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José Cid - 10.000 Anos Depois Entre Vénus E Marte CD (album) cover

10.000 ANOS DEPOIS ENTRE VÉNUS E MARTE

José Cid

 

Symphonic Prog

4.26 | 194 ratings

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prla
4 stars Portugal isn't exactly where progressive music of any kind has been thriving. In fact, it's quite the opposite. Being a native, I could tell you in a thousand different ways how believing in one's music regardless of the risk of not being commercially accepted is the exception rather than the norm. In this case, José Cid is certainly an extreme case of going from one end of the spectrum all the way to the other.

After a few years testing the waters during the hey day of classic prog, he released what many believe to be a landmark progressive rock album in 1978, entitled "10,000 Anos Entre Vénus e Marte". The critical acclaim was so at odds with what he believed was the true value of his work, that prog rocker José Cid seemed to die right there and then. From the ashes, rose a pop singer/songwriter of the same name who, a mere two years later, partook in the 1980 Eurovision Song Contest. From then on, he has been enjoying a prolific career to this day, with no trace of prog whatsoever.

But what really matters here is the prog and what a godforsaken album "10,000 Anos..." is. Case in point: if mellotrons are your thing and Moogs, pianos and string synths don't hurt a bit, then this album is for you. Cid was a sucker, at least back then, for vintage keyboards and he put his huge rig to good use on this record. Right from the get-go, on opening track "O Último Dia na Terra", Cid sets an enigmatic tone soon to be joined by the drums and bass, building up a slow and sombre melody complete with monotonic vocals from Cid himself. Fans of Chroma Key will probably sense deja-vu, except when this came out Kevin Moore was probably still getting his nose wiped.

Things get a lot more rhytmic right on the second track, "O Caos". And boy, this is a rocker. In true progressive fashion, the mood alternates wildly between melodic synth, roaring big riff guitar and elegant guitar soloing. The spirits are lifted from that quirky opener and the listener's head will inevitably bob back and forth. Drummer Ramon Galarza shows amazing restraint playing solely for the song, being especially groovy during the brief moments of guitar noodling. All the while, soft synths in the background form the basis for the dreamlike quality of the entire record and this track is no exception. Cid had no boundaries, only his vision of what keyboard driven prog rock should sound like. I describe this track at length as it may well be the strongest of the lot.

It's probably interesting to note at this point that all lyrics are in Portuguese and they work quite well, much for the same reason symphonic Italian prog goes down so well with english speaking audiences. The two languages have the same root in Latin and their "musicality" is quite similar. Of course it helps that Cid has a good voice, something he still sports to this day. It's also important to point out we're in the presence of a conceptual album, again in reliable prog fashion, this time dealing with affairs within our own planet (located between Venus and Mars last time I checked) from a science fiction point of view (well, he better, since we're dealing with matters ten thousand years from now).

Things proceed with "Fuga Para o Espaço", clocking in at a little over eight minutes, making use of beautiful piano interleaved with synth to create a moody piece that gains emotion as the Gilmour-like guitar sets in and solos freely and wholeheartedly. Emotion and feeling are key words here. A beautiful piece right before the Genesis influences get more evident in the next track which goes by the suggestive name of "Mellotron, O Planeta Fantástico" (Mellotron, The Fantastic Planet). An infectious and grooving bass line sets the tone for almost seven minutes full of the inevitable Mellotron, twists and turns galore. While this is indeed a keyboard driven album, one must heavily underline Zé Nabo's guitar and bass work on pretty much every track. His soloing is drenched in emotion, fitting the music and never wearing out its welcome. And while we're at it, "Memos" reminds me so much of Floyd's "The Great Gig in the Sky" for all the right reasons and that's where Nabo soars to the highest heights on this record.

The title track and "A Partir do Zero" follow the same keyboard-driven path laid out before, openly tapping to the Genesis and Eloy influences for good measure. The album closes with "Vida (Sons do Quotidiano)", which is quite funny if you understand the lyrics as it contains voice samples of a surgeon narrating in detail the birth of a baby. This was part of a previously released EP and seems to work more like a bonus track, but it nevertheless works pretty well. The sound is noticeably a little different, a little more raw, a little patchwork, but pretty much paving the way for what was soon to come.

It's a most unfortunate circumstance that Cid decided to pursue a radically different path for whatever reasons. Clocking it at a perfect 50 minutes, this is pretty much the only significant true classic prog rock release ever to come out of Portugal, but one that stands unashamedly alongside the best work done in prog's golden decade.

prla | 4/5 |

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