Sunday, 8 July 2018

Azahar ‎ “Elixir” 1977 + ‎"Azahar"1979 Spain Prog Symphonic Andalusian Rock


Azahar ‎ “Elixir” 1977 + ‎"Azahar"1979 Spain Prog Symphonic Andalusian Rock
Azahar  "¿Qué Malo Hay, Señor Juez?“ 1977 on google+
Azahar ‎ "Elixir” 1977 first album full spotify
Azahar ‎"Azahar"1979 second album full spotify



This Spanish four-piece band made two fine albums, this is their first one. It’s released in a beautiful digipack FOC that contains the lyrics, a band picture, a short story and the tracking-list. If you compare AZAHAR’s music to TRIANA, MEDINA AZAHARA or MEZQUITA their sound on the nine compositions (between 3 and 6 minutes) is more laidback and more atmospheric, featuring tasteful keyboards (lush Solina string-ensemble waves, warm piano chords, sumptuous synthesizer runs), sensitive, often howling electric guitar, some fine flamenco guitar and strong, typical Spanish vocals (emotional and expressive). The running time is only 37 minutes but here it’s quality above quantity. A nice album but their next (and final) eponymous album is their best..~



What a peculiar band were Azahar! They created a rough sound, an energetic combination of ethereal keyboard orchestrations and guitar riffs, the bassist made his instrument assume a prominent position, the guitar solos were quite rocky, and the occasional synth solos and harmonies served as an appropriate match, and last but not least, Zappala’s passionate singing added some more fire to the band’s musical flame during his interventions. and yet, they had no drummer. The fact is that the band were searching for a compatible and interested drummer while they were starting to create and arrange their own repertoire, and somewhere on the road they decided that the band worked well without a drummer. Given the fact that the band’s material is heavily influenced by Flamenco and Arabic folklores, which are indeed very rhythmic musical sources, it is odd that Azahar could feel at ease without a drummer/percussionist. But they certainly did, and made it work alright. The lack of a drummer allowed all four musicians (lead vocalist Zappala plays some string synthesizer, too, while bass player Barral is in charge of the percussions) to expand their performances without the constraints of well-marked rhythm patterns: the tempo itself is created and/or kept and/or modified by the interaction between Valls, Zappala, Ros and Barral. Anyways, it is clear that pace is not the most relevant concern for the band - texture and cadence are. Regarding this factor, it is fair to make a special mention for Barral’s melodic approach to his bass parts: he manages to participate in the band’s overall freedom, while making his instrument function as some sort of basis for all nine tracks. The instrumentals feel quite soaring, as if the sounds were floating in the air while the sun sets on the edge of some Andalusian coast - the opener ‘Campos de Azahar’ is an eerie exotic gem, and so are the melancholic 'Mercaderes’ and the joyful 'Cántaros de Fuego’, while '¡Es que Esto No Tiene Nombre!’ portrays a more symphonic drive. The latter is one of the finest pieces in the album, complex and full of twists, yet none of these twists feels forced or gratuitous: each and every shift of pace is cleverly placed as a connection between one preceding section and the following one. The sung tracks may be the hardest to take for the listener, since Zappala’s style and timber are acquired tastes. It would be reasonable that some might find it annoying, but I personally enjoy his vocal excursions, which are based on an over-exaggeration of Flamenco singing (which is an exaggerated singing style per se): I notice a disposition for humour and a crude, unabashed sense of drama in his singing. Those can be certainly felt in his pro- marijuana claim for '¿Qué Malo Hay, Señor Juez?’ and his existentialist concerns for 'Un Hombre Cansado’. His singing becomes a bit more relaxed and focused in the closing three-section suite 'Viaje a Marruecos’, which finds the band exploring diverse motifs, harmonies and textures for an 11+ minute time. The exotic element is enhanced here in a most fascinating manner. The culminating climax closes down the album with full passion: Valls seems to have kept his best soloing for this moment, while the keyboard layers expand themselves in order to create an atmosphere of elation. A great ending for a record that would make an excellent addition to any good prog collection…..~








Azahar ‎ “Elixir” 1977 first album

1977 debut album from this Spanish progressive rock band most notable for having no drums or percussion at all! The result is a rewarding blend of guitars, bass, keyboards with some vocals and tons of psychedelic effects. Freak Emporium…~

Elixir, the only Azahar I have heard, is very good Spanish prog with hints of middle eastern influences often heard in Spanish prog. Style- wise, Azahar are in the vein of Mezquita, though not quite as good. Dominated by distinctive guitar style, over layers of synth. When they use acoustic guitar, they sound somewhat comparable to Triana, but with less obvious flamenco influences. The electric guitar can get very intense. The synth textures and tones is very reminiscent of Mezquita. The instrumentals are very nice, starting with a subdued theme and building layer upon layer to a climax. Vocals, in Spanish, are kind of rough but not overbearing. (Mike Taylor)…~

Late '70s Spanish progressive outfit which in many ways is typical of the other bands from that country. They mix excellent guitar (a trademark of bands from Spain) with Spanish folk influences. Vocals are in Spanish, in the Andalusian style. These albums are nice, but they are not the best that Spain has to offer. For the Spain novice, I recommend to check out Bloque, Triana, Crack, Mezquita and Granada. (Juan Joy)…~

Here is a work whose dissemination and demand I deem urgent. One of the most experimental works, without this experiment being synonymous with roll, boredom or sound speculation without fixed direction. The album was recorded on September 5, 1977 at the Sonoland studios in Madrid, and was published that same year in the Gong series, produced by Gonzalo García Pelayo, a key figure that also produced Triana , Gualberto , Tílburi , etc. 
The instrumental “Campos de azahar” opens the fire , which reminds us a lot of Mike Oldfield. The theme is built by a guitar that walks on a path of keyboards. One of the most beautiful and tense songs that progressive Spanish music left us . 
¿Qué malo hay, señor juez” is a premeditated Andalusian song about two Spanish guitars played by Antonio Valls and Flaco Barral, the lyrics claim the right to smoke without doing any harm to anyone and the excessive performance of the law. song forced and choreographed in all its performances, without a doubt, the best known song of Azahar . 

Progressive rock in its purest form for “¡Es que no tiene nombre!” With alternating synth solos and electric guitar. It is missing a drum that fills in and gives more to the subject than in other cuts of the album. To emphasize, the unexpected end of a classic piano solo that is crossed with a guitar solo of the most progressive. 

In the same line as the previous one, “Mercaderes” develops , which closes the A side of the disc. Here, I would notice the sound effects of a disturbingly psychedelic introduction and in the harmonic filling of the keyboards in their string records and in a guitar that transits between the Moorish and the progressive . All this forms an interesting piece of experimental lyricism in which you can recognize elements of a multitude of styles. 

“Un hombre cansado”  is a ballad in which the singer is somewhat choked by a letter in which there are too many verses with more syllabic than musical metrics. Discrete guitar solo for the looser theme of the album. 

Mandolin touches and folk airs for “Cantaros de fuego” , a delicious toy with clear influences from Mike Oldfield. Antonio’s work with the Spanish, acoustic and electric guitars, simply masterful. 

The LP  “Viaje a Marruecos” suite composed of three movements closes . The first one is based on some keyboards that keep Triana aromas and a voice, which recovers the Andalusian accent and the Maghrebian melismas. Sounds produced with glasses of water surround verses in Arabic that say: “brother, pass me the pipe and the matches” . The second movement is a guitar discharge preceded by explosions, ending with a shrill voice in which it is difficult to recognize the lyrics. In the last movement, entirely instrumental, the symphonies of keyboards played in long-playing chords and guitars that melt note to note a melody full of grandiosity. 
In short, an LP of those that must be discovered, that is worth listening to completely and that marks one of the unexplored peaks of progressive Spanish music …..by Julián Molero …lafonoteca….~


Credits 
Acoustic Guitar – Jorge Barral (tracks: A4) 
Bass, Percussion – Jorge Barral 
Guitar [2nd. Spanish] – Jorge Barral (tracks: A2) 
Keyboards [Solina] – Gustavo Ros (tracks: B1) 
Mandolin, Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Guitar [Spanish] – Antonio Valls 
Synthesizer [Roland], Mellotron, Electric Piano [Fender Rhodes], Grand Piano – Gustavo Ros 
Vocals, Synthesizer [Solina] – Dick Zappala 

Tracklist 
Campos De Azahar 3:56 
¿Qué Malo Hay, Señor Juez? 4:35 
¡Es Que Esto No Tiene Nombre! 5:46 
Mercaderes 4:37 
Un Hombre Cansado 3:44 
Cántaros De Fuego 3:32 
Viaje A Marruecos (11:22) 
Flipados 3:46 
Que No Me Vean 3:28 
Colgados De La Rama Gorda 4:08 











 Azahar ‎"Azahar"1979 second album

The incorporation of the drummer Willy Rodríguez de Trujillo, who came from the Sevillian group Manantial and the keyboardist Manolo Manrique, very influenced by groups like Triana , make up the sound of this second album by Azahar within what was called Andalusian symphonic rock . 

Return recurring themes to volatile substances in the lyrics of “El mago Acidote”  and the singer Dick Zappala strives once again to imitate the Andalusian accent without being a speaker of this origin, with lamentable consequences for his diction and for our hearing, which hardly can understand the content of the lyrics of the songs. 

The disk is structured as a round trip to Ketama. The first and last track of the LP frames this trip in two instrumental discourses. The first is a theme cut by the pattern of the hard progressive rock , while the last one is backed by gimmicky keyboards that speculate with a wide range of sounds on a monotonous automatic and invariable rhythm. 

In that imaginary trip to Ketama, the traveler-listener will live a series of experiences in the different seasons through which he will travel. You will find yourself first among fields of fruit trees full of bright colors and rhythms. Topically Andalusian melody for “La naranja y el limón”.. In the second stop, without abandoning the Andalusian sounds, we will do at night. Mystery of pumps on the piano, arabesques of electric guitar and a screaming singer that does not convince us too much, despite showing a voice full of faculties. 

In “Zahira” the flamenco guitar is fused with an Arabic keyboard in this particular crossing of the strait. An electric guitar solo preludes dawn, struggling to unseat the flamenco strum and the castanets of the night zambra. A joyful and well-constructed instrumental theme. 

The “Bulerías de lujo” are nothing more than a drum and percussion solo of more than two minutes that, despite being very well interpreted, we find absolutely out of place with respect to the rest of the content of the album. “El mago Acidote”, meanwhile, proposes another kind of trip with numerous changes of rhythm and sound environments. It is an interesting subject with well-achieved moments, although perhaps too long and confusing for those who hear it for the first time. 
Loaded with Arabic references within a scheme of progressive rock presents  “Aire y fuego” that shows a follower at face value of the stylistic tenets of Azahar rock Andalusian . 
The record was also recorded at the Sonoland studios in Madrid with the same technical team, led by engineer Ángel Gil………by Julián Molero …lafonoteca….~

Credits 
Bass – Enrique Carmona, Julio Blasco 
Drums, Percussion – Willy Trujillo 
Guitar [Acoustic, Electric], Mandolin – Antonio Valls 
Keyboards [Synthesizers, Fender Rhodes Piano, Grand Piano, Organ] – Manolo Manrique 
Vocals, Keyboards [Clavinet] – Ricardo Zappala*


Tracklist 
Expreso A Ketama 4:42 
La Naranja Y El Limón 5:07 
Noche De Primavera 3:40 
Zahira 3:40 
Bulerías De Lujo 2:42 
El Mago Acidote 9:35 
Aire Y Fuego 5:08 
Expresso De Ketama 3:40





Discografia de Azahar: 

Elixir (1977) 
Azahar (1978) 

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