Códice - Alba Y Ocaso

Year of Release: 1999
Label: Art Sublime
Catalog Number: ASC399 006
Format: CD
Total Time: 106:55:00

The 1999 debut by Mexican symphonic progressive band Códice is simply stunning. This is a beautiful 2-disc set that has many different kinds of moods - while it's not neo, fans of that style will find much to like here. There are moments where you'll think of Emerson Lake and Palmer, mainly in the keyboards of Marco Corona. A little bit of King Crimson, for good measure. And yet, there's also a strong classical feel that one finds in Italian progressive. I fell in love with this album after hearing only the first disk. The guitar work is also Corona, and he plays with a deft hand ... two, actually.

It is his guitar on the title track "Alba Y Ocaso" that opens the album, backed by synth washes and the sounds of nature. It seems like the calm before the storm ... well, the title translates to English as "Dawn And Dusk." Like the day, this song builds ... leaving the guitar for keyboards ... piano like notes mimic the world coming alive. You can almost picture the buds opening up to greet the sunshine ... only, strangely, this seems to come at the end of the track.

The ELP influence is perhaps most pronounced overall in "Vorágine" (Vortex), combining both the percussive attack and extended notes of Emerson, while taking the thematic ideas in different directions, though the arrangement of the chorus becomes awfully familiar to Tarkus. Of course, this influence might be obvious after one look at the cover artwork, which is similar in theme and style to H R Giger's artwork for ELP's Brain Salad Surgery and some of the artwork he produced for the 1979 film Alien. "Espejismo" (Mirage) is one where I couldn't decide whether it reminded me of "Starless" (Red) or of "The Stone Of Years" (Tarkus) or both. What I decided (after playing both tracks for comparison) is that it is mostly "Stone..." with an added bit of jazz - tinkling piano phrases, acoustic guitar - and that bring in the "Starless" aspect. Of course, Códice truly take this in other directions, but for those first few moments. Mainly, the keyboard phrases will remind of "Stone" and the vocal stylings for the choruses will remind of "Starless" (and no, these really aren't the only ELP or Crimson discs I've heard, thought I do seem to use them for comparisons most often). Guest guitarist Javier Ferretya plays a beautiful solo here.

Anyway, half the tracks on disc one and almost all of those on disc two are instrumental. Of those with vocals, guest Marisa Calder?n sings on "El Eco De Tu Voz" (The Echo Of Your Voice), which is the closest to both Italian prog and neo. On that latter, there is an energy and sonic focus that made me think of Pendragon. Just a little bit. Yet Calderon sounds a bit like Tracy Hitchings, though I find I like Calderon much, much better as she has a fuller, richer tone. I also thought of Minimum Vital with this track. Calderon also sings chorus on "Vorágine".

But, for the remaining vocal tracks it is band member Luis Maldonado, whose voice is a very rich tenor. He doesn't sound particularly like anyone I can name, but he does have a very nice, very warm voice. Very inviting.

Another note about disc one: "Requiem," as its name implies, is a rather somber track. Subtle keys provide an orchestral bed of sound. Too much movement to be strictly ambient, but very reverent, and very moving. It ends disk one, and for all its subtlety, you feel a great absence when the piece has ended.

Disc two contains just two tracks, per se, one being the 8-piece suite "Iconos" (Icons). Each of the 8 pieces is subdivided into sections as well. As with the rest of the album, this is a wonderfully composed suite of music - thematically influenced by ELP's Tarkus and yet like other albums released this year and last, dealing with the idea of machines taking over so much of our lives. And yet, I also get the sense that this is not what it's all about at all ... well as much as I've listened to this disk, I've still much to explore. And I feel I'm giving the second disk short shrift when it is the highlight on this album of highlights.

Given that artists who release double albums for their debut are deemed pretentious or perhaps not very good at weeded out the chaff from the wheat, that isn't the case here. This album holds together well, and doesn't seem overlong or that it has any filler.

Disc One: Alba Y Ocaso (Dawn and Dusk) (4:27) / El Eco De Tu Voz (The Echo Of Your Voice) (6:39) / Paseo (Stroll) (0:53) / Danza De Equinoccio (Equinox Dance) (2:31) / Espejismo (Mirage) (6:47) / Un Ensayo Menor (A Minor Essay) (1:40) / Página Del Pasado (Page From The Past) (6:57) / El Relato Del Bardo (The Busker's Tale) (2:45) / Vorágine (Vortex) (10:42) / Corriente Abajo (Downstream) (5:16) / Requiem (7:23)

Disc Two: Iconos (Icons) - Origenes (Overtura) (Origins (Overature) (5:08) - Bajo La Rueda (Under The Wheel) (2:42) - Paisaje Mecánico 1 (Mechanical Landscape I) (2:02) / Paisaje Mecánico II (Mechanical Landscape 2) (4:28) / Estaciones (Seasons) (4:01) / Labertinos (Labyrinths) (3:20) - Una Bitácora De Suenos (A Log Of Dreams) (7:21) / Dentro De La Máquina (Into The Machine) (2:58) / Atrium (3:20) / Un Nuevo Milenio (A New Millennium) (3:39) - Espíritus En Movimiento I (Spirits In Motion) (1:55) - Eva (4:09) - Espíritus En Movimiento II (Spirits In Motion II) (0:41) - Salmo 150 (Psalm 150) (3:17) - La Perpetua Marcha Del Tiempo (The Perpetual March Of Time) (3:55) - Epílogo (Epilogue) (0:37) / En El Umbral De La Paz (On The Threshold Of Peace (4:35)

David Martinez - drums and percussion
Luis Maldonado - vocals
Mario Mendoza - keyboards
Arturo Garcia - bass
Marco Corona - guitars and keyboards; bass on #2
Marisa Calderón - vocals (2, 9)
Marcela Alvear - oboe (2:8.3)
Miguel Lawrence - flute on (8)
Javier Ferretyz - guitar on 5 and 7
Ricardo Martinez - ambience (2:4.2)

Alba Y Ocaso (1999)

Genre: Symphonic Prog

Origin MX

Added: August 1st 2000
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website: members.tripod.com/Codice/
Hits: 1131
Language: english


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