VENEZUELA 70-COSMIC VISIONS OF A LATIN AMERICAN EARTH-VENEZUELAN EXPERIMENTAL ROCK IN THE 70S.

VENEZUELA 70-COSMIC VISIONS OF A LATIN AMERICAN EARTH-VENEZUELAN EXPERIMENTAL ROCK IN THE 70S.

Over the last twenty years, the compilation market has been totally transformed. Nowadays, the compilation market is bigger, with many more labels regularly releasing compilations. 

A turning point was the mid to late nineties, when many small, independent labels began to release compilations. Some specialised in a particular musical genre. Others specialised in music from a particular country or continent. Nearly twenty years later, and that has continued to be the case.

Nowadays, there are labels who specialise in African, Asian, Eastern European, Latin and Jamaican music. These labels have introduced numerous types of music to a much wider record buying public. They have much more eclectic tastes in music, and welcome and embrace music from Brazil, Germany, Kenya, Nigeria, Norway and Romania. Despite seemingly discovering music from four corners of the globe,there’s musical frontiers yet to be conquered.  

Compilers everywhere realise this, and are willing to go in search of new and previously unheard music. Some of these compilers are the new war correspondents. They’re seasoned veterans, who have survived several musical tours of duties. This includes trips to countries teetering on the brink of war or revolution. 

Other compilers have taken their lives into their own hands, by heading into the wrong side of town. Sometimes, they’ve escaped by the skin of their teeth. However, what makes it all the risks worthwhile is if they’ve found they were looking for…music.

Especially music that most people will never have heard before. That makes the journey all the more worthwhile. Especially when on the journey home, the compiler has in their possession, master tapes and release forms. This is the start of a journey that in six months or a year, results in a new compilation finding its way onto the racks of record shops. That definitely makes all the danger, hard work and late nights worthwhile. Many compilers know this feeling.

This includes Toni Arrelano. He compiled Venezuela 70-Cosmic Visions Of A Latin American Earth-Venezuelan Experimental Rock In The 1970s, which was recently released by Soul Jazz Records. It’s a sixteen track compilation that features contributions by Vytas Brenner, Pablo Schneider, Fernando Yvosky, Vytas Brenner, Angel Rada, Miguel Angel Fuster and Apocalipsis. These artists are largely unknown outside of their home country, where they recorded during what was a golden age for Venezuela.

During the seventies, Venezuela was one of the most prosperous countries in South America. It began to prosper when oil was discovered in north west Venezuela in 1914. Soon, there was a gold rush in the Maracaibo basin. However, it was liquid gold prospectors came in search of, oil.

Before long, most of the biggest oil companies were beating a path to the Maracaibo basin. Soon, they were shooting fish in a barrel. There was oil, and plenty of it. As a result, people came from all over the world in search of work and wealth. This was no surprise, as Venezuela was ideally situated.

Venezuela was the gateway to the Caribbean, so people from Cuba, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Puerto Rico and Trinidad and Tobago arrived in Venezuela. So did immigrants from neighbouring South American countries. This included Bolivia, Brazil and Columbia. However, Venezuelans were used to people settling in their country.

That had been the case for over 200 years. People had emigrated fro Germany, Italy and Portugal. So had Arabs and Africans. Venezuela had always been a multicultural country. This was no different in 1928

By 1928, Venezuela was the largest exporter of oil in the world. Venezuela had become home to many of the world’s biggest oil companies. They came in search of black gold, and found a plentiful supply. This they exported to across the globe. However, by 1943 the Venezuelan government were tired of watching their oil heading out of the country, and decided to take action.

In 1943, the Venezuelan government passed laws that resulted in a 50/50 split in profits between the government and the oil companies. This was a huge blow to oil companies, but the Venezuelan government were resolute. They weren’t going to change their mind. Especially when the money raised from the oil  tax transformed Venezuela into one of the most prosperous countries in the world.

That was the case through the remainder of the forties and fifties. By 1960, Venezuela’s new, democratically elected government played a leading role in founding OPEC, whose aim was to ‘support’ the price of oil. Things were changing in Venezuela. 

The country continued to prosper in more ways than one. During the sixties, Venezuela had a rich cultural capital. The kinetic arts scene was thriving, and so was music. Traditional forms of Venezuelan music continued to prosper in some parts of Venezuela. However, many Venezuelans began to look outside of the country for musical inspiration. 

They looked to Cuba, Puerto Rico and Latin America. Some Venezuelans had travelled to New York, and heard the Nu Yorican which was popular within the Latino community. This music soon began to influence Venezuelans. So too did British rock music. However, other types of music from within Venezuela began to influence the music scene.

With so many immigrants settling in Venezuela, they brought with them their own musical influences. These different musical genres would all play a part in Venezuela’s musical future. 

Meanwhile, the prosperity continued, and there was an air of positivity during the sixties. Venezuela was a very different country It was run by democratically elected government, who looked like they were about to play an important part on the world stage, given their role in OPEC. However, as the sixties gave way to the seventies, Venezuela changed, and the wider world were in for a surprise.

In 1973, Venezuelans voted to nationalise the oil industry. For all the companies who had invested heavily in Venezuela, this was a massive blow. The only small crumb of comfort was that the new law didn’t take force until the 1st of January 1976. After that, Petróleos de Venezuela would take over exploration, production, refining and exporting oil. This meant all the money made out of oil, stayed in Venezuela, and made the country even more prosperous. That was the theory.

The only problem was, that by the seventies corruption was rife within Venezuela. Still the country continued to prosper, pre and post the 1st of January 1976. Venezuela was a wealthy and prosperous country financially and culturally. 

Part of Venezuela’s rich cultural capital during the seventies was its music scene. Venezuelan musicians were creating ambitious and innovative music. However, that music has never been heard outside of Venezuela. That’s a great shame, given the quality of music produced by Venezuelan musicians during the seventies. It deserves to be heard by a much wider audience. That is now possible, given the release of  Venezuela 70-Cosmic Visions Of A Latin American Earth-Venezuelan Experimental Rock In The 1970s by Soul Jazz Records. It’s features sixteen tracks from what many people consider the golden years of Venezuelan music, the seventies.

Opening Venezuela 70-Cosmic Visions Of A Latin American Earth-Venezuelan Experimental Rock In The 1970s is Araguaney by Vytas Brenner. He was born in Tübingen, Germany in 1946, but his family migrated to Venezuela in 1949. Twenty-four years later, in 1973, Vytas Brenner released his debut album La Ofrenda De Vytas on the Yare label. One of the album’s highlights is Araguaney, a genre-melting track where electronica and folk rock meet progressive rock and psychedelia. It’s a potent and heady brew, that captivates and whets the listener’s appetite for this veritable musical feast. The same can be said of Vytas Brenner’s other contributions. That’s not surprising, given 

Bang-Going-Gone was released by the B-Side of Vytas Brenner’s 1973 single Ganado. It’s a truly groundbreaking track, where elements of avant-garde combines with Latin and progressive rock. The result is a track that was way ahead of its time.

This is the case with Caracas Para Locos which Vytas Brenner recorded with Ofrenda. It’s a track from their 1975 album Jayeche, which was released on Discomoda. Elements of progressive rock, Latin, fusion and space rock are combined by a a truly talented band. Seamlessly they combine musical genres and influences, and show yet another side to Venezuelan music during its golden age, the seventies

Next in this musical feast. They contribute a trio of tracks to  Venezuela 70-Cosmic Visions Of A Latin American Earth-Venezuelan Experimental Rock In The 1970s. The Un Dos Tres Y Fuera story began in 1971, when the group were founded. Four years later, they were signed to the Discomoda label and preparing to release their debut album No Hay Que Contar Mucho. The opening track was Machu Picchu. It’s a fusion of disparate musical genres. Traditional Venezuelan music, including mirandero, tuyero and aragueno is combined with jazz, funk and rock. Equally eclectic is the instruments Un Dos Tres Y Fuera deploy. They combine percussion and synths with the rhythm section and horns. Together, they create a truly irresistible potpourri of musical genres. This continues to be case as Un Dos Tres Y Fuera’s career progressed.

Having released their debut album in 1974, Un Dos Tres Y Fuera were releasing an album each year by 1976. Sin Complicacion was their third album for Discomoda. It featured San Juan, Tambor Y Fuera, a slow burner of a track that eventually reveals it delights. Gradually, the tempo quickens, and cumbia is added to this musical melting pot. It’s given a stir, and soon, a memorable and dance-floor friendly blossoms.

Two years later, in 1978, Un Dos Tres Y Fuera were still signed to the Discomoda label, and preparing to release their fourth album Sencillamente Un, Dos, Tres Y Fuera. Still, Un Dos Tres Y Fuera continued to combine disparate musical genres, influences and instruments to create music that was ambitious and inventive. One of album’s finest moments is Son De Tambor Y San Juan which features Un Dos Tres Y Fuera’s then trademark sound.

Miguel Angel Fuster also features three times on  Venezuela 70-Cosmic Visions Of A Latin American Earth-Venezuelan Experimental Rock In The 1970s. He spent much of his career composing music for Venezuelan film and TV. This included the soundtrack to 1973s Cuando Quiero Llorar No Lloro. However, there was more to Miguel Angel Fuster than soundtracks.

In 1974, he released La Quema De Judas as a single on the Yare label. Miguel Angel Fuster hadn’t left the world of soundtracks behind. Cinematic strings play a leading role and combine with Latin percussion in a track that incorporates elements of electronica, fusion and even a blistering rock guitar. It’s a tantalising taste of a truly talented composer. 

Miguel Angel Fuster career as writing soundtracks contained in 1976. He contributed five tracks for Música De La Película Soy Un Delincuente. This includes Polvo Lunar, an ambitious and innovative track where fusion and free jazz combine with cinematic strings and rock. Just a year later, in 1977 Miguel Angel Fuster wrote the soundtrack to Banda Sonora Del Film Simplicio. It featured Dame De Comer, where Latin, funk, jazz funk and rock combine to create a cinematic track that’s variously moody, mellow and dramatic.

Angel Rada was born in Cuba in 1948, but moved to Venezuela when he was just one. By 1970, Angel Rada had joined the band Gas Light. They released several singles and contributed to a soundtrack album. However, in 1973, Angel Rada moved to Munich to study electronic music. Six years later, in 1979, he released his debut album and moved back to Venezuela. That was where Angel Rada’s career prospered.

He went on to release dozens of albums. So it’s fitting that two of his tracks features on Opening Venezuela 70-Cosmic Visions Of A Latin American Earth-Venezuelan Experimental Rock In The 1970s. This includes Panico A Las 5am, and Basheeba, a track from the album Upadesa. It was released on Uranium Records in 1983. Basheeba, sounds as if it’s been heavily influenced by Berlin School pioneer Klaus Schulze. That’s more than likely; as Klaus Schulze was one of the two people Upadesa was dedicated to. With its fusion of avant-garde, Berlin School and electronica, Upadesa Basheeba is a fitting homage from one musical pioneer to another.

While prospectors struck black gold nearly a century ago, Soul Jazz Records have also been prospecting in Venezuela. They’ve discovered the sixteen tracks on Venezuela 70-Cosmic Visions Of A Latin American Earth-Venezuelan Experimental Rock In The 1970s. They’re a tantalising taste of what was a golden age for Venezuelan music, the seventies.

During the seventies, artists like Vytas Brenner, Pablo Schneider, Fernando Yvosky, Vytas Brenner, Angel Rada, Miguel Angel Fuster, Apocalipsis and Miguel Angel Fuster created groundbreaking and genre-melting music. To do that, they drew inspiration from, and combined disparate musical genres, influences and instruments. Everything from avant-garde to Berlin School, electronica and experimental has been combined with funk and fusion plus Krautrock, Latin, progressive rock, psychedelia, rock and space rock. All these genres can be heard throughout Venezuela 70-Cosmic Visions Of A Latin American Earth-Venezuelan Experimental Rock In The 1970s. They’re combined by artists and groups who pushed musical boundaries and created ambitious and exciting music. Sadly,this music is largely unknown outside of their home country. That’s a great shame.

Especially considering the quality of music that is on Venezuela 70-Cosmic Visions Of A Latin American Earth-Venezuelan Experimental Rock In The 1970s. Thankfully, Soul Jazz Records have produced what’s essentially an introduction to Venezuelan music of the seventies. Hopefully, this isn’t a one-off, and further volumes of Venezuelan music from the seventies will be released. Maybe, Soul Jazz Records would even consider reissuing some of the albums that the tracks are taken from? Especially Vytas Brenner’s debut album La Ofrenda De Vytas. It featured one of the most talented musicians in Venezuela’s thriving music scene during what was a golden age. However, Vytas Brenner was just one of many talented musicians recording and releasing ambitious and innovative music during the seventies. 

There were many, many more. This includes the other musical pioneers that feature on Venezuela 70-Cosmic Visions Of A Latin American Earth-Venezuelan Experimental Rock In The 1970s. Their music deserves to be heard by a much wider audience. Hopefully, the recent release of Venezuela 70-Cosmic Visions Of A Latin American Earth-Venezuelan Experimental Rock In The 1970s will result in a resurgence of interest in Venezuelan music from the seventies. If it does, then it will be thanks to Soul Jazz Records. They struck gold when they discovered the music on Venezuela 70-Cosmic Visions Of A Latin American Earth-Venezuelan Experimental Rock In The 1970s, which is, without doubt, one of the best compilations of 2016 so far.

VENEZUELA 70-COSMIC VISIONS OF A LATIN AMERICAN EARTH-VENEZUELAN EXPERIMENTAL ROCK IN THE 70S.

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