Spanish five piece formation Alpesa plays Rock Andaluz, the unique progressive blend of the ethnic Andalusian art of the flamenco and modern music (from rock and blues to prog, psychedelia and jazz). This distinctive movement was speerheaded by Triana in the mid-Seventies, along other excellent Rock Andaluz bands like Cai, Alameda, Guadalquivir, Iman and Mezquita. Alpesa was founded in 1993 and during the years the band released cassettes and vinyl. In 2017 the band released its first CD entitled Renacer, a compilation of old and new songs. From that moment Alpesa became more active with concerts and festivals. The current line-up is Antonio Lozano (guitar and vocals), Antonio José Martínez (piano and keyboards), Carlos Rodríguez (drums), Antonio Prieto (bass and vocals), and Fernando Mateos (guitar), he is the latest acquisition. Alpesa are working on a new album, the band will make more use of his powerful electric guitar sound.
Alpesa and its Rock Andaluz sound reminds me of Zaguan, also a new Rock Andaluz band that often covers Triana songs on stage, like Alpesa, but more adventurous and varied. And I consider the lead vocals by Antonio Lozano as more passionate (between Pepe Roca from Alameda and Jesus De La Rosa from Triana), he really adds an extra dimension. Another strong asset is guest musician Eduardo Trassierra on the flamenco guitar, with hints from the legendary and pioneering Paco De Lucia (who had the courage to incorporate modern elements, like jazz, in the very traditional world of the flamenco).
Most of the 8 tracks contains slow rhythms with a melancholically undertone, fuelled by the excellent, flamenco inspired vocals and the exciting flamenco guitar. Like in Tiempos De Ensueño (beautiful interplay between the emotional vocals and intense flamenco guitar) and Que Mi Voz Suba A Los Montes (passionate vocal outbursts and cheerful flamenco guitar - and piano runs).
In the two songs Enamorado and Dinero the band surprises with a reggae based rhythm (like other new Rock Andaluz band Mendigo) featuring captivating interplay between an omnipresent organ and flamenco guitar, embellished with strong wailing vocals, a nice contrast with the swinging reggae sound.
Fantasia (5.54) : This piece starts with a mellow atmosphere that contains dreamy piano runs and a soft bass sound, tender vocals and intense acoustic guitar runs. Gradually the sound becomes more dynamic, topped with emotional vocals, wonderful piano runs, virtuosic flamenco guitar runs and propulsive electric guitar riffs that rock. Halfway a slowdown and then again, a more dynamic climate with moving vocals and flamenco guitar, propulsive electric guitar riffs and finally the distinctive Rock Andaluz element in the Alpesa sound: moving interplay between the flamenco guitar and vocals, with that wailing undertone, the blues from Andalusia, unique!
Fuego De Ti (5.06): After a dreamy first part featuring a slow rhythm with emotional vocals and delicate flamenco guitar, the music turns lusher with sparkling piano and propulsive electric guitar riffs. The vocals sound very passionate, topped with awesome work on the flamenco guitar.
Para Ti (4.51) : The final track is a very special one, a duet from the singer and the keyboard player, with a Grand piano sound. The interplay is outstanding, loaded with emotion, featuring sparkling piano work and passionate vocals (with that distinctive wailing flamenco undertone), wow, what a wonderful Rock Andaluz ballad (with echoes from Otono by Medina Azahara), and I am blown away!
Rock Andaluz is still alive, if you are a aficionado check out this very interesting debut CD from Alpesa!
**** Erik Neuteboom (edited by Dave Smith)
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