In the last two decades the Latin-American progressive rock scene has delivered many interesting new bands, from many different countries: Seti, Astralis and Angulart from Chile, Amagrama, Bauer, Nexus and William Gray from Argentina, Flor De Loto and Supay from Peru, Aly from Mexico, Anima Mundi from Cuba, Juan Kief from Colombia and Apocalypse from Brazil. This review is about one of my favorite Latin-American bands, R-U Kaiser from Chile. It's an unusual name. Oscar Arias Galvez (drummer and prime mover) told me: “I picked up the name from a book about Krautrock by Julian Cope: Rolf-Ulrich Kaiser was an important producer in the German Krautrock scene but got in trouble when he started to release informal jam sessions from the Krautrock super-group Cosmic Jokers, with Klaus Schulze and members from Wallenstein, without their knowledge.”
R-U Kaiser is rooted in 2002. In 2008 the band released their debut album entitled Ocelos. Then they became silent, very silent, until August 2018 when R-U Kaiser presented the successor Desde La Oscuridad, 11 years after their first CD. I wrote a review about that debut CD in which I said: "To me this sounds a strong debut CD, with variety, adventure, emotion and skills. You can hear that this band plays together for many years. If you like the very special native female vocals (to me she sounds like 'a Gothic angel'), this will be an exciting album to discover." On the new album the line-up is almost completely different, only drummer Oscar Arias Galvez remains from Ocelos. The female singer is replaced by two female singers. Here an overview of the songs on the album;
1. Sangre: The dreamy intro delivers soaring keyboards, then a catchy beat and passionate duo female vocals, It's wonderful. Halfway through there is a moving electric guitar solo, supported by dynamic drums. In the final part there are high pitched soprano-like vocal contributions, subtle shifting moods and tasteful work on harder-edged guitar and keyboards. What a very pleasant blend of symphonic and Neo-Prog, topped with R-U Kaiser's trademark celestial' female vocals.
2. Conciencia: This tracks also starts with soaring keyboards, blended with twanging electric guitar and duo female vocals. Gradually the music turns into very compelling sound with varied keyboard parts. The distinctive duo vocals are loaded with warm expression.
3. MI-789: The tight and propulsive drum beats create a Neo-Prog-like atmosphere (inspired by Pendragon and Marillion), The guitar and keyboards colour this bombastic instrumental track in a very tasteful way.
4. Alguien: A varied and compelling song, between dreamy (featuring delicate twanging electric guitar) and bombastic with wonderful work on guitars and keyboards. The duo female vocal contributions sound adventurous and add a special flavour to the music. At the end there is a strong build up to a sumptuous grand finale with bombastic keyboards, a dynamic rhythm-section, those wonderful 'angelic vocals' and propulsive electric rhythm guitar. This is one of the best tracks on the album and showcases R-U Kaiser at their full potential.
5. Desde La Oscuridad: First a dreamy climate with subtle work on the electric guitar, passionate vocals, soaring keyboards and a powerful rhythm-section. Then the music alternates between mellow and bombastic outbursts, creating an exciting tension. This culminates in a mind blowing final part with stunning work on electric guitar and keyboards, topped with an awesome female Gothic-like choir sound and a powerful rhythm-section, this is R-U Kaiser in its full splendor, goose bumps!
To me this second effort sounds just as strong and a very pleasant successor. In comparison with their debut CD the band is flirting more with Neo-Prog (mid-Eighties, not Nineties polished Arena or Everon sound) and the compositions sound more mature and structured. But the emphasis is still on creating compelling atmospheres with subtle changing climates, delicate work on keyboards and guitar and very distinctive 'celestial' duo female vocals in Spanish. A big hand for R-U Kaiser: during 50 years of progressive rock our beloved genre is often nailed for being too clinical and too self-indulgent, but their new CD strongly showcases the opposite. That is why I rate Desde La Oscuridad with 4 stars. Creating emotion in music is an overlooked quality and R-U Kaiser delivers this wonderful emotional prog!
**** Erik Neuteboom (edited by Dave Smith)
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