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MIA - Cornonstipicum CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.21 | 116 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
5 stars MÚSICOS INDEPEDENTES ASOCIADOS or M.I.A. for short which translates into English as Independent Musician's Association was a music cooperative formed in 1975 Buenos Aires, Argentina and incorporated the talents of several musicians, graphic designers, illuminators and others to craft a rotating project that lasted until 1982 and yielded three studio albums. Led by the still teenagers Lito Vitale (piano, organ, synthesizer, mellotron, accordion, clavinet, celeste, percussion, vocals) and Liliana Vitale (drums, bass, celeste, recorder, contralto recorder, percussion, vocals), the project produced some of the finest top tier prog from the South American continent.

M.I.A. saved its best act for last with its third and final studio release CORNONSTÍPICUM which was released in 1978 well after the initial prog golden years had subsided but in my experience, it was the years that followed that produced some of the highest honors of prog splendor where a few dedicated bands had to make their limited releases count due to the burden of swimming upstream with a lack of financing and interest. M.I.A. was the exception to the rule with the members financing their own project by teaching music to the public and soliciting funding in order to record the albums. This all resulted in three excellent albums that weren't under the pressure of record company execs trying to dumb down the music and craft the next crossover pop hit.

On "Transparencias," M.I.A. established itself as Argentina's answer to a pastoral folk-infused symphonic prog band that crafted complex yet melodic compositions with the emphasis on Western classical piano parts augmented by synthesizer atmospheres and prog rock aesthetics gleaned from the Italian prog scene whereas on the sophomore release "Magicos Juegos del Tiempo," the project focused more on a lyrical approach that engaged the masculine and feminine vocal counterpoints of the two Vitales. CORNONSTÍPICUM returned to the mostly instrumental workouts of the debut only more refined with the perfect integration of the Argentinian prog folk aspects married with the more bombastic symphonic prog keyboard driven heft inspired by groups like Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Premiata Forneria Marconi and Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso.

After the lineup being reduced to a mere quartet on the previous album, CORNONSTÍPICUM featured an expanded lineup of seven musicians including the Lito and Liliana Vitale along with Daniel Curto (electirc & acoustic guitar, bass, flute, contrabass, organ, mellotron, percussion), Alberto Muńoz (electric & acoustic guitar, bass, vocals), Nono Belvis (bass, electirc guitar, percussion), Emilio Rivoira (tenor sax) and Kike Sanzol (drums). While the first two albums were focused on a more acoustic driven experience, CORNONSTÍPICUM unifies the acoustic with more electric elements not only with a heightened use of more complex keyboards, mellotrons and organ sounds but also a much wider use of the electric guitar. As with the debut the vocals are primarily limited to wordless utterances serving a richer palette for dynamics.

The fuller progressive rock aspects initiated on the second album are fully unleashed on CORNONSTÍPICUM where the full rock band effect is heard with heavy guitar, bass and drum workouts with faster tempos and classic Keith Emerson keyboard wizardry and the amazing thing is that many of the members were still teenagers even at the time of the release of this third and most mature album from M.I.A. Reflecting the superb cover art which evokes a mysterious glimpse into some magical parallel realm, the music on CORNONSTÍPICUM is truly transcendental with fully integrated darkened atmospheres and the triumphant crossroads of Western classical with progressive rock and subtle jazz elements. The original vinyl release featured only six tracks with the lengthy title track swallowing up side two at nearly 18 minutes and the shot 50 second "Las Persianas No" ranking as the shortest.

CORNONSTÍPICUM is one of the pinnacle achievements of Argentinean symphonic prog with lush soundscapes evoking Baroque melodic splendor infused with contemporary fortitude with outstanding compositions steeped in complexities without sacrificing a synchronistic flow. The liberal use of choral vocal sections especially on the title track only adds an increased vitality to the entire experience. The one question i have is why didn't M.I.A. release any studio albums after CORNONSTÍPICUM considering this one was released in 1978 and the project didn't cease to exist until 1982. The only other release after this one was the 1979 live album "Conciertos." Whatever the case, this third and final release is one of my absolute favorite albums of all time and not just from Argentina. It captures all the aspects of a symphonic prog masterpiece and excels on every level. The music is dense and layered and requires many spins to grasp but the ultimate impression will only be one of total awe and admiration. The Belle Antique remastered version also features several excellent bonus tracks.

siLLy puPPy | 5/5 |


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