Grupo Agua - Transparencia (1978 guatemala psych prog)
There has always been a faint and difficult-to-describe difference between the musical projects that become well-known and the ones which doesn't, and it isn't just about quality. Sometimes, the band has an already famous spreader (see the example of The Velvet Underground), a good marketing campaign (as it happens so often nowadays) or even a little bit of luck (as is the case of The Sonics, Nick Drake and another infinty of artists that achieved a good number of fans decades after their disband). The popularization of internet has shown to be the best friend of the members of this third group, because it made much easier the search for obscure bands from all around the world. Since than, the term "world music" is used with regularity when people are talking about musical genres that cannot be search anywere but in a particular region of the globe.
And, more than any other kind of bands, there are those which have been forgotten by the world. If not for some old vinyls, it is impossible to find any trace of their existance. Usually, it happens with mediocre, not-creative groups. But there are some rare cases when relative good, unlucky bands, suffer from this same disease. Those bands never had any kind of re-issue, and the remaining copys of their records are sold from a collector to another. Grupo Agua is surely one of them.
First of all, it's important to declare that they are not the best band ever. It's common to rare records owners to think about their copies as being as great as their unavailability, but it's all bullshit. The musicians, all of them Chileans, are not incredible, and the compositions are regular. The only amazing thing about them is the fact that they used to play only to achieve money and keep traveling around South America. It has surely influenced their musical development (the track Baioncito, for example, is a mix of samba and chorinho, two musical genres original from Brazil). All the tracks are played with Andean instruments, unknown on the non-Latino countries, as the Charango and the Pã Flute (the translation of their names to English doesn't even exist).
The main problem about this record is that the musicians are multi-instrumentists and, sometimes, they can't play some of the instruments as well as an exigent listener would expect. Some of the tracks doesn't have a totally satisfactory recording, too. But the album isn't unpleasent, just kind of weak.
Even so, It's a record that every fan of different cultures should listen to, for some simple reasons:
* Some psychedelic bands from the 60's introduced Indian music for people on Europe and America, but nobody did the same thing for the music from the Andes (and for a lot of other genres that I'm anxious to dicover). Probably, if you're reading it, it's 99% sure that you know what a scitar is and, if you're not from South America, the same 99% sure that you have no idea of what is a charango or a Pã flute, which I've metioned before).
* This record is a good way to discover Andean music , because it is not extremely folk. So it is that it contains a famous traditional music, that has been recorded by the Argentinian great (and popular) singer Mercedes Sosa, Volver a Los 17 (which, by the way, is possibly the most beautiful lyric in Spanish I've ever heard).
* If you are an exhibitionist, I can secure you that none of your friend who are musical freaks have ever heard about Grupo Agua. They don't even know the instruments, believe me.
* Finally, if you buy it, you may not like it, but at least it will be the most beautiful album cover on your vinyl collection. And, if you buy it from a Brazilian, it's not even that expensive! Mine was just the equivalent of 16 dollars. In case you're an acid listener and have heard almost everything, it's time to start looking for new things. And your list, why not, can start here.
So, you might fight against you're laziness and go look for it right now! Or, at least, search some bands that represent your country and your culture, and let me know their names. I will do all I can to hear it. On the end of counts, nothing is better to music than being exotic. If it wasn't so, you could buy only one record and be happy with it until the day you die. You would never get tired of it and you wouldn't be curious to listen to other ones. And, in my case, it's fucking impossible to choose even my 100 island records. On the end of counts, albums that are "just nice" are fundamental, too. What really matters is to learn about other cultures.
My favorite tracks: La Luna Lenna, Baioncito and Volver a Los 17.
Alux Nahual - Alux Nahual(1981 smph. prog hard rock mexico?)