Elfonía - This Sonic Landscape

Year of Release: 2005
Label: The Note Garden Records
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 57:40:00

Let's take a small trip back in time, to the year 2003. In this year the Dutch multi-instrumentalist Arjen Lucassen (Ayreon, Star One), announced a contest for (non-metal) singers, with as prize a part on his forthcoming project, The Human Equation. One of the contestants was Marcela Bovio, singer of the Mexican band Elfonía. She won the contest, with ease, as we now can say. That same year the band released their debut album and with Marcela playing an important role on The Human Equation, the band got world wide exposure. The cooperation of Marcela and Arjen did not end here and she also sang on the Special Edition of Ayreon's The Final Experiment.

Now let's return to the present. Elfonía has not been side tracked because of Marcela's musical outings, far from it! The band is back with their second release and stronger than ever. The album is called This Sonic Landscape and it is evident the band has grown since the release of their debut album. This time they also included three songs in English, making the album just a bit more accessible for an international audience, although the Spanish vocals do have their charm, mixed with the music.

Elfonía is not a progressive rock band by definition, but their music, which I prefer to describe as art rock, contains many progressive influences. This is in contrast to their debut album, which is more an ambient pop/rock album. The album opens, oddly enough, with "Gigantes Part 4," a song in the vein of a movie soundtrack, ending with something that sounds like a plane taking off, kicking you straight into "Máquina," where you can hear the band has much to offer, like an excellent rhythm section in the form of Pablo González (bass guitar) and Javier Garagarza (drums), who lay a smooth and yet solid foundation for the songs throughout the album. I like the way how they complement each other and through their play, add a warm layer to the overall sound of the album.

Speaking of this overall sound: This Sonic Landscape breathes a very relaxed, pleasant atmosphere, yet with a slightly heavier sound. This is debit to Roberto Quintanilla, who blends in some heavy riffs into the songs, in such a way, it works very well. Also the keyboards by Alejandro Millán, subtle and modest, contribute to the great sound of the album. He does not dominate, but fills in well, especially his piano parts are important to the atmosphere and mood the songs create or call on.

If we look to the songs, as said, the band has included three songs in English, three instrumental songs and 6 in Spanish. The second track, "Soundscapes," is the first English song on the album. I noticed in English Bovio sings a little higher than the Spanish songs, but she still sounds beautiful. This is a good example of how versatile and progressive Elfonía plays: heavy guitar riffs and dominating drums are contrasted in the song with soft percussion and almost acoustic guitars. Production-wise, the vocals are slightly snowed under by the music, but fortunately can still be enjoyed well.

I have to say, I really enjoy listening to this album. The songs are well composed and balanced. It's hard to pick out a favourite song, but one I like in particular is "Camaleón." This song opens with the heaviest rhythm guitar on the entire album, and these riffs are repeated in the song, have a really funky bass line, with more emphasis on the drums and passionate vocals. Here Arjen Lucassen guests on an Elfonía album, with a great guitar solo, the last one of the song.

"Letargo" is one of the instrumentals I love, as it is mainly keyboard played, with no percussion, but an accordion sound (a genuine accordion, recorded by Alejandro), which fits in the Mexican background of the band. Great song to cool down with. Earlier I spoke of the prog influences in This Sonic Landscape and I think it is safe to say "Travelling" is the most "proggy" song on the album. Not prog in the vein of Pendragon or IQ, but more in the vein of King Crimson, with a more complex music structure, a lot of variation in the rhythm section and the vocals and a soft but sweet guitar solo.

The album closes with "Gigantes," parts 1-4 and thus proving the old saying right again: "Saving the best for last!" "Part 1" is dark and heavy, with fantastic guitars, almost prog metal like. "Part 2" is an instrumental to lick your fingers with! Clocking 7 minutes, this is the spotlight on drummer Garagarza, who truly shines here, together with González, of course, but Garagarza delivers some top notch drumming here, with a touch of jazz/fusion. The soft guitars only add to the great atmosphere in this song. "Part 3" is the third English song on the album, which I can only describe as pure art rock, with deep emotional vocals. Since "Part 4" is the opening track, this is the closing song of the album, leaving you with a deeply satisfied feeling.

The world we live in is not always a nice place. We are plagued with bad news from all over the world. The world moves in such a pace that many have trouble to keep up with. And then an album like This Sonic Landscape comes along, which is an oasis of peace and calmness. A place where you can slow down a few notches and take a moment for yourself. Sure, the album has its heavier moments, but it is by no means (prog) metal. It is a mature, balanced album, with the fantastic sound. My only comment on the album concerns the vocals of Marcela Bovio, that are slightly drowned in the overall sound, hopefully with the next album that will be fixed. Other than that, This Sonic Landscape is a very good and strong album. Marcela is an exceptional vocalist and the musicians in the band are top notch and together form a close unity. This is a band to keep an eye on!

And the story does not end here -- close to the release of This Sonic Landscape, both Marcela and Alejandro are also featured on new Arjen Lucassen project, Stream of Passion! So it seems there are a lot of good things happening to Elfonía. But first: let's enjoy This Sonic Landscape, for it is a beautiful album.

Gigantes IV (2:21) / Máquina (4:01) / Soundscapes (5:20) / Desaciertos (5:45) / ...De Los Libros Del Tiempo (5:29) / Camaleón (5:21) / Letargo (3:22) / Mañana (5:00) / Traveling (3:41) / Gigantes I (4:54) / Gigantes 2 (7:03) / Gigantes 3 (4:56)

Marcela Bovio - vocals, violin
Alejandro Millán - keyboards
Roberto Quintanilla - guitars
Pablo González Sarre - bass
Javier Garagarza - drums

Elfonía (2003)
This Sonic Landscape (2005)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin MX

Added: November 29th 2005
Reviewer: Marcel Haster

Artist website: www.elfonia.com
Hits: 1063
Language: english


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