte", a melodic and harmonic composition (around 12 minutes) that starts with the typical sound of the panflute and melancholic piano notes, very beautiful and moving, followed by emotional Spanish vocals. The build up is magnificent with propulsive drums and sparkling piano play, soon accompanied by a fat sounding synthesizer and fiery electric guitar. The dramatic atmosphere is emphasized by pathetic vocal harmonies. The moods keep on shifting with lots of (ethnic) instruments, a very emotional experience and a fine proove that progrock has emotion!
Review by Trotsky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars For all the spectacular achievements of Los Jaivas, it is widely accepted that it is Alturas De Macchu Picchu on which the group reached its peak (although I think I just about prefer the double album Obras De Violeta Parra). Certainly it is this album on which its international reputation was established. Based on selected texts of the poet Pablo Neruda, this brilliant work was crafted when the band was in exile in France. At various times during the course of this album, the band's fusion of its Andean influences and "conventional" prog-rock abilities is flawless.

Del Aire Al Aire helps provide the majestic ambience, but the album's real opening statement is of course La Poderosa Muerte. Slow-building, like many of their best pieces (notably Cancion Del Sur from the previous album), it sees a gradual establishment of Andean flutes, a haunting vocal melody from Alquinto (with deliciously pained harmony). The entry of Gabriel Parra's superbly inventive drums, the fuzzy synthesizer work, a swirl of sci-fi inspired Moogs, the energetic emergence of the electric guitar, traditional chants with clever piano backing that eventually leads into another beautiful vocal segment from Alquinta, a brief brass symphony ... this composition has so many elements. This really is music of the ages, a timeless piece in which the musical journey is natural and flawless.

Thankfully the masterpiece keeps unfolding. Amor Americano is playful and relies more on vocals although the strident guitar (double-tracked with synths) is also important, particularly during the gorgeous solo passages. This song echoes earlier Los Jaivas folk material, but uses the instruments of Western rock, not native Andrean folk. Then there's the phased vocals of the eerie compelling masterpiece Aguila Sideral, which layers piano, guitar and then pan-pipes over an unobtrusive rhythm, in a truly unforgettable manner.

As for Antigua America, Claudio Parra's piano playing (I believe it is he, even if brother Eduardo is the other keyboardist) is simply stunning and Gabriel's drumming is also extremely creative. When the band is in full flight with dancing guitar and piano lines, it is thing of pure beauty. The exuberant Latin brass theme of Sube A Nacer Conmigo Hermano also bristles with life, and although this sort of music is nowadays the purvue of acts like The Gypsy Kings, Los Jaivas' arrangements are excellent. The violent power of the vocals always takes surprise me when I return to this album. Final is just that ... a tantalising soliloquoy over rippling piano lines ... an irresistibly melancholic piece of music.

Alturas De Macchu Picchu is deeply emotional, steeped in legend and history, a seamless fusion of what was then past and present. ... 90% on the MPV scale

Review by FruMp
4 stars A unique blend of Chilean folk music and conventional prog.

This album is a remarkable folk album, with rich South American instrumentation and traditional prog guitars, synth and drums. The album starts off on a light note with a haunting pan flute intro song leading into the stellar 'La Poderosa Muerde', easily the best song on the album with sad melody on piano and flute before moving into quite a depressing motif with some excellent guitar and some interesting bell-like synth work later leading into some authoritative chanting before ending triumphantly. 'Aguila Sideral' is another highlight, very laid back and contemplative with some great kraut style drums and more enthralling flute work.

There are some weak points on the album though notably 'Amor Americano', it's not a bad song but it's a bit of a departure from most of the songs on the album, it's a fairly benign song with an odd latin time signature and that's about it. Overall though Alturas Del Machu Pichu is a great album for fans of Andean folk, symphonic prog and folk in general, highly recommended.

Review by NotAProghead
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Errors & Omissions Team
5 stars A masterpiece

There are enough reviews on this album, so I guess no one will read mine :)).

Breathtaking from start to finish, powerful and gentle, when needed. Sometimes the band sounds like an orchestra because of lots instruments used (especially dual keyboards, grand piano and synthesisers, and different ethnic woodwinds). No weak moments at all, but my personal highlights are epical ''La poderosa muerte'' (I'm not too original here) and catchy ''Sube a Nacer Conmigo Hermano''.

Great poetry by Pablo Neruda. If you, like me, don't speak Spanish, you can find translations to many languages.

The album is much more accessible than another great LOS JAIVAS work, ''Obras de Violeta Parra''.

In my opinion ''Alturas de Machu Picchu'' is LOS JAIVAS best album. A must have. Very good starting point for those who are new to the band's music, only the same-name DVD is better. 5 stars without any hesitation.

Review by ZowieZiggy
3 stars Los Jaivas have been releasing several efforts by 1981. All of them being full oriented towards Andean ethnic music. Only their debut one featured some rocking moments inspired by "Santana".

The central piece of this work is the long (just over eleven minutes) "La Poderosa Muerte" (the mighty death). It is indeed a very good song, especially during the instrumental parts. Vocals are weak and dull unfortunately.

The band is closely related to his "tierra" and often cites the Andean mountains or landscapes in their lyrics. I guess that the fact to be far away from your country only increases the need to talk about your origins. They left Chile a long time ago by now (in 73), not only to escape the fury of the regime but simply because they wanted to integrate new sounds to their music.

They travelled and they stayed in Argentina till 77 but were playing live gigs in Uruguay, Paraguay and Brazil from their new "home" base. Due to many political problems in these mid-late seventies in South America, the band decided to move to Europe and they choose "la ville lumière" to settle. Because of its cultural aura as well as its central location. It was a complete new slife for "Los Jaivas". They had to start from scratch, since they were completely unknown on the old continent.

Starting with this effort, their albums will be released on both sides of the Atlantic and their fame will grow internationally as well.

This album is a considered as one of their most important and it is true that it holds some good music. A bit more rocking than usual. The great guitar sound I have already mentioned is back again during "Sube A Nacer Conmigo Hermano" (too short, unfortunately). But what kills me are the below average vocals and these awful trumpets. Reminds me more of some parties while I pay a visit to my Mexican step family. Several songs holding weak lyrics as well ("Antigua America", "Aguila Sideral").

This album is their more "adventurous" so far. But a song as "Amor Americano" is fully representative of their native music and holds very few prog elements. One of the weakest numbers together with the opening and short "De Aire Al Aire". Andean ambient music; repetitive and naïve.

I was expecting more of these "Alturas De Machu Picchu". The great "La Poderosa Muerte" seriously helps this album above the average territories. The second best song IMO is the complex "Antigua America". A powerful and fully prog song featuring a great beat and some excellent guitar work. The closing Final is the only one during which vocals are on par with the music. A very sentimental piece of music.

Three stars.

Review by Andrea Cortese
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Los Jaivas is a prolific talentous band from Chile that plays symphonic prog blended with their own emotional andinean folk roots. In 1981 they released what is considered their most famous (if not the most beautiful) work based on the poems of a certain Pablo Neruda.

I think the music is unique and shows a significant grandeur as in the highlight and magnum opus La Poderosa Muerte (11:08) which is by no means a wonderful passionate crescendo that you'd want never stop.

This is really a gem and I'm proud to have it in my personal discography. The whole record is more into the folk side as is quite evident listening to songs as Amor Americano (5:26) and Sube a Nacer Conmigo, Hermano (4:48).

Aguila Sideral (5:20) is instead darker with dynamic bass lines, pan flute and filtered vocals. Antigua America (5:37) starts off with pan flute and then gines the scene to fast classic piano playing and a strong rythm session. Excellent happy-andinean-symphonic prog in the second half.

This is certainly a miliar stone in the whole southern america prog experience. A legendary testament for the perfect balance between music and lyrics.

4.5 stars.

Review by kenethlevine
4 stars To the baby boomers weaned on Latin American music via "El Condor Pasa", "Alturas De Macchu Picchu" comes as both a comfort and a shock. Simplistically speaking, this album presents nothing but amplified traditional (or neo traditional themes), almost stereotypically so at times, particularly on "Amor Americana", but a mere gentle scratch on this veneer reveals a more accurate picture. The arrangements are more symphonic progressive than anything, retaining the original melodic inspiration while displaying considerable virtuosity, particularly on the many piano embellishments and the tumescent bass, even if the lead guitars are occasionally a bit dichotomously raucous.

The exception to the generally overriding folk flavour can be found in spades in the eleven minute wonder that is "La Poderosa Muerte", where Los Jaivas comes close to defining some type of new genre. The suite is highlighted by the best vocals of the album, stately shifts of pace from pensive to harried, and an overarching purpose. It can also be appreciated from listen 1 to n, where n approaches infinity.

While "Alturas de Macchu Picchu" is an essential classic of progressive folk and one of the best from South America, its over-reliance on archetypal tunes prevents it from reaching the peaks of which it speaks. 4.5 stars rounded down.

Review by Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars OK OK, it's a masterpiece, prog fan must have and maybe also revolution. But it does not work for me so much, as I wanted. And yeah, I wanted a lot, because I've seen this one in charts for a long time and hesitated to finally get into it. I finally did, as you can see and my feelings are confused. It's folk, that's for sure and I hear it all over this album, shouting at me. I like folk music, especially these exotic ones (I'm used to listen/live in western culture), but as far as I can decide, it's not so much prog. In some elements, it is. And folk power of this is high enough to give me justice to give

4(-), but not more. So far at least. Maybe there will happen same thing as with "Mice And Rats In The Loft". Giving less would be on verge of prog blasphemy (even I would dare to do it if I would like - why not after all), fortunately, I don't feel that way. I don't want to anyway - because there has to be a way to this album. Well, to close this somehow, I can't hold this anymore. Wanna know what Picchu means in my language ? Well, it's unappropriate for this site, so I'll let it on cu_t - of course, this doesn't mean anything

Not easy listening (if you want to listen carefully and closely)

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I was never fan of folk-prog (or folk-rock), but I saw this Los Jaivas album in PO Top-100 for a long, and at the first possibility I just decided to listen it. To be honest, I have some experience with earlier Los Jaivas album, and singing poetry/Latin folklore I heard on it didn't impress me at all.

But - new album often means new impression. Album's opener "Del Aire al Aire " is short Andean folk instrumental with birds singing sound over it. Not bad, but still folk I was so disappointed on my previous experience with Los Jaivas. Second song "La Poderosa Muerte " is nice Andean folk composition combined with singing Pablo Neruda poetry and some keyboards. Somewhere from the middle of the composition drums and bass are taken their place as well, so in whole it sounds as folk-based psychedelic prog composition with symphonic elements. OK, things go better I see. In some moments it sounds as South American version of early RPI, but at least there is some rock and some prog on this album!

Third song ,"Amor Americano", opens with electric guitar soloing, and I start to believe this album is related with progressive rock ! Vocals on this song are bombastic and almost operatic, but OK, such things happens. I think the bigger problem than vocals (with is great by itself, but is hardly connected with rock music) is the fact that all album's music is very static. By the way, folk element on third song sounds very similar to Chinese, how strange!

"Aguila Sideral "begins with spacey/birdie effects we heard yet on one of previous song, but there electronic sounds are on the front ,what gives some psychedelic atmosphere. Simple and nice Andean melody with prog keys from early 70-s.

"Antigua America" is a rare real progressive song on this album, kind of keyboards-based symphonic prog, with light flavour of Latin folk. Not very original, but it represents Latin symphonic prog-folk as I understand it."Sube a Nacer Conmigo Hermano" is something what I usually hear from "Buena Vista Social Club" with some additional electric keyboards and guitars. I really love Cuban music, and this song is great reminder.

Album's final song - "Final" - is short neoclassical semi-acoustic ballade.

It's difficult to evaluate such album in whole. Really better then some their earlier folklore works, it is specific kind of folk rock with some progressive influences. Folk element is really very strong, and some songs are just modern folk. Prog elements on other songs are presented, but usually they are early RPI or symphonic prog , coming from early 70-s. The album is recorded in 1981 in France, and it aged bad.

Generally not a bad album, but more the music for specific fans of Andean folk-rock, possibly could attract RPI and few symphonic prog fans as well. For any other progressive ROCK fan could be a very risky purchase.

My rating is 2,5,rounded to 3

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Heavy Prog & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars I own both the film that was made in the slopes, stones, and ruins of Machu Picchu for this music as well as the album and love both. The 1970s costuming is a bit dated (and slightly embarrassing), but the rock blend of classical and Andean folk musical traditions that these men pulled together to accompany the words of revered poet Pablo Neruda is ingenious not to mention brave and courageous. Each of the musicians is quite adept at their instruments (including singing!) though there are a few awkward moments where the transition and blending of electronic rock instruments with Spanish or Andean folk instruments (which are, obviously, acoustic) take some adjusting for we, the listener. The music, I'm sure, would have far more impact on me if Spanish were a language I command, but even without, this is it is highly engaging and often quite emotional. I love the pacing of the album's first two songs--slow, methodical, building both mood and power. Some of the melodies are foreign and a bit grating to my own sensibilities (like the opening to the third song, "Amor Americano"), but I can accept, appreciate, and respect them for the regional and ethnic traditions that they represent. Also, the sound engineering could have been better in places but it serves. All in all, I cannot argue that this is in fact a masterpiece of progressive rock music--a shining example of one of the highest achievements of what our artistic genre can accomplish. is the seventh release of these Chilean Prog Folk masters but this one stands head and shoulders above the rest of their output for two reasons: 1) it is a concept album based around the poems that Pablo Naruda did of the same name, and 2) a movie version of the album was filmed on site among the ruins of the ancient Incan capitol city of Macchu Picchu. The film gives the music a much fuller impact. Check it out if you can, it's breathtaking for the scenery (if a bit comical for the period clothing and hair styles).

LOS JAIVAS is exceptional for the extraodinarily effective way in which they were able to blend traditional Andean and Hispanic folk instrumentation with the European and electrical rock instruments and effects--and Alturas de Macchu Picchu is a brilliant representation of this fact. Pan flutes, ceramic pipes and flutes, big mountain drums and horns mixed into the same weave with piano, electric bass, synthesizers, expanded drum kit and acoustic and electric guitars--with neither backing off to the other, each holding their own in the mix, in the weave--it's amazing to hear! The first fourteen minutes of the studio album--consisting of 1. "Del aire al aire" (2:14) (10/10) and 2. "La poderosa del muerta" (11:08) (10/10) are absolutely flawless. It is only with the festive drinking song, 3. "Amor americana" (5:26) that the choice of song styling gets a little out of my comfort zone (though many native Latin Americans would probably love and appreciate it). (7/10)

Luckily, the music gets back on track with the gorgeous multi-instrument weave of 4. "Aguila sideral" (5:19) in which bass and piano are as important as native flutes and voices. (10/10)

5. "Antigua America" (5:37) opens with a kind of multi-instrumental Native American Jethro Tull riff before solo flute and solo classical grand piano preparing us for the build and blend into the powerfully paced and dynamic themes of the body. I can't help but hear a kind of Asian influence in the melody--I don't know if this is intentional as representational of the anthropologic evidence of the arrival of Native American population from Asia via the former Bering Straits land bridge or not, but it could be. (9/10)

6. "Sube a nacer conmigo hermano" (4:47) brings us back into the realm of local, traditional Latin/Andean musical styles and rhythms. Very dynamic with the choral call-and-response sections that seems so pervasive in Latin American musical traditions. I would like to mention here how pianist Claudio Parra shines throughout this album. He is extraordinary. (8/10)

7. "Final" (2:33) is a gentle weave of multiple voices singing over a sea of ever shifting chords of rapid piano arpeggi. (9/10)

Total time 37:04

4.5 stars; B+. Though not quite the equal of the video movie presentation, this music does stand on its own quite well. This is definitely a masterpiece of progressive folk rock music.

Review by Warthur
3 stars This intriguing blend of Andean folk music with progressive rock from Los Jaivas is a true original. Smartly, Los Jaivas choose the pastoral, acoustic-friendly textures of Italian progressive rock of the 1970s for this fusion; the styles of bands such as Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso, Premiata Forneria Marconi and Locanda Delle Fate prove fertile ground for the group to weave their magic in. If truth be told, there's more than a few points on the album where the prog rock side of the group's sound threatens to overwhelm their folk interests entirely, but even then there's still intriguing pan-pipe textures to add a distinct flavour to the mix. An interesting experiment, but not one I find especially compelling for repeated listens.
Review by siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
4 stars Although LOS JAIVAS (a misspelling of "jaibas" which is Spanish for "crabs") formed all the way back in 1963 in central Chile they are best known for their 7th and most popular album ALTURAS OF MACCHU PICCHU (The Heights Of Macchu Picchu) which came out in 1981. While most South American bands who ventured into the progressive rock world eschewed the homegrown folklore styles of their respective nations, LOS JAIVAS took the exact opposite approach and fully integrated the homegrown traditional beats and rhythms of their native Chile while incorporating the symphonic bombast of progressive rock. The result is a strange hybrid that seems like a logical experiment that should have been attempted by countless bands, yet as far as I know most bands emulated their European idols and only LOS JAIVAS found success down this road. Although the band began in Chile they were uprooted during the tumultuous 70s in a volatile Chile and relocated in France for several years. It was during those years when they released some of their most celebrated albums such as ALTURAS. The music is more of a trade-off of styles for the most part rather than a complete fusion but there is plenty of fusion parts to be found.

Unless you are a speaker of the Spanish language you will not realize that ALTURAS DE MACCHU PICCHU is in fact a poem by Pablo Neruda which appeared in his book "Canto General (General Song)" from the year 1950. The Canto is actually a book of 15 poems in which "The Heights Of Macchu Picchu" is the second. The poem is a tale of the creation of humanity and how it can be witnessed in the ruins of Macchu Picchu and a celebration of the history of the indigenous inhabitants of the Andes Mountains. The poem has actually found its way into other musical formats including by the Chilean folk band Aparcoa and by the Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis. LOS JAIVAS are famous for not only marrying the traditional Chilean folklore music with progressive rock but also for reciting the poem in near entirety in musical form. This is also perhaps one of the rare cases where progressive music can be danceable. The blending of the 4/4 steady beats of the folk music with the more symphonic bombast of the prog is done quite seamlessly. They make it sound easy but in fact it is quite a feat to accomplish. A unique album for a captivating blend of worldly musical styles.

Review by Dapper~Blueberries
4 stars In my review for Script For A Jester's Tear, I said that the 80s wasn't really a bad time for prog, and I still stand by that notion. Heck, I would even go so far as to say it was a fantastic time for progressive rock. Sure, it may have led bands like Yes and Genesis into a slightly less than desirable pop direction, but it also led some old bands like King Crimson, Camel, and Rush into newer frontiers that not only helped them grow into much more ground breaking acts, it also gave rise to a multitude of artists like Cardiacs, Voivod, Eskaton, and Coroner. Really, I say without the 80s, prog rock would probably be worse off, stuck to the same oldy tropes from the 70s. The year 1981 is certainly a good example of such, as that year gave us some fantastic prog records, like Discipline, Moving Pictures, 4 Visions, and today's subject, Alturas de Machu Pichu.

A part of the Latino prog family, Los Jaivas is a Chilean progressive folk group that started in 1963, but never got their foot into the door until their 1971 release of El volantín, and since then has been exploring the progressive folk camp in their own unique, and very stylish ways. They combine psychedelia, indigenous Andean music, and symphonic prog outlets to really shape their sounds. Up until recently though, I have never really listened to any of their works, though that isn't to say I haven't been at least somewhat interested in what they may have to put out, mostly stemming from RYM ranking their 1975 record of El Indio quite highly. However it wouldn't be until a friend on Discord recommending that I should check out this record first, and I got to say, I am glad I got this recommendation.

Alturas de Machu Pichu is the 6th record from Los Jaivas, and their most well known work aside from El Indio and Canción del sur, and with good reason. Alturas de Machu Pichu is without a doubt a fantastic album front to back, at least to my ears. Being a concept album about Pablo Neruda's The Heights Of Machu Picchu, the band is really pushing the prog envelope, utilizing poetic semblance and sound that really makes you feel like you are ascending a mountain.

To me, this is the Latino answer to Harmonium's Les Cinq Saisons, being this majestic, pastoral, and almost otherworldly record. I think what I truly like about this album is this very passionate energy that is being put forth, with each song having their own different flavors of magic that really give me a sense that the band truly loved creating music, music they could call their own. This is exemplified through Claudio Parra's piano. It just has this very bouncy and freeform feel, which merged with Gabriel's, Gato's, and Mario's vocals create a vibrant palette of Latino rock, folk, and progressive rock music.

Another thing I like is something I said before, that being this album feeling like taking a hike through the mountains. The softer moments carry out a beautiful aura of nature, such as flowers and plantlife, with the more heavier/intense moments showcasing a steep, treacherous path that the listener has to go through to reach the top. From Del Aire Al Aire to Final, the album scales further and further across the mountain, and each turn, each song, I feel rewarded. It really is a powerful experience, I cannot really put a dollar on that.

I really only have one very VERY minor inconvenience towards this record, and that is that I feel like the B side of the record isn't as strong as the A side. It isn't to say the music on the B side is not good, in fact songs on the B side are really great, but compared to the A side having a beautiful opener like Aire Al Aire, the 11 minute extravaganza La Poderosa Muerte, and the very lovely Amor Americano, it is no surprise that I feel like the B side feels a little weaker comparatively. Though, this is a minor setback in the way of a really excellent album, so don't let this discourage you from giving this record a shot.

Definitely a must listen for any prog fan. If you enjoy prog folk music like Sui Generis, Harmonium, or Gryphon then you'd love this record. It is truly a one of a kind album, and one of the best in the 80s run of progressive rock and folk history.

Latest members reviews

5 stars Holy mother of god, what a beautiful hidden gem I have found here! Los Jaivas are kind of like the Chilean equivalent of Pink Floyd, since they are progressive yet very beloved by the casual listeners and common Chileans. And they deserve it, since they made probably the greatest album of South Ame ... (read more)

Report this review (#2947760) | Posted by TheMIDIWizard | Monday, August 28, 2023 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Best progressive rock album from south America; paired only by Bubu "Anabelas". If you read my review of Bubu´s "Anabelas", you will see that I consider this one slightly better. But "Alturas de Machu Picchu" is second only to this one, I consider it even better than my beloved "Influências" fr ... (read more)

Report this review (#2601556) | Posted by Antonio Giacomin | Monday, October 11, 2021 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This must be the highest work ever created in Chile. Surely a few Chileans feel represented with this wonder that has such an indigenous sound. Each piece is a great and beautiful song, but by far the icing on the cake is the magnificent La Poderosa Muerte. It has great ups and downs, with instrumen ... (read more)

Report this review (#2600131) | Posted by Argentinfonico | Thursday, October 7, 2021 | Review Permanlink

5 stars "Alturas de machu pichu" is one of the most important south american musical Works, the musicalization of the same name poem by Pablo Neruda, one of the most important poets in every language, carried out without losing mysticism or magic by this great band that combines southamerican folk with ... (read more)

Report this review (#1630620) | Posted by Hannibal_20 | Monday, October 10, 2016 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Today's piece of prog will be "Alturas de Macchu Picchu" by the Chilean band Los Jaivas from 1981. It seems t be their most famous and appreciated album and their highest ranked one. It was a really pleasant listening which combined originallity and tradition. The cover picture is fascinating ... (read more)

Report this review (#1011278) | Posted by DrömmarenAdrian | Monday, August 5, 2013 | Review Permanlink

5 stars In Argentina's bicentennial celebrations in 2010, the Jaivas were invited to participate. It was especially exciting to hear the song play La Poderosa Muerte (The Mighty Death). This work is a classic South American progressive music, rhythms and sounds imbued native. Among the latter we find ... (read more)

Report this review (#933043) | Posted by sinslice | Tuesday, March 19, 2013 | Review Permanlink

5 stars For me the perfect music album of folk rock prog... nothing left and nothing overdone here... each song very different, with their own theme... lyrics are very powerfull (must read it!) and the music, a very amazing dialog between rock and folk instruments and melodies... simple passages and a ... (read more)

Report this review (#803026) | Posted by hacia los bosques | Saturday, August 11, 2012 | Review Permanlink

4 stars A good album of this chilean quintet, poet Pablo Neruda provided the lyrical richness that few albums have, just to mention that in those times progressive music was not recognized in the Americas, this was a genre that was never popular even in the called "underground", so it is doubly recognize t ... (read more)

Report this review (#429835) | Posted by Diego I | Saturday, April 9, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars i think, one think they are the beatles of chile one or the Best band of chile, i never see them on a live, but that album ALTURAS DE MACHU PICHU i think or many think that is one of the best cd of chile, when radiohead come to chile, our nation give 3 albums altura de machu picho, and they other ... (read more)

Report this review (#235971) | Posted by insomniak | Sunday, August 30, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars A great album, but not really a masterpiece. Combining western progressive piano based softrock/folk with Andean folk, Alturas de Macchu Picchu is probable the best album Los Jaivas made. Thoroughly enjoyable. The opening song Del Aire al Aire is really just that, it's a clear statement of ... (read more)

Report this review (#91774) | Posted by tuxon | Sunday, September 24, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I heard this album twelve years ago in a friend´s house and left me impressed. I bought the album and since then Alturas de Macchu Picchu has stay with me as one of my favorite albums of all time. I have to admit that can´t be objective, but my enthusiasm is, by far, bigger than any reason ... (read more)

Report this review (#60307) | Posted by Alka | Wednesday, December 14, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Brilliant. A Masterpiece of MUSIC. With this album from 1981, Los Jaivas takes another large step in their musical evolution...Unlike the first albums full of improvisations and "musica de vanguardia" on "Alturas del Machu Pichu" the chilean folks create a very well thinked opus and every sin ... (read more)

Report this review (#39762) | Posted by | Monday, July 18, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars the first time that listens to east album went to the 12 years old and I transform myself into one of my favorites, clear that in that time very clear nontapeworm the idea of which it was the progressive rock very original songs of a very own sound in the style of Nektar or Emerson lake & to p ... (read more)

Report this review (#29143) | Posted by MANTICORE | Thursday, June 2, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars To put poetry into music is difficult; to put Pablo Neruda into music is even more difficult; to make that sound amazing is impossible. And LOS JAIVAS did it. One more amazing thing: they composed the entire album in just 3 months. Definetly, a masterpiece... a must-have for every music lo ... (read more)

Report this review (#29140) | Posted by TheSilentManII | Sunday, December 26, 2004 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Somebody already said it. How it couldn't be a masterpiece with similar combination of elements?: The Scene: The Incredible Ruins of the City of Macchu Picchu, summit of the Incaican civilization, mystic by essence, superior by Lineage. The Letter: The greatest Poetry of one of Nobel ... (read more)

Report this review (#29134) | Posted by | Friday, June 11, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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