I´m writing this review just before Carlos Plaza (aka Kotebel and keyboardist, bass player, drummer, and composer) plays at the famous Baja Prog, and I´m writing this review very happy because Carlos´ dreams come true because he´ll show his art surrounded by a band. I met Carlos for years and he deserves this prize because he´s a real working man and a honest guy. Another great person is César García Forero (guitars and all instruments in the three parts of “El Quimerista”), a very young guitar player. I passed him his first Marillion´s album fifteen years ago and now he´s one of the best guitar players in Spain. He was a progVisions member too!. Last but not least Luis Arnaldo (narrations), one of the charmest guys I´ve ever met. You can listen him at Radio Vallekas progressive nights. After having ended with the praises, I´ll name the rest of musicians: Carolina Prieto (vocals), Omar Acosta (flute) and Juan Olmos (vocals in “Fuego”).
Well, let´s go to the music, in this third Kotebel´s album finally I can perceive something I missed in previous albums. Kotebel now sounds like a real band... and a real progressive rock band. Of course Carlos is still the mind behind the project and all his background as classical trained musician still drenches every note of the album, but all compositions inside “Fragments of Light” are less academic and more fresh.
The album consists of nine tracks and one twelve minutes long addendum. The album opens with “Hades” (11:59), perhaps the most progressive track of the disc, with great interplays among guitars, keys and flutes over richfull percussions. Carolina´s voice reminds me of Ana Torres Fraile (Universal Totem Orchestra) and the music has the typical stamp of all latinamerican progressive rock (Carlos Plaza is from Venezuela). Although Kotebel´s can´t be easily compared to other bands, there´s a positivism and brightness a la Yes, few Crimson-like winks made by César, and a latin aroma that also could be noticed in the most progressive Lito Vitale. Second track “Identidad Legal” (3:40) begins in an intriguing and mysterious way... the guitar attacks and the keyboards stop it with sounds a la ELP, driving the sound to a great climax with an amazing guitar solo. The first part of “El Quimerista” (2:36) is a short interlude of acoustic guitar with flamenco-like notes. “Memoria” (7:46) is the most bizarre track, a sort of poem with background music (very beauty and close to Gryphon, Hotsonaten or Camel) but with lots of new age elements (sweet flutes, backing “aaahhhs”, piano). Luis Arnaldo is a great narrator and the lyrics written by Nathalie Engelke are very oniric. Again we return to the world of progressive music with “Fuego” (14:54), another interesting composition with lots of changes. The only weak point for me is Juan Olmos´ voice. I don´t like some kind of voices and some kind of texts in latin prog rock. Too much forced baroquism. Juan´s voice reminds me of progressive rock played in Madrid in early 80´s. The tempo is cinema-like, so you´ll need to listen the track several times. There are powerful instrumental moments but, in general, the track sounds a little bit boring. The best moments are, as in the whole album, the “band moments”, this time with a great Omar. The second “Quimerista” (5:10) has more to do with the spirit of the album, with César taking all kind of sounds from his guitar. “Espejos” (7:51) is a very intimate instrumental track –perhaps too intimate- where keyboards are the main instrument. “Trozos de luz” (3:12) shows a bright symphonic rock with the wonderful voice of Carolina. Before the addendum the third part of “El Quimerista” (2:21)… from a certain point of view, the evolution of this track is very curious.. a basic and folkie first part, a rocker and mainstream second part, and a vanguard and experimental third part.
The Addendum is a suite titled “Children Suite” (11:59) with eight parts and conceived only for piano. A beautiful end considered by Carlos as an addendum because this is a classical composition for piano without any more instrument. Very nice track but of course this is not progressive rock.
In general this is a good album, but a little bit uneven. Extremely great moments with lots of originality and instrumental quality are alternated with new age moments. Anyway it´s a long album and finally quality rules over other matters. Discover it.