Sjef Oellers 19-Jan-2001 Misterios E Maravilhas

The Portuguese band Tantra released several albums of which I only know Misterios e Maravilhas. The band plays melodic symphonic progressive rock with a fusion slant. I can hear similarities to both English and French progressive bands (for example Yes, Genesis, Camel, Pulsar and maybe Carpe Diem). The musicians are good with the drummer being excellent. Vocals are few and rather harmless, but they add nothing to the music and could just as well been left off. The long first track is a rather mellow track that doesn 't really develop into something spectacular, but isn't bad either. A somewhat lame opening. A short acoustic guitar intermezzo (think of a typical short Howe/Hackett piece) follows. The title track starts with some descending and ascending piano lines and percussion before developing into more energetic 70's symphonic rock with occasional fusion touches. But even here they remain in control more than they should. Next comes the longest track, the 13-minute-plus "Variations on a Galaxy," which starts with an excellent, fusion ramp (great drumming and bass playing) almost like Return to Forever, but much too soon they return to the mellow, spacey symphonic style that characterizes the first part of the album. After some four minutes a great, complex fusion section follows (a bit like the French band Rahmann). Next, a solo for percussion and drums follows, which is actually interesting. After the percussion intermezzo, they return into more lively symphonic terrain and finally they return to the superb, symphonic fusion from earlier on. A diverse, well-played track. Excellent. Again a short interlude is inserted, now mainly for piano and synthesizer. The last track, the ten-minute "Always Parting," which starts with up-tempo, Genesis-type, symphonic rock, but the vocals are pretty ridiculous here. After some four minutes, they proceed with a nice instrumental passage closer to Yes, but again a fusion influence can be heard as well. The track ends with the vocal section of the beginning. A well done album, but too restrained at times. Just like with Iman's Camino del Aguila, the musicians seem to have a greater musical potential than what is displayed on this album. Sometimes I had hoped, they would have kicked out the jams more, something Tantra seemed very well capable of.

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