“Painting mystical landscapes or dramatic statements,
music is always a voyage to a strange unknown place …”
Tantra is a band from Portugal that made three albums in the years 1978 – 1981. Two of them have now CD releases on Musea, “Mistérios e maravilhas” (1978) and “Holocausto” (1979). The third one “Humanoid flesh” only exists in LP format and was released by EMI. To be honest with you, I did know the band only by name. After touring successfully but receiving bad press reviews because of singing in English and not in Portuguese on their third album the band decided to “suspend its existence”.
After finding an old Revox tape of the first Tantra concert out of 1977 and working on this for an CD release, Manuel Cardoso fell in love again with the musical concept of Tantra and asked the old band members if they where interested in reforming the band. But nobody could make it so Manuel decided to search for other musicians to form a new Tantra with the same musical spirit. The band which was born, rehearsed every weekend for 8 to 12 hours in the years 1998 – 2000! But the band had no easy path to follow which eventually led to their first CD in this line-up. And it would cost almost two years before they had finally recorded this album. “Terra” is an independent release with modern and intriguing 3D artwork (Metacool) and a second booklet in English with information and the translations of their lyrics. I am very happy with this initiative. If a band can do this with an independent release why can’t record companies do the same? I can’t remember anymore when I rewarded an album with five stars. But I must simply do this because the band deserves this. With their intelligent, highly original, progressive and emotional music the band just blew me away.
The new Tantra line-up on Terra:
Manuel Cardoso – Guitar & Vocals; Guilherme da Luz – Synthesizer; Bruno Silva – Guitar;
Pedro Condinho – Bass; Luis Ramos – Keyboards; Bébé – Drums.
Pedro Sales – Composing & Occasional Keyboards; Patrìcia Almeida – Vocals
(Choirs with members of Tunas Masc. & Fem do Inst. Sup. Técnico de Lisboa)
I know that one of our readers from New York has already “left the building” (webpage) to look for the nearest prog-record-store who sells this album. (You have to buy this one too Ron!). For our other readers I will try to describe Tantra’s music. In between the descriptions of the tracks I will put some excerpts from an interview Sergio Vilar had with Manuel Cardoso and in which the later describes each track of the album. “Terra” has 11 tracks with a total timing of more then 65 minutes.
“Kali - The voyage (physical and spiritual)
of some of us that feel hunted and repressed and that can lead us to a
point of enlightment when we find harmony between pain and our love. Anger
like fire and peace as ice finds a way to live together inside of us.
That’s the tiger’s portal”
The album opens with a song called “Kali” (8:32) which is divided into three parts. “The river”, “The garden of the lady” and “The tiger’s portal”.
“The river” is the intro which starts mysteriously with percussion and electronics, before we hear for the first time Tantra’s emotional style of music. Organ, bass, synthesizer and a soaring guitar solo drenched in emotion. “The garden of the lady” has beautiful melodies and Manuel Cardoso sings the lyrics with great passion. The Portuguese lyrics gives the music extra warmth and atmosphere. “The tiger’s portal” has a more complex structure and ends in a bombastic and theatrical way. After hearing this opener for the first time I knew that I was listening to a special band and a great album.
“The sensible road – Following the
pain of a lost love there’s always the glory of a greater love to
take us into unforgettable moments. Be your own hero and find an amazing
world to live in!”
“The sensible road / Estrada sensivel” (3:40) includes a nice fretless bass delicate piano and again those emotional sung lyrics. The music of Tantra has a lot of power and emotion at the same time, it is very dynamic.
“Edge of Oblivion – Someone that looks
over us and cares comes and warns us about the danger of loosing ourselves,
our true self, if we can’t come to face reality as it is …
we’re on the edge of oblivion”
“Edge of oblivion / A beira do fim” (12:21) is a new version of a song from their first album “Mistérios e maravilhas”. I don’t know the original but this version is amazing, the best piece of music I have heard this year. The music is very symphonic by the use of tasteful orchestral keyboards. The vocal melody is from such an unbelievable beauty that when this is later combined with a melodic and soaring guitar solo it gave me chicken goose on my arms and tears in my eyes at the same time. A sensation I only remember from the seventies. It sadly doesn’t happen to me very often these days. The middle section of this track has great melodic keyboard work. In the end the beautiful vocal melody returns one more time.
“Solitude – A special place inside
where we can really find our true meaning to be and find our wings of
“Solitude – Solidao” (5:33) is an instrumental which exists out of “Inner clausters” and “Wings of light”. “Inner clausters” has very emotional guitar work. The only name I can give as a reference to explain the intensity and the passion of these emotional and soaring guitar pieces is Lele Hofmann (Shakary) the former guitarist of Clepsydra. I don’t want to compare Tantra’s music with any band because they play very original music and have an own style. “Wings of light” has besides the guitar also a nice synth solo and pastoral vocals of Patrìcia Almeida.
“Terra – The destruction of our planet.
The moments of facing our real enemy … our selfishness. The war
inside us and hopefully victory. The voices of Terra and the Seas will
sing back to us!”
“Terra” (9:51) is divided into four parts. “The vision”, “The cavern”, “War” and “Victory & celebration”. “The vision” opens with a voice in a cathedral and full keyboards like a church organ. Then the delicate and passionate voice of Manuel Cardoso sets the dark atmosphere. After that a tempo change follows with happy guitar sounds. The organ sounds appears again in “The Cavern”. The first part with organ and synth sounds reminds me somehow of a very old record of the Dutch band Earth and Fire. The one with the completely black cover “Song of the marching children”. It has something to do with the melody. In “War” the band plays at full speed complex rhythms. In “Victory & Celebration” the beautiful melodies are back and a breathtaking guitar solo is played. In style this magnificent track is ending with the delicate vocals of Patrìcia Almeida.
“Return – This is the return to the
happiness machine. The world of the insane market of offer and denial,
the industry of living, the sensuous vertigo that stresses the soul. We
have to go there for the sake of love … but we have to be supreme
warriors not to become one more of the lost …!”
“Return / Regresso a maquina da felicidade” (4:40). The electronics of Guilherme da Luz are creating a special industrial atmosphere in this track. I like the combination of keyboards and electronics in the music of Tantra. The beginning and ending are little bit freaky but the melodic guitar work in this track makes the song not to difficult for the neo-prog fan. For my self, I love adventurous pieces woven into melodic and dramatic progsongs.
“Drowning dawn – Betrayal, struggle
for survival … alone … we fight like an hunted wolf only to
find on our love’s embrace”
“Drowning dawn / Manha submersa” (3:10) is a short track with a delicate acoustic guitar, classical keyboard sounds, piano and tasteful vocals in the first part of the composition. The second part is more up-tempo and the vocals are sung more in an aggressive way.
“Scorpio – Firestorms, endless dark
cosmic spaces, deep spirituality and light … would rather die than
be anything else”
“Scorpio – Escorpiao” (3:50) begins with a slow piano melody but soon spacey electronics are changing the atmosphere of the piece. First the melodic guitar pieces and piano makes a sort of jazz-fusion style but it gets freakier towards the end.
“Vertigo – The musical description
of a nirvana meditation experience of Manuel Cardoso. A voyage through
“Vertigo / Vertigem” (5:40) starts with spacey sounds and develop into a delicious melodic piece with a lot of keyboards and some guitar solos. The only text says: “I let myself fall willingly, in this river of light that will set me free.” Musically spoken it is at some point a mix between the “Moonmadness” and “Raindances” albums of Camel.
“Burlesque theatre – This music was
totally composed in an improvisation of the band. It’s a Medieval
tragedy on stage.”
“Burlesque / Teatro burlesco” (5:50) has also spacey sounds but sounds a little bit darker. The long guitar solo’s are delicious and like the previous piece the old work of Camel guitarist Andy Latimer cross my mind. Delicious track.
“Zephyrus II – We all finally meet
in a magical place dancing and singing in a ritual to life and love. See
“Zephyrus II” (2:30) is the closing section of this amazing album. And it ends with sounds from a tropical forest, the Garden of Eden.
For fans of prog from the old days, the seventies I mean, this is the “Garden of Eden” or as I call it sometimes “progheaven”! I am completely overwhelmed by the tension and emotion the band has put into “Terra”. They are playing a kind of “Symphonic & Progressive Fusion” with a warm Latin touch because of the Portuguese vocals. Also I would like to mention that the album was recorded by Maria João Castanheira at “Noites Longas” and mixed by Manuel Cardoso himself at his home studio. A great job because “Terra” has a fantastic sound. This music is for the adventurous prog fan. Last year I found the French band Saens and this year the Portuguese Tantra. They have nothing in common however …