11 Songs, 50 Minutes

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About Factor Burzaco

Conceptualized in the early 2000s and premiered in 2004, Factor Burzaco is less an Argentine band than an ongoing avant-prog project masterminded by Buenos Aires-based composer, journalist/author, and educator Abel Gilbert. Melding Gilbert's passions for classically informed modern composition and groundbreaking prog and art rock of the late-'60s to mid-'70s, Factor Burzaco has had an ever-changing cast of contributing musicians and one continuing presence: singer Carolina Restuccia (aka avant folk-rock singer Catukuá), whose theatrical and volatile vocals have remained a defining feature of the project throughout its various incarnations.

Abel Gilbert was born in Buenos Aires in 1960, and began pursuing music as a vocation in 1978, the same year he recalls attending his first concert, a performance by Astor Piazzolla. An enthusiastic Beatles fan, Gilbert's musical sensibilities were also shaped by pioneers of 20th century composition including Igor Stravinsky, Luciano Berio, and Gyorgy Ligeti; the expansive jazz forms of Charles Mingus; and the classic progressive rock of King Crimson. Gilbert was also deeply affected by Latin music, not only Piazzolla from his native Argentina, but also the likes of Brazilians Caetano Veloso, Egberto Gismonti, and Milton Nascimento. But on the pop/rock side of the equation, Gilbert has cited the period between 1967 and 1974 -- between the release of the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and King Crimson's Red -- as having particular resonance for him.

Gilbert studied composition at Buenos Aires' Universidad Católica Argentina and released an electro-acoustic work for piano and tape in 1994 but, subsequently becoming disenchanted with the world of academic music, he stopped composing and even playing music for enjoyment. Inspiration was rekindled and the first seeds of Factor Burzaco began to germinate, however, beginning in January 2000 after Gilbert spent a couple of months in Brazil immersing himself in the music of Piazzolla, and later when he gave a serious listen to In the Court of the Crimson King for the first time since the late '70s. He began composing again, with his own personal conception about a Stravinsky-esque blending of "low" and "high" musics, informed by late-'60s to mid-'70s prog and art rock as well as his deep appreciation of modern classical composers and experimentalists. (Gilbert has since become a teacher of electro-acoustic composition at the Universidad Nacional de Quilmes.) Premiered on successive Fridays in June 2004 at Buenos Aires' Ricardo Rojas Cultural Center, Gilbert's Factor Burzaco project featured a guitar-bass-drums rock trio along with instrumentation including flute, clarinet, saxophone, oboe, violin, cello, and marimba -- with singer Restuccia ably displaying her vocal skills amidst the challenging setting. After a lengthy period of recording, Factor Burzaco's eponymous debut album was finally released independently in 2007, and featured, in addition to Restuccia, guitarist Marco Bailo, bassist Federico Arbía, pianist Esteban Saldaño, and drummer Nicolás D'Almonte as core bandmembers, with Gilbert composing and arranging the music (and playing piano "that never stayed") and José Brindisi penning the lyrics. Also contributing to selected tracks on the album were numerous guest musicians -- flutist Sergio Catalán, oboist María Zanzi, cellist Favio Loverso, violinist Elena Buchbinder, saxophonists Pablo Monteys and Pablo Berenstein, and flutist/saxophonist Mariano Ganba -- under the direction of Marcelo Delgado.

Factor Burzaco was a striking debut, with Restuccia's vocal interpretations of Brindisi's lyrics alternating between sweetly intimate and sharply cutting, matching the twists and turns of the music through crunchy rock and chamberesque interludes, the album in its entirety somewhat suggesting the soundtrack to an adventurous avant-garde musical theater production. The album garnered notice as a unique Argentine entry into Rock in Opposition-flavored avant-prog, recalling '70s Brits Henry Cow and longstanding U.S. outfit Thinking Plague, and it was therefore probably no surprise that Gilbert's project captured the attention of Marcello Marinone and his colleagues at the Milan, Italy-based AltrOck imprint, a label dedicated at least in part to furthering the RIO aesthetic in the 21st century.

Four years after the arrival of Factor Burzaco, AltrOck released II, the simply named sophomore outing by Gilbert's project. Recorded between 2008 and 2010, the album featured an even larger cast of musicians than the debut, with Restuccia joined by singer Pol González (a member of the a cappella ensemble Cabernet) and the chamber instrumentation again under the direction of Marcelo Delgado. Contributors to the album included bassist Nahuel Tavosnanska; guitarists Alan Courtis, Carlos Lucero, and Fernando Taborda; drummer Paul Torterolo; vibraphonist/percussionist Fabian Keroglian; accordionist Sebastian Schachtel; flutist Sergio Catalán; clarinetists Federico Landaburu and Dana Najlis; bassoonist Will Genz; and saxophonists Mauro Rosales and Rosa Nolly. The album featured lyrics by Marcelo Cohen, an Argentine writer known for his fantastical settings and use of neologisms, and II's experimental electro-acoustic touches were created via the electronic processing of Mauro Zannoli. As for Abel Gilbert, in the tradition of classical composers through the ages, he played no instruments on the album (having lauded the playing skills of II's musicians in comparison to his own -- and also having claimed insufficient time to practice an instrument himself).

In early 2014 Factor Burzaco returned with a second AltrOck album, and third album overall; in keeping with the straightforward naming of previous releases, the album was given the title 3. If Factor Burzaco could be considered a rock album with a heavy dose of the avant-garde and II an avant-garde album with a heavy dose of rock, 3 tipped the balance somewhat back to the debut, and as expected featured another lengthy list of contributors, in addition to Restuccia including a core band of drummer/percussionist/vibraphonist Facundo Negri, guitarist Pedro Chalkho, and bassist Carlos Quebrada Vazquez joined by saxophonists Rosa Nolly and Martín Proscia, flutist Sergio Catalán, clarinetist Luciano Giambastiani, keyboardist Sebastián Preit, and marimbist Jacopo Costa. Members of classical a cappella group El Nonsense Ensamble Vocal de Solista -- mezzo soprano and director Valeria Martinelli, soprano Virginia Majorel, tenor Martín Diaz, and baritone Javier Lezcano -- also performed on two tracks, one of which quoted from songs by Luis Alberto "El Flaco" Spinetta, one of the most influential and pioneering figures in Argentine rock. All the music was composed or co-composed by Abel Gilbert, the creative imagination behind Factor Burzaco who once again preferred to write for his ensemble rather than join its members as a player in the recording studio. ~ Dave Lynch

ORIGIN
Buenos Aires, Argentina
GENRE
Rock
FORMED
June, 2004

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