With 6 albums released since 2000, including the highly acclaimed “Omphalos” (nominated for “Best Foreign Record" in ProgAwards 2006) and "Ouroboros" (Winner - “Best Foreign Record" in ProgAwards 2009) Kotebel is one of the main progressive acts in Spain.
Kotebel’s music is an elaborate, yet accessible blend of avant-garde symphonic rock, with a wide range of influences from classical to jazz to world music. Reviewers of our albums and fans mention influences as diverse as Genesis, Debussy, Yes, ELP, Ravel, Messiaen, Thinking Plague, The Enid, Steve Hackett, Gentle Giant, King Crimson or Chopin.
Kotebel has participated in prestigious festivals including BajaProg (Mexico - 2004), Gouveia Art Rock (Portugal - 2007/2010), ProgSud (France - 2007) - headlined this festival -, Madrid Art Music Festival (Spain - 2008/2009), Go Prog (Portugal - 2009), Crescendo (France - 2010) sharing the stage with artists like Robert Fripp, Magma, After Crying, IQ, Allan Holdsworth, Deus Ex Machina, Isildurs Bane, Jerry Marotta, Pat Mastelotto, etc.
Carlos Franco - Drums and Percussion
César García Forero - Guitars
Jaime Pascual - Bass
Adriana Plaza Engelke - Keyboards
Carlos G Plaza - Keyboards
Structures - January 2000
Mysticae Visiones - December 2001
Fragments of Light - September 2003
Omphalos - June 2006
Ouroboros - April 2009
Concerto for Piano and Electric Ensemble - January 2012
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Recently I’ve heard some bemoaning the state of progressive rock music in Spain these days. The gene...Recently I’ve heard some bemoaning the state of progressive rock music in Spain these days. The general feeling is the genre isn’t doing that well there. Well what they may be lacking in quantity is in some ways made up for in quality. Take for example the new release from Kotebel entitled Ouroborus. This is one stellar disc of symphonic progressive rock! Formed in Madrid in 1999 this is Kotebel’s fifth album and what a treat it is. The quintet is made up of founder Carlos G. Plaza Vegas (keyboards) along with Adriana Plaza Engelke (keyboards), César García Forero (guitar, keyboards); Jaime Pascual Summers (bass) and Carlos Franco Vivas (drums & percussion).
To begin with let me just say I was really blown-away by this disc. Kotebel seem to have everything in the right place at the right time. Musically Ouroboros consists of seven instrumental tracks, the last of which is actually a live bonus track entitled “Mystical Visiones” [16:22]. As you might have surmised with only seven tracks they’re bound to be long and involved…and you would be right. Let me try to give you my aural overview. Expect to hear lots of guitar and keyboard lead lines each trading time in the spotlight. While it’s true to call Kotebel a symphonic prog band, there are times where the music can get a bit angular, not dissonant in anyway, but certainly edgy. In fact there is a strong jazz-fusion undercurrent running through these compositions that manifests itself not only by the complex lead lines but also by the busy drumming patterns and burbling bass. But then there are huge swaths of majestic Mellotron strings sprinkled about. Compositions go from flute inspired bright and breezy to more aggressive moments. There are lots of notes flying around and the arrangements allow for a full and lush sound. Many of the tracks feature various forms of staccato musical stabs which form transitions from one musical segment to the next. As mentioned these are longer compositions allowing for plenty of musical change-ups. Each of these compositions sounds like it’s on the move with a different delicious musical motif around every corner. Overall, very symphonic with lots of keyboard orchestration, but then so much more.
Prepare to treat your ears because Ouroboros has much to offer. I think it’s safe to say that Kotebel have a winner on their hands. I can’t imagine a prog fan that wouldn’t thoroughly enjoy this record. It has so much to offer lovers of almost any prog genre. I like it. Olé!
Ouroboros Review 2
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The fifth release by Carlos Plaza's Kotebel sees another major change in direction, comparable to th...The fifth release by Carlos Plaza's Kotebel sees another major change in direction, comparable to their original shift from a delicate keyboard project to the wildly imaginative mixture of rock and classical themes with serious operatic support which dominated their second to fourth albums. With Ouroboros, gone is the soprano diva and the sweet keyboard layers and in comes a darker, heavier machine with challenging musical structures and clever twin keyboard interplay. The theme of the album is an exploration of a number of exotic mythical creatures from the familiar Satyrs and Behemoth to less well-known creatures such as the Simurgh (king of birds), drawn from Arabian folk tales.
Each piece is an individual representation rather than a running concept as such with the creatures used mainly as an imaginary frame on which to hang the compositions. "Amphisbaena" (a serpent with a head at both ends) opens the album with an angular arrangement of organ, fluctuating guitar chords using RIO influences and an insistent bass line. Piano and guitar snap and bite at counterpoint with some excellent drumming from Carlos Franco controlling and directing the numerous pace and time changes. Semitones and tritons are sprinkled through the piece giving it an edgy character overall but with occasional soft melodic reflections. Rising piano chords compete with sudden drum fills and injections of guitar while the piece escalates with addition of organ rising up the scale toward its climax. An impressive opener which foretells both the quality and the direction of the album as a whole.
The title track is a lengthy suite of 7 'variations' on a theme and a coda. Here the classical influences take over both in structure and in feel. You might hear Ravel, Stravinsky or Debussy in here as the main theme is stated and then embellished with synths, piano and guitar. There is also a Yes-like quality in parts, of the era which produced the better elements of Topographic Oceans. Overall the work is less ferocious in style and has a good mix of soft and crusty textures through the 7 variations with the sixth forcefully restating the original theme before a trippy little coda, almost Canterbury in style, rounds off the number.
César Garcia Forero (guitars) penned the next piece, "Satyrs", which starts with a fuzzy guitar riff over a dark bass rhythm from Jaime Pascual Summers, eventually making way for keyboards and a series of thematic changes delivered in a dynamic, stop and turn approach. One of the more dissonant arrangements on the album, the track also has the ever-present quality to take unexpected turns such as the jazzy little piano piece in the middle and its almost metal styled rocky outro. "Simurgh" is another long one at 13 minutes. A simple blend of piano and keyboard figures awakens the song gently before synthesised voice and an eloquent ethereal guitar float in for a brief period after which the song cuts back to its original figure and guitar. A second level of development ratchets up the volume slightly as the theme repeats and builds. The guitar lines here remind me very much of the opening to Asia's Arena album. An incisive piano and drum/bass injection stabs the flowing melody short at this point and the arrangement turns darker with semi and tri-tonal keys and guitar gnawing at an impressive percussion delivery. This denser and more complex section continues for several minutes, again frequently ebbing and flowing between shorter, more melodic modes. The piece then fades out in a spiritual ending, signifying the birds realisation of the truth of their existence.
The synth opening to "Behemoth" hints at ELP before Garcia's very un-Lake-like guitar adds a sinister edge. The eerie calm induced next is a prelude to the slow wakening of the beast, perhaps as the morning sun unfolds across the primeval land. A brilliant warbling guitar sequence is trimmed by delicate piano and tinkly percussive keys after which the lilting guitar rises to a series of crescendos backed by dramatic organ chords. Finally Behemoth veers off, closing out as it came in. The short "Legal Identity V1.5" closes the album and contains some of the best twin keyboard interplays of the entire disc between Carlos and Adriana Plaza along with more tasty guitar and sustained drum/bass arrangements. Legal Identity is a dynamic and fitting ending to an excellent set of works but the bonus is the 16 minute live performance at the Portugal's 2007 Gouveia Art Rock Festival of Mysticae Visiones, the title suite from their second album, featuring the wonderful voice of opera singer Carolina Prieto.
This is an album which mixes rock, jazz and classical concepts in equal measure and takes several spins to really appreciate the intricacies of composition and the flavours of the music which only emerge gradually with repeated listens. At times delicate and at others dense or bombastic, the album draws on a wide range of influences without being beholden to any; a remarkable feat in itself.
Ouroboros Review 3
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This is a glorious perpetuation of the sort of musical magnificence that we, Kotebel followers, hav... This is a glorious perpetuation of the sort of musical magnificence that we, Kotebel followers, have come to naturally expect from this excellent Spanish-Venezuelan ensemble - "Ouroboros" has to be one of the most outstanding symphonic prog releases in the year 2009, and why not, extensively in the new millennium. For this concept-album around a bunch of mythical figures, Kotebel operates as an all-instrumental quintet with featured room for dual keyboards, which means that the flute and female vocals are now absent in the band's sonic arsenal; but, in the end, the absence of these two items that had been so immensely relevant in the band's previous two efforts ("Fragments of Light" and "Omphalos") has been efficiently compensated by the remaining instrumentalists. The musical ideas remain equally inventive and the instrumental amalgamation continues to be grandiloquent in its infinite elegance. Indeed, this "Ouroboros" album is a total master opus for our current times' progressive rock scene worldwide. 'Amphisbaena' opens up the album with tenuous textures during its brief introductory theme, until the whole ensemble kicks off and settles in through the colorful display of the fusion-friendly motif. The combination of jazz-rock ambiences and Gentle Giant-ish tricks, when merged into the overall symphonic framework, results in an abrasive exhibition of excitement and grandeur. The interplaying among the two keyboardists is effectively massive, with virtuosic guitarist César García Forero spreading his eclectic input all over the place, complementing the keyboard developments and playing amazing leads. The piano-dominated passages during the track's last third states a proper expectation for the coda, wich starts ethereal and ends quite bombastic. A tremendous opener such as this can only be followed by a suite, and so Kotebel deliver the namesake track, which lasts 16+ minutes and comprises 7 sections. This intensely progressive journey is a constant climax of textures, orchestrations and controlled exhibitionist deliveries: the main motifs are clearly signaled, with variations and jams that go on succeeding each other in a perfectly fluid fashion. The melodic sense is brilliant, the harmonic sensibility is flawless, and both prove to be a demanding thing particularly in those passages in which the band uses a dynamic mixture of chamber-rock and jazz (i.e. 'Variation II'). 'Variation IV' is built on soaring atmospheres that may remind us a little of "Incantations"-era Oldfield, although the moment in which the lead guitar and drum kit settle in makes the track move toward momentary bizarre moods. The next 'Variation' is patently more evocative: it starts with a piano solo, then a soft orchestration is set in to evolve into a special climax, bombastic but not overdone. The punchy swing of 'Variation VII' gives way for a vibrant passage whose clever articulation allows to build a well-ordained crescendo, which ultimately leads to a 'Coda': this one culminates the overall suite's architecture on a melancholy note, yet evidently energetic in its own terms. Following this suite is a dirty job to do, but it is left to 'Satyrs' do it, and it does it by going to a different territory. 'Satyrs' is more guitar-orientated than the preceding two pieces, and it is less pompous as much as it is rockier. There is still much musical complexity to rely on while listening to this track: there is a funny tango-based interlude, for instance, and there is also a slow-paced psychedelic that provides an ounce of grayish density right before the splendid closure. The album perseveres in its wonderful majesty with the other suite, 'Simurgh', perhaps the most purely symphonic track in this catalogue: there are some Latin-jazz cadences utilized strategically in places, but they mostly serve as vortexes of varying dynamics to enrich the main motifs? developments within a consistent eclecticism. 'Behemoth' is quite awesome, a special favorite of mine. It bears a stylish tension that owes quite much to the Scandinavian standard of Crimson-inspired retro prog: the big beast after which this track is entitled meets an adequate musical portrait, featuring mellotron-like washes, eerie dissonant guitar phrases and a slow, heavy rhythmic scheme. The track's overall mood is surreal in the sense of a weird dream, almost mystic, consistently mysterious. The studio tracklist ends with 'Legal Identity V', plethoric and bombastic without any boundaries, which is reasonable since its 3+ minute span can clearly allow the musicians to think less about constraint and more about explicit expression? in typically progressive terms, of course. The bonus track is quite long, a live rendition of extracts from the "Mysticae Visiones" suite (from the namesake album) as it was delivered at the Gouveia Art 2007 festival. This item conveniently shows the listener all about the power and color that this band solidly displays in live performances; it is also a sweet reminder of the important input that the female vocals and flute used to offer to the band's whole framework in earlier times. All in all, and paying focusing my attention on the studio tracks exclusively, I?m prepared to give this album a 5 star rating. "Ouroboros" is indispensable in any good symphonic prog collection.
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"Fascinating, that’s the word I have been searching during the last few times I listened to this mus..."Fascinating, that’s the word I have been searching during the last few times I listened to this music. It says on the back of the CD digipack, “File under Art Music” and that’s what this is, a fine piece of art. This must be a revelation for every genuine progressive rock fan. Kotebel is a Spanish progressive rock band, which was initially a project founded by Carlos Plaza. This is their fourth album and their best so far. Kotebel knows the art of mixing a lot of styles, producing a special style, which I can only call Kotebel music. It’s filled with progressive rock, complex structures, classical music and jazz influences"...."For me, it was a real discovery and it is still revealing its secrets while I’m playing it again."
Dany – Prog-Nose
Omphalos Review 2
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"This is an Event! My great enthusiasm about the work of Kotebel isn't ephemeral. In my honest opini..."This is an Event! My great enthusiasm about the work of Kotebel isn't ephemeral. In my honest opinion, this is the best Spanish band of all time, their success with Symphonic Progressive being unattainable for most of their contemporaries from all over the world working in that field. Besides, I'd like to paraphrase my own expression from the review of "The Fragments of Light": The music on "Omphalos" is so profound and impressive that any Titans of Prog would've been happy if they'd created something like this, after their heyday had become a thing of the past."
Vitaly Menshikov – Progressor
Fragments of Light Review
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"....... The CD impresses right from the start with the suitably fiery opening of "Hades", a twelve-..."....... The CD impresses right from the start with the suitably fiery opening of "Hades", a twelve-minute ensemble piece with scorching Latino guitar, flowing classical piano and swirling, dancing flute. Flautist Omar Acosta’s contributions to this disc are quite superb, adding a mellow Camel-ish vibe here and a more dynamic style there, recalling some of the best Italian Prog of the 1970’s. When he combines with guitarist Cesar Forero, the sparks really fly! Vocalist Carolina Prieto has a lovely operatic style, adding a refined touch to this already sophisticated music. This opening track is terrific, a fine example of symphonic progressive rock, choc full of flavours and creation/release of tension in the grand tradition of Yes and ELP." "...All in all, this is a highly intelligent, well thought out album and should interest many fans of complex symphonic rock. Kotebel appear to be intent on exploring and extending the boundaries of their chosen genre, and are definitely a band to watch out for."
Dave Sissons. DPRP.net – Dutch Progressive Rock Pages
Mysticae Visiones Review
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"..Mysticae Visiones is a spectacular CD, very symphonic, majestic and even spiritual. The album con..."..Mysticae Visiones is a spectacular CD, very symphonic, majestic and even spiritual. The album consists of two pieces. The first is the 35:48 "Mysticae Visiones" suite with 12 individually named movements, then "The River", clocking in at 14:55. The album is mostly instrumental, but Carolina Prieto provides some ethereal female "ah-ah" vocals. "Mysticae Visiones" has some very classically-styled passages, in fact Debussy's more pastoral moments are frequently in evidence, particularly in the piano and strings. But there are also many traditional progressive elements as well, such as Thijs van Leer-styled flutes and Steve Hackettish guitar solos....I found this to be one of the best CD's I've heard so far this year (it was released so late in 2001 that it's almost a 2002 album), and I think this is an essential CD for anyone enjoying symphonic prog or romantic classical music."
Fred Trafton – Gibraltar Encyclopedia of Progressive Rock.
Kotebel Live at Gouveia
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Well, I’ve been waiting a very long time for this; seeing Kotebel live and finally is was time; Satu...Well, I’ve been waiting a very long time for this; seeing Kotebel live and finally is was time; Saturday, April 21th at Teatro-Cine of Gouveia. Also I had the opportunity to meet and talk with the members of Kotebel before the gig and was kindly enough invited to the sound-tjeck. Which by the way made me even more anxious and excited because Kotebel is one of my all-time favourite progbands. The actual line-up at Gouveia Art Rock Festival: Carlos Plaza, keyboard. Adriana Plaza, keyboard. Carlos Franco, drums/percussion. Jaime Pascual, bass. César Garcia Forero, guitar & Carolina Prieto, vocal.
I must admit I was a bit nervous, when I learned that Omar Acosta and his flutes (who is a vital part of the Kotebel sound) was not to participate. But I should have known better!?! Carlos Plaza had it all covered, and I did not miss Omar Acosta and his wonderful flute. Sure it would have been amazing if he had been there, but as stated, Kotebel had “him” covered by the wonderful Adriana Plaza and her keyboards.
They started out with “Ra”, from “Omphalos”, a very complex and wonderful piece of (art) music, which after only a few minutes made all my doubts (if I had any?) go away. The actual sound was perfect for this kind of complex music; not too loud to spoil the amazing beauty of it. I could hear every little bit put in there. Carlos Franco’s drums leading the way, with help from Jaime Pascuales powerful bass-lines. Carlos Plaza & Adrian Plaza (shifting between keyboards & grand piano) made the actual structures and César Garcia Foreros outstanding guitar sound floating beautifully along the way, sounding like a newborn Andy Latimer. César has the most amazing sound and is never “pushy”, but very strict and very precise in his playing. Then Carolina Prieto entered the stage and I’m sure she made a few go WOW, when she opened up her outstanding operatic voice. It’s so powerful. She could easily sing the town of Gouveia to its knees.
Carolina is and sounds like the sixth instrument in Kotebel. What an utterly beautiful voice she has. “Ra” is one of the best tracks Kotebel have ever “produced” & when (to my enjoyment) it ended the crowed went (at first very quiet) “bananas”. Kotebel had one of the biggest applauds at Gouveia. Then it was time for the wonderful track from “Fragments Of Light” called “Quimerista II” written by Foreros. A well structured and challenging track filled with outstanding guitar breaks and some awesome percussion/drums by Franco. Most of the tracks played this day were from the outstanding “Omphalos”, Kotebels latest album. Also we had glimpse from “Fragments Of Light” and “Mysticae Visiones” and some new tracks which I for one never had heard before, which showed me that Kotebel is an outfit always on the search for something new and refreshing.
We also had the pleasure of “Hades” from “Fragments of Light” which is one of favourite Kotebel tracks ever. A powerful and very complex track filled with beautiful soundscapes from keyboard and piano, awesome bass lines, very powerful percussion/drums, dreamy guitar riffs and Carolinas amazing voice. This track is simply from another planet. I sat there for nearly 2 hours with goose bums all over listening to one of the most exciting bands playing their heart out. My dream was for filled big time. I had seen Kotebel Live in action for the first time. It will not be the last time, that’s for sure. I travelled many miles to see them and I’m so happy I did. At some point it looked like César had problems with his monitor, but I’m happy to say that it never got out to us the audience. At least I did not hear it. The performance by Kotebel was outstanding, extremely precise, and powerful and filled to the brim with a musicianship I have not heard in years. They had a great and well deserved response from the audience. Hats of to Kotebel. You made my day. I must urge all you progsters who are in the neighbourhood when Kotebel play Live to get a ticket. Next time Kotebel is out there is at ProgSyd May 19th (near Marseille)
This was a memorable afternoon for me, one of the best concerts I’ve attended in a very long time.
Set-list: Ra-Quimerista II-Sol-Mercurio-Venus-Marte-Epílogo-Carne Excelente-Mysticae Visiones-Fuego-Hades.
PDF RiderKotebel Raider 2010
There are no upcoming dates at this time.