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Los Canarios Ciclos
  • Ciclos (2lp)-1
    2LP MR-SSS 09
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The pinnacle of Spanish prog rock, "Ciclos" was also the farewell record by Los Canarios, the group founded by Teddy Bautista. Released in 1974, it's an astounding conceptual album based on Vivaldi's "The Four Seasons" which incorporates synthesizers, mellotrons, vibraphone, electric guitars, a soprano and a classical choir.

Regarded as the greatest Spanish soul band, Los Canarios emerged in 1967 and are still remembered for explosive tracks such as 'Get On Your Knees' or 'Free Yourself'. But Los Canarios had an unusual final incarnation, in a progressive rock style. Towards 1973, the musical and philosophical interests of singer Teddy Bautista led him to breaking up with his bandmates, who continued under the name Alcatraz.

Teddy reformed the band with an international formation: drummer Alain Richard, keyboard player Mathias Sanvellian, bassist Christian Mellies and guitarist Antonio García de Diego. They were all daring and versatile musicians; García de Diego still is an essential collaborator of many of Spain's most popular artists.

Only Bautista's charisma can explain that he actually managed to realize "Ciclos", possibly the most complex production of 1970s Spanish rock. If it sounds astonishing today, in 1974 it went against all market trends: at the time, singer-songwriters such as Joan Manuel Serrat, Patxi Andión or Lluis Llach were successful; Spanish rock had no presence in the charts and was reduced to a clandestine underground.

Bautista had discovered the wonders of synthesizers, mellotrons and sequencers. Later on he would work on his own, exclusively using machines, but "Ciclos" was a collective work. Alfredo Carrión directed a choir from the National School of Singing; Rudmini Sukmawati, daughter of the legendary Indonesian President Sukarno, shone as opera singer. Although Teddy and García de Diego played several roles, other musicians and vocalists were needed.

"Ciclos" is usually described as the symphonic rock version of "The Four Seasons". That would put it close to "Pictures At An Exhibition" by Emerson, Lake & Palmer, but that's not quite right: Vivaldi's compositions are integrated into an immense canvas which includes rock, jazz, soul and old popular songs. Keyboards play a fundamental role, although this is a narrative work where a multitude of voices tell the story. Perhaps it wasn't a coincidence that, in the following years, Bautista would work in musical theatre, with "Jesus Christ Superstar" or "The Rocky Horrow Picture Show".

The plot is harder to summarise: it aims to portray the history of humanity, from the Big Bang to the Apocalypse, through the adventures of a character named Embryo. Explanatory texts were provided within the luxurious packaging, on which people of the stature of Teo Escamilla, the great photography director of Spanish cinema, worked.

Diego A Manrique

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