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KOTEBEL

Symphonic Prog • Spain


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Kotebel biography
Due to the peculiar characteristics and influences, Spanish Prog bands are hard to describe inside the parameters of one Progressive Rock sub-genre, well get ready because KOTEBEL is even harder, at the first listen of any of their albums you notice that the main structure is basically Classical (In a broad sense) and Symphonic but you find many other different atmospheres one over the other as a collage, but specially a Prog Fusion touch provided by the piano and Synthesized violin.

KOTEBEL was formed in Madrid (1999) by the Venezuelan pianist and composer Carlos Plaza using a different approach than most Symphonic bands that start in Rock and add Classical influences, Plaza started with Classical music and added a great variety of different sounds, influences, atmospheres and flavors, creating a spectacular ensemble that sounds better with every release.

Being that he's a classically trained musician that loves the late Romantic/Modern Classical it0's easy to find influences tat start with Rachmaninoff and end with Ravel or Debussy and in the Prog universe Carlos Acosta is a confessed fan of Tony Banks, but in the music of KOTEBEL you can find much more.

Almost immediately after the foundation of this project, KOTEBEL self release the album "Structures" a wonderful and imaginative voyage that starts in Classical Music and reaches Symphonic Rock but every time I listen it I can feel an evident JEAN-LUC PONTY influence from the era of Aurora and a hint of STEVE HACKETT..

After releasing "Structures" it was obvious for Carlos Acosta that the project was out of his hands, it had grown so much that it deserved to take the form of a stable band more than an album based project with specific musicians to complement him and a label to work with them so in the year 2000 KOTEBEL signs with Musea Records.

In December 2001 KOTEBEL releases their second CD called "Mysticae Visiones" which sounds closer To soft Symphonic in the vein of CAMEL but with a strong ENID and Fusion influence plus a touch of Minimalism.

KOTEBEL'S third release "Fragments of Light" was released in September 2003 and now we're in great trouble, describing it is almost an epic adventure because the music gets richer with every release, to the usual, CAMEL, THE ENID; HACETT and GENESIS influences we must add the usual Fusion and a very complex blend of Spanish Flamenco and Moorish sounds creating something that exceeds every possible description, surely i...
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KOTEBEL Videos (YouTube and more)


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Buy KOTEBEL Music


OuroborosOuroboros
Carlos Plaza Vegas 2011
Audio CD$15.99
OmphalosOmphalos
Musea 2011
Audio CD$15.99
$52.68 (used)
Live At Prog-Résiste 2013Live At Prog-Résiste 2013
Musea 2013
Audio CD$23.00
Concerto For Piano And Electric EnsembleConcerto For Piano And Electric Ensemble
Musea 2012
Audio CD$22.99
StructuresStructures
Import
Tritono 2010
Audio CD$15.99
$11.20 (used)
Structures by KotebelStructures by Kotebel
Tritono
Audio CD$41.81
Mysticae Visiones by KOTEBEL (2001-01-01)Mysticae Visiones by KOTEBEL (2001-01-01)
Musea
Audio CD$39.16
Ouroboros by KotebelOuroboros by Kotebel
Import
Audio CD$46.65
Concerto For Piano And Electric Ensemble by KOTEBELConcerto For Piano And Electric Ensemble by KOTEBEL
Musea
Audio CD$55.39
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KOTEBEL discography


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

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

3.04 | 27 ratings
Structures
1999
3.01 | 50 ratings
Mysticae Visiones
2002
2.94 | 43 ratings
Fragments Of Light
2003
3.95 | 83 ratings
Omphalos
2006
3.95 | 108 ratings
Ouroboros
2009
4.08 | 230 ratings
Concerto For Piano And Electric Ensemble
2012
4.08 | 64 ratings
Cosmology
2017

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

4.38 | 13 ratings
Live at Prog-Résiste
2014

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

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

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

KOTEBEL Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Cosmology by KOTEBEL album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.08 | 64 ratings

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Cosmology
Kotebel Symphonic Prog

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Jazz-Rock / Fusion / Canterbury Team

5 stars Kotebel returns! And the band is tighter, more polished, more virtuosic than ever! And flutist extraordinaire Omar Acosta is back! This time the band take on a concept album with a philosophical thread using a progression of human thought capacity from Newtonian mechanical/physical to quantum/spiritual and even into world religious.

1. "Post Ignem" (8:26) Slow, lumbering NeoProg. Simple, straightforward melody riffs, which grow in complexity as congas, synths, bass and electric guitar amp it up. Still, flute is present, bass thump-thump-thumps, and then it's over: a quiet section. This song is familiar to me in a "Pentacle Suite" kind of way--like a more concise, modernized version of the 2007 release. Big tympanic rolls signal a switch back to the first verse. Small, little hints of the main melody from piano, synth, and flute flit in and out while the rhythm section presses on. The final minute uses a skeleton version before ramping up for the final crescendo. Nice song. Such fine-tuned professionals! (9/10)

2. "Geocentric Universe" (7:34) Jazz. Opens with an ALIO DIE-like walk through a sacred temple or mosque before solo flute establishes the main melody. Spanish guitar and harpsichord and then piano follow before drums, hand percussion, and bass enter! The music is so restrained--it's wonderful! And hand drums! A kind of prolonged jazz coda follows--reminding me of John Coltrane or Miles. The band rejoins establishing a jazzy, Monk-like groove with changing tempos and melodies. At 4:30 Omar Acosta shows us why he's been so missed--providing the glue to move forward and into the next more-piano-based section. You go, Adriana! Then an awesome merengue-like Latin-rhythm section follows over which Omar and Cesar fly! Wow! What a ride! A top three song for sure! (10/10)

3. "Mechanical Universe" (7:53) full out complex symphonic prog rock as only Kotebel can do it. Two main sections--or forces--playing at each other, vying for ascendance. Great lead guitar work! Break for piano and then Spanish guitar with bass and congas weave a very demanding tapestry. Piano and synths join in, then industrial sounds for percussion break before we return to one of the main themes with electric guitar screaming out its case. Divert into a more intricate stoccato weave before bass and drums are given a little showtime. All the while piano is providing the rhythmic foundation for everyone else! Final minute has the band laying it all out there with guitar-led prog rock at its finest. (9.5/10)

4. "Entangled Universe" (8:46) opening with a mischievous flute-and-synth melody line, organ and Spanish guitar and piano then take over, before Adriana and Jaime establish the main rhythmic foundation for some stellar soloing and dueling from piano, flute, and electric guitar. Pause to assess position, electric guitar and flute talking, before switch to deep, heavy, bass-led slow-down section (using same melodies). Somehow the music undiscernably speeds back up (with some awesome bass playing) while flute and electric guitar take turns shouting at each other. Synth puts in his two cents! Guitar and flute seem unfazed while piano provides the underlying manpower for everybody else. Another switch to deep, heavy, slow, this time with jazzy bass play. The melodic themes are again recapitulated by everyone while tempo speeds back up and jazzy drumming drive the show. At the end of the seventh minute a kind of dreamy piano-flute-led section takes over before chunky bass and drums rejoin. Then all hell breaks loose again with guitar and flute making their final cases over the frenzy of the rest of the ensemble. Wow! What a show! What a battle! (9/10)

5. "Oneness" (8:15) piano intro for the first 30 seconds, joined by electric guitar arpeggi, synthesizer, and flute before bass and drums join in. At 1:40 synth calliope/organ chords and flute take on the soft intro interlude before the full band crashes back in to take us on a nice ride with synth, flute, piano, and rolling bass leading the way. At 3:20 electric guitar and flute seem to take the lead, alternating turn taking. Organ and piano team with bass and drums to take us into the next dimension--a repeat of the section that they did before. Incredibly well performed intricacies--six musicians, each occupying one track, jamming together. In the seventh minute the beautiful Santana-like lead melody comes to front and center through the electric guitar with gorgeous synth wash chords backing it. The song then slowly, carefully de-escalates, taking its structure apart piece by piece. Stunning song. One of my top three on the album. (10/10)

6. "Mishima's Dream" (5:29) one of Kotebel's more adventurous, working-outside-their-box songs opens with some DEEP PURPLE/URIAH HEEP-like bombast from electric guitar and organ. The pace being set by the rhythm section is actually rather slow and plodding. Then, at the end of the second minute everything slows and softens while electric guitar performs some nice arpeggi in support of a cool, extended synth "pipe" (a la Keith Emerson) solo. Next section lets the organ and electric guitar rock it out. Disjointed guitar solo is not so classic rock as much as avant jazz. Organ's turn is more Wakeman-esque than ELP. Final 50 seconds is unusual for soft, spacey decay before rock electric guitar finger pickings bring us to the end. Cool song! So different for the Madrid masters! (9/10)

7. "A Bao a Qu" (4:30) Synths, piano, then bass-supported electric guitar take turns expressing their wonder and curiosity. At the very end of the second minute, drums, bass and rhythm guitar establish a jazzy little rhythm foundation over which synths and piano continue their conversation. Guitar joins in for a few bars before synth and piano again. Finally, at 3:20, the electric guitar can take the restraint no more--Cesar breaks out with a brilliant burst of exasperation before the band settle back into a "Court of the Crimson King"-like passage before ending with silence. (10/10)

8. "Canto XXVIII" (7:21) The third song in a row in which the band test themselves by moving into realms that are, for them, experimental: polyphonic instrumental threads moving in polyrhythmic sequences. Then acoustic guitar work (would call it classical were it not performed on steel stringed guitar) with distant piano. Staccato electric guitar chords, thick bass and drum weave, organ odd, polyrhythmic time signatures weaving in and out of cooperation. King Crimson outdone! Maybe my favorite song Kotebel has ever done. Brilliant! (10/10)

9. "Paradise Lost" (3:04) piano arpeggio, synth melody line, and piano establish a bit of a deep conversation here. It's not until the beginning of the first minute that the piano finally gives us enough music to guess at a full key signature. Father-daughter; father waning, keeping to the background while daughter wonders "aloud." (8/10)

It has taken me a very long time to review this album because it has taken me a very long time to really get to know this very dense album--dense and sophisticated, as all Kotebel albums are. That is why they are one of the premier prog bands around because they have such intricate performances and virtuosic instrumentalists (all of them). What makes this album stand above the others is the polish, the adventurousness, the courage and bravery, and the growing technical command each and every member has over their instrument and over their contributions to the overall weave of the compositions. There is not a bad or weak song on this album (there never is on a Kotebel album) and there are some that are extraordinary. If you haven't got on board with this band, you need to. One of the true masters of modern progressive rock music.

Five stars; a true masterpiece of complex symphonic progressive rock. Again I ask: Why all the love for Anglagard when there is Kotebel?!!!

 Cosmology by KOTEBEL album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.08 | 64 ratings

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Cosmology
Kotebel Symphonic Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars 4.5 stars. My only experience with this Spanish band was their 2006 release called "Omphalos" which I rated 3.5 stars, but those operatic female vocals made me decide to not bother checking out future releases. Well this summer in particular there was so much positive feedback for "Cosmology" that I decided to check out some samples and I loved what I was hearing, and best of all no soprano female vocals. If I had bothered checking out the followup to "Omphalos" I would have seen that she was no longer with the band and no they didn't replace her with another opera singer thankfully.

So yes I'll be checking out the two albums I missed after really enjoying this one. "Cosmology" is such an amazing album and for me the surprising thing was how much flute is on here and I love the style of it bringing some Krautrock bands to mind. Lots of mellotron as well which was also surprising.

"Post I Gnem" has an incredible start with some power and flute before it settles down with flute just before a minute, lots of atmosphere as well which actually brought early PORCUPINE TREE to mind believe it or not. It's building with drums, piano and more then the guitar starts to solo before 2 minutes. A calm 3 minutes in as we get atmosphere, piano, flute and electronics before it turn powerful 5 minutes in. The guitar is back soloing over top then it's the piano's turn then flute. More guitar! So good and check them out before 7 minutes. A great start!

Next up is the "Cosmology Suite" which consists of five songs and well over 30 minutes of music. "Geocentrel Universe" has a really good intro with all that atmosphere before intricate guitar and piano take over. Drums follow as it builds. Flute to the fore 2 1/2 minutes in. This is impressive a minute later. It's just so cool to really listen to all these sounds. It calms down after 5 minutes but builds again quickly. Piano is prominent then flute before the guitar starts to lead the way.

"Mechanical Universe" opens with samples of mechanical sounds before the bass kicks in and it sounds awesome. Drums and piano join in but I'm really into the bass here. Spacey synths before a full sound arrives 1 1/2 minutes in with guitar. Mellotron before 3 minutes, love those choirs. There's a Spanish vibe(shocking I know) with the guitar that follows and there's percussion, bass and more. It's fuller again after 4 1/2 minutes before the intricate sounds return a minute later. Love those melancholic synths. Another killer tune.

"Entangled Universe" opens with solemn flute like SINKADUS before intricate guitar joins in then piano before it kicks into gear. Flute comes in over top and its fairly bouncy here before the soundscape turns powerful with guitar. The flute is back as it will trade off with the guitar. It turns surprisingly like PINK FLOYD briefly after 2 minutes. This is mellow as the flute returns with mellotron and a beat with bass. The guitar then returns as the tempo picks back up. Another calm 5 minutes in as the flute, a beat and mellotron lead the way before it kicks back in with guitar. How impressive is this after 8 minutes.

"Oneness" ends the suite and it begins with melancholic piano then a full sound arrives before 1 1/2 minutes with bass, drums and mellotron. It picks up a minute later as the flute arrives. A calm before 4 minutes but it starts to build again .Love those drums after 4 1/2 minutes but there's so much going on. Nice guitar before 6 minutes. It turns powerful before ending with a calm.

"Mishima's Dream" opens with the guitar soloing beautifully as the drums and organ come and go in outbursts. Soon its all one as the organ continues. A calm before 1 1/2 minutes with drums and guitar as the atmosphere helps out. It builds to a powerful sound including organ before winding down late. "A Bao A Qu" has a dark and mysterious sound to it to start with atmosphere and piano. Guitar expressions follow then bass and drums after 1 1/2 minutes. it's picking up speed. Piano will lead then guitar before a calm arrives before 4 minutes.

"Dante's Paradiso Canto XXVIII" opens with a haunting mood before piano and mellotron join in. Powerful guitar before 1 1/2 minutes followed by a calm with mellotron only then acoustic guitar. There's more depth to the sound after 3 1/2 minutes and it will become more powerful like earlier. Love the mellotron 5 minutes in. "Paradise Lost/ Paraiso Perdido" ends the album with mostly piano and atmosphere throughout.

Man this is such a great album I can't wait to check out the two albums I'm missing before it. This is one classy recording that pushes all the right buttons for me.

 Concerto For Piano And Electric Ensemble by KOTEBEL album cover Studio Album, 2012
4.08 | 230 ratings

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Concerto For Piano And Electric Ensemble
Kotebel Symphonic Prog

Review by Thai Divone

5 stars I don't really remember how I got to this album, but I can't really say that I ain't glad for this discovery. It is a magnificent album, spanning 61 minutes of almost pure perfection. It is made of 4 pieces. The first one is the concerto itself, while the next three are much shorter and not even nearly as good. I mean their great and all, but? not like the concerto.

The concerto itself opens with Adagio Maestoso, beginning with an amazing Hammond before the grand piano enters. A little bit darker and it could have been extracted from a Univers Zero album. 56 seconds and the guitar enters. It sounds ethereal, like a soundtrack for a very grim original Grimm fairy-tale. 1:30 and it picks a pace, growing rockier and a bit happier. It even grows warm. The piano in here is amazing, and then the electric guitar answers, before they're starting to "talk" with each other. The synths join as well. A short bass line leads to a new section, reminiscent a bit of the earlier ones, and yet completely new. 2:46 and we are getting a bit melancholic, like something real bad has just happened, but then we get over it and the band picks up the pace again. The grand piano in here does no less than wonders, especially while dialoging with the guitar. So many ideas are explored during those moments, playing with rhythms while doing so. The ending section of this first part is amazing, so emotional that it hurts. What a great opener!

Lento Cantabile opens with a sorrowful piano line. The bass that accompanies the piano is no less magnificent, and that says a lot during those early moments of the track. The synths join in, and a nice fingerstyle guitar is showing underneath. We're building towards something, and around the 2:20 marks we're presented with a great motive from the first part, explored a little bit differently. The electric guitar shows some sparks of genius from the 4 minutes mark onward, before the pianos- electric and grand- answer together. 5:36 and we're getting back to the opening section of this second part, almost finishing a full circle. Something has changed, something has been explored without us noticing it. We're drawing to a close.

Vivo Scherzando opens so differently. It opens quickly, with the entire band, already picking the pace, already utilizing the ability of the musicians to create and maintain suspense. The bass line is great, and the electric guitar that plays over it is wonderful. 1:55 and the grand piano takes the lead from the guitar, showcasing some other abilities, before clearing the stage a bit for some bridges. The electric keyboards, the grand piano and the electric guitar just build on each other amazingly. 2:54 takes us to a different station along our journey in this concerto. The next sections travel a bit between exploring motives from earlier parts to presenting some new ones, moving from place to place with such fluidity.

Allegro Moderato opens the way one expects Spanish classical music to begin, with some quirky transitions and wicked passages. The music in here is energetic, jumpy, and even joyful. 2:28 and we're back to the moments of sadness, with the grand piano taking the lead, and the other instruments answering the grand piano's call. 3:17 and it picks itself a rhythm and everything starts to seem brighter. The guitar solo is amazing, and the synth's answer is even more so. The grand piano takes third place, granting them a great base and a magnificent stage to talk, before everything goes a little bit Gentle-Giant-like. Around the 6th minute it changes again. Around the 9th minute we go rock-ish again. But something can be felt, though- we're beginning to wrap up, we're beginning to close the circle. 12:20 and the real wrapping begin- with the pace slowing down and long-emotional cries come out of the instruments. The concerto ends.

And then comes the next 3 pieces, and as much as I'd like to talk about them, to say how wonderful and great they are (and they truly are), for me they feel a little bit out of place, like adding the song Wish You Were Here to the end of Dark Side- the song is amazing, but it is just out of place, making the whole less good because of that. All I can say is that for me, I always give myself a break between the concerto and the next pieces, in order to fully enjoy them.

So, how should I rate this album? I don't really know, as the concerto itself is a five star piece for me, but the next pieces just detract from everything. So, I'll go for the 4/5, rounded up because of the amazing concerto, but with some doubts about it all.

 Concerto For Piano And Electric Ensemble by KOTEBEL album cover Studio Album, 2012
4.08 | 230 ratings

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Concerto For Piano And Electric Ensemble
Kotebel Symphonic Prog

Review by Progulator
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Kotobel's Concerto for Piano and Electric Ensemble is a fierce and elegant trip into progressive territory. While the piano is given the sufficient number of moments to justify this as a piano concerto, the prog band definitely does not just hang out in the back. The arrangements are at times pulverizingly heavy and aggressive (in the prog sense, not the 'metal sense) and at times mesmerizingly gorgeous. One thing that immediately caught my attention was the very in your face approach of the album in the way drums, bass, and dissonance are used to create an effect. Kotobel tends to lean a bit towards the dark side of prog, but includes a variety of influences, including both jazzy and avant-garde moments. This is a recording that doesn't leave you behind or allow you to daydream as you listen. Carlos Plaza Vega's composition does not only solicit your attention, it demands it.
 Fragments Of Light  by KOTEBEL album cover Studio Album, 2003
2.94 | 43 ratings

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Fragments Of Light
Kotebel Symphonic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Third album by the Spanish Classical-influenced combo comes by the name ''Fragments of light'' and, while this one does not feature any significant line-up changes (only cellist Franscisco Ochando is absent compared to the previous album), it does contain some slight upgrades in the composing department.For the first time guitarist Cesar Garcia Forero participated as an arranger of some of the presented pieces, while this one marks also Kotebel's junior attempt on including lyrics in the music, all of them are based on poems of Nathalye Engelke.The album was released in September 2003 on Musea.

Again Carlos Plaza and his teammates were able to produce highly symphonic music, which comes even closer to the Progressive Rock aesthetics due to the typical guitar/bass/drums/keyboards instrumentation plus Acosta's intense flute work.The electric textures are seriously upgraded and the very complex keyboard parts appear more frequently, while the band retains its sense of atmospheric, melodic soundscapes throughout this work.Again THE ENID might be the most proper comparison, but the bulk of electric guitars have a STEVE HACKETT-like vibe, the angular synth movements and the operatic female voices come in the vein of QUASAR LUX SYMPHONIAE plus the acoustic orientations and the passionate flute work recall RAIMUNDO RODULFO's efforts.The long arrangements are absolutely great, full of CAMEL-esque flute themes, Classical-drenched piano interludes, big symphonic keyboards and occasional guitar bursts, switching from elaborate textures to dramatic, instrumental music.The addition of lyrics, choirs and narration make this effort more compact and coherent, while the discreet folky underlines are still present.My only complaint comes from the long ''Children suite'', which sounds pretty academic, practically a piano solo piece performed by Carlos Plaza, which I doubt it has anything to offer to a Prog Rock fan, apart from some minutes of sensitive, piano-based echoes.

Nice work of pure Symphonic Rock.Well-crafted arrangements with both complicated and atmospheric flavors, a more balanced sound compared to the previous albums but also a rather needless addition at the very end of the album.Recommended.

 Mysticae Visiones by KOTEBEL album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.01 | 50 ratings

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Mysticae Visiones
Kotebel Symphonic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars At this early point of Kotebel's career Carlos Plaza always shook a bit the line-up of his project.For the second recording of Kotebel Plaza was helped, besides Acosta and Garcia, by Carolina Prieto on choirs and cellist Franscisco Ochando.The group had already signed a contract with the French label Musea and in 2002 ''Mysticae Visiones'' saw the light.

The compositions of Plaza become even more ambitious and daring with this work.It consists of only two tracks, the eponymous one clocking at almost 36 minutes (!), divided in twelve movements.Stylistically though not much has changed.This epic suite by Kotebel evokes the sound of THE ENID at their most Classical-inspired parts with sporadic use of guitars and flute but an extreme one of various keyboards and piano.This long structure contains tons of piano interludes, synth-driven solos and symphonic keyboards, creating both grandiose and more atmospheric soundscapes.But it is a fact that the best of it comes out when Plaza and his collaborators are in full mode, producing melodic yet demanding Symphonic Rock, while when the flutes are also in use there is even a light Canterbury flavor dominating the listening.There are also some cosmic operatic vocals by Prieto and nice cello passages here and there, while there are also moments where Kotebel's music has a slightly jazzy approach.Some long and nervous synth-drenched parts with a questionable sound are my only complaint about this composition.The second track ''The river'', about 15 minutes long, is actually more of the same, though somesort of ethnic influences are more than apparent at the opening moments.This is actually a more balanced effort by Plaza, who combines Classical, Progressive and Ethnic Music inspirations in the same track with comfort.''The River'' has a Progressive Rock feel all the way through with little references to pure Classical Music, as guitars, bass and flutes are used more often, its atmosphere is quite grandiose as expected, but the lack of some striking melodies prooves to be a rather negative factor.

No question, Plaza and Kotebel seem at this point to be the next big thing regarding the Symphonic Rock genre.Rich, atmospheric and well-composed instrumental symphonic textures are again the basic rules for ''Mysticae Visiones''.A must-have for fans of THE ENID, a good introduction to Kotebel's music for the rest.

 Concerto For Piano And Electric Ensemble by KOTEBEL album cover Studio Album, 2012
4.08 | 230 ratings

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Concerto For Piano And Electric Ensemble
Kotebel Symphonic Prog

Review by waghler

5 stars The first thing I have to say about Kotebel´s last release is that is my favourite album from 2012. The concerto, regarding composition, is as complex as the finest classical music pieces and is by far superior to 99% of the prog we can find these days (i'm trying to be objective and I state that not because I love these guys, but because every item in the Concerto is interrelated and is very progressive in itself, growing and developing each musical idea). I really don't understand why we can't see that in the prog world more often, it would be great to see how ideas are unified in groups that proudly release "conceptual albums", being the lyrics the only dragline. I really think this album is a labour of love and , in fact, I think it must be a present from Carlos Plaza to his daugther, because is so full of details, complexity and "keyboardness" that is the only thing it crosses my mind. I have to acknowledge that the rest of the album is not as complex, detailed and awesome as the Concerto, but it is done on purpose, because Carlos Plaza wanted to slow down the emotions at the end of the CD. I recommend this album strongly, I discovered them in "The European Pesperctive" radio programme and it got stuck in my mind since then. One of my favs from all time, at the same level of the classics!!!!
 Concerto For Piano And Electric Ensemble by KOTEBEL album cover Studio Album, 2012
4.08 | 230 ratings

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Concerto For Piano And Electric Ensemble
Kotebel Symphonic Prog

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

4 stars 'Concerto for Piano and Electric Ensemble' - Kotebel (7/10)

Classical music has been an integral part of progressive rock since its inception, not to mention one of its greatest influences. For a band like Spanish veterans Kotebel, a "Concerto for Piano and Electric Ensemble" is not such a far stretch, despite the surprise and shock this artistic shift seems to have instilled in their fans. Although Kotebel are best known for the virtuosic skill of their flutist and Carolina Prieto's vibrant vocal skill, "Concerto" has neither, instead opting to reinvent the band's sound anew. The result is surely impressive, although some aspects most loved about Kotebel seem to have been lost in the transformation.

Although I've certainly never known enough about this band to write a doctoral thesis regarding their contributions to the progressive rock sphere, I have known enough to respect what they have done, and also to know that "Concerto" is a bigger departure than I would have expected from this approach. As far as the 'classical music' angle is concerned, Kotebel do not tread into the sort of full-blown orchestration that one might expect from a symphony, nor do they actually use many classically-oriented instruments. Instead, as the title suggests, things are built around the piano, an instrument that Kotebel have never used so profusely before. Although the handful of songs that follow the main course pursue more eclectic ends, the forty-odd minute epic is a keyboard tour-de-force, with other instruments performing a supportive role. Adriana Engelke is the most important part of this concerto, and while the electric guitar occasionally gets a chance to pull off a solo, a listener had better get used to having the piano in charge. From a compositional viewpoint, Kotebel skirts the border between classical bombast and jazz chords, with the occasional jump into avant-garde dissonance. There are constant shifts in tempo and mood, and the music is performed brilliantly to boot. Engelke is a gifted pianist, and though the production does not capture the full resonance I would hope for in a grand piano, there are no major complaints regarding how this ambitious effort has been executed in the studio.

Kotebel have certainly accomplished something quite complex and in-depth, although I cannot help but feel something meaningful is missing from their melting pot. Specifically, it is the sense of melody that has suffered the band's ambition. Of course, Kotebel have always been about this more composition-oriented prog rock, but "Concerto" runs the risk of becoming monotonous, despite its brilliant writing and arrangement. The interplay between instruments and work with harmonies is excellent, but there is not a moment- not even on the song-based second half- that instantly stands out as being memorable. "Concerto for Piano and Electric Ensemble" does bear fruit to a listener with enough patience to see it through, but it would have been nice to hear some recurring themes, or hooks involved in it, not so much that they lose the class and sophistication of such an ambitious project, but enough to keep the music engaging without begging a listener to sit intently and focus on every note.

"Concerto" won't appeal to all listeners despite its ambition and complexity, but patient listeners will reap the rewards that come with several listens.

 Concerto For Piano And Electric Ensemble by KOTEBEL album cover Studio Album, 2012
4.08 | 230 ratings

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Concerto For Piano And Electric Ensemble
Kotebel Symphonic Prog

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Jazz-Rock / Fusion / Canterbury Team

5 stars I fell in love with Kotebel with 2006's Omphalos (one of my Top Ten favorite albums of the Naughties). At that time the band had, IMHO, the finest female vocalist in modern prog music (Carolina Prieto) and arguably the greatest flutest ever in prog history (Omar Acosta). By 2009, with the recording and release of Ouroboros they both had left the band (or, perhaps, they were not asked back). Thus my expectations for Ouroboros were quite low and were, accordingly, duly rewarded. (The music just couldn't draw me in.) Now for 2012's Concerto for Piano and Electric Ensemble I was willing to give them another chance; I figured that six years is long enough for such creative and virtuosic artists to compose something fresh and mature. And how right I was! This is an amazing album of melodic jazz-rock constructed within classical symphonic structures. The pianist, Adriana, daughter of band founder Carlos Plaza Vega, while no Hiromi, stands quite strongly with the rest of the band and within the setting of the four-movement 43-minute Concerto does quite well both leading the ensemble as well as supporting it in an orchestral way. In song after song drums, bass, electronic keyboards, and a great variety of guitars (pleasantly, a lot of wonderful acoustic guitar playing) together weave the fabric of wonderful music. At times I find myself reminded of ELP, King Crimson, Return to Forever, Weather Report, SBB, Nil, and After Crying.

While I absolutely love the "Concerto," the "Hippogriff" series takes one on a very nice journey. Part 1 takes off at top speed--to the point of reckless abandon in which the players often feel as thought they are just on the edge of losing control, losing their coherence. Then "The Dance of Shiva" and "Part 2" carry one into more tranquil, visual sonic soundscapes using lots of synths and space to tell their story.

The finale, "The Infant," establishes itself kind of slowly with a piano sound/melody/feel similar to early TOTO. The rhythm section eventually informs the listener that this is no TOTO (fine group that they were) but a much more classically-oriented band. But, wait! The jazzy sax seems to draw us back into a more cinematic place. Crossing genres so seemlessly, effortlessly is what makes this album, IMO, a sure fire masterpiece of progressive rock music. Well done Kotebel! This will be a tough album to beat for 2012 Album of the Year!

P.S. Just curious: Does anyone know where Carolina Prieto and Omar Acosta are now?

 Concerto For Piano And Electric Ensemble by KOTEBEL album cover Studio Album, 2012
4.08 | 230 ratings

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Concerto For Piano And Electric Ensemble
Kotebel Symphonic Prog

Review by J-Man
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Though its title may indicate that we're dealing with a cross between classical music and Kotebel's usual style of instrumental progressive rock, Concerto For Piano and Electric Ensemble is much more than what you may initially expect. Rather than tacking classically influenced piano sections onto their already solid sound, Kotebel manages to masterfully integrate this new dimension into their approach in a coherent and delightful manner. Concerto For Piano and Electric Ensemble sounds very much like a Kotebel album in almost every way - those who enjoyed the zany avant-garde madness and lush symphonic soundscapes on albums like 2009's Ouroboros should not expect anything radically different this time around. Rather, Kotebel expanded even further upon their already eclectic sound, resulting in an excellent example of a band that manages to successfully evolve while still staying true to their core sound.

Kotebel is a Spanish progressive rock band, and although they've only been brought to my attention recently, I've taken quite a liking to their unique approach to modern prog. Concerto For Piano and Electric Ensemble is a fully instrumental album that, for the most part, stays true to the progressive rock pioneers of the seventies' - with that said, however, Kotebel blends the ideas of so many old school prog bands into one coherent mix that they sound totally unique. Acts like Emerson, Lake, & Palmer, Frank Zappa, Renaissance, Le Orme, Gentle Giant, and King Crimson are referenced quite a bit throughout the course of this lengthy observation, but Kotebel never sounds particularly like any other single band. They are their own beast, and on Concerto For Piano and Electric Ensemble this is more true than ever before. Adding in numerous classical piano bits over their intriguing mix of symphonic prog, avant-garde, and jazz fusion makes for one hell of a listen in my opinion!

This is simply a stunning tour-de-force of impeccable musicianship, clever arrangements, and well-composed instrumental progressive rock, and I'd highly recommend that all fans of eclectic prog check out Concerto For Piano and Electric Ensemble. Although it will probably take a few listens to sink in due to the decidedly inaccessible nature of these lengthy and complex compositions, the gorgeous melodies and stunning displays of high-quality musicianship make this album well-worth the price of admission. If you haven't listened to Kotebel yet, Concerto For Piano and Electric Ensemble is not a bad place to start!

Thanks to Ivan_Melgar_M for the artist addition.

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