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Susan Alcorn Septeto del Sur


Review by Gary Hill

Led by pedal-steel player Susan Alcorn, this group produces some intriguing music here. This is not precisely progressive rock, but it's definitely art music. It has world music, classical and lots of avant-garde and free-form angles. Other than the disc's closer, this is all instrumental. It's also all exciting and unique. 

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Track by Track Review
Suite Para Todos
Starting mellow and rather ambient, this builds outward with a lot of classical music in the mix. It's slow moving, but also dramatic and powerful. The intensity and volume level peak, and then we're brought into another movement featuring flute. This has more of old olde-world sound, but it shifts to freeform weirdness from there. The music seems to take on an air of danger as it continues. Then it all stops and rather trippy sounds rise up to take this into the next section. This has modern elements, but also a lot of old-school chamber music at its heart. It is artsy and powerful. It also turns freeform and tastefully weird. Chaos ensues as this works into avant-garde territory.
Cantos. I. ¿Dónde Están?
I really love the pedal steel at play as this gets going in more melodic ways. This grows outward and works through changes and different concepts. It's largely freeform and tastefully strange throughout the run. The trippy, nearly classical, section later is a perfect examples. It's both weird and stunning. It works out to a more melodic movement beyond that.
Cantos. II. Presente: Sueño de Luna Azul
This isn't a huge change, but it's also a killer version of the kind of freeform magic we get all over this release. At nearly 13 minutes long, this is also the epic of the disc. It gets downright frightening at times as parts of this feel like they would fit in the soundtrack to a horror movie. This has classical music in the mix, but also plenty of freaky stuff, too. This is very dynamic and diverse along its road. There is some almost King Crimson like jamming late in the piece. That gives to more sedate, but no less freeform stuff. It turns more melodic for the closing section.
Cantos. III. Lukax
Coming in slow moving and melodic, there is a real jazz vibe as this track gets underway. This has much more of a Renaissance music kind of element to it early. It feels less jarring and freeform for the first half of the track. It turns to avant-garde explorations beyond that, though. Further down the road world music and more of a traditional progressive rock concept seem to merge. It still has more of those experimental angles at play, though. It turns quite freeform from there as it gets more electrified and frantic. It drops back before the end, but it retains its artsy texture in an arrangement that features some great bass sounds.
Mercedes Sosa
Old world melodic chamber music starts us here. There more freeform concepts take over in some open jamming after the one minute mark. I really dig some of the bass playing so much. More classical concepts take over after a while. Then the cut works through some various instrument solos. Some flamenco styled guitar comes in later. This continues exploring sonic space before it's over.
El Derecho de Vivir en Paz
A big change, this has vocals in Spanish. The music is in keeping with that concept early. Some electric guitar soloing later brings more of a rock angle to play. It gets quite involved beyond that with multiple layers of vocals and a real traditional world music sound.



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