In 1992 violinist Kleber Vogel, formerly of Quaterna Requiem, founded the Brazilian instrumental progressive rock band Kaizen. Their debut album Gargula was released in 1994. Strangely everybody had to wait 25 years for its successor. Finally in 2019 everybody could welcome Aquila. Was it worth the wait? YES!!! Because this is just a fantastic release!
Vogel, who studied guitar, mandolin and violin, is the main composer on this second band album. The man has extensive experience with various orchestras, which he also brings into his progressive rock compositions. Kaizen offers us high class instrumental retro-progressive rock in a very colourful and varied musical style. For the concept of this album he used the city of L'Aquila in Italy. Founded in 1254, L'Aquila is the capital of the province and of the Abruzzo region. A historic city characterized, in particular, by its architecture, its history, conquests and religion. Note that this city was characterized by its 99 castles, 99 fountains, 99 churches and 99 public places. It must be said that the city is the result of the merger of many villages. In addition, the site was deeply marked by earthquakes. The most recent dates from 2009. It killed more than 300 and partially destroyed the city and almost the entire medieval centre.
To put this concept into a musical concept Vogel recruited Anderson Machado on guitar (3,4,8), Wagner André on keyboards, Didier Fernan on bass (5,7) and João Couto on drums. To give the album even more musical variety he also asked several guests to contribute. Therefore you can also hear Sergio Hinds, guitarist of the group O Terco, on Gryphus, the strong opening piece. Here is also Marquinhos dos Santos who played on the bass. This musician from Tempus Fugit also contributed on four other tracks. More guest musicians can be heard on the second track Mazara. Roberto Crivano of Quaterna Requiem plays on the guitars, Yasmin Andre can be heard on the flute and Marcus Viana of Sagrado Coração Da Terra does some extra violin parts. Just as he did on Canto Das Almas. Paulo Teles used his flute on Porta Santa. Daniel Escobar guests on guitar on O Grande Sismo. Finally I'll have to mention the fabulous keyboard player of Tempus Fugit. André Mello does some fine Mini Moog parts on the closing piece Fenix. On the rest of the album the strong solos done on the Moog are done wonderfully by the earlier mentioned Wagner André. The exchanges between his synthesizer and the violin of Vogel are abundant and pleasing. I would even say very enjoyable! The multiple musical twists and turns, with irresistible melodic movement and remarkable performances are a feast for your ears. You can hear the great musical collaboration between them throughout the entire album!
Music wise the album will we loved by many fans of Kansas. Mainly because of the strong violin playing on the entire album. Therefore it is probably not a surprise that the earlier mentioned Sagrado Coração Da Terra also comes to mind. But also a band such as Jethro Tull is not far away on several tracks because of the strong flute parts. All of the eight tracks are of a very high musical level and therefore it is very difficult to pick out any favourites.
Maybe it's Mazara, thanks to the second violinist Marcus Viana. His violin playing reaches us through the right channel and that of Kleber Vogel from the left channel. Very beautifully done. Or what about Suite Áquila. To enter this epic piece of music, you must first cross the holy door (Porta Santa). The song starts impressively with the sound of a church organ and ends beautifully with bells. The faithful who crossed this door obtained forgiveness for their faults as promulgated by Pope Celestin in 1294. What follows during this strong epic is the best the musicians have to offer music wise! But at the mention of these great songs I might overlook the other beautiful compositions. And that of course is something I'd rather not do!
All in all I can only be positive about this excellent release. And I highly recommend it to everybody who loves strong instrumental music, which might be influenced by bands such as Kansas, Sagrado Coração Da Terra and Jethro Tull.
**** Henri Strik (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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