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progVisions is a progressive rock e-zine, published in English and made by an international group of members. Our objective is to become a centre of information that contributes to the knowledge, growth and development of progressive rock.

concert review

Minorisa Prog Festival - Manresa - September - 2002

We could not miss it. It was very important that any of the progressive fans didn’t miss this first edition, of a festival that had been brilliantly organized. It was an event that had been prepared for a long time, doing the best promotional work trying to reach as much people as possible. A festival that had a great band listing in a city called Manresa, a town that had been helping a lot the festival, from the city authorities to many other people to organize a very difficult event.

The bands that were playing that night were; Planeta Imaginari (Barcelona), Guillermo Cides (Argentina), Ñu (Madrid), Deus Ex Machina (Italy), Ozric Tentacles (UK) and the local group Boogie Dreams.

The musical party started a bit earlier for us in a hotel near the concert pavilion where the artists were hosted. The reason was that a meeting with the musicians and the media had been held before the festival started. So we had the opportunity to chat a bit with them asking them about progressive music matters and also allowing them to talk about their recent work. The meeting was a great deal and everything went great with a lot of communication by both parts (the content of this interviews might come out here in a future article). Meanwhile everything was going well and the people were happy and expecting the best.

The place was big enough to let in much more people than the ones that attended, so the pavilion was in two quarters empty. However that didn’t seemed to be a problem because the crowd was quite big, just about 400 people, and that’s a success in a country where nobody moves to go to any progressive music performance. In front of the main entrance we had all the services where we could easy our hunger with some food stalls and also easy our musical hunger with some CD and Magazine vendors. So the feeling was very nice and everybody seemed pleased.

The performances started around 19:30 and they opened up with a group coming from Spain called Planeta Imaginari. A band that maybe was not very known by the spanish progressive fans but that did a great show. A group with an interesting stage craft, wearing seventies’s clothes and also creating a seventies’s kind of music. These musicians from Barcelona had a lot of talent developing a difficult prog-rock but varied and nice-to-listen. A band that knew what was doing and that was able to make long compositions based mainly on the guitars and the rhytm section. Also adorning its music with keyboards and with something not very used in prog-rock which were the bongos. Their main influences were coming from important bands such as Soft Machine, King Crimson or even Henry Cow. A good festival opening.

Guillermo Cides was the next course. His performance could be labeled as surprising. On his own on the stage and with his stick bass he was able to create something as complete as a symphonic orchestra. We were stunt enjoying his playing, devising and capturing every sound and then composing the songs with them, all at the same time. Just to explain how it was you just have to figure one single man with a single instrument playing “Siberian Khatru” from Yes or some works from Bach. And that’s what he did. Surprising.

Ñu represented the image or the stamp of the seventies at Manresa. The old spanish band leaded by Jose Carlos Molina performed a set full of classic themes from the band. This group is one of the few bands coming from the seventies spanish pro-rock movement that are still alive, although they had never been much in the most classical prog water. Their style comes from the classic hard-rock more than the classic prog-rock, with parts of great flute developments plenty of power. Well, that’s what Ñu offered us a show a bit short but very emotive.

We were making for the midnight and the most brilliant moments were arriving. Deux Ex Machina with its unique singer and a great showman Alberto Piras appeared. They are a band with a superb and powerful live performance. The musicians had a great time on the stage just burning their instruments. The songs that played were pieces taken mostly from their great album "De Republica" and also from their last record "Cinque". I just need to tell you that it was worthwhile all the kilometers that we made to Manresa to see this. Progressive fireworks and a music that went beyond the prog-rock and that left all of us very impressed. A band that no one of us would have to miss.

The stars of the night were the Ozric Tentacles. A band that has been playing and still is for many years, a band that has a high status among progressive and psychedelic music followers all over the world, a band that has sold more that a million copies of their records in this last years and maybe for all these things they were the headliners. Well, they did what they were expected to do. Most of the previous performances and the bands themselves were almost unknown to many attended so that I think that was what made the people enjoy it a lot, but with the Ozric I think we all knew what was all about. They didn’t disappoint in any way. Their show was spacy taking us into a trip to some colorful and sounding madness that we all loved.

It was very late and the people were quite tired and so were us. It was quite a long time since we arrived at it and we still had to see one more group. Boogie Dreams were in charge of closing the festival. A band that I’d like to mention in a special way. A young bunch of guys that enjoy themselves a lot playing and creating, a band that has got one CD released, and that’s a hard and pricey thing to do nowadays, but they got it. They have the skill of bringing out many different styles and mixing them up like genius. I perfect way to understand this music. We’ll be watching them for sure.

We went out of the festival very late and very tired, but it was worthwhile and we’ll come back whenever they want. To give this review a fare end I would like to thank to all those that with their effort carried this huge thing out. The Minorisa Progressive festival was a success. Thank’s specially to the organizers and all those people that attended. We really hope to come back again to a new edition next year and with that give a good push to the progressive rock events in this country. Thank you.

Jordi Costa, October 2002

As i told you in the Minorisa 2002 festival review, here you have the massive interview-meeting that was held two hours before the event. An interview that gathered us with some of the musicians of all the groups performing that night and to which we were kindly invited by the organization.

- How would you define your music?.
We are a band that has always liked to investigate. We are musicians without any concept idea, we like to experiment with rhythms and try to enjoy the instruments as much as we cam. It’s a music that has a lot of elements, elements that are never the same, we try to develop new things and I guess that is how the music sounds.

- From "De Republica" to this last album the band has made a significant change in style and also you have changed the record company. What’s this change all about?.
As i told you the change is constant. We try not to get into any musical cage, we like to change and experiment. The record company change has nothing to do with our evolution and to where we have moved on this last record. We try to find the people that understand what we do. It is not easy. It’s a hard time for music in general and the music that we do.

- Are you a progressive band?.
The progressive label is something that we don’t put much attention on. There are a lot of people that could be progressive without being inside this movement. If the music that we understand as progressive is like the word says, a music that heads for any kind of experimentation and that it implies creation and innovation, then I think we are progressive. But then we would have to put people like John Coltrane in the same bag.

- Why do you use the latin?.
We use it as a sound, we think that the lyrics have to be like another instrument inside the band, it doesn’t matter if it can’t be understood by the people.

- This question is asked directly to Alberto Piras. Have you got any vocal studies?.
No i haven’t. I’ve always thought myself.

- You lived the progressive movement of the seventies, tell us something about that time.
In the seventies the progressive music was accepted because there were many things that still were not invented. It was something new and people didn’t know about it, that’s why the musician could live with that way of making music at that time. The media was not the same as nowadays, the musical industry was not as nasty as it is now.

- How do you get to survive for thirty years in the spanish music scene?.
Stealing (laughs) or trying to adapt myself a bit to the tendencies every time. After the seventies the heavy metal broke in the spanish market. In the nineties the folk music raised again and the acoustic rhythms mixed with other styles. To be able to keep on making music I had to tuck into all that, and here I am.

In the nineties the music turned into a more folk style, and many bands took that way to create their music. You also did that in the nineties. How would you explain that change of doing things?.
We did it because we were starving. The musicians had to reinvent ourselves and take something that could be easy to work with. The nineties were hard times for many people and somehow we saw the way out by using that formula. We had to make something for a living.

- Your last record Réquiem was recorded in 1996. Why did you wait so long to release it?. Are you gonna play anything of this album tonight?.
It is not a work that I’m promoting. It’s a record that I finished years ago and that it was made to take some musical ideas out of my system. Some compositions that in those days I thought it was not the time to publish them and now it is. And no we don’t play any of those songs today.

- What can you tell us about the big names of progressives rock with whom you have worked?
Every musician is different from each other, and every instrument is also different from each other. The music that we make is not the same and what we do is trying to mix it all up as well as we can. What i can say is that i have learnt a lot playing with people like ELP or Fish. The experience is unique, but in musical terms we all are different, the main difference is that some of these artists have done things that has become more important inside the musical history.

- Do you always play on your own?. It is maybe to give more importance to an instrument that maybe has become a second course inside rock music?.
No, i don’t play always alone. In fact i have three different bands depending on the place and the idea of what i want to do each time. There is one group of seven people, another of five, and the last one which is myself alone on the stage. I don’t think the stick is a second course. It is an instrument with and endless number of possibilities.

-Which is the situation of prog rock in Argentina?
Before the economic collapse the progressive music scene was very healthy, i’ve been playing for a lot of people in South America. I think people from there are giving up a bit the popular music and are beginning to find what they really like.

- Tell us about your influences, we haven’t had the opportunity to listen to your work, but we have red your names together with Frank Zappa , Henry Cow , Soft Machine.

Yes, it is the kind of music that we like and it’s the music that inspires our work. We can not cope with what has been happening to the music lately and we want to concentrate to create something that we really believe and relieve us as musicians. All that influences are natural things that happen.

- Are you related in some way to the catalan progressive movement called “rock laieta”?.
No, actually we don’t know any of those bands that formed that movement. I don’t think we have something to do with them, because we don’t know them.

Could you account for briefly from where your music comes. Have you got any kind of idea what you are gonna do before recording?.
I say it because your music seems to be and endless jam session.
Our music is never been made out of an idea that we had thought before playing. It is made of a bunch of different ideas coming from everybody in the group. We do have an idea how we want focus or direct the music but this is not a concept that we have previously thought about.

- How can you keep alive that style of doing music?.
I guess is this source of ideas that somehow creates the music and also our style.

- You have had many success in Europe but, what about America?
Yes, now we are succeeding in many places around the United States. We’ve done some very successful concerts there. It’s not easy to enter the american market.

- The sense of humor is something that seems to be an important part of you.
Yes, that’s right. We never take ourselves very seriously.

- Which are your main influences?.
Uffff! There are so many. How long do we have?. Because we could spend the hole night.

- From where did you take the name of Ozric Tentacles?.
It comes (the guitar player looked up raising his arms to the sky) well, I can’t explain. Sorry.

- How have you planned the end of this big party?

We are very happy to be in this festival among these such brilliant bands. The truth is that we don’t know if we are going to be to this artistic level. We do what we like and what we want with our music. We hope everything goes all right.

- How can there be someone nowadays willing to held a big musical event, a big festival without needing to earn anything, just doing it for free?.

We do it the same way many of the bands or musicians do it most of the times. We do it because we love this music and we don’t mind to sacrifice ourselves, work and doing all the best to take this kind of thing to the right end. We are very happy with what we are going to do and we hope that we’ll be able to do it again from now on every year. (Applause)

- What is progressive rock for you?.

All the musicians more or less answered something like: a music that creates. A music that develops brand new musical ideas. A music that experiment and that sometimes is wrongly used, to name music that is just copying what some other people did in the past, and that is not progressive music.

- Do you think Internet has helped this kind of music?.
Ozric Tentacles: internet has been very important for non commercial music. It has connected the public with all kind of innovating musical movement and through it this music has had a better opportunity. It has let the musician to have the control over the promotional work and in some way the musician has become a business man dealing directly with his music.

Deus Ex Machina: i think that is something that somehow does not give a very good image. I’m not against internet, but it is kind of wyrd to see musicians doing business and trying to move into a unknown territory. I don’t thing that is the musician’s thing, but i do think that it’s been something good in general.

Jordi Costa, Ramón Sellarès and Toni Roig - October 2002


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