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2 Apr 2017

Companyia Electrica Dharma “Tramuntana” 1977 Spain Prog Folk Jazz Rock

Companyia Electrica Dharma “Tramuntana” 1977 Spain Prog Folk Jazz Rock

Spanish prog-rock-jazz-ethnic band from the 70’s, based in Barcelona. “La Companyia Eléctrica Dharma” took form in 1974 with brothers Josep, Esteve and Joan Fortuny, with Carles Vidal (bass) and Jordi Soley (keyboards). They are comparable to Guadalquivir as they also incorporate elements of Spanish folk music into a jazz environment, although more relaxed and ambient. 
The 1st 4 1970’s LP’s are classics, starting as fusion on the debut and ending up an unclassifiable hybrid, not unlike Italians Stormy Six. 1983+ they continued as Elèctrica Dharma, with a more Catalan-pop-cultural style, and are still going today it seems!………………

The Dharma Electric Company is a group created by three brothers Joseph and Joan Esteve Fortuny in 1974 and framed in the rock called laietà that you boil the pot of music in Barcelona in the early 70s and around the legendary Zeleste. With a style clearly progressive and Electric Company will merge Dharma mix equal parts rock, jazz, psychedelia and traditional Catalan music. 

Tramuntana is the third twenty albums, sees the light in 1977 and 3penics Moixeranga highlight the theme of the devil……………

Well this was a surprise after their amazing debut, and not in a good way. The electric piano is pretty much non-existent and the sax sounds very different. It’s so annoying almost like a gazoo, anyway it ruins much of this for me.That MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA flavour is completely gone. 
“Titu-Tiru-Ritu (Marxa)” is the short intro track. Drums to open as guitar and bass join in then sax (yikes). It blends into “Focs De Sant Joan” as the sax continues. It’s much better 1 ½ minutes in when the guitar and drums lead. A Spanish flavour follows. Some organ and more sax later. “Moixeranga Del Diable” has that sax again after a minute.The guitar is laid back with intricate drumming after 2 minutes. The sax is back as contrasts continue. “La Mediterrania Se'ns Mor…” opens with wind chimes followed by acoustic guitar. Vocal melodies 3 ½ minutes in as spoken Spanish words join in. 

“Tramuntana” opens with the wind blowing as drums, horns then guitar take over. Guitar and horns trade off. This is catchy. A calm after 3 minutes. That sax is back. It picks up 6 minutes in. Some organ follows. Guitar 9 ½ minutes in.It blends into “Les Bruixes Del Maresme”. The wind is blowing as flute joins in. It kicks in at 2 minutes. Much better. It settles late and blends into “Festejada (De Timbals)”. It opens with that annoying sax but it kicks in quickly. 

A real disappointment for me after being blown away by their debut. I’m curious about the second album if it’s more like this one or the debut… Mellotron Storm ……………..

After the beautiful debut album “Diumenge”, Companyia Elèctrica Dharma headed for a more solidified exploration of their fusion-oriented interests and augmented drastically the presence of Catalonian folk elements into their musical ideas and arrangements: one of the most noticeable factors was the utilization of the soprano sax as an emulator of the Catalonian pipe. This tendency led CED to deliver a series of 3 studio albums (from the second to the fourth) that eventually were and continue to be regarded as fundamental for the installation of a Catalonian trend of progressive rock. IMHO, “Tramuntana” is the most accomplished one of these 3 albums. It bears an enhanced colorfulness in comparison to the previous album “L'oucomballa’, which is made obvious by the presence of more instruments (flute, xylophone, trumpet) besides the usual array of guitar, bass, keyboard, soprano sax and drums/percussion. The opener is a speedy rocking version of a traditional tune called ‘Tiru-tiru-ritu’; actually, this very tune was also used as the closing track to the previous album, but in that case the band used a "marching band”-style arrangement, while on this one this is pure rock-fusion on a frenzy, celebratory speed. This brief intro provides enough stamina as to prepare the listener for the more elaborated and dense moods explored in 'Focs de Sant Joan’. It develops a cohesive transition from soft to extroverted passages, with the former being folk-centered and the latter jazz-tinged. Esteve Fortuny’s soaring guitar lines are just lovely, finding a proper accomplice in the playful moods drawn in by Joan Fortuny’s soprano sax. Almost 5 ½ minutes of beautiful music, and then comes 'Moixeranga del Diable’ to bring a 10+ minute long delivery of sonic mysticism. Its initial section is languid, eerie and slightly somber: the addition of trumpet helps to reinforce the overall grayish atmosphere, which lasts 6 minutes. A more playful motif settles in consequently, with the dueling sax and guitar harmonizing the melodic aspect while the drum kit, bass and electric piano fulfill the track’s rhythmic scheme and cadence. A highlight, indeed! 'La Mediterrània sens Mor’’ finalizes the album’s first half with melancholic moods provided by the acoustic guitar’s concise phrases, xylophone tender drops, subtle organ layers and a subtler chorale. An expression of serene beauty on a chiaroscuro background. The namesake track starts the album’s second half: it lasts 10 ¾ minutes and it’s mostly based on a jamming exercise that the CED guys master so cleverly. As usual, the soprano and the guitar alternate their lead roles while the keyboard delivers additional colors and the rhythm section creates a structure permeable to the tempo and mood variations that take place along the road. The calmer interlude is really lovely. Another highlight! 'Les Bruixes del Maresme’ starts with a rfined crescendo of several winds - flute, tenor saxes, trumpet - before the main jam settles in. it should have been longer than its 3 ½ minute span, but well, that’s how it is… The closer 'Festejada’ reiterates the playful mood that has already been present in the most extroverted passages of the preceding repertoire, featuring an exciting drum solo and ending with a homage to Catalonian popular dances: this is a properly exquisite ending to an exquisite album. I just love it and grade it as a very important item for any good prog rock collection…… Cesar Inca ………

Line-up / Musicians 

Pep Fortuny - drums, percussion, vocals 
Joan Fortuny - soprano saxophone, vocals 
Carles Vidal - bass, guitars 
Jordi Soley - keyboards 
Esteve Fortuny - guitars 
Lluís Fortuny - keyboards, accordion, trumpet, vocals

Songs / Tracks Listing 

1. Tiru-Tiru-Ritu (Marxa) 1:20 
2. Focs de Sant Joan 5:24 
3. Moixeranga del Diable 10:03 
4. La Mediterrània se'ns mor… 4:51 
5. Tramuntana 10:48 
6. Les bruixes del Maresme 3:25 
7. Festejada (de timbals) 6:16 

johnkatsmc5, welcome music..





Cassete Deck

Cassete Deck