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AGNUS

Symphonic Prog • Argentina


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Agnus biography
It was the year 1973 a group of kids from Santa Fé, a province located 475 kilometers from Buenos Aires in the low mountains decided to form a Progressive Rock band inspired mostly in the Italian Symphonic bands like PFM and Banco del Mutuo Soccorso.

They were leaded by excellent guitar player Luis Saéz who had already been member of a straight Rock band called Dapalu. Soon they started to gain fame with their own effort and almost with no sponsors, it's said that they promoted their concerts using only the telephone, so one fan called another one until they had sold the tickets.

But this system worked for them because this fan base was so loyal that they followed AGNUS wherever they played, mostly in Buenos Aires, the center of the cultural and artistic scenario.

They tried to release a cassette in the mid 70's with their own label "Marvus" and even when they didn't succeeded, the experience gained was valuable for their career. After almost seven years and with only one original member (Luis Sáez) AGNUS was able to release their first and only LP called "Pinturas y Expresiones".

Despite they were not as famous as "LA MAQUINA DE HACER PÁJAROS" or "MIA", the album deserved more success, the delicate Italian Symphonic style works perfectly with Sáez atmospheric guitar clearly influenced by the sound of Pink Floyd, but that's not all, the additional flutes (Cacilia Glaria and Laura Fazzio) plus the violin played with great skills by Enrique Shussler, gave a touch of Folk reminiscent of Jethro Tull.

The keyboard, correctly played by also by Laura Fazzio is not the lead instrument but contributes to add that unique and dreamy atmosphere characteristic of the Italian and early Argentinean bands.

It's also important to mention that the vocal work mixing male and female voices is simply delightful.

After the release of "Pinturas y Expresiones", AGNUS made some tours and disbanded, but Luis Sáez formed a couple of short living bands "AGNUS VERDE" y "EL BANDO" but in 1984 he forms "LA NARANJA" a Latin music project with which he is still involved.

Iván Melgar Morey - Perú

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3.46 | 25 ratings
Pinturas y Expresiones
1980

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AGNUS Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Pinturas y Expresiones  by AGNUS album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.46 | 25 ratings

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Pinturas y Expresiones
Agnus Symphonic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars Agnus functioned mostly as an organization than a regular band.This Argentinian act was formed in 1973 in Santa Fe and worked outside the common practices, refusing to be adapted by any label and building a strong fan base, which was characterized by invitations in lives and updates to fans via mail or phone.The original line-up consisted of Danilo Baroni on drums, Pacu Bailon on guitars/vocals, Alberto Mantaras on bass/vocals and Luis Saez on guitars/vocals, but the core changed constantly over the years, resulting to an impressive line-up of 10 musicians and singers by the end of the decade, with only Saez remaining from the original crew and an armour of guitars, bass, flutes, keyboards and violin.Their only album ''Pinturas y expresiones'' was recorded in summer 1980 at Estudios Recordex in Buenos Aires and was released indenpendently the same year.

Musically they played a romantic Symphonic Rock with strong folky underlines due to the solid and consistent use of flutes and the presence of some mellow guitar textures.The album is dominated by three long suites with the original version of the title-track consisting of five movements but presented here with only three of them in a 15-min. long version.As with many Argentinian bands close to the aforementioned style, they sounded a bit like the Symphonic/Folk Rock groups of the Italian movement (PREMIATA FORNERIA MARCONI and the likes) with links to compatriots M.I.A. during the more Classical-drenched parts, when the keyboards come in evidence, and some references to looser acts like FOCUS, which did have a jazzy orientation.What sets the group apart from the mass of Symphonic Rock bands are some slightly improvised guitar solos, appearing every now and then between the symphonic sections, and the solid singing parts, led by series of beautiful female choirs.There are lots of great interplays between electric guitars and flutes, the keyboards are only sporadically used, adding some nice depth to the compositions and the atmosphere alternates between technical plays and softer soundscapes with a rural edge.Old-fashioned sound in general, that has nothing to do with the 80's, and reminding above all fellow neighbours BACAMARTE.The last and shorter piece ''Nace el dia'' shows the band moving away from its electric style and flirting with a deeper Prog Folk style, characterized by the crying violin and the sweet flute themes.

Several live shows followed the release of the album, in one of them Agnus co-existed on stage with M.I.A., and some even included theatrical plays, actos and dancers, but as expected the sound of the band was far from the trend of the time and it appears that they demised not long after their brief success.

Solid Symphonic Rock with jazzy and folky ovetones.Nice flute work combined with charming electric guitars, not particularly exciting, but the long, instrumental parts are certainly rewarding.Recommended.

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 Pinturas y Expresiones  by AGNUS album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.46 | 25 ratings

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Pinturas y Expresiones
Agnus Symphonic Prog

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Agnus is a fairly unknown band coming from Argentina formed in 1972 and only in 1980 they manage to come with a release and turned to be their swansong aswell. Pinturas y expresiones is a quite typical album for me when I think about symphonic prog melted with folk influences or vice versa. Some beatiful flute with pastoral atmosphere and female vocals here and combined with instrumental sections make from this obscure album a decent listning, but far from excellent moments. 4 pieces, wich 3 are long, showing a certain italian influence in their music, some Gotic or even MIA in places aswell. Overall ok , nothing special but enjoyble. 3 stars.

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 Pinturas y Expresiones  by AGNUS album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.46 | 25 ratings

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Pinturas y Expresiones
Agnus Symphonic Prog

Review by toroddfuglesteg

2 stars A disconcerted effort in three parts.

Symphonic Prog, Psychedelic/Space Rock and Folk Rock. That's the three genres this album is spanning. Albeit symphonic prog only in the opening minutes. The rest is pretty much folk rock with some psychedelic rock also thrown in.

The opening song XXI Century is a rather great song in the RPI mould. Plenty of Le Orme here. The female vocals is the only diverging element. The album nosedives into pretty dire folk rock after this song. Agnus lives on the planet Mars, it seems. The rest of the album is perhaps best described as folk rock from planet Mars. It is spacy, dull and very hippie. It is pretty 1968, in other words.

The quality is pretty dire. I find it a waste of time, with the exception of the opening track.

2 stars

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 Pinturas y Expresiones  by AGNUS album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.46 | 25 ratings

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Pinturas y Expresiones
Agnus Symphonic Prog

Review by Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Agnus was a large Argentinian association that emerged from an art-rock band founded by guitarists Luis Sáez in 1974. By the time their only album "Pinturas y Expresiones" was recorded and released, the band comprised no less than 10 members, among them, two guitarists, one flautist and four female vocalists. With their meticulous instrumentation and the occasional addition of violin by a guest, it is clear that the band was ostensibly interested in working on the potential tapestries of symphonic prig rock. All in all, it is fair to note that the band's intentions are not translated into pompous, overcharged sonorities; Agnus manages to develop a well- balanced constrain throughout the musical ideas' developments, and that's certainly a crucial merit of their statement. The keyboard input is never invasive, mostly displaying layers and harmonies in order to provide a basis for the tracks' overall atmospheres. the band's sound is more stylish than pompous, with lots of room for pastoral moods and only some spaces for a few (not too) dramatic passages. Points of reference to describe their line of work can be: Apoteosi, Celeste, "Storia di un Minuto"-era PFM, "Mágicos Juegos del Tiempo"-era M.I.A., and for most of the sections dominated by the dual electrics guitars, Almendra amd Invisible. I will review the repertoire as the LP's original tracklist, not the one that has been arranged for this CD edition (which, by the way, does not kill the music's general spirit). The namesake track was originally a much longer suite than the one that ended recorded here. It gets started with an articulated jam, in which the guitars display ethereal leads and harmonies. It won't be too long before the flute gets in and enriches the sonic landscape. At times, the rockier sections sum up to an unimstakable intensity, ultimately creating intersting alternations with acoustic passages during the suite's last section. 'Historia de un rey' is the album's shortest track, featuring the guest violin in delicate dialogues with the flute: the song's playful mood is patently inspired by a mixture of Celtic and Renaissance stuff. 'Siglo XXI' is arguably the most accomplished composition in the album. It starts with a cosmic ambience (somewhat reminiscent of Pink Floyd's 'Echoes'), hence exploring the band's most mysterious facet. The flute and chanting join in along the refined nooks and delicate crannies that go appearing along the way. This marriage of symphonic and pastoral makes the best of Agnus, indeed. Unlike the title track, 'Siglo XXI' doesn't let a motif stay around too long, so the sense of colorfulness feels tighter in comparison. I personally wish that the closing climax had been a bit longer, but all in all, everything seems to be perfect in this epic song. The third and last epic song, 'Nace el Día', closes down the album in a similar note to that bore by 'Siglo XXI', albeit with a major presence of the rocking side - meaning, more room for a few guitar solos. IMHO, its inner structure doesn't comprise a robust feel as in tracks 1 and 3, which makes the drum solo appear a bit forced. But, on the other hand, this song has the merit of letting Agnus exhibit their most extroverted side, always keeping things constrained so the repertoire can keep its cohesion. Also, the lyrics powerfully deliver a tale of prosecution and punishment, the best lyrics in the album. I am not the first one praising this album in the Internet, and definitely it deserves its good fame. While not being as deliciously extravagant as Bubu, nor as elegantly colorful as M.I.A., nor as powerfully energetic as Crucis (just to name a few of their most celebrated compatriots), "Pinturas y Expresiones" would make a rally very good addition to any prog collection. 3.5 stars for Agnus' one-shoot album.

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 Pinturas y Expresiones  by AGNUS album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.46 | 25 ratings

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Pinturas y Expresiones
Agnus Symphonic Prog

Review by avestin
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Another lost treasure from Argentina. Agnus released this album, its only one and it's a shame there wasn't any more. The album contains 4 beautiful tracks, which bear the influence of Mia and Italian bands such as PFM. The flute has a major role here, giving this a slightly ethereal sound, which is reinforced by the heavenly sound of the female vocals. The beautiful thing here is the multiple female vocals sung together and the male vocals in opposition to them.

In the first track XXI Century the flute plays a certain tune that is then played around by the band and developed more. It is sometimes reminiscent of Camel and Gotic. As someone said, it ends a bit abruptly, and it's a shame. However, this song contains some beautiful female vocal performance and also an enchanting flute playing. The second track is a bit rockier in nature, again with the flute setting up the scene for the rest to come and complete the picture. The guitars and the banjo here have an important role as well and they give the track a nice spacey, old and native sound as well as add the necessary rock element in this song and in the others as well. Born the day starts with some more angelic female voices. It continues as a light classic rock tune with a guitar playing a bit alone. Then the music fades away while the singer continues and the flute comes in and plays along with the singing, all accompanied by the drums that come back as well. Then start a nice vocal part of the male singer with some finally noticeable bass part and the same guitar from earlier giving its rock sound. The song goes on with some more interesting developments and suffice it to say that it does not linger on the same musical idea for too long and remains interesting to listen to for the whole of its 11:50 minutes (there is even a drum solo). A beautiful and quite original song for sure. The last song King's History is very different from the rest of the album. It is a folk song (not Latin folk, but rather English folk), with beautiful female and male vocals and a violin that gives the song its flavour. The flute is present here of course as is the banjo. The song changes from jumpy happy tempo to a slow, melancholic mood. The faster rhythm of this song makes you move involuntarily.

Even though the songs are quite long (all first three are longer than 10 minutes), they are composed such that they flow seamlessly and without being boring at all. The only downside is the fact that I feel as if the songs are not developed enough. They could have both developed their musical ideas more and come up with others. But regardless of this, the music is beautiful and very satisfying. This may not be the most original music heard, but it sure is an excellent album, very well performed and it contains some beautiful melodies and vocal parts.

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 Pinturas y Expresiones  by AGNUS album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.46 | 25 ratings

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Pinturas y Expresiones
Agnus Symphonic Prog

Review by hdfisch
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Excellent album in Italian Symphonic Progressive style!

One and only album by Argentine progressive rock band AGNUS is a rarely known little gem within the rich South American prog scene. They used to have a close relationship to great and more famous band MIA and although their compositions might be a bit less intricate than MIA's ones I think they were really not inferior to them. As my fellow reviewer Marcelo stated already, their music was heavily influenced by 70's Italian Prog and maybe as well a bit by CAMEL. The album consists of four long compositions performed very well on guitar, keyboard and flute with occasional very beautiful vocals (male and female) quite often in a pastoral vein.

XXI Century is built around a very nice flute motif with awesome guitar and flute interplay and many shifts between themes. The pastoral sounding female choir is fitting perfectly to the music and delivers a touch of Renaissance era. Flute is obviously the dominating instrument on this record together with guitar as the title track Paintings And Expressions is demonstrating. As already the opener this one is as well a terrific one. The only slight criticism that might be put on this album actually is that the rhythmic work is not very versatile but the otherwise high skill shown by guitarists Archie Basílico and Luis Sáez and flautists Cecilia Glariá and Laura Fazzio let this minor flaw be forgotten immediately. I'd like to mention as well that the vocals provided by eight members all together are very pleasant and beautiful. Born The Day has some more heavy sections but contrasted very well by pastoral choirs in between. Again an awesome guitar playing here (sorry that I've to repeat myself, I can't say it often enough) and for the first time the drummer moves more into the focus with quite a good solo. The album closes with King's History which is a nice up-beat folksy tune played on flute, violin and acoustic guitar with beautiful vocal harmonies.

CONCLUSION

AGNUS' Pinturas y Expresiones is by no way a very original or innovative album and might be not an essential one seen from a general view. But nevertheless it's an excellent one and I'd like to recommend it to any lover of 70's symphonic rock in the Italian style. So like my two fellow reviewers I'm rating it as well with 4 stars!

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 Pinturas y Expresiones  by AGNUS album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.46 | 25 ratings

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Pinturas y Expresiones
Agnus Symphonic Prog

Review by geezer

4 stars An interesting album by this one-shoot Argentinean group. The music of Agnus is in the South American tradition but at times they sound remarkably like some of the symphonic 70's Italian groups like Premiata Forneria Marconi. This is by no means a bad thing. It makes this album a beautiful blend of two different music cultures. There's no doubt that Agnus was a first class act in the South American scene. The musicianship is of highest guality. This album has great fast guitar playing in the style of Bacamarte, searing flutes and wonderful vocals. The keyboards are not in the role of a solo instrument but more of a background instrument. The guitar and the flute are the lead instruments. "Pinturas Y Expresiones" is mostly an instrumental album but when the vocals appear, both male and female, they are very good.

There are only 4 tracks in this album of which three clock past ten minutes. My favourite track is the opener "XXI Century" but the rest of the tracks are not far behind in quality.

Conclusion: One of the best from Argentina. It's not a masterpiece but an easy recommend from the South American scene.

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 Pinturas y Expresiones  by AGNUS album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.46 | 25 ratings

BUY
Pinturas y Expresiones
Agnus Symphonic Prog

Review by Marcelo
Prog Reviewer

4 stars If we talk about Argentine '70s progressive rock, bands like CRUCIS, MIA or ESPIRITU come to mind. There aren't lots of people knowing AGNUS, an independent group that - after several years in music scene- recorded its only album, "Pinturas y Expresiones", in 1980.

AGNUS sound is evidently influenced by Italian progressive bands (PFM, APOTEOSI or MAXOPHONE could be very good references), adding lots of antique music and blues touches.

"Pinturas y Expresiones" is a mid-complex album, essentially instrumental, with excellent vocal games and chorus (male and female Spanish voices), great flute and guitar performances (the main instruments), nice violin and a solid rythmical basis. Songs titles were translated to English in the Rock Progressive Worlwide (Brasilian label) edition.

Music is plenty of variations along the album, blending pastoral soundscapes with intense (but never bombastic) progressive melodies, blues rythms and a medieval and sacred feeling. Highlights: The magnificent and very Italian "XXI Century" and the short "King's History", this one with a beautiful violin.

This only AGNUS stuff isn't so refined as MIA or so fantastic as CRUCIS' albums, but it's a really good South American artistic expression. Recommended.

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