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MIA - Transparencias CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.96 | 84 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
4 stars One of Argentina's most woefully under-appreciated progressive rock act of the entire 1970s was surely M.I.A. also written as MIA but actually is an abbreviation for the lengthy MÚSICOS INDEPEDENTES ASOCIADOS which translates into English as Independent Musician's Association. This rotating cast of excellent musicians emerged in 1975 Buenos Aires around the core trio of Alberto Muñoz, Liliana Vitale and Lito Vitale, a young 12-year-old pianist who were joined by up to 50 musicians, sound engineers, graphic designers and other artists to create a larger than life and totally independent project that performed numerous live performances and as a musical group released three studio albums as well as a couple live releases before disbanding in 1982.

M.I.A. was quite innovative for its time, not only musically speaking but in how the group conducted its entire business model. For example the members supported the group's efforts by teaching music to the general public and succeeded in garnering so much positive criticism that the collective actually sold albums before they were recorded in order to finance the projects and all of this occurred during one of Argentina's darkest chapters of its history during the years of the dictatorship. The band's project revolved around the poetry and lyrical content provided by Alberto Muñoz along with the instrumental contributions of the other members. TRANSPARENCIAS ( Transparencies ) was the group's first album that debuted in 1976 and followed in the footsteps of English symphonic prog as well as the pastoral progressive folk style that had already invaded Argentina influenced by the progressive Italian bands.

TRANSPARENCIAS is an epic sounding album and although M.I.A. utilized many vocalists during its existence, this debut album falls mostly in the instrumental camp which centers on the Western classical music inspirations of pianist Juan Del Barrio who is accompanied by Nono Belvis on bass, Daniel Curto on acoustic guitar, Liliana Vitale on flute and percussion and Lito Vitale who was a multi-tasker handling drums, synths, keyboards, flute and the few vocals on the title track (along with Liliana). This album is on the pastoral side with soft sensual piano lifted by slow tempos, soft atmospheres and flute runs. The album sounds somewhat of a mix between early Focus and softer Italian prog bands like Locanda delle Fate. The title track is the only one to feature vocals from both Liliana Vitale and Nono Belvis but are wordless and only contribute to richer musical textures.

Except for the synthesizers, TRANSPARENCIAS sounds like a mostly acoustic affair reminding a bit of Quebec's Harmonium but maintaining that distinct symphonic prog stylistic approach in the vein of Invisible, Crucis or La Máquina de Hacer Pájaros. The tracks are highly complex yet very melodic and sound like an impressive feat considering the young age of some of the performers and the large number of members in this rotating door. The music is nothing less than beautiful and although primarily on the acoustic side, the 20 minute side swallowing title track features some of the few electric guitar parts to be heard including a nice solo at which time connects the band's style to the symphony prog giants of the Italian scene made all the more so given Argentina's dialect of Spanish is most like the Italian language.

This is simply a stunningly beautiful album that is basically a series of piano arpeggios, symphonic counterpoints, lush flute runs and vocal extras piling up and crafting a very pleasing sum of the parts. The whole affair is made all the more impressive considering that these highly sophisticated compositions were performed by many youngsters who were still just teenagers and in that regard reminds me of the Italian band Semiramis however there is nothing wild and crazy going on here. This is sensual and beautiful and carefully crafted to nurture every melodic cadence and bring out its full potential. While i've never heard M.I.A. in its original vinyl release form, i have to say that the Belle Antique remastered version is sheer perfection as it sounds like a modern release where every sound is crystal clear. What a beautiful debut from one of my favorite Argentinean prog bands.

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |


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