CULT CLASSIC: CUASARES-AFRO-PROGRESIVO.
Cult Classic: Cuasares-Afro-Progresivo.
In 1972, a new Argentinian band Cuasares, entered the recording studio and began work on what became their debut album Afro-Progresivo. This was the latest project that was masterminded by arranger, composer and pianist Waldo Belloso who previously, had been a member of Los Abrodo Brothers and recorded a sexploitation soundtrack in 1969. However, Afro-Progresivo was totally different from anything that Waldo Belloso had previously worked on and was a truly ambitious project.
That was why Waldo Belloso took great care selecting the musicians that would become members of Cuasares. They had to be able to carry out Waldo Belloso’s instructions to the letter, as he guided them through the recording of Afro-Progresivo, teasing nine performances out of the nascent lineup of Cuasares. This took time, it wasn’t until 1973 that Waldo Belloso had managed to coax an album’s worth of music out of Cuasares.
With Cuasares’ debut album complete, Waldo Belloso called this groundbreaking and genre-melting release Afro-Progresivo, which was released on the short-lived Pais label later in 1973. Sadly, when Cuasares released Afro-Progresivo the album failed to find the audience it deserved. It didn’t help that Pais was a small label, and didn’t have the marketing expertise or financial muscle to promote Afro-Progresivo. However, the main problem was that Argentinian record buyers neither understood nor appreciate such an innovative album.
Following the commercial failure of Afro-Progresivo in 1973, copies of Cuasares’ debut album became almost IMpossible to find in record shops. Very occasionally a lucky record collector would stumble across a copy of Afro-Progresivo in the racks of a second-hand record shop. However, as the years passed, Afro-Progresivo became one of the rarest Argentinian rock albums which copies changing hands for excess of £600. This rarity showcases the considerable talents of Waldo Belloso.
The man who masterminded Cuasares was Waldo Belloso, who was born in the Argentinian capital Buenos Aires, on April the ‘4th’ 1933. By the age of six started studying the piano, which was the instrument that Waldo Belloso would later make his name playing.
Soon, Waldo Belloso was studying the roots of Argentinian folklore music, which before long became his passion. Over the next few years he spent much of his studying the studying and practising Argentinian folklore music, and by the time he was a teenager, was regarded as an expert in the subject. Later, Waldo Belloso would become a professor at Alberto Williams Conservatory, and later, became the chair at the National Dance School. By then, Waldo Belloso’s musical career was starting to take shape.
Waldo Belloso became a member Los Abrodo Brothers, and before long, became an important figure within the band. This was all part of his musical apprenticeship.
By then, Waldo Belloso wasn’t content to work as a musician, and was also an aspiring composer, who would spend years honing his craft. This would eventually payoff in the future, as would Waldo Belloso’s academic studies.
Although Waldo Belloso’s life seemed to revolve around music, he qualified as an ophthalmologist during the second half of the sixties. After that, Waldo Belloso’s twin careers in medicine and music continued apace.
In 1969, Waldo Belloso completed the soundtrack to one of the most controversial projects he worked on, the sexploitation movie Juegos De Verano. When it was rated by Argentinian film board, it received a triple-X rating and it four years passed before the premiere of Juegos De Verano took place in 1973. By then, Waldo Belloso had just completed his latest project.
This was Cuasares’ debut album Afro-Progresivo which Waldo Belloso began working on in 1972. By then, the thirty-nine year old arranger, composer and pianist had already written the album Waldo Belloso had written eight of the ten tracks himself, including Transmigración, Colisión, Mutación, Ancestral, Evanescente, Amalgama, Pentatonik and Simbiosis. The other two tracks Cuasares and Vertical were penned by Waldo Belloso and Hector Quattromana a talented and versatile multi-instrumentalist who dawned the moniker Mingo. These ten tracks were recorded by a carefully selected group of musicians, and later, became Cuasares’ debut album Afro-Progresivo.
After carefully choosing the musicians that would become Cuasares, just drummer and percussionist Enrique “Zurdo” Roizner and sixteen year old guitarist Tomás Gubitsch joined Waldo Belloso in the studio. They began recording Afro-Progresivo in 1972, and eventually, the album was completed in 1973. By then, Waldo Belloso had coaxed and encouraged performances out of his small band and now, Afro-Progresivo was ready for release.
Having spent so long recording Afro-Progresivo, Waldo Belloso made a decision he would surely live to regret when he decided to release Cuasares’ debut album on the Pais label. It was a new label and unlike the major labels, didn’t have the marketing expertise or financial muscle to promote Afro-Progresivo, and it was no surprise when upon the release of Afro-Progresivo later in 1973, the album sunk without trace. Part of the problem was that Argentinian record buyers neither understood nor appreciated such an innovative album. For Waldo Belloso this was a huge disappointment.
Just when it looked like things couldn’t get any worse for Waldo Belloso it did, when the Pais label closed its doors after releasing just two albums in less than three months. This included Cuasares’ debut album Afro-Progresivo.
Now forty-five years after Cuasares released Afro-Progresivo, the reissue by Pharaway Sounds allows record buyers to discover what was a groundbreaking and genre-melting album that was masterminded by Waldo Belloso who combined elements of Afro-Latin, jazz, psychedelic funk and European library music. Especially, French and Italian library music, and sometimes, fusion, which was growing in popularity in America, Britain and Europe. As Cuasares flitted between and fused disparate musical genres, they deployed an eclectic musical arsenal.
This included a lysergic fuzzy guitar, futuristic sci-fi synths, an effects laden Hammond organ, flute, vibraphone and a myriad of disparate effects that added a psychedelic vibe to an album that drew inspiration from Africa, America, Europe and Latin America as musical alchemist Waldo Belloso and his band of brothers recorded an album that was way of its time.
That was the case from Cuasares which opens Afro-Progresivo and elements of psychedelic funk, fusion and instrumentation usually found on a progressive rock album are combined to create an ambitious and otherworldly track. The tempo drops on Transmigración which initially, seems an understated track, but that soon changes as lo-fi synths, a marimba and urgent Carlos Santana inspired guitar solo are unleashed. Effects are added to the guitar which joins forces with the marimba on this urgent, hypnotic and funky track. After percussion opens Cuasares head in the direction of fusion during this mesmeric, percussive rocky and urgent genre-melting track that incorporates elements of Latin and psychedelia. Cuasares slow things down on Mutación, which sounds as if it’s been inspired by Santana, as the guitar organ and percussion play starring roles in this beautiful, melodic and memorable offering. Ancestral is a genre-straggling workout with Cuasares play with speed and fluidity and seamlessly combine elements of Latin, psychedelia, fusion and rock on what’s one of their finest moments.
Vertical features Cuasares at their most innovative as they fuse elements of Latin, progressive rock, psychedelia, fusion and library music. Effects are sometimes deployed adding to the lysergic sound while the track veers between dramatic, hypnotic and repetitive. Vibes set scene for another Santana-inspired guitar solo on Evanescente, while the dusty organ solo hints at late-sixties R&B. Later, the searing guitar solo take on a more contemporary sound as Cuasares play with a fluidity, with guitarist Tomás Gubitsch stealing the show. Amalgama finds Cuasares combining an Afro-Latin groove with rocky guitar licks during this breathtaking jam. It’s a similar case on Pentatonik as Cuasares combine vibes, organ, percussion, a rocky guitar, and sometimes deploy effects on a track that sounds as if it was recorded far from Argentina. Simbiosis which closes Afro-Progresivo is an ambitious, genre-melting track where everything Afro-Latin, fusion, jazz and psychedelic rock on one of the highlights of the album.
Forty-seven years after Cuasares released their debut album Afro-Progresivo in 1973, this oft-overlooked hidden gem is a prized possession amongst a small coterie of record collectors who appreciate this groundbreaking and genre-melting album.
Sadly, that wasn’t the case when Afro-Progresivo was released in 1973, and failed to find an audience, as record buyers didn’t understand an album that was way ahead of its time. Waldo Belloso who founded Cuasares, had his handpicked band combine elements of Afro-Latin, European library music, fusion, jazz, psychedelic funk and rock on this innovative album. Afro-Progresivo found Cuasares pushing musical boundaries to their limits as they fused music genres and influences and sometimes beyond on this cult classic that gradually, and somewhat belatedly, is starting to find the wider audience it deserves.
Cult Classic: Cuasares-Afro-Progresivo.