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Congreso - Pájaros De Arcilla CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

3.94 | 25 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Pájaros de Arcilla" is a definitive highlight in Congreso's masterful musical history. A peculiar fact about this particular album is that it is the only one in this Chilean outfit's discography not to feature a member on the lead singer's role: Joe Vasconcellos, who had motivated the experimental explorations on fusion roads in the preceding two albums soon after the original vocalist Francisco Sazo had temporarily left the band, als oleft the band in order to pursue other musical interests. The remaining bunch - which by then had been augmented with the entry of saxophonost Jaime Atenas - was clearly illuminated by bursts of inspiration that couldn't be denied or delayed, so a new album got conceived, arranged, recorded and released. The creative stamina was there, and so, before the return of Saqzo, "Pájaros De Arcilla" became a reality destined to define one of the brightest moments of Congreso's history. Since a few tracks include lyrics, flutist Hugo Pirovich assumed the lead singing position when required, but it is easily noticeable that the band was mostly focused on emphasizing its instrumental facet. Without a singer, there is danger of losing some melodic drive, but Congreso managed to pass the test efficiently, working on the own instruments' melodic potential as well as developing an ever-growing sense of sonic adventure. This artistic success was not regarded as such by the band's label, which decided to hold back the release - one of those "intelligent" corporate decisions that are sadly abundant in the music business. Anyway, the album was released in Argentina, gaining well-deserved critical acclaims and ultimately becoming a precious item among Congreso fans (and overall folk-rock fans in the Latin America area). 'Voladita Nortina' opens up the album with a first part based on a solid exhibition of extroverted colorfulness, delivered with mathematic precision. Picture a hybrid of Irakere and Univer Zero, as unlikely as it may seem, and you will get an approximate idea of what I'm trying to talk about. The track's second part, thigs shift toward dreamy moods, featuring piano flows, clever drum kit ornaments and eerie sax lines. Next comes the beautiful title track, a fusion ballad on a 3/4 tempo whose basic circus-like theme develops a surreal portrait of romanticism and fantasy - Fellini's movies cometo my mind whenever I listen to this lovely track. Well... more exactly, every track in this album is lovely. 'Andén del Aire' is segued to the previous track's closing chimes - it is yet another solid example of Congreso's amazing wa to mix latin fusion, jazz-rock and RIO-oriented prog. 6 minutes of enthusiastic beauty washed in soft experimental waters. 'Alas Invasoras' (yet another track with some lyrics in it) reiterates the solidified eclectic approach: the Afro-South-American passages merge well with the series of musical nuances that develop along the way within a robust framework. This balanced confluence of control and free form has to be heard to be believed. Holman's bass deliveries, in particular, are brilliant beyond words. 'En la Ronda de un Vuelo' returns to the romantic warmth that had worked so well earlier in track 2. This time, the melancholic feeling is soft, even joyful (in a delicate way). The flute lines delivered by Pirovich really "sing" with human sweetness. 'Allá Abajo en la Calle (Coco Loco)' is arguably the most celebrated instrumental piece by the band's fans, and it usually lasts much longer than the 4- minute span that incarnates this studio rendition. Anyway, this track is an exciting excercise on Latin-jazz focused on massive atonal experimentations - once again, the chamber rock element becomes totally crucial in both compositional scheme and perforance. The track's architecture is full of frenzy and extravagance in a most exquisite fashion. The same joyful vibe is continued in the closing track 'Volando con Buenos Aires', albeit with less extravagance. "Pájaros de Arcilla" is an item not to be missed by any melomaniac, progressive oriented or not, fusion freak or not, Latin American or not. I gather that the CD edition is out of catalogue, but I pose as a mission for all PA readers to pursue a copy of this gem. Congreso at its best!!
Cesar Inca | 4/5 |


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