Carmen

Fandangos in Space

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Released in 1973, Fandangos in Space introduced to the world the one of a kind blend of flamenco music and progressive rock of Carmen. Produced by Tony Visconti (whose credits at the time ran from Gentle Giant to David Bowie), it is a stunning demonstration of virtuosity, creativity, and songwriting skills. The Spanish/gypsy element translates into some predictable and clichéd lyrical topics, like bull fights, but the musical elements are so well integrated into the progressive rock vocabulary (including hand claps, castanets, and flamenco footwork) that one wonders why nobody followed the band's footsteps (literally!). Fandangos in Space opens with the three-part "Bulerias," a roller coaster of sharp complex rhythmic prog and flamenco; future Jethro Tull member John Glascock's bass work is simply amazing. The piece establishes the main musical motif that will come back later in "Looking Outside" and the closing "Reprise." Roberto Amaral's typical falsetto vocals are put to good use in the torrid "Bullfight," while David Allen gives rare emotional depth to "Lonely House," a ballad built on the metaphor of an abandoned house. When Allen, his wife Angela, and Amaral join forces for the chorus line ("you've gone"), the listener dives into the despair conveyed by the lyrics. The second half of the album is loosely linked thematically and musically, each melody subtly hinting at the others. "Looking Outside (My Window)" brings another highlight and includes a flamenco dance as an interlude. A must for prog rock fans, Fandangos in Space is one of the genre's unsung classics.

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