Arco Iris - Los Elementales. 1977 Argentina
CD reissue: 2006 Leader
Arco Iris were always an unusual lot in the 1970s. All of their albums are different from each other, and often times different within the album itself. But not in that trite Beatles way which many bands fell victim too, but rather a much more exploratory element was present. The preceding effort Agitor Lucens V is one of the greats from the South American progressive rock scene, recalling other outsider works such as Paebiru from Brazil.
So when I first heard Los Elementales, my reaction wasn't that much different than some of the reviews I've read. Because it is after all 1977, and jazz fusion was all the rage. And on a cursory listen, that's what Arco Iris are doing here. But close inspection reveals far more than swapping synth, sax, and guitar solos over a breezy selection of tropical tunes. It's much more dense, sometimes angry, often times beautiful. The melodic component is high, and the technical chops are sound. In tow, of course, is their fashion model / spiritual guru Danais (Dana) Wynnycka providing guidance - and perhaps better for the rest of us, a few soft female vocals.
Don't overlook this one, if you have a taste for fusion, but looking for something more substantive.
Not an easy album to find on CD, but if you can source one, get the Leader CD. 100% legit and comes in a wonderful thick digi-pak, including an interview of the band (in Spanish) and a couple of relevant bonus tracks. Took me a while to secure one, but finally was able to ditch the CD-R I had been limping along with.