The Brazilian Band Pocos E Nuvens put out an exceptional CD three years ago entitled “Ano Veloz Outono”. “Provincia Universo” is basically an extension of that work with a bit more variation. The CD runs nearly an hour in length. It seems to be divided into two distinct movements. The first half is clearly a prog rock rush, filled with edgy guitar breaks and swirling synths. The second half is more serene and moves between a pastoral folk sound and some lightly flavored jazz.
The highly diversified band consists of Edgar Sleifer on guitars, flutes, classical viola and vocals. There’s Gerson Werlang on vocals; guitars; classical & folk violas. Savio Werlang plays keyboards, Iva Giracca on violins, Irwin Faller on bass and Rafael Bisogno hits the drums.
As per the first album, the sound is a little muddy and thin. This is one of the few faults of the band but it is a significant one. After the first album, one would expect them to improve the recording techniques.
The first seven songs comprise one basic movement – the prog rock one, full of classical symphonic climaxes, bridges, and themes. Sleifer’s vocals seem a little lame here. On their first release, which was more folk oriented, they could be overlooked but when the band is rocking, it seems out of place to feature thin, almost falsetto vocals. However, the first half of the CD is strongest, most notably because of the sweeping composition and the excellent guitar work.
“Pocos E Nuvens”, the seven minute ninth song brings more of the prog rock back before we’re into the gentler jazz side of the band. There’s a wide range of folk instruments in use, and the use of flute in particular is superb. However, to be honest, another fault of this album is that it does not keep up the energy in the second half. Some of the blame surely falls on Sleifer’s vocals (and minute vocal range) and some on the repetition of movements that seem to fizzle.
But as I continue to mention many faults, there are so many more appropriate strengths. The band is difficult to categorize because of the many changes in their type of music and the diversification of the musicians. In a world, where there is so few originals, at least here is one that has the strength to carry the prog rock torch into new territory.