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Cast - Al-Bandaluz CD (album) cover

AL-BANDALUZ

Cast

 

Symphonic Prog

3.71 | 57 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars After the momentum achieved in their brilliant 'Beyond Reality' album, Mexican symphonic prog ensemble Cast had been approaching a crossroad that seemed to dangerously lead them to ceaseless self-repetition. Even though their posterior albums were all quite good, the prog magic apparently was starting to wane. Alfonso Vidales & co. came up with an excellent solution to their artistic predicament when they conceived the idea for "Al-bandaluz", a proposal of refurbishment based on the incorporation of Flamenco-and-Arabic-oriented flavors into their own vintage symphonic bombast. This double CD is a manifestation of constant musical magic; it may be tiring to listen to this ambitious opus too often, but, the way I see it, each occasion in which you take your time to relax and enjoy the whole stuff comes with an ultimate reward at the end of the day. The typical elegance and melodic pomposity of Cast remains solid as a rock in a storm, but it is clear that the addition of new forms has influenced in the reshaping of the band's core essence. Perhaps the intervention of guests from Spanish band Omni was also helpful, concerning the creation of this renewed magic; what's more, Omni's wind player Pepe Torres became some sort of official new member (or associate?) for Cast. The Arabic stuff is consistently conveyed by the exotic aura of 'Ensamble Al-Mayá', while 'Viajero Inmóvil', 'Jerezcali' and 'Lamento del Gato' lean closer to the realms of stylized Flamenco fusion translated into a prog context (not unlike Omni, or, looking backwards, Imán Califato Independiente before them). By the way, this is the first Cast album to contain Spanish only lyrics in the sung tracks. Besides the aforementioned numbers, there are other prog treats incarnated in the longest compositions: the 3-part suite 'Encrucijada' displays an amazing amount of electrifying energy and colorfulness, while the 4-part 'El Puente' feels more focused on crystalline melodies and straightforward sensibility, although it is not without its dose of bombast in places. "Al-bandaluz' is closed down by the powerful instrumental 'Ansia, Angustia, Desesperación'. Of all Cast albums I own in my collection, this is the one I enjoy more: in a word, excellent.
Cesar Inca | 4/5 |

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