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Azahar - Elixir CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

3.53 | 30 ratings

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3 stars This is an album that falls under the category of ‘it doesn’t matter how technically awesome your music is if it doesn’t move anyone’. Or at least in my personal opinion that’s the case.

I’m always curious whenever an older, obscure album is reissued (and remastered in this case). Was this a lost masterpiece that finally managed to get its deserved attention? Is the band attracting new attention for some reason, and the back catalog needs to be refreshed? Or is the band itself bankrolling the project? In the case of Azahar, none of these seems to apply as near as I can tell. And yet, here is the CD version of their 1977 album ‘Elixir’.

I’ve read some of the interesting tales of this band in their heyday and their supposed ‘counter-culture’ leanings. Lead singer Dick Zappala was supposedly deported from Spain for using the band to try and promote a legalization of marijuana agenda, only to reenter the country and rejoin the band before they finally broke up. Well, that may be true but I don’t really hear much in the way of radical politics in this music. Then again, I only speak English and the vocals (and liner notes) are all in Spanish, so who knows.

Musically these tunes are all about keyboards: mellotron, Fender Rhodes, piano, and various Roland synths. Oh yeah, and there’s a couple of guitars as well. In the case of Antonio Valls that includes some outstanding electric guitar that sometimes borders on hard rock and sometimes just ever-so- slightly on psych, but is always complex and vibrant (check out “ĦEs que Esto no Tiene Nombre!” and the lengthy solo on “Mercaderes” for Valls at his best. He also plays a mandolin somewhere on the album but that’s a bit harder to pick up on (on “Viaje a Marruecos” for sure). And this is Latin music, so there must be acoustic and Spanish guitar – and there are, thanks to Jorge Barral who also plays bass (would like to see how that works out in concert!). Neither figure prominently in most of the music though, except during the middle and end of the three-part “Viaje a Marruecos”.

But all that aside, if you pick up this record be ready to be left awash in keyboards. The opening “Campos de Azahar” is a slow and building instrumental almost completely consisting of mellotron and Rhodes, with a little bass for good measure. “ĦEs que Esto no Tiene Nombre!” is more of the same. The rest of the tracks at least include liberal amounts of Valls’ (and sometimes Barral’s) guitars, but primarily this is still a keyboard album. A decent one, but in the end I’m left wondering exactly what inspired someone to spend the time and money to have it remastered and reissued. I’m assuming it must have a market in Spain or this wouldn’t have been done, but for me this is a moderately decent album that you likely won’t be put off by, but isn’t really worth dipping into your savings to pay for either. Three stars and here’s hoping any fans of the band manage to pick up all the copies so the label at least covers their costs. Otherwise they may not be able to bankroll more worthy projects in the future.


ClemofNazareth | 3/5 |


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