|Feliu i Joan Albert
This title, possibly one of the most interesting titles on the Spanish label Zeleste, was passed up during the early 90's CD reissues of label contemporaries such as Pau Riba, Secta Sonica, Companyia Electrica Dharma, and Orquestra Mirasol (editors note: Eventually issued legit on CD in 2004 by PDI). This duo of keyboards and classical guitar (with a smattering of flute) produced some intensely fascinating music. Guitarist Feliu Gasul is a superb player, honing classical, jazz and flamenco styles into a recognizable and virtuosic whole. Joan Albert switches from piano to those single-oscillator, monophonic analog synthesizers that remind me of groups like Iceberg, Cai, or Iman, and plays brilliantly and dexterously on all. Together, they produce a captivating, complex music whose avant touches have long made this a collectible by fans of RIO and aligned music. There are five pieces here, every one of them a gem, and never is there a dull moment. Tired of music by duos that seem lackluster and thinly arranged? Track down this wonderful oddity, one of the most impressive feats of musical prowess and agility to come from Spain.
Musica Urbana - "Musica Urbana"
(PDI 80.3331, 1976/1994, CD)
Musica Urbana was an eclectic Spanish fusion band who recorded this gem in 1976. With its sudden rhythmic and melodic changes and rapid alternation between composed ensemble sections and improvisational sections, their music will instantly remind one of such experimental fusion greats as The Muffins, Samla Mammas Manna, and maybe even fellow Spanish group Fusioon. Joan Albert Amargos, the leader of the quartet, plays an impressive assortment of instruments, covering a variety of keyboards, woodwinds, trombone, and violin. He is accompanied by electric and acoustic guitar, electric and acoustic bass, and a variety of percussion. Together they meander through an assortment of styles, from darker, more serious jams, to quirky and unusual melodic ensemble themes, to zany and humorous sections. At times one can hear a slight Canterbury feel, calling to mind Hatfield And The North or National Health. Through it all, the top-notch playing and writing are dynamic and well orchestrated, and despite the frequent and sudden changes, the music still flows very well. All six of the tracks on this disc are delightful, and it's no exaggeration to say this is one of the best experimental, RIO-tinged fusion albums ever recorded. Anyone who is a fan of the above mentioned groups should definitely check this out; its one of the best reissues of the year.
(Originally published in Exposť #6, p. 46, Edited for Gnosis 4/23/01)
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