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Los Jaivas - Obras De Violeta Parra CD (album) cover


Los Jaivas


Prog Folk

4.09 | 98 ratings

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4 stars I have four Los Jaivas albums; their self-titled from the seventies, two (including this one) from the eighties, and ‘Arrebol’ from 2001. I’m amazed how much the band changes from decade to decade, more so than many other groups that span the same timeframe. Sure, Genesis evolved from being the prototype prog band to a schmaltzy pop act, and Jethro Tull grew from basically a blues band to quintessential prog folk to almost a parody of prog and back to folk again. But with Los Jaivas the transitions all still fall well within the realm of very progressive and respectable music, just distinctly different over a nearly forty year period. And at least until Gato Alquinta’s passing, with largely the same lineup.

While the band’s earliest work is pretty earthy folk steeped in Chilean tradition, the latter stuff is quite modern-sounding and features more than a little keyboard and synthesized sounds. ‘Obras de Violeta Parra’ falls somewhere in between, with glimmers of modernity while still clinging like hopeless romantics to their national roots. And sure, there are Moogs and electric pianos and a celeste and electric guitars; but the band has managed to retain the authenticity and unique sounds of the charango, the Mapuchean trutrucas and even some mandolin. One thing that seems to remain constant with Los Jaivas is their love and skillfull employment of exotic and rich-sounding instruments and percussion, something they do with abundance here.

Its also a good thing CDs came out when they did, since this thing runs on for nearly seventy-seven minutes including three songs clocking in at over ten minutes each. The first (“Arauco Tiene una Pena”) is rich with keyboards, lush percussion and various stringed instruments, and pretty sparse on vocals. At times it almost wanders into symphonic rock territory. The follow-up “Ell Guillatun” is undeniably symphonic, with a sprightly piano chord progression that builds and evolves the entire length of the song as guitar, xylophone and a wispy recorder dance around the basic arrangement. Toward the end the drums and other percussion build to a sort of multifaceted climax before ending abruptly. “Run Run se Fue pal Norte” is another symphonic piece, as is “En los Jardones Humanos”; both are a little shorter and with what sounds like some synthesized keyboards mixed with piano and celeste, but a nice songs overall.

On the other hand, “Y Arriba Quemando el Sol” is the other long song, but this one has multiple vocals track, more of a folk piano line, and an almost martial tempo. I can’t say as this one adds much to the overall appeal of the album, and frankly the record would have been complete even without it.

One thing that comes out in “Y Arriba Quemando el Sol” though is the presence of some brass, something that is more prevalent on the second half of the disc. Those songs are shorter (though a few are still around 8-9 minutes); there are also more vocals on most of the latter tracks.

There are also a couple of more modern-sounding, pop-folk numbers stuck on the album for some reason (“Manana me voy pal Norte” and “Violeta Ausente”). Nothing wrong with these, they just don’t quite fit the mood of the rest of the work.

The band wraps recorder around piano on the closing “Que Pena Siente el Alma” and sprinkles in a little taste of vocals for the closest they come to their seventies sound. I really like this one as a closing number; it is upbeat, has a kind of playful piano sequence, and seems to be designed to leave the listener feeling good as the music winds to a close. Well played and something I expect the band performed in concert regularly (although regrettably I never had the opportunity to see them live).

I won’t say this is my favorite Los Jaivas album, and it’s just a slight bit uneven considering the two or three short non-folksy songs. But in whole the music is nearly as appealing as some of their earlier work, even if it is quite a bit more formal and with a symphonic structure. Four stars I think, and well recommended to symphonic and prog folk fans alike, as well as anyone who finds acts like Triana, Amenophis or maybe even Ekseption appealing.


ClemofNazareth | 4/5 |


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