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Eclectic Prog • Mexico

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Arbatel biography
ARBATEL is one of the potentially significant and important prog rock groups from Mexico, since, with a straight passion for this kind of music, they've imposed themselves through numerous performances, two major releases, and a bit of influential activity as well. All the past and current musicians of this ensemble have in fact placed their hometown, Zacatecas, on the prog rock map of the world, being allegedly the first fully-fledged prog band of that city. Afterwards, ARBATEL has evolved, slowly and patiently, ending up to be well-appreciated by all Mexican proggers, and not only.

The history of this band, at the beginning and during its first major phase, could be considered typical. Young musicians Eduardo "Chino" Morones and Samuel (?) discovered their soft spot for "unconventional", progressive rock, and decided to start a musical project. Samuel invited a promising drummer called Aldo Corvera, while Chino brought his brother, synthesizer-passionate Mario Morones. The group took the name Retrospectiva and warmed up by doing mainly classic prog covers, in local clubs, approaching pieces by Camel, King Crimson, Yes, Genesis, but also by Balleto di Bronzo and Le Orme, which was more than a hint of their major preference for Italian Symphonic Prog. It is in 1995 that the quartet started playing original music, and doubled the number of concerts. A singer called Sheila completed the ensemble a year later. A participation in the hometown Cultural Festival was just the first big gig of many others to come, weighting significantly.

The group experienced one of its most significant changes and setbacks when Shiela and Samuel left, desiring to focus on other projects. The remaining trio changed the name of the band to Arbatel, based on Cornelius Agripa's book, introducing therefore a bit of "magic" into their musical ideas. They immediately travelled through a rejuvenating period, with fresh compositions and much more ambitious projects, such as appearing in the Aguascalientes Progressive Rock Festival , or organizing the "Zaca Prog" Festival, where international bands, all topped by PFM, will eventually appear. In 2003, Arbatel suffered one more big change, as Chino left the Republic, and Omar Morones (bassist) and Raul Morones (guitar) built back a quartet. With this stabile lineup, they finally recorded their debut in 2004, Gamadion, released independently at first, but reissued by Mylodon Records one year later. In 2006, Rosario ...
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ARBATEL discography

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

3.09 | 12 ratings
3.18 | 8 ratings

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

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 Sumerios by ARBATEL album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.18 | 8 ratings

Arbatel Eclectic Prog

Review by TenYearsAfter


Back to 1994 for the roots of this Mexican formation, when 4 friends wants to make progressive rock. They found the band Retrospectivo and play covers from King Crimson, Pink Foyd, Yes and Le Orme. After several changes in the line- up the name is changed into Arbatel (based on a book by the alchemist Agripa) and the members decide to compose their own material. On festivals Arbatel plays along progrock bands Omni from Spain and Latin American Akineton Retard, Entrance, Matraz en het Jaime Rosas Trio. In 2004 the band releases their debut CD entitled Gamadion and Arbatel continues to perform on festivals: in 2006 with known names like Nektar, Marillion, Lazuli and Arte E mestieri and one year later with Classic Italian Prog legend Il Balletto Di Bronzo.

In 2008 Arbatel release their second CD entitled Sumerios, on the Chilean progrock label Mylodon, the band have extended to a six piece formation, including a male and female singer. Well, Rosario Maza Hernández her opera-like soprano vocal contributions will not be everybody's cup of tea but it's a daring experiment by Arbatel. In general the songs sound fluent and swinging, fuelled by a Seventies sound with the strong interplay between the keyboards (often Hammond but also synthesizer and piano), flowing guitar work (Hackett-like solo in Creación Del Obrero Primitivo) and a dynamic rhythm-section. Very special is the opener Alabanza featuring an ethnic climate with spoken words and tabla percussion.

Mexican Arbatel succeeded to make a nice blend between Classic prog and own ideas on this second effort.

My rating: 3,5 star.

 Gamadion by ARBATEL album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.09 | 12 ratings

Arbatel Eclectic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars In Zacatecas, Mexico around mid-90's was formed a new group called Retrospectiva by Eduardo "Chino" Morones, his brother and keyboardist Mario Morones, drummer Aldo Corvera and a musician named Samuel.A year later a singer under the name Sheila completed the original line-up, but soon both Sheila and Samuel quit and the reamaining trio changes its name to Arbatel.Many years and concerts later ''Chino'' also left the group and was replaced by Omar Morones on bass and Raul Morones on guitars.This Arbatel quartet recorded and released the group's debut ''Gamadion'' in 2004, reissued a year later on Mylodon and featuring a couple of guest singers and Jose Benitez on violin and viola.

This is complex Symphonic Rock with a high level of technique but most impressive is the fact that Arbatel sounded extremely close to dark Italian Prog bands.Hints of IL BALLETTO DI BRONZO, MUSEO ROSENBACH and ALPHATAURUS are all over the place.Even more surprising, singers Cristina Peralta and Paolo Bruno even sing in Italian for a moment!Musically the first half of the album is dominant, powerful, extremely rich and all instrumental Italian-flavored Symphonic Rock with a Heavy Prog overdose, proposed mainly in long and multi-parted arrangements.The style of the band is based on energetic Hammond organ, sharp moog synths and even mournful church organs, supported by attacking and powerful guitar moves and a solid rhythm section.A small dose of melodies also appears among the endless but really adventurous interplays.The second part, although musically does not feature any really strong changes, contains also some vocals split in Spanish and Italian.However the sound is a bit more flexible, like on the Prog/Fusion ''Tu che sei'', which has some very nice violin drives in the vein of PREMIATA FORNERIA MARCONI of the ''Chocolate kings'' era or the long closer ''Xolotl'' (which appears at the start of the album but this is its vocal version), which contains an interesting middle part with a jazzy aura.Highlights of the album are definitely the vintage organ moves, the professional instrumental passages and the haunting, orchestral intros and outros on several tracks.

This is as close to Classic Italian Prog as it gets.And it is played with talent and passion.Recommended for all lovers of rich Progressive Rock, sinister Italian Prog and complex Symphonic Rock...3.5 stars.

 Gamadion by ARBATEL album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.09 | 12 ratings

Arbatel Eclectic Prog

Review by Finnforest
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars RPI influenced progressive rock from Mexico

Sometimes when people are trying to convince me that Italian Prog is not a legitimate subgenre, one of the bits of nonsense they use is that RPI never influenced bands outside of Italy. First, I wouldn't necessarily agree with the premise that influencing others is a requirement for a rock sound grouping, but if it is, Arbatel is one example of a Mexican band clearly influenced by Italian progressive rock. Latin America seems to be a part of the world who have embraced RPI with great enthusiasm, and in Arbatel you can hear the influence pretty easily. Back in their early days they cut their teeth with covers of Orme and Balletto di Bronzo. Their debut "Gamadion" was initially released by the band and picked up later by Mylodon Records, currently it is distributed by Black Widow Records.

"Gamadion" is a turbulent and passionate progressive rock, nothing dry about it. The best non-musical image I can think of to describe it would be that of a thunder cloud, though the music itself is not dark in a negative emotional way. It is a mix of unsettled and uplifting passage built from bold keyboard presentation and fairly crunchy, distorted electric guitars. The lead playing is beautiful, soaring and fluid, quite expressive. Composition features good dynamics and variables. "Xólotl" is a standout track which opens with church bells and a gothic pipe organ to a militaristic snare drum, the organ soon doubled to the lead guitar and later some lovely piano enters. The title tracks is very dramatic, it utilizes a Hitler speech as the set-up for a musical look at the horrors of war. Bullets and bombs sound effects fill bombastic, intense riffing and feedback sections, brilliantly placing the listener into the hell and confusion of violence, simply one of the best musical interpretations you'll hear of such a horrid subject. "Tu che sei" is another favorite because it so reminds me of Italian prog, featuring traditional prog-folk melody with dreamy vocals, violin, and piano. At the end is a bonus version of Xólotl with lovely female vocals. I realized while listening that parts of the melody resemble the verse melody of Neil Young's "Like a Hurricane" and certainly Arbatel are delivering that level of excitement with this music.

This is a very good debut album showing amazing potential and featuring some real highpoints. While it falls just a hair short of the 4-star mark for me, I do recommend this album to any prog fan. It is a must-listen for fans of RPI who wish to hear the influences of Italian prog rock moving overseas and what it sounds like, in this case, in Mexico. The influence is there in sound and arrangements, but also I believe in mood, in spirit. A very enjoyable debut, I can't wait to hear more from this band in the future. 3 ½ stars.

 Gamadion by ARBATEL album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.09 | 12 ratings

Arbatel Eclectic Prog

Review by memowakeman
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Very nice debut from this Mexican band!

First of all I want to thank my friend Anael for letting me know about this Mexican band who he personally knows, since he designed the cover art for this album.

So Arbatel is a band from the province of Zacatecas, who began playing since the 90s, playing prog rock covers from bands such as Pink Floyd or King Crimson. During the years their musical skills were better so they started composing their own material, fortunately it was in the 2004 year, when they could release their debut album entitled "Gamadión", which I am reviewing right away.

Gamadión features 8 tracks and a total time of almost one hour, it kicks off with "Catarsis", which begins with a bombastic sound and then it slows down a bit, the use of the keyboards is very prominent making a symphonic sound and in moments reminding me to some older bands, such as Japanese trio Ars Nova, very nice instrumental music.

The second track has the name of "Necrópolis", and here what predominates is the electric guitar sound, making the song a bit catchy and melodic, the bombastic thing does not appear here, drums are pretty good and some synth sound as a background fills the cup. After a couple of minutes the song makes a short stop, just in order to give a new direction to the song one minute later, with some keyboard sound ala Goblin, and nice guitar interplay.

"Némesis" returns to the symphonic and bombastic sound clearly led by keyboards, with a very nice structure, several keyboard waves, some guitar riffs and nice drums.

"Xólotl" is something completely different and you will notice it since the very beginning, since they evoke some traditional folk Mexican sounds, after some seconds the sound of church bells begin, along with some funeral drums, this same line is followed through some 4 minutes while some guitar sound appears, and then those drums begin to fade out, later a short break and the bombastic thing appears, but it changes again and slows down again, in some moments it reminds me to A Saucerful of Secrets, due to the organ sound. The song is progressing and building up a great structure.

"La Fuga" is the shortest track, and as you can imagine by the name, it is a keyboard oriented track indeed, nice piece.

The next is the title track "Gamadión", the first moments takes you to the past, since you will listen to some kind of General orders, reminding me to the Nazi and wars. After a couple of minutes the song really begins with a fast and adventurous sound, again led by keyboards and again reminding me to Ars Nova, in some moments. Some minutes later while the music is playing, we will hear some war noises, such as guns, bombs or screams, so in moments the song provokes an scary and hypnotizing feeling, a great song.

"Tu Che Sei", as you can see the Italian culture was also part of Arbatel's inspiration, this is the first track that features vocals, which with due respect, are not really good, on the other hand, the music may be not that complex, but it does sound like some classical Italian prog music, excellent melodic song.

To finish the album we have another version of "Xolotl" but this time with vocals, and actually it sounds really good, the vocals are provided by a female singer, with a very nice voice reaching some high notes.

So I am happy with this debut album, I would love to see Arbatel on stage one day, and I trust the band will follow the same good path in the future, I am sure they can improve some things.

My final grade is 3 stars.

Enjoy it!

Thanks to Ricochet for the artist addition.

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