Back in 2000 I discovered a self-produced album (via ProgVisions...) from a Spanish project called Kotebel. I was highly impressed when I first heard it! However, knowing that it still lacked a proper distribution, I thought it was a pity the album was not on a well-known label. It was a great surprise when I saw that Musea had released Kotebel's second album in 2001, and being curious, I heard it as soon as I could in order to see what the follow-up was like.
First of all, one important thing is to see that Carlos Plaza has been constant with his works, this second album has a more mature sound than its predecessor. It is still a keyboard-driven album, with great influences from XX Century composers like Debussy at the piano. Nevertheless, this time there was also a place for great guitar solos by Cesar Garcia and excellent flute sections by Omar Acosta, especially on the long "Mysticae Visiones" suite. The influences on this part of the record go from Clearlight to Seventies Italian prog and jazzy moments. It includes several different rhythm changes according to the part it represents: death, birth, childhood, meditation, etc. There are also some Genesis-like passages enhanced by Hackett-like guitar solos and keyboards that remind of their classical sound.
Besides the instrumental parts, Carolina Prieto's vocals are a great complement to some parts like "Prologue" and "Meditation", and so is Francisco Ochando's cello on "Reward". But personally, I think that Kotebel's most embellishing parts come with the piano fragments, the lines it follows and even the way it is accompanied by the other instruments. The classical side of the band leaves also enough place for rock's energy to melt and make "Mysticae Visiones" a more complete semi-classical, semi-rock suite. The same pattern is present on "The River", the second piece included in the CD: energy, classicism, great guitar solos (in a more modal way though), rhythm changes and the great piano parts.
I must say that this record did not disappoint me; on the contrary, it did please me. On the other hand, I am happy to know that Plaza's music found an important record label for his music. There is only one point on which I would like to make a particular comment: there are some passages that remind of seventies rock music. Carlos has to keep creating his music the same way he's been doing, but if he gives a modern touch to it, then he might sound more unique and be the main part on a new page in the book of art-rock and not a member of a reborn progressive rock movement, but of a new example to follow by fellow musicians.
To conclude, I think you should give Kotebel a try. If you liked the first record, then you'll like this second one, if you don't know its music, then it is a great opportunity to discover a great Spanish exponent of the progressive rock scene. You'll see why I placed "Mysticae Visiones" among my favorite 10 albums of 2001