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Tabletom - Mezclalina CD (album) cover

MEZCLALINA

Tabletom

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.95 | 3 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
4 stars Progressive rock has always been a form of protest music although not necessarily as confrontational as punk rock or heavy metal. Many bands that fell under the umbrella of the greater prog rock universe were in fact just as anti-establishment as many of the bands that followed in the wake of the Sex Pistols and even after punk had unfurled its flag for angsty youth to follow, prog still held its own albeit in the shadows for a brief moment in time. Perfect example is the Spanish band TABLETOM which emerged from the anarcho-commune scene of southern Spain on the outskirts of Málaga which delivered its own fiery passion of energetic musical fury in the form of a unique fusion of f jazz, rock, reggae, blues and Andalusia's own flamenco flavors.

While the band has gone through many lineup changes, the members that played on this debut album MESZCLALINA include Jesús Manuel Ortiz (bass, violin), Salvador Zurita (drums), Jose Ramírez (flute), Pedro Ramírez (guitar), José Javier Denis (saxophone) and Roberto González (vocals). While the Andalusian rock thing was quite prolific in Spain with bands like Triana, Mezquita, Veneno and Imán Califato Independiente rockin' the scene, just to name a few, TABLETOM came to the table (no pun intended) with a rather different angle to the scene with a wider spectrum of influences that ranged from Gong, Magma, Soft Machine, Chic Corea and even reggae and Flemish folk. The band was staunchly anti-establishment and immediately butted heads with its record label RCA that wanted more commercial albums right from the start. The band managed to squeak this debut out before resorting to releasing its albums independently.

MESZCLALINA doesn't only stand out in the Spanish scene as an outlier but really doesn't fit in neatly with other prog tags either. Let's just call it eclectic jazz-fusion with lots and i do mean lots of flute action whizzing by and all good. The band plays a rather energetic display of guitar led rock that adds the usual bass and drums and but it seems the flute is the main instrument of focus on this album. This is basically a jazzy sort of rock album with saxophones a heavy saxophone presence and lots of jazzy chord progressions but also included is some stellar piano workouts as well as the occasional violin. The album generates those knotty time signature workouts that put this in true prog rock territory with only a few flamenco influences creeping in mostly on the opening "Tipos Duros (En Memoria De Piyayo)"

Starting with the second track "Ininteligible" the tracks slow down in tempo a bit and engage in a flutier Focus styled sort of prog with even a little funk at times as heard by the bass lines and the tracks all drift on past the seven minute mark which means they engage in a lot of instrumental interplay. While the vocals of Roberto González were dominate on the opening track, on the following ones the instrumental interplay is emphasized more strongly and the band provides some interesting variations on themes however the vocal parts are presented throughout the album and all are in the Spanish language. The tracks are pretty much stitched together sections of hard rock vocal led sections (with flute!) along with some instrumental improv workouts in jazz-fusion territory.

The title track is funky chunky like a frickin' chickin' gettin' a lickin! Still though the flute just has to outplay all the other instruments. Is this Jethro Tull? Nah, at least Ian Anderson has the sense of security of being the main director. The flute on MESZCLALINA seems a little aggressive at times as if it's a lead guitar but hey all instruments can dream, no? As the album continues and "Zero Zero," the 4th track starts it's obvious that this is one of those albums where all the tracks are very independent of one another. As the longest track at almost ten minutes this one goes through many changes but it somehow it maintains a pastoral folk vibe while crafting interesting speedier rock techniques. Same goes for "La Guerra" actually.

As with most unorthodox prog rock, you really have to give it several spins before it can sink in. Same goes for TABLETOM's debut MESZCLALINA which just doesn't quite measure up to your expectations but once you drop those preconceived notions of what the album "should be" then it is easier to nestle your consciousness into what the intended musical developments of the band were intended to be and then it sort of sinks in. Very borderline album in terms of prog worthiness but after a few listens it grew on me despite the first listen leaving me somewhat underwhelmed. Although i do speak Spanish this was not a factor in the least for my appreciation of the album's uniqueness. All in all this is probably the band's best offering despite the tenaciousness that has kept them active to the present day. Somewhat lackluster at the end but still an interesting little specimen in the greater prog world.

3.5 but i guess i'll round it up because i support the message

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |

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