By melding classic prog with a medieval tale, South American composer and multi-instrumentalist Jacinto Miguel Corral has crafted an intriguing instrumental concept album. Dubbed Hyacintus, Corral's project is based on a story by Theo Sperzeld about an ancient land known as Elydian — hence the title of this debut album. Using electric, acoustic and classical guitars, piano, keyboards, bass, cello, viola, clarinet, live drums and drum programming, Corral creates vast musical emotions that effectively reflect turning points in Sperzeld's tale, which is told, track-by-track, in the liner notes.
The story of Elydian follows main character Dulbeck from his childhood to his heroic death defending the freedom of Elydian. Along the way, over the course of 54 minutes and 13 tracks each featuring "Act" in their titles, Corral chronicles Dulbeck at play, in love, doing battle and ultimately dying. Granted, on paper, the concept looks a bit weak. But when it's accompanied by symphonic bursts of guitars, synths and string arrangements — think Mike Oldfield jamming with Rick Wakeman — Elydian works quite well. In "Act VI," for example, as Dulbeck and friends bury the dead of their village before setting out for Elydian to battle the tyrant Arlod, you can almost hear Corral's instruments weeping.
While Corral receives musical assistance on a few tracks, it's clear Hyacintus is a one-man act. Here's hoping Corral will emerge as one of the players helping spur progressive rock's renaissance these days. A more contemporary piece could do wonders for him next time, but for now, I remain impressed.