Classic Rock Review

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Santana Abraxas (1970)

abraxasFrom sputnikmusic.com

There is an essence of allure that exudes from the content of Abraxas. The music is jubilant, with a mesmerizing melody that entices the listener into a sensation of musical ecstasy. We open with “Singing Winds, Crying Beasts”, immediately it induces a trancing atmosphere to set the mood, a seductive ambience decorated in sensual mysticism. And just as the music has us succumbing to its will, when we give up all restrain and let our senses sink deeper and deeper into the trance, all of its arousing teases reach their purpose. It was all just a build up into the album’s highlight, “Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen”.

This is Carlos Santana and his band exploring all of the possibilities within musical hypnotism. The music of “Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen” flourishes with sensuality, delicate in nature yet it induces an irresistible magnetism.

As we progress further into Abraxas, we find that it is very versatile within its mood, containing moments of both delicacy and aggressiveness. The music has a very lively texture, amalgamating the rhythmic grooves of traditional Latin music with the enthusiasm for instrumental improvisations that are found in Jazz. “Oye Como Va” marks the beginning of the more elevated side of the album. It has a Salsa like rhythm that gives it a feeling of looseness, almost encouraging the listener to dance to it’s melody.

“Incident at Neshabur” and “Hope You’re Feeling Better” represent the more aggressive side of Abraxas, displaying instrumental eruptions of passionate dexterity from the musicians. “Incident at Neshabur” is a much more elaborate piece because it is composed of two contrasting sections. The song immediately takes us into an invigorated jam, wasting no precious time in properly introducing us to the piece, Abraxas chooses to instead bombard us with a truly dynamic Jazz Fusion display.

Initially presenting itself as wild and eccentric, the music continues to build up momentum as it deploys solo after solo. And then, all of a sudden, “Incident at Neshabur” relinquishes all aspirations of ferociousness and instead flourishes into a mellifluous bossa nova ending. It’s quite marvelous how flawlessly “Incident at Neshabur” was able to pull-off such a surprise in its change of pace, and it really shows just how suspenseful this album can be.

“Hope You’re Feeling Better” is an entirely different kind of breed. This song is one of the few moments that Abraxas gets to be 100% rock and roll. Carlos Santana’s roaring guitar antics are drenched in distortion for added volume and intensity. Keyboardist and vocalist, Gregg Rolie, does a fantastic job augmenting Carlos Santana with his organ ornaments and his awfully bluesy tone of voice. “Hope You’re Feeling Better” is quite frankly one of the finest moments of the album because while all the other songs frequently stand on the boundary of genres so as to easily transcend into another form at a moment’s notice, “Hope You’re Feeling Better” drops all of the experimental tendencies to deliver a traditional, but still as captivating, rock performance.

Abraxas, as a whole, is a truly impressive album because it unionizes many different musical genres. The intensity of Hard rock, the lengthy instrumental passages of Jazz, the melodious dancing elements of Salsa, and even the decorative surrealism of Psychedelia- It is all coalesced with such confidence and precision that even with all of the constant genre-hopping, the album’s transitions all manage to fluctuate so naturally.

In conclusion, Abraxas is a classic. And it will remain as such, forever to be enjoyed by generations to come.

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March 12, 2013 - Posted by | Santana Abraxas |

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