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ELFONIA

Prog Folk • Mexico


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Elfonia biography
Mexican band ELFONIA consist of Marcela Bovio on vocals & violin, Alejandro Millan on guitars & keyboards and Roberto Quantanilla on guitars. The band play a folky style of progressive rock very similar to KARNATAKA and MOSTLY AUTUMN.

Their eponymous debut disc is one of great promise with Marcela Bovio's vocals being particularly strong. Marcela Bovio also appears on AYREON'S "The Human Equation" as 'The Wife'. The band has a good website available in English and Spanish. A band to watch. Recommended..!

: : : David Preston, UNITED KINGDOM : : :

See also:

- Hydra
- Stream of Passion

Elfonia official website

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This Sonic LandscapeThis Sonic Landscape
Import
Dark Matter Distribution 2006
Audio CD$73.99 (used)

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ELFONIA discography


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ELFONIA top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.72 | 25 ratings
Elfonia
2003
3.44 | 21 ratings
This Sonic Landscape
2005

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ELFONIA Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 This Sonic Landscape  by ELFONIA album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.44 | 21 ratings

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This Sonic Landscape
Elfonia Prog Folk

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Elfonia from Mexico was a short living band with only two albums released and then gone into oblivion, almost. I said almost because this band was discovered by many listners through Stream of Passion band that Marcela Bovio formed after Elfonia was disbanded in 2005, and through Ayreon band where she apper on Human equation. Elfonia plays an intreguing type of prog with folk influences and aswell some prog metal elements added in the mix, the result is pretty much ok, but fail to impress me big time. Some bombastic parts melted with some more key orientated parts makes from this sonic lanscape a good ride, but tnothing is outstanding to my ears. Marcela Bovio vocal abilities are quite strong, she can sing soft and with smooth parts and aswell she can be very powerful with great range. Pieces like Maquina or Chameleon show that Elfonia deliver good solid musicianship with great ideas, somehow not to be found on the rest of the tunes, who are ok but to flat and derivate. All in all, a fairly decent farewell album, not great but ok most of the time. 3 stars

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 Elfonia by ELFONIA album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.72 | 25 ratings

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Elfonia
Elfonia Prog Folk

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars Elfonia were formed in 2001 by female singer Marcela Bovio, keyboardist Alejandro Millan and guitarist Roberto Quintanilla after the disbanding of the group Hydra, where they played together.Started as a studio project, Elfonia gathered bassist Pablo Gonzalez and drummer Javier Garagarza in order to record their debut at the Caura Studio in their hometown Monterrey, Mexico.The recordings took place between November and December of 2002 and the album, simply entitled ''Elfonia'', was self-released in 2003.

The first few tracks are enough to fully capture Elfonia's highly atmospheric sound.Combining elements from Ambient Music, Heavy Rock and Progressive Rock, the band creates dreamy and deep images, based on Bovio's impressive, crystalline voice and the alternation between hypnotic themes and heavy, guitar-based passages.The tracks generally follow a very slow tempo in order to produce the most of their atmospheric approach.Careful use of pianos, synths and some sensitive guitar solos stand next to the more powerful riffs of Quintanilla's guitar and Bovio's warm voice, which become the leading figure on the more Ambient-sounding passages.At moments the overall style reminds me of the deep and unique delivery of Polish Prog bands in the vein of RIVERSIDE, DISPERSE, MILLENIUM or SATELLITE, that is a great production to go along with changes between background music themes and strong guitar-based textures with a highly talented singer, who dominates the sound.

Good debut by these Mexicans, who ended up creating a work along the lines of modern, atmospheric Progressive Rock.Warmly recommended.

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 This Sonic Landscape  by ELFONIA album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.44 | 21 ratings

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This Sonic Landscape
Elfonia Prog Folk

Review by ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator Prog Folk Researcher

3 stars When I first heard of Elfonía and Marcela Bovio's part in it I was skeptical of the progressive folk label sometimes pinned on them, and honestly I still think they're closer to progressive metal than folk. But after listening to this album a few times I can sort of hear why some would consider them to at least have some folk influences. That said, comparisons to the Gathering circa Anneke van Giersbergen and, to a lesser extent Karnateka are unavoidable.

Bovio's voice is of course both angelic and powerful, as evidenced by her stint with Ayreon on 'The Human Equation' and more importantly with Stream of Passion, still one of my favorite metal-leaning bands. The instrumentation here is sometimes similar, owing mostly to Roberto Quintanilla's guitar work that features alternately shredding, soaring arpeggios, and delicate soundscapes that complement former Stream of Passion keyboardist Alejandro Milán's synths and piano quite eloquently.

Unlike Stream of Passion ("Out in the Real World", "Spellbound", "I'll Keep on Dreaming"), there are no instantly memorable tracks on this album, but in total the songs are consistently solid and seem to make for a more cohesive overall album than 'Embrace the Storm' does. That's by design I suppose, given the album's name and many of the complementary song titles. Hints of jazz intersperse with the same sort of gothic hint that is present is nearly everything Bovio has appeared in to-date, at times in the same song as with the ranging "Desaciertos" and quietly intoxicating "Soundscapes".

At times the band even manages to sound a bit like an 80s hair band, particularly with the lead-ins to "Camaleón" and "Mañana", but these are more than offset by the quiet charm of Milán's concertina on the aptly-named "Camaleón", which manages to cram every genre- nod the band can muster into a little more than five minutes. The track is given added start power with a guest appearance by Arjen Anthony Lucassen himself.

The album closes with a trio of numbered songs all called "Gigantes" (I, II and III), each of which leads in with spacey synths and luscious Bovio vocals before building to a guitar/ drum/keyboard explosion with Bovio moaning sonically and seductively. That is, except for the finale which remains on a fairly even keel throughout but manages to elicit the same sort of passion and emotion as the other two despite its understated nature.

I'm trying to locate the band's first album before rendering an overall opinion of their work. This is a very good album, but even after several spins I'm not quite as enchanted with it as with Stream of Passion's debut or even Bovio's stunning introduction as LaBrie's disconsolate spouse on 'The Human Equation'. I'm hoping the Elfonía projects a bit more ethnic flavor than the heavily engineered veneer that covers these songs. Easily three stars, but I'd be hard-pressed to give it any more than that. Recommended to fans of great female rock vocals and technically excellent guitar, but probably not so much for hardcore progressive folk fans.

peace

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 Elfonia by ELFONIA album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.72 | 25 ratings

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Elfonia
Elfonia Prog Folk

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars An absolutely gorgeous album. I make no bones about the fact that Marcela along with Anneke are my two favourite female singers. And I do prefer the band she's with now called STREAM OF PASSION where she can really stretch out vocally, plus I really like their style(Prog-Metal) of music more. Having said all that I can't recommend this record high enough. This far out-shines ELFONIA's follow up called "Sonic Landscape" in my opinion.

The first couple of tracks are slower paced and really put the focus on Marcela's vocals. "Eldalindale" features warm synths with vocals after a minute. Drums and a fuller sound after 2 1/2 minutes as Marcela sings with more passion. This contrast continues. Love the guitar before 4 minutes. "Nuestro Descanso" opens with intricate guitar and reserved vocals. She really impresses vocally to end it. She sings in Spanish throughout this album by the way. "Avra" is the first song to have some power in it. It's such an awesome combination of her voice and some heaviness. That's why STREAM OF PASSION works so well. Excellent guitar solo before 3 1/2 minutes. "Drama" is the only song with male vocals. This one is a mellow folk song with the acoustic guitar and male vocals leading the way. "Dentro" opens with piano and Marcela.There are some fairly heavy passages in this one. A tasteful guitar solo before 3 1/2 minutes. "Modos Humanos" opens with bass as vocals then almost angular guitar come in. Solid drumming as well, but it's her voice that really moves me. Great tune.

"Hatshepsut" opens with tribal drumming and some darkness. Synths come in.The drumming and percussion are a highlight. Violin after 2 minutes. The vocal melodies after 3 1/2 minutes are beyond words. "Anoranza" opens with waves of synths not too unlike IONA. Vocal melodies join in that make me think that heaven must sound like this. Beautiful soundscape. Latimer-like guitar after 2 minutes is so emotional. This is my favourite song on here. "La Vida Que Emana" is a short piano piece. "De Todas Mis Heridas" features more synths,but they are replaced quickly by an uptempo melody with vocals. It ends as it began. "Alma Infinita" opens with cymbals and synths. The drumming is solid throughout. Then vocals with bass and drums form a melody that sounds great. Amazing vocals on this one. A nice bass solo ends 4 1/2 minutes in then the drummer puts on a display as the sound becomes more powerful.

As of right now this is my favourite record from Mexico. Just a delight from beginning to end.

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 This Sonic Landscape  by ELFONIA album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.44 | 21 ratings

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This Sonic Landscape
Elfonia Prog Folk

Review by ZowieZiggy
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Major changes in the musical style of this Mexican band. While their debut album featured some very good symphonic music tinted with light folk influences, this one is invaded by prog metal sounds. This must be a new disease, I guess.So many bands incorporating metal sounds in their works...

In this respect, "Máquina" is particularly difficult to bear. Of course, there will be some very good vocal parts (one of the major "Elfonia" attraction). When you listen to the beautiful "Soundscapes", you can only be charmed by Marcela Bovio.

This album also mark a change in the lyrics. From full Spanish ones, we'll get a bilingual effort here. Probably to attract new markets. This does not bother me and I fully understand this commercial approach. Maybe therefore, "Soundscapes" sound almost as a "Mostly Autumn" song. Anyway, only two songs will be sung in English and "Soundscapes" turns out to be one of the few highlights.

If you would like to get a combination of folk-prog metal, listen to "De Los Libros Del Tiempo". You'll be delighted. Strong vocal harmonies tinted with some heavy riffs aren't bad here. Actually, when I said that this album was invaded with metal (not even prog at times), I am maybe exaggerating in terms of percentage of this album that is fully metal which is not too much actually. But almost each song has such passages. "Cameleon" is another example. It is probably the one that holds the most hard parts of this whole work.

It might be the influence of Arjen Lucassen with whom Marcela collaborated earlier on in 2005 in the "Stream Of Passion" project. As a counterpart, he will play some guitar on "Cameleon".

This album is a bit of a disappointment in comparison with their debut. A song like "Mañana" is only saved by the excellent vocals (again). This is by far the major attraction of this confidential Mexican band. Very little touring (even if home country), almost no recent news (on their official web-site).

The second English song "Travelling" is a mellow acoustic one. Beautiful chorus but that's it. There are few great moments available on this sonic landscape. The whole of my expectations reside in the closing suite : "Gigantes".

It is a three distinctive parts song. It might not be a giant song but each piece is above average here. My favourite is the second (and longest part). Fully atmospheric and finally reminiscent of their earlier work (not that I dislike evolution). Another highlight.

Part I is a summary of this album : a combination of metal and good progressive folk music while the closing track (Part III) is another showcase for Marcela.

Three stars but I slightly rounded it up to be honest. My Mexican "roots", I guess...

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 Elfonia by ELFONIA album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.72 | 25 ratings

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Elfonia
Elfonia Prog Folk

Review by ZowieZiggy
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Mexican bands aren't that many to be featured on PA. If you ever have read one of my reviews, you might know that Mexico is my second home (my wife being Mexican) and that I am probably biased with works coming out from this country. But there aren't plenty of bands coming out from this country

It is amazing that several "prog-folk" bands are vocally lead by a female singer. I put the genre into brackets because IMHHO, this album sounds a lot more symphonic as folk, at least during the first three numbers. Grandeur, bombastic style, invading keys are not typical of any folkish style of music. A casting mistake ? Probably.

Several acoustic songs are featured and might have lead this band to be categorized into this genre. But acoustic does not mean prog. Does it? If you take "Drama" for instance. Not an inch of prog here. Just a dull song with poor vocals. But their lead singer, Marcela Bovio, is not holding the role in here.

She will be in full command on the wonderful "Dentro" (Inside). A powerful song with loads of keys and great guitar work. The best of this album is "Modos Humanos". Fantastic and so emotional vocals, powerful backing band (especially the guitar work). The structure of this song is just great. The highlight from this good album..

In terms of powerful and bombastic tracks, I believe that "Hatchepsut" is by far the winner. A female "vocals" couldn't be more appropriate to perpetrate the memory of this Egyptian queen.

The band fully remains in the pure symphonic style wit "Añoranza". There are definite similarities with "Watcher" from whom you might know. Not the intro of this fantastic song, but more on the closure side. This is a wonderful piece of music. Guitar work is gorgeous and fully symphonic. As during "Hatchepsut", the work of Marcela is limited (only some choir at the end of each song) but so beautiful...

"De Todas Mis Heridas" (from all my wounds) is a "Mostly Autumn" clone. Passionate vocals and nice violins. This song is another highlight. This very good symphonic album closes on "Alma Infinita" ("infinite soul"). Fully atmospheric and featuring a great vocal performance. A great way to close this work.

Seven out of ten; upgraded to four stars snce it isn't yet available to get the half stars rating. So, let's keep with the imprecision.

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 This Sonic Landscape  by ELFONIA album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.44 | 21 ratings

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This Sonic Landscape
Elfonia Prog Folk

Review by FranMuzak

4 stars SECOND ALBUM AND. FAREWELL?

Like most of us, i know this band by tracking Marcela Bovio after her participation with Arjen Lucassen projects. And i´m glad I did. Elfonía is a unique band although compared sometimes with other Prog-Folk acts such as Mostly Autumn, Iona and Karnataka. I think the Mexican band is not as folk as the quoted British groups but with the same quality. And not as metal as the side projects with Mr. Lucassen but with the same intensity.

Talking about the Dutch multi-instrumentalist, he takes an interesting participation in the song "Camaleón" which is the heaviest in the album without being a classic representative of the Prog Metal genre. Great song with very good solos and intense riffs collating with mellow and atmospheric parts.

As said many times before, the main ingredient of the record (and the band) is the heavenly voice of Marcela, without forgetting the importance of Alejandro Millan, keyboard player and writer of most of the music, with the collaboration of Roberto Quintanilla, guitarist and another important piece of this machinery. Of course the rhythm section is very good too, but you can clearly hear in the compositions who leads the band.

Highlights: "IV", the initial song and supposedly final part of the "Gigantes" saga (!?), a space-rock track in the same vein of the other 3 parts. "Desaciertos", a beautiful and peaceful song with nice piano and good guitar. ".de los libros del tiempo" , another atmospheric track with good riffs and the voice shining to the top, one of my favorites. The already mentioned "Camaleón". "Mañana", an excellent jazzy track with heavy guitar, good drumming and great singing (well, that's a constant in the album), another fave of mine. "Traveling", another very jazz oriented song where Marcela sings in English, for your pleasure; and of course, all 3 parts of "Gigantes", great tracks, spacey, intense and (again) beautifully sung. Actually part II reminds me of Porcupine Tree (Sky Moves Sideways, Signify era).

I really hope they return to the studio and keep progressing in a very promising career, which so far is in standby due to the multiple occupations of their members with other projects. I wish this is not the final recording and be able to yet make a review of another great release.

Well done paisanos! 4 stars

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 Elfonia by ELFONIA album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.72 | 25 ratings

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Elfonia
Elfonia Prog Folk

Review by FranMuzak

4 stars THE ELF SYMPHONY

That's what i understand about the band's name which is a play of words that i would translate as "Elfony" or "Elphony". This was the recording that caused the international projection in the Prog world of Marcela Bovio (and Alejandro Millan,the keyboardist, in a lesser scale), because due to this self produced album Arjen Lucassen discovered and included her in THE HUMAN EQUATION. He was impressed with her voice so much that also invited her to sing in the special edition of THE FINAL EXPERIMENT and make a semi-acoustic version of the track "Waracle" (engineered by Alejandro Millan) originaly sung by Jay Van Feggelen.

The story goes on as most of you know. Marcela, Alejandro and Arjen joined forces to form Stream Of Passion, which it seems is taking a lot of their time and unfortunately made them take an indefinite break with Elfonía. And that's fine since SoP is a great band too (different from Elfonía), but I really hope they can retake the original act that made them jump to stardom.

As some reviewers mentioned already, the group is hard to classify. In this 1st release they include some folk, jazz and slight touch of metal,but softer and more atmospheric than their later album THIS SONIC LANDSCAPE which is more varied. This is a beautiful album with a spacey ambient, some strong moments, many acoustics and the incredible vox of Marcela, that make the listening a very pleasant experience.

Highlights:Opener "Eldalindalë", very atmospheric where Marcela really shines, "Modos Humanos" with a nice guitar solo and voice interchange, "Hatshepsut" an almost instrumental with an arabic feeling,good percussions and Marcela playing violin and her most powerful instrument at the end: her voice."Añoranza" another ambient track with angelical chanting and good guitar solo."de todas mis heridas" is a more upbeat track where our 'señorita' shows her wide vox range and that she also knows how to play violin, and "Alma Infinita", an excellent song with jazzy drumming and guitar and a great atmosphere courtesy of Mr. Millan.

A very good debut that gets more value if we think that is a production of their own. With artist like these i feel proud of being Mexican.

4 stars

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 This Sonic Landscape  by ELFONIA album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.44 | 21 ratings

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This Sonic Landscape
Elfonia Prog Folk

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars I wanted to check out this band after enjoying Marcela's vocals so much on the debut release of STREAM OF PASSION. Of course that band is a lot heavier than ELFONIA, being as they are a Prog-Metal band.

The highlight for me on this album is the 4 part song called "Gigantes" that offers up some spacey soundscapes with some terrific drumming and angelic vocals.The odd thing is that the album starts with the song "IV" which is the final part of "Gigantes" epic. The other three parts are the final three songs on the record, go figure. "IV" is perhaps the most eerie and atmospheric of the four parts. Some good vocal melodies as well. "Maquina" contrasts the heavy, bombastic sections with the mellow vocal passages. "Soundscapes" has English lyrics as well as some pastoral sections.

"Desaciertos" is all about the vocals that are accompanied with piano.Violin to close it. Good song. "...De Los Libros Del Tiempo" has some good throbbing bass lines and a tasteful guitar solo. Another highlight. "Camaleon" makes it three great tunes in a row. This is the heaviest tune with a guest guitar solo from Arjen Lucassen. And he doesn't disappoint. More good bass and drum work. "Letargo" is an instrumental with a lot of keys. "Manana" is almost funky, while "Traveling" is a song that is sung in English. I detect some jazz influences in this one and it's not the first song that I have felt this.

Although a very good release I didn't like it enough to give it 4 stars. I felt something was missing (probably more to do with me then the band) perhaps due to the fact this has a folk flavour to it.

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 Elfonia by ELFONIA album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.72 | 25 ratings

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Elfonia
Elfonia Prog Folk

Review by Tailscent

3 stars Elfonía first came to my attention after the late 2005, early 2006 "Embrace The Storm" tour of STREAM OF PASSION, featuring both Marcela Bovio on vocals and violin, and Alejandro Millán on piano and keyboards. Not long after I sampled their music from their website, I ordered their two albums.

How can they be described? Most seem to have trouble doing so, which is a good sign, in my opinion. It doesn't come near metal, if you ask me. It's atmospheric rock with progressive and sometimes jazzy influences. The "Elfonía" debut album has all vocals in Spanish. I can't speak or understand Spanish at all, but I have to say, it doesn't make it any less enjoyable. Marcela's voice is often compared to Anneke van Giersbergen (THE GATHERING), but I can hear a clear difference between their voices. Oh well.

The album opens with the atmospheric "Eldalindalë", which actually means "Elfonía" in an Elven language. It's a gentle and soft opener, with Marcela's beautiful soothing voice taking the lead. The song roughens up on two occassions, the latter one having a beautiful guitar solo. It ends just as soft as it began...

"Nuestro Descanso" stays soft and calm, only with lots of (acoustic) guitars and again beautiful vocals, supported by some subtle bass. "Aura" remains one of my favorites. It's rockier and slightly jazzier than the openers, and it features a beautiful guitar solo somewhere near the end. The soundscapes made by Alejandro are also a delight for the ears. It's a song with presence, yet it remains soft and gentle at the same time.

"Drama" is another acoustic guitar song, this time with male vocals! I'm unsure who it is, but I'm guessing it is Alejandro. Because of this, it really stands out from the rest of the album. "Dentro" has Marcela on vocals again, and Alejandro back with a catchy piano tune. This is another soft but powerful songs, and easily one of my favorites along with "Aura" and "...de todas mis heridas".

For a song that begins with a gentle bassline, "Modos Humanos" has a lot more in it than you might think at first. This is a very prog-like song, which is very tasteful to me. "Hatshepsut" has a beautiful violin, and is the album's first instrumental track, excluding Marcela's chanting at the end. It completely portrays visions of ancient Egypt, which naturally was the idea. (Hatshepsut was the first known female to become "king" of Egypt).

"Añoranza" reminds me much of "Eldalindalë", but without the singing. Marcela chants and "ooo"'s instead, which sounds beautiful and atmospheric. "La vida que emana..." is a piano intro to the real song, namely "...de todas mis heridas", again one of my favorite songs on the album. It's a very powerful song, with some beautiful violin in the middle. *le sigh* goosebumps!

The album ends powerfully with "Alma Infinita", which is along the same lines of the rest of the album's more rockier songs. A good way to end the album...or not? It turns out there's a hidden track of 1 minute and 38 seconds, in which Marcela sings without instruments, and an echo added. She really has a powerful voice with a great range, though I'm unsure why they chose to end the album like this.

The downsides? For those who thought Marcela was only into metal like STREAM OF PASSION and AYREON, Elfonía might be a bit too soft. Also, I would have preferred the lyrics in English. Those are the only real downsides I have found in my personal experience with the album.

Beautiful, but probably not for everyone. 3 Stars.

Yours, Tailscent

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