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Prog Folk • Chile

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CONGRESO are a progressive folk band from Chile that formed in 1969, but whose origins date back even further. The group arose from a union of the González brothers Patricio, Sergio and Fernando (along with bassist Stolen Fernando) from the 60's psych band Los Sicodélicos; along with vocalist Francisco Sazo of the short-lived Chilean rock band Los Masters. While the result was a musical style that bore some features of the British psychedelic and progressive rock bands that inspired them, CONGRESO distinguished itself early on by employing native instrumentation in their music.

Unlike their fellow countrymen LOS JAIVAS who also employs some traditional Chilean instruments but in more modern arrangements, CONGRESO has fused elements of the traditional Chilean cueca dance rhythms and cultural themes along with native instruments to form a unique brand of South American progressive folk.

The band's early albums lean more heavily toward an acoustic, folk style with cultural themes to complement the more traditional arrangements. By the 1980's however, the group had adjusted to Sazo's temporary absence by adopting a more improvisational sound that still emphasized native rhythms but was at the same time more experimental. With the return of Sazo the band has gravitated back to a more folk-leaning mode by the 1990s. At the same time the band's years of experience have born fruit in a more polished and expansive sound on their later albums. CONGRESO continues to perform occasionally today, and issued a retrospective release in 2004.

CONGRESO deserve a place on ProgArchives in recognition of nearly forty years producing uniquely progressive music that represents their cultural heritage while all the while advancing their craft in new musical directions.


El Congreso - 1971 EMI-Odeon
Terra Incógnita - 1975 EMI-Odeon
Congreso - 1977 EMI-Odeon
Viaje por la Cresta del Mundo - 1981 EMI-Odeon
Ha Llegado Carta - 1982 EMI-Odeon
Pájaros de Arcilla - 1984 CBS
Estoy que me Muero - 1986 Alerce
Gira al Sur - 1987 Alerce
Para los Arqueólogos del Futuro - 1989 Alerce
Aire Puro - 1990 Alerce
Congreso 71-82 - 1991 EMI
Los Fuegos del Hielo - 1992 Alerce
La Pichanga, Antopoemas - 1992 Alerce
25 Años de Música - 1994 EMI
Por Amor al Viento - 1997 EMI
Mediodía - 1997 Iris
La Loca sin Zapatos - 2001 Macondo/Sony
Congreso de Exportación - 2004 Machi

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Pajaros De ArcillaPajaros De Arcilla
Musica & Cultura
Audio CD$24.99
Circolo Del Disco
Audio CD$21.99
Medio Dia - New Music from Chile by CongresoMedio Dia - New Music from Chile by Congreso
Audio CD$112.95
El Congreso by Congreso (2004-05-03)El Congreso by Congreso (2004-05-03)
Record Runner
Audio CD$58.98
Estoy Que Me MueroEstoy Que Me Muero
Audio CD$28.99
$115.44 (used)
Aire PuroAire Puro
Audio CD$10.99
$65.94 (used)
Congreso 25 Anos De MusicaCongreso 25 Anos De Musica
EMI Import 2005
Audio CD$49.99
$20.45 (used)
EMI Import 2005
Audio CD$19.07
$255.95 (used)
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Gesu Noi te Adoriamo / Dios de los corazones / 32 congreso eucaristico Catholic USD $50.00 Buy It Now 1 day
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Various Artists Congreso De La Salsa CD USD $4.99 Buy It Now 3 days
Congreso Mundial De Fuerzas Pacificas - "La Musica Cubana ..." Areito USD $12.99 [0 bids]
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SACROS CD/1973 Chile/Psych/Los Jaivas/Los Blops/El Congreso/Aguaturbia/Embrujo USD $22.99 Buy It Now 6 days
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CONGRESO lp CONGRESO argentina ID# 57207 1977 CHILE PROGRESSIVE-PROMO WHITE LBL USD $168.00 Buy It Now 6 days
GENESIS Yakta Mama LP/1975 Colombia/Andean Folk Psych/Speakers/Blops/El Congreso USD $32.98 Buy It Now 12 days
GENESIS LP/1974 Colombia/Andean Folk Psych/Speakers/Blops/El Congreso/Los Jaivas USD $32.98 Buy It Now 12 days
Various Artists, Congreso De La Salsa, Excellent USD $5.16 Buy It Now 17 days
FILM 78rpm RECORD Gramofono ORQUESTA NEW MAYFAIR El Congreso se divierte HEYMANN USD $74.99 Buy It Now 18 days
JAZZ 78 rpm RECORD Parlophon LILIAN HARVEY / JEAN BOYER El Congreso se divierte USD $74.99 Buy It Now 23 days
Congreso - Aire Puro. Vinyl LP. USD $40.00 Buy It Now 23 days
Congreso - Terra Incognita. Vinyl LP. USD $45.00 Buy It Now 23 days
HUGO FILHO Paraibo LP/1978 Brazil/Psych Rock/Sacros/El Congreso/SHADOKS USD $49.98 Buy It Now 24 days
(CD) Congreso 25 Anos De Musica - En Vivo / Chilean compilation USD $20.00 Buy It Now 27 days

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CONGRESO discography

Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help to complete the discography and add albums

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

2.93 | 20 ratings
El Congreso
3.46 | 23 ratings
Terra Incógnita
3.93 | 28 ratings
3.29 | 17 ratings
Viaje por la Cresta del Mundo
3.85 | 14 ratings
Ha Llegado Carta
3.96 | 18 ratings
Pájaros de Arcilla
3.05 | 11 ratings
Estoy que me Muero
3.58 | 12 ratings
Para los Arqueólogos del Futuro
3.57 | 7 ratings
Aire Puro
3.83 | 6 ratings
Pichanga - Profecias a Falta de Ecuaciones
3.56 | 9 ratings
Los Fuegos del Hielo
3.80 | 5 ratings
Por Amor Al Viento
3.00 | 2 ratings
Medio día
3.50 | 8 ratings
La Loca sin Zapatos
3.17 | 6 ratings
Con Los Ojos En La Calle

CONGRESO Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.49 | 7 ratings
En Vivo Vol. 1 / Vol. 2 (aka Gira al Sur)
4.20 | 5 ratings
25 Años de Música
4.33 | 6 ratings
La Historia de un Viaje

CONGRESO Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

CONGRESO Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.33 | 3 ratings
Congreso 1971-1982

CONGRESO Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)


Showing last 10 reviews only
 El Congreso by CONGRESO album cover Studio Album, 1971
2.93 | 20 ratings

El Congreso
Congreso Prog Folk

Review by Hannibal_20

2 stars I have thought to review all the albums of this beautifull and rellevant chilean band, in order of release

"el congreso" is the first Album of congreso, in 1971, first of all, i must clarify this: this album is not a prog one (except for just one theme), its pure folk rock, it has mainly short themes, it has quenas (Andean flutes), charangos (Andean little string instrument, like a mandolin) and other folkloric instruments, in addition to occasional symphonic instruments like violins and cellos, I think the rock sound is pretty similar to the rock of the beatles in some parts.

the best themes here are: "rompe tu espada, vive la vida" (break your sword, live the life), it has a beautifull melody and the lyrics are dedicated to peace, "maestranzas de la noche", bassed in Pablo Neruda`s poetry, the instrumental "el errante" that achieves a very good fussion and harmony between folk and rock sounds, the version of "el condor pasa" it's a good cover, this time with lyrics, that are about peace and unity, the closing theme A.A.R is the first prog theme of all history of the band, its very interesting but also al little monotonous, specially on the the cajón solo (cajón: percussion instrument of Peruvian origin) of the minute 45:45, further the starting electric guitar riff (34:00) is very ugly.

I think that this album is rather for those who lived at that time and remember it with nostalgia, also for the meaning of his lyrics, which were consistent with the social and cultural context of that age (hippie years) it also has an historical value for being the first album by congreso and if you like this band its very possible that you want to know how it all started

"el congreso" isnt a grat allbum, and although it has some good songs, is the only one of the band I don't like, in fact, I do not think it's a good album to start listening to this band, if you have not heard this band, this album could demotivate you, but Congreso gave a long step between their first and second album in quality of composition, so I invite you to follow this band that has fused the rhythms, instruments, ideas and Latin American feelings with the sound of rock, progressive rock and jazz, achieving a beautiful and important legacy for Chile and Latin America.

 Congreso by CONGRESO album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.93 | 28 ratings

Congreso Prog Folk

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars In 1976 flutist Hugo Pirovich, who participated in Congreso's debut, replaced for a brief time Renato Vivaldi, but by the time of the recordings of a third album Vivaldi was back onboard.Facing the strict lines of the dictatorship, Congreso kept producing music, which now contained allegoric lyrics, preventing any chance of conflicts with the political enviroment.The band introduced a huge list of guests on strings and wind instruments (no less than seven musicians) and the new album ''Congreso'', known also as ''The cafe album'', was released on EMI Odeon.

With this work Congreso attempted to mix Andean Folk with an elaborate Chamber Rock, retaining the light rock elements through the bass lines and drumming, and offering for the first time a set of long tracks, ranging from 6 to 10 minutes.Taking this work step by step, the first few pieces are following the same concept presented already by the band in previous releases, an elegant South-American Folk Rock with emphasis on expressive vocals and traditional instrumental tunes.With ''Los elementos'' you will face the band at its most experimental side, a slow, psychedelic intro with effects and drums will leave its place to mellow Andean Folk with the zampona in evidence and later to a dreamy instrumental work of Jazz, Folk and Chamber Music inspirations, which will close with an optimistic mood full of recorders and charango.Charango is also the main instrument on the following, short and rhythmic ballad ''El cielito de mi pieza''.''Tu canto'' clocks at about 6 minutes and features a nice intro with soft electric guitars, percussion and recorders, opening the way for a stretched Chamber Folk performance with melancholic orchestrations filled with strings and some bass, before closing in the same way as it has opened.The development of the band becomes really apparent in the 10-min. ''Arco iris de Hollin'', which is closer to R.I.O. and Chamber Music than Folk, dominated by odd string sections and depressive orchestral parts, dark flute lines and even a jazzy taste.A true surprise considering that Congreso sounded usually as an optimistic group, this is definitely some haunting, semi-acoustic and very dramatic all instrumental music.

For most of its part ''Congreso'' sounds like any other release by the band.Ethereal Prog Folk with an acoustic background, smooth interplays and romantic vocals.But the closing suite is an additional reason to buy the album for its unique atmosphere, somewhere between R.I.O. and Folk.Recommended.

 Estoy que me Muero by CONGRESO album cover Studio Album, 1986
3.05 | 11 ratings

Estoy que me Muero
Congreso Prog Folk

Review by dragonspirit

2 stars I hear some smooth jazz influence on this one and poppish constructions. They are not to my liking at all. The saxophone is frequently the worst offender in this regard. There is admittedly a good amount of abstraction and experimentation in the music, but it is often combined with boringly predictable structures in the foreground. The only tracks on here that impress me are Niño (which has some excellent violoncello) and Impresiones de Agosto. Estoy que me muero and Nocturno are OK. The rest is mediocre to poor. Calipso intenso, cask azul is maybe the worst song and features a David Byrne-style vocal delivery. I would only recommend this album to people who like easy-listening latin jazz fusion.

Overall, 2.5 stars rounded down to 2.

 Terra Incógnita by CONGRESO album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.46 | 23 ratings

Terra Incógnita
Congreso Prog Folk

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Congreso rapidly built some fame in Chile and kept producing singles as of 1972, while they even entered the studio to record a sophomore album in 1973.Their plans for a release though have to be cancelled due to the military action against president Salvador Allende in September 1973, even if most of the album was already finished.Remaing in the country despite the flaming atmosphere, Congress recruited flutist Renato Vivaldi as the sixth official member of the group and in 1975 their long-awaited album ''Terra Incognita'' sees a major release on London Records, even passing the Atlantic Ocean to reach the markets of Europe in Portugal.

''Terra Incognita'' is a strange album, even if it sounds considerably upgraded compared to the band's debut musically speaking.While there is a stronger addition of traditional Folk vibes in plenty of the tracks and the emotional singing lines remain a trademark of the group, some of the inspiration on the acoustic compositios seems to have faded.Even this way their Andean-influenced Prog Folk is still charming and enganging with romantic passages, intense lyrical moments and even some acoustic instrumental virtuosity, characterized by the impressive flute work of Vivaldi.On the other hand the upgraded instrumental seeds couldn't have resulted to some nice tasty fruits.Congreso have chosen to offer some prominent electric tunes in their new album with a more pronounced rhythm section and they even added some jazzy underlines in their music.As a result the music component of the album is more diverse.There is a good combination of modern instruments with the traditional ones, like charango, pipes, flutes and cello to result an attactive Folk Rock with alternatic acoustic and electric parts, especially during the flipside of the original LP, while the instrumental themes are often very intricate.Still the vocals hold a main role with clean and expressive performances by Francisco Sazo.

A bit of an uneven album, which, even so, holds a great interest till' its very end.Romantic Latin-American Prog Folk with captivating acoustic crescendos, light electric textures and sensational vocals.Recommended.

 El Congreso by CONGRESO album cover Studio Album, 1971
2.93 | 20 ratings

El Congreso
Congreso Prog Folk

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Congreso are among the most long-lived Chilean bands ever with more than 40 years of career on their backs.By mid-60's brothers Francisco,Patricio and Sergio Gonzalez along with bassist Fernando Hurtado played together in several school bands,covering foreign English tracks.In 1969 they were joined by singer Fernando Sazo from the beat group Los Sicodelicos and Congreso was born.Based in the city of Quilpue,they started to blend traditional Chilean tunes with rock music,as presented on their debut ''El congreso'' from 1971.

With flutist Hugo Pirovich on board,Congreso play harmonic mellow Psych/Folk Rock deeped in the Chilean roots.The album is mostly acoustic with a few electric blows but with the constant presence of the rhythm section.The flute of Pirovich offers delicate traditional tunes and is mixed greatly with the rest of the band.Vocals are definitely a highlight of the album,very melodic,warm and sensitive.''El congreso'' contains mainly short tracks,all of them are highly melodic and enjoyable,but to say the truth I do not see any progressive leanings.Even the long instrumental ''A.A.R.'' continues in the same style,Psychedelic Rock with Folk influences and a mood for improvisation overall.

I would advise anyone into demanding and rich musicianship to rather skip this album,as it sounds very pastoral and even dated.On the other hand ''El congreso'' will be a great addition for anyone looking for soft rock musicianship blended with with highly melodic content and nice vocal harmonies,no matter he is a fan of Folk Music or not.Recommended.

 Terra Incógnita by CONGRESO album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.46 | 23 ratings

Terra Incógnita
Congreso Prog Folk

Review by memowakeman
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars An old folk band from Chile!

This South- American country has a lot to offer musically speaking, they have several iconic bands from the seventies that have inspired so many newer acts from the same country, and from other countries, especially the ones who speak Spanish. When someone says "a progressive rock band from the seventies and from Chile" it is kind of mandatory to think about Los Jaivas, that's normal due to its brilliance and legacy; but there was another huge band called Congreso whose importance was big in the Chilean scene.

Congreso was formed in the late 60s and despite it is mainly a folk band, they also took some psychedelic elements that were combined in some albums with those folk and traditional elements. The music is mostly acoustic and I bet some people may doubt about their progressiveness, and it is understandable due to its evident folk and native sound. They released a debut album in 1971 and two years later in 1973 they created "Terra Incógnita" the album I will review.

The album features fourteen compositions, all of them are short (3-4 minutes) making a total time of 45 worth listening minutes. The opener track "Dónde estarán" is an excellent song which in my opinion works as a perfect example of the music of Congreso. Those folk elements, acoustic guitar, flute, etc., and the sweet vocals are actually part of that Chilean sound of the 70s, that was also used by other non-progressive acts such as Inti Illimani or Quilapayun.

A thing I like about this album is that despite its fourteen tracks, you don't feel tired because all of them are short and consistent, there is not a fracture on the music, no highs and lows, in a few words, I believe you like it or not, I mean you will not say "I liked two or three tracks" no, those songs comprehend a body and this time you either like the complete body or simply dislike.

In music, personally speaking, I don't pay much attention to the words and lyrics, however I like Congreso's lyrics, they are beautiful and disarming at the same time, representing the life in Chile and the personal thoughts of the band. "Tus ojitos" is a track I love singing, one of my favorite also because of the flute sound.

"Juego" is another beautiful track, one of the proggiest ones without a doubt, the bass, flute and other string instruments compose a wonderful atmosphere in where you can close your eyes and enjoy what is happening inside your mind. At half the song there is a cello who adds a dramatic sound, later drums enters and there is also a guitar solo. "Quenita y violin" is a short instrumental track, but sometimes you just need a minute to show what your music is about, and yeah, this is another example of the traditional folk sound of Congreso and Chilean folk in general.

My favorite tracks besides the previously mentioned are: "En Río perdí la voz", "Los maldadosos" and "Canción de reposo". There are in my opinion no fillers in this album, and actually no weak tracks, though of course there are a couple I enjoy less, but anyway remember that body structure I mentioned, well I like it.

Terra Incognita is an album I like and really enjoy when I listen to it, the thing is that I don't use to listen to it frequently because it is not my favorite type of music. If you are a folk lover then you should totally listen to Congreso, if you are familiar with Los Jaivas and traditional Chilean music then you know what I am talking about, if not, I invite you to explore this side of music, no matter its prog content, which in my opinion exists, but does not predominates here. My personal grade would be four stars, but for PA I believe 3 is more accurate.

Enjoy it!

 Pájaros de Arcilla by CONGRESO album cover Studio Album, 1984
3.96 | 18 ratings

Pájaros de Arcilla
Congreso Prog Folk

Review by Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars "Pájaros de Arcilla" is a definitive highlight in Congreso's masterful musical history. A peculiar fact about this particular album is that it is the only one in this Chilean outfit's discography not to feature a member on the lead singer's role: Joe Vasconcellos, who had motivated the experimental explorations on fusion roads in the preceding two albums soon after the original vocalist Francisco Sazo had temporarily left the band, als oleft the band in order to pursue other musical interests. The remaining bunch - which by then had been augmented with the entry of saxophonost Jaime Atenas - was clearly illuminated by bursts of inspiration that couldn't be denied or delayed, so a new album got conceived, arranged, recorded and released. The creative stamina was there, and so, before the return of Saqzo, "Pájaros De Arcilla" became a reality destined to define one of the brightest moments of Congreso's history. Since a few tracks include lyrics, flutist Hugo Pirovich assumed the lead singing position when required, but it is easily noticeable that the band was mostly focused on emphasizing its instrumental facet. Without a singer, there is danger of losing some melodic drive, but Congreso managed to pass the test efficiently, working on the own instruments' melodic potential as well as developing an ever-growing sense of sonic adventure. This artistic success was not regarded as such by the band's label, which decided to hold back the release - one of those "intelligent" corporate decisions that are sadly abundant in the music business. Anyway, the album was released in Argentina, gaining well-deserved critical acclaims and ultimately becoming a precious item among Congreso fans (and overall folk-rock fans in the Latin America area). 'Voladita Nortina' opens up the album with a first part based on a solid exhibition of extroverted colorfulness, delivered with mathematic precision. Picture a hybrid of Irakere and Univer Zero, as unlikely as it may seem, and you will get an approximate idea of what I'm trying to talk about. The track's second part, thigs shift toward dreamy moods, featuring piano flows, clever drum kit ornaments and eerie sax lines. Next comes the beautiful title track, a fusion ballad on a 3/4 tempo whose basic circus-like theme develops a surreal portrait of romanticism and fantasy - Fellini's movies cometo my mind whenever I listen to this lovely track. Well... more exactly, every track in this album is lovely. 'Andén del Aire' is segued to the previous track's closing chimes - it is yet another solid example of Congreso's amazing wa to mix latin fusion, jazz-rock and RIO-oriented prog. 6 minutes of enthusiastic beauty washed in soft experimental waters. 'Alas Invasoras' (yet another track with some lyrics in it) reiterates the solidified eclectic approach: the Afro-South-American passages merge well with the series of musical nuances that develop along the way within a robust framework. This balanced confluence of control and free form has to be heard to be believed. Holman's bass deliveries, in particular, are brilliant beyond words. 'En la Ronda de un Vuelo' returns to the romantic warmth that had worked so well earlier in track 2. This time, the melancholic feeling is soft, even joyful (in a delicate way). The flute lines delivered by Pirovich really "sing" with human sweetness. 'Allá Abajo en la Calle (Coco Loco)' is arguably the most celebrated instrumental piece by the band's fans, and it usually lasts much longer than the 4- minute span that incarnates this studio rendition. Anyway, this track is an exciting excercise on Latin-jazz focused on massive atonal experimentations - once again, the chamber rock element becomes totally crucial in both compositional scheme and perforance. The track's architecture is full of frenzy and extravagance in a most exquisite fashion. The same joyful vibe is continued in the closing track 'Volando con Buenos Aires', albeit with less extravagance. "Pájaros de Arcilla" is an item not to be missed by any melomaniac, progressive oriented or not, fusion freak or not, Latin American or not. I gather that the CD edition is out of catalogue, but I pose as a mission for all PA readers to pursue a copy of this gem. Congreso at its best!!
 Viaje por la Cresta del Mundo by CONGRESO album cover Studio Album, 1981
3.29 | 17 ratings

Viaje por la Cresta del Mundo
Congreso Prog Folk

Review by ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator Prog Folk Researcher

3 stars Congreso’s fourth studio album brought with it many changes in the band, both in their lineup and sound. Primary vocalist Francisco Sazo is gone, although he would return to the band a few years later. Bassist Fernando Hurtado had also departed, along with flautist Renato Vivaldi. In their place the remaining trio of González brothers enlisted a quintet of musicians including a new vocalist and percussionist in the form of Joe Vasconcellos, a Chilean who spent most of his childhood and early adult years living in Italy. Vivaldi has been replaced by Hugo Pirovich, and the University-trained Ernesto Holman splits bass duties on the record with Patricio González. Ricardo Vivanco and future University music professor Anibal Correa round out the new lineup.

The most noticeable differences in the band’s music are the distinctively different vocal style of Vasconcellos, and the prominence of classical piano on nearly every composition (but particularly on “Undosla” and the lengthy closing number “La Tierra Hueca”). Vasconcellos doesn’t have quite the range or earthy sincerity in his voice that Sazo mustered in the band’s first few albums, and while the piano passages give the music a more cosmopolitan feel there is also some loss of the folk-leaning emphasis that made their earlier works so engaging for progressive folk fans.

The other tendency the band seems to have adopted is an inclination toward studio improvisation. Many of the songs here are much looser than the very crisp execution present on ‘Terra Incógnita’ and especially the coffee album. Along with Correa’s piano and the assorted brass insertions the music leans every so slightly away from being a regionally-rooted Chilean folk band toward a mildly fusion- sounding one. Had I never heard their 70’s albums this wouldn’t matter much, but I can’t say as the change in tone is necessarily welcome for early fans of the group. This would also be their shortest album to-date, clocking in at barely 42 minutes even including several minutes of pointless and ambling noodling on the closing track.

I was pleasantly surprised to belatedly discover Congreso a few years ago on the strength of their debut and ‘Terra Incógnita’, and still play those albums a fair amount. This offering lacks any truly distinctive characteristics or standout tracks though, and while the music is technically proficient it has the overall feel of having been sort of ‘mailed in’ in terms of the emotional engagement of the various players. The skill and artistry of the musicians involved pretty much require that the album be rated as something better than just a ‘collectors-only’ work, but not by much. Three stars may even be just a bit high, but considering the alternatives it is probably the most appropriate rating to give it. Not much recommended except to fans of Chilean music, and obviously to fans of Congreso. Otherwise I’d look to their earlier music if you are new to the band and looking to discover them at their finest.


 Congreso by CONGRESO album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.93 | 28 ratings

Congreso Prog Folk

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

4 stars 4.5 stars really!!!

Also called Coffee Album (due to its colour and superb artwork), this third (also self-titled) album of the still intact Valparaiso original quintet, but this time, they are joined Renato Vivaldi (this could not be invented) on wind instruments. Actually by now, the group dropped the "El" -part of their name and where ready to flee the country soon, but this album was still recorded in Santiago in May 77, even if some of the material dates from 74.

Starting on the popular Color De La Iguana track, a Pacific Latin America folk (this could be ranging from Mexico to Tierra Del Fuego, in this case) number that uses much percussion (and even finishes into a duo) then following on the superb Volatin De Plumas (feather kyte I think), the album is certainly not denying its folk roots, something reaching its apex with Si Te Vas. But after three tracks, the album has not possessed much prog content; but the superb 8-mins+ Los Elementos will change this. Starting ever so softly from earth's entrails come out some percussions and later a flute and soft almost whispered vocals accompanied by delicate electric guitars, slowly crescendoing on a neat tempo, the track's haunting ambiance is beginning to cast its spell on you: this could last a half-hour you wouldn't mind but all too soon, the track returns to (almost) normal Andean folk with its closing section.

The flipside has only three tracks starting on a more relatively short Latino cuenca folk Cielito (I think ceiling of my room) first, than on the much more impressive 6-mins+ Tu Cantas, an almost- instrumental that allows for many moods to be developed with one Gonzales brother on the cello. Superb stuff. The closing almost 11-mins Arco Iris De Hollin starts melancholously and slowly on a flute and cello working along a pedestrian bass, before all gradually gain speed, while singer Sazo deals verbal blows to the Pinochet regime that they never "got". Great stuff, once again, even if this didn't change the country's course of event.

The Cd reissue comes with an 11-mins bonus track Para Ganarnos el Cielo in a demo state, but there is no indication that it dates from these years or not. Although lacking some of the finishing touches of the rest of the album (it is only a demo, they claim), musically it sounds much in the line of the later half of the album, and its subject is about the Conquistadors' invasion of the new world. So as a good gift, and improving somewhat an already excellent album, the Coffee album is nearing South American perfection. They don't come that much better thazn this one, even if the first three tracks were strictly folk and holds less interest for undiscerning progheads.

 El Congreso by CONGRESO album cover Studio Album, 1971
2.93 | 20 ratings

El Congreso
Congreso Prog Folk

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

3 stars First album by the second-most important Chilean group (from the suburbs of Valparaiso) after Los Jaivas, (El) Congreso is just as long-running as LJ is and had roots well in the 60's, even if their birth dates from 69 and their self-titled debut dates from 71. The double Gonzales guitar attack quintet presents the particularity of having a drummer that plays piano (also a Gonzales) and the singer some flute. Their early music presented some psychedelic folk with strong local (Andean) flavours and the debut is filled with fuzz guitar and sports the ever-present El Condor Pasa (correct version, not too much dramatics), and the group even managed a major label EMI-Odeon, reissued on Cd with Record Runner. It was recorded Live In The Studio for the most of it.

The group obviously intended to have something important in their lyrics (or else the wouldn't have called themselves Congreso) and in the first couple tunes, they speak of Neruda and other meaningful subjects in soft folk rock song with flutes, gentle fuzz-guitar, a bunch of typical Andean instruments like the tarca and quena and use some not-always straight-forward tempo shifts. The flow of track is relatively smooth, and superb instrumentals like El Errante interrupt the succession of folks songs that are all rather lovely, but nothing worth writing home about (or describe accurately in this review ;o)p) but still remain vaguely psychedelic. Some other tracks (like Mirale Al Espejo and its wailing fuzz guitar) take on a rockier form or dramatic feel like Rompe Tu Espada or La Roca, but the album never leaves the folk realm, something El Condor Pasa reminds us, just before a long (11 mins) instrumental (AAR) which starts out on a fuzz-lead tune, but goes on dissecting itself and end up with a bass and drum duo, before getting an overlong drum solo ends the album in its vinyl form. A bit too bad to end so weirdly

The Cd re-issue comes with two bonus tracks in the form of the non-album single of the next year, which goes on to bring back their pop side and more local instruments, with the Como Vas folk ditty, and its flipside, the delicious flute-lead Nuestros Es El Momento. Two valid tracks that add to the album's overall value, without sounding out of context, which has its importance. Somehow this album remains fresh and doesn't sound dated for the folk-minded progheads and if it wasn't for that weird drumming death, it might have garnered enough impact to go further up the rating scale.

Thanks to Cuncuna for the artist addition. and to ClemofNazareth for the last updates

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