Jaime Rosas – Flashback

Jaime Rosas is a very talented keyboardist from Chile who gained quite good reputation while playing in progressive metal band – Entrance. However not too many people know that he also recorded few solo albums (sometimes under Jaime Rosas Trio or Jaime Rosas Cuarteto moniker) where he showed completely different face – symphonic prog “wizard”. While first 2 albums of this artist – “Virgo” and “Extremos”, where a bit too modern, electronic sounding for me, Jaime turned into more retro-prog direction from his 3rd studio output – “Creciendo” and even more bombastic, concert recording – “Viajero Astral – Live in Brazil”. However those last two albums were more in the vain of Japanese bands like Gerard or Ars Nova which mix razor-sharp organ riffs with modern, digital synthesizers, the new born “child” of Rosas called “Flashback” sounds even more faithful to ELP style of prog thanks to similar approach to the music and devotion to good, old Hammond organ all the way through (compared with previous stuff Jaime rarely uses synthesizers on “Flashback”). And as an ELP – and in general Hammond-driven prog – fan I have to admit that I love this album!

So let’s check all 6 tracks included on this disk:

1. “Primera luz” – album begins with definitely the strongest composition – 20 minutes long suite called “Primera luz”. This track is a really orgy of mindblowing Hammond organ solos & other ultra-fast passages played in absolutely virtuosic manner. Overall style and those percussion organ effects makes it like XXI century version of ELP’s “Tarkus” but treating it like a simple copy would be very unjust for Rosas as he also managed to mix many other influences as in few slower fragments we can also hear some Rick Wakeman inspired synthesizer moments and in many ways “Primera luz” was also clearly influenced by another South American group – “Nexus”.
As I mentioned, hard-hitting organ is a dominant instrument here but synthesizers (often Moog-like sounding, but I think all gear of Rosas is in fact digital, I’m not sure) and piano surely aren’t absent too, so in general it’s a real prog heaven for such keyboards-driven music aficionados like me.
I’d like to add that just like “Tarkus”, this epic is mostly instrumental but in the middle there are also a brief vocal sections of Jaime Scalpello (in Spanish language) which are quite nice and touching. I want to stress that drums and bass work are competent too, but Jaime’s pyrotechnics are so astonishing that you hardly think about other things than his keyboards.
In the end I need to point one more thing: ultra memorable section which begins from 15:20 minute. This overwhelming, almost Gothic-like Hammond melody is simply fantastic. I have goose bumps everytime I hear this grandiose part. It’s this kind of stuff I always loved in Par Lind Project’s (contemporary Swedish symphonic-prog band) music! Seems that if Jaime will manage to record more of such albums, he have a chance to replace Par Lindh’s position of the most talented prog-rock keyboardist in XXI century. Brilliant!

2. “El principio del ritmo” – another track let as catch a breath after restless keyboards extravaganza of “”Primera luz”. This time we can enjoy very sober, delicate smooth-jazz composition with simple instrumentation: acoustic piano  + relaxed sounding electric guitar. Nothing midblowing but it’s a good rest after first 20 minutes of “Flashback”. And surely it’s very original for this artist.

3. “Buenos momentos” – Jaime and his friends come back to bombastic style! This time Javier Sepulveda provides lots of heavy guitar riffs which blend perfectly with Rosas’ swirling organs. Electric guitar makes “Buenos momentos” sound a bit more like Entrance music, but thanks to dominating keyboards we’re still sure that it’s true symphonic style here (however mixed with heavy prog and prog-metal).
Once again I want to praise Jaime for his ear-shuttering Hammond sounds here, they truly cut the air like a hatchet! I think that he listened to Nexus music a lot before recording this composition, and Moti Sakuraba could be another strong influence here. By the way, Moog fragments are also amazing here!

4. “Lejos” – if I had to pick up the weakest track on “Flashback” it would be this one. It’s just a soft ballad with pre-dominant acoustic guitar, piano and discreet digital synthesizers in the background. Rodrigo Godoy’s voice is surely nice, but in general this song doesn’t bring me any emotions I’m afraid. Average.

5. “Memoria” – after slightly dull song called “Lejos”, comes much better instrumental “Memoria”. While first half sounds similar to Pink Floyd (Gilmour inspired guitar soloing of Ignacio Ruiz), in the middle we have a great Hammond solo in the vain of Rick Wakeman’s performance in “Close to the Edge”. After that guitar kick in again and smoothly lead as to the end of the song.

6. “Flashback” – the last composition seems to be an epic, but in fact it sounds more like a collage of different music ideas. Especially the beginning is quite mysterious and experimental in its nature. There are different famous melodies of 70s prog-rock giants played on Hammond organ (in one point you can even hear a brief part of Jon Lord’s organ solo from “Child in Time”!) which are buried under much louder soundscapes built by digital synthesizers. After that there is atmospheric, slow-tempo section with angelic-choir-like synth-background and “lazy” keyboard “plumping”. I’d say that it’s quite similar to J.M.Jarre’s or Vangelis’ progressive-electronic style. But from 5th minute composition picks up the tempo significantly and we enter grandiose fanfare-synthesizers created symphonic wall of sound, which is quickly followed by unbelievably dynamic organ soloing in the vain of the best moments of Keith Emerson! Track finishes with a couple of minutes of baroque-like symphonic prog a la Rick Wakeman, but in the end there is a very humorous oddity as we hear alarm clock and angry yell of suddenly awaken guy! Seems he just had a dream about good, old 70s prog-rock and some God-damned alarm woke him up :-) .

In general, “Flashback” is a fantastic recording which is a must have for all fans of retro symphonic progressive rock music, rooted deeply in 70s. In fact, I have to admit that while this kind of style may be “an art just for art” for many people, for me it’s still a classic ‘cos I’m a big admirer of keyboards-led prog and nothing will change it! That’s why (so far…) 4th studio recording of Jaime Rosas immediately became by favorite album of this (2011) year. And I don’t care if elitists of modern music call it “regressive”…

There’s a long list of bands I can compare with Jaime Rosas, like: ELP, Trace, Triumvirat, Collegium Musicum, Sixty-Nine, The Nice, Duncan Mackay, Trikolon or Quill, and their modern “imitators” like Par Lindh Project, Nexus, Little Tragedies, Survival, Gerard, Ars Nova, Social Tension and early Combination Head.

Best tracks: “Primera luz” and “Buenos momentos”

Track List:

1. Primera luz (20:35)
2. El principio del ritmo (5:38)
3. Buenos momentos (6:08)
4. Lejos (5:01)
5. Memoria (6:31)
6. Flashback (10:31)


*Coke Cruz / drums
*Pato Martin / drums
*Jaime Scalpello / vocals
*Ricardo Henríquez / bass
*Javier Sepúlveda / guitars
*Nicolás Figueroa / guitars
*Ignacio Ruiz / guitars & bass
*Alejandro de la Cuadra / drums
*Rodrigo Godoy / vocals, guitars & bass
*Jaime Rosas / synthesizers, piano, Hammond & programming




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