Friday, 1 June 2018

Bloque “Bloque” 1978 + “Hombre, Tierra Y Alma” 1979 + “El Hijo Del Alba” 1980 Spain Progressive Symphonic Rock


Bloque “Bloque” 1978 + “Hombre, Tierra Y Alma” 1979 + “El Hijo Del Alba” 1980  Spain Progressive Symphonic Rock 
full all albums

Bloque “ Bloque” 1978 debut Lp 

Spanish band Bloque’s first album was quite a solid record in terms of guitar-dominated melodic rock but not to be compared with their second one for example exhibiting much more resemblance with 70’s Italian progressive rock acts like PFM. First track “Undecimo poder ” could be described more or less as plain energetic guitar-dominated hard rock though having as well some nice Hammond organ sound. “Albelardo y Eloisa” is mostly kept in a mellow and romantic vein with atmospheric keys and a blues-tinged guitar before it starts rocking off towards its end. One could think of some earlier, more blues-inspired Floyd work as a reference point. “Salvacion por la musica” is a rather short instrumental piece mainly dominated by keyboard playing reminiscent of some of Emerson’s solo works. “Joven levantate” is actually the first really interesting track in terms of Prog on here and a really well-done pleasant song with excellent interplay of guitar, bass, keys and drums. Vocals which are obviously presented by several singers and in Spanish language throughout the album are by the way very much appealing. “Consultando el tarot”, the longest track and an all instrumental is after the previous one another highlight of this overall rather weak album. It’s offering great keyboards with lots of rhythm changes and nice sound effects. After three very short rather unspectacular tracks, two of them being instrumental we get to hear “La noche del alquimista” offering some excellent electric guitar and bass play slightly reminiscent of country fellow band TRIANA. Last one “Conociendo a Abraxas” is the most chaotic and weird sounding one with some strange synth effects,mouth organ, awesome guitar/bass play and some furious vocals. This one is certainly another highlight and saving this album from being considered as one “for completionists” only. 
Overall this debut is for sure not an essential addition for any Prog collection but still a fairly good one and might be interesting for those fellows oweing already their later releases….by…by hdfisch ….~ 

Despite being around since 1973 and having a good live activity,BLOQUE didn’t release anything until 1978.The band got together in Santander under the forces of bassist Luis Pastor, guitarist/vocalist Juanjo Respuela, drummer Francisco Baños and guitarist/vocalist Sixto Ruiz, but it was the arrival of keyboardist Juan Carlos Gutierrez, which gave the band a richer and more elaborate sound.BLOQUE played in various important festivals,among them a couple of great gigs in Leon and Burgos and finally released their self- titled debut in 1978 on Chapa Records and produced by radio/press pioneer Vicente Romero. 

Loving both the sound of ALLMAN BROTHERS and progressive rock, BLOQUE presented a semi-prog disc with varied influences, styles, tempos and atmospheres,but built on the guitars of Respuela and Ruiz…and with two guitarist on the line-up it is reasonable that the musicianship is guitar-driven.The Respuela/Ruiz duo delivers some good solos, powerful grooves, a few fusion touches of the Spanish Prog school, while a couple of sweet ballads with acoustic guitars on the front add a more relaxed feeling, sometimes recalling TRIANA, if you add the atmospheric keyboards.Speaking of keyboards, Gutierrez, while he is a great keyboardist and uses a variety of keys including synths,mellotron and organ, actually remains under the shades of Respuela and Ruiz,though in a couple of moments he offers some nice and flashy synths. 

The sound and influence of ALLMAN BROTHERS is what really dominates the album,which is a good rock album with some progressive leanings,but it can get a little bit boring for those who expect somekind of complex or more adventuruous listenings.Fortunately the band would soon switch into more progressive fields.Heading almost exclusively to fans of Spanish rock and guitar-based prog rock….by…apps79 ….~ 

Credits 
Bass – Luis M. Pastor 
Composed By – F. L. Baños* (tracks: A2, B1), J. C. Gutiérrez* (tracks: A3, B4), J. J. Respuela* (tracks: A1, B6), L. M. Pastor* (tracks: B2, B3), S. F. Ruiz* (tracks: A4, B5) 
Drums, Percussion – Francisco L. Baños 
Guitar, Harmonica, Vocals – Juanjo Respuela 
Guitar, Vocals – Sixto F. Ruiz 
Organ, Mellotron, Synthesizer, Vocals – Juan Carlos Gutierrez 


Tracklist 
Undécimo Poder 6:18 
Abelardo Y Eloísa 7:41 
Salvación Por La Música 3:07 
Joven Levántate 5:32 
Conociendo A Abraxas
Consultando El Tarot 6:23 
Fiesta De La Mar 2:07 
La Libre Creación 2:50 
Nostalgia 2:25 
La Noche Del Alquimista 4:49 
Conociendo A Abraxas 3:28 








Bloque “Hombre, Tierra Y Alma” 1979

Due to the political situation in the 70’s the best Spanish progressive rock albums haven’t been released before second half of the decade when the heyday of Prog was already long gone in other countries. Unlike other great Spanish bands like CRACK or TRIANA being mainly influenced by jazz or flamenco Bloque was using rather an approach closer to Italian symphonic rock bands from that period. Their second release “Hombre, Tierra y Alma” was certainly their most coherent and best work being absolutely on par with albums by better known bands in that genre.
“Humanidad indefensa” opens the album in a quite apocalyptic atmosphere with the sound of splintering glass followed by some children’s crying and bombastic keyboards. The song continues in the best tradition of 70’s Italian symphonic rock with staggering vocals accompanied by psychedelic electric guitar and tasteful keyboards. “Ya no hay nada en la calle” is kept in a more gentle and ballad-esque vein with acoustic guitar and mellow keys. “El llanto del poeta” has nicely sounding poetic lyrics sung by a children’s choir combined with a great electric guitar solo. Next three short tracks represent in fact a mini-suite which starts rocking off in a quite heavy vein especially in its last part “El infierno esta aqui?” before Mellotron-choirs are segueing subtly into “Meditacion parte I” consisting of solemn and mystic synths sounds. This one actually forms together with “Descubrir el sentido terrible de la vidale” and “Meditacion parte II” another mini-suite. The same goes for the last three tracks presenting excellent dual guitar and keyboards combined with some partly spoken poetic and haunting lyrics.
As a conclusion I just can recommend this concept album highly to any lover of Italian symphonic Prog. If you want to check out this band go for this one first!…by hdfisch ….~

Bloque’s line-up was somewhat problematic regarding the position behind the drum-kit, as a result Francisco Banos was replaced by Carlos Teran for an upcoming second album.This time the band produced the whole work itself and in 1979 “Hombre, tierra y alma” (“Man, Earth and soul”) sees the light, again on Chapa Discos.
The album marks a number of positive upgrades in the sound of Bloque.Firstly, the Allman Brothers vibes are extremely reduced, if not absent, with the band heading for a more personal style.Second, the music sounds more compact, the songwriting more efficient and the instrumentation more balanced, even if the guitars remain the leading instruments.Third, while Bloque retain much of their Classic Rock variety, “Hombre, tierra y alma” sounds much more progressive and definitely more inspired than their debut.So, all these factors helped the Spanish combo come up with a fully convincing style, somewhere in the middle of Hard and Progressive Rock, where Juan Carlos Guitierrez'es flexible keyboard themes start to play a basic role in the music and the raw sound of Bloque is now often covered by a dash of symphonic grandieur.Additionally there are some great, lyrical moments in here and the dual guitar leads belong among the highlights of the album.Certain melodies here and there are absolutely great and memorable, the music contains lots of impressive twists and turns and the performances are pretty solid.The flipside of the original vinyl apparently contains the brightest material of the album, full of MEZQUITA-like intense synthesizers, dramatic instrumental guitar runs and some excellent electric solos, while there are even some dark-sounding choirs and ROBERT FRIPP-like guitar manifest, cleverly adapted in the hard sound of the band.
The potential became deep inspiration.Bloque’s second effort is a great monument of Spanish Hard Prog and Classic Rock with 100% enjoyable material, led by some great guitar parts and the upgraded keyboard lines.Strongly recommended…by apps79 …..~

There really was some great music coming out of Spain in the late 70s, and unlike a lot of their Spanish contemporaries, Bloque actually stayed together long enough to record more than one album! Bloque’s sound is driven by the dueling guitars of Juan Carlos Gutierrez and Juanjo Respuela, who both share vocal responsibilities as well. On Bloque, most of the guitar playing is electric in nature, with stylistic nods to the British rockers of the earlier 70s. Partly due to this, this album has a more commercial feel to it than Hombre, Tierra y Alma does. Several of the tracks on Bloque are pretty straight beat rhythms with soloing over the top. While this isn’t that bad, when compared to the more complex song structures evident on Hombre, the writing on the self-titled album seems a bit sophomoric. One immediately obvious difference between these two albums is the addition of Mellotron on the second. They use the ‘Tron to great effect, and it is greatly responsible for the more symphonic sound of Hombre. While the first album has some good moments, there are some mediocre ones as well. These mostly occur during the first part of the album. Overall, the original LP’s side 2 is much better, and the final track on Bloque makes the album worth the price of admission. By far the best track on the album with odd time signatures, tritones galore, yelling out vocals — it has all the essential ingredients of a good prog song.

Hombre, Tierra y Alma shows a more mature band with more diverse songs. The acoustic guitar is featured more prominently, and the obligatory prog instrument, the flute, is even used on a track. The two guitarists complement each other better on this album too. On the debut, a lot of the double guitars were straight harmonies that one person could have overdubbed. On Hombre however, they tend to be playing completely different parts more. I’d rate this album up there as one of the best Spanish prog rock albums from that era, with their first quite a ways behind, but still worth a listen. Those fond of Crack, Nu, as well as the other heavier prog will enjoy Bloque. My primary complaint about Hombre is that it appears to have been mastered from vinyl! Although they clearly used a relatively clean copy, there are many spots where clicks and pops can be heard. Overall though, it’s not that noticeable, and worth putting up with for the quality of the music….by Mike Grimes,…~

Here’s a vinyl reissue of the second album by a great Spanish progressive band, originally out on Chapa Discos in 1979 (although it sounded more like it came out 5 years earlier!). Bloque’s powerful and very melodic record (sung in Spanish) was mostly inspired by awesome Italian progressive bands like P.F.M., Banco, Museo Rosenbach and Biglietto Per LInferno, although traces of mid-'70s Genesis, early Camel and even Black Sabbath were almost as evident. This is a great set of diverse, imaginative and beautifully-arranged, short songs….~

Credits
Bass Guitar [Bajista en Directo] – Javier G. Tazón*
Guitar [Guitarras], Bass – Sixto F. Ruiz
Guitar [Guitarras], Vocals – Juanjo Respuela
Keyboards, Vocals – Juan Carlos Gutierrez
Percussion, Vocals – Carlos Terán


Tracklist
A1 Humanidad Indefensa 6:03
A2 Ya No Hay Nada En La Calle 3:33
A3 El Llanto Del Poeta 3:29
A4 ¿El Infierno Esta Aqui? Parte I / Una Posibilidad / ¿El Infierno Esta Aqui? Parte II 5:15
B1 Meditación Parte I / Descubrir El Sentido Terrible De La Vida / Meditación Parte II 6:58
B2 El Verdadero Silencio Parte I / La Muerte Renacida / El Verdadero Silencio Parte II 7:00
B3 Por Fin He Vuelto A Ti 4:33 






















Bloque  "El Hijo Del Alba" 1980 

“El Hijo del Alba” was after “Hombre, Tierra y Alma” their second conceptual work but unfortunately I’ve to say that this one was not as cohesive and excellent as its predecessor. Especially its first half works rather as a nice collection of songs without offering any excitement to the listener. 
The all instrumental 'Poemas de soledad’ opens the album in a spacey Floydian atmosphere with synths followed by dreamy acoustic guitar. 'Alquimista soy’, first track with vocals basically continues this rather mellow vein but adds up some rhythmic electric guitar. 'La danza del agua’, another instrumental track exhibits really great symphonic rock with impressive playing on keyboards and electric guitar. The title track is in fact a quite nice ballade but anything spectacular neither. 'Quimérica laxitud’ in contrast is a very energetic hard rocking one with good dual guitar playing. Second half of the disc consists of the multi-parted epic 'El silencio de las esferas’ which is in fact the better half and presents more than 16 minutes of melodic and energetic symphonic rock with many rhythm changes and great playing on guitars, bass, keyboards and drums. 

As a summary I’d like to say that this album is certainly a quite good example of Spanish symphonic rock but I’d hesitate to call it an essential one in general. I’d add another half star to my rating though if possible…by hdfisch ….~

The curse of drummer changes continues for the third Bloque album with Tivo Martínez replacing Carlos Terán.The band was though very democratic, Martinez participated in composing equally to band’s older members.“El hijo del alba” continues Bloque’s musical development and this time this is a 50/50 mix of Hard and Symphonic Rock with some great instrumental parts and fairly refined arrangements, getting on the gears via the electrified, powerful guitar leads.But the bulk of the keyboard work is definitely on the symphonic side of things, strengthened by the scarce presence of string sections.Highly energetic material with complex passages in the longer pieces and some discreet Ethnic overtones.A non-succesful album however, mainly because of the demanding direction at a very wrong time….by…apps79 ….~

Bloque were a Spanish quintet who released several albums on the Chapa label in the late 70s/early 80s of which this is their third album and arguably best. Bloque played in a pretty straight-forward symphonic rock style with lots of diversity. The tracks here range from upbeat rockers, to more progressively style pieces, to ballads all nicely done and finely crafted. That is all except the title track which is an obvious rip off of the Allman Brother’s “Melissa,” and seems quite out of place. Besides that this is as well done a Spanish album as any and it certainly becomes quite compelling by the end. Fans of Bloque’s Hombre Tierra y Alma, Medina Azahara, Triana, Secta Sonica, and yes even the Allman Brothers will be sure to like this one….by Mike McLatchey….~

Between 18 and 27 February 1980 they recorded at Eurosonic what would be one of the best rock albums, El hijo del alba, as symphonic and experimental as the previous ones, (Poemas de soledad), and even more conceptual, with some touches of metal flavor on guitars (Quimérica laxitud) in contrast to orchestral arrangements (A new man) and mixtures of piano arrangements with acid guitars and orchestral metals (La razón natural); It is a mainly instrumental album (The Silence of the Spheres, The dance of water) but introducing very careful lyrics (The Son of Dawn) and both social demands (Quimérica laxitud) and environmentalists (The natural reason) very consistent with the sound. An album in which one could practically say that the songs lose some sense separately since it is a work understood as a whole, in fact the B-face has no cut, to be discovered by listening to it in a relaxed manner and from beginning to end ( at least in the first auditions) without making intermissions, well, except to turn the record over; a disc that besides being able to listen to it and touch it gives the sensation of even being able to smell it. …..~

Line-up / Musicians 
- Juan Carlos Guitiérrez / keyboards, vocals 
- Luis M. Pastor / sound technician & vocals 
- Juanjo Respuela / acoustic & electric guitars, vocals 
- Sixto F. Ruiz / acoustic & electric guitars, bass 
- Tivo M. Salmón / effects 
- Carlos Terán / percussion, vocal

Tracklist 
Poemas De Soledad 3:39 
Alquimista Soy 3:46 
La Danza Del Agua 7:54 
El Hijo Del Alba 3:58 
Quimerica Laxitud 3:15 
El Silencio De Las Esferas - I 1:48 
La Razón Natural 2:55 
El Silencio De Las Esferas - II 0:54 
La Elipse 1:23 
El Silencio De Las Esferas - III 0:54 
Fin Y Principio 1:26 
El Silencio De Las Esferas - IV 0:54 
Un Hombre Nuevo 4:07







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