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OMNI

Prog Folk • Spain


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OMNI was founded in the late 80's, by three core members: Mike STARRY (lead guitar), Salvador VELEZ (rhythm guitar) and Jose Luis ALAGABA (bass). New drummer Ismael COLON entered the band in September 2001. Their progressive style is fed from the symphonic parameters of CAMEL and GENESIS, incorporating clear ethnic cut environments and spanish folklore. All their material is exclusively instrumental.

"Tras El Puente" is actually a selection of demos recorded between 1990 and 1993. Lots of good jams, reminding me of some of the late 70's German bands. With "El Vals De Los Duendes" (2002), their second album seem to be more focused and a bit more developed, and they are still firmly rooted in the 70's classically-oriented style (with Spanish folk influences). The music goes from beautiful keyboard flights, to delicate guitar parts, to really heavy bits, and even has a little saxophone here and there. It's also noticeable that some vocals appear on "Rompeolas" and the eponymous track, and benefit from the warmth of the Spanish language. You will flip over this one!

Critically acclaimed among prog fans worldwide, "El Vals de los Duendes" showed a band that had patently taken full advantage of the diversity of musical ideas that all members provided during the writing and arranging process. But it didn't take too long before this diversity gave way to musical differences, which eventually generated an internal turmoil in OMNI's line-up. Bassist Jose Luis Algaba and rhythm guitarist Salvador Velez intended to re-direct the band into the realms of Flamenco-meets-Latin jazz, while founding lead guitarist Mike Starry was determined to keep the prog core intact. The crisis grew so unbearable that keyboardist Alberto Marquez (also prog-oriented) quit and, a few days later, Starry officially dissolved the band in October 2003. Fortunately, this hiatus was soon followed by a reformation, with Starry and Marquez returning to the fold and calling back drummer Ismael Colon and wind player Pepe Torres. Newcomers Jesus Cabral "Chuchi" (bass) and Juan Rios (Spanish & rhythm guitars) helped to retake the sextet format. During 2005, OMNI has been working on demos of new material, while shaping what will be the repertoire for their next album in 2006.

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OMNI discography


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

3.12 | 11 ratings
Tras El Puente
2000
3.71 | 21 ratings
El Vals de los Duendes
2002
3.78 | 17 ratings
Sólo Fue un Sueño
2007

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OMNI Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Tras El Puente by OMNI album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.12 | 11 ratings

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Tras El Puente
Omni Prog Folk

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars OMNI are a band reborn in 2000 from their own ashes,as their history begins in 1989 in the region of Andalusia,when members of the band,''Alquimia'' decided to collaborate with wind-instrumentalist Peppe Torres and drummer Jose Maria Colon and taped a few recordings in a three-year period.That meant also the end of the band,but at the end of the millenium these tapes were collected,re-mastered and released under the title ''Tral el puente'' in 2000 by Luna Negra.

OMNI's sound is extremely tasteful and melodic,offering a light symph/fusion mix with straight references to the 70's.Guitars are on the front and seems like the whole work is built around them,delivering melodic passages in the vein of CAMEL and passionate fusion soloing in the best Spanish tradition,not unlike IMAN CALIFATO INDEPEDIENTE.There are also a couple of moments,when the guitar hooks remind me of ICONOCLASTA.All this great guitar material is supported by the excellent analog keyboards (echoes of the moog synthesizer and the Hammond organ can be detected) of ex-CAI member Chano Dominguez,used in an awesome atmospheric way than as a leading instrument.A steady and decent rhythm section completes OMNI's picture and their highly melodic approach to progressive rock music.It would be really a pity,if this band had remained in the shadows of the past.A pleasant listening for anyone looking for melodic and calm instrumental music.

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 Sólo Fue un Sueño by OMNI album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.78 | 17 ratings

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Sólo Fue un Sueño
Omni Prog Folk

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

4 stars I was awaiting this new album for quite a while as I enjoyed the preceding 2001 opus from this Spanish band, the sumptuous "El Vals de los Duendes". There are many and often rightly so that dislike simple symphonic prog a la Camel, but strangely mostly in part of the rather uninspired vocals from Andy Latimer (yes Micky, Richard Sinclair was certainly a way better option!). It remains interesting to see that the 2 closest Camel clones, Holland's Odyssice and Spain's Omni both rely uniquely on instrumental conveyances, not bothering to hook up a voice microphone. Good thing under the circumstances, better no vocals that drab ones, a particular prog peeve of mine. Oh well! Omni relies on Michael Starry's hyper-melodic guitar excursions that would make Andy proud, maybe even jealous , augmented with massive doses of pastoral flute and rousing sax courtesy of Pepe Torres , some fine piano and keys from Alberto Marques and as super solid rhythm section that keeps everything exciting and fluid. The impish title cut is a piano masterstroke, placid in the howling wind, setting the tender tone with supreme serenity. The synth accompaniment serves as a highlight to the rustic beauty, something Rick Wakeman would come up with on his Country Airs series. "Ya Estamos Aqui" blasts off in a joyous cacophony, where Starry slashes through with controlled passion, simple notes conveying the deepest sentiments, the flute playing foil to the grandeur. One can easily imagine himself lying in a bed of soft blowing blades of spring grass, looking up at the momentous clouds and absorbing the comforting warmth of our glorious sun. Some may foolishly claim that this is Geritol- prog , a droning yawn of simplicity but when Starry kicks in with his impeccable control , you realize rapidly that this is primo stuff. "Noche en Malandar" is a case in point as the mighty mellotron makes its appearance, hovering over a massively breathtaking guitar flight, loaded with ambitious eloquence, a roving, searching bass carving out Andalucian obsessions over sorrow and hope. What makes Omni's music so compelling is that it's highly cinematographic, a soundtrack to an endless journey, where symphonics mix nicely with jazzier flourishes and nothing is rushed or overdone simply for the sake of being clever. This is mood music more than technical exercise which is why Omni (and Camel, Odyssice, Rousseau etc..) are at the polar opposites of ELP, recent King Crimson, Brand X or DFA . "Telescopio de Papel" wastes no time in introducing a colossal melody, front and center, no screwing around! The main theme is hauntingly exuberant, the fretboard leading the way, the flute and keys following obediently. A choppy organ makes a brief apparition; a fanfare-ish synthesizer blast takes a bow, then exposing a whistling little solo, everything harmonious to the core. The expected axe solo is a tortuous slice of interstellar melancholia, full of bravado and élan, volume pedal used to perfection. "El Tren de Rota" is the epic piece, a 10 minute train voyage into the deepest recesses of space, a playful ride that introduces heady blasts of raucous sax , chugging bass-powered rhythms that seem to emulate the locomotive's ardent fixation, while Starry roams all over his board, searing, wah- ing, cajoling and caressing with unabridged passion. The whistling synth solo is infused with Moorish tendencies, with starts and stops and constant revisits to new sound/land scapes. The sax in particular adds a precious dimension that is too often overlooked in prog (another personal prog peeve). This is a fascinating slice of progressive that defines their unique style. The final six-string outburst is scintillating in its pressurized and steaming, almost Floydian delivery, desperately seeking out and hugging exalting emotions. Delicioso! "Un Columpio Sobre El Mar" is another lengthy piece that has outright Andaluz influences, the main theme laden with Arabic tones, as if illustrating a Camel's journey through the sandy expanses of North Africa. (Go figure!) This track could easily have been a companion to Latimer's successful "Rajaz" album, the playing is superbly controlled and confident. Starry's shivering solo is enveloped in cottony effects and hazy notes, giving the vaunted sax the platform to finally shine resplendently. The duel between them is epic, to say the least. This is the highlight track for me, an incredibly tight ride that deserves to be heard. "Espiritu Libre" is more of the same spiritually laced material that one can expect from these caballeros, but the aggressive piano takes the lead here with an almost Supertramp-like effect, launching the guitar into space, again full of optimism and hope, underlining the fact that while all is drenched in profound melancholia, the music here is actually mostly up-beat and positive. "Salto al Abismo" concludes nicely this amazing recording, a warm, eloquent pastoral etude, settling the account very nicely indeed. This is not suicide-inducing gloom and doom, again more like the soundtrack for the arrival of spring, after a long winter's cold stupor. Fresh, vibrant, glowing, powerful, elegant and majestic, this is what should compel one to seek out this marvel. Only tech-prog fans should look elsewhere, as most will find loads of unpretentious pleasure here. I know I did, again. 4.5 starred and contemplative dreams .

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 El Vals de los Duendes by OMNI album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.71 | 21 ratings

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El Vals de los Duendes
Omni Prog Folk

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

3 stars 3,5 stars. Very interesting spanish band that has some nice sounds. Their mix of folk, new age, prog and some jazzy overtones is very interesting. The only negative part are some sax interventions that makes their music sound blend FM musak. Fortunatly those moments are not very frequent (but were the main reason I did not rate El Vals De Los Duendes higher). Those guys do play well and the record would be even better if it was all instrumental. Not that the vocals are bad, but surely this is not their forte (again they were fortunate to include only two tracks that has vocals on it). As an instrumental band they really show what they are capable of: fine keyboards/guitar interplay (the title track is an excellent exemple), nice flute and a strong rhythm section.

The music is varied and although it is also clear they are still struggling to find their own sound, the result is quite convincing. Production is very good and the mxing was well balanced, you can hear every nuance and detail. So I found this CD to be very good and promising. Michael Starry is an excellent musician very much influenced by the likes of Carlos Santana, Al Dimeola and to a lesser extend, Andy Latimer I´m looking forward to hear their next release.

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 Sólo Fue un Sueño by OMNI album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.78 | 17 ratings

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Sólo Fue un Sueño
Omni Prog Folk

Review by memowakeman
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Beautiful music, like being in a dream!

And it is, Omni`s latest album its a proof that they are stronger every day and every new album is a step forward, Solo fue un Sueño which was released on 2007 has been one of the albums i have listened very often lately, i liked it a lot when i got it, but let me tell you that after seeing the band live at the BajaProg fest i was amazed with their performance, they are excellent musicians and better persons, their show was a memorable moment, they played most (if not all) of the songs from this album.

This symphonic band sometimes has shown its folk andaluz side, they are from Spain so i believe labelling them as a Prog Andaluz band wouldn`t be strange at all, but actually their music is more oriented to the symphonic side of prog, inspired by some English bands, Camel for instance, and if you want me to name an Spanish band which may be a point of comparision, i would say Cai.

Omni is a band that has released 3 albums so far, if my memory does not fail, the band started in the late 80s by an idea of their guitar player Mike Starry, they had suffered some lineup changes but they have always been a consistant band and always progressing, not regressing. So as i said above Solo fue un Sueño was released in 2007 and contains 8 excellent tracks and a total time of almost 50 minutes.

The album kicks off with the tile track Solo fue un Sueño, which is a short instrumental passage, very calm and relaxed with some synth effects which make you feel comfortable, after 3 minutes the second song of the album continues without any stop, so Ya estamos aqui (we are here) starts with a more powerful keyboard sound, very symphonic and after just one minute the lead guitar appears and since the beginning you will notice a Camelesque sound,be careful, i am not saying that this is a Camel clone, not at all, they do have their own style, but like any band, they have their influences, this song is very good, the flute, bass and all the instruments are together in the same line, i mean, all sounds good. Noche en Malandar, the guitars are the first you will notice here, actually i believe that you will be pleased with the nice guitar riffs during the whole album, this is a song i particularly like a lot, after 3 minutes the bass line changes and with it all the song shows a different face where the keyboards appears and offers another great moment.

Telescopio de Papel is another beautiful song, led by keyboards and the always clean bass lines, this is a melodic song that follows the previous ones, i mean they are in the same channel. El Tren de Rota is the next song , the longest one, and probably the best one or at least my favourite. It stars with a very melodic sound and the soft and beautiful guitar riffs, the sax appears later, it also transmits you their different moods, i mean sometimes is melancholic and then it changes and sounds more powerful and joyful, after 2 minutes the song adoptes an awesome bass sound, the lines making the rythm are great and again, very clean, but not only the bass but all the instruments sound very clean with a high level of musicianship, later, when half of the song has passed there`s another change, it sound is very delicate and beautiful again, then the guitar riffs returns and sometimes i think it sounds like a Gilmour-esque guitar, the song is magnific i think everyone would love it. Un Columpio sobre el mar follows the same line as the previous songs, symphonic and moderated sound, complex passages and a charming sound, there is a moment of pure beauty when the winds make its appearance and gives it another soft and delicate style, then the soft becomes stronger with the guitar riffs, great. Espiritu Libre is another good song with a sound that its very catchy, a song that you will remind when you listen to the album, this is a song before the end Salto al abismo marks the end of this magnific and very constant album, the song sound like a prologue, i mean after all the stronger moments, this song again soft like a goodbye, and suddenly it fades out.

Well, as i said this is a ver constant album and there are no weak moments on it, an album i like a lot and recommend to all the fans of symphonic prog. 4 stars. Enjoy it!

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 Sólo Fue un Sueño by OMNI album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.78 | 17 ratings

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Sólo Fue un Sueño
Omni Prog Folk

Review by erik neuteboom
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Omni is a Spanish six piece band, rooted in the late Eighties. This is their third album, released in 2007 and again it contains pure instrumentally music. The sound of Omni on Solo Fue Un Sueno has obvious echoes from Seventies Camel and also reminds me frequently of Dutch Camel-inspired bands Lady Lake and especially Odyssice (it could have been their new album!): very melodic, flowing and often sensitive guitar work (compelling in Noche En Malandar, fiery in Telescopio de Papel en biting wah-wah in Espíritu Libre), omnipresent interplay between guitar and keyboards, some pitchbend driven Minimoog sounding soli (like in Telescopio de Papel and the dreamy final song Salto al Abismo) and finally the use of saxophone (sultry in El Tren De Rota). Like Seventies Camel the sound by Omni is like a 'warm bath' as on the Camel albums Mirage and Moonmadness, my favorite Camel-era. Along the strong guitarwork, the keyboard player colours the compositions very tasteful with varied vintage keyboards like the Fender Rhodes electric piano, the violin-Mellotron (wonderful intro on Noche En Malandar), Minimoog synthesizer, Solina string-ensemble and the Hammond organ (swirling solo in the alternating highlight Espíritu Libre). This is not very original symphonic prog but it sounds wonderful with very good work on guitar and keyboards and tasteful arranged compositions. My rating: 3,5 stars.



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 Sólo Fue un Sueño by OMNI album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.78 | 17 ratings

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Sólo Fue un Sueño
Omni Prog Folk

Review by Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars The Spanish ensemble Omni keeps on rolling quite strong in the year 2007, and their "Sólo Fue un Sueño" is a powerful proof of that. Having experienced a severe line-up crisis not too long after the release of their previous work "El Vals de los Duendes", the material comprised in this one reveals the band diggind deeper in the symphinc tendencies that had played a crucial (although not exclusive) part in the aforesaid album. With Starry, Márquez and Torres serving as the main forces behind the band's melodic drive, and having a strong, precise rhythm section to build those melodies' expansions upon, Omni manages to fuse lyrical magic and rocking energy in almost every item in the album. The namesake track opens up the album as a dreamy interlude, based on the combination of soft pian ochords and eerie synthetic whistle sounds floating across a template desert wind. the ambience is one of awakening to a brand new day, while still in the process of letting go of the rest soon to be ended. And the rest ends right from the beginning of the first sounds of 'Ya estamos Aquí', a vivid sonic landscape of contagious joy - as always, classic Camel and Hackett-era Genesis serve as main influences for Omni's melodic sensibility and elegant arrangements. This piece is, in many ways, a concise announcement of the album's main features: the keyboard inputs on leads, harmonies and orchestrations is quite prominent, the guitar parts display emotional solos, the flute and sax settle in playfully, at times accompanying the guitar-keyboard lines, at other times creating texturial contrasts against them. After this high-spirited piece comes a more complex track: 'Noche en Malandar'. This one gets started with a languid prelude that goes to serene places, then the interlude comes in as a half-exotic melodic drive that alternates 11/8 and 5/4 tempos in a very harmonizing fashion. Finally, the serene intro returns to close down the track in a meditative manner. Track 4 'Telescopio de Papel' brings a sort of compromise between the playful vibe of track 2 and the stylish sophistication of track 3 - Starry's leads sometimes remind me of Oldfiled. This sequence of tracks 2 to 4 pretty much creates an empathetic impact in the listener's mind from listen one. And now comes one of the main feasts of the album, the 10+ minute long 'Tren de Rota'. This majestic exercise in symphonic prog delivers a compact succession of various motifs and moods, going from the colorful to the melancholy while passing through the realms of the ethereal and the extroverted. Vintage compatriot bands such as Cai and Imán appear as main references for the Flamenco-inspired elements infused in this track (together with the ever-present Camel thing). This piece really brings out the sceneario of a train starting, doing and finishing its travel, and after its departure, travellers going home and watching the sunset from their balconies. 'Tren de Rota' is a definite highlight of the album, as is 'Noche en malandar', and 'Un Columpio Sobre el Mar' as well. 'Un Columpio...' finds the band digging deeper into the Arabic factor, making their symphonic sound lean closer to the standards of prog-fusion, although things remain genuinely rocky, all in all. Anyway, the rhythm section behaves in a jazzier manner tha never before in this album, and so does Torres' sax lines from the middle onwards. 'Espíritu Libre' also has some fusionesque elements in, but it tends to give back the symphonic factor a preferential role. The closure is a dreamy finale, starring a moving solo by Starry. This is a perfect epilogue for such a beautiful album - "Sólo Fue un Sueño" is the affirmation of Omni as a relevant item in nowadays' symphonic prog, and of course, one of the most important prog bands from Spain.

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 El Vals de los Duendes by OMNI album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.71 | 21 ratings

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El Vals de los Duendes
Omni Prog Folk

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

4 stars Spanish prog's exalted tradition lives on with this extremely enjoyable opus. Omni has created quite a stir in prog circles , not only with the release of this stunning collection of songs but with their live performances (Baja Prog) as well. It is impossible to argue that the spirit of Camel permeates the spirit of these top-notch "caballeros", the proceedings deeply tinged with the aromas of the humped-one: the main focus is on the electric guitar display of Michael Starry, who has obviously studied the master Bedouin himself, Andy Latimer! With such a talented maestro guiding them, the boys in the band deliver a spirited concoction of hymn like pieces that immediatly grab your senses, liberally spiced with the flute and sax playing of Pepe Torres. The title track "The Waltz of the Elves" is confirmation of the talent here, a soaring ode to the magical tendencies of Prog, combining virtuoso Celtic arrangements with spiraling leads both fused to the musical concept. Muchas Gracias! The next piece, the Floydian" Rondo de las Dunas" nails this one shut, as the sax wails it's plaintive lament and the bass blurts its intentions..... Track four, introduces a worthy synth solo in an otherwise Santanaesque romp with a heavy Spanish flavour. Okay, I give up : end of story, great record, great band, great future! Adios! 4 sangrias

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 Tras El Puente by OMNI album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.12 | 11 ratings

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Tras El Puente
Omni Prog Folk

Review by Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars 'Tras el Puente' is actually a selection of demos recorded in 1993 and 1994. They were recued and compiled under the aforemetioned title in 2000. The band had split up in 1994, but motivated by the release of their old material, they rejoined and nowadays are enjoying some success. Their performance in BajaProg 2001 was very well received by both the crowd and the critics... which led them to be invited back in 2002, as a matter of fact! Because 'Tras el Puente' is basically a selection of demos, the sound is a little sub-par, despite the fact that those demos were remastered. Nevertheless, you can appreciate their melodic sensibilty and crafty musicianship along each and every track. The opening track is a perfect example of Omni's stylings: massive melodic sensibility a-la Camel, Oldfield and 'W&W'-era Genesis, with the inclusion of subtle Southern Spanish folky elements and fusionesque colours. All this is achieved with an elegant sense of texture, and avoiding both pyrotechnics and weird dissonances: the simplicity of the main motifs are complemented by the elegance delivered in the arrangements and expansions thereof. 'Contracorriente' is a very effective opener, indeed. Generally speaking, it is in the longest tracks where the band feels more comfortable expressing themselves, expanding on their ideas without becoming repetitive or futile: 'Amazonas', 'Viento de Levante' and the title track are other highlights worth mentioning. 'Aamazonas' comprises 4 sections - each of them bearing an individual title - that explore various moods within an overall meditative frame. 'Viento de Levante' also bears a predominantly meditative vibe, but the overall mood is more energetic, and that is so because of way the extrovertive guitar leads and the colorful keyboard solos are displayed on the blues-rock tempo. 'Tras el Puente' is as majestic as the opener and as varied as 'Amazonas': the Oldfield factor is particularly relevant here in some sections. Arugably, it epitomizes the best of Omni in this initial phase. 'Levante' is a stylish blues-rocker, while 'Tribu' is the closest that Omni gets to standardized Andalusian prog. 'Vuelo Nocturno' finds the band focused on the lighter side of symphonic prog, mostly due to its catchy rhythm and the 80s vibe comprised in the lead guitar's main phrases, closer to The Edge than to Hackett. I must admit that the compositional talent, although evident, is not totally matured, and as I mentioned before, the sound quality leaves much to be desired, but all in all, this is a good prog work, a promise of better things to come (which they did... but that's another story).

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 El Vals de los Duendes by OMNI album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.71 | 21 ratings

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El Vals de los Duendes
Omni Prog Folk

Review by Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars 'El Vals de los Duendes' is one of the greatest prog efforts that came out of Spain in recent years. This Andalusian ensemble is highly influenced by their 70s forefathers Cai, Imán and Guadalquivir, as well as by Camel and 'W&W'-era Genesis, adding a notable bunch of latin-jazz fusion touches into their sonic palette (particularly, tracks 4 and 6). The magical and fluid interplay between all six musicians is punctuated by the constant successive soloing of lead guitar, wind instruments and keyboards, but all this soloing remains solidly faithful to the melodic demands of the respectiva themes, not to the logic of mere pyrothecnics; simultaneously, the rhythm section of drummer/bassist/rhythm guitarrist shows its precision and sensibility with ease and subtle proficiency. All in all, the repertoire is elaborate and sophisticated, without being too complex, which helps to highlight the catchiness of the major tunes. In my opinion, the first three tracks are the zenith of this album. The opener 'Casapuerta' exhibits progressive majesty all over itself, from the ethereal intro to the brief Flamenco-tinged center motif and, finally, the dreamy colsing section. The title track comprises the biggest amount of diversity throughout its various motifs, all of them linked to each other in perfect fluidity. the track begins in a frontal Celtic mood until it reaches a more avidly Camelesque vibe, only to further pursue a series of melodic lines that remind us of vintage Spanish prog with bombast and elegance. 'Ronda de las Dunas' is the most inclined to the introduction of Arabic colours and nuances, particularly in its captivatingly catchy interlude -- these three tracks are simply terrific and compelling. Other notable numbers are the obviously Camel-esque 'Como la Noche y el Día' and the introspective closing track, 'Mexicali', whose serene beauty I find irresistibly evocative, like a homefire that keeps the room warm after a hard day's work. 'Faro de Trafalgar' is a duet of flute and percussion, a world music-like attempt which works as a peculiar intro to the closing number, which I've previously commented on. Tracks 4 and 6 are the least symphonic ones, seeing the band going for a road of fusion on a Flamenco rumba basis: given the mood and tempo they chose, it is no wonder that the band's sonic textures stop being evocative and become more joyful. Overall conclusion: as my 4 star rating points out, this is an 'excellent addition to any prog collection'.

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