Monday, May 08, 2006

Bubu - "Anabelas" [1984] @ 192 (Excellent Argentinian Progressive Rock)

Excellent Argentine ensemble who put out the excellent Anabelas. Just reissued by Music Hall so you should pick this one up. Crimsonesque progressive with a cultural influence.

Anabelas is an excellent album, featuring mature composition, great group playing, and a very nice sense of dynamics and texture. There is an intensity to this music which is controlled beautifully over the 3 long pieces (including a 20 minute instrumental) found on this CD. A solid, adventuresome rhythm section provides the foundation for the great contrapuntal themes woven by sax, flute, violin, and electric guitar. When I first heard this, I was immediately reminded of Magma. The expanded ensemble of Magma is here, along with the harmonically and thematically intricate compositions. Having said that, Bubu is far from a Magma clone. The thematic development is reminiscient of pieces like Kontark, but it is presented with more of a classical flavor, especially in the three and four voice counterpoint, than the jazzier intricacies of Magma. Perhaps most significantly, there is not the heavy, brooding mood that permeates many Magma works. Anabelas does have an ominous feel at times, but it is not nearly as overpowering as that of Magma. Ther are free jazz wailing sax outbreaks interspersed with quiet contrapuntal passages, and even an aggressive guitar lead or two. But, far from random, these events all fit nicely into the well planned thematic development and sense of forward motion which alternately builds, relaxes, and builds again through the final recapitulation of the main themes. No noodling, and very little soloing, to be found here. There are (Spanish) vocals on two of these pieces, and they are definately part of, rather than an excuse for, the music. I know that some folks aren't too fond of vocals in languages other than English, but these do not detract anything from the music. For those who are into more intricate prog, there is plenty of dissonance and structural complexity to delight. And for those who look for solid, thought-out compositions, this will not disappoint.

Bubu are an outstanding representative of Argentinian Progressive Rock. The band touches across many different styles yet imitates no one. Bubu are a band to influence not to be influenced. As a matter of fact, fans of Atavism of Twilight will recognize some themes from Bubu's 19+ minute track, "El Cortejo de un dia Amarillo." There is, however,recognition of past masters, the most obvious being King Crimson and Magma. The Crimson influence is mostly through the guitar of Eduardo Rogatti which is Fripp-like in many places and is the closest this band comes to imitation. More obvious as an overall influence, however, is Magma as Bubu performs driving marches with dramatic vocals (often with no lyrics) and Wagnerian intensity. You can also hear shades of the Canterbury scene from Henry Cow to Soft Machine, Italian Symphonic, jazz, fusion, Stravinsky and much more. The music is not schizophrenic despite these seemingly very different styles; the band is completely focused and in control. There are seven band members plus an eighth listed as composer and arranger of this complex music. And complex it is. With violin, flute, sax, guitar, bass, drums and voice there are many different forms of interaction between instruments. The band switches from high intensity multi-layered and intricate themes to simple and sonorous violin passages. Bubu is a band to challenge your listening skills and is a great place to start to get into the more "adventurous" styles of progressive rock.

For ten or fifteen years I've been looking for something that uses jazz licks with rock structures as well as the best bits of King Crimson's Lizard do. I've bought God knows how many meaningless fusion CDs looking for the way I knew jazz-rock fusion should be, but I hadn't found anything remotely like what I wanted until last week, when I came across Anabelas by Bubu. It's quite varied music, with what sounds like free improv. for first few seconds followed by all sorts of progressive rock and jazz, but consistently interesting and a bit challenging without being inaccessible. This stuff is so good it's made me contribute to the GEPR for the first time!

Highly Recommended!!

This review was written by Jason Grossman at

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1 comment:

ProgDemon said...

Wow! Holy Smokes, this album rocks! What a gem; thanks for posting it. The band explores various styles from jazz to multiple sub-genres of progressive rock, but the meld is never less than seamless. There isn't a contrived moment or any filler from start to finish. The musicianship is expert, and the music moves forward with a dynamic motion, yet never crosses the line into becoming frenetic. I highly recommend you listen to this album.

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