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Anima Mundi: The Way
I first came to know this band from there fantastic release Jagennath Orbit. To my ears this was one of the best progressive metal releases I have heard in a long, long time. Hoping that they were not just a flash in the pan, I was thrilled when they contacted me about their newest release The Way. I put it on with just a bit of trepidation knowing that they were going to be hard pressed to compete with their previous offering. Well, I guess I should have put more faith in this band from Cuba as The Way proves without a shadow of doubt that Anima Mundi has to be considered one of the best bands in the genre.
Only four songs but there is so much to love in these songs that you will find them each becoming an integral part of your musical life. I have been totally mesmerized by what they have crafted on this disc. Superb musicians and powerful songwriting combine to make an album that is easily one of the best offerings of this or any year for that matter.
The dramatic and gripping "Time To Understand" kicks off the disc with 16 minutes of pure progressive bliss. Synthesizers soar before Roberto Diaz brings in his guitar magic to electrify this little slice of majestic music that melds old school sounds like Yes and ELP with a newer breed of prog rock that is totally Anima Mudi. Lead singer Carlos Sosa shows off here also. With this song as an example his powerful and dynamic vocals are inspiring and although he might not be well known yet, it won't be long before we hear his name spoken in the same breath as the best in the field.
With the 26 minute "Spring Knocks On The Door Of Men", Anima Mundi takes you into a musical world that is an enchanting and exhilarating as you are going to find. You first hear an oboe and then keyboards come in to set the tone and before you know it you are swept away into a musical world that brings together rock, metal and jazz in such a dynamic way it paints a picture of spring awakening that really can be appreciated here in Michigan on a cold snowy day! Think of the groups Yes and Porcupine Tree with a little bit of Spock's Beard thrown in and you will have kind of a picture where they are coming from. This melodic piece of progressive beauty captures the essence of all that we look for in this type of music.
Anima Mundi is a band that you know instantly from the music and that is something unique in itself. Too many try to sound like someone else and it is great to hear a group that uses its influences to shape and mold their own sound. This is a band that deserves the respect of the whole music world for what they have accomplished with this disc. When they unleash the trippy "Flying To The Sun" on you it shows how someone can take the music that shaped them and make it into something their own. When I first heard this song I thought of The Beatles but it came to me as something that they might be doing now-a-days if they were still a band. This is not a bad thing at all and one that makes Anima Mundi so special. They make you think of other great music but in a way as to how you might rank them among their peers.
The final song "Cosmic Man" is the shortest song on the disc at just over 8 minutes and is the heaviest song on here. This very aptly titled tune had me thinking…Ground control to Major Carlos with its spacey exuberance and his heavy guitar foundation upon which keyboardist Virginia Peraza weaves an outer space fantasy. Virginia is the secret weapon in the Anima arsenal. Well, not that secret as she shines throughout the disc. She is really the canvas upon which most of the terrific music is painted upon. When musicians of this caliber harness their abilities in such a dynamic way, the outcome is usually something special. This band is no exception to that rule. They have created what is easily one of the best albums of the year and one that I am running out of terms to tell you how good it is. Remember the name Anima Mundi, it will soon become one that other bands will be compared to!
1. Time To Understand
2. Spring Knocks On The Door Of Men
3. Flying To The Sun
4. Cosmic Man
Added: December 9th 2010
Reviewer: Scott Ward
Related Link: Band's Official Site
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|Anima Mundi: The Way
Posted by Mark Johnson, SoT Staff Writer on 2010-12-09 17:01:45
I was searching for new music one day when I found this album. I previewed it and was amazed just at the sample tracks. Then I made the purchase on iTunes. This may be my favorite album of the year. It is incredible. This music is powerful, despite being only four tracks. This is the kind of music I used to listen to and expect on every album back in the heydays of prog during the 1970s. Hearing this for the first time was like listening to Going for the One or Close to the Edge for the first time. I implore you to buy this if you are looking for a return to the professionalism which was once commonplace. Anima Mundi is from Cuba and they doing everything they can to improve their web presence and get their music to their potential audience. Once this music reaches a larger audience I hope it will help lead other bands back to the magnificent level of play that was once common in the 70s. Buy and enjoy every moment of this one.
Track by Track Review:
Time to Understand – Hollow, reflecting, deep, bell – like synth sounds open this one full of mystery. The chime like synths welcome the building drums, lighter synths and guitar as the soundscape begins to open up. How you open an album is just as important as how you close it.
The trademark bass on this album, bringing back that 'Squire – lead' sound, really helps add balance. The lead electric and synths are original and amazing. Virginia Peraza, keyboards, and Yarosky Corredera, bass, are near the top of my watch list after this album.
After this triumphant instrumental section, and there are many throughout this four track album, we get the first lyrics and vocals. "You have been building an empire of gold, humiliating the earth, killing so much. Now you feel secure in the darkness with your face against the wall." Wow, powerful lyrics to go with the powerful and majestic music.
Carlos Sosa's voice is original and hard to compare to anyone else. Although the music will remind you of Yes, Carlos's voice will remind you that this is new. With this style of music you are expecting Jon Anderson. Well there is only one of him, but Carlos's voice has a deeper range. He can sing high, but usually sings straight ahead prog. Rather than copy Jon Anderson, as so many Yes – sounding bands have done, Anima Mundi takes a different direction with Carlos. And it sounds better.
The synths and lead guitar lift the sound, though Carlos often contributes his lifting voice to these ovations, like the refrain, "I know the winter has been long, but now it's time to understand and to fly. Your empire of gold is just the kingdom of dust. Money can't get the tickets not to die."
The instrumental mix just rocks throughout this track and that awesome bass is set free to build a groove. The synths, drums and lead guitar follow as the sound takes flight. The instrumental sections of each of these pieces would make any rock god jealous that they didn't conceive them. Full of power, mystery and most importantly - wonder. That is something that has been missing from prog for so long. Those dreamy wonder synths that float like a cloud in the sky. They force you to sit back and think. That is what Yes and many bands seemed to demand of their music.
With this music as a soundtrack it's easy to sit back, close your eyes and contemplate the universe. The acoustic lead and bass guitar just after the mid – section will fill you with warmth and comfort like Yes's And You and I's mid – section does. "You must strike down the wall to fly through the wonder skies and forever say goodbye. It's time to understand and to fly together into the light" Yes, you can feel this music. If this doesn't move you then I'm not sure what will.
Spring Knocks on the Door of Men – The best epic song I have heard all year. Simply amazing from end to end. Slowly, Mónica Acosta's bassoon delivers mystery and eerie precision to the opening of this piece. It brings back memories of the opening of Disney's Fantasia finale. But that is where the similarities end. The soft cascading keys and synths surround you as the bass lays a foundation which is shortly built upon with precision lead chords and exciting electric riffs that lift the emotion of the piece.
The synths remain constant as a soft surrounding tranquility envelopes the soundscape. Then Carlos's voice is added to the mix. "A simple door in my skyline, now I can see. Behind it, thousands of roads crossing by me. Butterfly men are flying over millions light years. Suns of the future, now battleships in the Star fields." The lyrics fit the mood and sound of the music so well. That glorious bass is right there in support. "Now I can feel, now I can touch, over this ocean of light. Through this wall of skies. So Spring knocks on the door of men." Those cool guitar riffs will bring back many of the highlights from Squire and Howe, but in a completely original way.
Then the musical calliope winds up full force and an instrumental extravaganza takes over the soundscape. There is no way to really describe this section fully. It is much better experienced. You are only halfway through this song and already enthralled. A good mixture of the soft light of the mid section of And You and I contrasted with the instrumental flights of fantasy witnessed throughout many of Yes's catalog of albums. There is also a nice mix towards the middle of this instrumental section of some of David Gilmour guitar and Rick Wright's keyboards from Pink Floyd.
The last 6:33 minutes open with a flute and acoustic guitar like a new spring day. Carlos sings, "She sails on. She saw the mysteries of Life. Goddess of Dawn, Queen of Twilight. She wove the future butterfly body of men. In her heavenly eyes the Master Plan of Earth. She calls; she's the magic. I'm her server, her ring, her path." The lifting nature of the power of the music is incredible. If the rest of this track has not already won you over, this section will. The closing synthesizer movements almost bring tears to your eyes. Music like it used to be made.
"Spring (indeed) knocks on the door of man."
Flying to the Sun – How do you follow that last song? A feverish flight to the sun. After a slow synth and woodwind opening, Carlos's vocals and the band take off fast. That Squire – like bass is fantastic. This is the rocker of the bunch. But the instrumental sections are just as impressive as the first two tracks. This one does drive faster and harder than the last two. Similar to a Siberian Khatru after the power and glory of And You and I on Close to the Edge.
"A Journey through our mother soul. Into the garden where all beings are born. We will take a ride across the universe going for the One", Carlos echoes as the lead guitar pierces the air. Another magnificent journey. The instrumentals on this album are worth every minute. Then as if we weren't already dazzled enough, they add a spectacular pipe organ section which just takes this song over the top! I did not want this section to end.
The synth entourage which closes this piece will bring back many memories of some of the best of ELP. Another powerful anthem to the sun.
Cosmic Man – How do you close this fantastic album? Cool spacey and majestic synths rise high to fill the air as the lyrics and vocals weave the tale. "Cause´ I am the Cosmic Man; I never sleep looking into everything. I'm breathed on everywhere; I am out of nowhere; I am the nowhere itself." The soft solid drums are excellent and then there is that steady power bass. The bass has been wonderful throughout the album, but is really highlighted well here. This is a vocals driven song as compared to the other three tracks on the album. But don't let that statement assume there are not as many synth and guitar highlights.
This track is the shortest on the album at 8:19, but again, don't let that fool you. There is just as much here. The riffs around 5:30 are just amazing as is the supporting synthesizer work. They do not leave you hanging in any way by providing a great sample of heavier electric lead with that bass weaving its way through the action. Stunning, blistering, lead electric that leaves you with that desire to want to come back for the next album. I haven't said enough about the drums and that's a good thing. They are solid throughout. The front of the stage is given to the lead electric, synths and that wonderful bass.
For now the band can best be sampled and found here or on iTunes:
Anima Mundi's My Space:
Anima Mundi's Home Page:
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