Pais 1973 / Pharaway Sounds 2018
Long-lost gold nugget from Buenos Aires music seer that sent Latin festivity behind event horizon.
Argentinian prog rock from the early ’70s may seem like an alternative reality proposition to many a music aficionado, yet there’s nothing fantastic about this short album except for its expansive scope and gripping sound. Devised by keyboard player Waldo Belloso, the future conservatory professor and chair at the National Dance School, it was a bold attempt to find a place for traditional music in an era of grand experiments – impressively realized in the company of drummer Enrique “Zurdo” Roizner and a teenage six-stringer Tomás Gubitsch. Their polyrhythmia defies the trio format, though, because there’s so much going on it’s impossible to stand still.
If the infectious funk of opener “Cuasares” marries mundane flute to cosmic synthesizers and spices up such a heady mix with salsa, before rolling down barrelhouse piano and unhurried Santana-esque guitar into blues and sprinkling Moog magic all over it, the meandering “Pentatonik” takes Oriental grace to space. But while “Simbiosis” is a reckless, deliberately disjointed dance, “Colisión” gets weirdly abstract, the piece’s organ a mere garb for throbbing groove that’s steeped into crystalline fusion.
Delicately textured percussion peppering “Transmigración” helps other instruments outline retrofuturistic, yet not entirely exotic – thanks to marimba-kissed samba rhythm – landscape, but the balladry of “Mutación” is gently patinated, unlike “Amalgama” whose vibes drive the drift to the “Green Onions” sort of unpredictable delight. Likewise, whereas “Ancestral” taps into tribal instincts but this brief – clocking in about two minutes – carnival is vertiginous, the briskly romantic, albeit somewhat tentative, triumph behind “Evanescente” feels cautious, and the shimmering steps of “Vertical” bring on a beautiful intrigue.
The listener could guess it anyway, from the album’s title. A little treasure.