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DRACMA

Neo-Prog • Spain


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Dracma biography
Many people may be familiar with the word Dracma as unit of weight, or currency. It is exactly from this term that the band derives its name. It is their wish to evoke that earlier spirit, or "old dream of man" with their music.

Keyboard player Jordi Amela, and guitarist Jordi Prats had been playing in a band called Rara Avis. The band broke up, but they decided to try putting another group together. In April 1993, they found bass player Jordi Planas, and drummer José Luis Pacheco (thus throwing a monkey wrench into the whole "we are all called Jordi" motif that was emerging). Planas and Pacheco were band mates from two previous collaborations, and were also looking for a new group. The nexus of the first formation was the Abraxas bar, in Barcelona Spain. For the next six months, the quartet rehearsed, wrote music, and searched for a singer. Then José brought in Pedro Jiménez, who he had worked with in a band called Hamelin.

With the lineup now complete, they concentrated on composing, and finding a label. Despite not having a recording contract, by December 1993 there was enough material for an album. So, they went to Trama studios, and produced the recordings themselves. Since time is money, all recording was completed in one week. The band felt the ticking of the clock intensely, and is what inspired them to name the first album "Limits." The pressure did however take its toll, and Pacheco left the group. A replacement was found the next month. Eduardo Camblor, from Mendianoche, became the new drummer.

With the album recorded, and all the band positions again filled, DRACMA continued to shop for a record label. Eventually they signed with the well-known Italian prog label, Mellow Records. In November 1994, "Limits" gets a worldwide release, and very favorable responses. At the beginning of 1995, Mellow Records asks them to take part in a Genesis tribute album. The group chooses to record "The Light Dies Down on Broadway" (from "The Lamb"), and it is released as part of the tribute album, "The River of Constant Change," in May. Once again they were working against the clock, but considering how fast they were able to record their first album, this must have seemed easy.

By the end of the year, they were again ready to record an album (when did these guys sleep?). In January 1996, the recording of "A Fine Stormy Weather" was completed at their studio "home," Jan Cadela Studios in Barcelona. At this time they were experiencin...
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A Fine Stormy WeatherA Fine Stormy Weather
Musea 2001
Audio CD$18.71
$43.56 (used)
DracmaDracma
Motown/Universal/Universal Lat 2000
Audio CD$4.39
$0.01 (used)
LimitsLimits
Import
Mellow Records
Audio CD$14.99 (used)
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DRACMA discography


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

3.06 | 12 ratings
Limits
1995
3.52 | 32 ratings
A Fine Stormy Weather
1996
2.50 | 4 ratings
Ubud
2008

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DRACMA Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 A Fine Stormy Weather by DRACMA album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.52 | 32 ratings

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A Fine Stormy Weather
Dracma Neo-Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars By the time of the ''Limits'' release Jose Luis Pacheco had already left Dracma and Eduardo Camblor had taken his place.In early 95' Mellow Records asked them to participate on the Genesis tribute album ''The river of constant change'' and the band did so, covering ''The Light dies down on Broadway''.As with the first album, the second one was already prepared at Jan Cadela Home Studio in early 96' with new drummer Rod Oliveira in the place of Camblor and bassist Jordi Planas also in the line-up, but never published on Mellow due to lack of communication.In search of a new label Dracma signed with Musea and the new work ''A fine stormy weather'' saw the light in June 96'.

The second album of Dracma offers longer and elaborate compositions of Neo/Symphonic Prog with mid-70's GENESIS vibes and still obvious MARILLION hints.The guitar texts are somewhere between STEVE ROTHERY and STEVE HACKETT with many interesting solos, while the keyboards have a nostalgic 70's feeling at moments with organ and pianos appearing here and there, while the synth parts remain a dominant force of Dracma's music.Highly atmospheric passages and melodious soundscapes remain among the band's preferences and there are also some uptempo runs with richer musicianship, based on angular synthesizer flights and sharper guitar runs.The pieces have also a fair dose of breaks, leading from more energetic themes to lyrical, laid-back textures with a sensitive edge.On the other hand everything in here seems unoriginal and recycled, while Jimenez'es voice remains highly accented, although his singing has a very moving touch overall.The most positive aspect though is that Dracma's compositions are definitely good, well-worked and often intricate with light symphonic movements and strong, memorable ideas.

''A fine stormy weather'' is a great listening for all fans of Neo/Symphonic Prog, who don't mind the lack of a strong personality in their menu.Extremely balanced album with few highlights but plenty of good moments.Recommended.

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 A Fine Stormy Weather by DRACMA album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.52 | 32 ratings

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A Fine Stormy Weather
Dracma Neo-Prog

Review by David Saez

3 stars One of the best Spanish Progressive Rock CD of the nineties. In view of the desert landscape at the time, not that it is extremely worthwhile. The truth is that delighted the ears of a generation hungry orphan of good national benchmarks.

Remembering IQ, Marillion (early) or other groups Neo-Prog, Dracma produced an excellent album that marked the top in his career. And, when we were in the direct presentation of "A fine stormy weather", we thought it would be the breakthrough of the group, it landed to rise again in 2008 with a band restructured, but that's another story.

These other, incurring the typical mistake of many Spanish groups to develop their lyrics in English, even when you have a singer who successfully (or decently) mastered the language. If Pedro Jimenez had prepared the letters instead of Jordi Planas, then we would be talking about a great CD.

In short, highly recommended

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 A Fine Stormy Weather by DRACMA album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.52 | 32 ratings

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A Fine Stormy Weather
Dracma Neo-Prog

Review by Gerinski
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Dracma's debut album "Limits" was already a very decent Neo-Prog product but it suffered of a weak drumming, improvable production and lack of originality, following the Neo-Prog cliches excessively. These three points were properly addressed in this their next album "A fine stormy weather", clearly a more mature, professional and distinctive record, already at a level to compete with the big international names of the genre.

Previous drummer Jose Luis Pacheco was replaced by Eduardo Camblor who delivers a much better playing, helped also by a much improved engineering. Incidentally the credits in PA as of today are wrong mentioning Rod Oliveira as the drummer (I believe he joined the band after this album had already been recorded). Everything sounds better and tighter, also the guitars and the vocals, although lead singer Pedro Jimenez retains a strong accent in the all-english lyrics. The keyboards and bass were already very good in "Limits" and they get also even better here. The music is still mainly keyboard driven but much more balanced, with all the instruments contributing with a strong performance.

At first we feel that the melodies and musical phrases are not as melodic and catchy as in "Limits", but after some spins we realise that this is in fact for good. The band does not stick so much to the Neo-by-the-book formula and, while this is still clearly typical Neo- Prog, the music is more distinctive and personal and less obviously derived from Fish-era Marillion, IQ, Pendragon etc.

The album contains 5 songs with lenghts between the 7 and 11 minutes plus 2 short instrumentals. The opener "Beating life" starts with a powerful intro of guitar and neo keyboard scales which quickly shifts to a soft 5/4 arpeggio and is then followed by many dynamic changes, a really good track.

"Portrait of Falgars" is the first short instrumental, a duet of acoustic and nylon guitars similar to some of Steve Howe's acoustic pieces.

"The Mask" is again very Neo in style, with many changes but well structured, not sounding like several fragments glued together, and very good playing by all the band members. The same comments are applicable to the next track "Inner Castle", this one more similar to Pendragon. Excellent bass here.

"Arenys" is the second instrumental, a beautiful song in classical style with piano and acoustic guitar and some cajon.

"Hope" has a very good instrumental intro followed by a soft guitar arpeggio, then developing into different moods, and the closer and longest track "Inside Out" starts softly with acoustic guitar and piano and develops once again into several good Neo-Prog sections.

If you like Neo this is highly recommendable. The possible criticism to this album is that except for the 2 instrumentals, all the other tracks are quite similar in style, all very good but not distinctive enough, even after some listens it is hard to distinguish which section belongs to which song. There is nothing really surprising or highly original, no masterpieces, but it is a very solid album and with really good musicianship.

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 Limits by DRACMA album cover Studio Album, 1995
3.06 | 12 ratings

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Limits
Dracma Neo-Prog

Review by Gerinski
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Fairly standard Neo-Prog is what we find in this debut album by the spanish Dracma. The band which this sounds most similar to is early IQ, with other usual Neo references like Fish-era Marillion, Pendragon and occasionally Pink Floyd or Camel.

The backbone of the music is the good keyboards of Jordi Amela with the typical interplays with a good enough guitar and a nice upfront bass. Incidentaly the album credits in PA as of today are wrong mentioning guitarist Jordi Prats as bassist and ommiting the actual bassist Jordi Planas (yes Jordi is a popular name in Catalunya). Unfortunately the drumming of Jose Luis Pacheco is not so strong, with matters not helped by the fact that the sound of the drumkit especially the snare is not very good. All the lyrics are in english, the voice of Pedro Jimenez is not bad but he can not help a strong accent which can put off some people.

The album opens with the short instrumental "Open your gates", very neo, which leads to the upbeat "Answers" featuring several time signature changes, 7/8, 10/8 and 6/8 at least.

"Felling a tree" starts with a powerful interplay between keyboards and guitar and changes mood with a soft middle section, the style similar to Marillion's Script or Fugazi albums.

"Some faces of a runaway rabbit" is a nice instrumental starting with semi-classical piano followed by faster sections, with several dynamic changes and nice atmospheres.

"Visons from the park" starts with a very IQ-like keyboard arpeggio combined with powerful guitar, quickly settling down to a soft 5/4 beat. Again the typical neo references such as Pendragon come to mind.

"Feather's flight" is a short atmospherical keyboards instrumental, and then we have the 13- minute-plus suite "The sect of ignorance" with multiple tempo changes and again full of typical neo cliches. It has catchy melodies and nice sections but it lacks definition and purpose for a suite.

Two short soft songs close the album, the instrumental "Rain Clouds" based on acoustic guitar with some keyboard layers and "Two factions" also with acoustic guitar and vocals.

Respectable debut and recommendable to Neo fans, but do not expect an outstanding album. It follows the Neo formula too much by the book, it has catchy melodies and musical phrases and several nice developments, but it's not very original and there are better albums in this style, besides the improvable drumming and production. Their following album "A fine stormy weather" is clearly better and features a welcome change of drummer.

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 Limits by DRACMA album cover Studio Album, 1995
3.06 | 12 ratings

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Limits
Dracma Neo-Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars 3.5 stars for this great debut...

DRACMA were found in 1993 in Barcelona,Spain and were one of the few bands to record an album,before they signed a label.So,in early 94' DRACMA had enough material to create an album,which was recorded in Trama Studios.Finally their debut was published by Mellow Records a year later.DRACMA's sound lies somewhere between neo prog in the vein of early MARILLION and melodic progressive/art rock like the Swedish TRIBUTE.There are excellent guitar parts in the style of STEVE ROTHERY,dominated by good solos,while the vocals -although they have a slight Spanish accent- easily manage to get the listener into the album's atmosphere.Besides these elements,there are also tons of nice keyboards (again MARILLION's Mark Kelly comes to mind),while there is lots of space for smooth/atmospheric instrumental passages,not unlike TRIBUTE or even PINK FLOYD.Regarding this album was recorded only in a week,it's much above an average release,with superb strong musicianship and intense climates.Strongly recommended to all MARILLION and neo/symphonic progressive rock!

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 A Fine Stormy Weather by DRACMA album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.52 | 32 ratings

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A Fine Stormy Weather
Dracma Neo-Prog

Review by Prog-jester
Prog Reviewer

4 stars SIMPLY BEAUTIFUL!

Being a Neo-Prog band to the core, DRACMA haven't managed to escape from some genre's cliches (for example, their album opens with the sounds of children laughing), but the result is very, very good! Pieces like 'Portrait Of Falgars" and "Arenys" are short instrumental pieces in best CAMEL traditions, while other tracks are 7-11 minutes long epics recalling Fish-era MARILLION (to compare with). And believe my Neo experience, this is REALLY that good! Not a clone-type (like RED SAND), DRACMA manages to balance on "making their own music"/"looking into past". The only reason why I gave them 4 stars instead of DESERVED 5 stars is vocalist's terrible accent - I make an enormous effort to bear it while listen (while the voice itself is very good).

Highly recommended - it's a rare Neo gem that won't disappoint neither fans of the genre nor any other open-minded progger

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 Limits by DRACMA album cover Studio Album, 1995
3.06 | 12 ratings

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Limits
Dracma Neo-Prog

Review by Marcelo
Prog Reviewer

3 stars A typical neo-prog album, with all well-known neo elements: '70s music influences with modern sound (spirit of GENESIS and even CAMEL are present), English vocals and nice melodies. Enthusiastic interpretations, but nothing new. "The Sect Of Ignorance", the longest track, is the highlight of an album that won't disappoint all those who love bands like MARILLION or IQ. A good debut stuff, overall.

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