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Códice - Alba Y Ocaso CD (album) cover



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4 stars A very nice surprise from Mexico (this country is currently one step ahead from all Latinamerica prog scene). Almost two symphonic rock hours, where we can find changing and elaborated music, some male and female interesting voices (this is an essentialy instrumental album), and influences from classical baroque music, ELP and Italian symphonic bands.

All stuff is enjoyable, but the second disc (more classically oriented) is superb. Recommended.

Report this review (#1509)
Posted Saturday, December 20, 2003 | Review Permalink
4 stars As far as I'm able to tell, this is the only album this Mexican prog band had ever released. At nearly two hours of music, I find it unusual that a debut album would be a 2-CD set, which is quite a risky venture indeed, especially since there'd be way more music that say, old 2-LP set debuts like Frank ZAPPA & The MOTHER's "Freak Out" or the debut from Chicago when they were known as The Chicago Transit Authority. Apparently this band had enough material to warrant a 2-CD set, but given this amount of material, there is your share of hit-and-miss here. This 2-CD set was released on the California-based Art Sublime label (responsible for reissuing albums from ICONOCLASTA, Holding Pattern, José CID, as well as new releases like from Tony Spada). Unlike most other titles on that label, this was issued in a normal CD jewel case (instead of LP-sized packaging), and it comes with artwork from (I believe) Rubén Viloria, whose style is very much in the style of H.R. Giger.

The band consisted of guitarist/keyboardist Marco Corona, drummer David Martinez, vocalist Luis Maldonado, keyboardist Mario Mendoza, and bassist Arturo García. Apparently Marco Corona has spent his time in Los Angeles, and even learned to play guitar from Robert FRIPP, if I'm not mistakened. Of course he went back to Mexico to form this band.

Not exactly the most original band on the face of the planet, you'll find plenty of influences from ELP, KING CRIMSON, GENESIS, ICONOCLASTA, Italian prog acts, even electronic acts like TANGERINE DREAM. Marco Corona's guitar style is often in the FRIPP and HACKETT style. And the keyboards are a combination of digital and analog, plus an EMU Vintage Keys, which they used in place of a real Mellotron (and unfortunately, I can tell was a digital replication, not the real deal, meaning the Vintage Keys is useful for those who don't quite have the money for the real thing, which are plenty of people out there). Some of the Hammond organ you hear on the album sounds a bit digitized, they use an XB-2, an organ I'm not familiar with, unlike the classic B-3. Also David Martinez is still in need of practicing his drums as his style still seems a bit sloppy, but I guess it's no more sloppy than the early works of ICONOCLASTA.

Now let's get with the music: the first disc opens up with the title track, which is actually a pretty cool electronic piece. Next piece is "El Eco de Tu Voz", which features some nice ICONOCLASTA-like guitar work and female vocals. But the problem I have with this song is the same problem I have with ICONOCLASTA's "De Todos Uno", guest Marisa Calderón sounds a little too close to ICONOCLASTA's bassist's Nohemi D'Rubin's attempt at singing showing that Mexican Spanish isn't always the best in a prog setting. It also proves the most of the other songs, with Luis Maldonado doing the vocals, prove the same, even though handled by a male vocalist. Occasionally you get some short, acoustic piece like "Paseo" and the medieval-influenced "Vorágine". Perhaps the most effective vocal cut here is "Corriente Abajo", which brings to mind such Italian greats as PFM or CELESTE. The last cut on the first disc, "Requiem" I felt was a big waste of time, played entirely on digital synths, it sounds like Marco Corona is delving perhaps a little too deep in that dreaded New Age there.

But it's the second disc shows what the band was really made of. Doing what prog bands couldn't do on a single LP because of time constraint (unless they wanted the whole album just one piece, like JETHRO TULL's "Thick as a Brick" or Mike OLDFIELD's "Tubular Bells"), with a nearly hour long suite called "Iconos". Luckily the vocals, for the most part are absent, leaving it a largely instrumental piece, which is fine with me. Here, the piece is loaded with all sorts of prog influences you come to expect, without exactly being original, but still making it interesting. Some of the parts of the album can sound quite sinister, other parts sound a bit too lighthearted for my liking, while some sound like something off KING CRIMSON's "Larks Tongues in Aspic". There's also a section where the band gets in to TANGERINE DREAM style electronic music, making them sound like how I wished TD would sound like in more recent times. After that, they ended up sounding like an early '70s heavy prog band. There's even a section with Gregorian chanting (and it sounds like it's in Latin). Being an hour long piece, "Iconos" does have it's dry spells, especially near the end. The disc does have one other independant cut, called "En El Umbral de la Paz", which is one of those acoustic pieces that do little for me.

This 2-CD set is really hit or miss, but has a lot of worthwhile material. But do avoid if you're completely anti-digital, but for those who aren't, the good thing is both Marco Corona and Mario Mendoza use digital (as well as analog) synths in a tasteful manner. One of those albums, just like all the ICONOCLASTA albums I've heard that is worth having, but not essential.

Report this review (#1512)
Posted Saturday, May 1, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars This one has to be a classic from Mexico. But for me, there's more to it than just buying this prog CD from a band from my country. They live actually in the same city that I live, in fact, I enjoyed an even deeper relationship with this band. David Martínez, the drummer (an excelent drummer by the way), was my drum teacher, so he sold it to me personally. I made friends with him and he told me all about being in this prog band and he told me it was great, unfortunately they have disbanded. But I got to see them live here in Monterrey, Mx and what a show really, apart from the stuff on their CD, which they played flawlessly, they played "Red" and "Lark's tongues in Aspic part II " !!!! They put in quite a show really, and well, I owe much to David, he was the one who got into prog in the first place, and I felt I improved lots when he was teaching me, anyways, this is a very good album from this mexican prog band and you can sense influences from the big names in prog here. One day he showed me a demo with songs that would've eventually become their next album, but it never came to pass. Those songs he showed me were like darker and even more technical, but I don't know why they never did it, it's been a while since I've seen David, anyways, if you by any chance bump into this album, check it out, its really worth it.
Report this review (#57064)
Posted Saturday, November 19, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars I'm very surprised with the small number of reviews ( only 10 reviews), for this albun.

Maybe the community of prog fans remains with a certain distrust in relation of the progressive music produced by Latin-American bands, as an example I can cite another Mexican band named CAST!

This excellent symphonic prog band shows in Progarchives an average between 10, 12 reviews for albun, and only "Castalia" which is a live albun, receive 5 stars, when in ny humble opinion 4 of their studio albuns deserves the same rate! ( Endless Sugns, Beyond Reality, Angels and Demons and Imaginnary Window). See my reviews of "Beyond Reality" in progarchives. Talking about the Códice albun, is one of the most beautiful releases of the late 90's, bring to us a very complex mix of influences of the master of symphonic prog such as Yes ,Camel, El&P, Genesis, O Terço, Bacamarte and even Mike Oldfifield"s Landscapes of sounds.

Plentiful of acoustic instruments in some tracks with a brilliant approach of classical music reminds me the madrigal themes of the middle ages, whitout neglect the strenght and magnificent and in some moments the aggressiveness of´progressive music, with nervous keyboards and guitars and changes of rhythmic lines.

My rate is 5 stars, whitout a trace of doubt !!!

Report this review (#268863)
Posted Saturday, February 27, 2010 | Review Permalink

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