Canarios - Ciclos(spa superb prog)
Los Canarios started off as a typical, run of the mill pop/rock band (probably not unlike Los Bravos, but I'm not sure) and released three albums from 1968 to 1972. I'm sure fans of the pop Canarios were in for a total rude awakening when they released this double album, Ciclos. The band totally went off the prog deep-end and went and adapted Antonio Vivaldi's The Four Seasons in a prog rock setting. The main guy of this band, Teddy Bautista included lots of great analog keyboards like the Moog II-P modular, Mini Moog, VCS-3, ARP 2600, Mellotron M400. Other members included Alain Richard on drums (and tons of percussion), guitarist Antonio Garcia de Diego, Mathias Sanvellian on additional keyboards (piano, organ, RMI electric piano, harpsichord, etc.), and bassist Christian Mellies. Add that with a choir (both male a female), a couple of male vocalists (I bet the not-so-great singer was Teddy Bautista himself), and a female soprano, provided by an Indonesian named Rudmini Sukmawati (in which photos of her make her look Gothic, one scary picture of her makes her look like Marylin Manson!). This is a totally complex and densely layered album which you're not likely to get on the first listen. Lots of really amazing analog synths. In between classical themes are rather bizarre and twisted use of synthesizers. One part finds the band being really silly by having a barbershop quartet sing "Plastic Christmas" with lyrics that go: "It's another plastic Christmas / Santa Claus has died / One more thing to celebrate", suggesting they felt Christmas had became a big load of crap (they should try Christmas here in America some 30 years later, which got so bad I tend to leave the radio and television off that time of year because of the hype and overcommercialization, not to mention worn-out Christmas carols). My only real complaint goes to "Himno a la Armonia Implacable del Fin" (on the fourth and final movement entitled "Cuarto Acto: El Eslabon Recobrado"), I think that piece downright sucks with the overly dramatic and cheesy male operatic vocals and choir. I can live without that, but the rest of the album demonstates why not only is this regarded as one of the best prog albums to come out of Spain, but one of the best prog adaptations of classical aside from Il Rovescio Della Medaglia's Contaminazione. My other complaint is Canarios never followed up Ciclos with perhaps another full-blown prog album, perhaps this time, original band compositions. This was unfortunately their only prog album. Aside from "Himno a la Armonia Implacable del Fin", I truly think this is one of the all-time great prog take on classical music. Totally essential album.
Ibio - Cuevas de Altamira(1979 spa prog)
I hadn't quite warmed up to this album as some others had. Ibio is often regarded as one of Spain's better prog rock bands, but I can't see that myself. I own the LP, on the Movie Play label (the label with the green octagon). The problem I have most is Lily Alegria's singing. Although he sings on only two cuts, I find his wailing style a bit grating to me. But for the most part, this album reminds me of the Italian prog scene, some of the cuts remind me of Il Volo, especially in the string synth department. Also Mellotron is used from time to time, something Il Volo never used. Standard synthesizers are used to, but I haven't been too impressed by that. Forgot to mention it was Mario Gomez Calderon who was responsible for the keyboards. Side one (the first four cuts) tend to be the best, as, to me, side two seems just OK. Not quite essential in my book, but worth having if you collect obscure prog like me.