South & Central American Progressive CDs
Titles are arranged alphabetically with recent additions highlighted in yellow.
A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-T | U-Z
Quebre Este Disco is the 2000 remastered CD reissue of Acidente’s independently-released 1990 debut LP plus five bonus tracks from 1994 and 2000. Acidente are a Brazilian band that has existed since 1978, but the first incarnation had only one member and nothing musically in common with this Acidente, so though that first band produced three earlier LPs, we aren’t counting them. Quebre Este Disco is instrumental except for one of the bonus tracks. It is exuberant, straightforward symphonic prog from a keys/guitars/bass/drums lineup.
This is the 2011 re-edition of Gloomland (1994, 60-minutes), which was the first Acidente album released on CD. Only 500 were pressed the first time around, so it isn’t well-known. The album is mostly instrumental, with four tracks containing vocals in Portuguese. This edition adds a bonus track that was recorded a few months after the original release.
Technolorgy (2002) is their best album to date, containing 1970s-style instrumental progressive rock with influences of Focus, Camel, ELP, Rick Wakeman, and others.
Ainda (2012, 73-minutes) is in the same upbeat, melodic, and relatively straightforward symphonic prog style as Technolorgy and comparable in quality, except that 10 of Ainda’s 17 songs have vocals, in Portuguese save one in English. Three of the four band members sing, taking turns on lead vocals. Acidente are still a better instrumental band than vocal band, so the instrumental tracks and passages contain most of the highlights.
Aether are one of the standout Brazilian progressive bands, influenced primarily by early Camel and Steve Hackett. Like both, instrumental content takes precedence over the vocals, which are in English and bear some similarity to Camel’s melancholy vocals circa Moonmadness. On their 1999 debut Visions, they add some elements not typical of Camel, such as violin on two tracks courtesy of Glauco Fernandes, and some very beautiful, serene pieces.
Seems like a rather mundane name for a band, but The Yearning, the 2005 debut of Chilean symphonic prog band Aisles, is anything but. On this album the lineup includes two keyboardists, two guitarists, and a singer who also plays flute, and three of them are brothers. Their music is clearly connected to 1970s progressive rock, but they are not at all retro. They are highly original and yet somehow familiar, musically mature beyond their years. In stark contrast to the majority of today’s bands, Aisles’ music is delicate and refined. The closest comparisons would be early PFM and Shingetsu. Even if Aisles don’t sound particularly like those bands, they have the characteristic dreamy, gentle passages with lots of acoustic timbres, punctuated by energetic and majestic outbursts. Overall the music sounds more British though, and in the most general terms only, you could compare them to Camel and Genesis. The vocals are in English; the blend of lead and backing vocals is a highlight of their sound.
In Sudden Walks (2009) is their second, and while the elements are familiar (Genesis, Marillion, Yes and Pink Floyd could be mentioned), there is no direct comparison for the music of Aisles. Only a few elements strike the listener as Latin American. What does strike the listener is the production quality, how crystal clear the instruments are and the separation between them, and how refined the music is. The instrumental palette is rich and detailed, with no one instrument dominating. The result is an original yet accessible symphonic prog album, one of the best from Chile.
Reminding the listener never to judge an album by the first couple tracks, Aisles’ third 4:45 AM (2013) opens with shorter, upbeat tracks with a more mainstream sound. Maybe Aisles are even attempting to have a 1980s hit single, but the window of opportunity for a 1980s hit single has closed. After that they return to their nuanced, progressive style, with the tracks getting longer and longer, and all’s well that ends well.
Alma is a side project of Nexus guitarist Carlos Lucena with Roxana Truccolo (vocals and keyboards). Sobre Fantasias is their 2008 debut. “The album has a very lush instrumentation: Carlos on acoustic, classical, and electric guitar (also bass and programming) and Roxanna on acoustic and electric piano, harpsichord, organ, and Spanish-language vocals. The coloring of the eleven compositions is wonderful and varied. I like Roxanna’s warm voice; it matches perfectly with Carlos’ sensitive guitar sound. The best examples are the tracks Before the Day (slow rhythm with howling guitar runs), Silent Witness (compelling with beautiful interplay between guitar and keyboards), the dreamy Dawn (again howling guitar runs and the sound of the Fender Rhodes electric piano with a guest musician on violin), and the rocking final piece Storm featuring fiery guitar and a propulsive rhythm section. I am delighted about the two songs Greys of the Afternoon (delivering warm play on classical guitar and grand piano) and Elf which contains wonderful interplay between harpsichord and acoustic guitar; the electric guitar halfway through reminds me of Mike Oldfield. I am sure this beautiful mellow album will please the progheads who love a blend of prog with classical and folk music.” [Erik Neuteboom] “Their music is truly amazing: lush melodies that combine progressive, folk, and baroque influences... Sobre Fantasías is a terrific new release that should appeal to most Exposé readers.” Read the full Exposé review.
Amagrama are an Argentine band strongly influenced by Crucis. While their one studio album was sung in Spanish, Buenos Aires Free Experience (2005, 62-mintues) is instrumental. Carlos Lucena of Nexus guests. This was the first in a series of jam session CDs (a series which seems to have died after two) organized by the Record Runner label. The music was spontaneously created in the studio and later edited and mixed. However, the music on this CD doesn’t sound all that improvised, which to our ears is the mark of great musicians. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
Aquí y Afuera is the 2009 debut by an symphonic prog band from Chile, instrumental on this first album. Being a young band, the drummer and especially the guitarist play in the metal idiom half the time, but it is keyboardist Alonso Quijada that distinguishes Anachronos from your garden variety prog-metal band. The guitar may be mixed as loud or louder than the keys even when doing nothing more than chugga chugga as metal guitarists are wont to do, but the music is dominated by Quijada’s classically-influenced keyboards, primarily piano. Everything of harmonic interest is in the keyboard parts, and Quijada uses samples for occasional touches of South American folk that add spice. Recommended to fans of modern bombastic prog.
The self-titled Anachronos CD is actually their second, released in 2014. But it does represent a new beginning for the band, as they added female lead singer Ingrid Contreras (singing in Spanish). Now Anachronos’s music has two stellar components: Quijada’s keyboards and Contreras’s vocals. Yes, the guitarist still plays metal half the time, but when he plays sympathetically to the keyboards, Anachronos are at their best.
El Sacrificio (1978) and Fuerza (1982) are the fourth and fifth albums for this Argentine prog band, and their best works. Always featuring warm female vocals, Anacrusa began as more of a folk ensemble. By the time of these albums, they were using sophisticated arrangements incorporating progressive rock, classical, and jazz, employing flute, oboe, violin, bandoneón (concertina), sax, and trumpet in addition to guitars, keyboards, bass and drums. El Sacrificio includes a 1975 bonus track. The core members of the band emigrated to France in 1976, and so these albums were recorded in Paris, feature some French musicians, and have a more European feel than was typical for South American prog bands of this era. YouTube has several songs from these albums -- try these starting points for El Sacrificio and Fuerza. (There is a much younger Chilean band using the name Anacrusa; don’t confuse the two.)
As this album begins, you think it’s going to be a prog-metal album, but it soon becomes apparent that Angulart are really an exceptional symphonic prog band with a guitarist who very occasionally plays in the metal idiom. A Chilean quintet with the typical vocals, guitars, keys, bass and drums lineup, Angulart have a singer with a deep and dramatic voice, singing in Spanish, and a very good keyboardist who even adds some accordion. They combine many different progressive elements in a very natural way, seducing the listener with their mesmerizing blend. It often comes close to the Italian 1970s bands. A consistently impressive 67-minute debut from 2004.
Apocalypse - The 25th Anniversary Box Set ($49.99)
Apocalypse is one of the biggest names all-time on the Brazilian prog scene, with an uninterrupted 25 year and counting career, 10 albums released in Brazil, Europe, the U.S. and Asia, and a DVD. This box set is the biggest progressive rock release to come out of South America, containing two CDs (each in their own polywrapped jewel box), a DVD, a book and a poster. But this isn’t previously-released stuff, nor is any of it available separately. One of the CDs and the highlight of the set is Apocalypse’s 2011 studio album 2012 Light Years from Home. (Description to be added.) The second CD is a live album Magic Spells, recorded live in 2005. It contains Apocalypse’s classics played by their old line-up but sung in English. The DVD (NTSC, all-region) is the Apocalypse 25th Anniversary Concert, the show Apocalypse played in September 2009 in their hometown, plus two music videos. The tall format, 128-page book The Apocalypse Hystory is written in both Portuguese and English and contains many photos. It all comes in a tall box which, like each component, features beautiful artwork. Counts as 5 CDs for shipping.
2012 Light Years from Home again shows the Yes influence but also a strong element of late-70s hard rock. The first 11 tracks are all relatively concise, with the Utopia-like harmony vocals a highlight. Apocalypse save the best for last, the very ELP-influenced 13:49 title track that concludes this CD.
Apocalypse are a Brazilian symphonic progressive band beginning more Marillion influenced but becoming more of a classic prog band later on. They tend to have an exuberant, triumphant spirit. Perto do Amanhecer (1995) is more Marillion-influenced. Refugio (2003), their fourth studio CD, propels Apocalypse into the major leagues, with a Yes influence dominant over the Marillion influence. The Portuguese-language vocals are superb, especially the harmony vocals with all four band members singing. Keyboardist Eloy Fritsch has never impressed more; he saves his gentler material for his solo albums, so Apocalypse gets all his progressive energies. Two live bonus tracks round out the 64-minute package.
The Live in Rio DVD (NTSC, all-region) is a video companion to their CD of the same name. In this 2005 performance, Apocalypse played their old classics in new English-language versions. The DVD is the same show as the CD but includes two additional tracks and features Dolby Digital 5.1 surround audio. Extras include backstage footage and interviews, photo gallery, bio and discography.
The Bridge of Light (2008, 71-minutes) is all new material, but it was recorded live in late 2006, with excellent sound. Apocalypse sing in English now. New singer Gustavo Demarchi has the voice and command of English to sing for any number of American stadium rockers, and if that wasn’t enough, he also plays flute. A guest electric violinist appears on four tracks, so with all these additions, Apocalypse have their most powerful sound ever. Eloy Fritsch still likes to build a fort out of his many keyboards, and there are 3-4 guys adding backing vocals. You’ll spot ELP, Jethro Tull, Marillion, Kansas, Saga, and other influences.
The 2011 second CD by this Chilean band contains high-energy, high-chops symphonic prog with touches of fusion, instrumental aside from vocals in Spanish on one song. A keys/guitar/bass/drums quartet, both their guitarist and keyboardist are responsible for the compositions, but by the standards of today’s prog where true keyboardists are at a premium, Arenal are driven by their keyboardist. Arenal operate in a territory between traditional prog bands such as Camel, Genesis or Yes; modern bands such as Planet X; and an indigenous Chilean prog style represented by Congreso. This is colorful music, one of the best releases on the Mylodon label in recent years. Here is a video for the song Vientos de Vino y Cueca..
This is a fascinating 2002 debut by a Brazilian band, though there is nothing specifically South American in their sound. For the most part, this is a sophisticated fusion of Celtic music and symphonic progressive rock. Others have attempted this combination, yet Ashtar’s approach is unique. They employ female vocals (English lyrics), but the vocal melody lines don’t adhere to the Celtic tradition. Rather, they would not be out of place on a Squonk Opera CD. Toward the end of this album, the Celtic influence disappears for stretches and the music gets heavy at times. The only thing that mars the album is some sporadic death metal vocal nonsense. Fortunately this is infrequent and so, despite the lapses in intelligence, the album still emerges a winner. While the Celtic-progressive fusion dominates, the female vocals plus occasional metal elements may also attract fans of The Gathering and their ilk.
Bienvenida al Interior (2006) is a very good debut by a melodic symphonic prog band from Chile, singing in Spanish. For the most part, Astralis (not to be confused with Australis) have the neo-prog directness on this CD, with some Yes influence apparent here and there. Vocally though they often remind one of Le Orme in the quality of the singer’s voice, the vocal melody lines, and the similar sound of the languages.
Voces del Bosque (2009) is their second and an improvement on their first. The neo-prog of the first CD is less prevalent, and there is a lot of instrumental content. Astralis now concentrate on flowing symphonic rock with melodic guitar leads, often reminiscent of Camel, also with some Pink Floyd and Mike Oldfield influence. It’s a more original blend, and one of the better prog CDs to come out of Chile.
Though Fantasia de Invierno is a 2013 CD, these are actually the first songs composed by Astralis, between 1989-1995, but recently recorded, thus benefitting from the maturity and greater expertise of the band. There hasn’t been much symphonic prog coming from Chile of late, but Astralis are keeping it alive and may be the best such band in Chile now. Listen to the songs Después de la Lluvia and La Canción es Libre on Soundcloud.
Projeção (1994, 59-minutes) is the debut by Átomo Permanente, the follow-on to the band III Milenio. Átomo Permanente are a quintet formed by III Milenio’s guitarist and keyboardist, with vocals in Spanish, playing soft, melodic symphonic prog.
Australis are a Chilean instrumental progressive rock quartet led by Entrance’s guitarist Richard Pilnik and Crisálida’s drummer Rodrigo Sanchez. Founded in 2003, Australis play a modern progressive rock strongly influenced by jazz-rock and symphonic metal. Their debut TerrAustralis (2005) is an outstanding one that sounds like a successful hybrid of UK (with Holdsworth on guitar) and Planet X, with some spacey and more modern touches. The production is first-rate. Australis are further evidence that the best bands in Latin America are now coming out of Chile.
Alter Reality (2012, digipack) is the second album by this Argentine instrumental band who play a seductive blend of sympho-prog and post-rock. Read the Sea of Tranquility review.
This 2009 CD on the Mylodon label is the work of a Chilean progressive rock band active from the early 1980s until 1988 who were evidently well-known in their homeland. La Banda del Gnomo recorded the bulk of this album in 1984, but it remained unreleased until this CD. The first half of the album features a female vocalist, then a male vocalist for the second half, all lyrics in Spanish. Many of the songs feature flute played in a Jethro Tull style, and the dominant style is flute-led progressive hard rock similar to early Tull, while some songs are in a 1980s neo-prog style. There are Spanish-language band bios here and here (they can easily be translated using Google or another service) and a video of the band live in 1983 here.
The self-titled Bandhada CD is a 2004 release, but the album was recorded 20 years earlier. Two 1984 live bonus tracks have been added. At this time, Bandhada were an instrumental quintet from Chile, with a lineup of guitar, keys, bass, drums, and flute. As they had a dedicated flute player, the music on this CD is flute-dominated progressive rock in the Camel and Caravan veins, with touches of light fusion, recommended in particular to fans of Snow Goose-era Camel.
Three of the original members now reside in Los Angeles, and that’s where most of the second Bandhada CD Open Cage (2009) was recorded. The album is again instrumental until the final track, a 10:37 epic with vocals in Spanish. In addition to the core quartet of keys/guitars/bass/drums, there are other musicians on sax and flute. This outstanding CD has one foot in progressive rock and one in melodic, symphonic fusion. Camel is still a noticeable influence, but hardly the only one, as there are flashes of UK, Happy the Man, and other prog bands. These influences are blended with influences of the best 1970s fusion bands. Clearly these are highly-skilled, seasoned musicians, and this is a classy progressive and jazz-rock album in the classic style.
From the title, you may gather that this is another album based on The Lord of the Rings. Musically though, you haven’t heard anything quite like this. The work of Chilean David Hanus, this 2003 CD combines the grandiose, heroic movie soundtrack style with symphonic progressive rock. Almost impossibly epic-sounding, it is lovingly pompous and musically quite sophisticated, much more convincing than either Rick Wakeman’s or Ayreon’s attempts at a similar style. If you weren’t told otherwise, you wouldn’t suspect that this is the work of one man, and you’d probably assume it came out of England. Hanus not only plays piano, organ, synths, acoustic & electric guitar, and drums/percussion, he also adds some recorder to give it that Middle Earth feel, and overdubs his voice to create the choirs. These choral arrangements remind us of The Cardiacs, changing chords as rapidly as the listener can handle. Though Hanus lists some prog-metal bands among his influences, he wisely leaves the metal out and focuses on the orchestral – in the hands of a metal band, this would have been a disaster, instead it’s a guilty pleasure for fans of epic symphonic rock.
The Brazilian Rock Symphony label states emphatically that this is one of best records of 2010, and they’re not backing down. This is the new band of guitarist Saulo Battesini, formerly a member of Quaterna Réquiem and Kaizen, while the other participating musicians include members of Aether, Kaizen, and Bacamarte, among others. This is 62-minutes of instrumental 1970s-style symphonic prog along the lines of Quaterna Réquiem’s Quasimodo album, and the other bands mentioned above are not bad reference points either. The instrumentation includes classical, electric and synth guitars, keyboards, flute, mandolin, bass and drums. We suspect that some of the compositions date to the time of Quaterna Réquiem and Kaizen, such that Scored Fractals sounds like it could have come out of the Brazilian early-1990s scene, a more prolific era for classic prog in Brazil.
This is the CD reissue of a 1982 album recorded by two members of the band M.I.A. during the last days of that famous Argentine progressive band. Belvis plays acoustic & electric guitars, while Sanzol plays drums, vibraphone, and percussion. Both sing but the album is almost entirely instrumental. Decidedly non-commercial, there are two dominant styles present: jazzy acoustic guitar-based instrumentals with Latin touches, and avant-garde sonic improvisations. A lot of overdubbing was used to obtain a full sound. Two bonus tracks have been added, apparently from the same sessions. Mini-LP sleeve.
This 1990 album contains bombastic keyboard-dominated symphonic prog from keyboardist Fabio Ribeiro plus a guitarist, bassist and drummer. This is a tremendous instrumental classical progressive rock album, not really much like ELP, more like a cross between Rick Wakeman and Italian 1970s prog, and never wanting for energy. Not sure the album title translated quite right though. Passional?
This is the 2011 debut by a Brazilian band founded by the leader of Octohpera. Octohpera’s 2002 debut was one of the best South American prog albums of that decade, but the band broke up shortly after the release of the CD. Blue Mammoth sing in English, and their music is more bombastic and harder-edged than Octohpera’s. Read the Sea of Tranquility, progVisions, and Progulator reviews.
On their 2001 debut, this Brazilian quintet plays a very high energy progressive rock combining a lot of 1970s progressive influences with some of the neo-prog energy and directness, a good balance between keys and guitars and some welcome touches of jazz-rock. With vocals in English, there’s almost nothing in the music that would tip you off that this is a South American band. Listen to the songs Magarça and Hamurabi Code on YouTube.
Canções de Beurin (2000) is the debut CD from one of the best South American bands of their era. This quintet (not counting the collies) often sounds like a Brazilian Jethro Tull. They do use flute but their sound is more dependent on acoustic & electric guitar, keyboards, and great harmony vocals in the South American style (à la 14 Bis, a band most of you probably don’t know -- so much for that comparison). A couple of their tracks are in the acoustic folky style of the aforementioned 14 Bis, while one track is Calix’s take on Carmina Burana. Lyrics are in Portuguese except for one song in English.
Ad Hominem (2014) is the debut by a young Venezuelan prog quintet. It’s great to see new prog life in Venezuela, a country with a history of excellent progressive rock by Tempano, Vytas Brenner, Equilibrio Vital, Aditus, and others. We’re also glad Calle Santiago sing in their native tongue. Calle Santiago lean toward the harder-edged modern prog style but feature many classy elements that give their music distinctiveness. Listen to Resistencia and Libertad on YouTube.
Chilean Jorge Campos (who now resides in Canada) is probably the most important and innovative bass player in Latin America. He has been a long-time member of both Fulano and Congreso. These CDs are the 2007 reissues of his albums Machi (2000) and La Ausencia de lo Sagrado (2003). Machi has four bonus live tracks that take the total playing time up to 75-minutes, while La Ausencia de lo Sagrado has three live bonus tracks and now runs 59-minutes. Campos plays various basses but also adds numerous other instruments including electric guitar and keyboards. Three other musicians appear on Machi while a larger number of musicians appear on La Ausencia de lo Sagrado, though the lineup varies from track to track. The music is mostly instrumental and the sound palette is much closer to modern King Crimson than to the symphonic bands. Of course Fulano and Congreso are better reference points for those familiar with those two Chilean prog bands. Campos’ music is best described as a blend of ethnic fusion and progressive rock with particular emphasis on innovative bass sounds.
Alumbramientos (2009) from Chilean band Cangaceiro contains adventurous progressive rock/folk/jazz similar to the music of Congreso and Fulano.
On their 1999 debut album Martelo, Brazilian prog band Cartoon sound similar to Mutantes (a band who made some progressive albums in the 1970s, possibly Brazil’s first progressive rock band). All four of the musicians (bass, guitar, keyboards, drums) also sing. The closest English equivalent is early Yes, but the vocal style is unique to 1970s South American rock and has otherwise become far less prevalent in South American prog rock from the 1980s onward.
Estribo (2008, 65-minutes) is Cartoon’s third, following 2002’s Bigorna, which was significantly different from Martelo. For one, Cartoon began singing in English, which they continue to do on Estribo. Whereas sometimes Bigorna sounded like the cast of The Rocky Horror Picture Show staging one of Rick Wakeman’s grandiose 1970s albums, Estribo is not so crazy. Listening to this album, you’d probably never guess that Cartoon are Brazilian. They sound British or American. Early Yes is probably their biggest influence, but Cartoon sound like they know every important style of early-to-mid 1970s rock inside and out, as they like to throw in early-70s hard rock and blues rock (almost the same thing during that era), something resembling The Eagles and on and on, not really whole songs in those styles but rather passages in an ever-changing montage. With all the different voices, the music sounds a bit rock opera-ish, really more like the vocal styles of City Boy or Supertramp, bands with more than one lead singer. While a lot of current bands stretch three ideas into an hour of music in one basic style, Cartoon seem to be overflowing with ideas, always surprising the listener, making Estribo a very enjoyable album for fans of early-70s prog.
This is the reissue of the 1984 album by the Brazilian Dixie Dregs.
Chronos Mundi are a symphonic neo-prog band close to Tempus Fugit. Their 1998 debut Luz & Trevas is a very good one with the emphasis on keyboards and delicate guitar pieces, with a decidedly Italian feel during the vocal passages.
This long-lived Chilean band, whose roots are in the 1960s, are along with Los Jaivas the most important Chilean rock band. Congreso pioneered the integration of Andean folk into sophisticated progressive rock and fusion. The CD of Congreso’s eponymous 1997 album (not to be confused with their 1971 debut El Congreso) includes a 10:47 bonus track. The CD of Pájaros de Arcilla (1984, 64-minutes) adds the masterful Misa de los Andes (28:48) as a bonus, a relatively unknown 1978 work. Several songs can be found on YouTube -- here are starting points for Congreso and for Pájaros de Arcilla. Read reviews at Prog Archives of Congreso and Pájaros de Arcilla.
Chilean guitarist Claudio Cordero is a member of Matraz and also Cast. His 2007 debut Enlace is an album of progressive-flavored guitar instrumentals, containing both scorching rockers as well as intricate pieces using acoustic and clean tones. Cordero is joined by other musicians on bass and drums, plus guests on guitar and keys. The music shows influences of the usual list of guitar heroes. The electric tracks are guaranteed to get your blood pumping, while the open, more acoustic tracks often have a spacey flavor and demonstrate more originality. Cordero likes to use two guitars with different tones at the same time, either by way of guest guitarists or double-tracking his own, giving the tracks a full, rich sound and adding complexity. See the interview with Cordero in Progression magazine issue 50.
Cota Zero (Dimension Zero) are a Chilean instrumental prog power trio with fusion leanings along the lines of electric Tryo, led by guitarist Freddy Pizarro Alcayaga. Volver a Cero (2012) is their fourth album but the first seen outside Chile. The title (“Back to Zero”) alludes to a restart for the band, the twelve tracks having been composed between 2004-2011. On Freddy’s Soundcloud page (mp3 icon above), the songs from this album are (at the time of this writing) Dark Sir, Tango, Ruta Norte, and Moncho. Watch the video for the song Tango.
Crisálida are a Chilean symphonic prog-metal band with a very good female vocalist singing in Spanish. When Crisálida play symphonic prog, it’s quite good -- dramatic and powerful, though of course it’s the more modern, streamlined variety. And when they add the metal guitar it’s, well, prog-metal. Raco (2009) is their second.
Crisálida took the next step with their fourth album Terra Ancestral (2015), engaging the services of Anathema’s Daniel Cardoso to produce, mix, and master the album. The music does move closer to Anathema’s style. Watch the video for Morir Aquí.
Observador de un Universo is a very good 1999 neo-progressive album from Chile. The vocals are actually spoken word in Spanish, but the music is heavily-instrumental. The music flows nicely, with slight spacey touches and as much Pink Floyd influence as Marillion.
Ciudad de Papel (2007, digipack) is the fourth CD for this Chilean prog band. “Imagine, if you will, a band that blends the jazz-rock of Lizard-era King Crimson, the intensity of Van Der Graaf Generator, the heaviness of Tool, and the indigenous folk and world music of Los Jaivas.” Read the full Sea of Tranquility review and the Prog Archives reviews.
This Drama is a quartet from Uruguay playing a lyrical progressive rock based on symphonic keyboards plus melodic guitar, with good Spanish-language vocals. Their 2002 debut Inspiración is roughly in the Genesis/Marillion vein, though a bit more straightforward and mellow, while a couple tracks might pass as Italian progressive. For a more specific reference, one might compare them to the Brazilian band Tempus Fugit (though that may be one reference too many to the same Yes album).
This is the debut CD for Efecto, a six-man Chilean prog band, initially released by the band in 2006, remastered in 2009 for this edition on the Mylodon label. Efecto have somewhat novel instrumentation, using both synthesizers and vibraphone. They actually have two keyboardists and two drummer/mallet percussionists, plus guitars (electric & acoustic) and bass. Their music straddles fusion and a flowing style of symphonic prog, with vocals (in Spanish), but instrumental content dominates. To some extent, Efecto are of the lineage of Congreso, Fulano, and Los Jaivas, three great first-generation Chilean prog bands, and as such, they are one of the most sophisticated bands on the Mylodon label.
Entrance is a hard-edged symphonic prog band with Spanish-language vocals from Chile. Their members include guitarist Richard Pilnik, who also formed the band Australis; keyboardist Jaime Rosas, who has his own band Jaime Rosas Cuarteto; and singer Jaime Scalpello, who released an excellent prog album of his own in 2008 (check this page for all of these). The style of Entrance and Jaime Rosas Cuarteto is fairly similar except that Entrance have Scalpello, who has a powerful voice, so vocals play a larger role in their music. Entrance are also slightly more metallic. Entre Dos Mundos (2008) is their third studio CD, En la Tierra (2002) their second. Odisea (2006) is 77-minute live album recorded for the most part at Baja Prog 2003. Read reviews of En la Tierra, Odisea, and Entre Dos Mundos.
The self-titled album is the CD reissue of the rare first album by the Venezuelan progressive band Equilibrio Vital, initially released in 1983, with some new songs added. Formed during the early 1980s, Equilibrio Vital are still active, though guitarist Marcos Chacon died in 2001; this CD is dedicated to him. Here Equilibrio Vital’s music is between prog rock and progressive hard rock, featuring flute and male & female vocals in Spanish, with English translations in the booklet. Of course it sounds a bit like Jethro Tull when the flute takes the lead, while most of it might be compared to Spanish bands such as Asfalto or Ñu.
Kazmor el Prisionero (1984) is the CD reissue of Equilibrio Vital’s equally rare second album. It improves on their first, a bit more symphonic and progressive with less hard rock, some spacey/psychedelic material, some Tull-like folk-inflected material, all still firmly in the 1970s style. Several recently-recorded bonus tracks take this CD up to 62-minutes. The bonus tracks are great: more acoustic and minus the hard rock, with flute, acoustic guitar, and vocals the dominant features, they are dynamic and lively, reminiscent of Passpartu-era PFM, and they have great sound. The master tapes of Kazmor el Prisionero must have been lost, as the 1984 portion of this CD is obviously mastered from vinyl. Of course the label doesn’t volunteer this information, and few other retailers will bother to mention it (unless maybe they read this). But the rarity and quality of this album justifies its reissue. The CD comes with a 32-page full-color, bilingual (Spanish/English) booklet. These are still two of the top Venezuelan prog rock albums, and with the addition of the bonus tracks, Kazmor el Prisionero is exceptional.
Retorno (2010) is Equilibrio Vital’s third album. If you told us at the time of their first album that we’d have to wait 27 years to hear their best work, we wouldn’t have had the patience, but the wait is over! The album is instrumental apart from one song with Spanish vocals. Flute, acoustic guitar and mandolin play important roles. Retorno opens with the title track, which would have fit on one of Steve Hackett’s early albums. Throughout the album, the hard rock is gone, and in its place is a style sometimes close to PFM, sometimes close to instrumental Caravan, sometimes close to early Iconoclasta. The bonus tracks on Kazmor el Prisionero provided a hint that this was coming, but it’s still a great surprise, and for fans of classic symphonic prog, a must.
The self-titled 1997 debut by this Chilean quintet is flute-driven instrumental progressive rock close to the style of Solaris or Jethro Tull, except for a few instances of metal riffing from the guitarist. Mixolidio (1999) is a mix of studio and well-recorded live tracks that demonstrate a further development of their sound, featuring flute and vibraphone as well as some harder-rocking, guitar-centric passages. Listen to the track Nuevos Tiempos on YouTube.
Más Allá de tu Mente (1978) and Estructura (1980) are two of the best progressive rock albums from Venezuela, and on vinyl command high prices. Yes, the self-titled album is their second. The LP had a different cover than the CD. Más Allá de tu Mente (Beyond Your Mind) runs over 62-minutes and has no bonus tracks -- it was a very long LP. See Prog Archives for info, though one of the reviewers accuses Estructura of stealing from IQ. On a 1978 album.
Eter-K are a Peruvian space-rock band, a trio plus Frágil’s flute player guesting. Watching the Universe (2011, digipack) is their fourth album. “Steady drums and nifty wandering bass lines are the core foundations for the band’s improvisations, with a guitarist that appears to thrive in exploring different manners in which his instrument can produce sounds that bring forth reflections of an inner or outer space. Varied in expression, sparse in arrangements and fairly effective in performance, this is a CD that should appeal to quite a few space cadets, with fans of acts like My Brother The Wind a likely key audience.” [Prog Archives] Listen to the track Nebula Rasa on YouTube.
This Chilean progressive band led by keyboardist Pedro Muñoz Recabarren was founded and active since the 1980s, but had to wait until 2005 for their work to be published. La Era de Piscis is a collection of pieces recorded between 1982 and 1986. The album is all instrumental and the tracks fall into two categories. At least half are in the flowing, melodic progressive rock style of Camel, while the remaining tracks are melodic jazz-rock. The two styles are not so distant from each other, but the division is pretty clear. The quality of all the music here is uniformly high. It’s one of the best progressive albums from Chile, so thanks to the Mylodon label for rescuing it from obscurity. Evolucion continue with the same style of Camel-flavored melodic jazz-rock on Umbrales (2006). This album was presented to the world at Baja Prog 2006, where Evolucion played a well-received set.
Ficcion is a Venezuelan progressive band, an offshoot of the band Aditus. (It would be nice to see CD reissues of the Aditus LPs.) Sobre la Cresta de la Ola (2006) is their second and follows on from the last tracks of their first album Sobre el Abismo, the tracks recorded by the reformed lineup. This second CD was recorded between 2002-2005 and consists of five instrumentals and three vocal songs. Here they are a keys/bass/drums trio plus Tempano’s singer and a few guests, including a violinist on one track. The vocals are in Spanish, and it has to be said that South American vocals have a characteristic sound, at least to Anglo ears, and these are no different. The keyboardist is the composer and dominant player. He favors vintage keys, and it’s apparent that Keith Emerson is one of his heroes. Like Ficcion’s debut, there is a lot of spirited instrumental interplay, with some symphonic jazz-rock in the mix. Read the Sea of Tranquility review.
Flor de Loto (Lotus Flower) are at present the biggest prog band in Peru. The band began as an instrumental quartet with their first CD released in 2005. The current lineup is bigger now, with lead and backing vocals (in Spanish) and instrumentation consisting of electric & acoustic guitars, keyboards, flute, Andean woodwinds, tenor sax, bass, and drums. Initially Flor de Loto were more jam-based and psychedelic. Their music continued to evolve, becoming carefully-composed, more European and less Andean sounding and closer to the prog mainstream, with a slight metal influence eventually creeping in but also some fusion. They added vocals while the psychedelic aspect vanished. There has always been a folk element that is central to the band’s identity, calling to mind an Andean version of Tempest. The flute has always suggested Tull and Solaris, maybe early Camel when the flute playing is more pastoral. The earlier Flor de Loto CDs are more or less sold out. The Mexican Azafran label has released Flor de Loto’s sixth album Nuevo Mesías (2014) in a factory-sealed, 8-panel foldout mini-LP style sleeve. The CD contains nine new songs, while the DVD (NTSC, all-region) contains six videos (two live), the Making of Nuevo Mesías documentary, and a photo gallery. The videos are all songs from previous albums, so no redundancy with the CD content.
This Peruvian band is famous in Peru, having existed since 1975. Fragil released five albums beginning in 1980. Avenida Larco is the CD reissue of their fine 1981 LP, their best studio album. As you may guess from their name, Fragil are influenced by Yes, but also by Genesis, with a strong South American identity. Excellent vocals in Spanish dominate their very melodic, generally soft symphonic rock. Sorpresa del Tiempo is a 2002 live album, recorded by the five musicians (bass, drums, keys & flute, guitars, Spanish-language vocals) with a 26-piece symphony orchestra. It includes almost all of Avenida Larco. The music is excellent melodic symphonic rock, full of positive vibrations, with the enthusiastic crowd singing along on some of the songs.
Fraktal is an Argentine quartet singing in English. Their debut Ask the Rabbit (2005, mini-LP sleeve) is in the Radiohead vein. With its pervading melancholic mood, it’s also reminiscent of Porcupine Tree or Anekdoten’s Gravity, though Fraktal’s sound generally lacks symphonic elements. Their guitar-dominated sound is closer to that of Brazilians Violeta de Outono during their psychedelic phase. Read the Proggnosis and DPRP reviews.
The Garden of Emotions is the 2009 album from Apocalypse’s keyboard player. Listening to Fritsch’s now large body of work, it’s evident that his two heroes are Rick Wakeman and Vangelis. But Apocalypse provides an outlet for Fritsch’s Wakeman style, so while The Garden of Emotions opens in classic Wakeman style, the vast majority of this 74-minute work is classic Vangelis style. This is such a good Vangelis album that it could be Vangelis’ Greatest Hits That He Never Wrote. The music echoes just about every important Vangelis album: Heaven and Hell, Albedo 0.39, Spiral, China, Chariots of Fire, and more.
Atmosphere (2002, 70-minutes) is very much in the Vangelis style and every bit as good, so much so that if you heard it without knowing the artist, you’d just assume you were hearing a new Vangelis work. With the Greek guy not so visible these days, Eloy Fritsch is the man to turn to for symphonic electronic music with exquisite melodies and textures.
Mythology (2001) is Fritsch’s fifth album and is more rock-oriented than his first four. This is primarily in the Rick Wakeman style, with touches of Vangelis.
Cyberspace (2000) is Fritsch’s fourth solo album; this one is high-quality electronic music. Two tracks are in the Jean Michel Jarre melodic/rhythmic style, most of the rest are firmly in the Vangelis symphonic style, with doses of Tangerine Dream and Rick Wakeman added. Nothing meditative or abstract here.
2009 instrumental progressive rock from Chile from a guitar/bass/drums trio in the vein of electric Tryo.
Habitat are an Argentine band whose history begins in 1984, though their first album did not appear until 1997. On their second album Baúl Repleto de Sugerencias (2001), they sound very much like a South American Le Orme, not so much the pomp/ELP side of Le Orme, but certainly the vocal, lyrical, and more acoustic side. The lead singer’s voice, the vocal melodies, and the chordal vocabulary are all similar, and of course Spanish and Italian are related languages.
Puente (2006) comes in a cardboard sleeve, while Tratando de Respirar en la Furia (2010) comes in a mini-LP sleeve, both of these count as only one-half CD for shipping. Habitat improved with each album, so start with Tratando... and work backwards. As proof that we didn’t imagine the Le Orme influence back in 2001, Habitat actually include a Le Orme cover on Tratando..., but only a fraction of the album sounds much like Le Orme. The music is generally darker, with a Steve Hackett influence sometimes apparent, also elements of Camel, King Crimson, and the first generation Argentine prog bands. Read reviews at Prog Archives of Puente and of Tratando de Respirar en la Furia. Check below for the solo CDs of bandleader Aldo Pinelli.
Orion (1999) is the fourth album by this Brazilian soft symphonic prog band. Here Haddad (the name of the family) is a duo of brothers plus a guest musician. Nothing earth-shattering, just very enjoyable with excellent vocals and well-crafted melodies in the South American prog style, and some long tracks where they stretch out a bit. Lyrics in Portuguese except one song in English.
Haddad later expanded to six men, and their music became not quite as soft, though never really hard or intense. Eros & Thanatos (2009) is Haddad’s seventh album, a double-CD packaged in a fat digipack with a 24-page full-color booklet. The band has expanded further, with flute, violin, viola, and a third guitarist, now including three generations of the family Haddad! There are again some English vocals but mostly Portuguese, a mix of shorter songs and four tracks over 8-minutes. The album is full of great melodies, the songs often reminiscent of the Italian romantic style. Read the DPRP review.
El Visionario (2012, 63-minutes) is the second studio album from Hexatonica, an Argentine instrumental prog quintet (two guitarists, one keyboardist). Their music could be said to be between Liquid Tension Experiment and Jaime Rosas Cuarteto. That is, a lot of it is metallic, fast, and demonstrative. But Hexatonica are more symphonic than LTE, full of bombastic keyboards, occasionally even elegant. YouTube has the song Rompiendo Estructuras.
This is the 2009 CD from a Chilean instrumental power trio led by guitarist Gabriel Hidalgo, also a member of the band Six Magics. We believe Gabriel makes his home in southern California now. ‘Yupaychay’ is a word meaning ‘tribute’ in the native South American Quechua language. The tribute in this case is to popular Chilean artists such as Inti-Illimani, Quilapayún, Illapu, Violeta Parra and Victor Jara, who have folk roots. This album contains progressive rock arrangements of a selection of their songs. Those songs didn’t originally have rock bass and drums, and now they do, while the melodies and essential flavors are retained.
This 73-minute CD includes both albums by Argentine progressive rock band Horizonte: their 1978 self-titled debut and Señales sin Edad (1979). “Horizonte at times are a dead ringer for Los Jaivas in that, unlike Crucis, Bubu, or El Reloj, they draw strong native folk elements into their sound. This falls more along the lines of Anacrusa, Arco Iris, or Magma (no, not that one), although Horizonte have a more noticeable rock edge.” [Exposé] More info at Prog Archives.
This is the 2006 debut by a Venezuelan project led by Giuglio Cesare Della Noce, the keyboardist of Tempano. The rest of the Tempano members also play on the album, as well as a number of other musicians, but the album was composed by Della Noce. This is a symphonic rock album that fuses so many influences and covers enough ground that it’s no easy task to describe it. It is deliberately paced and usually has a serious air about it; some of it is hypnotic and soundtrack-y. There are some experimental passages with samples and voices integrated, and a contemporary classical influence. And there is some sophisticated symphonic rock with both electric guitar and keyboards, occasionally spiced with brass. The album is mostly instrumental but there are two songs with conventional vocals (male and female), as well as some wordless vocals that are operatic or abstract. An ambitious work that is more arty and less accessible than Tempano, and there may not be another album like it to come out of South America.
I. Vagas Nubes is the 2003 debut by a symphonic progressive band from Colombia, released by Musea in 2006. It’s surprisingly sophisticated, certainly among the better albums to come out of South America. Jaén Kief is a large ensemble that includes flute and sax and very good male and female vocals (in Spanish). The music is melodic and classically-influenced, with Jethro Tull and Pink Floyd among several influences that might be mentioned, but it remains distinctive and as European-sounding as Latin American.
II. El Agua de Frente was released in 2006 in Colombia and by Musea in 2009. “To me it sounds more mature and elaborate than their previous effort and I am delighted by the typical Latin-American touch, that melodic and pleasant blend of several styles, presented by very good musicians. The climates range from dreamy to up-tempo rock, from classically-inspired to folky to 24-carat symphonic rock, and the instrumentation is very lush: pleasant and often warm Spanish duo-vocals (male/female), swinging acoustic rhythm guitar, powerful saxophone, cheerful flute, tender grand piano, fiery and moving electric guitar solos, an adventurous rhythm section, Spanish guitar and wonderful classical keyboard orchestrations... The 10 beautiful compositions deliver lots of variety, emotion and excellent skills on a wide range of instruments, a sound to discover!” [DPRP/Erik Neuteboom] Read the Sea of Tranquility review.
2007 CD by a Dream Theater worshiping prog-metal band from Ecuador who distinguish themselves by the addition of a classical violinist.
El Arte de Seguir Vivos (2008, digipack) is the debut CD by a symphonic prog band from Peru. To date, Peruvian progressive rock has consisted of the first album by Frágil and the albums by Flor de Loto and Supay. Kharmina Buranna are likely to be the most popular of all these, as they play all-purpose 1970s-style progressive rock that, apart from the Spanish-language vocals, sounds like vintage British or Italian prog. Kharmina Buranna sound European, lacking the Andean or Latin American flavors of their peers. There are aspects of many different 70s prog bands, not dwelling on any one band’s style long enough to sound derivative. Guests on El Arte de Seguir Vivos include the flute player from Frágil and a Japanese violinist. Read Cesar Inca’s review at Prog Archives for greater detail.
Kharmina Buranna’s second CD Seres Humanos (2012, 53-minutes, digipack) continues in a similar vein, a bit more classically-influenced than their first album. Read the Under the Radar CDs review.
Leprechaun is the other band of Subterra guitarist Jose Luis Santander, playing heavy instrumental rock-fusion in the Planet X and Steve Morse Band veins, plus some more melodic and elegant material closer to Dixie Dregs. This is their 2008 debut CD.
This is the 2008 debut CD by a Chilean band featuring ex-Matraz bassist Inti Oyarzún, playing a unique hybrid of fusion, progressive rock and metal, with female and male vocals in Spanish. Their fusion by itself would make Allan Holdsworth and Pat Metheny proud. Some of the music is a heavy fusion-tinged progressive rock, and the vocals integrate with both those styles well enough. Then there’s the metal, which is, um, an interesting addition. There’s a whole generation of musicians who believe that adding metal to anything is a good idea. Double-pedal drumming and machine gun guitar rarely blend with anything more refined (which is just about everything); they only obliterate it until they go away. Fortunately in Mahesh’s case, the metal only occasionally overstays its welcome. 54-minutes.
Panorama is the debut CD by Mahtrak, a Brazilian quartet of keys, guitar, bass and drums. Though Panorama was recorded in 2004, this digipack CD was released in 2009. As the band describe themselves: “Mahtrak is a jazz-rock ensemble, born in 2001. The band’s material sounds very original but at the same time true to the genre, yet mixing in a generous dose of progressive rock. On Panorama, they explore the vintage sounds of Hammond organ, Mellotron, and Fender Rhodes, assimilating influences from such seminal artists as the Mahavishnu Orchestra, Caravan, Soft Machine, Jeff Beck, Return to Forever and Weather Report.” They’re closer to instrumental progressive rock than that list might suggest, half way between the likes of Camel and the classic fusion style. The music is melodic and structured rather than relying on soloing and improvisation. Mahtrak made sure the entire production stayed true to a vintage 1970s sound. During the 70s, there were bands from Spain, Eastern Europe, and elsewhere making proggy fusion records like this, but these days it’s uncommon. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
This is a very good 1993 prog album from an Argentine quintet in the Genesis/Marillion vein, with vocals in Spanish. This is Mandragora’s only album, though guitarist Alex Chaneton went on to form the similar band Chaneton. Mandragora are comparable to Rael, another of the Argentine prog bands operating during this period. This mini-LP edition is the 2010 edition released by the MALS label under license from Musea, which comes in a heavyweight cardboard sleeve.
MdR (2003) is the debut by an excellent Chilean band combining some of the Rush and King Crimson energy with elements of fusion and South American folk textures. They can be complex and intense without getting overly dissonant or difficult, and the acoustic instruments (especially the flute) provide a necessary balance to the electric instruments. In a way, Mar de Robles incorporates the style of countrymates such as Los Jaivas into a more electric and aggressive music, with great technical skill and arrangements that leave little time for the listener to catch his breath. Vocals are in Spanish, but the music is heavily instrumental.
Indigena (2007) continues in a similar vein but is almost entirely instrumental and shifts a bit toward more ‘difficult’ music: more electric, more challenging, more complexity-for-complexity’s-sake.
The annual Baja Prog festival always featured one surprising band that few had heard of beforehand but wouldn’t forget afterwards. In 2004, that band was Matraz from Chile. The 61-minute Gritaré (2004) is their second CD. On this CD, Matraz mix styles and elements in a novel way that always keeps the listener guessing what will come next. Metal guitar sits alongside Canterbury jazziness. The keyboardist plays a lot of piano in addition to synths, and his classical and jazz chops give the music much of its character. They never play prog-metal for longer than about 30 seconds at a time, and the guitarist also adds jazz as well as traditional prog styles. Matraz have a good female vocalist (singing in Spanish), though the music is heavily instrumental. The sophisticated arrangements make this a contender for the best symphonic rock record ever from Chile.
Tiempo was recorded in 1999. It has male vocals rather than female, and while there is more of the chugga-chugga metal guitar, it still exhibits many of the same qualities as Gritaré.
These are the CD reissues of two Argentine prog classics and rarities. Rodolfo Mederos is a bandoneonist (accordionist). He formed the band Generacion Cero in 1976 and created a unique instrumental fusion of progressive rock, jazz, and the music of Buenos Aires. The instrumentation also includes piano and synths, electric guitar, electric bass, drums, and some flute. De Todas Maneras (1977) is their second and best work. It features beautiful wordless female vocals on one track. Mederos dropped “Generacion Cero” from the name for Todo Hoy (1978), though it is still a band album. Whether there is any real tango here is debatable, but the bandoneon evokes it, so if not taken too seriously, ‘tango-prog’ is a fair label. The music is complex, with real compositional and arranging skills in evidence. The word ‘unique’ gets bandied about a lot, but suffice to say you probably don’t have anything in your collection quite like these. These CDs are joint releases of three prog labels in three countries and come in a gatefold mini-LP style sleeve. Todo Hoy adds an 8:48 bonus track. Listen to Últimos días de marzo from Todo Hoy on YouTube.
This is a really overlooked 2008 Chilean CD of progressive jazz-rock in the Allan Holdsworth vein but with beautiful female vocals. Listen to the song Que dirá el Santo Padre on YouTube.
Michelena is a talented Venezuelan multi-instrumentalist (primarily guitars, also keyboards, programming, percussion). On his 2001 debut, several other musicians assist him in producing ten instrumental pieces of jazz-rock close to the style of Allan Holdsworth. To what is admittedly becoming a well-worn musical style, Michelena adds a great deal of invention, so we can recommend this to fans of energetic, progressive fusion.
This is the 2009 debut CD (actually recorded 2005-2007) by a Brazilian symphonic prog quintet singing in English who list their influences as Yes, Camel, Kansas, Marillion, Pink Floyd, Genesis, ELP, Rick Wakeman, and O Terço. It’s classy symphonic prog that should have wide appeal as it is very melodic. While keyboards and guitar are in balance, bandleader Raphael Montechiari is a keyboardist, and keyboards are the main attraction here. Montechiari can’t be pinned down to one keyboard style, though Emerson is certainly one influence, and likewise Montechiari Project can’t be pinned down to a single influence. It is all prog rock though and all well done, ranging from a couple of the vocal songs that are as accessible as Asia, to more intricate pieces relying more (or entirely) on instrumental content. The Montechiari Project aesthetic is pure 1970s/1980s, positive and uplifting, refined and free of metal. Think of a less bombastic Apocalypse (after Apocalypse began singing in English); Tempus Fugit is also not a bad comparison.
Reflejos de un Encierro (2011) is the second album by this instrumental Chilean guitar/keys/bass/drums quartet, plus guests on flute, percussion and vibraphone. There are some bursts of metal, but that is just one of Mr Hyde’s facets. Some of their music is fusion-y, some has a retro hard rock + organ style, while one track is strongly acoustic and jazz-inflected. That latter-day Pink Floyd guitar style is sometimes featured, while the label mentions Edhels and Djam Karet, both reasonable comparisons. Here is the official video for the song Rebaños.
This is the fifth solo album by Brazilian keyboardist/composer/arranger Lelo Nazario, who has performed with Hermeto Pascoal, Grupo Um and Pau Brasil. This is a contemporary jazz record with many novel twists. Among the musicians on this album are electric guitarist Felipe Ávila (Sexo dos Anjos, Percussônica) and Teco Cardoso (Pé Ante Pé, Pau Brasil) on flute and sax. Digipack.
Fuera del Cielo (1975) and El Vendedor de Promesas (1977) are from the progressive phase of this popular Argentine singer and musician. On both albums, the band is a trio with a bassist, drummer, and Nebbia handling keyboards as well as electric and acoustic guitars. On keys, he favors electric and acoustic piano. The music is typical Argentine 1970s progressive rock, jazz-tinged with Latin touches, melancholy Spanish vocals and a generally mellow feel. In fact, this music could only have been made in the 70s. The instrumental arrangements are intricate and there are many similarities to the early-70s Italian progressive bands. Both titles include three bonus tracks and come in mini-LP sleeves. Start with El Vendedor de Promesas.
This reissues two LPs by Brazilian drummer/pianist/composer Nenê on one 80-minute CD: Bugre (1982) and Minuano (1985). Nenê has been a member of Hermeto Pascoal’s and Egberto Gismonti’s bands as well as Pau Brasil and is now one of the most respected Brazilian musicians. Bugre was his first solo album. Minuano, his third, is generally considered his masterpiece. Both were recorded with top musicians and are similar to Gismonti’s style of jazz/jazz-rock: intricate, melodic, and sometimes exotic, with Brazilian music integrated at times. This is easily recommended to fans of the ECM label.
Detras del Umbral (1999, 71-minutes) and Metanoia (2001, 72-minutes) are the first two CDs from this powerful Argentine progressive band with female vocals (in Spanish), equally influenced by ELP and Genesis. “Their sound is classic symphonic progressive rock all the way, influenced by Genesis, ELP, Hackett, Orme and Crimson, but with enough originality to sound fresh in an age when so many treading this well worn style barely rise above mediocrity. Keyboards, guitars and the golden voice of Mariela Gonzales drive the show, with the rhythm section providing a solid supporting structure. The sound can be big and bombastic, or gentle and delicate, and the band is masterful at both ends of the spectrum, with a penchant for dramatic arrangements and blazing aggressive passages punctuated with guitar and synth soloing. There’s a lot of music here, so be prepared for a symphonic overdose, but also be prepared for an exceptional performance that breathes new life into an old style that few bands of late have been able to innovate. Indeed, Nexus adds little new stylistically to the sound, but refines and perfects it in a way that makes it all sound fresh and exciting again.” [Exposé] These mini-LP editions are the 2009/2010 limited editions released by the MALS label under license, which come in heavyweight cardboard sleeves; the booklets are in Spanish with Russian translations included.
Live at Nearfest 2000 (68-minutes) is a straight, no-overdubs live recording of Nexus’ 2000 Nearfest performance, featuring songs drawn from their first two CDs.
Nexus lost their female singer Mariela Gonzales and replaced her with a male singer on Perpetuum Karma (2006, 72-minutes), but their music lost nothing in the transition. Read reviews at DPRP and Prog Archives.
Buenos Aires Free Experience Vol. 2 (2007, 72-minutes) is the second in a series of jam session CDs organized by the Record Runner label. The music was spontaneously created in the studio and later edited and mixed. This is another side of Nexus, different from the rest of their output but excellent in its own right. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
Aire (2012, 64-minutes) is the long-awaited new Nexus studio CD, with keyboardist Lalo Huber assuming vocal duties. Nexus remain one of the very best Spanish-language symphonic prog bands in the world.
Magna Fabulis (2012) compiles the long pieces Nexus contributed to Colossus/Musea’s various artist concept albums. The track Odisea, El Regreso (27:52) appears on Odyssey: The Greatest Tale, La Aventura en el Mar (23:23) appears on Treasure Island, El Segundo Reino (9:21) appears on Dante’s Paradiso: The Divine Comedy Part III, and The Scheme Goes On (8:22) appears on Dante’s Purgatorio: The Divine Comedy Part II. If you don’t have those albums, then this is a new Nexus album to you, and one of their best.
Check this page for the related bands Alma and Subliminal.
The 2002 debut by this Brazilian quintet is a great surprise, as it sounds like it came straight out of the 1970s. While Os Mutantes is one reference point, we’d say that Octohpera are the Brazilian PFM, specifically early PFM, up through Photos of Ghosts. Those delicate, nuanced passages that many modern bands seem incapable of are here in abundance. Vocals in Portuguese.
This is a project out of the Tempano camp. Tempano (see entry below) is the top Venezuelan progressive rock band, whose first album appeared in 1979. OdraReg is not some Middle Earth name, it’s just the first name of Tempano drummer and founding member Gerardo Ubieda spelled backwards. Sorry to destroy the mystique. Every member of Tempano assists on this mostly-instrumental album, so the end result is of a similar quality. The compositions seem to have been around for 20 years; one hint is that Ubieda is credited with some keyboard programming on an Atari 1040ST. The music is on the border of sophisticated jazz-rock and progressive rock, with elements of modern King Crimson and Yes, but with creative stylings and novel sounds that make OdraReg unique. Dynamic, vivid, adventurous and modern, God’s Garden is an impressive addition to the legacy of Tempano.
Hormonal is the 2003 second album by this Argentine neo-symphonic quintet. Omnia sounds more European than many South American prog bands, with a strong, passionate vocalist singing in Spanish. All the essential symphonic prog elements are here. Their music blends the energy and directness of the neo-prog bands with some of the sophistication of the classic prog bands, ending up somewhere in between. Of the lesser-known active prog bands, Omnia is one of the better ones and deserves more exposure. Mini-LP sleeve.
OVNI is El Salvador’s top (OK, only) progressive rock band. Their name is the Spanish acronym equivalent to UFO. Humans But Not Terrestrials (2004), also known as Humanos Pero No Terrestres, featured a new lineup for OVNI and was a big step forward for the band. This 79-minute sci-fi concept album is sung mostly in English, with a few songs in Spanish. OVNI come closest to Yes on this album, though that’s only an approximation. The songs sung in Spanish tend to have a slightly different feel, sometimes suggesting Italian progressive rock, and some of it could probably be called neo-prog. One might spot ELP, Jethro Tull, or Pink Floyd here and there, but OVNI have their own melodic prog style. There are some epic statements here, the longest track a 23-minute suite. The usual keys/guitar/bass/drums instrumentation is augmented by mandolin, flute, and various South American stringed things. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
The True Purposes of God / Los Verdaderos Propósitos de Dios (2006) is a 74-minute concept album which is also sung in both English and Spanish, with the majority in English. The description of Humans But Not Terrestrials also applies here, though this album seems to emphasize the pop side of OVNI’s songwriting a bit more, an aspect of the band that has been present from the beginning. OVNI’s melodies tend to sound more British than those of other Latin American prog bands, from a Beatles influence on some tracks to a 1980s neo-prog influence on others. Another very good album. Watch the videos for Friendship?, Against Nada, and ElectroElle y RockyKate.
Salvadoreño / Alien is OVNI’s ambitious 2011 studio double-CD. Read reviews at Prog Archives. Watch the videos for the title track, The Monseigneur, Himno Nacional de El Salvador, Traffic in San Sivar, and Un Niño Tenaz.
Simple (2015) sees OVNI putting more emphasis on songs, which is something they’ve gotten very good at. The progressive elements, the excellent work on both guitar and keyboards, is obvious during the instrumental breaks and merely shifted out of the foreground during the verses and choruses. The songs are retro in the sense that they are upbeat, with none of the modern darkness, melancholy, and moaning about life. There is one instrumental, three songs sung in Spanish, and five in English. The Spanish-language songs bring to mind South American bands such as Os Mutantes and 14 Bis (even though those bands sing in Portuguese), or even some of the Italian pop-prog bands. (And for those who don’t speak Spanish, there is the psychological effect where the brain believes the lyrics must be about something profound, whether or not they actually are.)
La Experiencia (2001) is a 72-minute live CD that includes concerts from 1987, 1989, and 2000. This is the first lineup of OVNI playing melodic symphonic prog with a standard guitar, keys, bass & drums lineup, plus vocals in Spanish. It’s prog all right, though there’s also a bit of an AOR feel, like a Spanish-language Asia. There are songs, the vocals are prominent, but there are also long tracks with plenty of instrumental work.
Entre Seres y sus Raices (2000) is a double-CD and a very long one, each disc 74-minutes long. This is the strongest of OVNI’s earlier albums, romantic symphonic rock sung in Spanish that holds up well over the 2.5 hours, with some references to Italian progressive and 1970s South American prog, and several epic statements. Watch the videos for La Profecía Maya Parte I and Parte II.
Reissue of an obscure 1972 Argentine progressive folk album from a trio plus members of Aquelarre playing on at least two of the seven tracks. Pacifico rely heavily on flowery acoustic guitars and flutes, the focus on light and breezy instrumental work and songs with great harmony vocals (in Spanish). The result is like the South American equivalent of Harmonium (on their first album) and similar Québecois bands. This should also appeal to fans of the folkier Argentine bands such as M.I.A. and Seru Giran. Mini-LP sleeve.
Parthenon is a Venezuelan progressive band that was founded back in 1979, disbanded in 1981, and revived again much later. Parthenon’s keyboardist is Robert Santamaría, who moved to Spain to form the band Amarok, then returned to Venezuela to make these recordings. This CD was recorded between 2000-2004, except for the last three tracks which are from the archives. Tracks 9 & 10 were recorded in 1980-1981 at the band’s rehearsal site and Track 11 was recorded live in 1980. The audio quality of these older tracks is of course not up to the quality of the rest. But the album proper is superb, influenced heavily by ELP, though Parthenon does have four instrumentalists including an electric guitarist. Aside from a couple moments when you expect the band to launch into Pirates, it’s not overly derivative and will feel a bit like a new ELP album to fans. Parthenon have some beautiful female vocals in Spanish, but there is more instrumental music than vocal. Very impressive both in terms of playing and composition. 66-minutes.
Aldo Pinelli is the guitarist and leader of the Argentine prog band Habitat and has maintained a parallel solo career during the past several years. La Era de Melania (2011, 61-minutes) is his third solo album, on which he is joined by female musicians on flute, cello, keyboards, and windchimes. Pinelli concentrates on classical guitar but does play a little electric; he also plays keyboards, bass, and percussion. He shares not just initials but an aesthetic with Anthony Phillips (The Geese and the Ghost era), and there is some overlap with Steve Hackett’s style as well. Most of the pieces are short, except for the 13-minute final track. Most are instrumental, though on the few occasions Pinelli does sing (in Spanish), that same similarity to acoustic Le Orme heard in Habitat is heard here. There are renaissance music (think Gryphon) and Celtic influences that set Pinelli’s music apart from the Genesis guitarists. One could also mention Celeste, Führs & Fröhling’s Ammerland, and Mike Oldfield’s Hergest Ridge. To steal three words for this album from the Lizard label: sweetness, serenity, and joy. Read reviews at Prognaut and PsychedelicFolk.com. Check above for the Habitat CDs.
Núcleos is the 2006 debut by a Chilean progressive rock trio (keyboards & classical guitar, guitar, drums) playing a well-crafted, almost entirely instrumental progressive rock derived primarily from King Crimson. A bass player and violinist appear as guest musicians. There are many bands today influenced by King Crimson, but many have no keyboardist and tend to be one-dimensional, lacking symphonic textures. You know, the ones that do eight subpar variations on the song Red and call it an album. That’s not the case with Platurno, who also add a little spaciness. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
Platurno continue to mature and expand beyond the Crimson-verse on their more eclectic second album Insano (2011). The album is again instrumental apart from one song with Spanish vocals. The King Crimson influence is mostly Red-era plus the interlocking pentatonic scale exercises of 1980s King Crimson. But there are also touches of jazz-rock, chamber classical (thanks to a guest cellist playing multiple, overdubbed parts), space-rock, and symphonic rock with lyrical, sustained guitar leads.
Poços & Nuvens (Wells & Clouds) are a Brazilian band with a 1970s progressive aesthetic, with flute, violin, acoustic guitar, and soft vocals (in Portuguese) added to the standard symphonic rock lineup. There is a fair amount of Jethro Tull influence here. The band expanded to a sextet plus guests for their second album Provincia Universo (2001, 58-minutes). Read the Progressor review.
Clouds on the Road is subtitled Live in Niterói 2005, with both the CD and DVD containing live versions of 13 songs recorded at the beautiful Teatro Municipal de Niterói. The band here is a sextet of electric & acoustic guitars, flute & electric guitar, keyboards & accordion, violin, bass, and drums, with five members singing. The DVD (NTSC, all-region) features 5.1 surround audio (reportedly DTS) as well as 2.0 stereo and includes interviews with the band members. Watch Vindima e Ventania and Copla from the DVD.
Check below for CDs by bandleader Gérson Werlang.
One of the best on the Viajero Inmovil label, this excellent Argentine progressive album contains material recorded in 1978 but not released until 2003. Presas is the former guitarist of Materia Gris, and his band here includes, among others, keyboardist Carlos Cutaia (a well-known name in the Argentine prog scene) and drummer Carlos Riganti (ex-Alas). This album is quite different from Materia Gris. It is instrumental aside from one track sung in English, though there are some wordless female vocals. This is intricate, intimate, delicate and refined progressive rock that stands apart from the rest of the South American prog of the era. Much of it is reminiscent of the Mexican band Flüght for the way it incorporates classical influences with slight spacey touches. For the nearest European equivalents, think of early Mike Oldfield and Kerrs Pink, Gordon Giltrap, Snow Goose-era Camel, and some of Anthony Phillips’ work. It comes in a mini-LP sleeve.
A short (33:48) but enchanting CD featuring a female singer with a gorgeous voice. No less than Annie Haslam writes liner notes, saying this album reminds her of her early days in Renaissance. The music is a light progressive mélange that includes elements of pop, jazz, and Brazilian music. The project includes musicians from Bacamarte, Quaterna Requiem, Topos Uranos, and more.
Abducción (2011) contains bombastic instrumental symphonic prog from Chile, very Anglo-American in style. The band is led by keyboardist Nicolás Quinteros, who is joined by a guitarist, bassist, and drummer, all prominent musicians on the Chilean scene. Quinteros can certainly play, yet the glory is shared between keys and guitar, very much the sound of a quartet playing together. The music is mostly very high energy, and though Quinteros and the bassist are also members of the metal band Delta, the music here flirts with metal but doesn’t linger there long enough to become annoying. So while Planet X is one comparison, Q are more melodic, less metallic, and include more classical elements. It sounds like Quinteros is familiar with Genesis, Yes, and ELP, but his approach is modern, favoring modern synths (not counting his theremin) for both fast lead lines and lush chords. This is impressive sympho-prog designed to get your heart racing.
Quantum’s 1983 debut is one of the top Brazilian progressive rock CDs, instrumental, in a flowing Camel-like style with touches of fusion. This CD reissue adds one bonus track. “This outstanding Brazilian instrumental five-piece recorded only this one album in the early eighties and then disappeared. Their sound combines the best elements of the European progressive sound with symphonic and fusion to produce a stunning instrumental album of enchanting sophistication and complexity. The compositions are energetic and melodic, and the playing is extremely tight -- I am often reminded of the French band Terpandre, although Quantum has a much smoother and fluid sound, with more evident jazz underpinnings... Sound-wise, this reissue is very clean, with far more clarity and depth than the LP had, with the exception of some minor waffling at the lead-in to the first track. A very worthwhile album that was (unfortunately) largely overlooked the first time around.” [Exposé] See Prog Archives for more info. YouTube has the songs Tema Etéreo, Chuva, Acapulco, Inter Vivos, Sonata, and Quantum.
Elemental (2013) is the debut by Quarks, a new project of keyboardist Claudio Momberg (SETI, Taurus, Clive Nolan’s Alchemy, Subterra) with guitarist Alamiro Arias and keyboardist Ricardo Riadi. This is high-quality Berlin school electronics. Watch the album preview video.
Quaterna Réquiem are one of the best Brazilian symphonic progressive bands. Their 1990 album Velha Gravura is their classic (but is hard to come by these days). The lineup at this stage was keyboards, violin, guitar, bass, and drums. The music is instrumental and much of it resembles Camel’s The Snow Goose, while Kleber Vogel’s violin adds the feel of the most symphonic Kansas and a bit of Jean-Luc Ponty. Vogel left before the recording of Quasimodo (1994), which is still a quality album, 74-minutes of classical progressive rock in the Camel vein, with an impressive 39-minute title suite.
Livre (70-minutes) is Quaterna Réquiem’s first live CD, recorded in December 1997. The music is taken from both Velha Gravura and Quasimodo and is highlighted by the 23-minute title track from Velha Gravura, for which violinist Vogel joined them on stage.
After a long silence, Quaterna Réquiem returned in 2012 with the excellent O Arquiteto (The Architect), with violinist Kleber Vogel back in the lineup alongside original keyboardist Elisa Wiermann, original drummer Claudio Dantas, long-time guitarist Roberto Crivano, and a new bass player. The music is still all-instrumental. Read the Albums Under the Radar review.
This 1992 album is the only album for Argentine band Rael, who are Genesis Lamb-era sound-alikes with convincing vocals mostly in English, some in Spanish. There is also more than a hint of early Marillion. File next to Citizen Cain and The Watch. This mini-LP version is the 2009 limited edition released by the MALS label under license from Musea, which comes in a heavyweight cardboard sleeve.
The Handbook of the Acid Rider (2013, digipack) is the excellent debut by this instrumental Chilean band led by a talented Stick player whose name coincidentally is Francisco Rafart. He adds keyboards and electronics and is joined by the guitarist from the Chilean band Octopus and a drummer. While the musicianship is at a high technical level and the compositions are intricate, the music remains beautiful, even delicate at times. The sound is full and varied and the music is exciting, unlike other Stick-centric albums you’ve probably heard that are one-dimensional. While fusion is only part of what Rafart do, this handbook is recommended to fans of fusion that is on the rock side of jazz and that doesn’t sound like everything else. Note the version sold by amazon is an on-demand CD-R; ours is the real thing.
This is the CD reissue of a 1989 LP, an excellent-sounding live recording of this Brazilian instrumental jazz-rock band with strong progressive overtones. The instrumentation is flutes/sax, guitar, piano/synth, bass and drums. 68-minutes.
RC2 are a progressive rock band originally from Venezuela. The self-titled CD is their 2003 debut, which was released on the French Musea label. The vocals on this album are in Spanish, and RC2’s singer has a mid-to-high register voice common among South American male rock singers. This album has a fairly typical prog sound for 2003, which is a progressive-minded keyboardist supplying all sorts of symphonic textures and synth lead lines, offset by a guitarist who half the time is playing in the hard rock or metal idiom. So although this cannot really be called prog-metal, how you feel about prog-metal may dictate just how highly you’ll rate this. Certainly much of it is very good. 69-minutes.
Four of the five original members relocated to Barcelona, Spain in 2004, but the lyrics on RC2’s second CD Future Awaits (2008, 60-minutes) are in English. Looks like it was the guitarist who didn’t make the trip, and their new guitarist understands the difference between progressive rock and metal. As such, Future Awaits is a pure progressive rock album, with space in the mix and a balance between keys and guitar that bands with metal-minded guitarists rarely achieve. The compositions are more sophisticated as well, making this a big upgrade from their debut.
Brazilians Zózimo Rech and Adrianne Simioni combine their efforts to varying degrees on these albums. Both musicians play guitar as well as keyboards and both combine synth music and instrumental progressive rock unlike anyone else. In addition to time spent in rock and fusion bands, Rech and Simioni were the only constant members of Orquestra Profana, an ensemble in existence from 1991-95 and dedicated to the interpretation of classical music with electric and electronic instruments. Their newest work is Le Quattro Stagioni / The Four Seasons (2015), which is Antonio Vivaldi’s most famous work performed on electric guitars and synths. Orquestra Profana performed this live during their existence, and Rech and Simioni felt obligated to record a studio version.
The Life of a Star is by and large a loud, bombastic progressive rock album that uses a lot of synths, but electric guitar prevails. It was recorded back in 1997 but not released until 2006. Pictures of a Solar System (2006) is considered the sequel. Pictures of a Solar System has some electric guitar and some rock but is more of a symphonic/melodic/rhythmic synth album along the lines of Synergy, though with higher energy, sometimes touching upon the style of Fonya. It is compositionally the more mature album. The booklet for Pictures of a Solar System is particularly beautiful, 24 full-color panels featuring astronomy images created by Frank Hettick.
On her 2006 album The Intelligible Sky, Simioni plays electric & acoustic guitar and electric violin. Rech has arranging, co-arranging, and/or co-writing credits on all the songs, produced the album, and took care of the keyboards and sequencers. The album is more prog rock than synth music. It has more than enough energy and complexity for progressive rock fans, yet is full of sophisticated synth textures, both symphonic and spacey. The drums on these earlier albums are programmed, but they are well done; a human drummer would not have added much.
Exégesys (2009, 69-minutes) is the debut by this Argentine symphonic prog band with powerful, soaring female vocals (in Spanish), though much of the material on this first album is instrumental. There is a slight metal influence here but the band shouldn’t be saddled with the prog-metal tag (yet). For one, their primary composer is their keyboardist. The metal influence manifests only as a slight crudeness in a few spots, mostly early on, otherwise they have a sophisticated style comparable to other mainstream, bombastic South American prog bands such as Nexus, Crisálida, Entrance, and Matraz. Not sure what the significance of Virus Master spelled backwards is though. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
Danger (2014, mini-LP sleeve) is their second. Only the keyboardist and singer from Exégesys remain, so new guys on guitar, bass, and drums. The prog-metal tag is probably unavoidable on this one as there are more Dream Theater-isms, but the band also sound more energetic, confident, and polished. The keyboardist is still in charge, so the music is as symphonic as before, with plenty of ELP, UK, and Yes-inspired material, and enough delicate passages to offset the bombast. With this album, Retsam Suriv may have leapfrogged Crisálida and Matraz. Watch the album overview and the video for Amenazas de un Final on YouTube and listen to Un Mundo Diferente on SoundCloud.
Venezuelan Raimundo Rodulfo, who now makes his home in Miami, is a highly-skilled guitarist, whether playing acoustic, classical, electric, or bass guitar or even mandolin. He leads a large cast of musicians, including keys, drums, flute, violin, and sax. Sueños/Dreams is his 2000 debut. The Dreams Concerto (2002) is a 78-minute large-scale work featuring a chamber orchestra and female lead vocals. Tempano’s singer Pedro Castillo guests. Rodulfo often sounds like a South American Steve Howe or Gordon Giltrap, playing long tracks of a bounteous, symphonic style of guitar-dominated progressive rock, often with electric guitar playing lead while acoustic guitar provides a foundation, solo acoustic guitar passages contrasting with full ensemble sections. Beautiful packaging on these CDs, featuring the works of British painter Peter Rodulfo; The Dreams Concerto has a full-color 40-page booklet inside a slipcase.
Mare et Terra is Rodulfo’s 2008 studio CD, recorded in the US, Spain and Venezuela between 2004-2008, featuring the usual large cast of supporting musicians, among them Carlos Plaza, keyboardist and leader of Kotobel, Tempano’s Pedro Castillo (vocals) and Gerardo Ubieda (drums), musicians on violin, cello, woodwinds and trumpet, and more male and female vocalists. It’s an imposing 77-minute rock symphony of great sophistication, primarily instrumental, with more Yes influence than on Rodulfo’s earlier works, especially in the guitar and bass. Think of this as Rodulfo’s Tales from Topographic Oceans, but distinguished by the inclusion of Spanish/Latin American, classical, and jazz-rock colors. Impressive.
Consisting of members of the Chilean prog band Entrance, the Jaime Rosas Trio is a keyboard power trio a la ELP or the final UK lineup, though their bassist does play some guitar. Extremos (2004) is their second CD, a mostly-instrumental affair. It mixes predominantly fast, high-energy, technically-adept classical rock workouts with a few breathers centered around classical piano. The material is well-composed and not just flash and bombast. Read reviews.
With Creciendo (2005), they’ve added a guitarist to become a quartet. This album is again heavily instrumental, with quality vocals both wordless and in Spanish. Much of the instrumental material is in a high-energy, fast and demonstrative symphonic prog style, leaving no doubt that JRC can play. The electric guitar gives this material a harder edge. But this is balanced by more sensitive tracks employing vocals and acoustic guitar. Rosas’ keyboards are still the highlight, often very classically influenced. Read reviews.
Flashback (2011, digipack) is not a Rosas solo CD; in fact the number of musicians participating is up to ten. While heavily instrumental, Jaime Scalpello adds some quality vocals. This is our favorite of Rosas’ CDs, maybe the best keyboard-centric symphonic rock album of the year. While the previous two studio CDs had some prog-metal influence (Entrance has even more), Flashback is purer. And yet it isn’t retro. When Rosas is in ELP and Rick Wakeman mode, the music is still a more energetic, modern take on those styles, heavy without stepping over the taste line into metal (which separates Flashback from the work of, say, Derek Sherinian). Guitar is not ignored, and one piece is more Genesis and Steve Hackett influenced. Read reviews.
Viajero Astral is 73-minutes of JRC live at the 2005 Rio ArtRock Festival and one track recorded in Mexico in 2004. Read reviews.
A one-man instrumental effort, more new age than rock, with Alex Saba playing keyboards, flutes, guitars, and percussion. This is incidental music for the Christian Mass, but includes musical influences from outside the tradition.
The greatest Brazilian symphonic progressive band, Sagrado began in 1979, their work based around the genius of violinist and multi-instrumentalist Marcus Viana (also composer and arranger). Viana must be conservatory-trained, as not only is he an incredible player, it’s clear he knows how to orchestrate. Consequently, Sagrado’s epic tracks are in a league above those of most of today’s bands. Great male and female vocals too (lyrics in Portuguese).
On the 70-minute A Leste do Sol, Oeste da Lua (2000), Viana may be getting more romantic in his old age, but the familiar Sagrado style is still there, with some world music elements added. Grande Espirito is from 1994, Farol da Liberdade from 1991, Flecha from 1987, their self-titled first CD from 1984.
Saeculae Saeculorum was Marcus Viana’s first band and laid the foundation for Sagrado Coracão da Terra. This CD was released in 1996, but the material dates to the mid-1970s. The music is even more progressive than Sagrado!
Jaime Scalpello is the singer for Chilean bands Entrance and SETI. His debut El Rugido de los Dioses (2008, 59-minutes) is an excellent symphonic rock work featuring musicians from Entrance, SETI, Subterra, Angulart, and Jaime Rosas Cuarteto, sort of a Chilean all-star prog band. Scalpello has a powerful voice, and the Spanish-language lyrics suit the music better than if he were to sing in English. The music is fairly modern sounding, with slightly heavy guitar, but never crossing over into metal.
Interesting 2006 debut by a Brazilian prog-metal band with a quality female vocalist singing in English. As prog-metal goes, this is excellent. The progressive parts are very good, with some Rush influence as well as more symphonic stylings. Of course it’s periodically dragged down to metal level, but that apparently is intentional. Overall it’s more progressive than metal though. This is the special edition, which adds a slipcase.
SETI is another band of Claudio Momberg, keyboardist of the Chilean band Subterra, with singer Jaime Scalpello and the participation of the other Subterra members as well as other musicians. We would say that SETI is now the better band (a moot point if Subterra are no longer active). SETI debuted in 2005 with Life Signs (currently out-of-print), dark symphonic prog generally in the Genesis, early Marillion, and Pink Floyd styles, with strong vocals in English.
The line-up for Discoveries (2010, 66-minutes) includes members of the Chilean bands Subterra, Entrance, and Angulart, plus Damian Wilson singing lead on one track. The Genesis influence here is stronger, with lots of Mellotron. Momberg even adds a bit of accomplished space music a la Tangerine Dream or Jarre. There is enough heavy guitar to place the music in 2010, for better or worse. The English-language vocals from Scalpello and Wilson are very strong, making SETI one of the better current South American bands.
One Giant Leap is a 66-minute live CD recorded in October 2010 in Santiago. It includes two new 2011 studio tracks as a bonus. As Momberg notes, SETI was originally going to be one and done with Life Signs, with no plans to perform live. But the positive response to that album combined with Subterra going dormant meant Momberg’s energies would now go into SETI. That lead to this live CD, which draws from both studio albums. SETI are at their darkest and most ponderous here, emphasizing their heavy Floydian and early Marillion sides, though the Genesis stylings didn’t go away. There is extra vitality in these renditions.
See the related bands/projects Taurus and Quarks.
This is a band out of Brazil that is going to please a lot of fans from the prog-metal side of things, though Sleepwalker Sun sound like they could be from anywhere. They have a female vocalist with a beautiful voice singing in unaccented English. They blend some heavy, metallic guitar with lots of ornate, symphonic keyboards. On their self-titled 2005 debut (60-minutes), violinist Marcus Viana (Sagrado Coracão da Terra) guests on two tracks including the 14-minute opener, and keyboardist André Mello (Tempus Fugit) guests on the 10-minute final track. Sleepwalker Sun could dump the metal and be an even better progressive rock band with some Renaissance-like qualities, but as it is, they have plenty going for them. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
Stranger in the Mirror (2010, digipack, 65-minutes) is their second. Really it might be better just to call Sleepwalker Sun a ‘heavy progressive’ band, because while there is metal present, they focus on the more musical and melodic side of metal rather than generic metal clichés and trying to generate as much low-frequency noise as possible. Their music has some long stretches of pure prog and maintains refinement throughout. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
Nice debut by this Brazilian band that plays symphonic progressive rock with both forceful and delicate passages, closest to the styles of Yes and ELP, with quite a lot of acoustic guitar. Vocals are in Portuguese (except one song in French) and resemble Secos & Molhados (basically a vocal style you hear only in South American bands). Exceptional artwork rounds out the package.
Santiago, Chile’s Sol y Medianoche (Midnight Sun) are known to prog cognoscenti for their 1984 LP 33º 33 Latitud Sur, their most successful album, reissued on CD in 2007. They released a half dozen albums between 1982-1990, and they were an important national band in Chile. After a long absence, they returned in 2009 with Poeta y Cantor on the Mylodon label, still featuring their excellent female vocalist Soledad Dominguez and bandleader Jorge Soto (guitars and keys), with a new bassist (Soto’s and Dominguez’s daughter!) and drummer, plus several guest musicians. Their music is a 1970s style (early-80s in Chile but 70s for most of us) mixing symphonic prog, hard rock, pop and folk, probably encapsulating the Chilean rock scene during those years. Several of the songs on this CD are new versions of the band’s hits. Soto sings the album’s final song, which is one of the best.
Limbo (2008) is the debut by Argentine symphonic rock band Subliminal, a side project of three Nexus members: Lalo Huber (keys, vocals), Lito Marcello (guitars, vocals), and Luis Nakamura (drums). Read reviews at Prog Archives.
Subterra are a Chilean band founded in 1996 as a Marillion (mainly Fish-era) cover band, so not surprisingly, their 2001 debut Sombras de Invierno is in the early Marillion style. Cautiverio (2005) shows the band developing a more original style, with little Marillion influence apparent. While the keyboards evoke 1970s progressive rock, the guitarist and drummer add slight metal touches, and the music is darker and heavier than on their debut. Lyrics in Spanish.
Abrir la Herida (2007, 75-minutes) is a live CD with seven tracks taken from a 2000 concert, three tracks from a 2005 performance, and two bonus tracks (one is a 2003 demo).
Peruvian band Supay play instrumental flute-led prog, with (initially) two woodwind players in their lineup in addition to keyboards, guitars, bass, and drums. The woodwinds include the quena (a traditional Andean end-blown flute), the quenacho (a bigger quena), the tarca (another traditional Andean wooden flute), the zampoña (double panpipes), and the toyo (another bunch of bundled pipes). The music is symphonic prog enriched by Andean folk music. Not surprisingly, that folk element is generated mostly by the Andean flutes while the rest of the band is playing in a symphonic rock style, though the guitarist and keyboardist occasionally slip in a folk-based melody. Think of Los Jaivas at their most progressive.
Confusión, their debut album, was first released by the band in 2004 (with a different cover), then re-released in this 2006 edition by Mylodon Records. Supay’s second El Viaje was also first released by the band in 2007, again with a different cover, then by Mylodon in this 2009 edition. (The El Viaje album was preceded by an EP of the same name; this is the full-length CD.) There were some line-up changes and only one woodwind player remains, so there is slightly more guitar and less flute, but Supay’s style is largely unchanged.
Señales was first released by the band at the end of 2013, followed by this Mylodon edition in 2014. It sees Supay becoming increasingly symphonic and is their best album, easily accessible to most prog fans. There are some vocals (in Spanish) though the music remains predominantly instrumental. This album deserves far more attention than it has received so far. Watch the videos for the Señales and Señales Parte II. More info at Prog Archives.
This is the 2006 edition of A Gaze Between the Past and the Future, first released in 2002, now with a 6:32 bonus track and a better cover. There was a band named Tarkus in Peru during the 1970s, but this Tarkus is Brazilian. This is their first album and is sung in English. The underside of the traycard is a collage of famous album covers, to which Tarkus have rather optimistically added their own. These give a clue as to their heroes -- there are albums by Jethro Tull, ELP, Focus, King Crimson, Yes, Argent, and others. Despite their name, Tarkus don’t sound particularly like ELP. On this album they are a six-man band with a dedicated flute player, so this is symphonic rock with flute featured prominently. The first track on the album includes the intro to Argent’s The Coming of Kohoutek, while another track is excerpts from Devil Doll’s Dies Irae. Tarkus’ style does seem to fall between the British and Italian 70s prog styles, the latter more PFM than Devil Doll though. Such homages are rarely up to the level of the original bands, and this is no exception, but it is a very enjoyable 70s-style symphonic rock album, especially for those who love flute used in this context.
Ao Vivo em Niterói is a 74-minute live CD recorded in 2005, with excellent audio quality. The DVD (NTSC, all-region) appears to be the same show as the CD but includes two additional tracks and features Dolby Digital 5.1 surround audio. DVD extras include backstage footage and interviews, photo gallery, bio, and discography with audio samples. On this CD and DVD, Tarkus are a quintet with two keyboardists but no flute player, and the vocals are in Portuguese. They sound more Yes-influenced here, not so much the entire band, but at least one keyboardist loves those Wakeman-esque lead synth lines. It appears these are all new songs, so with the great fidelity, this should be looked upon as Tarkus’ second album.
Taurus is SETI and Subterra keyboardist Claudio Momberg solo, a hybrid of classically-influenced electronic music and progressive rock, sort of Tony Banks meets Synergy meets Vangelis, becoming more rock-oriented on the later albums. Note Momberg is also a member of Clive Nolan’s Alchemy project. Dimensions is from 2010, Impressions from 2011, Research from 2013. Read the Prog Archives review of Research.
Opus IV: Elevations (2014) continues the shift toward the progressive rock side, with more guitar and drums used. In early 2014, Momberg set up a live-in-studio session where he was joined by a drummer, guitarist, and bass player, playing tracks from all four Taurus albums. So while the Elevations album is performed by Momberg on all instruments, the music appears to have been influenced by the full band experience, with more of the SETI energy apparent.
These exceptional Venezuelan musicians first made their mark in the progressive rock world at the end of the 1970s, became pop stars in their own country during the next decade, then were rediscovered by progressive rock fans during the 1990s with the reissue of their excellent first album Atabal-Yemal (1979) and a new prog album Childhood’s End - El Fin de la Infancia (2000), plus an appearance at the Baja Prog festival. Childhood’s End features some lovely vocals but the album is predominantly instrumental and combines a Genesis/Camel/Happy the Man melodic sense with a more fusiony feel, plus the South American festive touch. After Crying’s cellist guests.
The Agony and the Ecstasy (2002, 66-minutes) is another bold statement that shows Tempano’s maturity. There are subtle Latin influences, more so during the acoustic passages, but otherwise you’d be hard pressed to tell that this album was from a South American band. Their singer could pass for American or English, sounding a bit like Sting at times. The band’s instrumentals have a fusion edge to them, complex arrangements perfectly executed, occasionally in Happy the Man territory. The vocal tracks are warmer and more introspective, but it is all top-notch, original progressive rock from musicians seemingly capable of playing any progressive or fusion style. The CD booklet has beautiful reproductions of paintings dating back to the Italian Renaissance to illustrate the texts. Check above for the related bands OdraReg and iX.
Tempus Fugit are one of the best South American progressive bands to emerge during the 1990s. They sing in English, though their 1990s albums are predominantly instrumental, their music lying in Genesis, Marillion, and Camel territory. Tales from a Forgotten World is their 1997 debut album and maybe still their best. This is the 2007 extended and remastered edition, which comes in a slipcase and adds two bonus tracks, 1993 demo versions of two of the album tracks. Here is an mp3 excerpt from the track A Song for a Distant Land. The “official bootleg” is a great quality 1998 recording of the last show with the original lineup, including three new tracks.
Their third studio album Chessboard (2008, 50-minutes) is again a refined, melodic symphonic prog album, roughly a blend of early Marillion and Camel and likewise straddling classic and neo-prog. There are somewhat more vocals now, with a guest female vocalist appearing in spots to add another dimension. Beautiful tri-fold digipack. Here is an mp3 of the complete 11-minute track The Game of Life. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
O Terço were one of the pioneering and best symphonic progressive bands in Brazil, their best work being 1975’s Criaturas da Noite. The band reformed as a trio circa 1990 with guitarist/singer Sérgio Hinds the only original member and released a forgettable self-titled album. Drummer Franklin Paollilo returned for Time Travellers (1992, 49-minutes), the band back to a quartet with their direction sorted out. Time Travellers is a return to progressive rock, a very good album even if the sound is updated from 1970s O Terço. The lyrics here are in English and the style closer to international standard prog, but then this has been the trend in progressive rock after the classic era, the loss of regional or national flavors in favor of a more generic sound.
Live at Palace with Orchestra (1994, 73-minutes) is fantastic. O Terço perform with a symphony orchestra, singing songs from their first incarnation in Portuguese and songs from Time Travellers in English. See Prog Archives for reviews and audio clips for Time Travellers and Live at Palace.
Brazilians Trem do Futuro released their first CD in 1995 and this, their second, not until 2008. A seven-piece band, they sing in Portuguese and augment their sound with a lot of flute and some violin. Their style is purely 1970s-style sympho-prog, coming close to the sound of various early-70s Italian progressive bands who used flute. Released on the same label around the same time as Tempus Fugit’s Chessboard, O Tempo doesn’t sell as well here, probably because of Fear of Foreign Vocals, and though the two albums are apples and oranges, this one deserves just as much attention.
Tryo are a mostly-instrumental Chilean trio who play both electric and acoustic music. In their electric version, they are an electric guitar/bass/drums power trio. In acoustic mode, they play acoustic guitar, cello, and percussion. On their self-titled 1996 debut, it is their electric side that is on display.
The first six tracks on Crudo (1998) are live and contain a blend of King Crimson and hard-rocking fusion, after which they switch to acoustic mode for the second half of the album. The acoustic tracks are a chamber music that at times has similarities to Flairck or to Le Orme’s two acoustic albums, but overall is significantly jazzier. Patrimonio (1999) improves a bit on Crudo, with the electric material dominating. Crudo and Patrimonio are the Mylodon Records reissues; Patrimonio now has two bonus tracks.
The Live DVD (NTSC, all-region) captures the band in 2005 on the Viajes tour and includes both the electric and acoustic versions of the band, playing material from their four previous studio CDs. Extras include backstage and interview footage, photo gallery, band bio, discography and audio samples. Subtitles are provided in English, French, Portuguese, and Spanish. 5.1 surround and 2.0 stereo audio, 120-minutes.
Brazilians Violeta de Outono appeared in the mid-1980s and rescued the psychedelic essence of the 1960s and the floating atmosphere of the 1970s. For the first part of their career, their primary influence was early Pink Floyd plus a progressive mysticism a la Gong. Both the Live at Rio ArtRock Festival ’97 CD and DVD (NTSC, all-region) contain the complete 63-minute performance and include covers of Astronomy Dominé and The Beatles’ Tomorrow Never Knows, which should give you a good idea where their early style was coming from. The originals are sung in Portuguese, the covers in English. While their studio albums to this point had been made by a trio with no keyboardist, Fabio Ribeiro (keyboardist of Blezqi Zatsaz) joined the band for this concert. The DVD includes a backstage interview.
Volume 7 (2007) represents a seismic shift. The big change in the lineup is the addition of keyboardist Fernando Cardoso. This is far and away Violeta de Outono’s most progressive CD to date, loaded with keyboards, especially Hammond, and influenced primarily by early Camel and early Caravan, plus some of the best symphonic space rock around. Two of the eight songs are sung in English, the rest in Portuguese. The CD includes a bonus video clip playable on a computer. These guys can really conjure the magical atmosphere of that time, making this one of the most pleasant surprises of 2007.
Espectro (2012, 58-minutes) continues in the progressive style of Volume 7, mostly in an early Camel vein plus some Pink Floyd. This has a warm analog sound built around Hammond organ and lyrical electric guitar. The understated vocals (in Portuguese except one track in English) fit the music perfectly. This is a wonderful progressive rock record that could have come straight out of the early 1970s. Read reviews at Prog Archives. Watch the videos for Algum Lugar and Formas-Pensamento.
Brazilian progressive rock band Wejah were last heard from in 1996 with their Senda CD on the now defunct Progressive Rock Worldwide label. Their first album was released in 1988, so one has to be patient with this band. Springtime (2007) is their third, and whereas Senda was instrumental, Springtime has vocals in English, though the vocals still take a backseat to the instruments. The music is flowing in the way Camel’s music is, but Wejah have a more open, less symphonic sound, slightly more jazzy and spacey, and less polished in the production department. Not that Wejah play much actual jazz, but their guitarist favors a ringing, jazz tone, occasionally adding a little crunch. Keyboards are present but it’s the guitar that defines Wejah’s sound.
Memorias do Tempo (2008) is the first solo CD by Gérson Werlang, the guitarist and singer of the Brazilian progressive rock band Poços & Nuvens. Other Poços & Nuvens members guest, and this is as good as or better than the Poços & Nuvens CDs. The lineup varies from track to track, as Memorias do Tempo is a mix of large-lineup symphonic rock pieces with an instrumental emphasis, and smaller scale songs that are more vocal, more intimate, and more acoustic. Werlang sings in Portuguese. In addition there are beautiful female vocals, sometimes wordless, sometimes in duets with Werlang. The violinist from Poços & Nuvens appears on two tracks; other musicians add keyboards, bass, and drums, while Werlang plays electric and classical guitars. There are high-energy passages, but more often the atmosphere is warm, slightly spacey, and affective. The artwork in the booklet also deserves praise.
Sistema Solar (2015) is Werlang’s second, again a mix of larger-scale progressive pieces and smaller scale songs. Listen to Anéis de Saturno, O Último Tango em Plutão, and Noites de Inverno on YouTube.
El Color de las Cosas (2014, digipack) is the debut for Chilean prog-fusion band Zeptelar, who should draw comparisons to Congreso, Fulano, and Hatfield and the North. Wordless female vocals are an important facet of their sound. Read the Prog Sphere review.