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Crossover Prog • Venezuela

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Ananta biography
Venezuelan band ANANTA was formed in London, UK by Ilan Chester and the brothers Jorge and Charly Spiteri in the late 70's. They were joined by Mark Francis, Patrick Bernard and Dave Early and recorded their initial album Night and Daydream, issued by Touchstone Records in 1978. The album was later released under the alternative titles Wheel of Time and Purana.

The initial line-up of the band folded shortly after, but Chester decided to continue using this moniker. Joined by Alvaro Falcon, Luis Emilio Mauri and Gerry Lopez, this second version of Ananta recorded and released Songs From the Future in 1980.

Ilan Chester would later go on to have a long and succesfull solo career, and is a celebrated figue in the Venezuelan music scene.

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2.76 | 19 ratings
Night and Daydream
3.22 | 8 ratings
Songs From the Future

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ANANTA Reviews

Showing last 10 reviews only
 Night and Daydream by ANANTA album cover Studio Album, 1978
2.76 | 19 ratings

Night and Daydream
Ananta Crossover Prog

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

3 stars I bought this LP some years ago second-hand, paid something like 2 euros. It seemed interesting enough -- maybe it might even be progressive, I thought, reading the list of instruments: moog, flute, saxophone, harpsichord, 12-string guitar, etc. I happened to dig the forgotten vinyl out of my shelves yesterday, so I finally give this obscure band its fourth review.

Six-piece, London-based group Ananta is said here to be Venezuelan. Well, the three founding members had immigrated from there to England, and the other three playing on this debut are British. The second album with another line-up came in 1980. The music (credited to four guys, one of them being the executive producer outside the line-up) is produced and arranged by vocalist-keyboardist Ilan Chester, and the other central member seems to be multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Mark Francis, who, apart from the drums, is the sole performer of the longest and the most progressive track 'Wheel of Time'.

This music is unmistakably from the late seventies. The sound has elements of American-style soft rock, QUEEN-like proggy pop eclectism with plenty of vocal harmonies, and a charming jazz/fusion flavour, often being much jazzier and more complex than Steely Dan ever were. The first two songs are rather bright jazzy rockers. 'Causal Home' is a very sensitive, Vangelis reminding, synth-centred insrtrumental, which also teminds me of the most esoteric moments in CAMEL's Breathless (1978).

'Home Sweet Home' is a short and simple -- and yet slightly Baroque flavoured -- song backed by synths only, and shortly featuring also a choir of school kids. The mentioned 'Wheel of Time' (8:40) is the highlight. It's an ambitious, semi-dramatic and introspective composition in the vein of SUPERTRAMP at their proggiest. As an almost one-man performance it has some minor weaknesses in the production though.

The second side is weaker. 'The Game' is a mediocre lively song like Queen at their merriest, and 'Be With You' is a slack and sentimental ballad with a light jazziness. 'Fill Your Heart and Mind' is somewhat slack too, despite some fresh flute playing and a cool electric piano solo. Stevie Wonder is one of the artists thanked for "their inspiration and help with our Worldwide projects" (whatever that 'help' was in practice; others are Carlos Santana, Dylan, G. Harrison, Neil Diamond and Bob Marley). But the album closes with another proggy highlight, the title track (7:30) which contains an instrumental section full of sound effects. Another Supertramp reference, especially to 'Fool's Overture' although the half-baked song itself misses its drama.

Yes, this album is very uneven: the least interesting pieces are barely worth two stars, while at its best it's much more charming and unique that I could ever have imagined when I found the obscure used vinyl.

 Night and Daydream by ANANTA album cover Studio Album, 1978
2.76 | 19 ratings

Night and Daydream
Ananta Crossover Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

2 stars Short-lived band, based in London, UK, but formed in 1977 by Venezuelan imigrants Ilan Chester (vocals,keyboards), Jorge Spitery (bass, vocals) and Charly Spitery (percussion, vocals).The first line-up included also multi-instrumentalist Mark Francis, guitarist Patrick Bernard (who produced a good prog LP in 1981) and drummer Dave Early along with choirs by a few female singers.Ananta had their debut out twice, originally as ''Night and Daydream'' (1978 on Touchstone Sound) and later in the same year as ''Wheels of time'' (on Govinda Records).

While claiming to be a Progressive Rock band, Ananta were closer to Art Rock bands like late-70's BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST and even better QUEEN with a slight tendency towards a more Fusion sound.On ''Wheels of time'' Chester, who was the main composer of the band, decided to taste all possible aspects of (rock) music, the result however being the total pinnacle of inconsitency.And while the most proggy numbers sound quite decent, the majority of the album is a weird amalgam of commercial sounds with great chessiness and mediocre songwriting.The eponymous track is a great Symphonic Rock opus with both great keyboard and guitar parts, nice melodies and expressive vocals, maybe the only trully adventurous track of the album.''Behind the mask'' and ''Casual ocean'' are decent Fusion tracks with Chester's work on electric piano and synths on forefront, somewhat close to the sound of TRUE MYTH.''Fill Your Heart and Mind'' starts as a BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST ballad to become a good Progressive/Fusion piece along the way with nice flutes and piano parts.''Home Sweet Home'' and ''The game'' have strong QUEEN hints, characterized by their musical-like atmospheres with choirs and fast piano parts dominating, but failing to impress.The opening ''Vrindavan'' is just cheap Melodic Rock with no inspiration at all, while ''Be with you'' is even worse, a light piece of Soul music with dull vocals, totally unmemorable.''Night and Daydream'' is an extreme BARCLAY JAMES HARCEST copy, sweet vocals, smooth piano, calm electric guitars and a catchy chorus complete an average composition with little to offer.

Do not get fooled by the descriptions regarding this album, as ''Wheels of Time'' contains little prog but a strong amount of commercial-flavored Art Rock, so it would be a nice listening only for hardcore fans of the sound but just a mediocre item on a prog collector's shelf.

 Night and Daydream by ANANTA album cover Studio Album, 1978
2.76 | 19 ratings

Night and Daydream
Ananta Crossover Prog

Review by percussionist

4 stars Got the copy of this LP in 1979. It was brought to me by a friend who went on a student exchange trip to London. She brought back two copies, one for her and one for me. Ten years later I bought another copy from the streetseller in Cheltenham having to pay 5 pound for the mint condition. The funny thing is that the both copies still have stickers on them, saying that it was Promotional copy with the price of 1 pound!

Back then, at the age of 17, I was deep into then so called Art-rock. A bit of everything: from Klause Schulze and Tangerine Dream, VDGG, Gentle Giant, Rick Wakeman, Shawn Phillips and even Henry Cow, to name but a few. This album sounded too pop(ish) at the time. As the years went by, every now and then I used to find myself taking it from the shelf almost subconsciously and as time flew by it took a special place in my heart. Only now I think I know the reason why. Over 30 years later I came to conclusion that some artists (prog or not prog) get manage to make kind of fusion between the styles gaining success or even extracting or obtaining new style.But then again, some fine projects end up half-forgotten or get marginalized. For this reason let us make a comparison with Marillion`s Missplaced Childhood. But please hold your horses, not that they swim in the same water, it`s not the same pair of shoes! Missplaced Childhood is also a little bit controversial - it`s not prog enough, sort of speaking, and it`s not pop-rock enough either. (For those not familiar with this album, at least please read some reviews about it, you`ll get the picture!). Now, let`s try to imagine that this was the only Marillion`s album. Where would have we put it?

Hope you see the point because Night and Daydream is hard to "file in" even today. It has got this prog(ish) approach with bits and pieces of everything, including jazz, jazzrock/fusion, elements of classical music, India, a touch of English folk, poprock, it is almost like you name it! But the way how all of the above was used makes this album very "drinkable" as we often say here in Croatia.

The longest tracks on the album are probably the most prog songs. The title song has this unusual but nice intervention after 4 minutes when everything stops and every day pre recorded and mixed sounds start to tell a story about one (human) life. From the first cry, going to school, getting married, travelling, going to war, some more chit-chat and then heavy breathing, siren song, kind of vacuum synth effect, a new baby cry, a new life and the chorus fade in to become kind of coda, fade out and it was only a dream, night and daydream...

All of the songs have spiritual lyrics, since Ilan Chester(born Ilan Czenstochowski, Israel, 1952.) joined Hare Krishna in 1971., but Be With You is definitely the weakest song musically and lyrically, being only a jazzy ballad. On the other side Casual Ocean is beautiful athmospehric miniature with synths and electric piano only. And The Game is satirical/ironical both lyrically and musically. In this quite short composition everybody envolved showed and proved that humour does belong to music. Special credits go to late Dave Early, drumming through the 4/4 groove as if it was 6/8 (shuffle) and adopting it for differrent parts of the song. The paradox is that I will be discovering this drummer six, seven years later(he is the father of the Sade`s famous Sweetest Taboo groove), not even knowing I have already been introduced to his playing.

Well, sometimes I don`t, but for this one I do agree with P.A. It is, by its definition, Crossover Prog. If this was Eclectic or any other kind of sub-genre, I would give it three stars. In this case I`m giving it four stars, and recommending it to everybody swimming in the waters of jazz, because jazz is prevailing on this album.(What else can you expect from mostly studio musicians?)

 Songs From the Future by ANANTA album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.22 | 8 ratings

Songs From the Future
Ananta Crossover Prog

Review by ProgressiveAttic
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Bombastic, melodic and esoteric!

Keith Emerson's bombastic keyboards, Queen's melodies and Jon Anderson's esoteric lyrics with a fusion touch ala Mahavishnu Orchestra and some folk inspired sections... all that written and performed by a Latin Grammy winner....

Ilan Chester is well known as one of the prime latin pop singers/songwriters. But what is little known is that before his hugely successful latin pop career he participated in quite a number of Progressive Rock outfits as both singer and keyboardist with such influences as Keith Emerson, Rick Wakeman, Steve Winwood, Mark Stein, etc.

Ilan's most successful prog project was his 70s collaboration with the Spiteri brothers (other stars of the Venezuelan prog scene of the 70s and 80s) while living in London. Such project was named Ananta and released one album in 1977 (Night and Daydream). In 1980 Chester decided it was time to continue with the project, this time in Los Angeles, and gathered a crew of Venezuelan musicians to record Songs From the Future in 1980.

This is a concept album structured in a very particular way, it is based on a story written by Steve Perry about how would the world look like in 100 years from 1980. The band took advantage of the need of splitting the album in two sides (sides A and B of the vinyl) and divided the concept in two parts. Side A is taken by the 5 part suite "Songs From the Future" which narrates a rather pessimistic view of the world as reflected by the chaotic nature of the music. Side B, in opposition to side A, presents the description of an optimistic future through cheerful and uplifting melodies.

The "Songs From the Future" suite, musically, has its good and not so good things. Individually, each section of the suite would have a rating between 4 and 5 stars; but as a suite it fails to be cohesive and we get some abrupt breaks between sections, this makes it loose some points with me.

**"Questions" opens the suite with a keyboard display courtesy of Ilan Chester which demonstrates his amazing ability as a keyboardist and the different keyboard and synth sounds he'll use throughout the record. 4

**"Apples" moves forward with a more accessible sound, nice vocal harmonies and a combination of acoustic piano with electric instrumentation; this combination remembers me of Queen, specially after a fantastic guitar solo that could have easily been Brian May's work... 4.25

**"Over the Edge" is one of my favorite and most experimental segments of the album and it moves towards a jazz-rock style. It opens with some really nice drum, guitar and keyboard performance that builds up to a sound reminiscent of Mahavishnu Orchestra, this impression is enhanced by a mind-blowing violin intervention. 4.5

**"Logical Progressions" returns to a most accessible establishment in which the Queen- like harmonies are still present and the overall sound reminds of Electric Light Orchestra. 4

**"Phase Three" ends the suite with some electronic "futuristic" sounds. An appropriated ending for the first part of the story.

Songs From the Future's overall rating is: 4.19

"Break with the Past" starts the uplifting part of the album with what is probably the most uplifting piece in it. It is a beautiful piece led by the vocal harmonies (Moon Safari fans will enjoy this immensely!). 3.25

"The Weaver" takes a folk approach to the music, still uplifting and really accessible with some nice flute playing thrown into the mix... kind of Jethro Tull meets Moon Safari. 3.75

"That Precious Machine" is a mildly hard rocking piece with some really nice bluesy piano and organ playing and some interesting breaks; and I still get some more of those vocal harmonies I am enjoying so much + a well performed guitar solo. 3.75

"Dawn" closes the album with a ballad led by Ilan singing and playing piano beautifully (with some atmospheric synths in the background... and at some point something that sounded like a mellotron). This is the kind of piece you would expect from an Anderson & Wakeman collaboration, a very nice way of closing the album. 3.25

The lyrics are very well written, but at times they get too esoteric (specially on side B).

Total: 3.64

There's not a bad song in the album and we get some very interesting things, but at the end nothing really essential.

That album has some minor problems such as the sound quality which is less than perfect (it is listeneable though) and the lack of cohesiveness for what is intended to be a concept album (specially inside a suite).

3 stars for a really good but non-essential album. If you manage find it, I'll recommend you to buy this rarity of progressive rock, it's worth it...

You'll see.... every once in a while you'll feel like playing it... It's melodies are simply unforgettable!

Thanks to windhawk for the artist addition.

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