THE FLYING CARAVAN – I Just Wanna Break Even (2023)

THE FLYING CARAVAN - I Just Wanna Break Even (2023) - full
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Progressive rock band THE FLYING CARAVAN has signed a contract with Italian record label Wormholedeath to world-wide release their double album “I Just Wanna Break Even”. The influence of classic bands like Camel, Pink Floyd, Kansas – and new prog like The Flower Kings, Karmakanic and Transatlantic or musicians such as Roine Stolt, Neal Morse, and Jonas Reingold becomes evident with the sounds of progressive and classic rock being present throughout the recording creating the proper atmosphere for the development of the band’s music.
If there’s a prize for a band bringing back that Seventies sound in its purest – then it must surely go to The Flying Caravan.
Think about legendary progressive rock double albums for a moment. What comes to mind? The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway? Tales From Topographic Oceans? The Wall? All of those are examples of bands at the peak of their powers, stretching themselves beyond the standard 45-minute mark. With those albums still today being talked about reverently, there’s something surprising, if not shocking, to see a brand-new progressive band dare to release a debut double album. It almost smacks of arrogance!
However, you’ll be surprised by the quality and maturity of the compositions and the seemingly endless flow of original ideas. The almost two hours running time of both discs pass by in a flash.

The album can be considered in two blocks, split between the two long epics (definitely of Tales From Topographic Oceans proportions!) and the four shorter tracks that open the album.
Well, calling them shorter may give the wrong impression that they are minor pieces but in fact none of them are shorter than six and a half minutes and none of them you would describe as simple pieces. An instrumental entitled Get Real opens proceedings with a gentle jazz rock groove, reminding me of the mood of Camel’s debut album. The second part of the track loses some of the jazzy feel and gets into some more aggressive (but not heavy) riffing with some great dueling between guitar (Antonio Valiente) and organ (Juanjo Sánchez). Valiente’s solo playing (here, and often later) recalls Andy Latimer – with impact and emotional beauty being to the fore at the expense of any flashiness.

The next song, titled after the band, is infectiously energetic and cheerful, full of fast-paced acoustic guitars and 70’s-tinged Moog. This track introduces Izaga Plata on vocals. Her English diction is not quite perfect, but she makes up for it with a strong voice and a pleasant tone.
Next up is Upstream To Manonash that opens with an impressive wave of symphonic keyboards, acoustic guitars and drums, almost like a modern-day Epitaph. The vocal section that follows is gentle, supported mostly by picked electric guitar and organ, before leading to a beautifully restrained guitar solo. Plata returns for the strong but not over-emphasized climax of this brilliantly constructed song. This ability to create impactful music without any kitchen-sink histrionics is a hallmark of the group.

The last of the opening quartet is called Love’s Labour Mislaid – a great title, one of many clever linguistic twists among the song titles here. The song opens and closes with ethereal vocalizing while the highlight of the main section is the anthemic chorus, emotionally sung by Plata and reminiscent of Mostly Autumn at their best.

The first of the lengthier pieces is the seventeen-minute The Bumpy Road To Knowledge. ‘Epic’ is certainly the word to describe the Floydian three-minute opening with synths and ocean sounds (hinting at life emerging from the primordial sea), a wailing guitar theme and then mysterious organ over a pulsing bass. This intro is followed by a leisurely vocal section which gradually increases with intensity, climaxing in a fine guitar solo. This is then unexpectedly followed by an excellent lengthy sax break (from guest artist Juan Carlos Aracil) before a second guitar solo and then a gentle coda closes the piece.

A Fairy Tale For Grown-Ups is explicitly split into seven distinct parts over its massive thirty-six minute duration. Two of the pieces are instrumentals – Part 1 Northern Lights shows the same sort of infectious variety they displayed in Get Real, while Part 5 Moonlight Labyrinth is an enjoyable extended jam over a funky groove.
The centrepiece, at least in length, is the near ten-minute Part 3 S.A.D. (Solitude Affective Disorder) which belies its title by being ridiculously cheerful thanks to a wash of Styx-like keyboards and its energetic momentum from layered acoustic guitars. My favorite piece in the suite is Part 5 The World Had Turned Over (And I Couldn’t Hold On). An ethereal vocal line over a sparse accompaniment gives the piece the same sort of mysterious feel that Zeppelin created in No Quarter. This vocal line is punctured three times by a warm guitar refrain from Valiente. It’s very simple but so very effective.

The band might just modestly ‘wanna break even’ but they certainly deserve to hit the jackpot with this release. It is a quite remarkably mature and varied prog feast.
Highly Recommended

 

CD1:
01. Get Real
02. Flying Caravan
03. Upstream To Manonash
04. Love’s Labour Mislaid
05. The Bumpy Road To Knowledge

CD2:
01. A Fairy Tale For Grown-Ups:
– Northern Lights
– Change Of Revue
– S.A.D. (Solitude Affective Disorder)
– The World Had Turned Over (And I Couldn’t Hold On)
– Moonlight Labyrinth
– Second Thoughts
– The Sum Of Your Fears
02. The Bumpy Road To Knowledge (Alt. version)

Izaga Plata (vocals)
Pedro Pablo Molina (bass)
Antonio Valente (guitars)
Juan J Sanchez (keyboards)
Lluis Mas (drums)
Manolo Salido (sax)
Juan Carlos Aracil (flute)
Jorge Aniorte (additional vocals)

 

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www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0BKK93QZF

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