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MIA

Symphonic Prog • Argentina


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MIA biography
Formed in the mid 70s, Independent Musicians Associated (MIA) was a group of musicians, technicians and drawers gathered together by Lito and Liliana Vitale's parents. They produced their own records and concerts in an independent way. Their music is a complex symphonic rock with definite Argentinean/latin folk influence with multiple corals and vocals beautifully contrasting with the keyboards and a great guitar sound upon a strong rhythmic section. They were highly influenced by symphonic music, more noteworthy by ELP, GENTLE GIANT and FOCUS.

Their debut was "Transparencias", an exquisite album of classical. Their second album was vocal oriented. Lead by Alberto Muñoz -author of the lyrics- this effort was a different approach, though still keeping the symphonic mood in the form of songs. On "Cornostipicum", MIA returned to the instrumental-symphonic rock with elaborated pieces such as "Crifana y Tamílstenes". This album is a highly recommended classic and certainly one of the best ever from Argentina. MIA's final release was a big project called "Conciertos", a 3-LP album comprising live recordings from the group's last set of shows. All of these come highly recommended, MIA were a unique musical ensemble with a definite progressive ethic.

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MIA discography


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

3.96 | 80 ratings
Transparencias
1976
3.41 | 45 ratings
Magicos Juegos Del Tiempo
1977
4.20 | 112 ratings
Cornonstipicum
1978

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

4.57 | 12 ratings
Conciertos
1979

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

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

3.21 | 10 ratings
Archivos MIA (1974 - 1985)
2008

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

MIA Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Cornonstipicum by MIA album cover Studio Album, 1978
4.20 | 112 ratings

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Cornonstipicum
MIA Symphonic Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

5 stars MÚSICOS INDEPEDENTES ASOCIADOS or M.I.A. for short which translates into English as Independent Musician's Association was a music cooperative formed in 1975 Buenos Aires, Argentina and incorporated the talents of several musicians, graphic designers, illuminators and others to craft a rotating project that lasted until 1982 and yielded three studio albums. Led by the still teenagers Lito Vitale (piano, organ, synthesizer, mellotron, accordion, clavinet, celeste, percussion, vocals) and Liliana Vitale (drums, bass, celeste, recorder, contralto recorder, percussion, vocals), the project produced some of the finest top tier prog from the South American continent.

M.I.A. saved its best act for last with its third and final studio release CORNONSTÍPICUM which was released in 1978 well after the initial prog golden years had subsided but in my experience, it was the years that followed that produced some of the highest honors of prog splendor where a few dedicated bands had to make their limited releases count due to the burden of swimming upstream with a lack of financing and interest. M.I.A. was the exception to the rule with the members financing their own project by teaching music to the public and soliciting funding in order to record the albums. This all resulted in three excellent albums that weren't under the pressure of record company execs trying to dumb down the music and craft the next crossover pop hit.

On "Transparencias," M.I.A. established itself as Argentina's answer to a pastoral folk-infused symphonic prog band that crafted complex yet melodic compositions with the emphasis on Western classical piano parts augmented by synthesizer atmospheres and prog rock aesthetics gleaned from the Italian prog scene whereas on the sophomore release "Magicos Juegos del Tiempo," the project focused more on a lyrical approach that engaged the masculine and feminine vocal counterpoints of the two Vitales. CORNONSTÍPICUM returned to the mostly instrumental workouts of the debut only more refined with the perfect integration of the Argentinian prog folk aspects married with the more bombastic symphonic prog keyboard driven heft inspired by groups like Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Premiata Forneria Marconi and Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso.

After the lineup being reduced to a mere quartet on the previous album, CORNONSTÍPICUM featured an expanded lineup of seven musicians including the Lito and Liliana Vitale along with Daniel Curto (electirc & acoustic guitar, bass, flute, contrabass, organ, mellotron, percussion), Alberto Muñoz (electric & acoustic guitar, bass, vocals), Nono Belvis (bass, electirc guitar, percussion), Emilio Rivoira (tenor sax) and Kike Sanzol (drums). While the first two albums were focused on a more acoustic driven experience, CORNONSTÍPICUM unifies the acoustic with more electric elements not only with a heightened use of more complex keyboards, mellotrons and organ sounds but also a much wider use of the electric guitar. As with the debut the vocals are primarily limited to wordless utterances serving a richer palette for dynamics.

The fuller progressive rock aspects initiated on the second album are fully unleashed on CORNONSTÍPICUM where the full rock band effect is heard with heavy guitar, bass and drum workouts with faster tempos and classic Keith Emerson keyboard wizardry and the amazing thing is that many of the members were still teenagers even at the time of the release of this third and most mature album from M.I.A. Reflecting the superb cover art which evokes a mysterious glimpse into some magical parallel realm, the music on CORNONSTÍPICUM is truly transcendental with fully integrated darkened atmospheres and the triumphant crossroads of Western classical with progressive rock and subtle jazz elements. The original vinyl release featured only six tracks with the lengthy title track swallowing up side two at nearly 18 minutes and the shot 50 second "Las Persianas No" ranking as the shortest.

CORNONSTÍPICUM is one of the pinnacle achievements of Argentinean symphonic prog with lush soundscapes evoking Baroque melodic splendor infused with contemporary fortitude with outstanding compositions steeped in complexities without sacrificing a synchronistic flow. The liberal use of choral vocal sections especially on the title track only adds an increased vitality to the entire experience. The one question i have is why didn't M.I.A. release any studio albums after CORNONSTÍPICUM considering this one was released in 1978 and the project didn't cease to exist until 1982. The only other release after this one was the 1979 live album "Conciertos." Whatever the case, this third and final release is one of my absolute favorite albums of all time and not just from Argentina. It captures all the aspects of a symphonic prog masterpiece and excels on every level. The music is dense and layered and requires many spins to grasp but the ultimate impression will only be one of total awe and admiration. The Belle Antique remastered version also features several excellent bonus tracks.

 Magicos Juegos Del Tiempo by MIA album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.41 | 45 ratings

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Magicos Juegos Del Tiempo
MIA Symphonic Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars M.I.A. (Músicos Independientes Asociados) didn't waste any time crafting enough material to record an album every year from 1976-1978. Following the mostly instrumental debut "Transparencias," the collective focused more on vocal compositions on its second release MAGICOS JUEGOS DEL TIEMPO which translates into English as "Magic Games of Time." The lineup was streamlined a bit for this sophomore release with only four members performing which included Lito Vitale (piano, organ, synthesizer, mellotron, vocals), Liliana Vitale (drums, vocals, flute), Alberto Muñoz (electric & acoustic guitar, bass, vocals) and Nono Belvis (electric & acoustic guitar, bass, vocals).

While the debut was primarily an acoustic affair with only synthesizers and a few electric guitar parts being the exception, MAGICOS JUEGOS DEL TIEMPO moves beyond the classical crossover approach of the debut and includes moments of more energetic progressive rock in the vein of Emerson, Lake and Palmer as keyboardist Lito Vitale flirted with the flashy virtuoso flamboyance in the vein of classic Keith Emerson bombast however for the most part this second offering still retains a great deal of the same symphonic pastoral Argentinean folk of the debut. Unlike the debut every track on this one features lyrics in the Spanish language sung by the two Vitales.

Also bringing the album more into classic prog territory is the inclusion of the mellotron, heavier uses of bombastic time signature changes and a greater use of dynamic shifts including faster tempos and the use of heavier guitar passages especially on "Archipielagos De Guernaclara" which at 11 minutes playing time results in the longest track of the album. Showcasing that the album is a true descendent of the debut, Lito Vitale still relies on Western classical piano riffs to fortify the overall mood of the tracks before branching out into the more adventurous moments. The vocal styles are very much in the vein of contemporary Argentinean prog rock as heard by Invisible, Crucis or La Máquina de Hacer Pájaros.

The melodies are quite addictive and although every track is vocally oriented, there is still much room provided for instrumental workouts. There's even a full-blown jazz interlude during the mid-section of "Archipielagos De Guernaclara." After that lengthy track, the album jumps back into the lush pastoral sounds of the debut only with vocals, "Romanza Para Una Mujer Que Cose" showcasing a dramatic passionate performance reminiscent of the great Italian symphonic prog acts of the early 70s and then with the closing track "Corales De La Cantata Saturno" a beautiful choral tapestry of vocals over melodic classical interpretations with symphonic prog atmospheres.

MAGICOS JUEGOS DEL TIEMPO features a dramatically different approach than "Transparencias" by building on its foundations and adding more diverse experiments which in some ways makes the album feel a lot less uniform than its predecessor but in many ways is an improvement and paving the way for the band's most ambitious album of all, the following "Conrnostipicum" which in my book is one of the best symphonic prog albums ever crafted. While not quite to those heights yet, this second coming is an excellent slice of Argentinean prog that made the most of a truncated cast of members who upped the ante with more experimental touches despite prog's eminent decline around 1977 when this was released.

 Transparencias by MIA album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.96 | 80 ratings

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Transparencias
MIA Symphonic Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars One of Argentina's most woefully under-appreciated progressive rock act of the entire 1970s was surely M.I.A. also written as MIA but actually is an abbreviation for the lengthy MÚSICOS INDEPEDENTES ASOCIADOS which translates into English as Independent Musician's Association. This rotating cast of excellent musicians emerged in 1975 Buenos Aires around the core trio of Alberto Muñoz, Liliana Vitale and Lito Vitale, a young 12-year-old pianist who were joined by up to 50 musicians, sound engineers, graphic designers and other artists to create a larger than life and totally independent project that performed numerous live performances and as a musical group released three studio albums as well as a couple live releases before disbanding in 1982.

M.I.A. was quite innovative for its time, not only musically speaking but in how the group conducted its entire business model. For example the members supported the group's efforts by teaching music to the general public and succeeded in garnering so much positive criticism that the collective actually sold albums before they were recorded in order to finance the projects and all of this occurred during one of Argentina's darkest chapters of its history during the years of the dictatorship. The band's project revolved around the poetry and lyrical content provided by Alberto Muñoz along with the instrumental contributions of the other members. TRANSPARENCIAS ( Transparencies ) was the group's first album that debuted in 1976 and followed in the footsteps of English symphonic prog as well as the pastoral progressive folk style that had already invaded Argentina influenced by the progressive Italian bands.

TRANSPARENCIAS is an epic sounding album and although M.I.A. utilized many vocalists during its existence, this debut album falls mostly in the instrumental camp which centers on the Western classical music inspirations of pianist Juan Del Barrio who is accompanied by Nono Belvis on bass, Daniel Curto on acoustic guitar, Liliana Vitale on flute and percussion and Lito Vitale who was a multi-tasker handling drums, synths, keyboards, flute and the few vocals on the title track (along with Liliana). This album is on the pastoral side with soft sensual piano lifted by slow tempos, soft atmospheres and flute runs. The album sounds somewhat of a mix between early Focus and softer Italian prog bands like Locanda delle Fate. The title track is the only one to feature vocals from both Liliana Vitale and Nono Belvis but are wordless and only contribute to richer musical textures.

Except for the synthesizers, TRANSPARENCIAS sounds like a mostly acoustic affair reminding a bit of Quebec's Harmonium but maintaining that distinct symphonic prog stylistic approach in the vein of Invisible, Crucis or La Máquina de Hacer Pájaros. The tracks are highly complex yet very melodic and sound like an impressive feat considering the young age of some of the performers and the large number of members in this rotating door. The music is nothing less than beautiful and although primarily on the acoustic side, the 20 minute side swallowing title track features some of the few electric guitar parts to be heard including a nice solo at which time connects the band's style to the symphony prog giants of the Italian scene made all the more so given Argentina's dialect of Spanish is most like the Italian language.

This is simply a stunningly beautiful album that is basically a series of piano arpeggios, symphonic counterpoints, lush flute runs and vocal extras piling up and crafting a very pleasing sum of the parts. The whole affair is made all the more impressive considering that these highly sophisticated compositions were performed by many youngsters who were still just teenagers and in that regard reminds me of the Italian band Semiramis however there is nothing wild and crazy going on here. This is sensual and beautiful and carefully crafted to nurture every melodic cadence and bring out its full potential. While i've never heard M.I.A. in its original vinyl release form, i have to say that the Belle Antique remastered version is sheer perfection as it sounds like a modern release where every sound is crystal clear. What a beautiful debut from one of my favorite Argentinean prog bands.

 Cornonstipicum by MIA album cover Studio Album, 1978
4.20 | 112 ratings

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Cornonstipicum
MIA Symphonic Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars MIA were a group of young prog fans from Argentina who were lucky enough to have their parents lend a hand with studio space - key members Lito and Liliana Vitale were still teenagers when they put out this third album. It's a real lost gem of the often-overlooked South American prog mini-boom of the late 1970s, with the epic title track taking in a range of styles from Genesis-esque pastoral prog to ELP-esque synthesiser madness to Zappa-esque avant-garde vocal harmony experiments, and somehow makes these diverse ingredients work together as a whole. Fans of 1970s prog should take special note of this one, because it's been overlooked for rather too long.
 Cornonstipicum by MIA album cover Studio Album, 1978
4.20 | 112 ratings

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Cornonstipicum
MIA Symphonic Prog

Review by MyDarling95

4 stars MIA can't be called as one of the best prog bands form Argentina, and it is because I think their albums aren't constant. Transparencias was a nice effort with high level compisitions but lacking some spirit and emotion. Magicos Juegos Del Tiempo is completely out of place, compositions and lyrics are poor. But for Cornonstipicum it would seem that MIA learned from everything; they took all the bad, threw it away and made the best parts better. It is another purely instrumental album like Transparencias, the instrumentation and compositions are a lot better, and yes, this I would rank as one of the best from Argentina, also a bit rare while LP pressing was very limited. Side 1 begins with La Coronaci'n del Farre (Farre's Crowning) and it is named after a doggy named Farre (whose picture even appears in the inner art along with the pictures of the other members and the chorus). It is a great intro for the album with changing moods between guitars, keys and a great flute-recorder tuple. Imagen III (Image III) is eventually from the Imagen series (Imagen II is in Transparencias and I'm not sure if they ever recorder Imagen I), it is a beautiful soft piece, with soft guitars, more keys and some accordion (played by Lito). Crifana Y Tam'lstenes is the highlight of side 1. The lalala vocals remind the Canterbury sound, and again the keys take the spotlight. Las Persianas No is short and silly (just look at the title, it means "Not The Blinds", you know, window blinds). Piedras de Color (Color Stones) is a short piano piece played entirely by Lito. And so the general highlight, the Cornonstipicum suite. Some new keys as well as the chorus are introduced. There is a mid soft part with again the flute-recorder duo. There is no time to rest here, constant changes are always present, great guitars, keys at all times and solo and chorus vocals make this an unforgettable piece. If you like Italian prog or great keys then this is a must for you. And if not, it will be a good addition for your collection.
 Transparencias by MIA album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.96 | 80 ratings

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Transparencias
MIA Symphonic Prog

Review by Jeff Carney

3 stars Look, that some of this material was written by a 15 year old is remarkable, but let's try to judge this album objectively.

There is a lot ELP here. And early in the record the musical moves sometimes work themselves into classical tributes; which can sound a bit out of place. There is a long bass solo which sounds nice enough but is straight out of the Greg Lake/Chris Squire school. A drum solo follows which sounds somewhere between Carl Palmer and Billy Cobham, yet somehow feels forced and perhaps an example of overplaying. Overall, however, I found the rhythm section to be pretty strong. Moving the pieces along in interesting fashion. Keeping busy but not overly so.

The long title track is somewhat ruined in that it eventually descends into what is simply a blatant rip-off of Renaissance's "Ashes Are Burning." This goes on and on and on ... with an attempt to throw an Andy Powell guitar solo into the mix. It simply doesn't work and the album ends in disappointment.

This is no 4 star album. 3 is reasonable.

 Cornonstipicum by MIA album cover Studio Album, 1978
4.20 | 112 ratings

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Cornonstipicum
MIA Symphonic Prog

Review by Memo_anathemo

5 stars When one of my best friends introduced me to MIA, first of all I was totally impressed by the cover of the album, a complete piece of art, then we passed to the music and I was blown away by it. A total massive progression that is mainly symphonic prog, but I found a lot of elements related to the Canterbury Scene and also a lot of sections with folk acoustic elements. Definitely, an excellent album of progressive rock from Argentina, probing that MIA and especially this album, CORNONSTIPICUM is one of the best things you could ever listen to as a prog lover, thanks to my friend for introducing me to this band!
 Magicos Juegos Del Tiempo by MIA album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.41 | 45 ratings

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Magicos Juegos Del Tiempo
MIA Symphonic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars In January 77' a slightly refined M.I.A. line-up enters the Netto Studios to record the ensemble's sophomore effort.Juan Del Barrio had parted ways with the rest of the team and Lito Vitale became the responsible man for all the album's keyboards.Instead Nono Belvis was promoted to a full-time member next to Alberto Munoz, thus M.I.A. had now two guitarists/bassists.Daniel Curto's percussion appear only in a couple of tracks.The album was dealing with the life of an imaginery character named Juliana Gabina, from childhood through adolescence, and was released later during the year on Ciclo 3.

The first few tracks follow the path of pastoral Symphonic/Folk Rock, similar to CELESTE and PREMIATA FORNERIA MARCONI, dominated by the work of Vitale on keyboards and piano as well as the acoustic guitars.Very soft and delicate musicianship with plenty of sensitive polyphonic lines and light Classical influences in the piano themes, while the switch between acoustic and electric guitars are numerous, though the later are characterized by a very soft touch, hardly recognizable.With ''Antiguas Campanas Del Pueblo'' M.I.A. shift towards a more keyboard-driven Symponic Rock ala E.L.P. with nice organ moves surrounding a melancholic Liliana Vitale voice, yet Lito Vitale's work on synths and Hammond organ is really remarkable and almost unmistakable.The long ''Archipielagos De Guernaclara'' shows M.I.A's diversity as a group, as the music ranges from Classical piano themes to rural Folk Rock to semi-loose Jazz Rock with different variations throughout.A rather incosistent piece with unrelated moods, yet the technical efficiency of the group is really great.''Romanza Para Una Mujer Que'' is too soft and mellow Folk Rock with measured keyboard passages, elegant flutes and of course acoustic soundscapes, but the middle-placed instrumental part with the powerful keyboards and rhythm section is very good.Closing cut ''Corales De La Cantata Saturno'' is an almost Medieval-flavored choir-type song with Lito Vitale's harsichord and organ in evidence, still deeped in his Classical influences, and a really beautiful choir delivering very emotional and grandiose singing.

The same album was reissued in 1993 with no less than five bonus tracks as extra material, all coming from M.I.A.'s concert at Teatro Santa Maria in 1978.Nothing very close to the band's classic sound, most of these pieces range from Acoustic Folk to Folk Rock with tons of (quite excellent and mostly female) vocals and basically acoustic instrumentation, even some mandolin can be heard in a pair of tracks.

''Magicos juegos del tiempo'' isn't a flawless album.At moments it seems that it desperately needs some more uplifting mood or additional energy and the music can get too soft.But some magical passages with beautiful melodies and thrilling vocal lines are also present.Recommended, especially if you love Classical-inspired Prog Folk.

 Archivos MIA (1974 - 1985) by MIA album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2008
3.21 | 10 ratings

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Archivos MIA (1974 - 1985)
MIA Symphonic Prog

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars The Argentinian ensemble MIA (an abbreviation of Musicos Independientes Asociados ? not to be confused with "Missing in Action") was a project based around composer and keyboardist Lito Vitale, which had its main activity between 1974 and 1980. Friends and acquaintances came and went in the different versions of this ongoing project until it fell apart in 1980, although new material was made under that moniker for a few more years. "Archivos MIA: 1974 ? '85" chronicles the musical history and heritage of this project on two discs, containing quite a lot of material I surmise is previously unreleased.

"Archivos MIA" comes across as a production seeking to satisfy two different audiences. Those unfamiliar with this ensemble will receive a good overview of the scope of their repertoire on the first of these CDs, while existing fans most likely will find the second one most intriguing due to the unreleased material and the bonus video footage that makes up this CD. And while the musical contents as such do leave a bit to be desired in order for this production to warrant a general recommendation, there are quite a few reasons for existing fans to take note of this production, if they haven't already done so that is.

 Cornonstipicum by MIA album cover Studio Album, 1978
4.20 | 112 ratings

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Cornonstipicum
MIA Symphonic Prog

Review by toroddfuglesteg

3 stars This one smell better than it tastes.

This album has got a very high rating so I purchased it. I also happens to like the South American scene a lot. But what I found was a rather dysfunctional album.

This album has it's base in some ELP like structures. Then it branches out in all direction. That includes jazz, eclectic, prog folk and most things under this sun. Yes, even Zeuhl gets a honorary membership on this album. I like thinking outside the box. That is in fact what the term "progressive rock" means. But I am not sure if everything on Cornonstipicum is as clever as the tin says it is. The smell is better than the taste.

I got the 59 minutes version and it seems like some bonus songs has been added. The last half of this album has pieces of music which simply does not work. For example the extensive use of acoustic guitars does not work at all and the album dies an undignified death during the final half. But the first half an hour is great. Great, but not superb. The title track is almost superb though. The rest of the album is a bit too dysfunctional for my liking. I cannot say this is an album I feel is as good as it's reputation. But it is still a good album which I am sure will bring joy to many homes during the next hundred years.

3 stars

Thanks to The Symphonic Team for the artist addition. and to NotAProghead for the last updates

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