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Eclectic Prog • Spain

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Altair biography
ALTAIR is an all-instrumental duo consisting of Alfredo Arcusa on drums (also the main composer) and Isabel Muniente on keyboards. Their style is close to that of ELP with some shades of Kevin Leonard, NORTH STAR, PINK FLOYD, GENESIS and VON ZAMLA thrown in. In between albums, Arcusa dabbled with other bands (NOSFERATU and AMAROK) and by their third release, ALTAIR's line up consisted of Arcusa himself on drums, Emilio Ruiz on keyboards and Albert Guitart on banjo.

Their material is dominated by the keyboards, which carry much of the material in terms of composition. What constitutes ALTAIR's main attraction is the diversity of themes and the variety of chord changes. Arcusa's drum play is solid, somewhat reminiscent of Nick Mason on early PINK FLOYD albums ("Ummagumma"). On Arcusa's own web site, Bill Bruford writes: "Your music is very skilled and reminds me of UK and KING CRIMSON" - a nice endorsement from the master drummer. As for Muniente, her synths can be a little grating at times but she does some fine work on piano.

Although the band doesn't break any grounds where originality is concerned, their albums are still a nice addition to anyone's collection who enjoys ELP-like, keyboard-dominated prog.

: : : Lise (HIBOU), CANADA : : :

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Lost EdenLost Eden
Sound Pollution 2014
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ALTAIR discography

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

3.06 | 5 ratings
3.14 | 3 ratings
Fantasías Y Danzas

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

3.17 | 7 ratings
Altair 3

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

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

3.16 | 6 ratings
La Eseencia DelTiempo

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

ALTAIR Reviews

Showing last 10 reviews only
 La Eseencia DelTiempo by ALTAIR album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2011
3.16 | 6 ratings

La Eseencia DelTiempo
Altair Eclectic Prog

Review by memowakeman
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars This Spanish band was unknown to me until Juan José Salas, the man behind Azafrán Media said his label had produced an album of theirs, so I got interested and obtained it as soon as possible. And I was positively surprised because what I find in this CD is a bunch of wonderful songs that give peace to my mind and make my imagination fly, it is music very visual that leads you from one story to another, you just have to sit and the music will do the rest. The band released their debut album long time ago (1990) and I am not sure if they are still playing, however, in 2011 decided to make a compilation album entitled "La escencia del tiempo" which I am reviewing now.

This CD contains 9 songs that make a total time of one hour of cool prog rock from Spain, which has nothing to do with classic bands such as Triana, Iceberg or Itoiz; Altair's style is far from them, maybe that's their charm. "Estrella en el camino" opens the album, let me tell you that here you will find instrumental music, closer to symphonic prog, but with an eclectic sound that is not easy to classify, anyway, what we must do is to simply enjoy the music. Nice piano driven track with cool drums and guitars is what we will find here. "Eddy's Prelude" is like a fantastic tale that is being told, with a repetitive introduction with keyboards and drums that all of a sudden calms down and produces a sweet piano sound; later it becomes a piano song of classical music, and honestly loses its prog beauty.

With "Nuevo Horizonte" I remember some old school bands such as ELP , I think the reminiscence is obvious with the keyboards work. "Summer's Triangle" is another bombastic track that bring some 70s memories to my head, however there is something particular in Altair's music that can define their style, they are not copycats at all, the only took some of their influences and roots and shared them with their personal touch. "Visiones" is one of my favorite tracks here, the sound of this band may not be the most original or unique or memorable, however they are truly constant and have a delicate touch that makes me enjoy every single track. This one has a cool structure that little by little is catching your attention, of course keyboards (which is the main instrument in Altair's music) stand out.

"Tiempos difíciles" has a kind of new age flavor, I remember some Vangelis or Oldfield's moments here, maybe due to the rhythm and the work of that repetitive keyboards at the beginning; before reaching the second minute the music changes, turning a bit darker and tense. What I like of this song is that it shares different textures and feelings, there are some calm, dark, nervous passages, all united and disintegrated, but belonging to the same realm. Great song. "Oración del ermitaño" is a sweet short piece, relaxing, peaceful, a nice passage of life.

"El bosque encantado" is the longest composition here, the only one over 10 minutes. It has a slow start, 2 useless introductory minutes until keys appear and begin to create a structure in which bass and drums perfectly join, then the music becomes totally jazzy, a dive to old times can be appreciated here for some minutes, what I like is that later it returns to the symphonic side of prog, so this song is a cool mixture of genres, a challenging track without a doubt. The album finishes with "Plácido paseo" may be the continuation of the previous song, they are linked in some way, it is a nice track to finish the album.

Well, this compilation is good, Altair offer nice music with a personal touch, however most of their songs are not memorable, are cool to listen someday but not to re-listen frequently, I mean, I enjoy them but I can live without listening to them. Anyway, my final grade will be three stars.

Enjoy it!

 Altair by ALTAIR album cover Studio Album, 1990
3.06 | 5 ratings

Altair Eclectic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Altair was a project of Catalan drummer Alfredo Arcusa, found in 1986, after he met female pianist/keyboardist Isabel Muniente at the music school were he was teaching.The duo recorded the self-titled debut in Barcelona during June 1989 and it was eventually released the next year on the tiny Spanish label Sirius Records.

As written in the liner notes of the booklet the album is dedicated to KEITH EMERSON, thus indicating some of the music's orientation.Arcusa handles the drums with Muniente being responsible for the piano, keyboards and bass synthesizers.The (all instrumental) music has mostly a certain Fusion edge with complex breaks and is filled with the complicated drumming of Arcusa along with Muniente's keyboard pyrotechnics with virtuosic solos among others.So the comparison with E.L.P. is reasonable and other bands coming to mind are TIEMKO, SOMBRE REPTILE, MONGOL or WAPPA GAPPA, however it is quite unique to think that these sounds come off by only two musicians.Among these technical performances there are some softer parts with smooth piano lines and organ passages, sometimes with a hidden Classical charm.Despite being quite virtuosic, all tracks seem to have a tight structure and connected themes, so ''Altair'' sounds far from anything improvisational.

This album deserves some reward.Of course it is not along the lines of Progressive Rock's diversity, as a keyboard/drum duo has certain abilities, but is a very rich-sounding, well-executed and performed and will appeal to all fans of Fusion-esque keyboard-driven adventures.Recommended.

 Altair by ALTAIR album cover Studio Album, 1990
3.06 | 5 ratings

Altair Eclectic Prog

Review by toroddfuglesteg

3 stars The debut album from this Spanish band.

The music is instrumental. The instruments are drums, keyboards and synth-bass. And that alone really says a lot about this album. But if in any doubts; the music is somewhere between new age muzak/elevator music, classical music and symphonic prog. This is in Keith Emerson & ELP territory and this is by no means the most exciting or interesting music I have heard this year. It is leaning towards the other side of the spectrum, in fact.

The quality of the music is pretty good and it is obvious that Alfredo G. Arcusa & Isabel Muniente knows their stuff. And melodies like Estrella en el camino is great too. But there are some other melodies which does not really interest me too.

Overall, this is a rather weak triple stars album, Estrella en el camino and the many ELP references being the saving grace here. Those of you not in awe of ELP can safely bypass this album and spend the money on some fudge donuts instead.

3 stars

 Altair 3 by ALTAIR album cover Live, 2004
3.17 | 7 ratings

Altair 3
Altair Eclectic Prog

Review by toroddfuglesteg

3 stars A new name to me.

Altair from Spain released two album. Then took a break and reformed around the millenium. They did a Barcelona gig in 2000 and this live album is the result of that gig.

There is not much public interaction on this live album though. But the music on this album does not really call out for any public interactions too. The music dished up here is a more jazzy, eclectic version of ELP. This is sit still and listen type of music. The music is based on keyboards with the drumming also pretty central in the soundmix. There is a rumbling bass in the mix too. The sound is very good and the instruments are clear as water.

I have to admit an hour with this album or any Altair albums is not what I would call exciting. Altair has removed any soul from the music ELP did and injected technical prowesses. Altair is so skillful, but also so dull in their delivery of this music which is not the most interesting music by default either.

This is a nice album and a very desireable album if you happens to be a keyboardist yourself or you love keyboards in general. For the rest of us; an hour with this is sufficient. In my case; several hours to be able to write this review. Nice music and excellent musicianship. Enough.

3 stars

 Altair 3 by ALTAIR album cover Live, 2004
3.17 | 7 ratings

Altair 3
Altair Eclectic Prog

Review by erik neuteboom
Prog Reviewer

3 stars As a duo featuring Alfredo G. Arcusa on drums and Isabel Muniente on keyboards and bass-synthesizer, Spanish band Altair made two albums in the Nineties: Altair from 1990 and Fantasias Y Danzas from 1999. In 2003 Italian progrock label Mellow Records released this live CD, recorded live in Barcelona (2000) after drummer Alfredo Arcusa re-founded Altair as a trio with Emilio Ruiz on keyboards and Albert Guitart on bas.

On this album simply entitled 3 (running time almost one hour) we can enjoy seven compositions delivering a modern, tasteful keyboard sound, dynamic drums and flowing bass play. The climates change from dreamy and compelling to fluent and propulsive including a varied colouring from the keyboards: flashy synthesizer flights, jazzy, swinging and swirling piano runs, fine organ waves, wonderful orchestrations and some spacy sounds. At some moments the keyboard driven progrock from Altair evokes ELP but not so obvious as on their two studio albums because the new keyboardist has more an own style and plays with more variety. Due to this Altair sounds more convincing and powerful so I would like to recommend this album to the keyboard aficionados, not really earthshaking but just a pleasant one.

 Fantasías Y Danzas  by ALTAIR album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.14 | 3 ratings

Fantasías Y Danzas
Altair Eclectic Prog

Review by Greger
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Spanish duo ALTAIR was formed in 1986 and they're playing keyboard dominated progressive rock. This is their second CD and it is called "Fantasías Y Danzas". This is the follow up to their debut album "Altair" from 1990. In between these albums the members have been busy playing in the bands NOSFERATU and AMOK.

To me this album is a little bit too keyboard oriented even though the magnificent drummer has a big part in the music too. It's also all-instrumental and I don't find the music that interesting in itself. Their music is a mix between EMERSON, LAKE & PALMER, GENESIS, Kevin LEONARD, NORTH STAR, PINK FLOYD and VON ZAMLA, and the highlights are "Oración Del Ermitaño", "Al Abordaje", "Visiones" and the last track "Estrella En El Camino (En Vivo)" which is recorded live in 1989.

The CD comes with a very beautiful and original CD packaging, and it's available though Musea, Wayside, Eurock, Syn-Phonic and Kinesis. Recommended if you're into instrumental keyboard dominated progressive rock.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to NotAProghead for the last updates

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