Mike McLatchey    24-April-2001 Transparencias / Magicos Juegos del Tiempo / Cornonstipicum

MIA - Transparencias
(Belle Antique 9476, 1976/1994, CD)
MIA - Magicos Juegos Del Tiempo
(Belle Antique 9477, 1977/1994, CD)
MIA - Cornonstipicum
(Belle Antique 9478, 1978/1994, CD)

Belle Antique has gone all out on their most recent set of reissues - the backlog of the brilliant Argentine ensemble MIA. MIA was multi-instrumentalist (mainly keys) Lito Vitale's late 70s project and is practically impossible to sum up with a simple description.

Their debut was Transparencias, an exquisite album of classical rock. While this album and especially the later ones were quite diverse within themselves, the music here remains the most inwardly similar of the three. There are similarities to classical rock groups like Ekseption, The Trip, The Nice, early Atila, Trace and many others (themes from Bach and "Pomp And Circumstance" make appearances) but MIA are more original with an unmistakable Latin feel. The side-long title cut is worth the album alone - a complex and involved progressive epic.

Magicos Juegos Del Tiempo was a far different album with a stronger, more folk-oriented air. In fact it's not until five minutes into the album that you hear the drums. While Magicos is quite different from its predecessor, it is also more diverse, with strong Mike Oldfield influences. MIA's musicians practically all double on different instruments, and the permutations add up to an album of varying music from folky and serene to aggressive and jamming. Overall a very charming and unique album, yet the least immediate of the three.

For those unfamiliar with the group, their third album, Cornonstipicum, is probably the best place to start. Overall Cornonstipicum is the closest to "progressive rock" of the three, with fusion, rock, folk, and even Canterbury influences. There is a side-long cut here, a veritable masterpiece of great thematic development, agile drumming (by Lito Vitale no less), and unique twists and turns. This album is a highly recommended classic and certainly one of the best ever from Argentina.

As a bonus, Belle Antique has added around (give or take per CD) 20 minutes on each title from the ambitious triple album Conciertos. These bonus tracks show MIA in a different light with guitar duos, piano solos, vocal solos, and other more unusual combinations. All of these show that MIA were a group constantly exploring new boundaries and musical growth. All of these come highly recommended, MIA were a unique musical ensemble with a definite progressive ethic.

(Originally published in Exposť #6, p. 47, Edited for Gnosis 4/23/01)

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