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Album Review

As long as there are beardy guys with a lot of science fiction paperbacks scattered around their apartments, progressive jazz-rock fusion will never truly die. There are even times when it's worth listening to for folks who don't fit that demographic. Planeta Imaginario (yes, they have science fiction paperbacks in the band's native Spain as well) is an eight-piece outfit led by keyboardist and primary songwriter Marc Capel, with a four-piece horn section balancing a basic rock quartet lineup. Although they started as a progressive rock act, their second album (the first to achieve wide distribution) is closer to mainstream contemporary jazz than the likes of avowed influences such as King Crimson or Hatfield & the North. The horn and reeds players are in the forefront throughout, with guitarist Eneko Alberdi Laskurain favoring a tone more in keeping with George Benson than Robert Fripp on tunes like "El Francatirador de Washington" and "La Caja Negra." Indeed, given Capel's fondness for electric piano, clavinet, and old-fashioned synthesizers, there's an unapologetic '70s feel to much of Biomasa, a mellowness that's tempered by the unexpected left turns into a tougher, noisier brand of jazz-rock in passages of the title track and the closing "Trastornos Opticos del Oso Bipolar." Listeners coming from any point on the Venn diagram that connects jazz producer-arranger Creed Taylor's '70s releases on the crossover-oriented CTI Records, the Soft Machine, and Frank Zappa's later instrumental works will likely find something appealing here.

Biomasa, Planeta Imaginario
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